Letters to the Editor
July 29th, 2010

To the Editor:
What has happened to free speech in Fillmore? I for one feel stifled as an educator following my encounter with the City of Fillmore Community Development Department.
I am an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor for Ventura College, which also offers courses to serve the needs of our immigrant community at sites in Fillmore and Santa Paula. Many residents are unaware of the availability of these classes. As my personal outreach effort, I teamed up with local success Margarita Jiménez-- Margarita started learning English in VC classes in Fillmore, eventually got her BA from Channel Islands and is now working on her MA at Cal Lutheran. We had signs printed in Spanish which say in translation: “Margarita Jiménez advises you to learn English in Santa Paula or Fillmore! Yes, you can do it!”
These signs went up at her residence and at other students’ residences, only to be called by Kevin McSweeney who said they were a code violation. When I protested that these signs were a matter of free speech, akin to a political sign, McSweeney roared with laughter. I asked him what was so funny,
and he said that Margarita advising people to learn English was like her asking them to buy Coca-Cola for a dollar a bottle. I do not believe that promoting the learning of English at a nonprofit community college is at all the same as advertising a commercial product. Don’t we all want people to learn English?
Trina Nagele
ESL Instructor, Ventura College


To the Editor:
The following is an excerpt from the July 22 VC Star article dealing with the City of Fillmore current budget:
“‘It’s been repeatedly said that we’re in tough financial times,’ Mayor Patti Walker said. …”
“Walker said the council needs to raise water and sewage rates in the coming months.
“‘We’re going to be increasing their fees to the parks and in the pools,’ she said. ‘We’re asking them to start paying for street sweeping.’ “
Quack, quax, tax!
The water and sewer funds are enterprise funds. Enterprise funds are set up for functions which are supposed to operate like a business. The accounting method used is more like business accounting than governmental accounting. They should not be used to create excess funds to “bail out” other budget areas with shortfalls. An increase in their fees to pay for general fund expenses usually paid from taxes certainly makes excess fees look like a tax.
This would not be the first time this council has ventured into financial areas which have led to litigation. A tax masquerading as a fee is an easy way to get back into the court room.
Don Gunderson