A couple of weeks ago I learned that certain people sharply disagreed with the conclusions of a recent editorial. Learning of displeasure of this sort was about as surprising as a weatherman learning of a passing cloud. What was surprising, however, was that the people in question lacked the intestinal fortitude to express that disagreement to my face. There was no honor in this girlish ambush. Christians have a duty to forgive, but not to forget. You may forgive the barracks thief, but only a fool would trust him after he is caught. Any other dissenters out there should know that I will never avoid stating my opinion on a controversial issue in order to avoid condemnation.

* * *

I had intended to put up some information and suggestions on the subject of emergency preparations this week. This is something I’ve been interested in for years. Among my very few and abiding concerns is being placed in a deadly or dangerous situation without being prepared, that is a state of helplessness. This can sometimes happen when we really have no choice. More often than not we don’t have to be helpless, with a little common sense preparation. Maybe next week I will enumerate those basic preps. An abundance of emergency preparation literature is widely available, including the Red Cross, Homeland Security, etc. Just always remember that drinking water should come first.

The Japanese people were promised, during construction of their nuclear power plants, that in the event of a disaster water would be provided to everyone in need, within 3 days. As the 3-day timeline passed recently, 2 million citizens were still without water. They had relied upon government promises. Government promises are fiction.

* * *

Be alarmed about how our Secretary of Defense has sabotaged our military recently. See: “Military training material on gays kissing behavior” here: http://www.fillmoregazette.com/military/military-indoctrinated-gays-kiss... . God, family, country – in that order only.

 


 

I was saddened to learn of the death this week of Manuel “Vic” Victoria Jr. He was among the first persons I met when I arrived in Fillmore 22 years ago. He had his shoe shop in the Masonic Lodge building next to the Gazette, at the corner of Central and Sespe Avenues. The Northridge quake which destroyed that landmark building devastated his business which he later moved to his residence. Vic lost a great many treasured artifacts and things he had collected over the years when his shop was destroyed.

Vic was a very congenial and interesting man. He was also a true “mountain man”, someone who knew the terrain of Ventura County like very few others. For decades he led hikes into the back country. I was fortunate to participate in an overnight hike up Pine Creek many years ago. His knowledge of nature and its creatures was acquired during a lifetime of exploring the wilderness. I vividly recall his strength as a hiker. It was hard to keep up with the unrelenting pace he set. Vic was also a skilled mason who built the home he lived in for decades.

Vic introduced many city folks to the wonder of the outdoors.

Rest in peace Vic. You will remain a rich part of Fillmore history.

***

Publishing a small weekly community newspaper is like no other work. It is a strange sort of undertaking. More than 25 years in this business has impressed that fact deep into my psyche. If you’re a person in need of many friends you would be unhappy in this job. If you are thin-skinned, with an aversion to religious and political controversy, this work would quickly wear you down, especially in a small town environment. You are uniquely on your own.

You learn a lot about humanity in this job, and humility as well when you absorb the social atmosphere peculiar to the town. You learn that very few residents really contribute to community success in a meaningful, dependable way. Most just attach themselves, and go along for the ride until the carrier dies out. You learn that the town is a true microcosm of the nation, with all its good and bad, weakness and strength. You grow to deeply respect the opportunity to freely state your opinion, sometimes in the face of withering dissent, as nowhere else in the world.

Among the hard lessons I’ve learned is, what appears to be deep is often shallow, and some things, at first appearing to be bad, have merit. Trust is rare, achieved only with time and trial. Over the years I’ve learned that energetic amicability is often untrustworthy, a sort of friendly usury for political, social, or professional profit. Maybe this is a universal truth. “All that glitters is not gold.”

If it’s true that the quality of your work can be assessed by the greatness of your enemies, with the Katzenjammers in mind I feel like an abject failure. However, with the inclusion of a false friend or two, I feel like a winner, because a treacherous “friend” is the supreme enemy. These are the obsequious, glad-handing Pharisees that poison society. The residue of such an experience is pure contempt, on both sides, and a sense of relief that one didn’t get to know the other person well. But, they can enhance the feeling of professional success if added to the enemies list, after wiping away the disgust. This is another factor driving me to comment on controversial public affairs.

This business can provide a broad understanding of small societies. I think, having published weekly newspapers in three states and five counties, I would someday like to put my findings into a book. Maybe, someday. The big question is: should I identify the players? I recall the immortal words of mankind’s greatest genius: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Maybe that should not be so.

 


 

Glen Beck has become the most important news commentator in the country during this past year. Bill O’Reilly remains number one in his news business, but only because he usually softens his comments by giving any benefit of the doubt to liberals, even when little doubt exists. Beck, on the other hand, doesn’t mince his words. His message is pure and direct. He also has the courage (unique in the business) to speak the truth regardless of the hammering he takes in the rest of the media. I admire him for that – though I can’t stand his radio program. Half of his radio time is spent on ads, and most of the rest frequently spent on childish, repetitious goofing-off with (it sounds like) a half-dozen clowns who laugh sarcastically at everything, continuously. It sounds like a frat party. In the morning, when I’m getting ready to go to work, I don’t have time for all this verbal grab-ass. No wonder he was recently dropped from New York’s biggest station. His radio presentation is utterly irritating. However, he’s still the only one telling it like it is on TV.

Beck’s website “The Blaze” is a valuable news source. It always has something important that no other media site has posted. The remaining media is almost all bought and paid for liberal (and anti-FOX News) bias.

* * *

Thanks in large part to Beck’s TV show and website, the hugely uninformed American public is finally learning about the murderous Islamic threat in our midst. His show is projecting America’s future by revealing government corruption and its weakening effect on our national defense. At the center of America’s vulnerability is a profoundly ignorant and inexperienced presidency which is accompanied by a swarm of political hacks, crooks, and amateurs. Few people understand, or want to understand, our most dangerous enemy today – Islam, as it is understood and practiced by most of 1.3 billion believers. It is a faith of hate; hate of the Jew, hate of the Christian, and hate of all “unbelievers”. Another recent manifestation of this bloody hatred which characterizes most of Islam is the murder (Wednesday) of the only Christian member of Pakistan’s federal Cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Roman Catholic. See http://www.theblaze.com/stories/assassinated-christian-pakistani-govt-of...

America, indeed all of western civilization, has no true Islamic friends; we have only friends of temporary commercial convenience. Turkey is no longer a friend, if it ever was, and Saudi Arabia, while a commercial partner for decades, has persistently sought to undermine Christian America by providing billions to create a surreptitious Islamic infrastructure in our midst.

Rest in peace, Saint Shahbaz Bhatti. Your sacrifice was not in vain. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus: “Tertullian”; 160-220 a.d.).

 


 

The entire world seems to be disintegrating these days. It’s no wonder a majority of Christian churches believe the end times, or at least the tribulation is upon us. How is the terrestrial cookie crumbling? Let me count some ways.

In the City of Fillmore our new city manager pilgrim is making progress, in the wrong direction. Tuesday’s council agenda was slim, and expected to remain so because our city manager (who orders business) doesn’t do much. Among her few guiding suggestions, however, is hiring an assistant. With such low expectations it will not surprise me to see many more short agendas at many more short council meetings. But wait - Brian Sipes attended a county animal control agency meeting a few weeks ago, and informed us that a new cat house was being built, with a big screen TV – because “cats like big screen TV.”

***

Elsewhere, the cat is out of the bag.

Thanks to Obama’s blundering inexperience and Muslim bias, Egypt is lost to the west. Obama’s inexperienced, ignorant, arrogant, and inept political appointees in the state department, intelligence services, defense department, and homeland security, continue to believe the Muslim Brotherhood is a small, mostly innocuous secular political organization. They are learning, too late, that it is, instead, the foundation of the present Middle Eastern insurrection and the center of bloody hatred of Israel and America, and the entirety of Western civilization. Within weeks expect the entire Muslim Middle East to be in chaos, which in turn will spread chaos around the world, political, religious, economic, and military. Muslim countries around the world are lying in wait for the Christian West. Iran can’t wait to unleash the dogs of war (to bring on the “twelfth Imam”). As during the Crusades, weakness and indecisiveness in the western world is precipitating this disaster. We need another Lepanto.

I feel sorry for the many excellent men and women working in our military and security services. They do a fine if thankless job; it is the upper echelon of duplicitous incompetents in civil and military government that has dissipated our strength, integrity, and effectiveness.

 


 

The entire staff at the Fillmore Gazette wishes to extend its sympathies and condolences to Conway Spitler upon learning of the death of his beloved spouse, Tillie.

Tillie’s warmth and generosity was a frequent gift to the staff in past years. She will be fondly remembered. Married for 65 years; what a wonderful example.

Rest in peace, Tillie.

***

Any thinking American today must be concerned, to the point of being alarmed, by the state of our nation. The older I get the more my sense of alarm manifests itself as profound disgust. Frankly, when I continue to witness the precipitous decline of my country, brought on by its stubborn desire to renounce our once cherished Judeo-Christian heritage, I sense more than imminent danger, I see disaster.

I cannot help comparing the state of this nation today to what it was in my youth. It is fair to say that virtually everything has changed. Certainly that common fundamental American concern for ethical behavior and the primacy of Judeo-Christian standards in our daily lives is hugely diminished. It’s difficult to see what the “Christian” community believes today, even harder to understand what we believe in common.

Few remember that as late as the 1930s virtually all Christian churches condemned contraception. Certainly, up to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, virtually all Christian and non-Christian Americans recognized the evil of aborting a child waiting to be born. Even more certainly no one would tolerate aborting a child in the last trimester. But today, the American president urges that even children born healthy following an unsuccessful abortion should be killed outright or by deliberate neglect.

America has embraced a fatal culture of death which has infected every branch of its society. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the revolting statistic showing that we have aborted more than 50 million preborn infants since 1973. Despite false statistics published by murder factories such as Planned Parenthood, 90 percent of these abortions were undertaken for reasons of social convenience.

As we Americans age, senior citizens should be concerned with those who feel entitled to decide who should live and who should die. Soviet communism and Nazi socialism did not hesitate to identify and condemn the “useless eaters” to an early death. We are headed in the same direction.

I also see a perfect storm of stupidity and naïveté in the actions of our government, our financial institutions, and in the ignorance of our electorate.

Our president is fundamentally ignorant of the responsibilities of his high office. It’s not his fault; he was voted into office because he was an articulate African American, not because he had any knowledge national defense, finance, the economy, or international relations. He’s just a slick-talking “community organizer”, an ideologue with a notable affinity for political radicals and radical Islam, who espoused socialism many years ago. Sadly, for the rest of us, our president brought with him into office a cloud of like-minded socialists, communists, former terrorists, scofflaws, and crooks. We can hardly blame the president; it was the millions of ignorant, stupid, blatantly racist members of our electorate who put him into office. There is no other explanation for the 98 and 70 percent voter margins of the last presidential election.

This tragic election outcome could not have occurred at a worse time. Our Community organizer-in-chief must deal with the many imminent life-and-death issues facing America, which will take more than the best talents of the best community organizer.

How can our community organizer deal with the world-wide Islamic jihadist revolutions, which seek to destroy America and all of western civilization? Look how he has bungled the recent Egyptian revolution. What can he be expected to do about the other Islamic nations (Pakistan, Iran, Syria, even Myanmar) having or seeking to produce atomic weapons? And, those criminal nations producing and marketing weapons of mass destruction, like North Korea, China and Russia?

Even Uncle Ugo in Venezuela wants his nuclear weapons.

Then, there is the problem of America going bankrupt and having the dollar dismissed as the world’s currency standard. And of course something close to 20 percent of Americans are out of work.

Our borders remain open and we are inundated with millions of illegal immigrants. Mexico has become essentially a failed state where even the army cannot control the $50 billion dollar drug business and where Americans are now routinely murdered by the cartels on American soil.

What’s a community organizer to do?

I wish it were possible to return to the 1950s, before everything began to fall apart in the 1960s. As much as I hate to admit it, at the present time, America for all her wondrous history is disintegrating. Amidst all of these issues, and two wars, our top military leaders have decided to permit openly homosexual persons into the ranks. How things have changed! I can’t imagine the guys I soldiered with at Ft. Bragg holding hands in ranks, or giving the First Sergeant a little peck on the cheek. I can readily understand confusion, disorder, even bloodshed, however, when this disgusting plan is implemented. Can anyone in their right mind imagine combat troops tolerating openly homosexual men in the ranks? How about SEALS?

Our military leaders, especially our Commander in Chief, have betrayed our fighting men and women, and the historical moral compass has been smashed. I would refuse to serve in such a military. I would strongly persuade any children of mine not to serve in such a military. It would be dishonorable.

This bastardly plan by military leaders of questionable character has already placed women in combat roles (soon to include submarine duty). It will be impossible to avoid drafting women in time of future wars.

America has lost its way; it is losing its soul. Only the strongest, most determined conservative majority in congress, and a new president with strong Judeo-Christian credentials, can save this nation at this late date.

 


 

Just a brief note on Tuesday’s city council meeting.

It’s hard to believe that our council majority (Patti, Gayle, Jamey, and Brian) can be so blatantly disingenuous, especially while being taped for TV. I just had to leave when these folks began to discuss the Grad Night Live location issue. It was like listening to maliciously mischievous children.

In short, this issue was created by a woman who had no standing to complain about what was then a fenced-in storage area by the bike path reserved for Grad Night Live.

The city has never owned the small property in question. The two businesses that did own the space had both permitted Grad Night to use it. There was ample room for a fire truck to access the packinghouse property in time of emergency. As a matter of fact, the closest fire hydrant to the packinghouse is located on the packinghouse property, across the tracks. The city ordered Grad Night to remove the existing containers, which was done at a financial loss. The city is now pretending to graciously replace those containers and permit Grad Night to remain in the same location. What a farce!

Instead of ignoring the complainant’s threats (and cheap race card remarks) and telling her to get out because she had no standing to complain, the council began to cower and respond. This response has taken-up hundreds of city hours, including three or four council agendas, gotten everyone angry to the point of threatening lawsuits, and engaging our city legal counsel. What has been the result? We are now back at square one, i.e. Grad Night retains the use of the property. What a waste!

To make matters worse, I had to listen to council-jammers Gayle, Brian, and Jamey prattle about how much the council has done to help Grad Night, and other non-profit organizations. Let’s get this straight you Katzenjammers. You are not the solution – you are the problem. You tried to cater to that trouble making woman who didn’t have enough common sense to know she had no standing to complain about the non-existing problem.
These three amigos (Brooks, Washburn, and Sipes) lied by denying the fact that they had promised Grad Night to replace the two containers they forced Grad Night to remove. This promise is (thankfully) caught on tape and will be posted to fillmoregazette.com. Here we have liars backing-up liars.

Be thinking about a recall.

***

Another example of devious dealings with the new council majority and its incompetent new manager, Yvonne Quiring, relates to the baseball backstop that will not be constructed for this year’s activity at our new Two Rivers Park.

Only one backstop was funded by the council majority. Quiring insisted that the state might come for the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) money, and we, therefore, couldn't afford to build the second backstop and other amenities.

The truth of the matter is that (now) former Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp, had carefully explained to the manager and council, just before resigning, that other money was available to complete this work. There is no legitimate reason for failing to fund both baseball park backstops.

There is also no reason for Jamey Brooks and Brian Sipes to push the council to replace Diane McCall on the Planning Commission. Since Diane has been a standout member of that commission for several years, this had to relate somehow to a personal issue (?). These two council members are the most inexperienced of the four Katzenjammers. The newly acquired feeling of power must have overcome these two pipsqueaks. In this case the Katzenjammers just continue with their program of sweeping away all opposition and eliminating the experienced old guard.

Again, $30,000 for a recall election is peanuts compared to the economic and personnel damage the Katzenjammers are causing the city.

Be thinking about a recall – it’s the right thing to do.

***

A postscript: The extension hiring of Linda Pappas Diaz was buried in the Warrant List at Tuesday’s meeting. No discussion, no open government.

 

Fillmore’s now former Director of Public Works (City Engineer) Bert Rapp, was covered with honors during what was his final council meeting, Tuesday evening. Rapp resigned his position last month after nearly 20 stellar years on the job. Though Bert remains silent about reasons for his departure, it is widely understood that dealing with the council majority (Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and now Brian Sipes) has been frustratingly counter-productive. Added to the continuous disrespect received from these four know-nothing, micro-managing political wanabes was the last straw, a new, obviously incompetent, city manager who has caused unprecedented disruption among the entire city staff. Two letters of no confidence in the new city manager, from city employees, have recently been read aloud to the council. Measures, if any, being taken to resolve this unprecedented situation are being kept secret from the public. In her single year at her previous city manager job, our new manager Yvonne Quiring met the same fate – no confidence, and was relieved of her job.

Long time employees like Bert and City Planner Kevin McSweeney, were denied employment contracts by the council majority. Threats to job retention was the reason given for these contract requests. The council majority deemed an employee work review necessary – though no one was competent to do the review. As the council majority had done previously with former City Manager Roy Payne (another outstanding 20-year employee) hostile and disrespectful statements and a lack of cooperation and support led to Bert’s resignation. The council majority left no doubt that they intended to replace all top employees who had served previous councils. They apparently intended to do this by making working conditions intolerable. Thanks to the organized effort of people like failed former mayor and non-resident Gary Creagle, frenetic blogger Bob Stroh, and other members of the Katzenjammer Klub, the work environment did become intolerable, hostile, and outside job offers became too inviting to resist.

The new council majority has replaced almost all of our most talented and experienced employees, those with the longest tenure, in order to find the money for less experienced, less costly employees and to provide sufficient salary money for an assistant city manager.

Bert received an unprecedented number of awards upon resignation, including rare recognition from the California State Assembly on behalf of our new Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, presented by former Fillmore Mayor Ernie Villegas.
I fear our new Katzenjammer majority on the council is not finished with its purging of the best of our city government employees. They have run city government off the rails and into the swamp. Watch closely as more and more vitally important city issues go unresolved or swept under the carpet. Watch as more government functions go into the dark room of executive sessions.

Thanks, Bert, for 20 years of superb, imaginative, and effective city engineering.

I’m wondering if a $30,000 recall is really too expensive to rid city government of this utterly incompetent, and financially irresponsible new council majority.

Fillmore has sown the wind. The whirlwind is just around the corner.

 

Whatever became of the moral outrage expressed by the Katzenjammer membership over the Owens&Minor tax sharing contract? I no longer hear their shrill condemnations of this agreement which will bring to Fillmore $800,000 to $1 million per year in tax sharing revenues – for the next 20 years. Where are those Katzenjammer condemnations which used to echo throughout the ranks, condemning former City Manager Roy Payne and past city councils for bringing this “immoral” agreement?

Of course these were the voices of those pious frauds (council members Gail Washburn, Jamey Brooks, Brian Sipes, and Patti Walker) who were at that time seeking public office. Their complaints were nothing more than political flatulence, but the effluvium overpowered any common sense remaining with the Fillmore electorate; these people really were elected. Katzenjammers like Bob Stroh and former, failed mayor and non-resident gadfly Gary Creagle, must be chortling over the success of their strategy to completely repopulate city government with their own luminaries. This change does not bode well for the residents of Fillmore who must abide by the results.

Briefly, here’s what the Katzenjammers have done: Those upper and middle city management members who saw the writing on the wall, and refused to work for the cabal, left early. Finance Director Barbara Smith took early retirement rather than deal with the new régime. Her position has not been filled to date. Former City Manager Roy Payne, serving as a coordinator for on-going issues such as the Business Park, resigned when the new council (utterly ignorant of his work) intended to review his work in order to decide whether to retain his services. In fact, there was no one around with sufficient knowledge of the importance of Roy’s work to be able to evaluate it. Then, City Manager Tom Ristau, who refused to have the new (Katzenjammer) City Clerk, Clay Westling, attend his staff meetings (something never done before, and a raw aggregation of power by Westling) and who was having to defend against increasing council disrespect, also resigned. Steve McClary, who had headed-up several critical, mid and upper level positions at city hall for many years, also resigned, and is now Acting City Manager for the City of Ojai. Most recently, Bert Rapp, Director of Public Works and City Engineer for nearly 20 years, resigned as well, to take a position of General Manager with a water company, giving him both a raise in salary and responsibility. Mr. Rapp had taken the brunt of Katzenjammer disrespect for at least four years, without complaint. His replacement has not been revealed, but whoever he/she may be, that person will not have Rapp’s nearly 20-year experience with the city’s infrastructure, which he largely rebuilt.

This exodus of management talent has not played out as yet. One has to wonder what the year 2011 will look like after the loss of the city’s most important and experienced employees. We have no Finance Director, no City Engineer, no coordinator for special projects, and we have two letters of no confidence in management from Fillmore’s employees.

What we have, instead, is a city council now composed of a majority of four Katzenjammers, a Katzenjammer city clerk, and a new city manager co-opted by the Katzenjammer council, and a city manager demanding to hire an assistant city manager. Perhaps it would be wise if future candidates for Fillmore public offices were asked if they are able to do the job without an assistant, or mandate that top tier positions must be filled only by candidates having the skill and experience to do that job without a highly-paid assistant. This would avoid unnecessary duplication of positions and the significant expense attendant to this duplication – especially during times of deep economic recession, when other employees fear for their jobs.

I believe this extraordinary series of city employee losses and economic challenges are directly due to the machinations of that group I tagged as Katzenjammers. After a long and energetic run, the dogs have finally caught-up with the car. Question: Now what are they going to do with it?

I have to thank God that Bert Rapp and American Water were able to finish our new award-winning water treatment plant before the Katzenjammers could stop the project, as they tried so hard to do.

The Gazette will publish a “State of the City” report soon. It’s got to be soon, before city hall completely disappears.

 

A happy, merry, and holy Christmas to all Gazette readers! We don’t celebrate the season, or the holiday; we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace, and the Redeemer of the human race. So, let’s all rejoice!

***

Are you shopkeepers located on south Central Avenue dry today? Are you experiencing any flooding during this heavy rainstorm? If not, you owe your new comfort to the man who has just resigned as Fillmore’s Director of Public Works (city engineer) Bert Rapp.

During the nearly 20 years of his employment Bert has essentially rebuilt Fillmore’s infrastructure with courage, skill, and imagination. He re-designed and rebuilt the city’s decrepit and dangerous old water system. He designed and built four city parks, our Class One bike path, re-engineered our Towne Theatre after the quake, designed our Pole Creek debris basin (which saves El Dorado Mobil Home Park from flooding), built our new city hall, and, best of all, caused to be built our great new, award-winning, water treatment plant.

There is virtually no place in the City of Fillmore that he has not in some beneficial way changed.

With all of these major achievements, and the official accolades his work has received, he remains one of the most humble, modest men I have ever known, a true Christian gentleman.

Bert is one of the last of many upper management city employees to leave since our city council has been overrun by the Katzenjammers, a highly organized political group determined to drive-off all long-term city employees. He has been personally disrespected, and his professional expertise ignored, by the most ignorant, inexperienced bunch of micromanagers ever to sit on the council. Bert could have resigned for several more lucrative engineering positions at any time, but he loved this city and wanted to complete his ideas. Politics finally made this impossible.

Beginning with our former City Manager Roy Payne, who was deliberately insulted to the point that he also resigned, through several other upper-level employees who left to avoid having to deal with Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and now Brian Sipes, our city hall is now like a wind-swept barn. Virtually every city employee has signed a letter of no confidence in city management – only to be ignored, twice.

Good luck to Bert Rapp. He’s our loss and his new employer’s gain – much like Steve McClary and the others who have gone to greener places earlier.

A spirit of stupidity has settled upon the City of Fillmore.

 

Something momentous happened at Tuesday’s council meeting. It should be immortalized as the enthronement of the fourth Katzenjammer, Brian Sipes. To date, he joins Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, and Jamey Brooks, charter Katzenjammers all. One man alone remains of the old régime, Steve Conaway. He must be remembered as Horatius at the gate, holding back all those sword-swinging Katzenjammers!

Comparing this council to pre-Katz councils, I can say (with a half-dozen former mayors) to show confidence in Fillmore’s near-term future is, at best, naive.

Serious and unique issues pertaining to our new city manager and the entire staff under her control remain unresolved. Staff morale remains darkly depressed as they await layoffs, firings, and pay cuts. It is widely alleged that the new council has targeted 5 remaining, long term top and/or middle management positions for replacement. Our new city manager appears to be positioning a new employee for assistant manager by recently providing an $8 per-hour raise as others are put on furlough. The need for an assistant city manager, at another substantial salary, is at best controversial, but Ms. Quiring continues her search. Roy Payne needed no such assistance.

The unprecedented open letter of no confidence in Quiring from all city employees is being deliberately ignored.

* * *

I was stunned by the way the Grad Night Live storage issue was handled last night. This non-profit program has continued to save the lives of Fillmore High School graduates for the past 20 years. It’s entirely run by volunteers who seek to raise more than $21,000 each year to provide a cruise night immediately after graduation to avoid drinking and driving which had been killing graduates in alarming numbers before this program began.
All Raelene Cheney (president) wanted was to continue to use the very convenient location in use for several years to store donated materials and donated cars for sale. It was the city that initiated the problem, and doesn’t even own the property in question – not even a valid easement!

One trouble-making resident who has no connection to the property persists in complaining about its alleged unlawful use. She insinuates that a staff member may be racist in failing to immediately redress her complaint.
Our city manager should have treated this issue quickly, by ignoring the complainant and remedying the problem the city created by putting Grad Night Live on the same sort of agreement that the railroad museum has - $1.00 per year. Maybe false accusations of racism should be made actionable. This is an outrage. Grad Night Live should be allowed to stay where they were and the storage containers should be replaced at city expense. And, interloping troublemakers should be ignored for what they are!

 

I guess the next city council meeting is set for the 14th. I don’t want to miss it, especially because I expect four council members (Walker, Washburn, Brooks, and Sipes) to express their apologies to former (20-year) City Manager Roy Payne, our legal counsel, and the previous city council that approved the Owens and Minor tax revenue sharing contract 7 years ago. This unique contract has substantially benefited the City of Fillmore to the tune of about $1 million per year, and will continue to do so for the entire 20-year duration of the contract.

However, this good news has been trashed by the above Katzenjammers who have excoriated Mr. Payne, the former council, and our legal counsel, characterizing this hugely beneficial contract as something evil. They have denounced this contract as “immoral, dishonorable, and unethical.”

I expect to see the Katzenjammers line up before the dais to deliver their apologies and confess their errors. I can see it now, Gary Creagle (the non-resident leader, tutor of Jamey Brooks, and self-proclaimed man of means) remove his Foghorn-Leghorn cap before tearfully asking forgiveness. Then, Patti Walker, who once approved the contract, would say, “I was wrong, receiving $1 million each year for 20 years is a good thing, especially during this recession.” Washburn would be next. She also would repent of her excessive political ambition and fuzzy thinking. She should say something like, “How could I have been so foolish to criticize such a lawful, beneficial agreement, which has been blessed by the courts and the Board of Equalization!”

Then Jamey would step forth, glancing over his shoulder at the repentant Creagle, I can hear him say, “Creagle made me do it! He told me to swing my sword of righteousness at that contract and those responsible for creating it. I set out to cut costs but somehow ended up cutting revenue, and everything else in sight.”

Then it would be Sipes’ turn. I see him blushing with embarrassment over his many-years-worth of blustering condemnation of the contract, and the thought that his mom might not be pleased. I hear him reject his standard rebuke of the “unethical” tax contract, and see him and his mom publically demonstrate true ethics by recusing themselves from further participation in the city’s First Time Home Owners project, now a conflict of interest.

City Clerk and charter Katzenjammer, Clay Westling, would awake with a jolt in his official chair. He too would search the audience for some gesture of assistance from Creagle, siting in the back row with cap pulled over his eyes. Seeing none, Westling would plead that he was only following orders.

Ah – but these things are only in a dream.

 

I recall, partially, an old saying my Dad once told me. It had to do with avoiding bad company. It went something like this: A drunk stumbled out of a frontier-age bar and fell into the earthen street gutter, where a pig happened to be resting. I only remember the final words, “You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses, and the pig got up and slowly walked away.”

This image came to mind as I received the great news that Fillmore has, again, won its argument with the Board of Equalization. The city’s much-condemned tax sharing contract concerning Owens and Minor, which has existed since 2003, has been validated by the Board. The bad company alluded to in the short scenario is like Fillmore’s Katzenjammers; reasonable residents of Fillmore should walk away from their infamous political shenanigans.
This political cabal has swept away virtually all of the honorable, competent members of city government in the past two years. It’s truly amazing. Gone is more than a hundred years of city government experience, driven away by insufferable arrogance and micromanagement habits of the Katzenjammers who have opposed the great achievements of prior councils and city managers, and staff.

I would like to refer readers to the Fillmore Gazette website: fillmoregazette.com, to a letter submitted by former (20-year) City Manager Roy Payne. It is dated 06-08-2009. Roy identifies the hierarchy in the Klub Katz cabal, as Washburn, Brooks, Westling, Creagle, Stroh, Walker, Sipes, etc. Roy focuses on this tax sharing contract with remarkable clarity. It’s worth a read. And, Roy is correct!

Everything this group has touched has turned to economic rot. They pushed the north Fillmore Measures H and I, which will cost the city at least $300,000. They fought against the water treatment plant, completely ignorant of what they were opposing. They have repeatedly criticized the Owens and Minor tax sharing contract, which has brought millions of dollars into our city coffers, designated for the Reserve General Fund, earmarked for additional police services. (Please see: Sales Tax Revenue Sharing, fillmoregazette.com September 24, 2008 for more detail)

Four of five city council members are charter member Katzenjammers, as is our new city clerk. Only Councilman Steve Conaway remains to stem the flow of enthusiastic council stupidity.

Well, the election is over. Let’s see how Walker, Washburn, Brooks, and Sipes unscramble the mess they have created. Wait until the money begins to flow out of city coffers to re-do the entire north Fillmore plan. Wait to see exactly where all of that mandated low and very low income housing has to be shoehorned in the few remaining buildable areas within city limits. Watch as all of the remaining (now unbuildable) land in north Fillmore goes back to weeds as landowners abandon their plans.

How many times must we hear Katzenjammers like Bob Stroh jabber away about how terribly dishonorable and “unethical, illegal, and immoral” the tax contract is? It’s just incredible. Talk about keeping bad company! I have to wonder if most of the City of Fillmore is asleep while this sort of deception continues.

With Obama at the helm it seems America is headed across the river Styx without a guide. Let’s hope Fillmore can somehow avoid finding itself up that infamous creek without a decent fiscal paddle.

 

I’m going to use my editorial space to answer Bob Stroh’s letter. Bob is the Katzenjammer’s unofficial propaganda go-to guy. He spiels what he is fed without properly digesting it.

Space is particularly short this Thanksgiving week so my answers have been inserted after each question, in italics.

A few facts should be noted: PERC did not bid for the Fillmore job. There are significant geological differences between Santa Paula and Fillmore sites. Both plants were mandated by Sacramento. Both plants treat water for the same result, very differently.

Much of Bob’s letter expresses his own uninformed opinion. Much of it is simply false.

A letter from PERC relates to this subject and is included at the end of this editorial.

Re: Gazette Editorial (11/11/2010) To address incorrect information and clarify issues.
By Bob Stroh
“Gazette: Construction Costs” “The total capital cost of the Fillmore project is $82 million.” Fillmore’s complete cost will be published before the end of this year, it will come in at about $76M, Santa Paula has never published its complete project cost. This includes $26 million for effluent disposal. So if the plant was only $39 million, where did the other $17 million go? The Santa Paula plant is twice the size of ours and their plant capital cost was $44 million with $8 million for effluent disposal. These numbers are incorrect: Santa Paula’s bid price was $57M. Their buyout price from PERC is currently $85M or Fair Market Value, whichever is greater, just for the plant. Fillmore’s prices include construction bid price, land, legal, environmental, RWQCB costs, consultants, etc. Santa Paula’s prices are only the construction bid price.

“The truth is that the extreme costs of this sewer plant are due to the plan (undisclosed and unknown until recently) for ratepayers to subsidize the Business Park. The cost of the land, the levee and River Street extension would not have been incurred had the City used another site on land we already owned. In addition, the extended sewer mains, utility infrastructure and storm drains (from D St. to Plant) increased costs. THE MAIN REASON THE PLANT WAS SITED AT ITS CURRENT LOCATION WAS TO FACILITATE AND SUBSIDIZE THE BUSINESS PARK. KDF is NOT helping the City, the City and taxpayers are helping KDF. The question is whose plan is this?” The reason the plant was built where it is was so it would be in the downstream corner of the City for long term system efficiency. The old analogy that “stuff” runs downhill holds true. The City made the location decision before it knew that the plant’s future neighbor, KDF Communities would contribute $3M to pay for 50% of the levee and for all of River Street from C Street to E Street. Partnering with the Business Park was a bonus to building the plant in the correct location. Business Park owners have helped reduce costs to Fillmore rate payers, not increased them as Mr. Stroh would have readers believe.

Gazette: “Fillmore owns its plant outright while Santa Paula has a buyout clause”
“Fillmore does not own its plant outright because it carries a 40 year bond debt of $57 million principal plus $77 million in interest, ($134 million). This does not include $19 million taken from the Redevelopment Agency. Plus whatever debt service is associated with that.” It’s naïve to think that Santa Paula is not paying interest on the cost of the plant. Their rate payers are paying interest for the financing of the plant only they’re paying for it through the monthly payments to PERC. If the City of Santa Paula desires to buy the plant, at any time, even 30 years from now, they’ll have to pay $85 M or Fair Market Value whichever is greater. Some say it’s the same as leasing a car for 3 years then buying the car at original sticker price plus dealer mark ups.

Gazette: “In every way Fillmore’s plant is far superior in cost and efficiency.”
“Santa Paula's plant has a much smaller footprint, saving millions in land costs. (Fillmore paid $2.4 million just for land purchase.) Santa Paula's plant can be operated by 3 operators. Fillmore requires 6. Both plants have won awards and are recognized as state of the art.” The Fillmore bid included a credit if the contractor used less land. This would have given PERC a $1M advantage had they bid the Fillmore project but they chose not to. How much did Santa Paula pay for the land for their plant? I think it was about $5M. Fillmore’s 6 member staff maintains not only the plant but the collection system throughout the city as well as well as the recycled water system. Santa Paula’s 3 member staff only runs the plant.

“It seems like the Santa Paula paper is keeping its citizens informed. If the Gazette did, citizens would know about the issues with Fillmore’s plant. Including; the delays to get an APCD permit, that W. M. Lyle’s took all of the “open book” funds(intended for cost savings sharing), and the 21 change orders, some of which were implemented prior to Council approval. In Santa Paula, this is what caused their Public Works Director to be fired.” The confusion expressed in Santa Paula concerning rates and interest is quoted from the Santa Paula Times, with permission. The City of Santa Paula has not said why they terminated their Public Works Director and all the rest of the Public Works staff other than for budget cutting reasons. Can Mr. Stroh produce evidence from the City of Santa Paula stating that his statement is fact based? All of the change orders were implemented with proper City Council Approval. Of the 21 change orders 16 were requested by the City, 3 were requested and paid for by business park neighbors, 2 were requested by the contractor for changed conditions. All of the 21 change orders amounted to 7.7%, the contractor requested change orders were about 2%, a normal construction project budgets 10% for change orders.

“Santa Paula’s current sewer rates are lower than Fillmore’s sewer rates.” Santa Paula = $77, Fillmore = $82. Santa Paula is twice as big as Fillmore and should have an economy of scale and pay less per gallon treated. Santa Paula has twice as many customers to divide the cost over and they are not recycling the water. Santa Paula’s rates should have been $20 per month lower than Fillmore not $5. Santa Paula like Fillmore could not afford to discharge to the river because it was too expensive. Santa Paula’s geology enabled them to utilize percolation ponds at a cost of $8M while Fillmore had to implement a water recycling program at a cost of $13M. All of these reasons should have given Santa Paula very low sewer rates. How much higher would Santa Paula rates be if they had poor geology and had to recycle the water?

- “Santa Paula’s monthly “all-in” costs of the facility is $19 per resident (including all capital replacement reserves), while Fillmore’s “all-in” cost of their facility is at least $31 per resident (excluding all capital replacements reserves).” The standard cost comparison is in the sewer rates themselves and the population of the city. Who knows what formula for “all-in” is?

- “Santa Paula will own their facility at no transfer cost at the end of the 30-year contract whereas Fillmore will have an additional 10 years to pay off their bonds in order to own their facility unencumbered.” This statement ignores the Santa Paula Agreement with PERC. In 2010 the purchase price starts at $85M for the $57M plant and reduces each year thereafter down to $0 on December 31, 2040, provided, however, that the Fair Market Value of the Facility is not higher. So the buyout fee in year 2040 will be $0 if PERC has run the plant into the ground due to lack of maintenance (not a realistic scenario) or it could be the sky’s the limit Fair Market Value if PERC takes good care of the plant. So Santa Paula’s cost in 2040 will be $0 for a plant that needs work or perhaps sky’s the limit for a plant that is in good condition. During the next 30 years Santa Paula is paying for the debt service on the plant through the monthly service fee to PERC but at the end of the 30 years they would have to pay again if they want to own their plant (see Santa Paula Times article 11/18/10). Fillmore on the other hand owns their plant from the start. The comments provided are for demonstrative purposes only and should be used to illustrate the terms of the Santa Paula contract only. PERC is a reputable company providing a critical service to the citizens of the cities they serve.

- “Santa Paula does not have an interest rate or any interest rate risk for 30-years.” Fillmore does not have an “interest rate risk” as the city secured a fixed rate for the life of the loan.

- “Both American Water and PERC were hired to provide critical infrastructure and operations services to their respective cities. The specifics of the decision making process for each city is not transferable to the other city. Citizens of both cities are paying a high price to meet the State Mandates which originated under the Clean Water Act.”

Mr. Stroh suggests that the plant could have been built somewhere else but he neglects to state where. He wants readers to believe that the new plant could have been built on the old plant site as a cost saving measure. Ventura County found out that building a new plant on top of an existing operating plant yields higher costs, hence the reason they shifted focus and bought land to site the new plant after they rejected the first round of bids for the Piru plant.

It’s Stroh’s belief that the plant was built to help KDF and the business park! This sort of outrageous slur typifies Katzenjammer propaganda. The plant was built were it was because it was logical, appropriate, achievable and the least cost option. The plant had to be built regardless of any developer or development now or into the future. The plant was built to comply with a State Mandate, not to help developers. There is no point demanding proof from Stroh, he has none.

Every change order was approved by the city council. Yes, Fillmore is dealing with another regulatory agency in securing a permit (APCD, county air quality, but this involves simply education about our new state-of-the-art monitor. Our plant has zero harmful emissions – one reason for its many awards). This is not even an issue.

Bob seems to live to diminish Fillmore’s achievements. He and the Katzenjammers continue to do the same with regard to the lawful, beneficial, and completely moral sales tax controversy. The Katzenjammers are shameless.

Both communities were faced with an imposing unfunded mandate from the State of California. Elected officials in both cities met the challenge of complying with the mandate. Each city took a different path to achieve its goal. Fillmore has met the all the challenges and has a facility that will serve it well for decades to come.

Martin Farrell

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Letter from PERC

Santa Paula’s Water Recycling Facility: The Facts
At the conclusion of the reprinted Santa Paula Times article “SP Council Forum: Cost of new water recycling plant sparks comments” by Peggy Kelly from the November 10th edition of The Fillmore Gazette, a misleading editorialized comparison of the Santa Paula and Fillmore Water Recycling Facilities was added to the end of the article. The facilities cannot be compared without demonstrating the difference in their procurement, capacity and process.
PERC Water believes the City of Fillmore should be applauded for its innovative selection of the DBO delivery method for its new facility. Here are the facts about the Santa Paula Water Recycling Facility:
- The Fillmore facility was contracted as a Design-Build-Operate (DBO) project, requiring the City of Fillmore to fund the full capital cost to design, build and commission the facility.
- The City of Santa Paula used the Design-Build-Operate-Finance (DBOF) delivery method and was not required to fund any capital costs to design, build and commission the facility. The City of Santa Paula pays a set monthly Service Fee effective the commencement of operations, which includes the following components:
o All capital for the design, construction and commissioning of the facility
o Interest during construction (two years)
o Equipment replacements and capital expenditures for 30-years, including risk
o Interest rate risk for 30-years
o O&M costs and power consumption risk for 30-years
o Future expansion from 3.4 MGD to 4.2 MGD
- Santa Paula does not have an interest rate or any interest rate risk for 30-years. All risks associated with interest rate fluctuations are assumed by Santa Paula Water LLC.
- Santa Paula residents currently pay for a 4.2 MGD facility, whereas Fillmore’s residents currently pay for a 1.8 MGD facility. Fillmore’s cost to expand the facility from 1.8 MGD to 2.4 MGD is not included in the DBO cost.
- Santa Paula’s current sewer rates are lower than Fillmore’s sewer rates.
- Santa Paula’s monthly “all-in” costs of the facility is $19 per resident (including all capital replacement reserves), while Fillmore’s “all-in” cost of their facility is at least $31 per resident (excluding all capital replacements reserves).
- Santa Paula will own their facility at no transfer cost at the end of the 30-year contract whereas Fillmore will have an additional 10 years to pay off their bonds in order to own their facility unencumbered.
- Santa Paula’s facility was completed seven months in advance of the mandated regional deadline for completion.
- Santa Paula’s facility was recognized as the most energy efficient and cost effective MBR facility by Dr. Shane Trussell, a leading expert in Membrane wastewater treatment process technology.
- Santa Paula’s facility reduced the expected wastewater treatment power consumption costs by at least 15% as a result of design enhancements made by PERC Water – a savings they are splitting with the City of Santa Paula.
- Santa Paula’s facility uses 70% less land (5 acres) than the City had anticipated.
- Santa Paula’s facility financing structure has been recognized internationally by Global Water Intelligence as a “ground-breaking transaction, which can be emulated across the United States.”
- The City of Santa Paula selected the DBOF delivery method instead of a PERC Water DBO proposal that considered City financing.
- Santa Paula’s facility is in full compliance with the Regional Board’s waste discharge permit for what the Facility is intended to treat.
- More than 85% of the construction hours worked on the facility were from local union workers.

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Read Stroh’s letter here http://www.fillmoregazette.com/letters/november-25th-2010

 

A good many notable things have happened in Fillmore during the past week.

Fillmore High School football team played Santa Paula High School for the 100th time, in the oldest such rivalry in California’s history. Sadly, the Flashes lost by 3 points in a very exciting event. The game was covered by TV and radio stations as never before. Congratulations to each member of the Fillmore team for playing so well and so hard. Kudos also go to Steve Conaway for his play-by-play coverage and to the Booster Club for its incredibly hard work in planning this historic game. The entire event was professionally executed.

***

The Fillmore High School Hall of Fame Committee, under the direction of Joe Woods, admitted approximately 80 new athletes. This was an enormous undertaking lasting more than 4 hours. A complete story with photos will be published in next week’s edition of the Gazette.

***

Many thanks go to Dick Diaz who wrote the story on last week’s special dinner for Santa Paula and Fillmore football players. Dick always does a superb job and is always ready to help. Commemorative certificates and plaques were presented on behalf of several dignitaries, and both teams and cheerleaders enjoyed a fine dinner.

 

What had been known as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of hostilities in WWI, is now recognized as Veterans Day. November 11 was chosen for this important holiday because the armistice caused the fighting to end on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. The unprecedented human slaughter of that world conflict was to be followed by WW2, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and several other conflicts all over the world.

What we celebrate and solemnly commemorate on Veterans Day is not the Armistice, or the several treaties. We celebrate and honor the strength and bravery of our men and women who have fought and died defending our nation as millions of soldiers, sailors, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guardsmen.

Today it is particularly important to remember these sacrifices because a powerful, radical Leftist influence is eating away at America, its Constitutional foundation and most treasured traditions. Let’s all remember the price our military heroes paid to preserve America, and remain ready to fight and defeat our enemies, foreign and domestic.

* * *

I want to thank Don Johnson, publisher of the Santa Paula Times, for permitting the Gazette to run a story by that paper’s distinguished reporter, Peggy Kelly (see article here http://www.fillmoregazette.com/community/reprint-santa-paula-times-regar...). The story reveals the serious problems Santa Paula is having with its new water treatment plant, constructed by PERC, the company our Katzenjammers fought so hard to have build Fillmore’s plant.

I invite readers to compare the consequences of the PERC contract with the outcome under Fillmore’s contract with American Water. Kennedy Jenks designed our new plant (as well as the original 1955 plant), and W.M. Liles did the construction (which is exceptional). Be proud – our plant has received 8 awards for design and function. It is the state-of-the-art standard in the industry.

Fillmore vs. Santa Paula sewer costs. Here are some facts regarding the Santa Paula sewer contract.

SANTA PAULA:
The Design, Build, Operate and Finance Agreement dated June 16, 2008 between the City of Santa Paula and Pacific Environmental Resources Corporation (PERC) contains the following:
Article IV of the Agreement gives the City the option to pay, at any time, a “Design/Build Buyout Fee”. Payment of this fee by the City eliminates the Design/Build Component of the Service Fees and also conveys title of the Facility to the City. In other words the City of Santa Paula and those that pay a sewer bill do not own the plant until they pay this fee.
The Design/Build Payout Fee is set forth in a Schedule found in Appendix 6 of the agreement. The Fee starts at $85,266,689 (Construction bid price was $57,307,351) upon final completion of the facility (August 2010) and reduces each year thereafter down to $0 on December 31, 2040. Provided, however, the definition of the Design/Build Payout Fee states that the Fee shall be the greater of (a) the Fair Market Value of the Facility, or (b) the applicable fee set forth in Appendix 6. So the buyout fee will be greater than the $85 million and greater at any time than the de-escalating scale shown in Appendix 6.
After, paying the Design/Build Payout Fee, the City is still obligated to pay the annual O&M Component of the Service Fees, paid on a monthly basis and adjusted annually in accordance with the Consumer Price Index – All Consumers (LA, Riverside, Orange County (All Items Less Energy). The City also has the option to terminate the O&M Component by paying the O&M Service Termination Fee set forth in a Schedule found in Appendix 6 of the agreement. The Termination Fee starts at $1,410,363. The Termination Fee reduces to $0 on December 21, 2040.
Payment by the City of Santa Paula for both the Design/Build Payout Fee and the O&M Service Termination Fee ($85,000,000 + $940,000) would give the City complete ownership and control of the Facility.

FILLMORE:
Fillmore’s construction bid price was $ 42,742,454 - $2,900,343 reimbursed by our neighbor KDF for 50% of the Sespe Creek levee and River Street = $39,842,111. Fillmore owns the plant outright. We also have a termination fee of $520,000 as of November 2010 that reduces by 1/20th every year.
FILLMORE / SANTA PAULA SEWER PROJECT COMPARISONS
FILLMORE: Construction Bid Price - $39,842,111
SANTA PAULA: Construction Bid Price - $57,30,351
FILLMORE: Buyout Price - $0
SANTA PAULA: Buyout Price - $85,000,000
FILLMORE: Operations Termination Price - $520,000
SANTA PAULA: Operations Termination Price - $1,410,363

The Santa Paula treatment plant should have provided significantly lower sewer fees than Fillmore’s due to efficiency of scale, Santa Paula having about twice the population of Fillmore. As you can see, this is not the case. In every way Fillmore’s plant is far superior in cost and efficiency. Our plant came in under cost and well ahead of schedule. And, Santa Paula doesn’t even own its plant!

This is proof that the Katzenjammers, with their cute tactics (remember the “Sewercide” antics?) phony technical data, and unending complaints and redundant demands for “answers”, were wrong all along. This cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in waste due to delay and obstruction. That they will never admit this is evidence of their fundamental duplicity, which characterizes the ethos of that organization, Klub Katz.

* * *

Grad Night Live needs a new place to park the cars donated to it for re-sale as part of its fundraising activity. For 20 years Raelene Cheney has supervised this life-saving non-profit organization. I hope the city might provide space (perhaps at its maintenance yard) for a few cars. The need is great. The time is short.

* * *

Untruthful, emotional statements from Katzenjammers at the council meeting podium are neither new nor surprising. They are tedious and sometimes humorous, but almost always false. Comments by Ken Creason, Gary Creagle, and their ilk are typical. Creason did not disappoint at Tuesday’s city council meeting. His complaints against the Gazette, me personally, and against former Mayor Roger Campbell were really childish this time around. He pouts about one candidate’s campaign signs being placed next to his favored candidate’s. He implied that Mr. Campbell or I may have stolen or damaged his candidate’s campaign signs.

Ken, time to grow up – and man-up. If you believe I had anything to do with such skullduggery say so, or stop wasting council time. Your childishness is other folk’s aggravation.

* * *

I was also accused by Mrs. Westling, our city clerk’s spouse; I will not repeat the charges. I did explain to Mrs. Westling after the meeting, that I had nothing to do with her complaint. She graciously accepted my word.

 

Fillmore’s election is over. I wish I could rejoice. The Katzenjammers have won again.

I guess a formula of sorts has been established to win city elections. In part, this formula includes the inclusion of at least two candidates to serve as scapegoats, sacrificed to drain-off about 25 percent, the clueless part of our electorate. But that’s democracy.

Conservatives pretty well swept the national election, but we still have to contend with Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown, and Old Rubber Lips, Barney Frank. The city council catastrophe is nearly complete now, with the exception of Councilman Steve Conaway who is the last remaining vestige of common sense, experience, and moral character. We deserve the government we choose. Let’s see what’s left in our city coffers by the next election.
The only way this town will be delivered from the Katzenjammer grip is to create a political counter organization that can get out the vote. In the last two years we have lost our city manager, our financial director, city clerk, and other long-time staff members. Most have been replaced with temporary, interim, part time people. We have a city staff so concerned with affairs at city hall that they have submitted two letters of no confidence. The interim managers, hired to finish the budget, left us with no budget and hundreds of thousands of dollars of expense for their employment. City government is in a mess with no clear, near term plan to fix anything.

One bright spot – our school board. Congratulations to Kim, Lucy, and Dave. I regret that Mark did not make it, but we have three great new members just the same.

More next week after I recover from my general political depression.

 

Well, this is the last edition of the Gazette before Election Day. I’ve already expressed my despair at having to choose two more Fillmore City Council members. But last night’s city council meeting has concentrated my mind. I urge everyone to view this kabuki theater gone wild (Channel 10, 6:30) to get a better understanding of just how far off the tracks our city government has come since the last election which established the Katzenjammer majority of Patti Walker, Jamey Brooks, and Gayle Washburn. Patti is again running. Since being appointed mayor by her political cronies on the council, her affinity for secrecy and micromanagement has been energized, to the alarm and distress of city staff. As I’ve said before, Patti is now sufficiently tutored in public corruption to qualify for higher office. She is the only council member in city history to be censured, the only one to refuse to sign the traditional ethics pledge, a serial violator of the Brown Act, and a habitual, self-serving liar. Patti’s recent attacks against Councilwoman Laurie Hernandez in the Ventura Star, and from her seat on the dais, are contemptible. You can tell when Patti is lying by that habitual smarmy expression; I emphasize the word “habitual”. I’m told that I left that meeting a little too soon. Council Member Hernandez engaged Walker in a “discussion” about Walker’s accusations to the Star. High fives to Laurie!
I have attended more than 500 council meetings during the past 21 years. None have been as memorable as this Tuesday night’s spectacular.

The Katzenjammer coalition lined up to speak against the Gazette, its publisher, and to make longwinded campaign speeches. Mayor Patti lost control of time and order, permitting unprecedented leeway for her political supporters, highlighted by that old charmer, Gary Creagle.

This was another Creagle spectacular. After bellying up to the mike he began to harangue, in a foghorn tone, the council, the Gazette, the Gazette’s publisher, a couple of candidates for the council, and warned that he would take any action necessary to protect our city manager, right after he confessed he had never met her. He also cautioned (as he has done several times before) that he was a man of means who could and would take action in any case he saw fit. This cowardly blowhard has not even been a resident of Fillmore for years.

Creagle berated council members in a threatening voice, pointing to particular members. Mayor Walker sat with an air of disinterest while her political bedfellows attacked her critics. Creagle also criticized council candidate Alex Mollkoy for daring to enter the race as a write-in candidate, emphasizing that Mollkoy wouldn’t have to release a financial donor list until after the election. Creagle is such a Bozo that he doesn’t know it is a right of any California voter to become a write-in candidate. His criticism actually implied that Mollkoy may have taken money from donors Creagle doesn’t approve of. Incredible.

My disgust with Patti Walker and her minions has reached a stage where I, in conscience, have to change my previous endorsement.

I was impressed with Mr. Mollkoy’s defence of his record in the city. He has been unfairly maligned by both Creagle and Sipes. Therefore, my council endorsements must go to Alex Mollkoy and David Lugo. In my opinion they both place the interests of the City of Fillmore first. The tag team of Brian Sipes and his Mom is too bizarre. Both have placed the interests of their business ahead of the interests of the city. What other candidate have we ever seen promote his business over his candidacy in his campaign mailings?

FOR CITY COUNCIL: David Lugo and Alex Mollkoy.
FOR SCHOOL BOARD: Kimberly Rivers, Lucy Rangel, and Mark Austin.
Please VOTE!

 

I have to confess that I’m not in a good frame of mind to write a last minute editorial today. Although I am elated at the prospect of a sweeping conservative triumph on November 2, other issues of primary importance to the health and safety of our nation are about to destroy us.

The American judiciary, that part of our government’s checks and balances which the Founding Fathers believed to be least powerful, has proven to be all powerful, thwarting the will of the people and trashing the soul of the nation.

Since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade which opened abortion on demand Americans have killed 50 million of its most innocent and vulnerable children, those waiting to be born. Only communist China has surpassed this bloody effort. But for illegal immigration, and its birth rate, America would lack a birth rate sufficient to maintain our present population.

Today, it is reported that a single federal judge (a feminist appointed to the court by President Clinton) has dictated that our entire military must accept homosexuals who practice their homosexuality openly. A short while ago a single male judge in California (who happens to be homosexual) threw out Proposition 8, (passed by millions of Californians) which sought to define “marriage” as a union of one man and one woman. This definition has been in place among all societies and civilizations from pre-history. But this judge was burning to “marry” his boyfriend and wanted to legitimate his own desire. Anyone spot a conflict of interest here? Across the board today our judicial system, federal, state, and local has been, with few important exceptions, utterly corrupted. America is becoming a pagan nation, and its government is spitting in the face of God. What on earth has caused the empowerment of three percent of our population to such an extent that it results in the heart of our Judeo-Christian society being wiped-out?

But its not just the judicial and legislative branches that are infected with this pagan virus; our chief executive, President Obama, is orchestrating the financial destruction of what has been the most vibrant and successful nation in world history. No one in this nation is more pro-abortion, anti-military, pro-socialist, and pro-gay “rights” than Mr. Obama. Thanks to these forces we are witnessing the collapse of America as we have known her for more than two centuries. This is not an hysterical overstatement. This is an ongoing fact.
So, contemplating these things, and witnessing their effects on our civil, military, and spiritual society, I don’t feel like commenting on our local election, but I think I should.

The results of Fillmore’s last election, and the events leading up to it, have seriously altered the way our city government works. Recalling the great council members, mayors and managers we’ve had during the past 20 years, we seem to have run out of qualified candidates. We are in serious need of people like Don Gunderson, Scott Lee, Evaristo Barajas, Cecilia Cuevas, Linda Brewster, Roger Campbell, Roy Payne, and many more. Today we have accumulated an assortment of agenda driven pipsqueaks and micromanaging political wanabes. The Katzenjammer plan has succeeded in driving away the gifted, competent, honest leaders and staff of the recent past – as was its intent. I see the current council majority as utterly political, devious, self-serving and incompetent. There’s also a nagging question of intellectual capacity.

For an example, let’s take last week’s letter from Mr. Roegner, a charter member of the Katzenjammers, like all of the current council majority.

Roegner is a complainer, but his complaints are always wrong-headed. He never seems to get his facts straight, even when he is repeatedly corrected. This is a characteristic of the Katzenjammers.

In his letter, which was sent to all council members for comment (except the evasive Mr. Brooks) Roegner blames Councilman Conaway for “getting our sales tax revenue frozen.” Wrong, again, Dave. Conaway wasn’t on the council when that highly beneficial contract was entered into.

He defends candidate Brian Sipes for getting his facts straight. Wrong, Dave. Brian hasn’t had his facts straight for years. He continues to tell people that citizen opinion on the water treatment plant was ignored, when more opinion was taken, and questions about the plant answered than for any other project in Fillmore’s history. At the largest workshop (Memorial Building) six nationally recognized experts and city staff appeared to answer questions from a huge audience. This is one of Sipes’ favorite lies.

But the misrepresentations continue. Council member Washburn, responding to Roegner’s letter (which responded to Councilman Conaway’s letter) referring to the financing of the treatment plant:
“The City Council made a resolution in February 2004 to obtain the SRF Loans. But at some point someone chose to use municipal bonds and RDA bonds. A public records act request was submitted to determine how and when the decision was made to forego the loans. There were no records of any public discussion or decision so it is not clear who is responsible” is false.

Washburn continues to say the decision to finance the plant was done in secret and that a public records request did not turn up anything. All she needs to do is read the 4/10/07 city council package item 8A. It was all clearly presented in the public meeting. The SRF Loan was discussed, along with other options. Council member Walker was the person who seconded the motion to use municipal bonds. The vote was unanimous to use muni bonds.
Can then citizen Washburn provide proof that a Public Records Request was made “to determine how and when the decision was made”? The Approved City Council Minutes of 4/10/07 and 4/24/07 is where she should have looked. Her statement “there were no records of any public discussion or decision so it is not clear who is responsible” is false.

Council Member Walker seconded the motion to select the current financings. The vote was unanimous. It was conducted in the 4/10/07 meeting. At the 4/24/10 meeting Patti Walker abstained from the vote to issue the bonds. She supported the 40 year bonds. Curiously, at the next meeting she abstained from voting on selling the bonds. Katzenjammers always seem to be confused by facts.

[See excerpts from minutes below]

In the 4/24/10 Approved City Council Minutes Patti Walker says it was not an easy decision to finance the plant. I disagree, since she abstained to vote at all.

Washburn was also present at the meeting, see her comments on the Gazette’s website.

Brian Sipes remarked that he would have to raise his rent. Lucky that he was able to provide a residence for our new city manager.

I’ve gone too long. I don’t know what Fillmore residents can do to improve the council with the cast of characters provided this year. Patti Walker’s recent attack on Council member Laurie Hernandez (in the Ventura Star) makes her candidacy even more repugnant to me, but the alternatives are even more unpalatable. Patti is obviously corrupt enough now to seek higher office.

Excerpts from 4/10/07 Approved City Council Minutes below.

"CALL BACK TO Mayor Conaway called the City Council back to order at ORDER 9:30 p.m. He said there was nothing to report from Executive Session.

CITY COUNCIL BUSINESS ITEMS CONTINUED
WATER Special Projects Manager Roy Payne said there are RECYCLING representatives from Bear Stearns that would like to PROJECT - provide a financing scenario overview. The FINANCING recommendation is direction on the financing structure STRUCTURE for the water recycling project. A public hearing will be held. We have a $79 million dollar project. We are drawing on the Development Impact Fee funds and Redevelopment funds to minimize the sewer rates. The pro-forma for Scenario 4 was distributed. Six scenarios were presented. Callable bonds have a schedule and you pay a premium and at certain points may refinance. Not knowing what interest rates will be in the future, it gives the best option. With non-callable you are unable to refinance. He reviewed the various scenarios. Councilmember Lee asked about the growth rate. Mr. Payne said we have assumed 46 new units per year. Discussion ensued on callable vs. non callable. Mr. Payne said with the GE Commercial Scenario they came late in the game and we are concerned with the accuracy of their proposal. The State Revolving Fund Scenario has a maximum of 20-year secured financing. We believe that if that option were selected we would not meet the time schedule order. There is a significant risk with this option. Mr. Payne said he has listed certainties with regard to the SRF. We cannot start construction and we would need to take the time for the State to review the Design- Build-Operate process. It could take between 1.38-3.5 years. Our estimate is 2 years. Public Works Director Bert Rapp said Boyle went through this with us. Applications cannot be made to the Regional Board until environmental work is done and we have 100% funds. We knew we would never meet the deadline. It increases the cost to the rate payers. We would be eligible to start construction in March or April of 2009 and complete in November 2010. Councilmember Cuevas said there have been comments that we can ignore the fines. Mr. Payne said the discretionary powers changed in 2002. These fines are mandatory and shall be paid. Mayor Conaway asked if we were currently paying fines. Mr. Payne said yes. We can take the risk but have to be willing to lose that risk. Councilmember Cuevas asked what would happen if we chose not to pay the fines. Mr. Rapp said there is a provision on the resolution and there is a clause with not paying. They multiply the costs. If we incur delay, we will pay more. The fines are real. Mr. Payne said with regard to the SRF, the total debt service cost over the life of the loan will decrease, the monthly sewer rate will increase, future rate payers will get the benefit of using the water recycling without paying for the debt required to build it, it will take 1.4 years to 3.4 years to secure an SRF loan, and the City and its rate payers will be exposed to mandatory fines of up to $9.3 million per year. Mr. Rapp said our fines are limited because we have our time schedule order. It will expire September 10, 2009. Our penalties will then go way up. Staff is recommending moving forward with Bear Stearns.

Steve Dworken, Bear Stearns, said they have been working with the City since 2005. He said this project is important to the City. Given all the work by staff and consultants, they have attempted to put together a program that will qualify for investment ratings and bond insurance. They have updated the numbers on the debt service to reflect changes in the last week and a half. They will develop a program to match council’s overall requirements. He said the way they have structured the particular financing is to structure bonds that have callability. It allows for flexibility which is worth more than the potential savings. Anything through 10 years would be non-callable. They have the ability to call bonds for refinancing or refunding. Councilmember Walker asked if there is a penalty for refinancing before 10 years. Mr. Dworken said no, you are allowed one opportunity.

Mr. Chris Roberts, Bear Stearns, said long term interest rates have remained low relative to historical levels. Based on the current market and Bear Stearns’ efficient frontier analysis, it is appropriate for the City to utilize fixed rate debt for its wastewater financing. Updated rates were provided to council. The City is proposing to fund approximately $79.7 million of CIP for the wastewater enterprise. The project fund was net funded. Structure 1 is a 10-year callable bond. This is the basic structure. It is straight forward financing. Structure 2 is a combination of 10 year callable bonds and non-callable bonds. Structure 3 is non-callable bonds. Structure 4 is 10-year callable bonds. Structure 5 is a combination of 10-year callable bonds and non-callable bonds. Structure 6 is non-callable bonds.

Mr. Gary Creagle asked what the ramifications are if the City fails to pay. Mr. Steve Dworken said they would present a package to secure an investment rating. Bond insurance would have a claim against the City and would process the claim. The City would ultimately be sued if they failed to pay and it would affect all funds. Mr. Payne said the question creates the circumstance of double jeopardy. Staff would like to receive direction from council on the financing structure. Councilmember Lee said this is the biggest bond that Fillmore has ever issued. With interest rates the way they are today, being the lowest historically, he favors the bond at this point in time. He would like to do the 30% non-callable bond. He said we are at historic loans. Mr. Dworken said if it was non-callable there is no savings by refinancing. Councilmember Lee is in favor of Scenario #5. Councilmember Cuevas said when the table was presented she was looking to address the issues in the majority of the callable scenarios vs. the SRF. The rate payers of the first 20 years are going to finance the majority of a 50 year old asset. She prefers Scenario #4. She likes the callable feature. The flexibility provides optimum value. The difference between #4 and #5 is miniscule in terms of rates. The flexibility is warranted. She is not in favor of the SRF option. Councilmember Hernandez is in favor of Scenario #4. We do not know what the future entails. We could lower costs down the road. Councilmember Walker said it may be a benefit to have the $.25 savings overall. She is more in favor of Scenario #5. Mayor Conaway said we have heard from the public that the monthly bill is the issue. We have promised to work to lower rates. We have 2 scenarios between #4 and #5. Scenario #5 has a $.25 premium. He supports Scenario #5.
ACTION Motion: Cuevas; Second: Hernandez; UNANIMOUS by voice PREPARATION OF vote to direct staff to proceed with preparation of DOCUMENTS FOR documents for the issuance of Revenue Bonds utilizing ISSUANCE OF Scenario #5 for City Council review and approval at the REVENUE BONDS earliest possible date.
Councilmember Lee said he would like the Finance Committee to review all possible ways of saving.
ACTION Motion: Cuevas; Second: Walker; UNANIMOUS by voice vote UTILIZE BEAR to utilize Bear Stearns as the financial underwriter STEARNS AS for the issuance of Revenue Bonds.FINANCIAL UNDERWRITER
ACTION Motion: Cuevas; Second; Lee; MOTION PASSES by the ADOPT PUBLIC following vote that the Public Financing Authority FINANCING adopt Resolution No. 07-22: Resolution Authorizing the AUTHORITY Issuance and Sale of Revenue Bonds to Finance RESOLUTION Wastewater System Improvements for the City of NO. 07-22 Fillmore, Approving Related Documents and Official Actions and Retaining Consultants”.

AYE: Conaway, Cuevas, Hernandez, Lee; NO: None; ABSTAIN: Walker; ABSENT: None.

ACTION Motion: Cuevas; Second: Lee; MOTION PASSES by the ADOPT CITY
following voice vote to adopt City Council Resolution COUNCIL RESO. No. 07-3013: Approving Proceedings to Finance
NO. 07-3013 Improvements to the City’s Wastewater System, Approving Issuance of Revenue bonds by the Fillmore Public Financing Authority for such Purposes, Approving Related Documents and Official Actions and Retaining Consultants.

AYE: Conaway, Cuevas, Hernandez, Lee; NO: None; ABSTAIN: Walker; ABSENT: None.

Councilmember Walker said this has not been an easy decision. In conversations she hears that there was not a political will to change the direction we are going. She is not sure this is good for the community. She recognizes we have to meet the new permit. It is so expensive. She does not know how to lower this."

 

A last minute attempt to have our city council members address a letter from Mr. Roegner has mostly failed due to time constraints. At press time we have received comments from Councilman Steve Conaway alone. Other members were unable to respond on such short notice, but we appreciate their efforts. The Gazette will reserve the same space for those other members who may wish to respond next week.

As for my opinion on the issues Mr. Roegner raises in his letter:
The concept may be too difficult for Mr. Roegner to understand, but the loan term for plant construction was deliberately extended from 20 years to 40 years to greatly reduce the monthly payment burden on Fillmore residents. This is the same reason, Dave, that causes most people to accept a 30 year mortgage on their homes rather that a 15 or 20 year loan, monthly payments are lower.

As for the PERC company building our plant for “half price”, again Mr. Roegner fails to understand the simplest fact: While PERC talked about building the plant at half the price, THEY CHOSE NOT TO BID ON THE PROJECT! I repeat: PERC’s talk of building the plant at half the price was just that – talk. They chose not to bid on the job. Neither Mr. Roegner nor Mr. Sipes understand the difference between an informal “proposal” and a legally binding “bid”. Instead, the winning bidder (the most experienced contractor in the country for such projects) built a magnificent plant for us, coming in months ahead of schedule and under cost estimates. Our (much praised) Design-Build-Operate contract also relieves us of the burden of financing further maintenance, etc.
Our new treatment plant is also highly efficient, and was recognised as Project of the Year by the County of Ventura. The last time I checked (many months ago) our plant had received at least 8 other prestigious awards for design and function. All of the many experts the city consulted recommended the system we constructed. And, the hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of fines we have paid and still owe for “polluting” the river are finally gone, never to return. I know this will not suffice to explain the situation to you Dave, but I have tried, once again.

As for your last fatuous complaint, concerning the lucrative agreement for sales taxes from two other cities, which will bring in millions to the City of Fillmore: It was extensively vetted during council sessions, carefully studied by our legal counsel and found to be a completely lawful contract. Lawful contracts are constitutionally protected, Dave, and this was a windfall which came to us – we did not seek it out, if that matters. The courts have since validated the lawfulness of the agreement. The spurious lawsuit filed against the city in this matter was thrown out of court. The fact that funds have not been released to the city thereafter is evidence of a corrupt legal system, not a reflection of any wrongdoing by the city. This contract was composed of a lawful offer, a lawful acceptance by the city, and lawful consideration paid to the city. Regardless of what Sacramento does after the fact, by way of legislating this sort of agreement into a prohibitive status, the legislature is wrong and is inflicting just another wound into the constitutional fabric of our state and nation.
So, our council at that time did the correct, intelligent, lawful, and ethical thing. Congratulations to those past council members.

ELECTION DAY is nearly here. For what it’s worth, these are the candidates I support:

City Council: David Lugo. Mr. Lugo has had no previous council experience, is presently serving as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner. I recall another city councilman, Evaristo Barajas. Evaristo had no previous experience before taking office. But he learned quickly and became a distinguished multi-term councilman and mayor. Mr. Lugo has the same potential, and he is fiscally conservative with common sense.

I must say, my next endorsement causes me real pain. I have, and rightly, criticized her for many things, including micromanagement and various bad decisions. However, under the frightful circumstances this year’s candidate quality present, I simply have no choice but to endorse Mayor Patti Walker. This is more than awkward for me. But the alternatives would be devastating.

School Board:

Without hesitation, I endorse Lucy Rangel, Mark Austin, and Kim Rivers. I have met each of these good folks and think each would bring new life and a fresh perspective to our school board. They all have strong qualifications and equally strong characters. I am very happy to endorse Lucy, Mark, and Kim.

 

This week the Gazette attempted to gather comments from all council members and Fillmore’s city manager about the no confidence letter issued by city employees. It should be noted that Councilman Jamey Brooks was the only council member who refused to cooperate. As is his habit, Jamey dislikes having to communicate with the residents of Fillmore. So much for all that talk about open government we heard prior to the last election. This attitude bodes poorly for Fillmore’s future, especially in view of the fact that, with the exception of Mr. Lugo, this year’s candidates are the most unqualified in this city’s history. Any experience incumbent Patti Walker may have is in my opinion totally outweighed by her insatiable desire to call the shots, whether or not she knows what she is doing.

The confusion, deceit, and incompetence exhibited by the council majority these past two years has created such a poisonous atmosphere that the most qualified potential candidates are repelled; they want nothing to do with public service in Fillmore. In my opinion, adding Brian Sipes to the council, with Jamey Brooks and Gayle Washburn, would create an intellectual catastrophe great enough to stop what progress may be possible. Adrian Grimaldo just hasn’t shown much interest after entering the contest. There is another candidate, but he is too much of a coward to face the people.

The residents of Fillmore had better do their homework before November 2. If you think city government is in turmoil now, just wait. Get involved. Learn something about the candidates, their backgrounds, attitudes, and character.