Letters to the Editor
March 19th, 2009

To the Editor:
I want to congratulate the City of Fillmore for having constructed an outstanding skateboard park. It looks great. For such a small town this along with the new swimming facility are such great achievements and makes me proud to be a resident and taxpayer.
I stopped at the skateboard park this evening and saw about fifteen youths having a great time. I stopped to read the three large signs posted to tell the rules and regulations of the park. What caught my eye was the sign stating...
Another thing that caught my eye was that not one skateboarder had a helmet; and of course no elbow or knee pads. There is no way the city is not aware of the violations of these kids. How long are they going to ignore it? Just because you post signs, saying the city is not responsible for them if they choose to use the park, does not relieve them of liability. Just as the city has turned their head on the State laws requiring helmets for skateboarder, bicycle riders, scooters and roller skates in the city, they are now closing their eyes to what is happening at the park. I know it is not possible to have someone handing out citations all day but why even put up the signs if you are not going to enforce them. Just as there are signs at the sidewalks at Sespe and Main saying no skateboards, scooters, or roller-skates. Take them down if you are not going to enforce these. It is going to take a tragic accident to call notice to this lack of enforcement and then it will be too late. The swimming pool will soon be opening. It would not surprise me to see that facility without any supervision and lifeguards. Put up a few signs and let the swimmer beware. No difference that I can see. I wonder if the city's liability insurance is aware of what is going on in our fair city?
John Heilman,
74 year native.

To the Editor:
In response to Charles Richardson letter to the editor, regarding dissension and divisiveness at City Hall, I would like to remind Mr. Richardson that the recent loss of two City employees and special projects Manager, Roy Payne, was voluntary. The City Council can only hire and fire the City Attorney and the City Manager.
If the City Manager resigned to take another job and asked the City Council to accept his resignation, without the notice as required in his contract, how can the City Council be at fault? The newly elected City Council asked to review the contracts of the City Manager and the contract of Special Projects Manager Roy Payne, which is well within their right to review. If this caused them to resign, so be it. It was their choice. Regarding Steve McClary, who accepted a better position as Assistant to the City Manager, of the City of Ojai, is simply a good man improving his professional opportunities.
I resent Mr. Richardson’s criticism of Council members Washburn, Brooks and Walker. If the City of Fillmore is in real turmoil, and if it is adrift on anything, it is due to the new $80 million dollar sewer plant, which cost $30 million dollars more than the new Santa Paula sewer plant, which has twice the capacity of the Fillmore sewer plant. Regarding cooperativeness and a sense of fair play, Mr. Richardson has turned his back on the Voice of El Dorado’s Homeowners Association and has been very critical of our Homeowners Association’s president who has done an outstanding job to represent the homeowners in the El Dorado Mobilehome Park. UGH!! Right back to you Mr. Richardson.
Kenneth Creason

The Fillmore City Council has accepted the resignations of independent contractor Roy Payne, Assistant Services Manager Steve McClary and most recently, City Manager Tom Ristau. We wish them the best of luck in all endeavors they have chosen to follow.
The largest impact on the city is that of our City Manager who submitted his resignation on Tuesday, March 3, with a request it becomes effective March 28, 2009. The Council has honored his request.
In response to the changes that have occurred, the City Council held an emergency meeting on March 4, and announced that the current Deputy City Manager, Bill Bartels, would be appointed as interim upon Tom’s departure.
Just as quickly, the City Council obtained the services of the California League of Cities who provide free services to all member cities in the event of the retirement or resignation of such an important employee as is a City Manager. At our disposal is a local member of the Rough Riders who provide guidance to councils’ and staff when there is a need.
On Monday, March 9, a Special Council Meeting was held and the following chain of events was determined:
1. Bill Bartels will step in as interim City Manager. It is anticipated, this role will continue for approximately four to six weeks. 2. The City Council has narrowed the search for a transitional City Manager down to a handful of names who act in this temporary capacity. 3. The Council will then locate an outside agency to conduct the search for a permanent city manager. We have been advised that this process could take between nine and 12 months.
The entire Council has made a commitment to work diligently to interview the candidates for this transitional manager role as well as the permanent manager position. We have unanimously made a promise and concerted effort to move the process forward in a swift and decisive manner.
It is the entire councils’ desire that the current staff remain, as all are appreciated and valued. We are thankful for staff’s sincere and steadfast engagement with the community and, just as important, the communities support as we go forward to build a strong and prosperous Fillmore.
In your service,
Patti Walker, Mayor

To the Editor:
In response to Patti Walker’s letter to the editor of March 5, 2009, I too have had the opportunity to speak to Steve McClary regarding his reasons for leaving the City of Fillmore. First, let me say that I worked with Steve at Fillmore City Hall for approximately ten years and I have great respect for his abilities and his integrity and I was proud to be used as a reference by Steve when he applied for the Ojai position.
Ms. Walker stated in her letter that “at the January 27, 2009, City Council Meeting the City Manager told the public that he was looking to re-write the job description for Mr. McClary and the Administrative Assistant, Angela Mumme” implying that was one of the reasons for Steve’s departure. I spoke with Steve and he was surprised to read that statement and said he was not aware that the City Manager had made that statement.
Ms. Walker was correct in stating that Steve applied for the position in October, 2008, prior to the election. Steve indicated to me that all of the political rhetoric prior to the election and the election results were absolutely a contributing factor to his decision to accept the Ojai position.
As for Ms. Walker’s attempt to gloss over the fact that Steve and City Manager Ristau entered the job search process prior to the last election, any right-minded individual would have done the same thing given the rhetoric from Washburn, Brooks and Westling during their campaign. In addition, the fact that Walker endorsed them showed that if elected they would have a majority. So it should not come as a shock to anyone that out of town staff would begin searching for new employment. The fact that both Steve and Tom Ristau were successful in obtaining new employment in this down economy and in a very competitive job market speaks highly of their qualifications and job experience, which Fillmore has now chased away. By the way I do not believe that either Ojai or San Fernando regard out of town residency as a negative factor when hiring and retaining highly qualified employees.
The new Fillmore Council members do not have any understanding of what municipal staffing is about…and they don’t realize that when they go out to the job market for replacements, that they will have to offer a competitive compensation package. Otherwise, the only employees they will be able to attract are those with little or no experience or those whom no other government entity wanted.
Ms. Walker’s recent proclamation that “It is the entire councils’ desire that the current staff remain, as all are appreciated and valued. We are thankful for staff’s sincere and steadfast engagement with the community…” just doesn’t ring true. First, how can she speak for the entire Council when the matter of staffing has not been on the City Council agenda? Has she had a secret meeting with the City Council to discuss this? Second has she forgotten about Brooks’ pompous comment regarding staffing and salaries “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”? The Fillmore City Council needs to stand up and take responsibility for the consequences of their election campaign rhetoric and be straight up with the public about their political and staff agendas.
Roy Payne
Fillmore City Manager (1989-2005)

To the Editor:
This is a response to Steve Conaway's letter of 3/12.
Why is Steve undermining the duly elected City Council in public? Does he think the citizens don't know what they are doing by casting their vote for someone he disagrees with? Asking for a review of a contract or City Manager is not a firing. Were Roy and Tom intimidated by their boss wanting to review their job? A good worker wants to be reviewed by their boss, not resign.
Dave Roegner

To the Editor:
A pattern is forming, it appears that Martin Farrell, council member Steve Conaway and their friends have launched a smear campaign against Patti Walker to be used against her in her reelection bid in 2010, and they don’t even know if she‘ll run again. Never too soon, right boys?
In last weeks Gazette:
Conaway tried to make a big deal out of council members Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks running together with Walker’s support. It’s true and it’s common. In 2002 it was Ernie Villegas and Ken Smedley; in 2004 it was Conaway, Ray Dressler and John Parsons; in 2006 it was Smedley and Laurie Hernandez all supported by a Political Action Committee that cumulatively reported over $100,000 in campaign contributions from outside developer interests to get these candidates elected. Harding and Dalton also ran together in 2002. For candidates who think alike and are supported only by local contributors it makes sense to run on a slate – they don’t have much money so they can get more for their campaign dollar. Does that mean Washburn, Brooks and Walker can not be independent representatives? Not at all. And you can bet that they will not accept an all expense paid trip to anywhere from a contractor being paid by Fillmore people. Conaway can’t say the same.
Farrell said, “There was a great deal of anticipation leading up to Tuesday’s council meeting… on the agenda was…Measure I.” Really, how’d I miss that earth shattering news? Lest anyone forget, Measure I was one of two measures the Fillmore voters approved limiting growth in North Fillmore, a position Farrell has flip-flopped on. That’s right Martin, the people of Fillmore didn’t want that mess yesterday and we don’t want it today, tomorrow or for our grandchildren’s tomorrow. Unfortunately the past city council refused to listen to the people so now we have to trust this council to figure out how to fix their mistake, and they can. Martin, you told me some of your low density ideas for that area, they were good, please, tell the public.
I’d like to comment on some of the other nonsensical issues they brought up, like losing a very talented employee who was in a dead-end job and hadn’t been given a pay raise in three years; losing a temporary employee who had completed his agreed-upon tasks and refused to renegotiate his contract and instead chose to quit; and the resignation of the city manager. But I’m way over Martin’s word limit, maybe next week.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
Thank you to the Santa Paula Hospital Staff!
The birth of our young son, Charlie, was truly a miraculous event in our lives. A mix of emotions, apprehension, joy, and pride that is hard to describe. My wife Erin and I are so grateful to the Santa Paula Hospital Staff for their expert care and the professional, yet warm and caring manner in which we were treated. They helped make our delivery a wonderful experience.
We chose Santa Paula Hospital (SPH) to have our delivery because of the quiet and beautiful setting, and its warm and comforting atmosphere. Sometimes I think there is a misperception that, as a small rural hospital, SPH might not have quite the same high quality of care as a larger hospital in a larger city. I can tell you first hand, that is not the case. The care at SPH is outstanding. As the Director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, I am fortunate to be in a unique position to know that the quality of care at both SPH and the Ventura County Medical Center is outstanding and second to none as both are county-run facilities.
Santa Paula Hospital provides the best of both worlds: top quality care that you would typically find at larger hospitals, with the comforting setting of a smaller hospital.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to entrust the care of my wife and new baby to people who I know and respect. It made this already joyous occasion all the more so because we shared it with these incredibly dedicated people, whom I will name at the end of this letter.
My wife and I are private people and so at first I was a little uncomfortable writing this letter. But we could not let the opportunity go by without publicly thanking the Santa Paula Hospital Staff and sharing with the community, from our first hand perspective, just how special the staff and physicians are who work there.
Erin ended up needing to have a C-Section. The procedure went very smoothly. Dr. Brecht-Doscher was a true pro - calm and focused and put us at ease. She knew exactly what to do and explained everything to us thoroughly. It was also comforting to see that, Dr. Mark Sussman, a well-respected and experienced anesthesiologist would be taking care of Erin. Dr. Carolyn Morris assisted. The OR nurses, Chris, Kathy, and Frank, couldn't have been more professional or kind.
During our entire four day stay, the nurses, under the leadership of Bea Frias, the Nursing Manager at SPH, could not have been more kind, knowledgeable, supportive and attentive to Erin. Lisa, Alicia, KJ, and Marissa were terrific. Lisa helped me clean Charlie up and helped me change his first diaper. She said this was an important initiation for me as a new father (or was it a Hazing?).
The postpartum care, was great. Erin received tremendous support in breast feeding counseling, and dietary issues all of which was supported by a visit each day from Dr. Heather Nichols, the wonderful pediatrician who supports the hospital.
The dietary staff could not have been more attentive. We, as well as our visitors, were impressed with the choices of meals offered and the nice services as well as the special celebratory dinner offered to all new parents.
We so appreciated the volunteers as well, their warmth, generosity and enthusiasm and just how much they care about the hospital, the staff and the patients. One of them, Mrs. Carolyn Lasky, even knit Charlie a hat. Now you might think this was special treatment, but she does this for all of the new babies.
And I think that is really the point. As special as they made us feel, this is how SPH staff treats all of their patients. From the delivery through our departure, our stay at SPH was exceptional and one that my family and I will always cherish. As Erin, Charlie and I drove down from the “Hospital on the Hill,” I could see my beautiful family in the backseat and the beautiful Santa Clara Valley in front of me and I truly felt I
wouldn't want to be anywhere else. So, to SPH, we say thank you for the great care and the great memories. And to the community of the Santa Clara Valley, I would just say, if you ever need it, SPH is a very special place.
We would also like to thank the OB Department's Bonnie Bouley, Lisa McPheeters, KJ Obregon, Michelle Lagunas, Marissa Montgomery, Sharon Hauser, Mary Gonzalez, Alicia Rojas; Operating Room, Chris Niehus, Gigi Barajas, Kathy Martinez, Frank Morelli, Nadine Madina; Dietary, Sally Osuna; Housekeeping, Debbie Garcia; and all of
the SPH Auxiliary volunteers!
Mike and Erin Powers (and Charlie)