Letters to the Editor
April 23rd, 2009

To the Editor:
To: Mr. Martin Farrell:
I can't stand it any longer. I have been reading your personal comments/attacks in the Fillmore Gazette and can't stand seeing this and have got to get this off my chest. You allow our own EX-Mayor and Current City Council Member Belittle his own—our own Fellow council members. You, Martin Farrell, personally call names to citizens who are genuinely interested in what happens to our city. You are allowing and encouraging offensive talk and comments. If you would care to notice your competition, they only report the facts and they leave their own opinions to themselves. A rule you might not have learned in kindergarten is: Thumper's Rule. "If you don't have something nice to say, DON'T say it at all." I know that all the citizens who have in the past or are currently on the City Council and Planning Commission, have taken these Thankless jobs because they truly care about our great little town and are trying to do their best for all citizens. Why don't YOU shut up and let them show us what they can do!!! In this economic crisis we all need to work together and not against each other.
Martin, were you encouraged or did you encourage your children to think as Leaders and not Followers? When citizens get involved with city issues and you call them names and Belittle them, this makes our concerned citizens discouraged to voice their opinions. Martin, OPEN your eyes and SHUT your mouth if you can't say anything nice.
A concerned citizen

To the Editor:
I live in the El Dorado Estates and I’m concerned about the rent control petitions currently being circulated. I believe the petitioners have the cart before the horse. No one knows if the majority of residents want rent control, but it is being pushed by a small, but vocal group. I would hope if this ever reaches the city council they would make sure a vast majority of the residents want it. I believe the council has enough problems without adding an unnecessary one.
Contradictory to a previous letter, the owner cannot make the rent anything they want. Our rent raises are controlled by a consumer price index with a 3% minimum and 8% maximum. If this poses a problem, the resident is urged to contact the park office to obtain the parks voluntary rent subsidy program. I believe this to be fair and would object to any government enforced control.
Fred Carpenter

To the Editor:
For some, the city of Fillmore is just falling apart. Too many “key” staff have resigned, including the most recent, Barbara Smith, due to the fact that 2 new council members were elected in the last election. This is for sure the end of the City.
The true fact is that this is expected. It doesn’t matter what the business is, when a new administration takes the reins of an institution, some people are going to feel uncomfortable with the new ideas or the new approach to the same old ideas that the new administration will bring, and they will have two choices: 1. Accept, adapt and move forward 2. Resign/retire. Most of the city staff has already made up their minds, even though I will not be surprised if others still announce more decisions.
I believe that the way one resigns/retires demonstrates the quality of employee that one is. For example, Mr. Ristau demonstrated, in my opinion, a huge ego and ignorance by recommending another member of his staff for his position. People in management are expected to give his/her opinions of replacement only when asked by the committee or person in charge of the search, or personnel committee.
Mrs. Smith decide to announce her retirement not just by giving a date, but also by trashing the person that was appointed as intern city manager. In my opinion, Mr. Bartels hasn’t done anything wrong. He was the assistant city manager and he knows that as soon as the new person comes in he is back to his old position, so why trash him?
Besides, why didn’t Mr. Ristau promote Ms. Smith to the assistant city manager position when he had the authority to do so? If Ms. Smith is going to be upset with someone, it should be Mr. Ristau and not Mr. Bartels.
It is interesting to me, that at the time that Mr. Roy Paine resigned, no one questioned the qualifications of Mr. Ristau as a city manager. Why? Very simply, he was part of the “click”. But it is also valuable to note that, when one resigns from a position, it is normal to find an “alike” or “higher” position for replacement, which is not the case with Mr. Ristau. Would this talk about his qualifications as city manager? Perhaps.
According to media reports, Ms. Smith also went on and said “…There have been more closed-door meetings in this city in two months than there have been in 23 years.” I personally doubt that. The only difference that I see is that in the previous 23 years, she was part of the “closed doors meetings”, so she never felt that the door was ever “closed”.
Also, she “has requested that there not be any public honor or acknowledgment of her 23 years of service.” This is ridiculous, it is up to the employer to decide to make a public honor or acknowledgment of service, it is her decision to attend or not.
I believe that the city should continue with their current policy of public honor and acknowledgment and just let her decide if she will attend or not.
For the last 20 years or so, many of the city staff have accepted, adapted to each other and decided to work together, now a new generation of people are going to do the same, and perhaps, in a few years, we will have to experience a new transition again.
Eduardo Gonzalez

To the Editor:
Sadly, Fillmore’s Ship of State has been taking on water since the last Council election. As the weeks have gone by, the anticipated resignations at City Hall have taken on epidemic proportions, thanks to our new council majority of Brooks, Washburn and Mayor Patti Walker.
With the latest departure, that of City Finance Director Barbara Smith, Fillmore has lost four of its six senior management staff. These talented and committed people take with them almost a century of experience and intuitional history that is irreplaceable. Unfortunately, I doubt we have seen the last of the resignations.
Having worked with and developed friendships with these people over the years, I know none of them wanted to leave their positions. They took great pride in their work and accomplishments for the benefit the citizens of Fillmore. To the last one, they were highly dedicated to our town.
I hope Larry Pennell, the new interim City Manager, realizes that he isn’t stepping into a recovery, but a salvage operation. Fillmore’s Ship of State has sunk.
Ken Smedley
Former City Council member

To the Editor:
City politics in 250 words or less:
Roy Payne doesn’t want council’s fiduciary oversight of his contract negotiated by him while still city manager and quits after four easy years of pulling the strings from a consultant position. City saves thousands of dollars; Payne’s institutional control starts to crumble.
Payne’s appointed city manager, Tom Restau, quits after new council elected. Payne’s finance director retires. Steve McClary, all around good guy and great employee lands a great job with Ojai after stalling in Fillmore without a pay raise in three years - huge loss to the city.
Bert Rapp, with over a year left on his sweetheart contract, wants a new one; so he can leverage it in his negotiations for his contract with another city? Odds are he’s already interviewing. Kevin McSweeney wants assurances, says he wants to stay; council assured him he was valued and wanted.
Payne, Martin Farrell, Conaway, Cuevas and company have launched a smear campaign against Mayor Patti Walker and council members Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks they hope will whip up support for a recall. With Payne and Farrell leading the charge watch and see how rude, dishonest and downright dirty they are willing to go.
In the mean time, the global economic downturn will impact our city’s revenues and we will probably face some real problems meeting our responsibilities. The good news is we have a council who takes their fiduciary responsibility seriously.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
The field trip on May 2nd occurs in the environs of Fillmore, so I thought your readers might be interested. Thank you.
Beginners are welcome on all field trips, and rain cancels any trip. More information is available at www.VenturaAudubon.org
Saturday, May 2, 8:00 a.m. Heritage Valley Hotspots. Leader: Tom Halpin (746-4598). This trip includes areas around Fillmore & Piru. We will meet at the Fillmore Fish Hatchery to check out the herons & egrets. The hatchery is located to the right off Hwy 126 just 1.2 miles east of Fillmore. From there we will car pool to Rancho Camulos, Piru Creek and Lake Piru.
Saturday, May 9, 8:30 a.m. Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Bird Tour at the Ojai Meadows Preserve. Leaders: Jessie Grantham & Allen Bertke. This is a great chance to see first-hand how the newly created habitat for local migratory birds & wetlands species on the Meadow has attracted several previously absent birds and waterfowl. Meet at Nordoff High School.
Saturday, May 16, 8:30 a.m. Hedrick Ranch Nature Area. Leader: Sandy Hedrick (340-0478). Annual Meeting and Picnic. $10 for lunch. We will bird this lovely area with the possibility of seeing a Thick-billed Kingbird. Take Hwy 126 to Santa Paula, 10th St. Exit. Go under freeway, right on Harvard, right on 12th and cross S.C. River Bridge. Go 3.7 miles to 20395 S. Mountain Rd. On right hand side you will see a big yellow mailbox, right after the mailbox, look on left side for the #20395 which is set back a little on a green metal fence. Turn left and go toward the river approximately ½ mile on dirt road and turn right to parking area across the creek.
Susan Bee
Ventura Audubon Society