From left, Councilmen Eduardo Gonzalez, Jamey Brooks, Brian Sipes, and Steve Conaway. At this Special Meeting to decide the fate of Fillmore’s Legal Counsel, Mayor Gayle Washburn refused, once again, to explain her action in dismissing the city’s lawyer. Washburn falsely claims it is a privileged “personnel matter” which it is not.
From left, Councilmen Eduardo Gonzalez, Jamey Brooks, Brian Sipes, and Steve Conaway. At this Special Meeting to decide the fate of Fillmore’s Legal Counsel, Mayor Gayle Washburn refused, once again, to explain her action in dismissing the city’s lawyer. Washburn falsely claims it is a privileged “personnel matter” which it is not.
Enlarge Photo
(above) Gary Creagle. Linda Crockett wrote a letter to the editor this week regarding comments made by Gary Creagle at the July 10, 2012 council meeting. Click on the Letters section to read it.
(above) Gary Creagle. Linda Crockett wrote a letter to the editor this week regarding comments made by Gary Creagle at the July 10, 2012 council meeting. Click on the Letters section to read it.

That old French proverb (The more things change the more they stay the same) comes to mind when I recall yesterday’s trip to the Fillmore City Clerk’s office.

In very election year for as long as I can remember the city and county published a notice to the electorate that it is time for candidates to “pull their papers.” That is, for anyone wishing to run for public office the necessary instructions and disclosure papers must be obtained from the city clerk, completed, and properly filed. Otherwise you are not qualified to run for elected office. This is one of the most important mandated duties of the city clerk.

At the present time, Fillmore’s City Clerk is Clay Westling, although most of his duties have been delegated to the new Interim Deputy City Clerk/Administrative Secretary, Laura Seo. In the past one person sufficed to handle the duties of city clerk. For several years the job was efficiently handled by Steve McClary – an early escapee from the Katzenjammer régime. Steve was a gifted, multitasking city employee among whose many tasks was the timely production of intelligible minutes of council meetings.

Today, official minutes of council meetings seem to be a thing of the past – the distant past. Our present city clerk has been unable to produce them on time – 5 months late, (current?).

Mr. Westling is also apparently incapable of understanding the importance of providing adequate public notice to potential candidates for his office of City Clerk, which is now open, as are the council seats of Jamey Brooks, Gayle Washburn, and Steve Conaway. The City Treasurer’s position is also open. So, this is an extremely important election; people need to learn about the three available council seats, office of the Treasurer, and the office of City Clerk. You can be sure that Clay Westling knows that his office is up for election; he wasted no time in filing papers to keep his job.

I wonder if Clay was trying to keep secret the fact that his job was now on the line this November. It appears that way, since he deliberately “posted notice” to his potential challengers in only one place – a corner of a table on the upper floor of city hall next to his office. He didn’t post the notice on the designated city “Information Center” kiosk at City Park, nor on the windows of city hall, nor in the adjudicated newspaper of record for the city, the Fillmore Gazette. The clerk’s office claims it appeared in the Ventura Star, but I couldn’t find it, and the Star is not the newspaper of record for Fillmore.

What’s important to know here is that candidates for these important offices have only until August 10 to file the necessary papers. Time is of the essence. They must also obtain up to 30 signatures of registered voters of the city to qualify to be on the ballot. A reasonable person might think it necessary for the clerk to provide the widest possible public notice to the residents of Fillmore. In other words adequate notice.

Well, after an email to Westling and a later rather energetic conversation with his defensive Interim Deputy City Clerk/Administrative Assistant, Laura S. Seo, the Gazette finally (next day, two hours before press time) received the notice which appears in today’s paper. It must have frightened Clay to think someone might win his job.

The conversation with Ms. Seo was interesting. She has truly adapted to the Katzenjammer ethos. She told me that she could have posted the notice on the wall inside Clay’s office and complied with the law. “Show me the code section” she asked when I questioned the propriety of such minimal public notice. Then she observed that the Star was also adjudicated for the city’s legal notices. I explained this issue had been thoroughly explained to the council (in Clay’s presence) and that the city’s attorney explained that the Gazette alone could be the official paper of record.

“Well” Ms. Seo opined, twiddling her fingers as if playing an accordion, “the city attorney really doesn’t know what he’s talking about”.

Really?, I replied. Are you aware of the memo my attorney delivered to the city?

“Oh, a memo isn’t important. Show me the code.” and informed me of her experience in the position of clerk.
Do you know what a legal memorandum is? I asked. I told her it included points and authorities on the issue of adjudication. She remained unimpressed.

This is another example of just how densely stubborn the Katzenjammer group remains when it comes to accepting facts. This is truly self-inflicted invincible ignorance.

Anyway, the conversation remained unsatisfactory, but Ms. Seo provided me with her card as I walked away. Back at the office I examined the card closely; there was a label attached to the top third of the card. Pealing it away I discovered the name of “Angela Mumme, Administrative Assistant/Deputy City Clerk”.

Remember when business was conducted at city hall with courteous, professional competence?

But I digress. Our winning City Attorney, Ted Schneider, is about to be replaced. This was the work of Gayle Washburn, who refuses to explain just why. Most believe that this was caused, once again, by City Manager Quiring, who can’t get along with anyone and has wiped-out every competent employee and organization in city government. She’s gone for the week.

More on our self-inflicted city legal problems next week; also on the Boy Scouts of America reaffirming its policy of excluding gays”. And no, it isn’t about picking on gays; it’s all about traditional Christian moral teaching.

***

Remember, if you want to run for the city council, or City Treasurer, or CITY CLERK, you have to “pull papers” soon. Just give Clay Westling a call – he’s our city clerk; like the government itself, he’s there to help you.

 


 

It’s a good thing our city council knows so much about chickens, as we learned a few weeks ago, because those birds have now come home to roost.

Yesterday, about 6 p.m., city hall was invaded by process servers who succeeded in serving all council members. The members should not have been startled by the activity. (Former?) City Attorney Ted Schneider had repeatedly warned that reneging on the recent settlement agreement with El Dorado Mobil Home Park would prove to be a bad thing. That agreement was reached after six months of negotiations, which followed the lawsuit filed against the city in 2009. The plaintiff now had reasonable grounds for concluding that Fillmore’s City Council had negotiated in bad faith, wasting much time and money.

The city has spent more than $236,000 defending the suit, which in no way assists the rest of the city, which is nearly bankrupt. On the evening the council was expected to honor that negotiated agreement with the owner of El Dorado, three council members, Brooks, Sipes, and Gonzalez, voted to reject it. They were miffed by the plaintiff’s behavior. Gonzalez “didn’t like the tactics” and was “not going to allow them to bully’...and “money should not stand in the way of doing the right thing.” Brooks was worried about “environmental impacts” and the discourteousness of the plaintiffs.

Sipes was in a tizzy as well, stating “...my heart and my conscience will not allow me to approve this.” Sipes’ heart and conscience should have been more closely attached to the city’s wallet.

So, on the night our attorney Schneider and the plaintiff’s attorney had every reason to believe the negotiated agreement would be approved, the rug was pulled out from under them when, in a 3-2 vote, the settlement was rejected. Schneider, again, warned that this rejection would certainly bring another lawsuit upon the city, with great expense, and that (based upon the results of similar state actions) the city had little probability of ultimately winning. Costs could exceed $500,000, and there was no money to pay legal fees.

But these three were swept-up with the emotion of the moment and their votes heartily cheered by the chamber-full of El Dorado residents. They were now heroes to those 50-something residents. The other 14,000 Fillmore residents could go fish.

Mayor Gayle Washburn, displaying her usual vapid leadership, stated “It’s my opinion people have been hurt” (by plaintiff’s lawyers) but faintly voted with Councilman Steve Conaway to approve the long-awaited settlement. She expressed little objection to the vote.

I should mention that Washburn, Brooks, Sipes, and Gonzalez are frantically seeking to replace our city attorney at this very time. Thanks to the typically incompetent efforts of our City Manager Yvonne Quiring, the Requests For Qualifications (for a new law firm) are impossible to evaluate with any certainty because they have come back as a basket of apples, oranges, and bananas. But tonight a choice is expected. The excellent work Ted Schneider has done for the city (especially on the El Dorado and Owens & Minor lawsuits) is being tossed out. Others will have to be educated to take over in midstream. This is a remarkably stupid maneuver by the council majority to finally be rid of every trace of the old city hall staff – they’re all gone now.

The outcome of these lawsuits is extremely important to the city; millions are on the table, and they are complex suits requiring care and cooperation. Ted Schneider should be retained. He deserves to be complemented for his achievements, not disrespected by four rank amateurs.

More next week when I have more time.

***

One last word. The Boy Scouts of America should be applauded for “emphatically reaffirming its policy of excluding gays”. More on this also next week.

 


 

Two public comments stood out at Tuesday’s city council meeting, one by Alex Mollkoy, the other by Gary Creagle. Both were critical of the city’s legal counsel, neither was justified.

Mollkoy expressed anger at the fact that alleged city litigation against Dylan Snow, lessee of the city’s Equestrian Center, could not be confirmed. Mollkoy’s repeated questions to Mayor Washburn as to the status of this longstanding allegation were contradictory and unsatisfactory. At the end of his lengthy and heated interrogatory, the mayor both affirmed and denied such litigation. Now even I am curious to know what’s going on with this mysterious confrontation. Chalk it up to another example of Katzenjammer broken pre-election promises of open government. This has nothing to do with the city’s legal counsel. It’s vintage Katzenjammer.

Creagle’s lengthy comments were also critical of Fillmore’s legal counsel, complaining the city was not protected against the Ownes & Miner contract, and associated agreements. However, the court has stated that these agreements were not tainted by fraud, misrepresentation, or any sort of unethical conduct on behalf of the city or its legal counsel. The agreements were perfectly lawful, though the State of California later changed the law following complaints from City of Commerce, etc. after the fact.

I personally recall the extensive scrutiny this offer was provided after being received. A study of the proposals took months to complete. I was present at those council meetings.

Contrary to many of these unfair complaints, Owens & Miner has always maintained a busy office in Fillmore. When I last visited that office I witnessed approximately 12 employees busy at their computers. I also took photos of the operation.

Again, the court found the transaction to be perfectly legitimate, without taint of legal or ethical impropriety of any kind. It was just a great opportunity for the City of Fillmore, and will prove to be in the future, to the probable tune of approximately $700,000 to $1 million per year, for 20 years.

New laws and regulations have severely altered the original contract, but have not eliminated it altogether. When this litigation is finally over Fillmore will be the beneficiary for many years and the other litigants will have been paid from the impound account. Our legal counsel should be congratulated, not condemned, for its work. They could not be expected to have anticipated a change in the law.

The present council majority is making a strong and unprecedented effort to replace the city’s legal firm. Since City Attorney Ted Schneider’s record on winning litigation is perfect, and his cooperation in assisting the city with its near bankrupt condition by voluntarily cutting his legal fees by 20 percent is highly commendable, the council’s motives are clearly personal. It would seem that Mayor Gayle Washburn and Councilmembers Brooks and Sipes are cooperating with our wildly unpopular City Manager Yvonne Quiring’s mysterious personal animosity against Schneider. This attempted transition comes at a particularly bad time, with the tax receipt trial about to begin. Replacing the city’s law firm after 20 years of work should not be done arbitrarily, without considerable reflection. The city will also lose all of the cooperative networking Schneider has created to assist in litigation. At best this attempt is foolish, at worst, grossly irresponsible and destructive. The city will pay heavily for this personal vendetta against Schneider in jeopardizing the outcome of on-going litigation, including the El Dorado lawsuit. But, Yvonne’s personal interests must be served. Personal friendship trumps open and responsible government.

Washburn has still not provided a reason for replacing Ted Schneider as city attorney. We have naughty children running city business; Katzenjammers all! November is the time to put in the adults.

 


 

What can I say about Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts? His recent decision on Obamacare is an abomination. It is wrong on the law in dramatic ways and has hastened the end of federalism as America has known it for more than two centuries.

His decision betrays the clear intent of our Constitution and is a treacherous betrayal of traditional conservative values. He’s another Justice Souter. All of his previous, correctly reasoned, decisions can never make up for the enormity of this spectacular constitutional disloyalty.

Conservatives trusted Roberts, as they do Alito, Thomas, and Scalia. No more. It’s an American tragedy with historic consequences.

* * * *

With the Fourth at hand it’s a short week for the Gazette. The characteristically devious, misleading, and false cameo addresses to the Fillmore City Council at the last Special Meeting, by Patti Walker and Bob Stroh, deserve a detailed rebuttal. This pathetic pair of retired Katzenjammers would serve Fillmore best by disappearing into the blogosphere.

What we have here, as the guy in the movie said, is a failure to communicate. Well, to be more specific, it’s a failure to communicate honestly. It’s time for a little honest comeuppance, which is right around the corner.
Stay tuned.

 


 

(This editorial has been edited and updated as of 6-28-12)

There was great joy among council majority Katzenjammers at Tuesday’s meeting. With Councilman Conaway on vacation the time was ripe for hammering him for alleged past mismanagement which they believe has brought Fillmore to near bankruptcy.

As Conaway rebutted Mayor Washburn at last week’s meeting, without the $500,000 drawn from what remains of the city’s reserve fund, we would be in much greater fiscal difficulty. Let’s hear it for past “mismanagement”.

Former council member Patti Walker paid a visit to the dais in order to expound her version of Fillmore’s recent economic disarray. She berated Conaway for alleged hypocrisy in his defense of past councils. Conaway had reminded the council majority that, far from alleged mismanagement, former councils built-up more than $2million in city reserves.

He had also pointed to a recent decision of the council to renege on a settlement agreement with the owners of El Dorado Mobile Home Park. That settlement agreement had come at the end of four years of litigation which has already cost the city $236,000. By pulling out of the negotiated agreement at the very last minute, the council majority, knowingly, is forcing the city to face more legal fees and future liability of perhaps another $500,000, money the city does not have. This lawsuit does not benefit the city at all. In the opinion of our city attorney(evaluating the trend of similar suits) the city is likely to end up losing this suit and paying hundreds of thousands in legal fees. All of the time and money will have gone for nothing, but it gives the majority a warm, fuzzy feeling.

On top of this, members Brooks, Sipes, Gonzalez, and Washburn seek to replace our city attorney who is the most successful lawyer in Fillmore history. In an inexplicable, arbitrary act Washburn called the city’s law firm and demanded that our city attorney not attend any more council meetings. No reason has been provided. Only an oblique reference to the fact that he has a personal relationship with a former city employee, who I understand is his fiancé. There is no legal restriction against such a relationship. It is widely believed that this was done at the behest of City Manager Quiring, for (again unexplained) personal reasons. With a smarmy smile Washburn questioned Conaway’s sources (he had addressed the issue in council) and alluded to a possible future explanation. As so many other actions by the council majority, this was both unwarranted and unprecedented.

Other members quickly denied any knowledge of Washburn's act, and remain mute. Is this another example of those pre-election promises of open and honest government and accountability? Washburn may be an airhead, but as appointed mayor, she is still accountable for her actions. Inquiring minds want to know why you did this, Ms. Washburn. Even Bob Stroh is waiting for an explanation.

Transitioning to a new legal firm, after 20 years, will cost the city an additional $50,000 to $100,000. Our attorney has won all the important lawsuits, has voluntarily cut his legal fees significantly, and may well end up being the low bidder among the plethora of responses from other law firms to the council's Request for Qualifications. Will even that dissuade our Katzenjammer council majority? The citizens should demand answers to the question of why Washburn acted so irrationally and why the majority is so anxious to replace our city attorney at such a critically important time. The Owens & Minor lawsuit is set to begin in January. Our attorney, Ted Schneider, has been successful in securing the contract that is likely to bring in $700,000 a year for the next 20 years. The court has agreed that this was a perfectly valid contract, without taint of fraud or other unlawful or unethical aspects. And this council wants to jeopardize the case by replacing our lead attorney after 6 years of litigation, six months before the final trial? Why?! Apparently for PERSONAL reasons.

Why all this craziness? As Councilman Brooks has famously stated, “It’s personal, - very personal.” Again, why personal? Well, Manager Quiring hates our City Attorney for inexplicable personal reasons, and she is supported in her animosity by Brooks, Sipes, and Washburn, again for inexplicable personal reasons. The city is paying the price for all this petty, expensive, personal stupidity. Washburn, Brooks, Sipes, and Quiring are playing a game – stupidity on stilts.
Talk about costly mismanagement!

Oh – then there is the ongoing effort to replace American Water as operator for our new high tech treatment plant – which they built. Breaking that contract, I understand, will cost a minimum of $600,000. It would be difficult to find another firm that understands the workings of this uniquely high-tech, award-winning, plant. Washburn’s and Walker's continual comparison of our plant with Santa Paula’s is ludicrous, as explained numerous times by experts. But then, Washburn is the one who thought we could save some construction money building the plant by skipping expensive non-reactive concrete! Gayle – just think of what we could save by eliminating re-bar!

Our council majority quickly covers this foolish stunt (sending out Requests For Qualifications) to replace American Water, by saying they only wanted to find out if it was possible. Really? Why not just read the damn contract before taking action?

By the way, the council had the unmitigated audacity to beg American Water to pay for our swimming pool’s chemicals to save money – which American agreed to do. Such appreciation!

Fillmore, if you don’t dump these idiots in November you have no one to blame but yourselves for the inevitable devastation which will follow.

 


 

Over the years I’ve received a number of complaints about my steady criticism of the city’s council majority. This is especially true during the past four years or so. My only answer to such complaints is that it’s my job to seek out and reveal the truth in public matters affecting our city when and where I can.

I haven’t been writing this opinion column for nearly 25 years in order to curry favor or make friends. And, I can truthfully say, I’ve had more than my share of success in making enemies. I am accustomed to that reaction; these days I only find it annoying. If I couldn’t express my opinion openly and fully, under the extraordinary protection of that glorious First Amendment, I would have found other work long ago.

This preamble is my way of explaining why Gazette readers have read so much sharp criticism of the Fillmore City Council majority during the past four years. Fillmore city government has been in a state of progressive collapse during that time. For those who have been paying attention, we are now in the winter of our discontent. We are, as a city, bankrupt due to the policies and practices of a mostly inexperienced, emotionally unstable, and stubbornly incompetent council majority. Their motto may as well be: Cling to mistakes, never admit fault, and slander all knowledgeable opposition.

In large part they have succeeded. The Katzenjammers, as I have branded them, were successful in taking over the entire city government. Nearly all professional, experienced, knowledgeable employees have been fired, laid-off, or escaped to normal jobs elsewhere.

I say “nearly” because a few vestigial stalwarts from the old régime remain, for the time being. One of the best is our current City Attorney, Ted Schneider.

In what is one of the most bizarre tactics I’ve witnessed from a council member in the past 25 years, appointed Mayor Gayle Washburn has colluded with our City Manager Yvonne Quiring, to oust Mr. Schneider. She did this by calling his law firm and demanding that Schneider not return to city hall.

Washburn has denied that this happened. Washburn, had she been under oath, would have perjured herself.

This was not only an action bizarre in its unprecedented nature; it was wildly beyond Ms. Washburn’s authority, for reasons which will be explained in later editorials.

Schneider has won every legal action brought against the city during his time as city attorney. He has cut his fees in a generous attempt to assist the city in its time of dire fiscal need. He has successfully involved co-counsel members in what is described as “a very complex lawsuit”(the tax suit). That lawsuit will begin in January. If lost, the city could lose millions and be liable for very large legal fees. However, foolishness continues to drive Washburn, Brooks, and Sipes to replace the city's legal counsel at this time. The council majority continues to ignore sound legal advice, guided instead by emotion and a peculiar personal vendeta against Schneider. And, I hasten to add, he has been a gentleman during a trying time when council members on the majority side have been dismissive, rude, and insulting to him without cause. His patience has been remarkable during this time.

The problem is, Mr. Schneider is intensely disliked by Ms. Quiring, our manager. I should add that Ms. Quiring is disliked by nearly everybody who has had to deal with her during the past two years – as two open Letters of No Confidence have proclaimed, as read by former Mayor Scott Lee, from the council dais. Would that we only had $300,000 to buy out her contract as the City of Lathrop, her former employer for 15 months, voted to do. Washburn, Brooks, and Sipes are the crutches that support her destructive activity.

Ted Schneider and the members of his law firm, as Councilman Conaway has demanded, deserve a full apology from appointed Mayor Washburn and her manager.

If I were Mr. Schneider, I would contemplate a lawsuit against Ms. Washburn for defamation per se. But then, I think he’s too much of a gentleman.

Next week I hope to have the time to tell you what I really think about this situation. People of Fillmore, you had better wake up before November.

 


 

For those who may have been visiting the International Space Station for the past couple of years, here’s some news: Fillmore City Hall is in crisis.

Not only are we technically bankrupt as a city, the incompetence of our city manager and her four council cohorts could soon make that bankruptcy formal.

Most of our council members, with the exception of Councilman Steve Conaway, attend meetings in a state of unpreparedness. This is obvious by the questions asked and statements made.

The crisis we face is fiscal, clearly seen in efforts being made to cobble together a budget, approval of which is mandated in early July. We haven’t had an accurate and honest budget since 2008-09 shortly before Finance Director Barbara Smith, and City Manager Tom Ristau were muscled out by the new régime. That was a time of political upheaval for Fillmore, when our newly installed City Clerk, Clay Westling (mentored by former failed mayor Gary Creagle) insisted on attending Ristau’s staff meetings (which Ristau refused to abide). A time when Barbara Smith (20-year city employee) was disgracefully treated by our rent-a-manager, Larry Pennell and his Katzenjammer minions. A time when Patti Walker (of censure fame) and Pennell traveled to check out the bona fides of Yvonne Quiring (who had been a city manager for about 15 months before having her contract bought out for more than $300,000). A time this was when Jamey Brooks was convinced that the budget was bogus, and who thought $85,000 a year was a good salary for any Fillmore city manager. That transition cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Citizen Brian Sipes joined Brooks and Walker in condemning the budget and most of the city staff, especially Ristau and City Engineer Bert Rapp (another 20-year exemplary employee) together with former City Manager Roy Payne, who built the city again following the Northridge quake.

They all had to go in order to “take our city back”, according to Walker, Brooks, Sipes, Cragle, and company. That budget also had to go. Pennell would have a buddy come in and make a more attractive budget, with colorful pie charts and new categories.

Well, from that time on everything was scrambled. That effort produced an abortion that was never properly scrutinized and didn’t balance. Humpty Dumpty couldn’t be put together again – though to be fair, Finance Director Glenda Jay is making a strong effort today. The nearly 40 percent city reserves, painstakingly built-up by previous councils (now referred to as “one-time money”) has been squandered, and the gap between revenue and expenses does not close.

Brooks defends Quiring because she will do his bidding, and he will never criticize her. Sipes is Quiring’s landlord (nothing illegal here) and also supports Quiring’s bungling incompetence. Our appointed Mayor, Washburn, tags right along, while constantly seeking to quiet Conaway’s objections and questions.

The city needs to undergo a thorough, objective audit by an independent company. Something is very wrong, which shouldn’t surprise anyone with any knowledge of the characters running city hall.

 

Good morning class. Your assignment for tonight is to view Tuesday’s city council meeting on Channel 10, starting around 6:30 p.m.

It is a melodrama in three parts: the beginning, middle, and the end, which I thought would never come.
The cast: Councilman Steve Conaway plays the part of the lone Truth-Seeker who finds himself in a forest populated by five almost evil, but mostly clueless incompetents pretending to be financial luminaries.

The ill-tempered, secretive, Castle Manager, played by Yvonne Quiring, pretends to have the answers, while her mischievous court Toadies, Jamey Brooks and Brian Sipes, cater to her malevolent incompetence. In the meantime, the castle Queen, played by Gayle Washburn, seeks to orchestrate the confusion by frustrating Truth-Seeker’s fact-finding efforts.

Castle coffers are empty and Toady Brooks states: “The chickens have come home to roost...past leadership spent it”. It’s not our fault they claim. (Please read the 2008 letter from 5 Retired Fillmore Mayors below).

Truth-Seeker is on a quest in search of budget particulars, for example, are there any savings to be had by replacing staff with temps, and outsourcing professional duties after letting long-time employees go? Manager reassures the Queen and her Toadies that firing employees and re-hiring temps, and finding professionals (“like engineers”) to replace them, “is easy” and cost effective.

On it went. Maybe specifics will be forthcoming in scene two, at next week’s special meeting, when Manager tells the audience that public bathrooms at our parks are unnecessary because most Fillmore residents live close enough to use their own home facilities.

---------------------

A MESSAGE FROM 5 RETIRED FILLMORE MAYORS
October 29th, 2008
Whose Town Do They Want to Take Back? The Town that Gary Creagle and a few others envisioned in the 1980s? Gary and others wanted the City to grow all the way to Piru, build an airport and allow a gaming casino. Do we want Back the dysfunctional Town that nearly brought Fillmore to financial ruin? The voters threw out Gary and his cronies, and with a new city council under Mayor Delores Day, Roy Payne was hired as city manager and the city began to pick up the pieces. Now Gary wants it all back his way, and he's convinced a few newcomers to see things his way.
The frugality of the current City Council and city management is not an issue. Our city has lived within its means for many years now. The cost increases for management employees were largely beyond the city council's control; these were due to increases in medical insurance and the PERS retirement fund. It has been a difficult inflationary year for everyone, yet our city continues to operate on a BALANCED BUDGET. Since the recovery from the 1994 quake, the city has steadily built up RESERVES which amount to about 36% of the current operating budget.
With our financial house in order we can soon look forward to a new community swimming pool, new tennis courts and a new 22 acre park. These long-terms visions are coming to reality thanks to the support of the community and the leadership shown by the current city council. Fillmore needs more jobs and services. Santa Paula Hospital has been reopened and we have a new modern urgent care facility and Fillmore's budding business park and the needed jobs it will bring will soon be realized.
Above all, we are saddened by all the negative commentary about our community and our city. We need to start building bridges rather than creating walls of division. The discussion needs to focus on what is right for Fillmore, not who is right.
That is why we five retired Mayors of Fillmore are supporting Steve Conaway, Cecilia Cuevas and Norris Pennington for City Council. Vote November 4!
Sincerely,
Scott Lee, Mike Mc Mahan, Don Gunderson, Roger Campbell and Evaristo Barajas
5 Retired Mayors of the City of Fillmore

 

Communist China has been infamous for many things since its founding by Chairman Mao. Foremost in its diabolical atheist philosophy is a total disregard for the dignity and sanctity of humankind. The murder of more than 40 million of its own people is among its most diabolical historical accomplishments. Though it no longer mandates that its people wave Mao’s little red book, and now enthusiastically espouses western capitalism, its twisted progeny, North Korea, puts Mao (at his worst) to shame by comparison in terms of “lifestyle”. North Korea is Hell on earth, condensed.

While the plague of Islamic extremism exceeds all other cultures in the duration of its cruelty, hatred, and wanton mayhem, communism is without peer in sheer numbers of murder victims, hundreds of millions, and all that only since 1917.

Under China’s “one child only” mandate, hundreds of millions more innocent human beings have been killed through abortion, very many forced. Most of these mandated abortions have been of girls. So extensive has this horror been that China has now, possibly irretrievably, lost the normal balance of male-female demographic numbers. There are no longer sufficient numbers of females to provide mates for males.

But America is apparently seeing some merit in communist China’s policy of destroying female infants in utero. Abortion for the purpose of choosing gender is becoming popular in Planned Parenthood clinics. Mao would be proud.

A law is sought to be passed for the purpose of saving girls whose parents want to have a boy, or visa versa. The Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, will see a House debate Wednesday and a vote Thursday. According to one proponent of the new law, Charmaine Yoest, "There is nothing pro-woman about killing a baby girl because she is female and putting her mother’s health and safety at risk in the process."

I agree. Children of both sexes are a joy. This utterly vulnerable and innocent life must be protected from Chinese-style killing. We are faced with a true war on women.

CHARGE: Sex-selective abortions true 'war on women'...

 

I can’t believe I’m going to write a health editorial this week, but here it is.

There is a documentary available that we should all watch and take to heart. It’s called Forks Over Knives and it’s going to save millions of lives.

Most of my adult life I ridiculed folks who preached the merits of a vegetarian diet. I did so for two reasons; first, because the proponents of this diet were often strident, even overbearing. Then there are the criminal nut cases belonging to the PETA clan who belong in jail. The word Vegan still makes me a little uncomfortable.
There are dietary Vegans, environmental Vegans, and so-called ethical Vegans, who to my way of thinking are roughly sympathetic to the PETA people. But I’m talking about the thoughtful Vegans, the good guys and gals.

Longstanding dietary studies of the highest quality, by the most eminent experts, have proved to me beyond question that they are correct in believing that a diet of plants, grains, and fruit is, beyond question, healthiest for human consumption.

The studies are truly remarkable and should convince even the strongest, most irascible skeptic of the truth of this message.

What I find most remarkable is the simplicity, ease, and incontrovertible effectiveness of this change of diet. I won’t detail the documented benefits. They are so numerous you probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. But, for your own sake, Google the documentary: Forks Over Knives. It’s about an hour long, but it will get your attention. You can’t argue with the facts, and these facts will change your live for the better.

Here is the trailer:

Watch it now on Netflix:
www.netflix.com/Movie/Forks-Over-Knives/70185045

Official Website:
www.forksoverknives.com

 

CORRECTION: Last week the Gazette published photos of three young men who were detained following a fight at McDonald’s. Two of the three unnamed youths were Fillmore residents, one was from Oxnard. I stated that “they” were arrested. That was incorrect. Only the Oxnard youth was arrested as a suspect in the fight. The Fillmore youths were acting in self-defense. No one was seriously injured. My apologies to the two Fillmore boys, I understand they are outstanding citizens of our town.

* * *

Well, this has proven to be a technically interesting week.

I sit at my desk tapping-out this editorial with no expectation of being able to send it to our printer. We’ve been without internet service since early Monday. Thanks, AT&T.

We are apparently suffering from a widespread internet outage. AT&T tells us nothing.

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.: FLASH: Immediately after the Edison Co. finished installing its new meter in the building we regained our internet connection. A welcome coincidence.

* * *

An hour or so ago, California Highway Patrol units and Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies finished a high speed motorcycle pursuit, which ended on Foothill Drive. The motorcyclist was clocked at 120 m.p.h. on Highway 126. They have his bike, but the driver fled and is being sought by a Sheriff’s K-9 unit. He’s described as wearing leathers. On a warm day like this he’s got more than one reason to sweat it. So, if you happen to see a panting, sweating guy with a furtive expression, wearing a motorcycle helmet and colorful leathers walking in the brush, give the police a call. They would like to talk to him.

 

This is one of those days when I wish I had more time to do this subject justice. But I don’t.
Last night’s council meeting was the occasion for what may become one of this town’s most memorable (infamous?) decisions. It was a three-to-two vote rejecting the El Dorado owner’s offer to settle the three-year litigation with the city.

The city has spent $236,000 to date in its attempts to assist the residents of El Dorado Mobile Home Park against its bullying owners. Many issues have evolved, from rent control, to condo conversion, CEQA regulations and FEMA mandates. So far, the city has won all of its contests, but issues and arguments continue. In rejecting the settlement offer (which provided several important protections for senior and low income residents) the council has guaranteed continuous litigation for years to come, with the outcome uncertain.

I am wholly sympathetic with the El Dorado residents concerns. They are dealing with a nasty, greedy, bully in my opinion. Unfortunately, the law does not discriminate against nasty, greedy, bullies in the interpretation of contract and real property law. An American can be, and often is, a real SOB and still entitled to equal protection under the law. It’s in the book.

Councilmen Brooks, Sipes, and Gonzalez gave noble and emotional excuses for rejecting the settlement, and received standing ovations from a packed house. They had just been informed by our city manager that the State of California would probably leave the city to pay-off some $400,000 owed on the now defunct Towne Theatre. The city is several million in the red. Even film revenues have dropped from $40,000 to $6,000. Then there is the pool, some $300,000 in the red, the loss of 12 employees and nearly all top management. Things like this worry me.

Councilman Gonzalez admits, as do Sipes and Brooks, that, “The reality is that the city does not have the money to pay the estimated amount of $500,000 to $600,000 more to defend ourselves”. More than the $236,000 in legal fees already paid, should we be expected to pay a million?

But the city is not “defending” ourselves in the normal sense of that term. We have instigated the proceeding and have refused to let it go.

The El Dorado owners are making it hell for residents of their park, and it will only get worse. Issues of children’s play areas, parking, traffic, lighting, etc. are very serious for the 290 residents; that’s a fact. But the city has fought for 3 years already and should not be compelled to drag this fight out for another 3 to 5 years, for an additional half-million dollars. The city (council) has a strong fiduciary to safeguard Fillmore’s fiscal health. This duty is owed to all of its 14,000 residents, not just the 290 residents of El Dorado. I say this with sadness because their grievances are real and serious.

But Fillmore is in a dire fiscal crisis, as are most California cities. And, “doing some bake sales to help pay for the legal fees”, as Councilman Gonzalez recommends, will not succeed. If we can sell a couple of million cupcakes at a dollar per cup, maybe we would have a chance – a fat chance.

By rejecting the settlement, Sipes, Brooks, and Gonzalez have condemned this town to years more of legal fees. This was an absurdly emotional and illogical act.

Let’s try to reverse this decision. Then I would stand and applaud.

 

I’m a little tired today so I don’t feel much like annoying anyone with another editorial.

But, I do want to recognize the newest members of our Fillmore Chamber of Commerce. Plaques were presented this week to: Heavenly Gifts & Foundation Lab, 427 Central Avenue with Norma Mercado & Howard Weitz, proprietors, Ed and Shirley Edison, owners of the Up in Arms sporting equipment store at 328 Central Avenue, Melanie Fiers with Nerium International at 557 Ventura Street (Highway 126), and Nannette Keller, with Nannette and Roger Keller, creators of outstanding women’s clothing, at 340 Central Avenue.

The best of luck to all of you. Other new Chamber members will be recognized later this week.

 

This week the Gazette is honored to have four of Wanda’s grandchildren visit the office. So, welcome Katrionna (10) Ryan (9) Summer Grace (5) and Heather (4)! As once before, Katrionna, will act as my co-editor in the production of this (temporarily re-named) Realities editorial.

We have been mulling over what to write about this week. She is helping to compose these lines as we go, so you will no doubt see a marked improvement in the quality of this editorial.

* * * *

HOME-GROWN REALITIES (Special Edition)
By Martin Farrell (the Great)
And, Katrionna Furness, co-editor - (The Greatest)

Katrionna, Summer, Ryan, and Heather came to visit the Gazette this week. We did lots of exciting things, like going to the fish hatchery, and traveling to the Equestrian Center to see the horses, especially “Trouble”. We also went to Delores Day Park for a basket lunch and had a great time.

Upon our return to the office we began this editorial which is proceeding with some awkwardness. The fish at the hatchery were, as usual, very hungry, but the fish food vending machines were empty. They were quickly refilled by a friendly Fish and Game man. We enjoyed watching the Snowy Egrets, ducks, and Night Herons. We also gathered acorns under the school district Oak tree that morning, toured the swimming pool and had a busy day. Katrionna showed me how to use the video on my I-Phone, so I wouldn’t keep taking pictures of myself by mistake. Thank you Katrionna. It was a humbling experience. And, thank you also for correcting two of my spelling errors and making one suggestion on usage (I had been somewhat redundant).

Katrionna would like to say hello to her teachers, Ms. Worden and Ms. Russel, and to all of her friends in Mammoth where she is in the fifth grade. I am trying to hire Katrionna as my Mammoth correspondent. She’s thinking it over. Maybe she will agree – if it can be fitted-into her busy schedule. Katrionna is an A student and a star swimmer on the Mammoth Sharks swimming team, as is her younger brother Ryan. I hope to be receiving press releases in the near future with a by-line reading Katrionna Furness, Fillmore Gazette’s Mammoth Correspondent. A budding new journalist may be about to make her debut.

 

I see the Secret Service (whose first responsibility is to protect the President) is going after rock star Ted Nugent for making inflammatory statements concerning President Obama.

Nugent, famous for his outspoken support for the Second Amendment, and his hunting and firearms passion, frequently and publically expresses his loathing towards Mr. Obama and the Democrat Party. Hundreds of millions of other Americans share his opinion, and hope that, come November, Obama will be removed from office.

But Nugent’s opinions are hardly nuanced. He makes his point with fervor and a sense of urgency, saying that in November he would either be dead or in jail if Obama is re-elected. Knowing something about his stage personality, most reasonable people understand that he is employing some of his characteristic hyperbole.

Ted Nugent is not a criminal. He is a patriot in the vein of Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, both of whom loved guns and weren’t afraid of speaking truth to power.

Obama has loosed the dogs on Nugent who is now threatened with criminal sanctions for his words. He has become a selective target of the thought police, a protruding nail which government seeks to hammer into the floorboards.
Why hasn’t government sought to investigate real thugs like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Louis Farrakhhan, whose adult lives have been spent in inciting racial and ethnic hatred? Sharpton, and friends like Jesse Jackson and Reverend Wright, have shameless reputations for spreading racial violence through fraud and for self promotion.

Farrakhhan is in a class by himself. Listening to his raging, diabolical execrations of everything non-Muslim makes the rest of us take note. He hates America (as does the “Reverend” Wright), hates all white people, hates Christianity, and is a supporting friend of all America’s enemies. He implies death to the president (whom he sees as a traitor to Blacks and Muslims) and publically threatens death to Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and a host of others. Yet, this foaming-at-the-mouth madman is free from government scrutiny. He certainly doesn’t have to fear our Attorney General, much less the Secret Service.

But “Nuge” has to watch his step. Tomorrow he has to meet with the Secret Service to explain his anti-Obama words. He’ll probably serve-up some fresh venison. Wish I could be there.

Today the world seethes with hatred of every kind, particularly racial and ethnic hate. We never seem to run out of bad guys and always seem to be short of good guys. Ted Nugent is one of the good guys, and I wish him well. He should know that he is not alone.

 

After attending nearly 600 city council meetings during the past 23 years I should know better than to leave early. Very often important details emerge in the final minutes.

That’s what happened last night. I couldn’t stand any more talk about Fillmore’s chicken problem. Besides, I like chickens; they’re noble creatures. The real problem which often drives me out of the chambers is fuzzy council chatter, discussions which are ill defined and badly articulated. These conversations meander amorphously from one council member to another. I think of our council as a sort of seedbed for future liberal politicians. It’s frightening.

I hear that Mr. Brooks, once again, asked for a RFQ (Request for Qualifications) with a bead set on our legal counsel. This is not the first time Mr. Brooks has attempted to replace city professionals, always with little thought for the consequences.

Our present law firm has been with us for more than 20 years. It voluntarily took a significant cut in remuneration to assist the city in difficult times. Legal Counsel Ted Schneider has successfully handled many lawsuits for us, many very important, like the Owens & Minor tax revenue case.

As I said, this is nothing new for Brooks, who once admitted from the dais that his decision was “...personal, very personal.” This is a man with few business qualifications. This is a man who, in the first hour on the dais as a new councilman, pronounced a series of demands, in his effort to secure “open government” and to “take our city back,” a man who threatened, “not to bring peace, but a sword”. Hmm – didn’t Matthew report words something like that?

But then, he’s a Katzenjammer, and Katzenjammers behave something like chickens, like roosters, strutting around, crowing about one thing or another, and leaving a trail of unsightly decisions.

Our council should forget about that RFQ. The cost of disrupting the flow of business by bringing in a new law firm, and getting it up to date on a myriad of ongoing legal issues would be counterproductive and unnecessarily expensive. Besides, Ted Schneider has done an excellent job of representing Fillmore. Proof of that is in the number of cases and issues he has won for us.

Speaking of chickens, Councilperson Brian Sipes noted that Councilman Conaway was absent for the second time. This was a work related absence, and is entirely proper. Brian, you’re getting to be as bad as former Councilwoman Patti Walker, who recently sent me a very bitter letter of complaint. This sort of petty politics is really chicken-like.

***

On more important matters, I was stunned to learn that the life-snuffing business of abortion-on-demand, as practiced by the world’s largest abortion mill, Planned Parenthood, is asking for prayer – for more abortions. This bizarre idea is from Eureka, California, from the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood (SRPP). Read about it at “LifeSiteNews.com.”

Millions of babies waiting to be born hope those prayers go unanswered. They hope instead to soon laugh and play and see the light of day in their mother’s arms. Children are a joy. Without the gift of life no other gift is possible.

 

A happy Easter and Passover to all of our Gazette readers.

***

Heartfelt condolences go out to the Perez family for the tragic death of their mother, Angela Perez. We can’t begin to understand the loss and sorrow for the children.
Rest in peace, Angela.

***

Thanks are due to our Fillmore Fire Department for pulling double duty once again. Faced with the layoff of so many city workers, the Department has proven to be an essential temporary replacement, this week handling emergency tree trimming when a heavy, broken limb threatened to take-out power lines on Saratoga Street. They have been rendering assistance for months, helping out where help is most needed.

Kudos to Chief Rigo Landeros and his highly skilled team of firemen. Always there when needed.

***

The Gazette will be sponsoring awards for teacher and student of the year. A perpetual plaque will be created for each award winner which will be placed in the school district hall. In this way we hope to recognize and encourage educational excellence.

***

I can’t ignore President Obama’s most recent political stunt, which reveals the same lack of respect for our Constitution as was expressed by Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg has stated that she prefers South Africa’s constitution to the U.S. Constitution. Obama stated that the Supreme Court should not strike down his health care law because the justices are not elected.

Obama, who taught constitutional law at Columbia Law School (as a Lecturer, not a “professor”) should know something about our three branches of government, and the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison and the concept of judicial review. This is an unbelievable statement for the President of the United States to make.

Pray that the entire Obama care abortion mandate is struck down. The government has no constitutional right to force American citizens to purchase any product it might create, including healthcare.

***

I worry about what might happen in November. What worries me most is the fact that 54 percent of the American electorate actually voted for this political menace. If this nation loses the freedom guaranteed by our Constitution it will be caused by the mass of uneducated, ignorant citizens who see the country as a giant vending machine for all their wants and dreams – all of those things they feel “entitled” to. This nation is finished if this man is re-elected.

For those interested in understanding what has happened, and is happening, to our country, I strongly recommend Mark Steyn’s most recent best-seller, “After America (Get ready for Armageddon).” As a matter of fact, I dare you to read it and vote for Obama.

This is not a paid statement, and is not authorized by anyone but myself.

 

Finance Director Glenda Jay is to be congratulated for Tuesday’s clear and detailed summary of our midyear city budget. This is the good news.

Ever since former Finance Director Barbara Smith was first isolated, then elbowed out of her position two years before she was to retire, council Katzenjammers Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Brian Sipes have given us (was it three?) unusable budgets. The interim super team of Pennell-Wooner (how many hundreds of thousands did that cost?) struggled to produce a colorful new budget which didn’t get anywhere, despite Sipe’s triumphant waving of the document from the chambers floor (reminding me a little of Chamberlain’s WWII antics). I believe a second effort was unsuccessfully attempted as well, praised effusively by Mr. Brooks. Then, due to the diligent efforts of Ms. Jay, some three years later, we have success. Again, thank you Ms. Jay.

The four council members attending Tuesday’s council meeting bore the clueless, deer in the headlights expression, as they contemplated Fillmore’s fiscal fate.

They were no doubt thinking about the bad news. Fillmore is bankrupt (technically if not legally). It’s a no-show for the Towne Theatre which is more than $300,000 in debt, and the swimming pool is drowned in red ink, nearly $400,000. Virtually all other accounts are deeply in the red as well.

I left the meeting before City Manager Yvonne Quiring explained a reason for our fiscal plight. I’m told she said the State of California had overpaid the city millions in past years, and was now reclaiming the overpayment. If so, this certainly exculpates Ms. Quiring for this particular situation. I have to wonder why the council didn’t recognize the overpayments (as one would recognize the bank had deposited large sums of money into your account by mistake), why this money was spent, and on what, and what was done to soften the terms of repayment. This mistake by California bureaucrats was bad indeed, but certainly not the only reason for the city’s deadly deficit. Before the Katzenjammers came to the council, the city had an enviable 40 percent budget surplus and was set to develop 700 houses and new businesses in north Fillmore.

And, what would a council meeting drama be without cameo parts played by the tag-team of Gary (former failed mayor and city non-resident) Creagle and my nemesis Bob Stroh? Creagle wanted to be sure the Gazette got it right, Stroh blathered on about how Measures H and I were a good thing, even though it wiped out existing businesses, destroyed jobs, cost millions in lost revenue, wasted perhaps a half-million in North Fillmore Specific Plan work (7 years?) and made it practically impossible to develop the last and largest space within city limits. The properties remain fallow to this day.

 

It’s always good to report positive news, and we have much of that this week.

The Fillmore Rotary Sun Risers has raised the $7,800 needed to install the new gate at the high school track. This gate, which accepts electronic entry cards, will enable Fillmore’s many runners to access the all-weather track while keeping the facility secure. The battle to win public admission to the track has been waged for more than three years. Several runners, like Fillmore attorney John Scoles, had been running on the school track, before the expensive all-weather surface was installed, for 30 years. Being excluded after the new track was installed exposed runners to traffic dangers and other physical injury. Scoles suffered serious injuries recently when he was struck by an SUV while running at night.

So, congratulations and thanks are due to our Rotary Sun Risers for another job well done. See more details on page one.

***

In other good news, the Fillmore Athletic Booster Club has raised approximately $9,000. The money will go to supporting sporting programs at the high school which are threatened with cuts. The school district is extremely challenged for funds this year.

Kudos to all of you Booster Club members for saving sports activities at the school.

***

After these two outstanding achievements, we are faced with a major challenge – raising the $21,500 needed to send our 2012 high school graduates on the annual Grad Night Live cruise. This program, which was created by Raelene Chaney, Pat Askren and Scott Lee more than 20 years ago, to provide a safe alternative to drinking by minors on graduation night, has saved many lives. In the two years before the inauguration of Grad Night Live Fillmore lost 6 graduates in automobile accidents. Not one grad has been killed on graduation night since beginning this program. The grads have a great, all-night party on the water, and everyone has breakfast the next morning.

It’s always been an expensive challenge, but well worth the effort. Let’s all help out as much as possible.

 

I am looking forward to a visit from family members this morning. This curtails the time I have to comment on a number of important issues.

I understand that former Council Person Patti Walker is unhappy (again) with my opinions. I guess it’s tough to leave the limelight of city council for a more mundane life in the country. No more calls for advice, no more citizens seeking assistance.

Anyway, I’m working on replies to two recent letters from Patti. One thing at a time.

In one letter she attempts to correct my comments on the effect of the city’s recent court triumph in the Owens & Minor case. We won! Yet the Katzenjammers frown and mumble – while they eagerly await that $700,000 per year, all due to that “disgusting”, “immoral”, and “unethical” contract. Go figure. No time here to say much about that. But it’s a big victory for the city. Congratulations are due, again, to City Attorney Ted Schneider.
In the other letter, I get the impression that she’s angry. I recommend a slow walk in the groves.

***

They’re here! Got to go.