Letters to the Editor
October 9, 2019

To the Editor:
Re: Statement to Fillmore City Council, October 8, 2019.
I'm Bruce Johnson. I know all of you, and I think you all know who I am. I have a small shop here in Fillmore where I build musical instruments, expensive hand made bass guitars. This is a nice quiet retirement business for me. I started the business in 1990, as a part time thing, while I was working as an R & D Engineer at Disney. I had my shop in Burbank for 21 years.
I moved my business here to Fillmore 6 years ago, the fall of 2013. I was looking for a quiet shop space away from the big crowded city. I met David Storrs, who had just bought the old packing house building on Sespe. It's a fascinating old building with a long history and a huge basement that stays cool all the time. It had some mild earthquake damage that needed to be repaired, but otherwise was in great shape. David's overall plan was to clean the building up on the outside, keeping it historic looking, and rent out spaces inside for storage, for small private craftsman shops. Like me. He thought this would be the best use for this interesting old building.
David convinced me to move in, not just to have my shop here, but to help him build the place up. Bring in other craftsmen, help manage them, and turn the building into a showcase of craftsman shops and history. A centerpiece for the city. Trying to establish a theme for Fillmore. Hopefully encourage more craftsman businesses to move in here, in our empty old buildings. Build an identity for the city. We met and talked to all of you, and you all enthusiastically welcomed us and supported our plans.
So, that's what we did. David got the earthquake damage repaired and approved, got the sprinkler system certified, had the Fire Department inspect us. All the basic safety things. I moved in and got my shop operational, and started inviting my craftsman friends to move in here too. By 2016, we had about 10 small shops in and operating. We called the place the Secret Underground Laboratory and started participating in city events with open houses. Private tours of our shops for special groups. We were becoming part of the city. The local folks were surprised to find out that we were here. They thought that the old packing house was abandoned. It was fun.
Then, after four years, things ground to a crawl. The Building & Safety department stepped in and refused to approve our occupancy of the building. They stopped us from bringing in more tenants, or doing more improvements. They insisted on new levels of safety requirements and modifications, way beyond what was in the agreements when David bought the building. I won't get into the details, but it turned into a big mess. From our point of view, they just kept on piling on new issues, changing the rules, moving the goalposts. And most of the things they wanted weren't sensible or realistic. David hired Architects and Lawyers and sincerely tried to help them work it all out.
This went on for several years. For us tenants, everything was on hold. We ran our businesses and tried to be patient, hoping you guys could solve this.
Then in August, it all turned ugly. Without warning, you slapped a Red Tag on our building; locked us out of our shops. Effectively shut down our businesses and seized all of our assets. After five days of us screaming at you, you reduced us to Yellow Tag status, where you are now allowing us to work in our shops, but only in limited hours, with your permission. Because of your concerns about possible safety issues. Which you can't seem to figure out or define.
Do you have any idea how insulting and degrading this is? Deliberately punishing us, the tenants, like we were children. This is how you treat businesses? And here it is, October, and this is still going on. Why? Just to try to get us to put pressure on David in the negotiations? Did you think that stomping all over us was going to help? Whose bright idea was this? Well, it's completely backfired.
The result of all this is that you've crushed our project. David has thrown up his hands in disgust and has put the building up for sale. He doesn't want to have anything more to do with the city of Fillmore. All of us tenants have had it too. We're completely disgusted with the way you are running the city. Several tenants have already moved out in the last few weeks, and the rest are planning it. Our enthusiasm for building up this Craftsman Center and helping Fillmore is gone.
I may be the last one in the building. I'm going to stick around for a while, because moving my shop is such an enormous job, even if I had a place to go. I'm hoping a few of my Luthier buddies will stay too. We'll see what happens with the new owners of the building. Hopefully they can get some sense out of your Building & Safety department, and we can stay for a few years. But, we're going to lock the building down and keep the shops private. We're done helping the city. You crushed the dream.
Bruce Johnson


To the Editor:
Speaking of children, what would you do if your child constantly bullied and lied, never took responsibility for his/her own actions but instead found his exact faults in other people to deflect, didn’t keep his promises to his acquaintances, and followed neither the family nor school rules. He always demanded the prize and vilified the actual winner. He was just this miserable kid being himself. This is a child who would need professional assistance in becoming an intelligent, caring, honest and responsible adult. Unfortunately, our president is long since past childhood. He is who he is, never got the help, advice, and apparently love, that he needed. What he got was Roy Cohn. If you don't remember who he was, you can Google him.
Some people who would not stand for the conduct described in their child, or a friend, happily sign on to Trump Being Trump. This last week or so we have all seen the blatant lawlessness of this president in calling on one of our chief international rivals, dictatorial China, to trade dirt for a possible political advantage in our country. He did the same with Ukraine by dangling Congressionally authorized payments to them while he asked for "a favor, though.” He eventually came up with the story that he is trying to root out corruption worldwide, though he still insists that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election on his behalf. Increasing piles of evidence point to Trump enlisting government officials to do his bidding on this personal political quest (and one organ-grinder monkey named Rudy).
This president knows only his own interests, his own will, his own horribly tortured view of the world. Everybody is out to get him, no one has ever endured the harassment and political pain he has, all news with which he does not agree is “Fake,” if you don’t back him 100% you are the enemy, and he always has to be right. He can attack people who are disabled, are gold-star parents, are the prime ministers of countries who do not want to sell Greenland, are political enemies (until they fold up under his relentless cruelty and lies…and many of them are in the US Senate, Rubio and Cruz are two).
Is this all right with the American electorate? Are we ready to settle for this president and his scandal-plagued administration? It is really OK that he calls on (jokingly, of course) foreign countries to do political dirty work on one of our citizens and his political rival? It wasn't a joke, it isn't something to trivialize, and he’s done it more than once. The truth is, he doesn't get that it's wrong, ethically and constitutionally and he does not care.
Where are all the Congressional persons “of good will” in all this? They all took the same oath to uphold the constitution, and presumably, their mommas told them to always do the “right thing.” So far, it looks like neither of those things took. Everybody makes mistakes. The only problem is if those mistakes are not corrected. We, the People.
Kelly Scoles, Fillmore, Ca