Letters to the Editor
August 18, 2011

To [the] Editor and Vance Johnson,
When I became aware of the pending cell tower item, around April, I contacted staff members. Cell towers can be quite controversial due to citizen concerns and I wanted to make sure the public would have an opportunity to express their concerns.
I personally agreed with the Community Development Director that a 65' structure in the middle of town, next to the bike path and property likely to be rezoned residential in the future, deserved some scrutiny.
I have to admit that I did not know the intricacies of the zoning ordinance that FORBIDS the cell tower from being presented to the City Council! So, thinking that after Planning Commission approval it would come to the Council, as do most projects, I waited for a staff report and more information.
As far as meeting with the property owner who sent out emails soliciting opinions from Council members, Mr. Johnson needs to understand that some council members make it a policy not to meet with developers or project proponents so that when the item comes up for a vote, there is no bias due to lobbying. Also, the Council wants to make sure that all discussion and deliberation occurs at the dais in full view of the public. That is the intent of the Brown Act and we follow it to the "T".
At the Council meeting of June 21st, I asked to make sure that the Council got to have a public hearing on the Cell Tower. I was told that the ONLY WAY IT COULD BE HEARD BY THE PUBLIC AT A COUNCIL MEETING WAS BY THE PROCESS OF APPEAL. My statement was, okay, if you are telling me that's what we need to do, let's do it. Then, I was told no, we can't appeal it because a decision hasn't been made yet. So, the bottom line is neither I, nor the Council, expressed opposition or support for the Cell Tower, but the Council did want to learn more about it and have the public learn more about it.
My concerns about public hearings were based on the fact that on June 16th, the EPA held a public hearing regarding the Texaco PCPL cleanup site. I made announcements for two months prior to ensure attendance. But, there were still complaints that people were unaware of the meeting. For that reason, I felt it important to have more notice of the cell tower. And, while there was a noticed hearing at the Planning Commission, I would venture to guess that most citizens would also expect Council review.
So, it is strange that Vance Johnson and others choose to attack the City Council simply for seeking more information and public review of the cell tower for the benefit of citizens.
And, yes, I stand by my statement of "theatrics", which is defined as "staging performances". When the Gazette is summoned in advance to film the resignation, that is indeed theatrics.
Gayle Washburn

To The Editor:
This is in regards to the comments by Mayor Washburn, Councilmen Brook in the Ventura County Star and Vance Johnson’s recent guest editorial in the Fillmore Gazette and the Sespe Sun.
Ms. Washburn, while I understand your desire for the city council to be treated with respect, decorum and professionalism, you need to understand that this is a two way street. First off, respect is earned not given, second decorum comes when respect is given by all involved, and lastly Professionalism is the desire of the entities involved to respect each other through decorum. In my opinion you have shown none of these traits or the desire to ascribe to these traits.
Let me be perfectly clear, the one and only reason that I resigned from the Planning Commission was because of what in, my opinion was, considered a complete and utter lack of respect for me and my fellow commissioners. Based on your actions and statements at the city council meeting prior to our planning commission meeting, after our meeting and continuing to this day, you appear to only expect respect to flow in one direction, towards you.
This is a very selfish act on your part, when in my opinion you should be selfless and acting in the public interest. As you alluded to in a previous statement you are an elected official, elected to act in the public’s interest and with the public trust. You make statements and decisions that potentially violate the Brown Act, violates due process, and potentially cause the city to spend money that it can not afford in order to defend your actions from litigation. You are violating the public trust. This would include offending individuals that take their own time, without compensation, to perform a job with due diligence to serve this community with pride only to have the city council lambaste them publically.
You speak of decorum, but again you missed a perfect opportunity to show decorum. In my opinion, proper decorum would have been to contact each commissioner and apologize for your actions and the action of the council, followed by a very public apology for the same.
My hope is that you make yourself accountable for your actions and that of the city council as Mayor and do the right thing by apologizing to the commission and public for disrespecting your constituents trust, interest and good faith.
Remember, beneficence can begin with one simple apology and holding yourself accountable for your actions.
One last question, what is the city council’s vision for Fillmore???? I do not believe that we have ever had this question answered.
Douglas Tucker