Fire Chief Bill Herrera stepped down from his position during Tuesday’s regular council meeting. We owe him a debt of thanks for the good work he did during a particularly difficult transitional period for the department.
Bill has been replaced by Rigo Landeros. Rigo has been with the department since 1992, and is highly respected by his fellow firefighters. Congratulations to both of you for your distinguished work.
Deputy City Manager Bill Bartels succeeded in getting the council to appropriate an additional $12,000 to pay for his assistant. Ky Spangler will assist Bill (at $100 per hour) while he learns his duties as Deputy and anticipates his elevation to the position of city manager. Ms. Spangler has justly received high praise for her work on the north Fillmore plan for SunCal. [I have deleted this sentence due to my error in stating that Mr. Bartels opposed north Fillmore development. Please refer to Roy Payne's blog comment, and my response.]
I guess the question now is: who will assist Bartels in his expected transition to Roy Payne’s old job as city manager.
Oh, brave new world.
The Gazette has battened her hatches, awaiting a squall blowing from our newly elected city council. As I understand it, this expected action will demonstrate once again the new council’s true character – malicious, mendaciously political, and hypocritical. However, no tactic remains that could possibly surprise us – and no explanation can deceive. The mystery will reveal itself within two weeks.



The heated dispute between the Fillmore Unified Teacher’s Association (FUTA) and the school board and district continues. The Gazette has published the letter from Fillmore Unified School District Board President John Garnica, this week. It was received too late for publication last week. I think it raises some questions that should be answered.
Mr. Garnica was “disappointed” to read the “article” which ran two weeks ago. In fact it was not an article, it was an official statement, indicated as such, from FUTA. It was FUTA’s statement of facts, not opinion, and all statistical information was provided by the District. This information can be viewed at
FUTA, and others, would ask whether it’s accurate to state that “...the administration was the first to feel the pain.” The pain referred to by Mr. Garnica concerns the decision not to fill the position of Technology Director. However, last year, well before the budget crisis, the man filling that position decided to leave. The position was left unfilled. It’s difficult to see the pain here, especially in view of employees and families who actually lost wages.
The other position lost to the District had to with an unidentified “quasi-administrator”. What exactly is that position? How many days were cut from administrators? Was the pain here comparable to that felt by teacher aids, librarians, school site library clerks, with cuts ranging from 5 to 33 days?
I think it is disingenuous for the Board or District to claim a 25-percent cut under the circumstances. Also, administrative cuts were actually the last to be made. And who besides the quasi-administrative person was actually cut?
It’s past time for FUTA, the District and the Board to meet again and straighten-out these differences – and seek to identify the ghost caller who peddled so much false information in an effort to discredit individual FUTA members, Scott Duckett and The Fillmore Gazette.



The Gazette has found itself in the middle of a heated controversy between the School District and the teachers union for the past several weeks.
This week we have begun to focus on this confrontation with a story which is expected to continue for several more weeks. At question is the fairness of school district budget cuts, relating to teacher’s salaries and lay-offs.
I regret that a letter by Fillmore Unified School District Board President John Garnica, received this morning, was too late for publication.
Mr. Garnica’s letter is a rebuttal to statements made by teacher’s union President Theresa Marvel in last week’s Gazette. Garnica, challenging some facts, claims the article is only biased opinion, not news, and that neither the school board nor the District were provided an opportunity to counter Marvel’s claims. He denies the accuracy of salary figures in Marvel’s statements as well as well as claims of unfairness in salary cuts and lay-offs.
The Gazette may have been negligent in failing to provide a formal invitation to respond, but the opportunity was certainly there, and every District and Board member knew of the story.
My apologies to Board and District members who feel this was unfair. The Gazette was dealing with some bizarre issues while interviewing a number of parties to this story. In any event, the Gazette encourages all members on both sides of this debate to contribute to a better public understanding of the issues. Many facts remain in dispute.
Mr. Garnica’s letter raises several issues of fact itself, and will be published in next week’s Gazette.
At Tuesday’s Council Meeting, Ms. Ann Ray, a resident of Riverwalk, complained that speeding traffic on Burlington Street was endangering the lives of many children who play in the adjacent area. She also told the council that the park was badly maintained. Sprinklers were broken, causing a swamp-like condition which was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The grass area was in very poor condition as well, with rocks and weeds.
An inspection Wednesday proved her complaints to be correct. Something should be done to clean-up the area.


Councilwoman Laurie Hernandez has voiced objection to my description, in last week’s Realities, of the condition with which she is struggling. I had characterized her problem as an “addiction”. The problem is more accurately described as alcoholism.
I agree with her objection. I also apologize for the inaccuracy. It was not my intention to emphasize a particular condition. My intent was to demonstrate a problem of judgment. A council member should have, among other essential attributes, good judgment. This problem, in my opinion, has impaired her usefulness on the council.
I also attempted to show examples of poor judgment on the part of each of the new council members. Councilman Brooks met with me this Tuesday, at my invitation, to express his displeasure with my choice of words referring to an alleged example of his poor judgment. I guess we agreed to disagree after a very civil discussion.
My criticisms of Brooks, Washburn, Walker, Hernandez, and now Mr. Bartels, are intended to show that a series of bad decisions by this group has led the city into serious, long term, trouble - fiscal, legal, and as far as city staff goes, psychological.
The deconstruction of city government has gone according to plan, perhaps much faster than planned.
We should remember that Roy Payne, Tom Ristau, Steve McClary and Barbara Smith, were all targeted by the new council majority. Now, due to actions by a thankless Bill Bartels (denying employment contracts), probably Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp, and City Planner, Kevin McSweeney will also be forced to resign. This is a clean sweep of all top management, an unprecedented, engineered disaster.
It’s clear to me that the new council’s search for a permanent city manager is pure theater – a public charade. They appear to have every intention of finally appointing Bill Bartels as city manager. Mr. Bartels, well educated gentleman that he is, is not competent to take on this demanding job. He lacks the essential management skills to effectively direct the daily activities of staff – this was revealed by Finance Director Barbara Smith’s statement that, “This gentleman doesn’t know what he is doing.” However, with his recent 10-percent raise, and the help of a $100-per-hour assistant, maybe he will last until the permanent city manager is appointed (himself?). Pretty nice plumb.
I leave you with my last prognostication: card-carrying Katzenjammer, Brian Sipes, will be appointed to replace Councilwoman Laurie Hernandez. Brian is a Councilman-in-Waiting. He has been warming-up in the wings for quite a while and friends on the Katzenjammer Council provide him special privileges, such as passes to attend employee meetings. As a person of interest he is interviewed by the Ventura Star and receives a full council agenda packet. Surely he is in the fast track to join Katzenjammer fame and council cluelessness.
To the council: Quomodo Una Nocte Facta Tam Turpis Es?


Well, the plot thickens at city hall.
I really felt sorry for Public Works Director Bert Rapp, and City Planner Kevin McSweeney having to explain why they sought contract protection at the last council meeting. Councilman Steve Conaway was absent due to work demands.
Bert asked for an extension of his present contract, which has one year to go. He explained that, due to the unprecedented number of high-level departures and retirements during the past two months, he believes his position, after 20 exemplary years of service, is in jeopardy from the new, politically radical, council majority.
McSweeney also told the council he feared for his job. He is facing a growing number of complaints and implied threats over decisions he is duty-bound to make, such as zoning. For this reason he also asked for a contract of employment which would protect him. He reminded council members (Jamey Brooks, Gayle Washburn, newly appointed Mayor Patti Walker, and Laurie Hernandez) that he had a family to support and that job security (following 15-years of service) was critical to his family’s wellbeing.
Brooks wanted to know what was so critical about a contract. Washburn stated that both long-time employees were doing a good job. And, Walker made vague reference to how much their work was appreciated. Hernandez almost jumped out of her seat to emphasize that no employee had been fired; they had all left of their own volition. They unanimously refused to grant the contract requests, even though, in the case of Bert Rapp, it would have cost the city nothing.
Each council member stated that the recommendation of the new interim City Manager, Bill Bartels, not to grant contracts until the permanent city manager should be chosen, possibly up to a year from now, was the best way to go.
Time is short. I no longer have the patience to maintain silence in the face of such council mendacity and hypocrisy.
Here’s the reality at city hall today. We have Brooks, Washburn, Walker, Bartels, and (now) Hernandez, passing judgment on Rapp and McSweeney. What standing do these five have to make such judgments?
Brooks’ judgment is so poor that he was recently bounced out of his position at a local Christian school. Washburn’s judgment is so poor she clings to her preference for Vertreet and PERC to build our water treatment plant. Walker was censured for unethical conduct by a previous council, and has adamantly refused to sign a council code of ethics. Hernandez’ behavior on the council has been nothing short of bizarre, do most likely to the addiction she formally admitted. Despite great forbearance by the council for treatment, she continues to be an embarrassing presence. As for Mr. Bartels, he has coveted the office of City Manager for years, the office his grandfather once occupied. I have refrained from commenting on Bill’s activities at city hall till now because I was not sure what was happening. Now, however, I see that it was he who refused to grant contracts to Rapp and McSweeney, until a permanent manager can come aboard. I also see very clearly now that Mr. Bartels will likely be placed in that position by his long-time friends Walker and Washburn, with Brooks and Hernandez tagging along. I will be surprised if this does not happen.
Mr. Bartels is not qualified to take over the job that Roy Payne had for 20 years; he has neither the education nor the experience for the job. But this didn’t stop him from requesting a pay raise after recently receiving a new job title as Interim City Manager, from Deputy City Manager. Not only did he quickly receive a 10-percent raise, he talked the council into providing an assistant for him in his new job, because, in Finance Director Barbara Smith’s words, “This gentleman doesn’t know what he is doing.” His assistant will receive $100 per hour.
I have to close with: None of these council members and pet administrator knows what they are doing.


The early retirement of Fillmore Finance Director, and one-time Assistant City Manager, Barbara Smith, was not announced during Tuesday’s regular council meeting, at her request. Please watch the meeting on Channel 10 – 6:00 p.m.
Barbara has been with the city for 23 years. She is the fourth member of Fillmore’s top and mid-management to leave office during the past two months. First to resign was former City Manager (for 19 years) and Special Projects Manager, Roy Payne. The second was City Administrative Manager, Steve McClary. And the third, former City Manager Tom Ristau.
Each of these distinguished city employees chose to leave rather than deal with the two new council members, Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks. The combination of these two, with recently appointed Mayor Patti Walker, has created a poisonous, radical, agenda-driven, environment.
I was absent from that part of last night’s council meeting where the council refused to grant a contract to City Planner Kevin McSweeney, and Director of Public Works Bert Rapp. Both of these exemplary management-level employees (each on the job for about 20 years) seek job protection following the recent landslide loss of so many other long-time employees due to the new council agenda.
Walker, Brooks, and Washburn revel in the loss of these people after having targeted them for several years. All of the above mentioned employees have been viciously opposed by Walker, Brooks, and Washburn because of differences of opinion on city development. Heading the charge to rid city hall of any vestige of past management is former (failed) Mayor, Gary Creagle. Creagle no longer lives in the city, but was campaign manager for Brooks (and Washburn?) in the last election cycle. Creagle, a lying, ill-tempered blowhard, claimed at the March 22 WRP Memorial Building workshop: “When I was on the Council the City had $7 million in reserves”. He knows better. Records show that when Mr. Creagle started as a Councilmember the City had approximately $1.5 million in the general fund. When he left office in 1988 the general fund had less than $600,000. The general fund decreased by $900,000 during Mr. Creagle’s tenure as a Councilmember. But, Mr. Creagle has many old axes to grind, and scores to settle, and was able to fool a sufficient number of the Fillmore electorate (500 over the top) into believing that existing city management was doing a terrible job – though it maintained a substantial general fund surplus and achieved remarkable things in the way of city improvements – harmoniously.
Creagle is also the man who barged into city offices with newly elected City Clerk Clay Westling in tow, demanding to know where the office for the new Clerk was, and telling another staff member that “That’s OK. Your job is safe.”
This group’s plan has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams, and the city will pay the price for a generation. Nothing like this has ever happened in the city before. With the exception of Councilman Steve Conaway, we now have an ignorant, arrogant, incompetent, and thoroughly obnoxious city council. They have lost all (or will soon lose all) institutional memory, professional talent, and staff good will. They are like the dogs that chased the car until they finally caught it. Now, let’s see what they will do with it. Let’s see what happens to the general fund.
I have had to write this bit with substantial distraction an hour before deadline. Much more needs to be said. I will try to expand my description of the mess the City of Fillmore now finds itself in, online at, tomorrow.
This infamous group has brought us to a truly sad day.


Publishing a website, can sometimes be a real pain.
Take the video of Thomas Paine now showing on the “Politics & Government” page. The content reflects many of Mr. Paine’s views, as one of the most outspoken of our founding fathers, and author of Common Sense. The video addresses the issue of coming together as Americans, as our motto urges “E Pluribus Unum” (from many, one).
I just realized that other, objectionable, videos were linked to this particular one. For anyone who may have been offended by the others, my apologies. We make a strong effort to monitor the site, but it is impossible to catch every objectionable post as quickly as they may be imported. The website is designed to provide a valuable, user-friendly, and quick method of communication for Gazette readers and Fillmore residents, in particular. The site also attempts to vigorously support a traditional, conservative, Judeo-Christian based ethos, without apology. This certainly does not mean that opposing opinion may not be strongly expressed. To the contrary, all opinion is welcome, providing it complies with the forum’s common sense rules and regulations.
The Katzenjammer shenanigans continue unabated at city hall.
Having inspired the resignation of former City Manager and Special Projects Manager Roy Payne, former Management Analyst Steve McClary, and former City Manager Tom Ristau, the question arises: who’s next?
New council members Jamey Brooks and Gayle Washburn, teamed-up with newly appointed Mayor Patti Walker, have succeeded in gutting city staff with all deliberate speed. The problem has become, who is left to do the work? Interim City Manager Bill Bartels, nice guy that he is, has little city manager experience, and there is no one around him with more experience than he himself.
City money is now being squandered to search for a permanent city manager and to pay the cost of implementing Measure I, authored and promoted by the Kids. Waiting in the wings is another political wannabe, Brian Sipes. He is a card-carrying member of the Katzenjammer group, targeting Hernandez’ seat on the council. Should Sipes somehow defeat Hernandez in the coming election, it would be four to one, with Councilman Steve Conaway the last man standing for experienced, professional leadership.
Because of the Katzenjammer group’s successfully implemented agenda to rid city staff and council of all meaningful opposition, and to proceed with the misbegotten Measures “H” and “I”, the City of Fillmore stands to lose up to a half-million dollars ($500,000) from the general fund. Walker, Brooks and Washburn were surprised to learn that their poorly “crafted” Measure “H” now actually permits the Steiger development to build 100 units, rather than the 80 intended.
Then there’s the long anticipated still-in-the-works Business Park plan, and our new state-of-the-art water treatment plant (under budget and ahead of schedule) which the Katzenjammers all vehemently oppose.
What will the City of Fillmore look like after the Katzenjammer ambush? They have promised so much. Let’s see what is delivered, besides the bluster, lies, and animal antics of the leader, Gary “Hothead” Creagle.
Fillmore electorate: You have made a terrible, expensive mistake.


Before I forget, for about the fifth time, I want to thank the staff of our Santa Paula Hospital for its exemplary work.
Several weeks ago I was admitted for emergency treatment. I can honestly say that I have never experienced such friendly professional medical attention in my life. After, rather foolishly, driving myself to the hospital, I was immediately ushered to a place where my condition was monitored with state-of-the-art equipment.
The doctors, nurses, Emergency Medical Techs., and other assistants, were superb. Even breakfast the following day was great!
What sets Santa Paula Hospital apart from any other I have visited is the truly friendly, home environment, supported by a top-notch staff.
My apologies for being so late to recognize all the good folks responsible for making Santa Paula Hospital run so smoothly, and for my quick recovery. Thank you all. You do a great job. We can all be proud of this great, important, little hospital.
Our new Skateboard Park is a singular phenomenon! Its grand opening last Saturday was fantastic.
Kids and grown-ups from far and wide came to Fillmore to see and use this custom designed, state-of-the-art park. I was really impressed with the polite behavior of the hundreds of young people who skated, watched the professionals, perused the many commercial booths, and lined-up to enjoy the IN & OUT burgers. It was great to see so many parents with small children enjoying the fun.
Councilman Steve Conaway Fireman Patrick Maynard, and former Councilwoman Cecilia Cuevas, in particular, deserve high praise for their hard work to oversee a successful opening. I understand someone from Nebraska came to skate the park. The internet is filled with praise for the facility, and is bringing many out-of-towners to Fillmore.
Landscaping and other final touches are being completed. Now, let’s keep the Park clean and safe for all.
I urge everyone to be sure to view the video of Tuesday’s city council meeting. The video begins at 6:00 p.m. every day.
This meeting has everything, comedy, tragedy, and melodrama, and a dose of industrial strength, asinine, cynical arrogance by the Three Amigos – Brooks, Washburn, and Walker.
As they prepare to squander possibly as much as a half-million dollars from the general fund, they do so with a chuckle. The Three Amigos are aligned with a truly nasty group of people. Take the behavior of one supporter for example, that of Gloria Hansen. She shouted at former Councilwoman Cecilia Cuevas to “Shut up.” Not very ladylike!
This is all too colorful to elaborate here. Check out Channel 10 at 6:00 p.m.
Congratulations to our Sheriff’s Department for a substantially reduced crime rate in Fillmore. This is directly due to the extraordinary diligence of the Department, and personal, hands-on attitude of Chief Tim Hagel, in arrests, gang sweeps, and quick response to calls – less than three minutes on average. Fillmore is a very bad place for gang members to hang out; they keep getting arrested. We have a robust police force here with sub-station, many mobile units, helicopter assistance within 15-minutes, motorcycle officer, and the full back-up from the county Department. Not good for gangs.


Let’s all remember to turn out for the grand opening of the Skateboard Park, Saturday. It is a thing of beauty, as it should be for a $million-plus. Even before opening it has become a hugely popular gathering place for kids from all over the county.
Several calls to the District Attorney’s office were unavailing in my efforts to discover the status of the case pending against Fillmore’s former Fire Chief, Pete Egedi. The case continues to be under investigation.
I watched in amazement during last night’s council meeting as Jamey Brooks, Gayle Washburn, and Mayor Patti Walker danced around the important issue of when and how to begin addressing the problems created by the passage of Measure I last November.
The Measure was designed and promoted by these three council members in an effort to severely curtail the development of north Fillmore. Several approved plans are on hold pending the implementation of Measure I.
This was the most important issue on the agenda for last week’s regular council meeting. Council was ready to go forward until Councilwoman Washburn stated she was unprepared. She had not had time to study the agenda after returning from vacation.
The Gazette has learned Ms. Washburn returned from vacation on Thursday preceding the regular Tuesday meeting. She had 5 days to study the agenda.
The truth is that the 40 pages (see document attached below) documenting the consequences of implementing Measure I reveals the city will now have to pay at least $300,000 from the general fund to comply with state housing guidelines.
No one wants to deal with the financial aftermath of these mistakes which Councilman Steve Conaway warned would result from the passage of Measure I.
Ms. Washburn gained a two-week extension by claiming she was unprepared. Jamey Brooks asked the council to break-up the agenda and discuss the issue piecemeal because, otherwise, it would result in a meeting which would last “too long”.
The triumvirate is about to reap the whirlwind.


During the past year or so several people have stopped me and asked whether I had read what was being published on a particular blog. A couple of times I checked it out only to discover a lot of trash talk by a small group of obviously damaged personalities who cover their libel with pseudo names. But this was quite a while ago and I don’t usually bother with blogs, with the occasional exception of the Gazette’s.
Out of curiosity, I revisited this particular site over the weekend. It had been referenced on our own site a couple of times. Frankly, the vile intensity of what I read disgusted me. So many good people continue to be libeled with gutter-level attacks. Expect the owner of this blog to pay a high price when the time comes for a formal and public outing.
Americans enjoy a constitutional right to free speech; this should not be confused with license. I was so disgusted with the low-life, cowardly commentators on this hysterical blog that I am considering the elimination of user names on the Gazette blog, and requiring the use of true names. However, this probably won’t happen as long as a proper level of civility remains.
People are welcome to express even very strong opinions about personalities and issues as long as they don’t cross the line.
There was a great deal of anticipation leading up to Tuesday’s council meeting. The most important issue on the agenda was 9A, a discussion about how to implement Measure I. This included costs for necessary amendments to the General Plan and zoning ordinance amendments.
Since Council Members Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Mayor Patti Walker fought long and hard to create and promote the passage of Measure I, one would think they would be eager to share the consequences of their success with the residents and taxpayers of Fillmore.
This was not to be. Councilwoman Washburn was unprepared for the discussion and asked that the item be carried forward to the next meeting, in two weeks. Washburn stated that she did not have sufficient time to review the agenda since returning from vacation.
Councilman Steve Conaway noted that this was the most important item on the agenda and that everyone else was prepared to go forward.
Councilman Brooks seconded Washburn’s motion to continue the item, and with Mayor Walker’s vote, this was done.
It appears that the chickens have come home to roost, but the chicken pen door is closed for the next two weeks. The fact is, Washburn, Brooks, and Walker have laid a giant egg in the form of significant costs to implement Measure I. A conservative cost is estimated to be $250,000. For months prior to the election warnings issuing from responsible sources concerning the cost of passing Measure I fell on deaf ears.
I wonder what excuse will be offered for a second continuance of this issue in two weeks.
Does anyone remember Roy Payne’s phone number?
Speaking of new costs, city council was provided some more sobering information, Monday. Since the city is now without a manager, a helpful, volunteer group (ICMA Range Rider) has been called in to rescue the situation. Mr. Edward G. Wohlenberg, speaking for his organization, addressed the council in an attempt to assist in the city manager selection process. Mr. Wohlenberg spoke with great authority derived from long experience as a city manager, now retired. As I watched several somber council member expressions during Mr. Wohlenberg’s highly informative discourse, I wondered what Mayor Walker, Councilwoman Washburn, and the absent Jamey Brooks must be thinking. I wondered if they regretted their arrogant disrespect for both former city managers Roy Payne and Tom Ristau, which caused both to resign. I wondered if they already missed former Management Analyst Steve McClary, as well. Did they think: Well, that’s OK, we’ll use the second string. Darn! We don’t have a second string! And I could swear I heard Washburn’s thoughts: Who cares! I know things about spread sheets!
I’m not a mind reader, but I can read simple numbers. According to Mr. Wohlenberg, it could take up to a year, and cost up to $25,000 to have a firm locate a permanent, experienced city manager.
And now for the bad news. Ooops, no more time.


I have too much to cover in the half-hour remaining to finish this column, so I’ll have to be brief.
City Manager Tom Ristau has resigned and has been hired by the City of San Fernando. He is the third high-level city employee to abandon ship since the new triumvirate has taken over city hall. Tom was with the city for 19 years, and city manager for about 5 years.
Sometimes criticized for various decisions, especially by the Gazette, Tom, nevertheless, leaves an enviable record for fiscal responsibility. How many California cities, of whatever size, can brag about having more than a 40 percent SURPLUS in the general fund these days? That’s what the record is expected to show this year. Tom also supervised the planning and construction of our beautiful new swimming-tennis complex, which is ready to open any day now.
Congratulations Tom. We wish you much success in your new position.
I wish I had time to elaborate in my response to Councilwoman Gayle Washburn’s letter which appears in this week’s Gazette. I did take the time to review emails between Ms. Washburn and myself which pertain to her arguments in favor of other water treatment facilities. I went back to early 2007, covering about 50 communications. This exercise only corroborates my conclusion that Ms. Washburn is far too long on confident proposals and far too short on comprehension of critical facts.
I am alarmed after re-reading the pedantic assertions she repeats over and over again in the face of solid, repeated explanations by experts which completely refute her mistaken conclusions. This habit of mind continues to clog the normal flow of dialogue at council meetings. Coupled with the stupefying, negative antics of Councilman Brooks (Mr. No), it’s not surprising that meetings have gone well into the wee hours of the morning, even when covering short agendas.
Ms. Washburn, I would be happy to post the entire content of 2-years-worth of emails between you and me, covering the topic of our new water treatment plant, if it takes that to prove my point. Maybe I will anyway. It would prove beyond a doubt that you (and your followers) have been foolish, and woefully ignorant, and fundamentally wrong in your insistence that City Engineer Bert Rapp has made a mistake in choosing the companies he has to design, build, and operate our plant. Maybe more to the point, you and yours have caused more than a years delay with plant approval and construction, which cost the city more than $1 million in wasted time and effort.
This reminds me of the utterly false statements your group leader, Gary Creagle, has made concerning the fiscal condition of the city immediately following his tenure as mayor of Fillmore. There appears to be no credibility in your group. Maybe it’s time for a little show and tell?


The city owes a debt of gratitude to those individuals and institutions which have followed through with the Military Banner Program honoring Fillmore’s men and women presently serving our country. Thanks to the work of Fillmore School Board member Virginia de la Piedra, with the City of Fillmore, Fillmore Unified School Board, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9637 and the Fillmore Sunrise Rotary, we can appreciate the new banners displayed from light posts on Central Avenue. This is a bold statement of the pride the residents of Fillmore have in our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guard service men and women.
The Gazette also wishes to extend its thanks to our departing City Management Analyst, Steve McClary, for his many years of diligent work. Steve has accepted employment with the City of Ojai as Assistant City Manager. He was also the Gazette’s editor, with the paper for about four years, before, during, and after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. His assistance was critical to the survival of the newspaper after the office was destroyed and production had to be divided into several locations. He is, among other things, a great photographer and writer, and has been one of the best communicators the city has ever had. As a natural multi-tasker, Steve handled many different jobs for the city under various titles with professional enthusiasm.
Although always quietly loyal, Steve, IN MY OPINION, is the most recent member of Fillmore’s City staff to flee the arrogant foolishness, and radical agenda, of the two newest members of the Fillmore City Council. Actually, the council problem can be best understood as the culmination of several years of careful, group planning to take over city government. The newly hatched council triumvirate (Jamey Brooks, Gayle Washburn, and Patti Walker) incubated by former (and failed) Mayor, Gary Creagle, is succeeding beyond its wildest dreams. The exodus of targeted staff is well under way. The plan? The plan was to create such utter frustration among the most experienced and important staff members that they could no longer bear to work with the triumvirate.
Well the plan is destroying confident management at the highest levels of Fillmore’s city government. This arrogant triumvirate has become so unreasonable and obnoxious that no one wants to have anything to do with them, no one except their followers.
As this is a situation that has been deliberately created – the consequences will fall on the heads of the big three. Let’s see what happens to the business park, the water treatment plant, and other projects financially critical to the welfare of this city.
I predict a recall movement within a year - after this group has cleaned-out all competent hi-level members of city management and replaced them with friends and political associates.
So, thanks again Steve for all those good years with the Gazette and the City of Fillmore. I’m sure you are headed for a more enlightened environment in Ojai. Our loss, their gain.

Google doth make experts of us all

A response to Councilwoman Washburn’s letter

Ms. Washburn,
Before the last election, when I (mistakenly) endorsed now-Mayor Patti Walker, I explained in an email to you why I could not endorse you for the council. I stated that, while you have a great facility for digging-up facts, you seem incapable of understanding or properly applying them.

The actions you have taken during your first few weeks on council corroborate this assessment. Your most recent letter also reflects the problem. As with so many previous alleged statements of fact, your statement that Mr. Payne’s duties under his contract with the City of Fillmore “...have been completed” is false. Four of the seven commitments are on-going, such as use issues with KDF; bond issues (new variable interest rate bonds as low as .4 percent, substantially less than the present 4.3 percent) available; the sewer rate pro-forma; and miscellaneous tasks (always in play) remain now and at the time of Mr. Payne’s resignation. You should have known this.

Your other objections (cell phone, computer workstation and office) seem childishly petty. The phone was used continuously on city business. It would be ridiculous to demand that Mr. Payne pay for communications with the city in the course of his city work. The city should provide the tools to complete city work. Payne’s job was, basically, to save the city money (like the $814,000 he did save). Was that worth a cell phone, computer and work station? Reasonable people would say yes. After all, you asked these things for our new city clerk who is paid $25.00 per month and saves the city nothing.

You state that you “disagreed” with Mr. Payne on “some” issues. I can’t think of any major issue on which you agreed with him. Your nagging insistence that PERC should be the builder of our water treatment plant, when they have never before constructed a membrane bio-reactor (a specialty) is indicative of your misplaced self-confidence. Would you have someone build your house who had never built a house before? Then, why a $30 million, state-of-the-art plant? You stubbornly opposed our Design, Build, and Operate (DBO) contract for the same plant – until Santa Paula used that model for the construction of their plant – which caused you to change your mind.
You have the audacity to dismiss the complexity of the sewer rate proforma, constantly being refined, as something you could easily do because you “know how to use an Excel spread sheet”! Do you suppose Finance Director Barbara Smith flies through her city budget and taxes with an off-the-shelf Excel spread sheet and Turbo Tax program?

I don’t expect you to have passed a class on the law of contracts, Gayle, but we expect council members to understand the basic elements of a contract – which Mr. Payne had with the city. What did you expect to negotiate with him? It’s too obvious that you have never had an understanding of Payne’s true value, because you don’t understand his achievements during the past 20 years.

Both you and Mr. Brooks come to the council with an extraordinary, agenda-driven arrogance. What have either of you accomplished that would place you in a position to judge Mr. Payne’s professional achievements for the city?

You both have questioned Mr. Payne’s ethics by accusing him of having a (city created?) conflict of interest. You have both questioned the quality and value of his performance, when he has saved (most recently) $814,000 for the city.

You, Brooks, and Mayor Walker, together with that merry band of mischief-makers that supports you, have caused more than a year’s delay of the treatment plant, and wasted more than $1 million in unnecessary expense by your incessant, repetitious (asked and answered) questioning of expert opinion of the highest order. Your questions have often been foolish, such as “Can’t we save a little money by not using this non-reactive concrete?” You do a lot of loose research, but seldom sufficient homework.

You have essentially fired the winning quarterback at half-time. Now you had better see who’s left on the bench. Maybe you can Google-up someone.


Those of us who know of the extraordinary work Fillmore’s former City Manager Roy Payne has done during his 20 years on the job, and how essential his talents and experience have been to the smooth operation of business park plans, and the water treatment plant, also know how much his presence will be missed now that he has resigned.

Mr. Payne submitted his resignation Tuesday. Mark that day on your calendar and take note of where city development stands today. Check city development progress six months from now; I predict a dramatic and expensive downturn. Why? Because there is no one with Mr. Payne’s talents, experience, integrity, and institutional memory to take his place. The blind forces of arrogant stupidity have inflicted enormous damage to city development through its gratuitous, unremitting stream of disrespect for Mr. Payne.

Watch closely the cost in time to be lost and treasure to be wasted in attempts to fill Mr. Payne’s shoes, all because three intellectual pygmies on council (and two off) persistently and deliberately chose to ignore the advice of legal and business experts, and took disagreements personally.

Read Mr. Payne’s letter of resignation thoughtfully. It is also posted on For me, it brings back vivid memories of the past 20-plus years in Fillmore. It evokes memories of Fillmore before and after the catastrophic Northridge earthquake. It also illuminates the achievements of the man who rebuilt this town from the scattered bricks and massive, post quake confusion. He gave us hope – he gave us a sparkling new town!

Roy Payne was the man who orchestrated our recovery, who found the grants, ordered the work, and hired the people necessary to get the job done. Ask the opinion of any previous Fillmore City Council member about Mr. Payne’s achievements. They all agree (except for Gary Creagle; see intellectual pygmy reference) his work has been indispensable to our success.

Goodbye Mr. Payne. Thanks for 20 spectacular years of hard work.

(More on this next week)


Having to write a column on Tuesday night council meetings has always been a challenge because we go to press Wednesday around noon. This leaves little time for patient analysis.

From one standpoint, however, our two newest council members make analysis a little easier. By now, those who attend council meetings, or watch them on Channel 10, should know what I’m talking about. Council team members Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks have entered the arena: Jamey as the sword-swinging budget enforcer, and Gayle the super confident number-cruncher. I would feel more confident if either one of them had a clue to what they are doing.

Both were elected to council positions by promising dramatic changes. The target of most of their displeasure is our Special Projects Manager Roy Payne. They seek to have him removed from his present duties which include overseeing the construction of the new business park. They would also like to get rid of our Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp, and City Manager Tom Ristau.

Without exception, I have had issues with all three in the past. But it would be unusual indeed to agree with every decision made by city management.

There’s no doubt in my mind that team Washburn and Brooks bring a stubborn determination to the council which is focused on cutting just about all spending at any cost, for any project. They have already distinguished themselves at the first two meetings by voting NO on several projects critical to the health, safety, and welfare of Fillmore’s residents.

The Washburn-Brooks coalition voted (incomprehensibly) “no” at first efforts to purchase acreage in the Highway 126 bridge area, which ultimately will cost the city nothing, and would guarantee Sespe Creek storm flow in perpetuity. This would save hundreds of homeowners from having to purchase expensive flood insurance.

Then there was the issue of accepting a GRANT of $315,000 to acquire (from the Fillmore Irrigation District) a few acres at the northeast area of the bridge over Highway 23. The city would have to come up with 10-percent to make the deal go. This acquisition is critical for the completion of 415 feet of the bike path, and the completion of the levee to the northeastern abutment of the bridge. This was a grant from CalTrans. Washburn and Brooks voted no. Thank God Councilwoman Patti Walker understood the importance and joined with Steve Conaway to explain the importance of the CalTrans Bicycle Transportation Account Grant, or the path and levee would remain unchanged.

Then there was the effort by Washburn-Brooks to cancel Roy Payne’s contract to facilitate the business park and other work. After Conaway, and KDF Community Manager Rod McDonald explained how critically important Payne’s assistance has been, and remains, to the timely completion of the park, an ad hoc committee was formed to look into the terms of the contract. Again, Washburn and Brooks exhibited their ignorance of facts, but an eagerness to vote.

The last two council meetings have been extraordinarily long, ending at 1:45 a.m. and 11:48 p.m. due to the naive combativeness of these two.

My intentions were to say a few words about Clay Westling as our new City Clerk, and the curiously intense efforts by the Washburn-Brooks group to puff-up the job’s responsibilities. Westling appears happy with the outcome and is now seated comfortably at the council dais. He was mislead by overzealous Washburn-Brooks supporters and has now learned that, for example, he cannot attend executive and/or staff meetings, and cannot have all city records under his immediate control. Anyway, what I hear is that Clay is a genuinely nice guy and everyone seems to get along well with him. Amen.

With the new city council now easily able to vote contrary to what might have been expected of the old council, it is gratifying to see Mayor Patti Walker’s common sense and experience swinging the vote in the right direction on critical issues. We should all hope this sort of common sense prevails into the future.


President Obama has taken office; most conservatives feel like taking cover.

The most unqualified man in presidential history is in the driver’s seat as Commander in Chief of our armed forces, head of CIA, FBI, and numerous other military and civilian intelligence services. He also controls both houses of Congress and is leader of the most radically liberal political faction in the country.

The worrisome thing is that Obama was chosen because of his race, not because of any particular qualification. Any number of black Americans could have filled the position with educated intelligence and deep experience. But few among these talented men can match the mysterious oracular presence of Mr. Obama. And so, he has been chosen because of his race and speaking ability, by 95 percent of his race. If racial identity and speaking ability are enough to successfully defend this nation against its many deadly enemies and save a collapsing economy, he will succeed. But, these are not the qualities required at this time in history. So, this tsunami of triumphalism from the Left is just so much emotional confetti tossed into in the winds of war. Unless human nature changes dramatically during the next four years, Barack Obama will drive America over a cliff.

From a traditional point of view Obama is judged, as desired, by the quality of his character, not the color of his skin. Traditionalists and conservatives see little to commend his character. His only accomplishments have been to succeed to higher office with the assistance of an army of Chicago’s worst political weasels. His long-time pastor (Wright) is a virulent, racist hate monger. He has kept the company of criminals and terrorists. He has nominated to cabinet level office scofflaws and men who pimp for notorious criminals and active terrorists. His appointments and associations are an index to his character, which is black indeed.

But, for the true conservative Christian, Obama is a true abomination. His philosophy of life (who is protected from homicide) spells four more years of slaughter of the innocent children waiting to be born. On this issue there is no worse person in or out of government, and millions of children will continue to die under his presidency. How bad? Read this:

The Obama Debate Every American Should See
by Terence P. Jeffrey

"The most telling debate Barack Obama ever had was not with John McCain but Patrick O'Malley, who served with Obama in the Illinois Senate and engaged Obama in a colloquy every American should read.

The Obama-O'Malley debate was a defining moment for Obama because it dealt with such a fundamental issue: The state's duty to protect the civil rights of the young and disabled.

Some background: Eight years ago, nurse Jill Stanek went public about the "induced-labor abortions" performed at the Illinois hospital where she worked. Often done on Down syndrome babies, the procedure involved medicating the mother to cause premature labor.

Babies who survived this, Stanek testified in the U.S. Congress, were brought to a soiled linen room and left alone to die without care or comforting.

Then-Illinois state Sen. Patrick O'Malley, whom I interviewed this week, contacted the state attorney general's office to see whether existing laws protected a newborn abortion-survivor's rights as a U.S. citizen. He was told they did not.

So, O'Malley -- a lawyer, veteran lawmaker and colleague of Obama on the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee -- drafted legislation.

In 2001, he introduced three bills. SB1093 said if a doctor performing an abortion believed there was a likelihood the baby would survive, another physician must be present "to assess the child's viability and provide medical care." SB1094 gave the parents, or a state-appointed guardian, the right to sue to protect the child's rights. SB1095 simply said a baby alive after "complete expulsion or extraction from its mother" would be considered a "'person, 'human being,' 'child' and 'individual.'"

The bills dealt exclusively with born children. "This legislation was about preventing conduct that allowed infanticide to take place in the state of Illinois," O'Malley told me.

The Judiciary Committee approved the bills with Obama in opposition. On March 31, 2001, they came up on the Illinois senate floor. Only one member spoke against them: Obama.

"Nobody else said anything," O'Malley recalls. The official transcript validates this.
"Sen. O'Malley," Obama said near the beginning of the discussion, "the testimony during the committee indicated that one of the key concerns was -- is that there was a method of abortion, an induced abortion, where the -- the fetus or child, as -- as some might describe it, is still temporarily alive outside the womb."

Obama made three crucial concessions here: the legislation was about 1) a human being, who was 2) "alive" and 3) "outside the womb."

He also used an odd redundancy: "temporarily alive." Is there another type of human?
"And one of the concerns that came out in the testimony was the fact that they were not being properly cared for during that brief period of time that they were still living," Obama continued.

Here he made another crucial concession: The intention of the legislation was to make sure that 1) a human being, 2) alive and 3) outside the womb was 4) "properly cared for."
"Is that correct?" Obama asked O'Malley.

O'Malley tightened the logical knot. "(T)his bill suggests that appropriate steps be taken to treat that baby as a -- a citizen of the United States and afforded all the rights and protections it deserves under the Constitution of the United States," said O'Malley.

But to these specific temporarily-alive-outside-the-womb-human beings -- to these children who had survived a botched abortion, whose hearts were beating, whose muscles were moving, whose lungs were heaving -- to these specific children of God, Obama was not willing to concede any constitutional rights at all.

To explain his position, Obama came up with yet another term to describe the human being who would be protected by O'Malley's bills. The abortion survivor became a "pre-viable fetus."

By definition, however, a born baby cannot be a "fetus." Merriam-Webster Online defines "fetus" as an "unborn or unhatched vertebrate" or "a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth." Obama had already conceded these human beings were "alive outside the womb."

"No. 1," said Obama, "whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or other elements of the Constitution, what we're really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a -- a child, a nine-month-old -- child that was delivered to term."

Yes. In other words, a baby born alive at 37 weeks is just as much a human "person" as a baby born alive at 22 weeks.

Obama, however, saw a problem with calling abortion survivors "persons." "I mean, it -- it would essentially bar abortions," said Obama, "because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute."

For Obama, whether or not a temporarily-alive-outside-the-womb little girl is a "person" entitled to constitutional rights is not determined by her humanity, her age or even her place in space relative to her mother's uterus. It is determined by a whether a doctor has been trying to kill her."

This exemplifies the character of the man claiming to defend civil rights. He has no moral sense or compassion for the most innocent and defenseless of human beings. I agree with those who affirm that America will have neither peace nor prosperity again until we stop killing our unborn children. No issue is more compelling.

Next week – a few words about the last city council meeting and the embarrassing attempt to enhance our new City Clerk’s power and prestige. People! The job pays $25 per month. There’s a reason for that.


As the City of Fillmore gets down to business with its new council, I would like to make a few comments.
In my 20 years in the city I cannot recall such a mean and contentious election as we had this past November. I have watched as city opinion has been deliberately split between those seeking residential and commercial development and those demanding strict limitations on this growth.

Strong differences of informed opinion are a sign of civic vitality. It’s a good thing. What is not a good thing are intense and prolonged expressions of hateful disagreement the city has experienced during the past year.
This is a new year with a new council. A three-to-two vote split can be expected on the most controversial issues in the coming year. Let’s hope that this sort of disagreement does not affect the on-going success of our new water treatment plant (ahead of schedule and more than $3 million under budget) or the new business and city parks.

We are in a completely new fiscal environment now. Thank God we financed most of our big projects when we did. It is unlikely that, had we waited, we could do so now.

I hope, and Fillmore residents have a right to expect to see, civil cooperation on our new council. In many ways Fillmore is envied by other cities for its balanced budget, and large emergency SURPLUS! This didn’t just happen. Let’s give credit where it’s due.

Emotional conflict of the past aside, everyone must wish the new council well. Success will be measured in one way by whether it does as well fiscally in the next couple of years as we have in the past. We are in an entirely new, hostile financial environment. All Fillmore businesses are feeling the pressure of state, national, and global economic decline. In my opinion it will only get considerably worse, sooner than later. In one important way we can counter this recession by shopping locally.

We are starting the New Year with one unequivocally wild success – our new skateboard park. It will open officially in May, after the landscaping is finished.

Once again, let’s make it a Happy New Year.


Happy New Year to all Gazette readers. This is the last edition of 2008. By any measure this has been an extraordinary year. I wish it had been a happier one.
The most unqualified man in American history has won the presidency, at a time when we face unprecedented danger. With the snap of congressional fingers America’s big business was socialized and America’s small business (taxpayers) will, again, foot the bill. Within weeks the American financial system went bust, following the collapse of our mortgage market. The depth of American economic and congressional corruption exposed itself, to the devastation of the average American resident taxpayer and residents of the rest of the world.
The price of oil also collapsed by nearly 75 percent, demonstrating to many that the cost of petroleum is not tied as much to scarcity as it is to futures speculation, leverage, and short trading.
Russia has returned to its cold war tactics, with nuclear rearmament, and deliberate provocation towards what’s left of the free world. China has become rich by America’s carefree, spendthrift extravagance, and continues its huge military build-up – expanding its long-desired hegemony over the world. We forgot that China is a deadly, atheist, communist country, and our greatest enemy.
The murderous force of the Muslim Jihadist darkness continues to cry everywhere for death, which it claims to love better than life. Where Russia, China, and the Jihadist Muslim psychopath fail to find enemies, they enthusiastically create them through gratuitous threats of military and economic violence, and real-time violence.
As has been the case for 40 years, millions of American children awaiting birth will never laugh or take their first breath, or contribute their unique gifts to the benefit of this needy world. Obama’s campaign theme was “Change!” But, for the abortion mills it will be bloody business as usual.
So, I find it difficult to expect much happiness in my hope for a Happy New Year. My search for a happy new year can only be found in my hope that Christianity, world wide, as the largest religious organization on earth, with more than 2 billion like-minded members, will be emboldened to speak out for true change, for life, generosity, determined moral strength, and peace. But Christians are helpless without their God, and if we deny Him in the face of a threatening atheistic world, He will deny us – it’s in the Book! And Christians are more than “people of the Book,” we’re people of the Word.
I can’t apologize for the preaching because the older I become the clearer it appears that Christianity is my only true reference. There is good and there is evil. All shades of grey must fall on one side or the other.
Happy New Year – I hope.


A Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to all Fillmore Gazette readers. We hope you all have a warm and peaceful holiday.

The day started abruptly, with a call to the police department warning of a bomb “on the roof of city hall”. Shortly thereafter, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, across the street from the Gazette office, was robbed at gunpoint.

The Sheriff’s Department responded quickly with a small army of specialized deputies, including the K-9 units, helicopter, and what appeared to be SWAT-type personnel. The robber is currently at large.

On a much happier level, I just returned from our new skateboard park. It is opened for a few days before Christmas so kids can try it out. The place was like an ant farm on a hot summer day. The kids think it is “awesome”. One father came over to me and asked that the Gazette be sure to thank the city for providing the park. His son had been dreaming of the place for several years.


I took a few photos of last night’s city council meeting. I stayed for a while, as long as I could stand it. Our new mayor, Patti Walker, and Councilman Brooks (especially Brooks) set quite a precedent for themselves. If this is the way city business will be conducted for the next 4 years, this city is headed over a cliff.

Thank God former Mayor Steve Conaway was reelected. Without his civility, common sense and experience Fillmore
would be in big trouble – maybe it is now anyway.

I urge the residents of Fillmore to view the meeting on Channel 10 and witness the embarrassing pomposity, ignorance and arrogance of our new Councilman, Jamey Brooks. “I want...I want...I want...” he reiterated his demands like a grinning, mischievous three-year-old, or little Caesar. This, after serving in his new position less than an hour!

Conaway was correct in telling Brooks that, being new to the council, and unfamiliar with procedures, “It’s best
to get your feet on the ground before you start running.” This, after Brooks demanded reports on “all written and
unwritten [you know, those secret ones] council procedures”. I clearly recall Brooks’ dramatic pre-election warning: “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Seems I’ve heard that before. I guess this was his first swing of the blade.

My advice: Don’t cut yourself with that thing, Jamey.

Fillmore has elected two new members to its council. With now Mayor Walker a true agenda unfolds: fire experienced staff (especially former City Manager Roy Payne), and fool around with successful, on-going projects
like the treatment plant and business park.

The Katzenjammer Kids have taken over city hall!