May 27, 2021

Music therapy: an evidence-based practice requiring serious training
Thanks for your recent VCR cover story, “Music Therapy: Sound Mind Mental Health Music Festival Comes to the Ventura County Fairground on May 20” — a vital annual event by musicians using their own stories and songs as a way to end the stigma around and to promote acceptance and healing for mental health issues.

The many organizations and performers at this benefit for local mental health causes deserve every praise, but I would like to point out that these worthy efforts are “music as therapy” rather than “music therapy” itself. Please allow me to explain the important differences and why they matter.

I wholeheartedly agree with the organizer who says, “Music has always had the ability to inspire social action,” and the poignancy of musicians “making sense” of their own mental health disorders by sharing their stories with listeners. And how much better do we all feel when we sing together or gather as an audience for a concert!  But this “music as therapy” is only “the first step” on the journey to mental health recovery for those with serious needs.

That’s where “Music Therapy” — an evidence-based practice requiring serious training — offers an array of additional benefits for wellbeing to such underserved populations as people on the autism spectrum, youth and teens with mental health and substance use issues; hospital patients, and seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

To become an MT-BC (Music Therapist – Board Certified) requires a Bachelor’s degree in music; two additional years of training in music therapy techniques, psychology, philosophy, anatomy and education; a 1200 hour internship and board certification exam. With this extensive training and experience, a music therapist can make a real difference using proven interventions to improve the lives of people of all ages.

But “true” music therapy is scarce in Ventura County. It is not offered in one public school or even one hospital in any city in Ventura County (population: 846,000). We here are far behind the ball compared to places such as Lexington, KY (population: 320,600) which has four full time MT-BCs in its schools and four in the hospitals!

As a practicing MT-BC music therapist myself, I urge the public to “get woke” to what music therapy really is and can do, and to advocate for the providing of this indispensable service for those we love: our emotionally struggling students, our recovering hospital patients and our aging parents and neighbors. 

Founder and director, Empowering Lives Through Music

DSAVC Stands with Palestinians: from Sheikh Jarrah to Gaza and Beyond

The Democratic Socialists of America – Ventura County (DSAVC) unequivocally condemns the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel is forcibly expelling Palestinian families in Jerusalem to make way for more Israeli  settlers. The families have been ordered to leave their homes by the Israeli Supreme Court by August 1st. Israel has no legal jurisdiction over the occupied eastern part of Jerusalem according to international law, but nevertheless continues to illegitimately advance their racist agenda in a continuation of the state’s broader, settler-colonial Zionist project.

Palestinians protesting the recent round of illegal expulsions have faced violent repression. Israeli police have gone so far as to storm the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, using tear gas and stun grenades against worshippers. 

At the same time, Palestinians are also being bombarded in Gaza. Israel’s bombing has so far killed at least 227 Palestinians, including 63 children, and injured more than 500 more, according to Gaza Health Ministry. Civilians in Gaza have nowhere to run, as Gaza is an open air prison blockaded by Israel and Egypt on all sides. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Any bombing of such a densely populated area constitutes collective punishment and is a crime against humanity. However, Israel continues to violently violate international law with unconditional support from its allies (e.g. the United States). The Israel Defense Forces have also bombed media towers, psychiatry hospitals, and Covid testing centers. 

The United States provides Israel with $3.8 billion of unconditional military aid annually and gives Israel special diplomatic cover for its countless violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. During the midst of this disaster, Joe Biden has also approved $735 million dollars in funding to Israel and has not joined other United Nations leaders in asking for a ceasefire.  We demand not only an end to the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine, but the full recognition of the Palestinian people’s basic rights. DSAVC unapologetically stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their ongoing struggle for liberation: from Sheikh Jarrah to Gaza and beyond.

Allen Chinn
Democratic Socialists of America – Ventura County

May 20, 2021

National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day 2021

In honor of National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day, the Board of Supervisors and County of Ventura recognizes the service and sacrifice of federal, state, local and Tribal law enforcement.

This week is a time to honor our law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our communities and communities throughout our nation. The County of Ventura is deeply appreciative for the extraordinary courage and dedication with which members of law enforcement act each day serving our communities by ensuring public safety, when facing danger and putting their lives on the line.

Thirty-five men and women have died in the line of duty since 1897, serving communities throughout our county. These officers left behind spouses, children, parents, friends, and colleagues. We remember them during this time and extend our deepest sympathy to the loved ones left behind. We honor our fallen officers memorialized on our Ventura County Peace Officers Memorial located at the Ventura County Government Center.

As we take this moment to acknowledge the work and thank our police officers for all that they do every day, we are also reminded to support them and work together in the important work of protecting and improving public safety in our communities.

Mike Powers
County of Ventura Executive Officer


May 13, 2021

Mitch McConnell’s infrastructure idea
Mitch McConnell’s idea is to have toll roads and a gas tax pay for Biden’s infrastructure plan, rather than have a wealth tax for those whose income has increased by 50% during the pandemic. Here’s why McConnell is pushing a bad idea and will serve as yet another tax break for the filthy rich:
Toll roads will make us dependent on unregulated private companies, which will control our freedom, while charging steeper and steeper prices for travel in the long run. (Think insurance-care and crony gasoline hikes); and this will mean that all major public travel could be tied to police records and state-run DMVs. If a DMV hasn’t mailed you your plate update, you don’t get to use the private toll road or reach your destination.
And a gas tax for infrastructure is really tax evasion for the rich, who hire companies to drive them & do not drive themselves, and who mostly do their major travel by air — because they can afford to. This means that the poor and middle class, who do rely on public roads and do drive themselves, will have to pay for infrastructure, and the ultra-rich won’t pay anything at all for roads/bridges, etc. that they will also benefit from. (Think, our Social Security system on wheels.) McConnell is also subtly saying here, broadband and the rest of infrastructure in Biden’s needed gift package for America is off the table because there is no way to save the rich from paying for it.
Think of McConnell as a used bookseller who has glued all the pages together of his “how to” book section and wants you to pay for it. He has the look of solutions but has no viable ones that will work for nearly all of us. The only road Mitch and the GOP know how to secure is that elite road paved with gold that is supposed to curve and trickle down to the rest of us. But it’s really designed for his own gold-carded club that refuses to have us as a member, and which has no inkling to represent nor help the rest of us.
Grant Marcus

Day of the Teacher

California celebrates the Day of the Teacher on May 12, 2021.  What better time than now to honor the instructional excellence in our Ventura schools, community colleges and universities.

At all grade levels, teachers are keeping dreams alive for thousands of Ventura children and young adults.  It certainly is a team effort, accomplished by teachers, support staff, volunteers, and administrators working together with families to maintain the focus on what’s best for students.  You are all educators.  Together, you have zoomed into a new era of learning by modifying curriculum, schedules, classrooms and the use of technology to promote student access and success.  Our entire community benefits from your dedication, flexibility and knowledge.

To celebrate the Day of the Teacher 2021, the Sunrise Optimist Club applauds all of the teachers, staff, volunteers and administrators in our Ventura schools for your exceptional efforts on behalf of students.  We appreciate your courageous work during these unprecedented times.  

Usually we honor just one Educator of the Year.  This year, we celebrate ALL EDUCATORS IN VENTURA COUNTY serving pre-K through university students.  We appreciate you!  Bravo!

On behalf of the Sunrise Optimist Club,

Roanna Prell, President

Barbara McConville

May 6, 2021

Help wanted: kitchen staff

Those at the top of the list of the used and abused in the restaurant/food service industry are on my mind. I hear they are not responding eagerly to “Help Wanted” pleas. Alas. Alack. What to do? 

Cooks, chefs, prep cooks, and dishwashers …many of them have put their return to the kitchen on hold. Restaurants are struggling to fill the positions and hours they need covered …in “the back of the house..” 
That kind of sets it up right there. The “back of the house.” 

Not “the backbone” or the “bones” of the house. Those with their stained chef coats, personal knives, aprons, charred and sticky towels, salt encrusted hat bands and bandanas, knife nicks and scars, hot rack burn welts and squishy blisters, singed fringe and crisped lashes are reminded they can be replaced, while being begged to work a double in the same breath.  “I can replace you in a heartbeat,” the old mantra, is being challenged.

Nothing happens without “the back of the house.” There is poetry and dance and military precision in a kitchen that works. I have heard the patronizing, condescending, and demeaning drips of derision that often spill from the lips of those who in just a breath passed by, licked those same lips in pleasure and satisfaction from what they put between them. They revel in textures. flavors and aesthetics without acknowledging the value of the skill sets, creativity, selflessness, and the teamwork required to produce all three in harmony with each other, hour after hour, day after day.
Those “back of the house” are remembering how they were on the line, masked and gloved, in close quarters, sanitizing, reorganizing, rationalizing. They have always been on the line. Maybe now they are drawing the line. Back of the house is in need of front of the house attention before the front of the house is revealed to be just that and nothing more.
Kris Haldane
Cook, former downtown restaurant owner, downtown lover

For the People Act

The For The People Act is a sweeping upgrade of election accessibility, transparency, and security, and would override the wave of GOP anti-voter laws sweeping the nation. It creates a national voter registration program, makes Election Day a national holiday, and crushes gerrymandering and voter roll purges. It includes campaign finance reform, limiting foreign lobbying and requiring SuperPACS to disclose donors. It even includes support for a constitutional amendment to Citizens United. It’s voting rights for the people, which is where voting should belong, but often doesn’t.

Our Senators Feinstein and Padilla must hear from us loud and clear: the For the People Act is exactly what our democracy needs at this moment, and it’s their job to deliver it.

Allen Chinn

RE: Banning Meat

Last week, Victor Castanza wrote a letter urging families to stop buying meat to save the planet from climate change. The author suggested plant-based fake meat was a better option. Choking down ultra-processed meat alternatives won’t save the planet — and it could be bad for your health.

Eliminating meat one day per week would make no meaningful difference in total emissions in the U.S. Livestock, including all the animals that are not consumed, are responsible for roughly 5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions according to the EPA. The University of Florida found families would save more emissions by adjusting their home’s thermostat or observing the speed limit to waste less gas. 

Some people think the term “plant-based” means meat alternatives are healthier. This is deceptive marketing. While meat is filled with proteins and vitamins, faux meat burgers are ultra-processed and filled with questionable additives. 

The USDA notes that 30-40% of food is wasted. To help the environment, eat what you want–just make sure not to waste it. 

Will Coggin, Managing Director
Center for Consumer Freedom