Letters to the Editor
October 8th, 2009

To the Editor:
It is heartening to see the "No on Measure F" signs all over town! Voters must be aware that there is no "fair" in this measure which is sponsored by the park's manager/owners, who incidentally, are the only ones who would benefit from the passage of Measure F. Speak with the residents of El Dorado and you will agree that to support and defend our seniors there we must vote "NO on Measure F".
Lynne Brooks

To the Editor:
As a homeowner in El Dorado Mobile Estates, I’m asking Fillmore voters to vote NO on Measure F. I moved to El Dorado from Leisure Lake, a mobile home park in Lancaster, three years ago. Leisure Lake was under a rent control ordinance, and I was able to adjust for the small space rental increases each year. The passage of Measure F would have devastating consequences for me personally. I have no means financially to purchase the space lot beneath my mobile home; nor could I manage to pay the excessive rents that have been proposed to mobile home owners in other parks that have undergone condo conversion. I would probably be forced to sell my mobile home at a greatly diminished value, and move into the home of one of my children. Not only would that take away from my independence as a healthy senior, but it would be a difficult living arrangement for any of my children who have their own families. Help me and other residents of El Dorado, and vote NO on November 3rd.
Elenora (Dee) Dicey

To the Editor:
Thank you for bringing to light my service as a board member for the Fillmore Chamber of Commerce. I enjoyed participating in serving the business community of Fillmore. I served two years on the board and was pleased with the progress that was being made. At that time when I served as a board member, there were many instances as to how all board members, including myself, contributed to making the Chamber of Commerce a success. Presently, the Chamber is still bringing businesses (new and old) to the forefront so they too, have a strong voice in the community. During these caustic times, I feel its imperative that we as a small community support each other, so we remain solvent for years to come.
Mr. Payne, you being one with a selective memory; here are a few activities I volunteered my time when I served as a board member for the Fillmore Chamber of Commerce.
In 2005, I spearheaded efforts to bring proposals to find a qualified publishing company for the citywide directory. As many members of the Chamber of Commerce remember, there were numerous problems with the publisher of the citywide directory in the past.
I was not satisfied with this company for many reasons, mainly the fiscal elements of the contract that the Chamber was responsible for. My role, since I wasn't pleased with the company, was to bring qualified proposals to the board of directors. My solution to the problem was to hire an experienced company that primarily focused on Chamber directories, but most importantly, they had the proven results of doing so. I feel this process opened doors to better decision making when selecting individuals/companies that seek to provide services to the Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, I assisted in membership drives, monthly mixers, and among other programs that the Chamber of Commerce participated in. The board of directors make no City authoritative decisions with regards to fiscal matters concerning the City or anything pertaining to City politics. The City Council & City Manager only possess this power of official decision making.
In regards to you being discontent with my comments and disagreements with Mr. Smedley & Ms. Cuevas: I stand firm by my comments and beliefs. By the way, I'm perplexed as to why Mr. Smedley and now yourself, still haven't addressed former Council Member Cuevas' refusal to vote for the 2008-2009 budget. Why the abrupt walk out? This issue is of paramount importance since you for the last 10 months have denigrated this Council with primitive lies and distortions, which at the end of the day has harmed the spirit of our community more than you'll ever care to know. In light of your ingenious media blitz, let me remind you, Roy, that you're still collecting a lifetime pension, a portion from which I might add the taxpayers of Fillmore are obligated to pay you.
I imply the following statement, Roy: STOP BITING THE HANDS THAT FEED YOU!
Brian N. Sipes,
Resident and Local Business Owner in Fillmore

To the Editor:
The whole oral scenario that was concocted by Walker, Washburn and Brooks on September 22, 2009 regarding the events surrounding their illegal serial meeting email communication on August 14, 2009 does not stand the smell test and is contrary to the written facts. First, on August 27, 2009 an article in the Ventura County Star reported “Fillmore admits violating state open-meeting law”. In the article, Walker conceded that members of the city council unintentionally violated California’s Brown Act on August 14. So we know and Walker, Washburn, Brooks and the City Attorney know that they committed a Brown Act violation on August 14. However, they claim the Brown Act violation was of no consequence since no City Council action resulted from the illegal serial meeting. Walker, Washburn and Brooks now claim (after the fact, and after they had been caught) that since they gave instruction to interim city manager Larry Pennell to proceed with reference checks on a third city manager candidate on August 11; then it does not matter that they participated in an illegal serial meeting email communication regarding the third city manager candidate on August 14. Walker also claims that travel arrangements were made on August 13 to check the references of the third city manager candidate; and Walker claims that since a third councilmember did not respond to the serial email communication until after travel arrangements were already made; that this was conclusive proof that interim city manager Pennell was not seeking direction from the City Council after August 11 on whether to proceed with the reference checks on the third city manager candidate.

There are no written documents available to support their September 22, 2009 story. Public records obtained from the City through the California Public Records Act tell a different story. The records obtained show that in Walkers own words in an email dated August 14, 2009 at 11:20 A.M. she states that on August 14 (not August 11 as claimed by Walker, Brooks and Washburn) “Larry obtained approval from 3 council members to do due diligence as to third candidate”. Larry is Larry Pennell the interim city manager who initiated the illegal serial communication via email.

Here is the chain of events concerning the illegal serial meeting email communication:

1. 2:08 P.M. - Thursday, August 13, 2009; email from Pennell to Walker, Conaway, Hernandez, Brooks, Washburn, and City Attorney Schneider; subject “Houston, We Have a Problem”; email discusses issues with one of the two city manager candidates and Pennell specifically states in the email “I am recommending we contact third candidate. I am soliciting your comments and advice on this matter”. If Pennell had clear direction on August 11 to proceed with the third candidate, then why did he feel the need to solicit comments and advice from the City Council on August 13 from the City Council just two days after he supposedly received direction from the City Council?

2. 3:12 P.M. - Thursday, August 13, 2009; email from Walker to Pennell in response to Pennell’s 2:08 PM email; subject “Houston, We Have a Problem”; Walker states in the email “I support contacting third candidate”. Sounds like to me that Walker is providing direction to Pennell on third candidate.

3. 3:32 P.M. - Thursday, August 13, 2009; email from Washburn to Pennell in response to Pennell’s 2:08 PM email; subject “Houston, We Have a Problem”; email from Washburn specifically states “I concur with your recommendation”.

4. 3:36 P.M. - Thursday, August 13, 2009; email from Pennell to Washburn in response to Washburn’s 3:32 PM email; subject “Houston, We Have a Problem”; email from Pennell states “Thank you. Patti felt the same”. This confirms that two of the city council have now participated in the serial communication regarding the third city manager candidate.

5. 9:53 A.M. - Friday, August 14, 2009; email from Brooks to Pennell; subject “Recall: Houston, We Have a Problem”; email from Brooks to Pennell states “If xxx has not paided [sic] xxx income tax (both federal and state) as recent as 2008, and if it is a continual financial practice, that would be a reason for me to eliminate xxx as a possible city manager. One needs to manage one’s own finances well in order to be a keeper of a city’s finances. Call zzz.” “Call zzz” indicates that Brooks is advising Pennell to proceed with the third city manager candidate. This confirms that three of the city council (Walker, Washburn and Brooks) participated in an illegal serial communication (Brown Act violation) regarding the third city manager candidate and that through the illegal serial email communication they gave their approval to proceed with reference checks on the third city manager candidate.

So now the question is was the illegal Brown Act violation of no consequence or did it provide direction from the City Council to Pennell to proceed with travel plans to interview references for the third city manager candidate? Here is the chain of events for the travel plans:

1. 11:18 A.M. - Friday, August 14, 2009; email from Southwest Airlines to Debbi Boschee; subject “Ticketless Confirmation– WALKER/PATTI – NLZ7A6”; email confirms airline travel for Walker from Burbank to Reno, Nevada. On September 22, Walker claimed that travel arrangements were made prior to the illegal serial email communication. However, according to public records the illegal serial email communication ended at 9:53 A.M. on August 14 and travel plans to the third candidate were consummated at 11:18 A.M. on August 14. Thus the expenditure of public funds for travel to the check the references of the third candidate was also not properly authorized. Debbi Boschee is a Fillmore city employee. She is classified in the city budget as a Confidential Employee. I believe she works in the Finance Department. Typically, a city employee would be responsible for making travel arrangements for a city council person when the city council person is traveling on city business. Ms. Boschee was properly doing her duty as a city employee and is not party to or responsible for any of the actions and directions undertaken by Walker and Pennell on August 14.

2. 11:20 A.M. - Friday, August 14, 2009; email from Patti Walker to Steve Conaway; subject “Travel Arrangements for CM”; email from Walker to Conaway specifically states “Larry (i.e. interim city manager Larry Pennell) obtained approval from 3 council members to do due diligence as to third candidate”.

To anyone with a rational, logical and open mind, public records show that the 3 council members gave direction to proceed with reference checks for the third city manager candidate through an illegal serial meeting email communication and that direction resulted in Pennell and Walker proceeding with travel plans and with the expenditure of public funds to check on the references of city manager candidate number three and that the Brown Act violation was of consequence. Pennell and Walker should be required to reimburse the city for all public funds that were expended for airline travel, meals, lodging and hourly charges billed to the city relating to this action.

Submitted by
Roy Payne

To the Editor:
Piru Charter School- Nothing New
The Piru Charter School petition does not have any new ideas other than the wish to provide smaller class sizes for upper grades. There are ways that Piru School can continue to benefit from a mutually beneficial relationship with FUSD and still be innovative, such as becoming a magnet school.
The Program Elements described in the Charter include teaching practices that are already in place at Piru School. Piru students are currently taught California State Standards at their grade levels. Teachers are encouraged to be innovative and flexible to meet the needs of their students and to ensure mastery of the curriculum. Teachers should be using these good instructional practices and activities now, if they are not, they have chosen not to do so.
However, in the charter’s list are a couple of practices that are not currently part of the FUSD practices. One is teaching Yoga, certainly this should not be a primary reason to kill Piru Elementary and open Piru Charter School. The other is to reduce the class size ratio of students for teachers in the fourth through sixth grade. While the student to teacher ratio for primary grades would remain the current FUSD’s 22 to 1, the ratio for fourth through sixth grade would reduce to 24 to 1. A worthy goal, but is it achievable? The answer is yes. And, it is possible now in FUSD, but teachers would have to make concessions in our current contract that would shift money towards that goal. How would Piru Charter School achieve this? This is an open question that the charter does not address.
The Charter petition acknowledges the difficulty of class size reduction, as it states on page 10, ““…PCS reserves the right to adjust classroom/grade level enrollment, including the option of offering multiage classes if necessary.” This clause will not only allow PCS to increase the class size ratio from the hoped for 24 to 1 at the 4-6 level, but the Charter school may also need to create undesirable combination grade classrooms. Last week’s Fillmore Gazette’s article states “Currently Mrs. Jolley [a charter petition signer] has 32 students in her 5-6 combination classroom. Teaching two very different curriculums at the same time does not follow best educational practice. As class sizes increase achievement drops and students begin to fall between the cracks.”
Fillmore Unified School District has long held the goal of educating the whole child. Piru has done this with wonderful results without a Charter School. Aided by a Low Performing Schools Grant, and support from the district, Piru’s scores on state tests have gone up by 94 points. Piru School has great teaching practices in place now. FUSD has supported the innovative practices at Piru, and staff from other district schools have visited to learn from Piru’s successes. All this is happening without a Charter.
Over a year ago, the District created a Reconfiguration Committee. Charter schools and Magnet schools were discussed. The idea of a Green Technology Magnet School intrigued some Piru staff members. A Green Magnet School would teach environmental responsibility. Programs could teach the whole child focusing on healthy life styles, including but not limited to organic gardening on the school’s farm, and as well as on recycling, reducing, and reusing resources while the school uses less toxic products on site, solar and wind energy might be harnessed to reduce the schools carbon footprint. This option was not pursued. The option is still there to create a magnet school without a charter.
Piru Community, take the time to examine the Charter. If your desire is for a charter school then ask for more than this one offers you. You deserve better than this attempt at a school takeover.
John Schaper
Teacher at Piru School for 32 years

To the Editor:
The Gazette continues to publish letters from Roy Payne that are critical of our City Council, salary paid to the new City Manager, and criticism of Brian Sipes. In a past letter to the Editor, I stated that "Enough is Enough" from Roy Payne.
It is apparent that you chose to let Mr. Payne continue to criticise the City of Fillmore and it's citizens. I regret to inform you that your continued support of Mr. Payne's criticism has cost you my support. I will no longer read the Fillmore Gazette.
If you take the time to listen to the feelings and opinions of the people that live in Fillmore, you'll find that the Fillmore Gazette is out of touch, and further articles of criticism from Roy Payne will cost you subscriptions, to your paper.
Kenneth Creason
PS. Please cancel my subscription.