In order to make some sense out of City of Fillmore salaries for top and mid-management employees, the Gazette has provided a schedule of 8 federal legislative, executive and judicial positions, and salaries for all 50 state governors, together with the complete wage scale for all top and mid-management positions in the City of Fillmore. Discretion is suggested when making comparisons; remember, a few positions require graduate credentials, and that certain mid-level employees are especially valued for their dedication, experience, leadership, and competence. One size does not fit all.

May 15, 2007
Salaries -- 109th 1st Session
Legislative, Executive, Judicial
*as of January 2006
President - $400,000
Vice President - $212,100
Senate Pro Tempore - $183,500
Senate Majority & Minority Leaders - $183,500
Majority and Minority Whips - $183,500
House / Senate Members & Delegates - $165,200
Chief Justice, Supreme Court - $212,100
Associate Justices, Supreme Court - $203,000


Valedictorian Shaun Stehly read a personal message to the crowd and his class entitled "Choices, Nietzche, and a Homeless Guy."
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Hackney Stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska
United States Air Force Airman First Class Ryan Hackney.
United States Air Force Airman First Class Ryan Hackney.

Airman First Class (AIC) Ryan Hackney, 20 years old, a life-long Fillmore resident is a 2005 graduate of Cornerstone Christian School in Camarillo. Ryan also attended the Fillmore Christian Academy through the 6th grade. Ryan played in the Fillmore Little League Baseball and AYSO soccer. He also four years of soccer, as well of one year of basketball and one year of baseball for Cornerstone Christian School and In soccer he was voted MVP his junior and senior years. Ryan excelled as an athlete and a scholar in school. In the 8th grade he won several local, District and State spelling bees and then represented Southern California in the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. AIC Ryan Hackney enlisted in the Air Force on August 22, 2006 and he is stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

AIC Ryan Hackney is the son of Chuck and Tracy (Carpenter) Hackney of Fillmore. He has one sister Elyse Hackney, 17 years old, and a senior at Ventura County Christian High School. His Maternal Grandparents are Fred Carpenter of Fillmore and Evelyn Carpenter of Camarillo. His Paternal Grandparents are Dick Hackney and the late JoAnn Hackney of Fillmore. Ryan follows a long line of family members who have served in the military, his Grandfather Dick Hackney served in the Army and his Great-grandfather Paul Hackney, served in the Navy during WWI. Also serving was his Great-grandfather Fred Carpenter (Sr.) who served in General George S. Patton Jr.’s Third Army during WWII (1944-1945). Ryan’s Great-uncle, Larry Carpenter, served as the Sheriff for Ventura County from 1993-1998.

AIC Ryan Hackney has served a six-month deployment to the Middle East in 2007. In the Middle East he served with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar located on the outskirts of the capital city, Doha, Qatar. The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing is one of the largest, most diverse expeditionary wings in the Air Force, providing combat airpower and support for the Global War on Terrorism in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and through support of the Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. The wing and its associate units operate more than 100 aircraft, making the base a large hub for humanitarian airlift activity while providing mission-essential combat power, aeromedical evacuation and intelligence support for three theaters of operations.

AIC Ryan Hackney has been awarded an Expeditionary Medal for "outstanding service” in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa and the National Defense Medal. He has earned Expert Marksman ribbons in both the M-4 and M-9 weaponry. He also has earned a ribbon for being an Honor Graduate at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where he completed his basic training. Lackland is home to the 737th Training Group which provides Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) for all enlisted people entering the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, earning Lackland the nickname, "Gateway to the Air Force."
The Air Force receives approximately 35,000 Airmen each year from the 737th Training Group; the number varies with projected requirements.
Following graduation, Airmen go on to technical training at Lackland, or elsewhere, before their first Air Force assignment. More than seven million Airmen have completed BMT since 1946. This, I believe makes AIC Ryan Hackney’s “Honor Graduate” designation no small feat! Recently he received a 5 of all 5 (highest) on his yearly service performance evaluation. AIC Ryan Hackney has surely found the Air Force to be a good fit for him.

In Alaska, AIC Ryan Hackney is with the 3rd Security Forces Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska. When I asked Ryan what he does he told me, “I perform functions as both a law enforcement officer such as the normal speeding tickets, and other traffic stops, to responding to robberies, we are first responders to emergencies, domestic situations, suicides and basically any other law enforcement related responsibilities a civilian law enforcement officer would do. Along with that we perform security functions protecting Priority level 2 and 3 resources to include a Intelligence Squadron several AWACS airplanes, Alert cell F-22’s that are armed and manned at all times, and a quite extensive flight line.” Being familiar with law enforcement I believe AIC Ryan Hackney’s job in the Air Force is very important and one I believe he does well and will continue to do well.

Elmendorf's host unit is the 3rd Wing. As the largest and principal unit within 11th Air Force, the 3rd Wing trains and equips an Air Expeditionary Force lead wing comprised of more than 6,600 Airmen and F-15C/D, E-3B, C-17, F-22A and C-12 aircraft. It provides air supremacy, surveillance, worldwide airlift, and agile combat support forces to project global power and global reach. The 3rd Wing also maintains the installation for critical force staging and throughput operations in support of worldwide contingencies and provides medical care for all forces in Alaska. The 3rd Mission Support Squadron executes mission support for the 3rd Wing and 36 associate units assigned to Elmendorf AFB—the largest military installation in 11th Air Force and is responsible for Civil Engineering, Services, Mission Support, Security Forces, Communications, Logistics Readiness, Contracting, and Non-Commission Officer Professional Military Education. Maintains combat and contingency readiness forces and supports two forward operating bases.

All of us here in Fillmore and Piru wish AIC Ryan Hackney safe travel, a great career and we thank him and his family for his service and for their sacrifices while he is protecting all of our freedoms.


On Tuesday June 10, Fillmore Police Cheif Tim Hagel spoke to students at Fillmore Community High School. Chief Hagel’s charismatic and down-to-earth friendly approach with students was obvious as many students approached him after he fi nished speaking.
On Tuesday June 10, Fillmore Police Cheif Tim Hagel spoke to students at Fillmore Community High School. Chief Hagel’s charismatic and down-to-earth friendly approach with students was obvious as many students approached him after he fi nished speaking.
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What a wonderfully exciting time of year at Fillmore High School at Fillmore Community High School.
As a counselor at both high schools, this is my favorite part of the school year. Our graduates will be entering the world of adults. From here, they will be facing challenges, big and small, the rest of their adult lives. I find myself excited for them in what their future personal and professional life will be. I wonder where they will travel to and live, and hope that all find fulfillment and genuine happiness in their search.
I congratulate their effort in striving to give their best and meeting challenges head-on this year. Rest assured, parents and community members, dedicated and hard working school staff in all our schools have guided and educated these youths, from preschool to this week, to the best of their ability to help them reach their utmost potential.
For those students who have chosen to receive this guidance and education with open arms, these learned skills will help them tremendously in their future. It is with great joy that I have seen students turn their life completely around when they finally hit “bottom” and at the eleventh hour finally chose to turn things around for themselves.
I have also been heartbroken alongside with parents a hundred times over, when no amount of counseling or resources is going help a young man or woman, at that time. Personally, I push for what could be the potential in all kids and I do not give up hope on anyone – ever.
This is a very rewarding career and I always know that I am blessed to be part of their lives. For parents, going through difficult teen times, I say to them, never give up and believe in your child with all your might. Hope is such a wonderful gift for you and for your child to have. If they believe it, they WILL achieve it. With your love and support they will be successful. Believe it and remain positive, it’s contagious!
On Tuesday of this week, we celebrated Seniors who are graduating at Fillmore Community High School. Fillmore Police Chief Tim Hagel answered student questions regarding law enforcement issues in town as well as, invited them to look into this area as a future career. Students heartily laughed at various examples of law enforcement incidents he has encountered as well as, shared the more difficult aspects of a police officer’s daily duties. Chief Hagel’s charismatic and down- to-earth friendly approach with students was obvious as many students approach him after he finished speaking.
Ms. Lynda Miller, Founder of the Support for the Kids Foundation, was also present to celebrate the success of Fillmore Community High School Seniors who will be graduating on Wednesday, June 11, 2008. The last week ended with student reports, Power Point presentations and classroom speeches to their peers.
Ms. Miller was here to present each of our fourteen graduating Seniors with one-day complimentary passes to Six Flags Magic Mountain, a $10. gift certificate to Burger King, and a certificate to Baskin Robbins Ice Cream. The Support for the Kids Foundation, Westlake Village, has continually provided numerous academic and art fieldtrips to students and families, as well as, shoes, clothing, furniture, toys, computers, etc. to families in Fillmore and Piru for two years (through the Dr. Neil Schmidt Fillmore Family Resource Center which is located at the Fillmore High School campus).
Another incredible resource that our Fillmore youth have for them in our Piru and Fillmore communities is the Big Brother’s, Big Sister’s Mentor Program, also on the high school and middle school campus, which provides students with the personal support and the guidance of another caring, responsible adult in their lives.
A moment of silence was given for our sweet Danielle Barrett, a FCHS Senior, who recently passed away. She will always be remembered in our lives.
Today was an absolutely great day for me in my career life. With the powerful and engaging speaker, Chief Hagel, and with the generous gifts for our Fillmore Community High School graduates, I was able to see the spark in our student’s eyes. The spark of being challenged to reach out for more in life. The spark of “I can do this!” I hope this spark keeps burning all their lives!


At the city council meeting Tuesday night Grad Nite LIve was presented several checks totaling $4750. Pictured above but not in order: Toby Waxman, Raelene Chaney, Roger Campbell, Shirley Spitler and a representative from Toussig & Associates.
At the city council meeting Tuesday night Grad Nite LIve was presented several checks totaling $4750. Pictured above but not in order: Toby Waxman, Raelene Chaney, Roger Campbell, Shirley Spitler and a representative from Toussig & Associates.

City Council began Tuesday’s regular meeting with a 45 minute executive session over issues relating to anticipated litigation. No announcement was provided concerning that meeting.
June 9 through June 15 was designated United States Army week in the City of Fillmore.
A fee adjustment rate increase for Santa Clara Disposal Services (Harrison Bros.) was unanimously approved. The Harrisons were thanked for the many things they do for the City, including Clean-up Day.
Considerable time was spent explaining the complications involved with options regarding the referendum filed against City Council Resolutions 08-3111 and 08-3112 to reconsider the approval of the Reider Project, located at the corner of “A” Street and Goodenough Road in north Fillmore.
In the opinion of City Counsel, the referendum is “probably” unconstitutional because it seeks to amend administrative acts rather than legislative, but, by law the City must take action on the referendum. According to City Counsel, this sets up a scenario whereby the City could sue the proponents of the referendum, the proponents could sue the City for not acting, and the developer could sue the City for denying his plan which has been approved, with a valid development permit.
Council chose to place the issue on the November Ballot for residents to vote on. It appears that the Reider development cannot be stopped at this point, regardless of the election outcome.
Councilwoman Cecilia Cuevas took to her soapbox to vent against what she described as “Ballot box [city] planning.” Fillmore resident Clay Westling countered during oral arguments, stating that the referendum was necessary because “you wouldn’t listen to us”. The objection to the Reider development was primarily due to its density, not the fact that it included low income housing. The density question, which the city repeatedly ignored, necessitated, according to Westling, two initiatives and two referendum attempts.
Acting Fire Chief Bill Herrera explained this year’s Fourth of July fireworks rules, stating that a $1,000 fine would be imposed for violations. Any fireworks that explode, fly into the air or do not have the Safe and Sane label on them are considered illegal.
The high school football field, AND ALL OTHER SCHOOL PROPERTY, WILL BE CLOSED to the public for the Fourth this year. The city will not have a fireworks demonstration. The Fillmore Police Department will strongly supervise all fireworks activities. Fireworks may be used only from June 28 through noon of July 5th.
Gloria Hansen spoke, questioning management of the Fillmore Senior Center. She asked for the books, questioned Board membership and participation, and particular management duties. She also questioned the number of years when no board meetings were held.
The Council unanimously approved the $2,000 travel expense for each member, and eliminated the requirement for Council approval for travel outside the state.
Council recommended that the Equestrian Center lease be extended another 5 years for lessee Dillan Snow. It also chose to designate the Center as a landfill. Questions about ownership of “fixtures” at the Center remain.
The meeting ended with a foreboding announcement by Special Projects Manager, Roy Payne, concerning a new, as yet unofficial, 100-year flood plain and floodway map recently produced by FEMA. The new map shows about one third of the City of Fillmore to be located in the floodplain, which may dramatically effect development of the newly proposed business park, and insurance requirements for many home owners.
A special LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Committee) meeting in Ventura, Wednesday morning is reported to have concluded with a split decision as to whether to approve annexation of 41 acres for the new park. A decision to permit a 30-day continuance for the issue resulted.
According to Payne, if this new flood map is approved the City of Fillmore would be financially devastated. A position paper is being prepared by the City and developers in hopes that the new map will not be adopted.
Ground was broken for the new swimming pool this week. It is anticipated that the pool will be completed by January, 2009.
The final touches are being added to the high school football field’s new artificial turf. The new $30,000 scoreboard is in place as well.


At last night’s city council meeting it was determined by City Attorney Ted Schneider that the following city staff salary figures are permitted for public disclosure. Following are the present and proposed salaries for Fillmore’s eight top and mid-management city staff. These figures reflect base salary and total benefits packages. Salary reviews are built into the draft budget, occurring at a 3-year cycle at management and classified level, according to Mayor Steve Conaway, with the following going into effect on July 1, 2008. They will be made final, according to Conaway, in August or September.
Fillmore City Management Level: CITY MANAGER-Present $191,018, Proposed $203,994: PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR-Present $181,031, Proposed $193,401: FINANCE DIRECTOR-Present $163,025, Proposed $174,476: FIRE CHIEF-Present $154,438, Proposed $150,875: DEPUTY CITY MANAGER-Present $138,336, Proposed $144,339: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR-Present $129,108, Proposed $134,733. Fillmore City Mid-Management Level: ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES MANAGER-Present $95,874, Proposed $100,248: COMMUNITY SERVICES SUPERVISOR-Present $88,066, Proposed $95,771. TOTAL $1.2 MILLION

At 3:25 p.m., Tuesday, a Suzuki motorcycle struck a three-quarter ton Dodge pickup on Highway 126 at Cavin Road. According to one witness, the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed, eastbound, before striking the truck. The driver of the truck was attempting a left turn, heading westward. The motorcycle driver was thrown from his bike and the bike traveled for a considerable distance after the collision. The biker was airlifted from the scene with undisclosed injuries.
At 3:25 p.m., Tuesday, a Suzuki motorcycle struck a three-quarter ton Dodge pickup on Highway 126 at Cavin Road. According to one witness, the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed, eastbound, before striking the truck. The driver of the truck was attempting a left turn, heading westward. The motorcycle driver was thrown from his bike and the bike traveled for a considerable distance after the collision. The biker was airlifted from the scene with undisclosed injuries.
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2002 Fillmore High School Graduate, Now Stationed at Aviano, Italy
United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio.
United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio.

This article began with an email from the older brother of Pedro Rivera-Aparicio, Roque Rivera. Roque asked me if it was possible for me to do an article about his brother, without his brother being contacted for the information I needed. His request was because he wanted to surprise his brother with the article. Roque told me that Pedro would be proud that his community would want to honor him with an article about his service in the United States Air Force. Although unusual I thought it was a worthy cause and enlisted Rogue as my assistant in gathering the necessary information. Now that the article has been written and I have gotten to know Pedro, through Roque, I am thankful that I was allowed to participate in Roque’s surprise for his brother Pedro!
United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera- Aparicio, 24 years, is a 2002 graduate of Fillmore High School. He also attended San Cayetano and Sespe Elementary Schools, and Fillmore Middle School. Although not avid in Fillmore sports Pedro did participate in AYSO Soccer, but his primary interest has always been working on cars.
Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio is the son of Roque and Leonor Rivera of Fillmore. His Paternal Grandparents are Isaias and Maria de Jesus Rivera and Maternal Grandparents Gregorio and Ernestina Aparicio. His siblings are Nancy Rivera 28 years, Roque Rivera 26 years, Francisco Rivera 22 years, and Victor Rivera 17years all living in Fillmore. Pedro has other family members who have also served in the military; Brother Roque Rivera who served with the United States Army from 2001-2005. Roque is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom having served there for thirteen months as an Infantry Sergeant. While in Iraq he was with a Scout platoon conducting sniper missions, raids, patrol missions and reconnaissance. And, Cousin Jose "JR" Tamayo of Moorpark who has been with the United States Marines for approximately a year.
Prior to his current assignment Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio attended a Special Purpose and Equipment Maintenance Technical School at the Port Hueneme Seabee base in Port Hueneme, California. For his hard work at the school he was recognized as the schools distinguished graduate. Although the school is managed by the Navy but is open to soldiers in other branches.
Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio is stationed in Aviano, Italy supporting the 31st Fighter Wing assigned to the 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron (31st LRS). He enlisted on May 11, 2004 and completed his Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio reenlisted October 10, 2007 and thinks he may make the Air Force a career. He is currently a Staff Sergeant Select awaiting his permanent promotion to Air Force Staff Sergeant.
Aviano Air Base is located at the base of the Dolomites at the northern end of the Po Valley, the largest agricultural plain in Italy. The base is 35 minutes from skiing at Piancavallo and an hour from the beaches of the Adriatic. The closest large city is Pordenone, about 10 minutes away, and Venice is only an hour and a half away by auto or train. The host wing at Aviano is the 31st Fighter Wing, which maintains two F-16 fighter squadrons to conduct regional and expeditionary operations under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) or national tasking.
The 31st Logistics Readiness Squadron delivers and sustains combat logistics readiness support through professional vehicle, supply and fuels management. The unit plans and executes surface, rail, air and sea movement of passengers and cargo for the 31st Fighter Wing, Geographically Separated Units (GSU) and US and NATO deployed forces. The 31st LRS executes base deployment operations while maintaining a robust capability to deploy personnel/cargo in support of Air Expeditionary Force (AEF). More than 449 active-duty, Reserve and Civilian employees are assigned to the Logistics Readiness Squadron. The squadron is responsible for over 1200 vehicles valued at over $58M, stock accounts valued at over $521M, and the receipt, storage, quality and issue of over 42M gallons of fuel and cryogenics products annually. The unit manages 618 Unit Type Codes tasking 4,370 personnel and 1,942 short tons of cargo and maintains a War Reserve Materiel program valued at $1.5M. The 31st LRS also operates the wing's Support Agreement office, maintaining more than 20 support agreements with $25M in reimbursements annually.
Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio has earned two achievement medals: one for performing First Aid on an injured civilian. The civilian was cutting wood and cut two of his fingers off. The award reads, "Airman Rivera's quick reaction and immediate first-aid care on a fellow mechanic proved invaluable as he tended to a severe hand injury. While working on a self-help project, a co-worker accidentally amputated two fingers on his right hand as he was cutting wooden planks on a table saw. Without hesitation, Airman Rivera promptly used his self-aid and buddy care training to cover the injury and control bleeding with a make shift bandage made out of his Battle Dress Uniform shirt."
The other award for all his work, while at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. This included his participation during Hurricane Katrina. The award says, "During this period, Airman Rivera's exceptional skills and knowledge of heavy equipment were instrumental in the flight maintaining an average 93.7 percent vehicle-in-commission rate during the last 2 years. Additionally, Airman Rivera was vital in aiding the movement of 2.5 million pounds of critical first-aid and food supplies for three costal counties, after Hurricane Katrina."
In addition to his other duties Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio assists his fellow Airman as a Airman Against Drunk Driving Representative- Staff Sergeant Select Rivera-Aparicio would be ready to go pick up a fellow Airman who are unable to drive a motor vehicle because of their alcohol impairment. He does this as a volunteer and on his free time.
Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio has been on two deployments. One to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan as a Vehicles and Material Handling Equipment Journeyman. And, the other to Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar as a Third Country National Security Escort. His deployments have been in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom with the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. The Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) is a joint task force of United States Central Command. It is a component of the United States response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. CJTF-HOA focuses its efforts on conducting unified action in the combined joint operations area of the Horn of Africa to prevent conflict, promote regional stability, and protect Coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism.
Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio has earned military ribbons and medals for; Air Force Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor Device, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border, Air Force Training Ribbon.
I know that Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio is fortunate to not only have a proud Brother like Roque, but his entire family is proud of his service and sacrifice. All of us here in Fillmore and Piru wish Staff Sergeant Select Pedro Rivera-Aparicio safe travel and thank him and his family for their service and sacrifices to protect our freedoms.

An editorial by Wanda Castel de Oro

Remember the old tv show “Who’s the Boss?” That’s what I’ve been wondering lately while observing the last two meetings at the Fillmore Senior Center.
Two gatherings have been held; May 19 and June 2, 2008. I prefer not to call them meetings since that would imply authority, continuity and decorum. These Board meetings are supposed to be run by the Board, according to their bylaws and Ms. Cardona’s repeated declarations. However, the first meeting was headed by City Finance Director Barbara Smith, Community Facilities Supervisor Annette Cardona and Board President Bill Brunet. Smith and Cardona did all the talking, in that order. They also led the June 2 meeting, along with Board members Loretta Dunehew and Nick Robles, who came in 20 minutes late. Not that I fault Mr. Robles. It was the first meeting he had attended in four years and didn’t expect to see a room full of irritated people waiting to hold someone accountable for the center’s decline and financial waste. Mr. Robles said someone had called him a few days before and told him it was “very important” that he come to the meeting. He said he was “surprised” to see the people there; heck, he said he didn’t know he was still on the Board after four years. He said he knows it’s been four years because he stopped attending after his heart attack. “I was used, to tell you the truth. I feel like a damn fool.” Mr. Robles is both right and wrong. He was used; but he is not the fool.
Knowing they had to avert blame, someone was stacking the deck, or the head table, if you will. Who called Mr. Robles after four years to come sit at the Board table and pretend it was business as usual? That’s called usury of the elderly at its worst. They are just lucky he isn’t my father.
So who’s the boss? The City or the Board?
Before I go any further rumor has it the Bylaws have been amended, so maybe you can have a meeting once every four years and still call yourself a Board. I would call it a Stealth Board, to go with the Stealth Bylaws, which no one can find. Attempts by me and several others to actually obtain the amended Bylaws have failed. That sound you hear coming from city hall at midnight may be typing.
Ms. Cardona announced at the June 2 gathering that the Bylaws were “in Lori’s computer” and would be made available at the center. That would be Lori Nunez, the center’s Stealth Director. I saw her once… When I asked why she was not at the gatherings I was told she was “in the kitchen” filling in for Lucille Rivas, who is on medical leave from the center. I asked if they couldn’t get someone to fill in in the kitchen for one hour so Lori (who is the contact person for the seniors) could hear their concerns. Both City Finance Director Barbara Smith and Ms. Cardona said Lori didn’t need to be there, the Board is the decision-maker.
I spoke with Mr. Brunet Tuesday; he also told me he had not been to a meeting of the Board of Directors in four years. He said he was sent a notice in the mail for both meetings. He also said he was unaware that May 19 was an open meeting, expecting to see only Ms. Cardona, and Board members Loretta Dunehew and Nick Robles. He was blindsided, my word not his.
He said someone had inquired to Ms. Cardona about the bylaws after the June 2 gathering and she told them to call him, otherwise known as passing the buck. He said he had “no idea about any bylaws”. He could be working for the city.
Mr. Brunet also said the only time he was contacted by Ms. Cardona in the last four years is when she would call him to sign papers for money, because he’s the President of the Board. I can see the paper sliding over in front of him now. He also said, “We [the Board] didn’t handle any money.” Both he and Mr. Robles really wanted to make that point—and I don’t blame them. Mrs. Robles said she was “treasurer in name only.”
Board member Loretta Dunehew told me it had been at least a year and a half since she had attended a meeting.
I wonder how the city was able to apply for grant money, and receive city subsidy/redevelopment of $20,000, without a “real” Board? The center is an incorporated entity; doesn’t that require a Board that actually meets? Isn’t it kind of an un-Board? And don’t even let me hear the word “Quorum”.
Too often, because of vulnerability which sometimes comes with age, this particular demographic group is taken advantage of, even in this benign way.
Ms. Smith was at the June 2 gathering to explain the center’s budget to the audience and the un-Board. Ms. Smith is professional, well spoken and benevolent; you could hear it and see it when she answered the elderly audience. My only question concerning Ms. Smith is why was she at the first gathering on May 19 and why did she lead it? And while I’m asking, why was City Manager Tom Ristau at that earlier meeting? He’s got a city to manage. Maybe I just answered my own question.
Let me say that the city has been very generous to the center. Redevelopment monies, insurance, and maintenance are provided by the city to the center. The center would not be open without the city’s assistance, unless of course, Ms. Cardona made it a priority in her job to seek more grants and funding. How ironic.
Why Ms. Cardona still draws 10-percent of her paycheck from the senior center revenue when she has done as little as possible to earn it, I don’t know. The Board doesn’t exist, the building has been empty except for a small number who participate in senior nutrition (1-6) and new grants have not been received in years. Have they been sought? Someone at the June 2 gathering asked about the distribution of the grant money for the center; is a certain percentage earmarked for service vs. salary? The answer was no. Ms. Cardona said, and I quote, “It [grant monies] can be used all for salaries if they want to.” I contacted a representative at United Way and unfortunately that statement isn’t too far from the truth.
Gayle Washburn presented an expense sheet based on the 2008-09 city expense report (not yet adopted at the time). Her figures reflect a Total Personnel & Operating expenditure of $133,255; Total Overhead(Y) of $118,187; % Overhead = 89%. That translates to 11% going towards direct service to the seniors, or $15,068. When Ms. Washburn presented the 89% Overhead to the attendees, there was no comment from the head table.
What I saw at these two gatherings is a group of energetic, intelligent, informed citizens who want a place to gather as a community and enjoy each other’s company. They want activity and companionship and fun. And I think they are going to get it. This group of citizens is going to create an active, vibrant Board and get the senior center back to what it was pre-Cardona.
One of the bylaws allows for the attending audience to vote in Board members. The audience Monday seemed eager to take that avenue at the next gathering on June 23, 2008. I strongly support that option.
Finally, before the end of the “meeting” people started to mill around. When one woman asked a question of Smith and Cardona, she was told they couldn’t answer the question because the meeting had been adjourned. Actually, there was no adjournment, the meeting just fizzled out and dissolved, much like the center itself.

Part Two

Dr. Mark Pratt, a local dentist and his daughter Kristyn, a Cal State Northridge student of speech pathology, recently returned from a humanitarian adventure. They traveled to the tiny, northern mountain village of Zacualpa, Guatemala, administering urgently needed dental care for its inhabitants and those of the remote Mayan village of Turbala. Father and daughter participated in a two-week hands-on-project coordinated by Amigos de Guatemala, a partnership created by Rotary Clubs International to provide quality international service projects in the Quiche district of the impoverished country.

Dr. Pratt and his daughter report treating as many as fifteen patients a day per dentist, performing simple and surgical extractions, fillings, root canals and cleanings. Every child required major dental work and most visitors to the clinic, child or adult, were in varying degrees of pain. None had ever been seen by a professional dentist. Untrained practices and home remedies, administered without antibiotics or anesthesia are a normal course of treatment. Donated dental services exceeded over $40,000 in value.

The climate is warm and damp. Southwestern lowlands border the Pacific Ocean, while Belize and the Caribbean Sea create the country’s northeastern boundary. Most of the topography is hilly or mountainous, interspersed with high valleys, grassy plains and forests. Timber, chrome, silver, gold, copper, iron and lead are natural resources. Nevertheless, agriculture is the primary industry with the raising, processing and exporting of crops including, sugarcane, coffee, bananas, cocoa, beans and rice, cotton, essential oils (citronella and lemon grass), and lumber. Hand crafted pottery is locally made and sold to tourists in village marketplaces.

Guatemala appears to be a tropical paradise. However, the people who call this enchanting landscape home have often suffered violence, isolation, sickness, natural disasters and crushing poverty throughout their history. The first human settlers arrived in the area from the north, more than 10,000,000 years ago. Those original tribes cultivated maize around 3500 BC. Centuries later, another populace, the Mayans, one of the most advanced and studied ancient civilizations, succumbed to a horrific drought around 900AD. European explorers arrived in the early 15th century bringing epidemics that nearly devastated the native Quiche populations. Two hundred years later, Spanish Conquistadors overran Guatemala. Though not as abundant in gold and silver as Mexico and Peru, during these centuries, plunderers stripped the territory’s natural wealth of sugarcane, blue dyes, cocoa and magnificent precious woods, shipping them to Spain to enrich kings and queens, palaces, churches, the aristocracy and themselves.

In 1821, Guatemala won its independence from Spain and was incorporated into the Mexican empire, eventually separating to become an independent country of revolts and revolutions. During the 1870’s coffee became an important crop. The United States wielded considerable influence on the struggling country during the Cold War years with the USSR (1950-1990), supporting the Guatemalan Army with training, weaponry and funds. The CIA played a significant roll in overthrowing a freely elected president in a 1954 coup d’etat. In 1961, the Guatemalan government provided airfields to the United States during the Bay of Pigs invasion, and authorized military training for 5,000 anti-Castro Cubans.

Guatemala’s modern history has been fraught with guerilla groups, rightwing paramilitary organizations, death squads, torture, revolts, civil wars, overthrown governments, disappearances, scorched earth policies and government sponsored genocide against indigenous populations in addition to loss of life from severe earthquakes, massive flooding and mudslides from hurricanes and four active volcanoes. As recently as 1982, 45,000 Guatemalans fled to Mexico to live in camps. The year 1996 brought peace accords ending decades of civil war. Successful democratic presidential elections followed. Free trade agreements have been implemented with other Central American countries and Mexico. Nevertheless, the country ranks amongst the highest in the world in murder rates and lowest in convictions.

Despite moving into modern times, Guatemala City (the capitol), population 2,000,000, is nearly the only place where professional medical and dental attention is readily available. An additional 5,000,000 people live within the urban area. Distance and poverty prevent the balance of the population from receiving services. The average farm-worker earns $1 per day, leaving more than 56% living below poverty levels, primarily in the highlands and mountainous regions. The government sponsors public elementary and secondary schools; however, students’ parents are responsible for uniforms, books and supplies. If their parents can spare the expense, poverty-stricken rural children often walk hours to reach local schools. In addition to public schools, private, paying schools are available to middle and upper class children primarily in urban areas. Sixty-nine percent of the population over fifteen years of age is illiterate, the lowest rate in Central America.
Both Dr. Pratt and his daughter are no strangers to volunteering. Kristyn’s first mission trip was to Rotan, Honduras with a group from the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Dr. Pratt’s first mission trip, teaching one year of chemistry in a school in Borneo while still attending college, inspired him to become a dentist. A military dentist, needing an assistant in his absence, taught the future dentist the art of extracting teeth. Dr. Pratt went on to graduate from Loma Linda University, School of Dentistry in 1985. He practices family and cosmetic dentistry in Fillmore.

In spite of cultural and language barriers, the inhabitants of Zacualpa, mainly Indian, and the Mayans of Turbala tried their best to accommodate the volunteers. Most volunteers roomed in the church convent in Zacualpa and the church-school children performed their native dance in a welcoming presentation. Several villagers volunteered their help and time, and some acted as translators. Although offered, none took money! The days flew by in a flurry of rewarding work, especially when the team saw the grateful smiles upon the faces of people with so little.

Recognizing the tremendous needs of these forgotten people, Dr. Pratt plans to return next year with Amigos de Guatemala and minister to the poorest of the remote Mayan communities. He says that although the trip is difficult, the work hours long, the living and working conditions very poor, along with the strong possibility of getting sick from the food, Guatemala and its people have left an imprint that tugs upon his heart every day. Kristyn feels the same, and hopes she can accompany him again.
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