Feb. 18, 2021
In the midst of rising violence against Asians, my friend Shari Burnett just got back from putting a handmade card and some flowers here today [Feb. 13] on the honor panel near the Ventura Mission.
Shari has lived in Asia for many years and was heartbroken about the increasing hate crimes against the Asian community. [“The U.S. Is Seeing a Massive Spike in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes,” by Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, Feb. 10, 2021.]
In the midst of this outrage, may we express our sadness and stand in solidarity for all the Asian community has and is contributing to Ventura County.
Amtrak employees not enforcing mask requirements
I bring this to your attention because people are constantly flowing in and out of Ventura on the Pacific Surfliner. Amtrak employees are not enforcing mask requirements for passengers. On February 5, 2020, I boarded the Pacific Surfliner in San Diego, headed north. My car was as full as it could be considering Amtrak is limiting ticket sales. About an hour into my trip I had to ask four people in my car to please put on their masks. They did, except for one of the men who barely put his mask over his nose.
A few minutes later a crew member came walking down the aisle. I stopped him and said, “I know it has to be a drag for you guys, but can you please make sure everyone is properly wearing masks? I just had to ask four people to do so.” He said he would.
Shortly thereafter I noticed that the man who had barely covered his nose had pulled his mask down. I asked him to put it on properly. A young girl from the other side of the aisle yelled at me to leave him alone and to stop talking to him. I replied, saying something about the pandemic being a serious matter. The man did not adjust his mask. I sat down.
A few minutes later the same crew member as before appeared again. I said, “Can you please ask this gentleman to put on his mask properly?” The crew member replied: “If they’re bothering you, Car 6 is almost empty.”
I moved, and the crew member did not ask the man to put on his mask.
The week following my initial post I took the train back home. In the span of three hours in three different cars, I saw nine people (men and women) not wearing their masks. None of these people were drinking or eating, which is when you may temporarily remove your mask.
I’ve been watching the second impeachment of ex-president Donald J. Trump from the perspective of a patriot, one who volunteered for service during the Korean War. It was my impression during Trump’s first campaign for president that his racism and his narcissistic personality made him unfit for any office, much less the presidency of the United States. I saw Trump as a personally ambitious mobster who would attempt to become dictator of our democratic republic if elected. What I underestimated was his ability to recruit so many supporters.
That is saw [sic] my country shedding it’s racist past and becoming a true democracy, applying its historical promise of freedom, equality and justice for all. I was horribly mistaken. I realized my dream was fantasy, far from reality. I was wrong. I had mistaken the extreme of racism that was still alive and well. The video of an enraged mob attacking the Capitol that was a symbol, a temple of our emancipation from our days of slavery were, merely, dormant, not obliterated.
Miguel Espinosa, Jr.
Reopening local schools
No one wants to be back in the classroom more than educators. I want to welcome every one of my students back to my classrooms in a way that keeps everyone safe: students, their families and staff.
As California continues to struggle to control the pandemic, which is still impacting many communities disproportionately, a phased-in approach that responds to local conditions and transmission rates has to be part of a responsible return to in-person instruction.
Any path to bringing students back to campuses will require implementing multi-layered mitigation strategies that consider community conditions and include robust cleaning and updated ventilation systems, asymptomatic testing of students and school employees, six-feet social distancing and enforcement.
To reopen schools for in-person instruction, the state must ensure all employees required to report in person have been provided the opportunity to be vaccinated before students return to campus. The vaccine distribution should prioritize educators in schools already open and schools in communities with high transmission rates.
We must take a comprehensive and data-driven approach to reopening schools that includes addressing community spread. After all, no matter how safe of a bubble we put around our schools, the students and staff inside go home at the end of the day. If mitigation efforts are inadequate in the community, the risk of it being brought back to school increases significantly.
Feb. 4, 2021
I am a longtime resident of Ventura and Ventura County who, like so many people, had been receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits due to COVID-19 closures. Those benefits were exhausted, then approved for extension by Congress over a month ago. I’ve not received a cent from EDD since Dec. 20, and am now actually destitute.
I’ve run the gauntlet that “contacting EDD” has become several times since Jan. 3. I have been placated, argued with, passed off, hung up on, placed on hold in excess of three hours, laughed at, out and out lied to, and have received contradictory and inaccurate information from each of the representatives I’ve managed to speak to; and after all this, still have no answers, no explanation, and no money.
I’m certainly not alone. In fact, I was advised twice by EDD reps in the last 30 days that far from being a solitary case, there are hundreds of thousands of people with the same “glitch” affecting their payment. I do not find that comforting at all! What I’ve gathered from the lame excuses I have heard for the last month (I paraphrase): our computers are old and outdated, we are overwhelmed, and there was no programming in place to pay money from a non-existing funding source.
So, how long does CA get to hold on to these federal funds before paying them to the people who so desperately need them? I’m 43, and this is the first and only time I’ve ever drawn unemployment benefits. I don’t deserve to be forgotten and treated as though I don’t matter, or even exist, because our legislation has made me and so many others dependent on these benefit payments.
Last Monday morning, I used my time on hold with the EDD to contact everyone I could think of who may be able to help, or provide some sort of resource that could assist me. I emailed everyone from the county ombudsman to the president. Hey, I had the time, right? I have only received two actual responses: from the office of Assemblymember Steve Bennett’s (D-37) office, and state Senator Monique Limon’s (SD 19) office. Yesterday I spoke to the field rep for Bennett’s office, and while he was empathetic, he couldn’t provide me with any real assistance, as the EDD is stonewalling our elected officials just as they are the citizens who rely on them.
I don’t exaggerate at all my desperation, constant anxiety, frustration and, now, anger at the EDD’s epic failure to provide subsistence to all of us who have paid into the system for years. I read in your paper early last year that there are over 1,700 homeless people in Ventura County. I may add to that number myself very soon. If these issues aren’t resolved with the utmost urgency, that number will seem like a bygone dream; and you can only expect opportunistic crime to increase as people become more desperate.
How can a government agency fail the people so spectacularly and then have zero accountability?