Due to the number of questions, the search of our data base to respond to the letters of Mayor Patti Walker, Bob Stroh, and Brian Sipes, has taken several hours. I don’t intend to turn this newspaper over to political groupies who have united in support of our new city council majority. And I don’t intend to bore our readers with an endless debate about city politics.

The rebuttal information is voluminous. To complete a truly satisfactory result would take weeks and I will not drive away readers to satisfy this tiny, tightly-wound cabal.

My thanks to former Fillmore City Manager Roy Payne (19-years on the job) for his numerous, articulate, and accurate responses to the many false charges made against him and the Gazette. I have referred to his letters and blog responses ( in order to save time and avoid repetition. After all, he has been the consummate insider; I’m always outside trying to see in.

Martin Farrell
The Fillmore Gazette

Answering the questions.

Patti Walker’s questions and challenges
Madam Mayor:

As to Mr. Creagle, I refer you to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Report Number 08-11953, taken by Sheriff’s Deputy Rodriguez (#3591). The report includes statements from me and two eye witnesses. Three separate contemporaneous written statements also exist. Maybe Mr. Creagle should speak for himself in this matter. Why do you mention Westling? He was not cited. He just stood by like a deer in the headlights while the spectacle grew louder.
As to statements concerning Brian Sipes (4-30-09), they are true and correct (as most recently amended). As you tacitly admit, at least one council member has approved admitting Mr. Sipes to staff meetings (plural). Any reasonable person would recognize the word “pass” in this context to be synonymous with the word “assent, permission, or invitation” because permission is required. No reasonable person would understand the word “pass” in this context to mean some sort of plastic, bar-coded physical ticket to attend the “event”.

Sipes has sought permission and has been granted that privilege (or was it a right?) on several occasions. Nothing wrong here, but it tends to indicate more than average interest in city government affairs at the local level. This may explain why the Star interviewed him (May 28, ’09 issue) as I photographed that event.

Mr. Sipes does indeed attend nearly every council meeting, and other city meetings as well. I applaud his civic interest. He has an above average, keen interest in the workings of city government which leads me to believe he may well be preparing to seek public office. Again, I applaud him for his interest but would not endorse his candidacy.

After telling me that “Mr. Sipes is in attendance throughout most council meetings” you add, “Can you say the same?” I’m surprised you ask; the answer is, of course I can. I’ve attended about every city council meeting for the past 20 years. I notice you have been absent a number of times during your tenure on the council. While I may only stay an hour or two, the Gazette’s reporter always stays to the bitter end.

As is customary, the Gazette receives a full copy of the agenda in order to inform the public of what the council is doing with its money. I may have been mistaken about Mr. Sipes having received a full agenda packet. If he had I’m sure he put it to good use. If not, I imagine he uses a partial agenda. The thing to note is that he is well and regularly prepared, which is a good thing. It doesn’t hurt to have fellow Katzenjammer, City Clerk Westling, around to assure his preparation.

For your information, a complete copy of the agenda is not available online. Please refer to Roy Payne’s letter of July 22. Mr. Payne has eloquently and accurately addressed this issue. With that, we’ll give you a moment to compose yourself.

You quote me: “It [past emails] would prove beyond a doubt that you (and your followers) have been foolish, and woefully ignorant, and fundamentally wrong in your insistence that City Engineer Bert Rapp has made a mistake in choosing the companies he has to design, build, and operate our plant. Maybe more to the point, you and yours have caused more than a years delay with plant approval and construction, which cost the city more than $1 million in wasted time and effort.”

I’m surprised to find you apparently agree with this statement, except for the last sentence. This statement is based on a professional assessment (made known to you) of time lost due to Ms. Washburn’s dithering, repeated demand for answers to irrelevant questions, and her ignoring of reports from engineers expert in the field. On these issues, please refer to Roy Payne’s letter of 7-9-09 (paragraph 3) – Washburn and company burned up most of two years trying to convince experts that her chosen water treatment construction company, Vertreat, was the way to go. At one time or another she favored several other unsuitable water treatment methods; each of her favorites was rejected by experts in the field. She presented herself as having expertise in the field. And, to the exasperation of those true experts, she continued to insist on these unworkable ideas. The most recent estimate is set at a range of between $700,000 to $1 million. My statement was true.

Washburn also strongly opposed Design, Build, and Operate (DBO) which is now favored all over the country. All this stubbornness (before the election) to fool voters into thinking she knew what she was talking about. Washburn and company were out to save the city tens of millions of dollars with their hair-brained alternatives. And the cost of the plant, without her changes, she told everyone, would be catastrophic. It appears today that Fillmore’s water rate may end up slightly lower than Santa Paula’s. We had to build the plant. Bert Rapp’s guidance was right. We now have a great plant, millions below budget and finished on schedule.

Then there was the war over development in north Fillmore. Six years of expense and intense planning went down the drain as Measures H and I were finally voted in. Again, the public was fooled. Business development, such as Keller Classics, has been killed-off in north Fillmore, thanks to the foolish Measures that Washburn, Walker, Brooks, and company urged on to passage.

Today, thanks to these Measures, Fillmore will have to spend at least $200,000 from the general fund to fix our problem with state housing compliance. We don’t hear much about that now, but you and your group were warned, repeatedly.

Support for the new Business Park.
After listening to Ms. Washburn contemplating the completion of the business park, whimsically say: “It’ll probably fail anyway due to the economy” I question her enthusiasm for development. After expressing that kind of support, a vote for a Community Facilities District sounds empty. When I recall her ideas and activities regarding north Fillmore, I know how very little she supports business growth.

The water treatment plant:
“use the citizen’s money (taxes) in a careful and effective manner” ”…no disgrace [to use a council person’s vote] in opposition to what they believe is a misuse of public funds.” MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS? A (mandated) perfectly completed project, on time and below budget is a misuse of public funds? This doesn’t deserve a response. Talk about an example of clueless ingratitude!

I wonder how our friends in Santa Paula (using Washburn’s vaunted PERC) are doing. Oops: Please refer to the front page of the Santa Paula Times – online, July 20, 2009 (massive roof collapse). Wow! And then there was Washburn’s total rejection of world-class MBR technology. It is a disgrace, Ms. Walker, to habitually deny that your ideas have been wrong regarding this plant, north Fillmore – or that Bert Rapp and the last city council were ever right. They did the right thing – splendidly. I can certainly admit my mistakes, Ms. Walker, when they are brought to my attention, something you have failed to do thus far.

Answers to questions from Bob Stroh

The Gazette has received so many letters from you Bob I’m going to answer randomly.

You say “it was all about a recall”. Not really. Though the damage was anticipated, it has taken several months to understand just how bad the management of city government (new council majority) is, and how quickly the freefall consequences happened. I refer you to Roy Payne’s letters.

It will save much time here to refer to Roy’s many letters, in the paper and on-line letters and blog responses that he has already provided. I am now so wary of the present council majority’s incompetence, I have decided to just collect the evidence and see if Fillmore voters wish to consider a recall. It’s an expensive, time-consuming way to reorder city government so I’m not sure it would be an attractive option. I will contribute nothing but information to any such cause. Maybe the voters agree with the present council majority. It’s up to them. I don’t intend to push the idea.

Answer: It was not about recall. It is about sounding the alarm. It is about warning the people that city government is heading over a cliff.

You’re concerned about “financial stability”? One answer – Despite several warnings from several sources, including the city attorney, Measure I was pushed forward by Washburn, Brooks, Walker, and the full compliment of Katzenjammers. Its passage will now cost the City of Fillmore $200,000 “to correct the violations of state law” (which mandates placement of 900-plus new homes) created by Measure I. This sort of conduct can only be described as stupid. What do you intend to do about this, Madam Mayor? What do you think about this issue, Bob?

The Gazette “not providing a place for the free exchange of ideas”? As I sift through a pile of your letters, Bob, this is clearly another of your characteristically phony charges. I probably publish three times as many letters criticizing my opinion as those agreeing with me. Read last week’s Realities for a complete answer. For years you have used this venue, at my expense and indulgence, to vent your ideas and beliefs. As the great philosopher, Jack Nicholson, once said, “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to people who rise and sleep under the very blanket of [the Opinion Page] I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just say “Thank you” and went on your way.”

Do you really deny your consistent and persistent support for Walker, Washburn, and Brooks? Do you deny your agreement with their opposition to our new water treatment plant, MBR, DBO, cost of land for the plant, etc.? Do you deny your support for Measure I, and Measure H? Do you deny your repetitious condemnation of Steve Conaway for taking a trip to D.C. to speak about plant technology and construction method? Do you deny repeatedly lying (or failing to get the facts after being shown your error) about who paid for that trip? Have you ever been critical of any member of the Katzenjammers for anything?

Your habitual style is to parse words and meanings until they lose their significance in the context they originally occupied. My comment “…have been a regular, outspoken supporter of these views” is pretty well proved by the stack of letters, and blog postings, with which you have besieged the Gazette. The comment speaks of plurality, not a singular example. You have been a long-time ardent and faithful supporter of the views of that group I have characterized as the Katzenjammers, for the mischief they have caused. Do you now repudiate these views?

Lastly, why would you object to be identified (with many others, by several people) as a member of this political group? I commend political activity and citizen participation in city government – I just deplore the tactics and end results this group is responsible for and the casual use of false statements. Actually, there is nothing essentially wrong with attempting to get rid of political rivals, or diminish the influence of those with whom you vigorously disagree, as long as it is done lawfully and ethically. While there is certainly no illegality here, I strongly question the rationality and ethics of the cabal – especially where leaders of this group refuse to sign an ethics code. This is not an example of “guilt” by association. It’s merely an example of political identification by association.

Bob, did you really say “…signing the code of ethics violates freedom of speech” on 2-26-08? Very Katzenjammerish. Did you really say, in council, on 2-12-08, “American Water paid for his [Councilman Conaway’s] lodging and other travel expenses.”? Was this true?

You persist in bringing in the issue of Bill Bartels’ ability as Assistant City Manager. This became an issue for me only after he refused to give employment contracts to Kevin McSweeney and Bert Rapp. Then there were statements from former Finance Director, Barbara Smith: “That gentleman doesn’t know what he is doing”. After that, her interview statements to me detailing serious disrespect and complete refusal to communicate with Smith, which precipitated her early retirement, creating a budget crisis (as yet unresolved?). Then there was the extra management assistance he received, the 10 percent raise, and a serious absence of staff reports for the council’s consideration. There are other issues as well. Find an “error of fact” here.

Next you resurrect the ghost of (former failed mayor) Gary Creagle, campaign manager for Jamey Brooks, Clay Westling (and Gayle Washburn?). Refer to my previous response to Mayor Walker. Obviously five (5) former Fillmore Mayors evaluate this man as a mayoral failure, in a paid political ad they ran in the Gazette (October, 2008). His conduct in barging into city hall shortly after his candidates won the election, telling some staff members that “Your job is safe” and demanding to know the location of the new Clerk’s office, in a characteristically loud voice, shows he’s a jerk as well as a failed former mayor. “The campaign manager for the city clerk came into city hall and told certain staff that their jobs were safe.”(from city council minutes, 1-13-09, quoting City Manager Ristau.) I can’t wait to hear your rebuttal on this one. Note: Creagle isn’t a city official, nor even a Fillmore resident.

You accuse me of being Councilman Conaway’s “surrogate”. Mr. Conaway has my support because he is right on the issues and he has no hidden agenda. He has taken numerous insulting slights from the new majority. For example, being denied a chance to comment on a council issue by Mayor Walker, and having to leave the dais, fill out a speaker request card, in order to speak as a private citizen. When he is wrong I will oppose his decisions, and have. Right now, he’s the last man standing of the last council. He has integrity, something the new majority can hardly imagine. “Something to hide”? Don’t be such a child, Bob. Don’t be such a coward. Tell us what you suspect.

“Steve Conaway attended the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Water Council because he knew Fillmore saved 15% on the Water Recycling Plant using the Design Build Operate process and wanted other Mayors around the country to know about the cost saving process. The Mayor’s conference paid for Steve Conaway to attend, not American Water. No city money was involved. American Water is only one of hundreds of members of the Mayor’s Conference.”

That Mayor Walker has not defended Conaway against this false accusation (though she voted not to investigate the trip and knew the facts) is a billboard of her true hypocrisy and polarizing presence on the council. Hypocrisy in spades. Review this issue on where it has been exhaustively explained by me, Mr. Payne, and Mr. Conaway – as you well know.

Bob, you bug-out at the thought of answering Roy Payne’s excellent letter to the editor. No one in the City of Fillmore has a more detailed file on the facts and issues. No wonder you are afraid to take him on.
By the way, was it you who made some sly remark awhile back about Roy’s comfortable retirement? Correct me if I’m wrong (please) but aren’t you a retired Ventura County Fireman? If so, are you comfortable? Didn’t you advocate the elimination of our volunteer fire department at one time? Again, forgive me if I’m wrong; I have gotten of the track a bit.
Your statement about a restaurant going out of business when its sewer bill went up to $24,000 per year is false. Prove me wrong.

Answers for Brian Sipes:

Alleged lies:
1. Brian is a “political wannabe”.

2. Brian is a “Katzenjammer” i.e. politically allied with a group I have characterized as Katzenjammers. This group includes the new council majority, Gary Creagle, Bob Stroh, Brian Sipes, and others. Members of this group voted for or support the above mentioned council members and their goals: implementing Measure I, deploring our new water treatment plant and the methods and engineering that created it. They also oppose Councilman Steve Conaway, and greatly dislike ex-City Manager Roy Payne, and Director of Public Works Bert Rapp. According to the victims themselves, each and every (recently) former holder of a top city management position was driven away by this group’s statements, attitude, and penchant for severe micromanagement. Whew!

3. Brian is targeting Ms. Hernandez’ seat on the council.

4. Sipes (due to my prognostication) will be appointed to Ms. Hernandez’ council seat.

5. Sipes receives “special privileges” from council friends.

6. Sipes receives full council agenda.

Accusation number 1:
Mr. Sipes. I’ll take your word for it. You are not a “political wannabe”. However, every famous and successful politician was once a political wannabe. Think about it. But, if you don’t wannabe a wannabe, that’s that.

Accusation number 2:
I’m sorry Mr. Sipes, but your very long association with, political and financial support of, and vocal defense of this group qualifies you as a Katzenjammer. Only a true Katzenjammer would pay for a full-page election advertisement (corrected twice for false statements) which endorsed Gayle, Jamey, and Clay. I hope you reported this campaign contribution.

Accusation number 3:
Again, I take you at your word. Anyway, my most recent prognostication (since I got my new turban) reveals you will be Fillmore’s future City Clerk. Watch out, Clay! But, I’m no Johnny Carson as The Great Carsoni.

Accusation number 4.
Refer to prognostication number 3 (as revised). You can’t hit what you don’t aim at.

Accusation number 5:
Unless you have an undisclosed “right” to attend city staff meetings, and other meetings, and in fact do, Mr. Sipes, you are exercising a “privilege”. I find it peculiar that you insist that you have neither asked for, nor received an invitation to attend such meetings, yet I know you were there. Are you crashing meetings?

Accusation number 6:
My apologies for suggesting you receive a full council agenda, as you deny this. As you know, this would not be unlawful – just unusual. I guess it was a partial agenda I’ve observed you using at council meetings. You sure do go to a lot of meetings.