A response to Councilwoman Gayle Washburn’s letter:

It bothers me to have to take the time to respond to this completely disingenuous letter. But these self-serving falsehoods and factual dodges should be recognized for what they are.

I’m accused of politicizing the “unfortunate realities of the current economy.” These realities weren’t on the horizon when the disastrous Measures H and I were being promoted by Washburn, Walker, and Brooks, and their merry band of Katzenjammers. What a ridiculous way to attempt to avoid responsibility for the death of so many promising business opportunities in north Fillmore due to Measures H and I.

The fact is H and I wiped-out any value these properties had. An orderly plan had been in place for the development of north Fillmore, including all financing. Even an atomic attack on America would not have changed the fact that these measures made it impossible to develop north Fillmore. Five or ten years from now this will not change. These 350 homes will have to be built here and there in the rest of the city, necessitating very high density housing, the very thing everyone sought to avoid. Someone at city hall must perform a financial feasibility study to determine if 350 units can realistically be built in north Fillmore under the constraints of Measures H and I. That would settle this dispute. The landowners already know the answer.

There will always be defaults in the regular course of business, but very few will be caused by such foolish, short-sightedness as seen in Measures H and I.

Bank Call Reports? Washburn (and Brooks) tried the same stupid, unfair, irrational argument to justify their abandonment of the Business Park. The supporters of H and I were repeatedly told that passage would result in the killing-off of north Fillmore development. It has happened as foretold.

I’m going to ask the Kellers to comment on how H and I affected their once thriving business, in next week’s Gazette. They have already testified at council in person.

Regarding Measure H and I preventing additional infrastructure debt of $18 million: That $18 million was going to be spread over 700 homes at approximately $16,750 per dwelling unit. Measure H and I reduced the number of dwelling units to 350 thus doubling the debt to $33,500 per dwelling unit. The need for the $18 million in additional infrastructure did not magically go away as a result of Measure H and I. It doubled per dwelling unit, guaranteeing that North Fillmore will remain undeveloped. More defaults are to be expected and it is doubtful anyone will be willing to now purchase the foreclosed CFD properties because there is no realistic way to develop in North Fillmore because of Measure H and I.

Again, I regret having to waste time explaining the obvious to Washburn, Walker, and Brooks, since they apparently don’t understand the reality of their gross mistake in promoting H and I.

Gayle Washburn is here attempting to avoid responsibility for the foreclosures in north Fillmore by attributing the whole thing to the poor economy, when this debacle is directly related to her (and Patti Walker’s) sponsorship of Measures H and I.

As they say, we should all remember in November.

 


 

I want to welcome our new writer, Naomi Klimaszewska. Naomi will be covering city council meetings, as she did this week. She is an excellent writer and we are fortunate to have her on staff. I also want to thank Wanda Castel de Oro for temporarily filling in the writers-gap after Mariandrea Mueller moved onto bigger and better things in Century City.
Thank you Wanda and welcome, Naomi!

* * *

For those of you who do not watch the Channel 10 coverage of the Fillmore City Council proceedings, you’re really missing some good theater.

This Tuesday saw the Katzenjammers on the floor in strength. Gary Creagle (failed former Mayor) played a bit part this time. Where would we be without his loud, colorful antics? Considering that Gary hasn’t been a resident of Fillmore for years, he certainly has a lot to say. This week he offered his opinion on KDF Communities’ request for the city to explore options for funding development of Business Park infrastructure. The new council majority wouldn’t even look at it.

* * *

Then we had the sad, and for councilmembers Washburn, Brooks, and Walker, embarrassing, agenda item concerning five property foreclosures from north Fillmore. A statement from a Gazette reader says it all: “The properties to be foreclosed upon are SunCal (3 parcels totaling 29.03 acres); Roger Keller parcel (Keller Classics) totaling 6.09 acres; and Michael Belloumini parcel of 2.34 acres. These 5 properties represent 37% of the 100 acres of the North Fillmore Specific Plan. These properties have been paying taxes for CFD No. 1 since 1992 and now after 18 years they have stopped paying taxes. I recall your Editorial of July 22, 2009 where you stated in part, ‘Then there was the war over development in north Fillmore. Six years of expense and intense planning went down the drain as Measures H and I were finally voted in. Again, the public was fooled. Business development, such as Keller Classics, has been killed-off in north Fillmore, thanks to the foolish Measures that Washburn, Walker, Brooks, and company urged on to passage’.”

Long time Katzenjammers, Brian Sipes and Marcoz Hernandez were also present and uncharacteristically quiet when the foreclosures were discussed.

Before people sign their names on petitions at local stores, they should read the petition carefully. In this case people were led to believe that Measure I was good for the city. In fact, its results have been devastating. Measure I has assured that what remains of vacant land in north Fillmore will stay in weeds for the foreseeable future. What a shame. What a waste. And this is exactly what the Katzenjammers intended.

***

I wish I had time to comment on the unmitigated disaster the new health care law has created. Hold on to your hats; it’s just beginning.

 


 

Tuesday, former Ventura County Sheriff Larry Carpenter formally endorsed Commander Geoff Dean for sheriff in the June election. “Carp” has the highest praise for Dean’s integrity, experience, and ability.

Commander Dean has a very impressive 32-year record of public service, and is endorsed by every independently appointed police chief in the County. He is also endorsed by “every organization representing front-line law enforcement professionals.”

The numerous high-level endorsements for Dean are significant evidence of his proven character and ability. But, for those of us who know and admire former Sheriff Larry Carpenter, lifetime resident of Fillmore, “Carp’s” endorsement is persuasive enough; certainly enough for me. I must join in endorsing Geoff Dean for Ventura County Sheriff.

***

There has been some confusion concerning last week’s council story. In question was the reference to the city budget and an alleged $9 million error. The reference cited, verbatim, “Some things were budgeted more than once, by $9 million.” was taken from Finance Director Anita Lawrence’s statement at the meeting.

Ms. Lawrence was praised for her work in correcting the budget mess left by Pennell and Wooner, not criticized.
This budget problem begins with the new council majority severing all meaningful communications with former Finance Director Barbara Smith, forcing her to resign two years early, before she was able to complete the last part of the budget. No one was qualified to take her place, and the council Katzenjammers refused Barbara’s offer to assist in finishing the budget, free of charge. Her offer was rejected. Time being of the essence, council finally found Pennell and Wooner, a friend of Pennell’s, to rescue the budget as interim employees.
Rather than finish what Ms. Smith had already completed, they decided to go creative with an entirely new budget format. The whole thing proved to be a disaster, remaining unfinished and full of errors (at least 30) when Wooner suddenly told everyone he had to go. Prior to this, Interim City Manager Pennell alarmed the entire city with his (erroneous) announcement that we would be bankrupt in 18 months with immediate drastic cut-backs.
Then, the budget was taken-up by Anita Lawrence, who has done a great job with this third attempt, stitching Smith’s, and Wooner’s partial budgets together, and making sense out of it all.

The disgraceful treatment of Barbara Smith by the Katzenjammers (Councilmembers Brooks, Washburn, and Walker) created this frustrating and very expensive problem. There is just no way to cover-up the responsibility here. Barbara Smith could have (as she had done for 23 years) finished the budget, then quietly retired.

Therefore, kudos to Ms. Lawrence for doing a good job.

If the Katzenjammers would act like grown-ups, admitting their mistakes and checking their misbehavior, we could all move on. But I don’t see how this would be possible without the truth being made of record. These problems are not small and inconsequential. These problems are the result of bad management by intensely political micromanagers who have little experience on the job, and even less respect for staff members. The object of their election plans was to get all of their people in, and all of the experienced people out, one way or another. They have succeeded in wrecking the management of city hall which had been highly competent. It was their expressed intent to eliminate key management at city hall – and they succeeded.

Our new city manager is doing a very good job. What’s left of staff, and new staff seem to have survived. Let’s hope city government continues to improve.

***

My condolences to the family of “Dick” Schuck who passed away this week. I didn’t know him well, but well enough to recognize a hero. Dick was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division which parachuted behind lines a day before D Day in WWII. He had many adventures during the war. Dick told me that he was assigned to a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) which was quite heavy, though he was one of the smallest guys in his company. He always had a smile for everyone. He will be greatly missed.
Rest In Peace, Dick.

 


 

The most ironic city council meeting in Fillmore’s history took place this past Tuesday. It was almost comical.
The Ventura County American Public Works Association (APWA) represented by Chris Hook, presented Mayor Walker with two beautiful plaques, one from the APWA for our new wastewater treatment plant construction, and another for the same plant, named Project of the Year at the National Engineers Week Banquet at the Reagan Library, February 18.

The irony begins with the fact that Walker was chosen to receive the awards, though she, with Councilwoman Washburn and Councilman Jamey Brooks were the three most vigorous voices against the plant design.

For six years these three, with the usual Katzenjammers (including failed former Mayor Gary Creagle) fought tooth and nail to stop this project. Their endless challenges against the project, in the face of a mountain of scientific information, and a huge amount of expert opinion recommending the project, cost the city more than a $1 million in delays. None of these people has any expertise at all in plant design or construction. They insisted the experts were wrong.

The plant was completed, below budget and ahead of schedule. This ended the huge mandatory fines which were accumulating each time the old plant failed to meet the new, stricter state and county clean water requirements.

So, Mayor Walker, no doubt, squirmed as she received the awards, especially because the man responsible for the successful completion of the plant sat behind her, unrecognized. That man was Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp.

Adding to the irony was Councilman Brooks, who took the happy occasion as an opportunity to slam the project with a dramatic verbal squeezing of bitter grapes. Brooks has no class, no sense of propriety, no common sense. He may be accurately characterized as a party pooper. Lucky for us that we now have the proper facility to handle it.

***

Transitional Finance Director, Anita Lawrence, was gracious in her presentation of the Mid-year Budget Review. She was acknowledged, by Councilman Steve Conaway, as haven worked especially hard to fix the train wreck of a budget cobbled together by interim finance director John Wooner and interim city manager Larry Pennell after former Finance Director Barbara Smith was “forced” into retirement by outrageous mistreatment. Their “budget” was nearly $9 million off. Let’s see, how much did the city pay these two fix-it men? And, why in the world was Ms. Smith’s offer to finish the budget she had started, free of charge, rejected?

Walker, Washburn, and Brooks were supposed to provide the ingenious solutions for cutting the budget and opening-up city government.

It seems like only yesterday when everyone watched Brian Sipes wave his copy of the Pennell-Wooner “budget”, proclaiming proudly, “We finally have a budget to be proud of.”

What a farce the new majority in city council has become. Jamey had his sword to cut the budget. Gayle had her engineering expertise. And, Walker was going to run the best, most open government in city history – except for a series of Brown Act violations.

Remember in November!

 


 

Launch time for our newest version of the website fillmoregazette.com is growing near. The site will be significantly more powerful and provide users with many more communications options.

One feature I am continually tempted to change is the anonymity now provided to bloggers. Frankly, the blog has been a thorn in my side much of the time since we first launched it. It is a remarkable thing to see how bold (read savagely disrespectful) some bloggers can be when they can post without giving their true names.

Sometimes, when a credible threat of retaliation exists and important information should be divulged, anonymity is justified. But, when it is used as a shield to hide behind in order to spew malicious detraction and false or unfounded charges, it’s clearly wrong. Because this happens regularly by a few bloggers I think the Gazette will have to demand that bloggers use their true names. Several already do, like Roy Payne and Steve Conaway.

I believe only one blogger has been banned (another on the edge) from the site after a series of angry, false, and outrageous statements; Not bad after 3 years.

Frankly, the website has been a very significant expense these past 3 years. But for the fact that it has proven to be a valuable resource for the Fillmore community, it would have disappeared long ago. In times of emergency (earthquake, fire, civil disorder, terrorist attack, etc.) the website is invaluable for sounding the alarm and providing assistance because it is ready 24/7 for instant updates. I really do want it to continue, and expect it will.

I expect the site to become more of a true online newspaper in the future, with many more sections and forum threads. We will, for example, be adding an emergency preparation page to the site, bringing in information from many local, state, national, and international specialized agencies. This will include video, text and numerous related links as well as book references and reviews answering practical questions.

Viewers will probably be able to chuck a few spears at me personally as I think I will have a blog of my own. We expect this will reduce the onslaught on other parts of the site.

On another issue, we will be more diligent in weeding-out trolls who only post to make false, irrelevant, and destructive comments for personal purposes. Making wild, unfounded condemnations, or purely personal attacks, will trigger a ban after appropriate warnings. It takes too much time to refute every intentionally false accusation, clogs the blog, and dampens the spirit of the site.

With the election cycle approaching the site will also enrich the dialogue. I expect a large number of candidates again this year. Several will be members of the Katzenjammer clique, some will run for the purpose of diluting the vote as happened last year, and at least one will be completely unqualified. I hope at least 2 qualified, non-Katzenjammers, will run for office. Then we may once again have a mature, experienced, businesslike city council, instead of the childish, petulant, inexperienced micromanagers now in the majority. Beware of those office-seekers who vie for face time on the Channel 10 camera. They are bursting with ambition, but busted in terms of experience and ability. Their desire to be seen on camera at every meeting is just embarrassing.

 


 

Those of you who haven’t watched the Channel 10 coverage of Tuesday’s council meeting are really missing out. The Katzenjammers put on a great show, starring Mayor Walker with her “inside joke” concerning Mr. Richard McKee’s name. Bit parts were played by Councilpersons Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks. Walker had difficulty containing her laughter as she explained the purpose of the mandatory closed session. Mr. McKee, we should remember, is bringing a lawsuit against the council for violations of the Brown Act – tee-hee. Isn’t that funny? By the way, Walker’s failure to indicate the vote total on the decision to fight the lawsuit was, I believe, another violation. The whole thing is just so funny – and expensive!

***

Those of us who enjoy listening to word flow for its own sake will certainly be enthralled with Gayle Washburn’s verbal incontinence. She even jokes about resuming her endlessly wandering dialogue at one point, with a piquant smile and short giggle. I think the art of being cute on camera has its limits. Both of these women need to work on the art of public speaking; look where it got Obama! I notice this practice of droning on and on, wading through the swamps of minutia, has become a favored technique between Walker and Washburn, especially when Councilman Conaway asks to have focused discussion. The Walker-Washburn word maze is designed to effect something like a Chinese word torture, death by a thousand dribbling distractions.

Then there is that always surprising interjection by Councilman Brooks. He serves as the Katzenjammer exclamation point, always inserting humorous evidence of his ignorance of an issue near the time for voting; his questions often indicate that he hasn’t read the agenda packet. He often pops-up with a cute one-liner such as, paraphrased “Tell the state that Councilman Brooks says back-off”. This was said in jest, but neither he, nor Washburn, nor Walker understand the serious damage their promotion of Measure I has caused. Not the time for flippant remarks. Measure I completely destroyed the north Fillmore development plan for 700 houses, and has forced high-density housing in Fillmore.

This meeting was another staged event. Katzenjammer Party heavy-lifters were in attendance. Among the faithful were Fillmore residents Gloria Hansen, Brian Sipes, and Marcoz Hernandez. In addition, Katzenjammer Grand Poobah and sometime political strategy Guru, the former (and failed) mayor Gary Creagle made his characteristically bizarre appearance. Gary is the purported leader of the pack, having been campaign manager for Brooks, Washburn, and City Clerk, Clay Westling, all of whom won election by a narrow margin. He plowed up to the dais and began haranguing some council members, then, after retiring to his seat at the back of the chambers, had to be quieted by the mayor after shouting at the council.

Ms. Hansen doesn’t understand that the issues she complains of were largely caused by the Katzenjammer’s successful promotion of the infamous Measure I, which will cost the city more than $300,000. Then, there is the always interesting Marcoz Hernandez and Brian Sipes. Both are expected to run for city council in November; this is why you will see them both seated in the middle of the council’s camera lens at most meetings. When the camera focuses on the person at the dais, it will always capture Sipes and often Hernandez as well. That’s what you call free face time. I think that’s a little tawdry, for the average office-seeker in waiting, but typical for Katzenjammers.

Maybe a better name for this group would be the Wrecking Crew. In any event they have surely wrecked Fillmore’s city government this past year.

 

I am enjoying the company of two of my best friends this week, 8-year-old Katrionna Furness and her little sister, Summer Grace. This, coupled with such spectacular weather, has made me a little lazy.

***

Another horrendous accident took place at the intersection of Bardsdale and Sespe Avenues, Sunday, about 6:00 p.m. Additional photos of the event can be viewed at fillmoregazette.com. One of the drivers of the two vehicles blasted through a stop sign at a high rate of speed. How often have we heard of this sort of thing? Fortunately, although four people were injured, no one was killed. If alcohol was involved (no word as we go to press) I hope any guilty persons are sent to jail for a considerable time.

***

Everyone should get out and enjoy this beautiful early spring weather, like I intend to do right now.

 

It was really good to see the rain we’ve received this past month or so. I guess the rain gauge in Fillmore shows a normal level so far for the year. Sespe Creek is flowing again and we’ve had snow on the back mountains for about two weeks. My favorite time of year.

***

This week we received a complaint about cyclists traveling over Grimes Canyon early in the morning, before dawn. The person mentioning the problem says cyclists often cause vehicle traffic to veer over the center line to avoid hitting the bikes. Since there is very little space for a bicycle to ride on either side of the Canyon road, and often this is a rock-strewn depression, maybe Balcom Canyon would be a little safer.

***

Just a few comments on last night’s (Tuesday’s) council meeting. I think the “Resolution on Small Local Business” is a good thing. It helps both the businesses and the city, assuring that the city receives a larger share in sales tax revenues. We should be glad we have a newer automobile agency (even if one of our oldest businesses) in town, both for convenience and as a significant part of our sales tax base.

***

With November elections in mind, everyone should view the Channel 10 video of this council meeting. It’s disheartening to watch Councilman Brooks and Councilwoman Washburn struggle over something as simple as the Small Business Resolution. If they can’t seem to grasp this idea without haggling over the details, it’s no wonder they never could understand the water treatment plant details and contracts.
Anyway, the new Resolution is good for everyone concerned. Every business in Fillmore is struggling today. This can help ease the burden.

***

It’s hard for me to believe Ash Wednesday is next week and that Easter is so near.
Enjoy this beautiful weather.

 

There he goes again. Our president bows to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. Either that, or he is admiring her shoes.
It may be a little far-fetched, but I’m beginning to suspect that President Obama is afflicted with an out of control congenital condition which mimics a spring-loaded lumbar hinge which is mysteriously activated when greeting heads of just about anything. Or, maybe this reaction is triggered by a subconscious awareness that he is a preposterous charlatan, a pretender to the presidency who may be discovered at any moment, seeking sympathy.

***

I walked over the new Two Rivers Park area this week to see what happened to the grass. To my surprise I could find no evidence of grass ever haven been seeded. There were a few scattered clumps of wire grass, and numerous weeded areas, but not a blade seems to have survived from any seeding. This is very surprising because, even if the irrigation was badly irregular, something of the grass should have survived.

***

A well deserved CONGRATULATIONS to Fillmore’s Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp, for having his Water Recycling Project chosen by the County APWA as PROJECT OF THE YEAR in the Water/Wastewater category for Ventura County.

This award will be presented during the February 11 regular lunch meeting, together with a 10-minute power point provided by City Manager Yvonne Quiring.

Mr. Rapp is also to be commended for having endured, without complaint, years of withering criticism by ignorant Katzenjammers who sought to take him out of his job, as they did virtually all other top management. Bert knew what he was talking about all along, and stuck to his guns in the face of repeated, unjust attacks. For this reason the City of Fillmore now has a great, state-of-the-art water treatment plant and is no longer subject to those huge fines for non-compliance with unreasonable new mandated water standards.

A public apology is due to Mr. Rapp from all the Katzenjammers, especially from Councilwoman Gayle Washburn, Councilman Jamey Brooks, Mayor Patti Walker, and crypto-Katzenjammer (and failed former Mayor) Gary Creagle, whose false representations, ridiculous recommendations, incessant and uninformed criticisms and invincible ignorance regarding plant construction, cost the city more than a million dollars and one year’s delay of the project.

 

Sheila Tate, Interim Chief Professional Officer for the Boys & Girls told the Fillmore City Council, at Tuesday’s regular meeting, that the First Street Club would stay open, but the North Fillmore Club would close due to financial challenges. The problem for the Club was a failure in fundraising.

Several independent fundraising activities are under way at the present time. These efforts include sponsoring by our Fire and Police departments, city employee donations, Marcoz Hernandez and “Chuy” Ortiz (owner of El Pescador Restaurant), and possibly others. I hope to receive information on these efforts in order to publicize them in the Gazette and online at fillmoregazette.com.

This club’s activities are a critical part of Fillmore’s youth programs. The kids love going there after school, where they complete homework and engage in a variety of activities. I urge everyone to donate to this cause which contributes greatly to the general welfare of our town.

***

We received a comforting amount of rain this past week or so, but the weather folks say California is still in for a dry year. San Cayetano and adjacent mountains received considerable snow, which has remained for about a week. The recent storms, though welcomed (except for the mudslides in the LA area) fell short of expectations. It is good to see our rivers and creeks flowing again. I am always in awe of Sespe Creek. It can go from a dry creek bed to a raging torrent overnight due to the force of more than 30-miles of watershed. Never try to cross fast-flowing water. The force of even a couple of feet of storm water is tremendous.

***

In answer to a question in this week’s Letters section, the late Clarence Freeman, an engineer (with vast hydrology, geology, and mining experience) repeatedly reminded Fillmore that it was built on an “alluvial fan” composed of ancient deposits of sand, gravel, and rock flow from Pole Creek. This makes us susceptible to liquefaction during a major earthquake. He also disputed the several engineering experts who approved the present Pole Creek debris basin, which was built at the end of the creek instead of further back, as is customary. He believed the basin would not work where located. So far, though not really challenged by a 50-year or 100-year storm, everything seems to be working well.

***

One city council item bothered me: the Towne Theatre financials. The most basic number to be delivered in this annual report is attendance. How many customers has the Theatre taken in during the past year? The report, delivered by Deputy City Manager Bill Bartels, did not include this figure.

How is it that Theatre management could not produce attendance records? These are directly connected to ticket sales. This is remarkable. Hasn’t anyone been keeping tabs on ticket sales? How else can any financial information be presented?

After years of running in the red, the Theatre was finally able to break into the black, if weakly. Then, for the third time, the bad idea of showing Spanish language films became popular again. This was such a bad (and predictably bad) idea that the Theatre was again plunged into the red. Employees will tell you that during that time weeks would go by with no one at all attending. The Theatre never recovered.

But the building, which cost about $1.5 million to reconstruct and up-date after the Northridge quake, has been badly neglected and is in need of expensive rework. Maintenance has been terrible. Management has been incredibly bad. Why keep the same manager after so many years of dismal incompetence?

I’m glad to report that our state-of-the-art skateboard park was back in full use the day after the most recent storm. Debris had plugged a few drains.

 

The ghosts of Kennedys past have been largely swept away by Massachusetts’s newly elected Senator, Scott Brown. Congratulations Massachusetts, you finally got your soul back. If it can happen in Massachusetts maybe it can happen in California which has borne the burden of the three ninnies, or, two ninnies and one meganinny: in order, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Nancy Pelosi (who is three heartbeats from the presidency). With these Three Amigas gone, maybe California could come back to life.

***

On a local note, we have received a Letter to the Editor alleging that a game of golf was played on the grounds of the Bardsdale Cemetery. If true, remedial action has to be taken.

***

The Red Cross is reported to be attempting to bring 40,000 Haitians into Florida. 2,000 are already reported in country. Why is it that every time America seeks to assist a foreign nation in the face of a disaster, natural or man-made, we have to sponsor a huge immigration program?

America is the most generous nation on earth. We have given trillions of dollars, billions in food and medicine, the lavish use of our military air, sea, and land capabilities to assist nations in need. Why is it necessary to import large parts of foreign populations as well?

Remember the Mariel boatlift between April 15 and October 31, 1980? Then President Carter permitted 125,000 Cubans to come to Florida. This presented an opportunity for Castro to empty his prisons and mental health facilities resulting in the worst and bloodiest crime wave in Florida’s history, lasting for years. Generous foreign aid is consistent with our Judeo-Christian history. But we don’t have to be foolish in order to lend a helping hand – and America’s bounty is not limitless. The Red Cross, good as it is, should keep its nose out of foreign affairs.

***

The best of the rain is due today, Wednesday. Please slow down and drive defensively. We have already experienced several accidents. Mudslides are a very real danger because of last summer’s fires. Sandbags can be picked up at the fire station. Drive carefully!

As I write these words, another accident has been reported on Hwy. 126 and Old Telegraph Road. Again – slow down.

***

Our new debris basin at the end of Pole Creek may be put to the test during this storm. I hope the engineering works. I keep remembering the warnings of the late, great, Clarence Freeman, may he rest in peace. I’m hoping his conclusions were wrong, but he was a very intelligent man with great experience. We’ll see.

 

Isn’t government great?!

The Gazette just received a memo from the Census Bureau “to survey nation’s spending habits.” Please refer to this notice to the right of this editorial. Note especially the second part of the survey, where “12,500 households will be asked to keep two consecutive one-week diaries of smaller, more frequent purchases that may be difficult for respondents to recall later (such as a…soda or candy bar…)”

No doubt the Bureau will find 12,500 fools who will do just that.

Where in the Constitution does the government find the power to intrude itself into the minutest parts of a citizen’s life?!

American citizens have become electoral sheep – and their shepherd is a diabolical wolf. My words are too strong? I don’t think so, if you take a stand from the traditional Christian point of view. From that point we see a fairly un-Christian president (spiritual director: Rev. Wright and his “G.. Damn America” congregation) who has invited into government some of the most loathsome, devious, and dangerous people ever to associate with an American chief of state. And the government wants to take charge of our health care!

***

Just a reminder that, as of February 1, subscriptions will go to $50.00 per year. Any subscription up to that time will be at the old price of $35.00. Also, single copies of the Gazette will be sold at $1.00. This was necessary to cover the present cost of producing, printing, delivering, and distributing the paper. Please note that the new prices still do not cover all costs. However, I purchase a cup of coffee every morning of the year. That cup costs me $2.15. The Gazette takes a full 7 days to produce, and unlike the cup, does not require a refill. We hope you find it worth the price.

 

I want to thank Larry Jennings for alerting me to the proper use of the word Ott, as I applied it in last week’s editorial.

However, I knew people did not say “naught” when referring to years in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, such as “nineteen naught six”. So, I spelled it “Ott”, just guessing. My spelling was incorrect, but I was right phonetically; the word was sounded as Ott.

This very important issue caused me some puzzlement, then I remembered the nation’s favorite hunting round of well beyond the 1950s. It was the 30-06, referred to as the thirty “aught” six, and certainly never referred to as the thirty “naught” six. This was (is) the famous .30-06 Springfield cartridge, 7.62x63mm metrically. Yeah, I remember all about the 270, but the aught-six was king (and ammo was cheap!). This designation came from the fact that the Army adopted this round in 1906, or, as old-timers say, nineteen-aught six.

Therefore, although my spelling was (characteristically) incorrect, the pronunciation was correct. Anyway, the aughts are now behind us. Now we’re into the “tens”?

***

I have a few important announcements to make concerning the Gazette.

The publisher is always the last person wanting to raise rates, but this must be done for the following reasons. Beginning February first, the single copy price of the Gazette will go to $1.00. This would be consistent with every weekly or bi-weekly community paper in Ventura County that I’m aware of. Most raised their prices several years ago.

The reasons are many and important. Basically, costs have risen in an increasingly down market. Taxes are up significantly becoming almost confiscatory, and are soon to rise again sharply under the Obama presidency. The Gazette hasn’t raised costs for anything in years. We can no longer afford to ignore new fiscal realities.
Secondly, annual subscriptions, starting February first, will go to $50 per year. Again, after increased mailing and distribution costs, taxes, and anticipated tax increases, our rates must be raised. These rates will not take effect until the first of February, leaving three weeks for current subscribers to re-subscribe at the present rate.

There is some good news, however. Within the next few months the Gazette will inaugurate its third version of its website: fillmoregazette.com.

For three years, the Gazette has absorbed the very considerable cost of developing, equipping, and maintaining its websites. This has been done because there is a very real need for online communication and news for the City of Fillmore.

The present (second) site has been phenomenally successful, at no cost to viewers. For example, for the year 2009, the Gazette site has registered 13 million hits, with 1.5 million pages read. More important, the site has attracted a monthly average of 16,000 “unique” visitors, totaling nearly 200,000 for the year. A “Unique” visitor is one coming from a new computer, and one who stays at the site for at least a half-hour. The new, extensively expanded version has been under development for nearly a year. Its new features will make available a huge variety of news sources and many other valuable uses. This, all to the credit of our web creator and webmaster, Scott Duckett.

These are the reasons for the price increases. The new website is expected to be launched in the first quarter of this new year.

 

Happy New Years to everyone. The Gazette staff and I wish everyone a prosperous new year.

***

My intention to compare the accomplishments of the previous city council and the new majority of the present city council will take longer than expected. So, that project has to be postponed for a few weeks. I would appreciate your patience.

***

As a kid I recall the “old-timers” making historical references to the first decade of the twentieth century. For example 1906 would be referred to as “Ott-6. To a 10-year-old kid it sounded like they were talking about ancient times. Now that I have finally become an old-timer the “Otts” don’t seem so long ago. But, what a dynamic first decade of the second millennium it has been.

I wish I could be more optimistic about the near future, but the realities of the world condition make that impossible. Perennial problems, like feeding and clothing the hungry and defending the innocent and helpless, seem only to have gotten worse.

What compounds the seriousness of the situation is America’s now in-grown habit of Political Correctness – having to be accepting of everything whether obviously and intrinsically evil (resurgent communist governments, murderous Muslim Jihadists, or a corrupt American government, led by a radically socialist president).
We’re in the middle stages of a global perfect storm. As usual, we are unprepared, and in denial of what is approaching at full speed.

Whatever may be America’s fate it has been brought upon itself by an ignorant, indulgent electorate. We have elected (and re-elected) the most crooked and incompetent bunch of grifters ever in our history. The sweep of the problem is almost incomprehensible.

Can I take comfort in the recent ravings of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s statement that the “system worked” in preventing the latest airline catastrophe? I’ve begun to think that the whole American way of life is based upon the incompetence of our fifth column enemies; the enemy’s trigger devices have recently saved us by failure of design, for now. Our economy, our government, our moral compass are all out of plumb.

Thanks to 54 percent of the American electorate, in my opinion, the country we have known for going-on three centuries will be (without immediate attention) mostly gone within the next three years.

 

Well, Bob Stroh has condescended to offer a “correction” to the statement which he read to the Fillmore City Council December 14. His “correction” in part reads: “…The owner of the Fillmore Gazette did not say that I had a favorite abortion clinic; my apologies to him and the council members. With that exception, however, I stand behind my statement in its entirety.”

Thank you, Bob. I accept your apology, and wish you a Merry Christmas.

Now, if you would only explain what on earth caused you to make such a bizarre statement? In fairness, maybe you should read your “correction” aloud from the dais for the benefit of the TV viewers?

***

Speaking of Christmas, a few quick examples of American culture’s decent into anti-Christian, neo pagan anarchy.

I stopped by two large booksellers in Valencia this past week. Over the years I have spent many dollars in each. For a long time haunting bookstores was a major weekly social event for me. A longstanding complaint of mine was the often brain-grinding “music” they played throughout the stores. Complaints did no good and I would often cut my usual shopping hours to minutes, leaving my armload of books on a table and then just walk out.

I finally became fed-up with both the parking inconvenience and the highly distracting noise which corporate suits thought passed for music. Corporate executives are often deaf, dumb, and blind.

First, I visited Barnes & Nobel. I hadn’t been there in a long time. The “music” was so bad (terrible lyrics, and the voice had been electronically manipulated to sound as though it were coming from a carpenter’s saw – very wavy) that I asked a manager to please change the CD. I received the same answer I have received over many years, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s controlled by corporate”.

I reminded the lady that it was Christmas, and that such “music” was offensive; why not put some beautiful Christmas music on? There was no sympathy for my request, just another bland “I’m sorry”. I left the store.
Shortly thereafter I entered Borders, for which I have carried a “business and professional services” card for many years. They were also playing garbage “music”. I had a cup of coffee, prepared to make a couple of purchases, got impatient with the “music” and waiting in line, then left, just in time to be recognized by the alarm bell as I exited the store.

I have no doubt that both stores deliberately shun Christmas as the second most important Christian celebration, and as a national holiday. However, they bend over backwards to facilitate sales, with Christmas wrappings, etc., to celebrate the secular holiday. It’s all about Santa instead of Jesus.

I no longer shop at any retail establishment that refuses to celebrate Christmas as Christmas and not just another holiday.

The American secular, and political, anti-Christian groups are in the ascendency today. They have majority control over government, the media, and our commercial economy. Just this morning I heard over the radio that the California Assembly had approved a holiday to honor the late Harvey Milk. What were his accomplishments you might ask? He was a San Francisco supervisor, one of two murdered by a third supervisor who had quit his job and wanted it back. But he is being honored because he was openly homosexual. Every resident of the State of California is now forced to honor someone for his/her sexual proclivity, the same conduct that for 5,000 years of Judeo-Christian history has been divinely condemned in the strongest terms. The outrage here is that “honor” is being paid to deviant behavior, not for honorable accomplishments. I’m sure many persons who happen to have been homosexual, have been properly honored in the past for their accomplishments, but not for thier personal sexual preferences.

Barack Obama awarded Milk the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year as well. As twisted as this is, it can be understood if we consider that Obama’s spiritual inspiration comes from the “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright, who touts himself as a Christian hater of whites, Jews, Catholics, etc. Why not do the same for Eleanor Roosevelt for her lesbianism, instead of her social work?

While we’re in the cultural scrap pit, let’s pause for a moment and understand that Congress will soon vote on the abominable health care bill which forces everyone to pay taxes for abortions. The vote will occur on CHRISTMAS EVE! I guess our “leaders” have forgotten that Christmas became a national holiday in recognition of the fact that Jesus Christ was BORN on Christmas day. What an obnoxious and sacrilegious act to use this sacred time to vote in a bill which will promote the continuance of the slaughter of millions more innocent children.
Where are the voices? Where is the Judeo-Christian expression of outrage for these several blasphemies?

 

He’s back!
Monday’s joint meeting between our Parks and Rec. Commission and city council turned out to be more interesting than expected.

Congratulations, first of all, to our Fillmore High School Flashes for their outstanding season. We’re all proud of your hard work and success which took you well into the CIF playoffs. You are all well deserving of the recognition you received at Monday’s meeting.

However, during public comment time, the specter of my old nemesis Bob Stroh dampened the atmosphere somewhat by imploding with some old, some new, and some nutty condemnations of me personally, the Gazette in general, and Councilman Conaway in particular.

A veteran Katzenjammer, when Bob takes to the dais with notes in hand I brace myself in expectation of a shower of complaints, flavored with a sprinkle of spicy falsehood. But this time he far exceeded expectations, launching a verbal MOAB (Mother of All Barefaced-lies) with his usual blather. Either that, or Bob suffered some sort of cerebral catastrophe while preparing his statement and was possibly unaware of what he was saying.

I’m not referring to his typical misstatements, which have been exposed many times. I’m referring to a bizarre comment about some “favorite abortion clinic.” After searching the website, and other sources, no one at the Gazette could understand what you were referring to or what might have set you off. But, for the record, that statement is utterly and incomprehensibly false, as were your comments on the Brown Act violations and those responsible for discovering and curing the problem.

As so often in the past Bob, your “facts” are missing altogether or are so confused as to be meaningless. I would greatly appreciate your mustering a few coherent moments for the purpose of explaining your bizarre remarks to me and to those TV viewers who will hear them repeated daily for the next week. Now is the time to become something more than a jabbering Katzenjammer! I would hate to have to put you into another Time-Out.

***

Happy Hanukkah!

 

The citizens of Fillmore owe a debt of gratitude to Richard McKee of Californians Aware, and his attorney Kelly Aviles for discovering several Brown Act violations by the Fillmore City Council majority, and for insisting that the violations were admitted and cured.

There remains a stubborn reluctance in the council majority to fully admit these violations, even though they have a signed a settlement with McKee and Aviles. The settlement mandated that a refresher course on the Brown Act be attended by the entire council. This was accomplished at last night’s regular meeting at city hall. It was an ego-bruising embarrassment, and some of their expressions showed this. Councilman Brooks is reported to have stated that he didn’t need this sort of schooling, but recent history proves he is wrong.

***

Councilwoman Washburn took time during the meeting to criticize general comments by Councilman Conaway, in a recent Ventura Star. Washburn stated that she didn’t appreciate having the entire council characterized as being shocked or disappointed upon learning of the shut-down of the Boys & Girls Club. Brooks chimed in, stating that he, also, was not “disappointed” upon learning of that fact. However, the Star article did not quote Conaway in that regard. This sort of pettiness has become a hallmark of the Katzenjammer coalition on the council.

Conaway has been correct in just about every important issue that has confronted the new council this year, and is rarely listened to. Most recently, he was correct about the Brown Act violations for which the city has had to pay $6,000 in legal fees to Aviles. The council majority also repeatedly rejected Conaway’s complaints of legal irregularities.

This has been the worst year of the past 20 in terms of willful, negligent, and very costly actions taken by the new council majority. Determined hostility and deliberate lack of cooperation with the council minority (Conaway and Hernandez) by the majority (Walker, Brooks and Washburn) is an unwelcome leftover from last November’s election. The Katzenjammers intended to wipe-out all incumbents, including the city clerk. They almost got a clean sweep, putting in Brooks, Washburn, and Westling (city clerk), all under the auspices of ex-(failed) Mayor, Gary Creagle. They got three of four.

This was the most intense, well-planned and focused campaign in Fillmore’s history. This group promised everything in its effort to “take back our town” – and has delivered nothing but confusion, confrontation, and the most costly series of mistakes and blunders in city history.

Before year’s end the Gazette will compile a report on the state of the city, its finances, its achievements, and its failures. It will include a brief comparison to the previous council’s achievements and failures. I can promise some stunning differences.

 

It was a great relief for us all to learn that the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley has reopened. I am puzzled, however, by the odd way this episode unfolded. First we had an abrupt notice of closing, then, a short time later, an equally abrupt notice of its reopening. Many of the children were greatly upset upon hearing of the closing.

The matter was handled very unprofessionally. No reason has been given for either event, but apparently a shortage of funding was to blame. I’ve been told that a Good Samaritan was responsible for the reopening. Our thanks go out to that person, as well as a lot of smiles from about 200 Fillmore kids. More details will be available soon.

Our B&G Club is very important to the welfare of many children. And, it’s not just all play. Homework is an essential part of the program, and homework is finished before other activities take place. It’s a great atmosphere, and a good, safe place for kids to let off some steam and socialize while waiting for mom or dad to return from work. In short, the B&G Club is critical to the safety and welfare of many local kids – that’s why financial support is so important.

***

A very talented and experienced group of teachers have gone forward with plans to create a Piru Charter School. Charter schools are encouraged by both state and county educators, and approximately one third of LA County schools are operated under charters. Charters empower schools through their independence. This independence has proven to spark educational creativity (not like the bogus “creativity” of the 1970s and ‘80s) but creativity that produces enhanced opportunities, higher learning achievement, and a new sense of socio-educational community.

Charter schools have a greater ability to prioritize their own spending and structure their curriculum. While not all charter schools have proven to be successful, most of them are highly successful.

I have followed this struggle between School District and the Charter promoters for several months. In my opinion the District has been heavy-handed in discouraging the charter. Much disinformation regarding the charter proponents and the proposed charter itself, has been disseminated by the District, and furthered by the Board. That is a fact.

With no intention of fanning the flames of discontent and anger, I hope the County (which will soon decide whether or not to support the charter) will see through the fog of anti-charter disinformation, and approve this exciting idea of a Piru Charter School. I know the proponents of the charter, exemplary teachers all, and I am convinced that this charter will be a wonderful success.

***

Gazette staff has just learned of the passing of former Fillmore City Manager R. Wesley “Wes” Nichols. Wes served as city manager in the early 1980’s and was well known in our small community. He will be missed.

 

The whole Fillmore community was shocked to hear that its Boys & Girls Clubs were to be shut down, immediately, with no warning or explanation. After all the financial and voluntary support we have provided to this club over the years we deserved, at least, a professional explanation and a little advance warning. A thorough investigation of the club’s staff and books is warranted. This is, after all, a national organization. The president should be fired if he is anywhere to be found.

Now, how do we resurrect an activities club for our youth to replace the defunct B&G organization? Send in your ideas.

* * *

Hundreds of Fillmore residents can breathe a sigh of relief now that FEMA has postponed the approval of its latest flood map. Homeowners in the flood plane can now put-off buying insurance until 2012. I just hope we don’t have a 200-year flood in the meantime.

* * *

I posted an exceptionally good article from American Thinker on our website (fillmoregazette.com) at the Government page. It’s entitled “Anatomy of a Failing Presidency”. With all the commotion at city hall this past year I have been deflected from contributing my two-cents-worth on national politics, especially on America’s first Indonesian president. Now that our new City Manager seems to have stabilized the council majority, and brought professional order to city affairs, I hope to express a few opinions about the nation’s misdirection. In the words of someone I deeply respect, “America is dying.” We have, at the highest positions of power, public servants who deny America’s Christian heritage. We have a president who habitually bows to our enemy’s heads of state. We are spending ourselves to death; our public debt will never be paid, except, maybe, if we engage in war with the main enemy, China, and win. War seems inevitable – victory seems dubious.

I’m no longer surprised to hear, more frequently now, warnings of an American insurrection, or even revolution, spoken by some of the most respected experts on social issues. Obama and the Democrat Party radicals are threatening the basic underpinnings of our nation’s society. They reject our Judeo-Christian heritage. Seeing the weakness and inexperience of the Obama organization, our powerful and ruthless enemies are tempted to come after us. I believe we, as usual, will be totally unprepared.

* * *

Happy Thanksgiving to all; and be sure to thank God that we do not live under Shaira law.

 

I’m pleased that the controversy over Brown Act violations has finally been resolved, as has the dispute concerning the mysterious Requests For Proposals (RFPs) to find a new auditing firm for the city.

In both cases the new city council majority (Washburn, Brooks, and Walker) have come out losers. In both cases their repeated public representations have proven to be false. Credit goes to Councilman Steve Conaway for detecting the violations in both cases, ignoring the storm of criticism from his detractors, and maintaining a calm equilibrium throughout this controversy. This shows confident leadership.

I should comment briefly on the Brown Act violations and our District Attorney. As the D.A.’s letter (this week) indicates, reasonable men may differ, as they did here. Mr. McKee’s intervention is greatly appreciated, and I support the work of his organization. However, I also have good reason to support the exemplary integrity of our D.A.’s office because, over the years, that has been my experience. We should be satisfied with the fact that these important issues have been identified and dealt with quickly, fairly, and professionally. Thanks to all who participated in the outcome.

***

Now, can the issue of a Piru Charter School be solved quickly and fairly? In my opinion a charter school is an exciting possibility, surely one worthy of a try. Nearly all of the strident objections to the charter I’ve heard are simply not true. I urge those interested in this issue to get the facts – not just wild, unfounded opinion. I think a charter school for Piru would create a golden opportunity for state-wide academic recognition. Let’s give it a chance.