Letters to the Editor
October 30, 2019

To the Editor:
We would like to thank the Lions Club of Fillmore for their continued support of the arts programs at Fillmore High School. Their generous donation to the upcoming April 2020 Arts show will allow us to continue putting on this event. On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher, Visual & Performing Arts Dept. Chair at Fillmore High School

To the Editor:
The Citrus Packing House (“CPH") is just another Historic Building/Property that is not being vetted properly, that’s perturbing to historians, as well as other interested citizens!
This building is historically significant and listed in Fillmore’s Centennial History book 1888-1988, page 70-71, and the Fillmore-Piru Citrus Association History Book, 1887-1987, page 8-10. Beyond the Harvest. The historic name is Fillmore Citrus Fruit Association Packinghouse (FCFAPH).
The Fillmore Cultural Heritage/Historic Preservation program was started in I989. and unanimously approved by Fillmore City Council and 2013 Agreement was unanimously approved again. To a point, it recognizes/gives Fillmore leeway to operate/implement local regulations. This means the City of Fillmore should still network with Ventura County CHB, which serves as Fillmore Cultural Heritage Board (FCHB) for review and comments and recommendations. The CHB serves in the same capacity with other cities in the County, ie, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks.
When the City sees a project come in and it is noted it is a historic building, whether a declared landmark or a documented historic building, it should be sent to Fillmore Cultural Heritage Board for review so owner knows how to proceed and what is expected with the City of Fillmore.
However, the City of Fillmore is falling short in following its obligation to the agreement with CHB. The City has taken upon itself to be the expert on specialized historical matters and ignoring the CHB. The Cultural Heritage/Historic Preservation regulations and guidelines is a field that needs trained persons to review historic buildings. To ignore regulations does not mean they’ve gone away.
But the City has not been doing this! In fact, they hired a mitigation consultant who has admitted, (nor has the reputation as remarked by others in the field for this kind of detailed, specialized work), that he has no historic preservation training. Yet, his “expert” advice was used to determine the Faith Community Church/aka historic name: Presbyterian Church, did not have historic significance, when in fact, the value was seen/listed as such in the 1983 Fillmore Cultural Resources/Historic Survey, Appendix III.
A meeting recently between the Planning Director and 2 Cultural Heritage Board staff members to maintain better networking resulted in the CHB staffers being told “the Cultural Heritage Board was not needed” and "has to wait to be invited” for the CHB to do routine work. Then I wrote the City Manager encouraging him to follow the agreement and network with the CHB. The City Manager has never answered my letter, nor has City answered other paperwork I have sent.
So with this City attitude to press ahead and seemingly leaving out steps, explains in part the City having trouble now with a historic building = the "Citrus Packing House", when directions/guidelines could be confusing to complete requirements and with no CHB guidance. Two (2) years is a long time not to see work completion expectations culminate.
Perhaps if historic projects were called by their historic names, citizens can better understand the significance and the process. In particular, the fact that the current "CPH" historically was one of three citrus plants on 2 corners (At SW and NW corners of A St and then Sespe St.) interacting to complete the early, prominent activity at the height of citrus processing,. A convenient, efficient process succeeded with the adjacent railroad line to the south of the packinghouse and the nearby citrus grove on the now Sespe School NE corner.
Working together is the best route. Thank You!
- Kathie Briggs, Architectural Historian


To the Editor:
Hugs or Handshakes: a hagiography
Watching the University of Tennessee’s head football coach yank his quarterback’s facemask in frustration on primetime television got me thinking about the nature of leadership and our varsity football coach. Over the last three decades I've been involved (on and off) with Fillmore’s football program - as a ball boy and player in the 90s, as a coach in the aughts, and now as a fan in the teens. Given that proximity I feel confident saying coach Sean Miller, and what he's building here, is special. Please don't misunderstand me, my proclamation has nothing to do with wins and losses, which are, by my lights, footnotes to the larger, more pressing charge of nurturing and developing the young hearts and minds of our student athletes. It is coach Miller's commitment to this higher purpose that I wish to underscore in this letter.
“A good game", writer Mark Edmundson says, "is a simulation of life. There we get a chance to learn, to prepare ourselves and to grow, so when the real losses come, as they will, we may be half-ready for them.” While sympathetic to Edmundson’s view, I want to suggest that the quality of growth one might experience within a given simulation is largely contingent upon the quality of leadership and guidance one receives playing said game. It is precisely for that reason that I believe coach Miller to be the leader our players need. Over two seasons I've seen him use football and its concomitant methodologies of mental and physical preparation to foster cognitive and emotional growth in our students. Beyond all the regular platitudes one might expect in a letter that is, admittedly, starting to read like a hagiography – such as, his positivity is infectious, or, he really cares about his players (all of which are true by the way) – Miller's greatest quality is that he models what Eric Weinstein calls "critical feeling". Loosely defined, critical feeling is the ability to retain one’s humanity and composure under pressure. Whether his team has just scored the winning touchdown or thrown the game losing interception, coach Miller is an exemplar of compassionate equanimity. (Qualities that seem to be falling out of fashion but which I find fundamental to facilitating the fellow feeling necessary to maintain our democracy).
Consider for a moment, how the behavior exhibited by Tennessee’s coach, mentioned above, might be interpreted by players, staff, and impressionable fans. One interpretation is that to get respect leaders need to occasionally fly off the handle and physically demean subordinates. Another plausible reading: outcomes are what matter. As such, it’s okay to let my competitive spirit trump my compassion for the people I lead. There is, of course, the possibility that those who witnessed this lack of comportment read it as an example of how not to lead (given the comments section on ESPN’s message boards, however, this seems depressingly unlikely). But it strikes me that we should want more from our coaches; they are after all, by word and deed, molding tomorrow’s leaders.
Make no mistake about it, coaching is teaching, and coach Miller’s actions and words instruct. In all of my time around the game, he is the only head coach I have ever seen regularly carry equipment to and from the field. That probably sounds trivial but in my experience the distribution of labor within a football team tends to follow a strict hierarchy. As you might expect, head coaches traditionally place themselves at the top of the pyramid. (Carrying equipment is a thankless job customarily foisted upon underclassman and the so-called walking wounded who constitute the pyramid’s base). That he does it without complaint communicates profound lessons about the nature of leadership and responsibility, to his players. In this light, his coaching can be understood as an extension of his pedagogy, and football a medium through which he conveys the values and ideals our young people need to successfully navigate life after school. Take his “hugs or Handshakes” policy as another example. At the end of every game and practice, coach Miller selects a player and asks “hugs or handshakes?” to which the player determines how many handshakes or hugs each player has to give before leaving the field. Superficially, it’s a team building exercise. On a deeper level, hugs or handshakes introduces a radically unique vision of masculinity and meaning to a culture derided, often justly, for perpetuating harmful norms like aggression, homophobia, and emotional repression.
I have faith that football is a good in the world. To some degree, it made me. Subjecting myself to the crucible of games and practices put me in contact with my best and worst self, deepening my self-awareness in a way that felt weighty. That is to say, football cultivates what the Romantic poet John Keats called “negative capability”, which, in the broadest of terms, is something like the capacity to know oneself and see the humanity in others. I see this capacity manifest in coach Miller. I see it in the foundational strategies and rituals he is building the football program upon. Going into Santa Paula week (and beyond) I would ask that you keep this in mind. Because win or lose, I think we’ve found the right person for the job.
Kindest Regards,
[Editor's note: The letter's author requested to remain anonymous.]