Letters to the Editor
May 20, 2010

To the Editor:
It was brought to my attention that on Friday May 14, 2010 at the Piru Elementary School ELAC Meeting, Susan Dollar was there and seemed to be working in some way for the school or district. My questions, as a tax payer and voting member of this community are: What is her job title, function, role and responsibilities at the school? When and why was she hired? Which Advisory Committee was consulted to approve her salary expenditure and what action was taken? When was this available position posted and when was it approved by the board? I looked in the minutes of the last Board meeting and could not find any evidence of budget approval as required by Law.
As a concerned parent listening to all the budget cuts and teachers concerns, I would like to recommend to all Members of the Board to be frugal in your spending of our Superintendent’s administrative budget. I would like to request a budget cut proposal from Mr. Sweeney for all the administrators of our District. I WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST A BUDGET FREEZE FOR all outside consultants including Mrs. Dollar until we have a proven assessment from all the Trustees that the services provided are directly affecting our children’s learning progress effectively. Along the same line, would you please provide our community an explanation of where has Superintendent Sweeney found funds to pay for her consulting fees? Is Piru’s budget paying for it? Please supply us with SSC minutes indicating the SSC’s approval. IF the district’s budget is paying for it, which funds have been allocated for that purpose and when? I could only hope that Mr. Sweeney may be paying her out of his personal budget.
Mr. Sweeney, can you please report to this Board and deliver an assessment review of Mrs. Ramos of her managerial skills, budget allocation skills and teachers’ support skills, so that we might better understand why she needs the assistance of Mrs. Dollar.
How has she improved our school for the last 9 months? Has she followed all mandated guidelines and CDE regulations? Please Board members, request a full report for the tax payers and voters of our District community.
I hope these questions will be answered by the next board meeting scheduled for June 1, 2010.
Thank you!
Rita Avila
Parent Coalition for Excellence in Education


To the Editor:
School Board Prefers to Focus on “The Good Stuff” while ignoring the Brown Act.
On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 the Fillmore School Board of Trustees gathered for a regularly scheduled public meeting at its board room on Sespe Street in Fillmore. The first order of business, as usual is public comment. This is the part of the meeting when any member of the public may speak to the Board on any issue whatsoever, whether it is on the agenda or not. Public Comment is the appropriate time for community members to ask that the Board examine any issue of interest or concern, and it is the time to request that items be placed on future Board agendas. Any issues that require the Board to take action must be placed on the agenda. In most cases, public comment is the time when the public puts the Board on notice of complaints or issues that they want the Board to address. Frequently, these are requests, which may be viewed as negative comments, and this Board seems to view most complaints as the publics effort to “tear down” the District, as stated by Board Member Ms. Virginia De La Piedra.
And this public comment period was chock full of these so deemed negative positions. Several parents from Piru brought issues to the Boards attention, including how funding was approved for recent personnel additions, the state of academics at the school and what is being done to improve the school’s scores on State tests, and a threat issued at last weeks ELAC (English Learners Advisory Committee) meeting to a bilingual mother of two, that the police would be called if she did not stop asking questions about how funding was used at Piru School to benefit English Learners. One Piru resident,
Mr. Freddie Galan, brought to the Boards attention his stance that this mother was owed an apology for the way she was treated, but both he and the Board remained focused on his complaints of another member of the public who reportedly was “interrupting” their meeting as well. The Board did take the time to comment and ask a few questions during public comment, including a comment about how all the “bad” comments were coming from Piru. As public comment concluded, those in attendance could really see the Board wake up with the “Good stuff” as Board President Mr. Tony Prado called the agenda items that followed public comment.
Two local businesses; Otto & Sons and Quallity Ag Inc, that are helping prepare for graduation were honored with an award, and Board Member reports included several comments of pride in the skills and sound of both the Fillmore Middle School and Fillmore High School Marching Bands as displayed at recent public events. Brief comment was made on the need for uniforms for the Bands, and it was noted that to outfit the entire High School band it would cost $25,000.00. The students are apparently working on fundraising ideas.
The Board also approved, with one opposing vote cast by Board Member Mr. Mike Saviers, a measure which lays off certain “classified” employees. This measure will result in library and computer lab hours being reduced. Superintendent Mr. Jeff Sweeney did mention that they are exploring the possibility of a teacher accompanying students to the library or computer labs when it is closed.
In addition to these normal agenda items, it is not uncommon for things to happen at meetings that are not on the agenda. Equipment may malfunction, someone misspeaks or trips, but at this meeting the unexpected events included several violations of the Brown Act. The Brown Act (CAL. GOV. CODE § 54950 : California Code - Section 54950), enacted in 1953 is part of our State legal code. It governs public bodies, including school boards. The Brown Act provides the legal framework for how these bodies shall run their meetings with the intention of maintaining open and free public access and participation in the meetings of the public body, in this case the Fillmore School Board of Trustees.
Part of the Brown Act requires that no member of the public be required to provide his or her name or any personal information. This would seem to include a person’s street address. Apparently it has been normal practice for some time that the Board requires all those speaking in public comment (but not those speaking on specific agenda items) to provide their name and street address. At Tuesday’s meeting, several individuals who spoke during public comment attempted to refuse to provide their street address by invoking the Brown Act. To his credit, Mr. Prado did admit that “(he) is not an expert on the Brown Act”, and that he “does not want to stifle public comment”. So he graciously allowed those who refused to give their street address their time to speak. Mr. Prado does not seem to be the only Board member who is unfamiliar with the reach, scope and content of the Brown Act. Board Member Mr. John Garnica stated that while the Brown Act may not require it, “Our Board Policies” do, and so the information must be provided.
The Brown Act, also requires that school boards “allow non-disruptive recording and broadcast of meetings”. Again the Fillmore School Board seems to have violated this part of the law when, nearing the end of the meeting Ms. Rita Avila was asked to stop recording the meeting. It was apparent to a witness who attended the meeting and was present at the time, that a district employee sitting next to Ms Avila was sending text messages to the Assistant Superintendent Ms. Katy Hadley, notifying her that Ms. Avila was recording the meeting. This text was distributed to the Board, and Mr. Prado asked Ms Avila to turn it off. At this point Ms. Avila felt uncomfortable and decided to leave rather than state her legal right to record the public meeting.
The next Fillmore School Board meeting is scheduled for June 1, 2010, with the Open Meeting beginning at 6pm.
Kimberly Rivers


Letters to the Editor
May 13, 2010

To the Editor:
I wanted to commend the three members of the City Council who were present at the April 27, 2010 city council meeting (Mayor Pro Tem Washburn, Councilmember Laurie Hernandez and Steve Conaway) for voting in support of the construction of Water Well No. 9. This new water well is needed for the future planning and development of the City and is especially critical to allowing the Fillmore Business Park to move forward. As has been previously reported, the Fillmore Business Park is expected to create many new higher paying jobs for Fillmore residents and should also provide a stronger and more diversified economic base for the community that will help to provide new customers for our existing downtown merchants and highway businesses such as El Pescador Restaurant and Wm. L. Morris Chevrolet.
I was also pleased to here Mayor Pro Tem Washburn state publicly from the City Council dais that all five members of the City Council support the Business Park moving forward. This 100% support from the City Council is very important because there are still several significant decisions remaining that need to be made by the City Council to clear the path to allow the Business Park to proceed with development. Several of the Fillmore Business Park developers were also at the meeting to express their continued interest in proceeding with development of their projects in the Fillmore Business Park.
With this renewed public/private Fillmore Business Park partnership I believe the entire community of Fillmore will benefit and be able to address some of the more pressing needs of the community.
Roy Payne
Fillmore City Manager (1989-2005)


To the Editor:
It is a warm and exhilarating feeling to know that the Bardsdale Cemetery grounds are now immaculately maintained to demonstrate respect and dignity to those interred.
Having many family members laid to rest there, we are genuinely grateful to the cemetery caretakers for their marvelous work. It is obvious that tremendous pride is taken in the attention of the cemetery environment where our loved ones, as well as many others, lay at rest.
Thank you to Doug Basolo, cemetery manager, and his workcrew, Gabe Lopez and Richard Ruiz for their commendable and overall efforts. They are doing a superb job!
Thank you, also, to the Board of Directors, i.e., Lynda Edmonds, Monte Winkler, Gabe Asenas, Rita Rudkin, and Scott Lee, for their excellent vision and leadership in the development of this revered place.
The Gene and Sonia (Morales) Getty family
The Frances (Morales) Jimenez family
The Ernie and Becky Morales family


To the Editor:
A. BACKGROUND: 1. There was a large influx of European immigrants into the U.S. in the 19th Century. Made up of numerous nationalities and estimated at 38M people from 1820-1920 2. Also a large number (unknown) of Africans (slaves) were introduced into the U.S. from early 1600-1863, 3. The immigrants from Europe became a large "melting pot" of people who lived in overly crowded conditions and slowly disappeared into society without citizenship.4. As a result of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Africans slowly made their way up North. They too disappeared into society without citizenship. 5. History has shown this country was founded on immigration, but was meant to be controlled by our laws. 6. From the early 192 0's to the present, immigrants continued to enter the U.S. from around the world, with the largest group being those from Latin America. 7. Restrictions were imposed as early as 1882 and again in 1917, 1921 and 1924. There were further restrictions, the last establishing the Quota System, whereby entrants were limited to 3 percent annually of the number of citizens residing in the U.S. Revisions were made from this period to 1952,; which reaffirmed the "National Origin" features of the 1921 and 1924 laws. These laws have been in place with some minor changes to date. The implementation of these laws have been virtually non-existent. This, along with the large population growth has acerbated the situation. Our leaders over this entire period have led us to believe they have been afraid to take action for fear they would not be elected/re-elected, Whereas they should have enforced our laws. B A PROPOSED PLAN OF ACTION 1. Based on the above, we are faced with very complex issues and no one has come up with a detailed plan to correct said situations. Presently proposed solutions run from; do nothing, send them all back, send only adults back or provide amnesty.2. With an estimated number of 12-14 million illegals residing within the U.S., none of these proposals are a viable solution. A major part to the solutions is to let our elected leaders, local, state and federal, know now is the time for action. 3. Maybe the new legislation in Arizona will be a wake up call to our citizens as to the seriousness of the situation. We may or may not agree with Arizona's action. Whatever it is, we need to take a proactive roll. 4. The first action is to close our borders. Next, each state to develop their own problem/solution list with the voters approval. From the Governors' Office the list shall be taken to Washington by the States Senate/House Representatives. The Representatives to turn this data over to the Presidents newly formed "Task Force" who are to disseminate the data and present their findings for Presidential action. If no action is forthcoming within 6 months, the states to decide to impose their own legislation. I invite you to share your thoughts and solutions.
Ray Dressler


Letters to the Editor
May 6th, 2010

To the Editor:
My family and I have been residents of Fillmore for 33 years. Years ago we were approached by the City of Fillmore to see if we had any interest in being a part of a proposed Business Park. We sold our property and moved from our home of 32 years to facilitate the business park. Prior to that move we literally ate dirt for over a year while the CITY pursued their Park, and tore up roads and did trenching for their water treatment plant. We agreed to have our property annexed into the city in order to assist the CITY in getting the wastewater treatment plant started and approved. All of this in the name of progress and what was best for the future of Fillmore!
I look around this City at the changes through our 33 years and I see good and positive improvements for the City, the citizens and the future Fillmore.
We are quite concerned that there have been rumors and indications that behind the scenes the city has not been supportive since it got everything it wanted from the landowners. This included getting half of the levy paid for, most of the main streets, and the related infrastructure.
So it appears to us that now since the CITY has gotten what they needed and burdened surrounding property owners support seems to have faded. This is not only unfair but also bad for the future of the City of Fillmore.
I worked for Ameron for 11 years, most of our work force, rode bikes or walked, what a boost it would be to have jobs available in Fillmore!
I would think at this time the #1 priorities for the City of Fillmore would be create jobs and revenue, which you can do by facilitating and finishing the building of the Business Park.
I would hope that this city is not the type that gets what they want and then ignores the citizens that gave it to them.
Thank you
Marian C. Coe


To the Editor:
Just a quick word about Sespe Players, Inc. and the momentum of participation that our production of 'Alice in Wonderland” has injected into this Community Theater Group. WOW! When we need help with something, we got it: Fabulous costumes designed and sewn by Krista Sell, Piano music by Joy Asenas, Radio Publicity by Sara Glauser, props and painting from Sue Zeider, Amalia Aparicio and Jeremy Kirsh. Many of our local businesses helped fund us by placing ads in the playbill; and lots and lots of actors and actresses ages 6 to 60, some coming from Ventura and Santa Paula.
We want to keep the momentum going!
One of our goals is to replace the stage curtains In the Sespe Auditorium!
We need a corral director for a community choir and future musical!? WE need more people able to build sets, paint, and sew. And we can do it with more help from the community.
We have a new Actor's Theater Workshop class starting up with Stephen Burhoe, (our Director) and a Musical Theater Summer Camp starting in June. We want to have productions happening every couple of months, we support the high school Drama Club and Band how ever we can and we can do more it if we have more help.
Our next meeting is Thursday, May 13th, 7:30 at the Foy's located at 437 Saratoga St.
Please feel free to call Janet if you have any questions 217-2402.
Keep the performing arts alive and well in Fillmore......it's a lot of work, but we sure have a lot of worthwhile FUN!!!
Janet Foy


Letters to the Editor
April 29th, 2010

To the Editor:
RE: Superintendent Sweeney’s Letter, April 22 edition:
Dr. Theodore R. Mitchell, President
California State Board of Education
1430 North N Street, Room 5111
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Dr. Mitchell:
Fillmore Unified Superintendent Jeff Sweeney continues to assert what is in effect his only argument against the authorization of Piru Charter School: that no one wants it. His editorial, entitled "Charter Denial in Piru's Best Interest", which he first submitted to the Fillmore Gazette, now appears in the April 25th Sunday edition of the Ventura STAR newspaper. But his claim is based not upon some factual finding of the District, but instead on inflated claims and misleading assertions. What he fails to disclose is that what no one wants in Piru is the caricature of a charter school that his administration and employees have created and promoted. District employees, working with three parents, have repeatedly gone door to door in the community and approached parents on campus, telling them that Piru Charter School will charge tuition, that parents will be mandated to work at the school without pay to keep their children enrolled, and, most outrageous of all, that parents whose children enroll in PCS will be reported to Immigration and possibly deported.
Superintendent Sweeney states that parents have opposed the charter 'since September'. This is exactly opposite to the facts. In fact, in late September and early October, the PCS petitioners and parent supporters walked door-to-door delivering literature and sharing information about the Charter to practically every household in Piru and Rancho Sespe, and the response was almost uniformly very positive. Parents and residents embraced the ideas of local control, smaller class size, more help in the classroom, an enriched curriculum and the prospect of adding 7th and 8th grades that charter conversion would make possible. Every petitioner and the parents that walked those streets and knocked on those doors, Katharine Ponce, Maria Villa, Patti Alonzo, Karen Fontes and J'nell Campos, can attest to the very positive reaction we received.
It was not until a deliberate campaign of deception began, first with a Migrant Parent meeting organized by the District, where a Ventura County Office of Education official, Joe Mendoza, told parents the Migrant Program would end if Piru became a charter, that any parental opposition emerged. Obviously, the migrant parents at that meeting were very upset to hear this, and soon the community was blanketed with flyers, printed on Piru School copy machines by two of the four teachers on the staff openly opposed to the charter. These flyers were created with the cooperation of the District, because they contained portions of a letter by the School Board President that was not published in the Fillmore Gazette until the following day. This flyer asserted that all the plans of the Charter were suspect, and unlikely to happen, and insinuated that charter petitioners were misleading the community.
Meanwhile, during the month of October, Maria Gonzalez a District Migrant Program employee at Rancho Sespe, utilized children playing outside to organize a picket of an informational meeting on the charter organized and attended by all nine of the petitioners. As the Rancho Sespe Neighborhood Council President told us at the meeting, we were facing not just the usual challenge of apathy on the part of local residents to get involved, but also active opposition led by this District employee who lived at 'The Ranch', and who most people looked up to as the person to go to for advice on how to deal with the District, as she was very close with the District's Migrant Program Coordinator.
Just before the first hearing on the Piru Charter petition, held October 21st, the group 'Parents With Power' that Superintendent Sweeney mentions appeared. It was first evident when anti-charter employees at school began wearing t-shirts with this group's name on them to work right before and after the hearing, and continue to do so to this day. Based upon observation of this group's activities, its main leaders are the four Piru teachers opposing the charter, as well as three parents who have assisted them, and have been seen repeatedly all year, since October, visiting the classrooms of these teachers before, during and after school hours, and who have also been seen repeatedly entering and leaving the District Office headquarters in Fillmore.
The 'hundreds of parents' which Superintendent Sweeney refers to who appeared at the District and County petition hearings were in fact, overwhelmingly made up of district employees, mostly classified and administrative employees, with a sizeable contingent of teachers from schools located in Fillmore. He is right that this group again appeared at the ACCS hearing in April, and in fact of the 60 persons who rode the $2400 chartered bus from Fillmore, less than 15 were parents with no affiliation to district employees, and, strangely, many of these parents did not even speak at the hearing during public comment, but gave their time to employees to speak.
Regarding the petitions that the District submitted claiming to be from Piru parents opposed to the charter, Piru parents who grew up and live in Piru and support the charter went through the list of names, and found that many were not from Piru residents or even from parents with children attending Piru School. Most curiously, they found the assertion that the signatures represented 'over 200 Piru students' who it was claimed would not attend the school was vastly overstated, due to double counting children and other errors. Valid signatures represented less than 100 parents.
Worst of all, what parent and community supporters have found is that these signatures have been obtained by a campaign of misinformation, outright lies, and even intimidation. We know of parents who are neighbors to some of the three parents spearheading this 'Parents With Power' group, and they claim these ringleaders have used bullying and scare tactics to convince people to sign the petition. There are others who state that the ringleader of the four anti-charter teachers has repeatedly harassed them at their home, trying to pressure them into signing petitions against the charter. Parents who signed Intent To Enroll forms for the charter back in October have also been harassed by this small contingent of anti-charter bullies. It is on the basis of such tactics that Jeff Sweeney asserts his claims of 'minimal community support'.
As a further point, it is shocking that Superintendent Sweeney asserts that the chartered bus, which cost approximately $2400, was paid for by parents, considering that over 40 of the 60 riders on that bus were District employees and their families.
Given the hostile environment towards the charter and the charter petitioners created by the District and its employees, it is amazing that the opposition to the charter is not greater, but the factual evidence shows that support for charters and, specifically, Piru Charter School runs deep. The District's own surveys, conducted last year, show that an overwhelming majority of parents throughout the District support the concept of a charter school operating within the District boundaries.
Jeff Sweeney ends his letter with a bizarre argument that giving parents choice about which school to attend somehow actually denies them choice! This contorted logic is coming from the Superintendent of a District which sent a letter out this year to every parent of elementary age children in the District informing them that despite the fact that all four elementary schools had fallen into Program Improvement, and despite the fact that Federal No Child Left Behind regulations require Districts accepting federal funds to allow parents of children in failing schools to choose to send them to a school that is not failing parents were told they would not be allowed to leave the District. It was the District’s position that the only choice that parents had was to accept the school the District assigned them. In other words, they had no choice! This, Jeff Sweeney apparently calls 'parental empowerment'!
Superintendent Sweeney also ends by referring to 'the best interests of the Piru students', yet nowhere in his letter does he make the case that the District can better serve Piru students. He does not make this argument, because he cannot make this argument. His leadership during the last three years has done nothing to improve student learning in the communities of Piru or Fillmore.
Chris Pavik
Piru Charter School Petitioner


To the Editor:
Superintendent Sweeney’s Propaganda Machine
The superintendent of the Fillmore Unified School District Jeff Sweeney just doesn’t get it. He is starting to believe his own propaganda. The ACCS on April 6 didn’t vote in his favor but instead voted overwhelmingly against the superintendent and his campaign of misinformation and intimidation. At the ACCS hearing he kept waving his signed petitions in the air claiming the parents don’t support PCS. He looked foolish and desperate. The ACCS listened to his rhetoric and then told him he needs “to leave his ego at the door.” They voted 5-2 against him. The California Department of Education tried to make things clear for the shortsighted superintendent when they submitted this written statement:
The PCS petition includes all of the elements required under statute and regulation for the establishment of a charter school. The California Department of Education (CDE) finds that granting the PCS charter is sound educational practice for the following reasons: the petition describes an educational program likely to meet the needs of pupils within the community where the school will locate; petitioners are demonstrably likely to implement the program set forth in the petition; the petition includes the required affirmations and signatures; and the petition contains reasonably comprehensive descriptions of the 16 elements pursuant to EC Section 47605(b)(5).
I have news for superintendent Sweeney. His pathetic attempt to spread lies about Piru Charter School isn’t working. The support for Piru Charter School continues to grow. We have spoken to hundreds of parents, community members, students and educators in Piru, Fillmore and throughout Ventura County and the State of California who support Piru Charter School and their plan to improve student learning. Senator George Runner of the 17th Senate District is supporting PCS along with many other knowledgeable and powerful political leaders in California.
Over the last three years the superintendent has not offered a viable educational plan to improve the education of the children in Piru or Fillmore. Nothing! No sooner did he open a new school (Mountain Vista) that it began to fail. In just two short years his new school fell into school improvement. And he calls himself an educator? He has no idea what he is doing. I have more bad news for superintendent Sweeney. I hope he is paying attention. The community is starting to wake up and see that the leadership in the Fillmore Unified School District is both incompetent and unethical. I heard he is looking for a new job. I just hope it’s far away from Ventura County. Meanwhile, the future of Piru children should not be decided by what zip code they live in. They deserve better than to be shackled to his sinking school district. They deserve a school of choice and they are going to get one. Piru Charter School will open in August and offer the Piru and Fillmore communities a quality education based on innovation, integrity, and results. That’s right superintendent Sweeney. Results Count!
Richard Durborow
Piru Charter School Petitioner

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To the Editor:
Piru Pioneer Response
In response to Christina's Wilson's article in Sunday April 18 the edition of the Ventura County Star, it seems to me that Christina Wilson just another teacher in the Fillmore Unified District trying to earn herself a promotion. Why else would a second grade teacher from Sespe Elementary write an article, "Saving a Neighborhood school"?
I'm glad she share's the same beliefs as the pro charter supporters who want to take back our school from the Fillmore Unified School District who we believe have failed us. She couldn't be more right be writing "The concept of a neighborhood public elementary school is as American as apple pie. Neighborhood schools provide our children neighborhood friends. A neighborhood school also provides a cultural similar to the culture in which our schools are located. In a neighborhood school, our children are generally closer to us-we can get to them more quickly in emergencies when we must. Finally we can attend meetings at school more easily if our house is near to the school.
If these are truly the beliefs of Christina Wilson and the other district members, then why have they coerced 260 anti charter parents from Fillmore & Piru to sign a petition stating they would not sent their kids to Piru Charter if it passes, instead of recommending to them to give the school a chance if it passes. Why Fillmore parents? Are they having problems finding parents to sign the petition in Piru? Why doesn't the district start a petition to see how many Fillmore Parents would be interested in sending their children to Piru Charter in order to receive a greater education that is a free public school for all. What parent wouldn't jump at the chance to send their children to a free better school? No one is driving away the children of Piru to attend other schools other than the district. How can Christina Wilson & other district members sleep at night knowing that in order to benefit their own needs and protect their jobs & pensions, they have gone to these families in Piru and Lied to them and spread myth's about what could happen to them if they support charter or send their kids to the neighborhood charter school.
What matters most to the district is the money they stand to lose if Piru goes charter, not the children. Assistant Superintendent Mike Bush is being quoted as saying the district would lose $7500.00 per student if the charter is approved. Why should this matter if the money that the district has been receiving for the Piru students, including migrant money, has only been spent on Piru School. No quote by Mr. Bush of good programs for children's education in Piru school or hand shakes by Mr. Bush and Mr. Sweeney that Piru School is getting new updated facilities. Is Mr. Bush admitting that the district needs our money to help fund projects elsewhere in the district. That explains the poor conditions of our school ground. It is truly sad that it took the Ventura County Board of Education to tell our district how bad of condition our school was, so that we could finally receive some badly needed repairs. Could Christina Wilson teach a kindergarten class with a playground that had been condemned for over 8 years, could she teach in a classroom that uses waste paper baskets to catch rain water from a leaky roof? Could she teach without a desk?
If the district were really concerned about the education of our Piru Children, they would advise them to give Piru charter a chance, instead of making promises that they would bus them to Fillmore if needed. Come on parents wake up before it's too late, snap out of that brain wash that has been imposed on you. Your child's education is at stake. What parent wouldn't want to give their kid the greatest gift they could possibly give, by giving them the chance at a greater education. Don't be satisfied with a school that is failing our children. What is the district promising these 260 parents besides long bus trips? Smaller class room sizes? More one on one? A greater education? Or are they only interested in them signing over their $7500.00?
The Parents with Power were offended because they were left out of the process to convert charter, and they have that right. But they should be blaming the district for this, not the petitioners. Has everyone forget that last year the Piru Elementary principal was demoted? I guarantee the district will never admit that it was because they found out the principle was talking to his staff about converting to charter. Why do you demote a principal, that along with his staff had helped to raise the school's test scores? When the parents protested the demotion at a district meeting, they chose this time not to listen to the parents of Piru. From that point on the charter meeting had to be held secretly so that there would be no more retaliations from the district. Would the parents with power had done things differently if their jobs were at stake. They should instead be thanking these petitioners for making such a sacrifice, in order to give their children a greater education and a better looking school. The pro parents were also left out of the process, but instead of holding a grudge, they are excited at their children's possible opportunity for a greater education in their own neighborhood school.
Furthermore, in response to Mr. Sweeney's remarks in April 15's edition of the Fillmore Gazette, which read "Piru School is a neighborhood school and the center of the town." That has not been the case since the 1960's, when our small school came under the control of Fillmore Unified District. We have no say so in what goes on in our school.
Mr. Sweeney definitely does not speak for the majority of parents in Piru when he's quoted as saying the parents of Piru don't want charter. There are far more parents in Piru than the 260 Fillmore, Piru parents he coerced into signing his petition. The decision to go charter doesn't just affect the present children of Piru School, it also affects the education of future generations to come. Call us the silent majority if you will. We don't wear funny looking t-shirts, and we definitely don't bully our opponent or cuss them out at soccer or little league games for their beliefs! We don't take our kids out of school to ride a bus all night to sit at a meeting where they probably don't understand what's going on. We keep our kids in school because their education is what matters most. We don't allow them to be used as pawns in a chess match. At a time when 60 plus teachers are facing layoffs, didn't the district loose money because these kids weren't in school. The district has had over 40 years to fulfill the promises that were made to parents of Piru in the 1960"s.
It's time that we have our school back!
The Silent Majority

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To the Editor:
Great Beauty pageant, thoughtless audience.
Last Saturday night my wife and I had the pleasure of attending the Miss Fillmore Beauty Pageant. Unfortunately we found ourselves sitting in front of a young couple and their very young infant.
The first hint we had of coming events was a very large baby stroller folded up blocking a very narrow isle – a serious hazard in the event of an emergency and a difficult obstacle to negotiate for everyone using that walkway. Shortly after the show started the baby started fussing making it difficult to follow the activity on the stage. The parents added to the commotion trying to quiet the infant. Throughout this the mother managed to keep up with her text messaging.
About 45 minutes into the show I turned around and calmly suggested to the father that taking his child to the lobby until it settled down was the polite thing to do. The young man’s sarcastic response made it clear he had no intention of entertaining that idea.
During intermission several other people commented on the disruptive infant. It’s unfortunate this inconsiderate couple lacked the maturity to recognize how their thoughtlessness impacted others. Perhaps next time the event staff can be on the lookout for potential problems of this nature.
Ken Smedley

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To the Editor:
Citizens of Fillmore, based on the California passage of Prop 215 in 1996, the Fillmore City Council has adopted a 45 day moratorium to study the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city. This 45-day period will provide time for each of us to evaluate said issue and be better prepared to present our questions/comments during a planned public hearing. This is a major issue to the city. The following are some of my questions/comments: 1. What is so unique about marijuana that the use of numerous OTC and prescribed drugs won’t alleviate the pain? 2. What other prescribed drug can be purchased from a non-pharmacy? 3. What requirements/controls will be imposed during the growing, processing and distribution of the product? Who will enforce said requirements/controls, the FDA? 4. What side affects will result in the use of this drug? 5. What side affects will result in the use of this drug when used with other OTC and prescribed drugs? 6. Will the providers for dispensing of this drug be trained and certified by a medical board/agency? 7. What minimum dollar figure, from business license fees and sales and property tax revenues be required for them to receive substantial income? 8. How many dispensaries would be required to support the dollar figure in Item 7? 9. Where would these dispensaries be located (very small town)? 10. What security requirements will be required on the premises to assure that criminal activity is virtually non-existent? 11. With a number of other local cities having banned any dispensaries, what impact to Fillmore will there be if the decision to provide dispensaries passes. It would create a situation where a strong possibility of a large influx of users from surrounding areas would come to Fillmore to purchase this drug, causing the potential increase of criminal activities.
Ray Dressler

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To the Editor:
RE: Mary Ford on Piru Charter
The only thing Mary Ford knows about Piru is what Susan Jolley tells her. The demoted Principal and Susan Jolley are not "Piru School Heroes".
Our Piru School Principal, Mrs. Ramos, teachers, staff and the students get the credit. Piru School has always had a great team of teachers, who used to always be able to work together. Two and a half years at Piru School does not make an expert on our school.
Piru School offers a top education in a beautiful country setting. All you have to do is attend school daily, be on time, and be ready to learn.
Our Piru parents and Rancho Sespe parents were threatened and lied to about the "Charter" school. Yes, Mary as you said, "A public brain washing" was attempted, the parents united against the attempt. They attended a Fillmore school meeting and the Ventura County Board meeting where they spoke against this Charter. In March, the parents did a fundraiser and hired a bus to go to Sacramento to the Commissioners (Pro-Charter) panel and spoke their concerns about the Charter proposal and why they are against it.
Mary, we Piru people also do not take kindly in your remark about "Our School" being in disrepair, our school is beautiful.
Mary, I also noticed all the times you took a stab at Fillmore District employees while writing about the Charter. Are you sure the topic was really the Charter???
Donna Chessani

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To the Editor:
Very disturbing
This past Friday there was a march in Piru protesting against the Piru charter conversion in our community. It was very disturbing and unhealthy to witness this coming back from the local ball game. I could see that there were some children as well, what do they know about this I asked myself.
Later I had the opportunity to ask why is this necessary or believe what they are doing today is right. What they shared with me left me feeling bad and sad of what they really think and believe. While adding some hate and anger of reasons why they believe this was just not right, although this was the type of information that was given to them. I could see that they were uncomfortable but they chose that path.
Since the protest you see more and more signs up that is so disturbing. As I pass through my local streets I can’t help but feel now who is separating this community and promoting hate with an unhealthy environment for the young and old.
Has anyone forgotten that Piru is a close knit community that has more love or has religion in their way of life? Prayer and our mass is very important to so many people in Piru. In this community people are always there for one another in any way possible to do good deeds. There is more love and caring hearts here than hate. What keeps me healthy and strong is by saying, " Forgive them for they not know what they do and bless them."
Long time Piru resident

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To the Editor:
Piru School is the only school in this unincorporated country town. Generations of Piru families have gotten a good education there. When there are threats to the town, such as fires and floods, the Red Cross has designated our school campus as a disaster area. Piru School is the glue to this town. Relatives, teachers, and students picnic here and family games are enjoyed. Now, a demoted principal, a group of teachers, and parents want to take over our school. Most of this group are out of towners. This same group goes public at community events, parades, and family softball games to offer bottles of water and a paper to sign saying that you are in favor of this charter. They slander our beautiful country campus and classrooms stating Piru School is in a terrible state and unsafe. Well it works for us. Why do they want it so bad? Why are they now trying to get in good with the community when this whole charter caper was done behind the community's back? The community of Piru says NO to this charter caper. Petitioners are only concerned about packing their pockets, not about our children. Mary Ford and a onetime mayor from Fillmore are for it. Piru can beat that; Donna Chessani, long time Piru resident and present Grand Marshall for the community of Piru opposes this conversion. With the large number of Piru School parents and community members of Piru and Rancho Sespe along with Unified Employees, Piru staff, and teachers opposing this incomplete charter you'd wonder if it will be a Political decision or will the final decision be the voice of the parents. Parents who will not send their children to this charter. The petitioners state children from Santa Clarita and Thousand Oaks will come to Piru. A pro-parent is also bragging about her $75,000 annual pay she's been offered if this charter goes through. This would be a tragedy to our students if this charter is approved. OMG!
Anonymous Piru Parent
Power to the Parents

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To the Editor:
The Piru Charter petition is not a “gift.” It represents a theft by nine non-resident, non-elected teachers of Piru’s 130 year old community school. The residents of Piru have told the petitioners they do not want the petitioners’ charter school and will not attend it. The petitioners who initially told the community that they wrote the charter to bring local control back to the community, now tell the community that they don’t need Piru children. The petitioners say they will bring in students from Santa Clarita, Santa Paula, and beyond. In the petitioners’ convoluted logic they believe that they will give Piru parents choice by closing Piru Elementary School, the only school in town, to open their Piru Charter School. They have explained to parents that their choice is to have Piru children bused into Fillmore or to send them to the petitioners’ school that will occupy the Piru Elementary School site which they intend to steal from the parents. True choice would be given if the petitioners had followed the intent of the Charter law and written a start up charter petition that would open a new school on another site to compete with existing schools through innovation, not a repackaging of current programs.
The community does not trust the petitioners. The petitioners have deceived, misinformed, failed to inform, and lied to the community. A review of the facts: No meaningful inclusion of all major stakeholders was attempted during the writing of the Piru Charter School petition. Once the petition was filed with the FUSD, the petitioners lied to parents telling them that Piru School was going to be closed by the District and that parents needed to sign an “Intent to Enroll” form to save their space in Piru Charter School. This lie was compounded with the addition that the Piru School would be closed and then sold to the surrounding nursery. (The irony is that it is the petitioners who want to close Piru Elementary School.) The petitioner never offered a copy of their charter to any community member and never made it accessible through translation to the Spanish literate who are more than 60% of the Piru/Rancho Sespe community. They say this wasn’t their responsibility to inform the community. With the petition’s budget being of questionable soundness the petitioners continue to make unbudgeted promises to the community, e.g., a band program, computers to check out, teaching assistants in every classroom. Petitioners are now promising jobs to their supporters.
Unable to gain support from the Piru Community, petitioners are reaching out by misrepresenting facts to politicians who they hope will help them steal Piru’s school. They have Senator George Runner writing letters to the State Board of Education. The senator has not been in contact with a representative body of Piru but has only heard the deception that the petitioners hope to pass as truth. Petitioner wrote articles for the Gazette in support of their petition under the byline of Gazette Staff Writer [a default byline used online only-Editor]. Most letters in support submitted with their petition to the County Board of Education and the State Board of Education came not from Piru community members but from people outside of FUSD. In fact many letters came from petitioners’ friends and relatives who do not live within the boundaries of FUSD.
The Petitioners’ supporters have attempted to intimidate community members and parents who in opposition to PCS. Supporters are now lying to the community saying that the State has approved the PCS petition and that parents should sign an “intent to attend” form. These forms will more than likely be used by petitioners at State to trump up perception of support. Petitioners cry conspiracy to try to explain their lack of support for their charter. What they have fail to acknowledge is that opposition to their charter comes from a collation of parents, community members, and school staff who have united to stop the theft of their school by teachers and people who live outside of the FUSD boundaries.
Apparently, the petitioners believe that if they misdirect, misinform, and deny their lies enough times people will believe them. Don’t be fooled, the community of Piru hasn’t forgotten the truth. This petition is simply a school high jacking.
John Schaper

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To the Editor:
The petition for PCS was filed in late September 2009 which took many Piru staff members, Piru parents, and community members by surprise. This was the first time more than 99% of the people in “Piru/Fillmore School Community” had become aware of a charter school being proposed in their community. PCS failed to ask for community input as to what or how they would like a charter to focus on or simply if the community of Piru would even consider a charter school.
The petitioners failed to educate the public about charter schools . The parents and community of Piru were entirely left out of the planning process. The petitioners sought parental and community support only AFTER the petition was submitted creating an atmosphere of distrust. This distrust was fueled when the pro-charter group told parents that Piru Elementary was closing and the parents needed to sign up for charter to keep the school open. As the parents and community became aware of the dishonest tactics, an anti- Piru Charter movement began to organize. A parent group, Parents with Power, was formed. The parents gathered signatures opposed to the Charter and educated the Piru community. One of the parent leaders translated the petition from English to Spanish. It was felt by PCS that the translation was the responsibility of Fillmore Unified. PCS and their supporter continue to spread disinformation and haven’t taken any personal responsibility for the distrust and backlash they created amongst the Piru parents.
The Advisory Committee on Charter Schools, ACCS, is stacked to support and approve charters. The members are appointed by the Governor. They often work at or for charter schools. In this case, six of the seven voting members worked for or have been involved in the charter school movement. So needless to say the outcome was predetermined and hardly considered to be a surprise,5-2. The fact that the petition did receive two no votes will send a red flag to the State Board. Usually, the vote at ACCS is unanimous. Let’s hope the State Board is a little objective and will reject this petition.
If the petition passes, how can it be viewed as a victory for independence or a just cause? When the process was flawed from its’ inception, the idea that 11 people can railroad the communities of Piru and Rancho Sespe to accepting a school that was neither their wish nor desire goes against any and every idea of a Democracy and is in line with an autocratic style of rule. What Would the Founding Fathers Think?
Having completed my thesis on charter schools, I am not opposed to charter schools. I am opposed to this one because of its’ flawed process and simply it is not the right thing to do. The idea to force a charter school on the communities of Piru and Rancho Sespe does not appeal to my sense of just and fair play.
Raymond Barrera,
2/3 Grade Teacher

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To the Editor:
I am very disturbed that our only school for the children of Piru is under the recommendation of the Advisory commission of Charter Schools. A group of commissioners that support charter schools and that have probably never stepped foot in Piru. This crusade for a charter is being led by leaders that have little regard for our community and the importance we place on our only public school choice. It seems they are more concerned with job security and higher salaries. Our CHILDREN come first, you have no right to take away our only public school, you have no right to force a charter on us that the community does not want. We are not simple Indians and you do not know what is best for our children. Whatever happened to a charter that requires parental and community support, is it because we are a bunch of Mexicans that you percieve of lacking the intellectual capacity to chart the destiny of our children's education? How dare you take away our choice, How dare you tell me my child is not entitled to a district school because you know what is best for us. We want the same education that everyone else in the State of California is entitled to. Our choice of school was and is Piru Elementary, not PCS!
Estoy muy preocupado, porque la unica escuela publica de nuestros ninos en Piru esta bajo la recomendacion de la Comision Asesora de Escuelas Charter. Y de un grupo de comisionados que estan a favor de Escuelas Charter y que seguramente nunca han puesto un pie en Piru. Esta campana a favor de Escuelas Charter esta liderada por personas que no respetan nuestra comunidad y de la importancia de tener nuestra unica escuela publica como opcion. Se nota que su unica preocupacion es asegurar sus trabajos y sueldos muy altos. NUESTROS NINOS ESTAN PRIMERO, ustedes no tienen derecho de imponernos una escuela Charter y algo que la comunidad no quiere.No somos simplemente Indios y ustedes no saben que es lo mejor para nuestros hijos .Todo lo que tenga que ver con una escuela Charter requiewre de el apoyo de padres de familia y de la comunidad , o es porque somos un monton de mexicanos que segun ustedes nos perciben como faltos de capacidad intelectual como para cunducir el destino de la educacion de nuestros hijos. Como se atreven a quitarnos nuestra unica opcion , como se atreven a decirme que mis hijos no tienen el derecho a una escuela del Distrito poque segun ustedes saben que es lo mejor para nuestros hijos. Queremos la misma Educacion a la que todos y cada uno de nosotros tenemos derecho en el Estado de California nuestra opcion fue y es la Escuela Elemental de Piru no la Escuela Charter.
Name withheld by request


Letters to the Editor
April 22nd, 2010

To the Editor:
Thank you for reporting on John Wilson. It saddens me that innocent people and their property were injured or harmed, but doubly so to see a once good man spiral down. John Wilson has long history in Ventura County, he was a pillar of the community, a paramedic, a good guy. Then he did a very bad thing by tampering with narcotics at the ambulance company and possibly the fire dept. He may admit to doing it for 1 year, but some wonder if he may have been doing it for far longer.
Do you know why he hasn't been indicted, faced trial, or spent substantial time behind bars yet?
It seems odd to me that someone could tamper-with drugs "for a year in what may be the largest case of its kind in California history," and be allowed to remain free and be a threat to the public. When Narcotics are tampered with, not only are patients pain needlessly not relieved, but they're also in danger of becoming sick from foreign contaminants.
The New England Journal of Medicine: Serratia marcescens Bacteremia Traced to an Infused Narcotic.
I don't want to see this man suffer, rather, I want to see him rehabilitated. The fact that he's still taking suboxone almost 2 years later, tells me that his addiction was very bad and he possibly isn't getting the best treatment or not sticking to the treatment. Our healthcare industry needs to do a better job of keeping our people healthy. Today it takes a big person to come forward and admit they have a problem with addiction. Our system needs to be changed so you don't need to be a big person to come forward. Entry into the system that gets healthcare professionals rehabilitated from addiction needs to be made simpler and easier for those who would otherwise feel ashamed or fearful of coming forward. Many impaired healthcare professionals, like John, became that way after an accident, injury or other traumatic event. We owe them and the public they serve a first class system of rehabilitation. Let's create one now, before another knucklehead allows their addict thinking to justify tampering with the pain relievers reserved for the public we serve.
Bringing awareness of his situation to the citizens of Ventura County will greatly help our society as a whole.
Thank you,
Aimin Alton


To the Editor:
Mr. Farrell,
With all due respect, in response to your web response to my letter printed in Thursday's paper, April 15, I have copied and pasted below the front page article from which I quoted. It was not an editorial, but a news story. Please notice that in lines 4 and 5, the writer did say, "bussed...by the school district". If anyone still has their copy of last week's newspaper, it's still right there on the front page for all to see. The information was more than implied--it was directly stated, but thank-you for acknowledging your error and for your commendation of the Piru parents' efforts.
The title was Commission Recommends Charter School for Piru. The erroneous line was, “Approximately 70 anti-charter persons were bussed from Piru to Sacramento by the school district for the purpose of protesting the charter.”
Christina Wilson

To the Editor:
Mr Sweeney definitely does not speak for the majority of parents of Piru when he's quoted as saying "The families of Piru do not want their school converted to charter". another quote as " Piru School is a neighborhood school and the center of the town and charter takes away local control". He couldn't be more wrong! Call us the silent majority if you will. In other words I am glad he shares the same beliefs as thee pro charter supporters and those who just wanted there only school that's in such poor conditions for over to many years now. That has not been maintained by our district and tired of empty promises. I'm glad he share's the same beliefs as the pro charter supporters and the supporters of a healthier school who want to take back our school from the Fillmore Unified School District who we believe have failed us. If Mr Sweeney and Assistant Superintendent Mike Bush had paid more attention to Piru School earlier, maybe we would not be where we are right now.
What matters most to the district is the money they will lose if Piru goes charter and not the children and our community that has this one school that belongs to the district to manage and take care of. Assistant Mike Bush is being quoted as saying the district would lose $7500.00 per student if the charter school is approved. Is Mr Bush admitting that the district needs our money to help fund the projects elsewhere in the district? That explains why our school is in poor condition's. Mr Sweeney and Mr Bush how can you sleep at night when our children are in a classroom that has a leaky roof and their teacher still manages to teach the children. A kindergarten class with no playground for them that has been condemned for over 10 years. Classroom's that have been condemned due to the termites who made it there castle. We are still waiting for replacements that have been promised and yet another classroom on its way to be condemned. A walk way that our people have tripped because it's cracking and sinking. A cafeteria and our Auditorium that our beautiful children are in a spot so that they can have music and play in a band. How we admire our band Teacher to make that location work for our kids to have music in our school. At the same time Piru is now out growing because we are growing.
The red headed step child has had enough and now wants to try living with the real parent, but the step parent is going to loose all the child support money, so he's scrambling to act like he really cares. After all Mr Sweeney isn't that what this is all about, the money that the district stands to loose if Piru goes charter. If the district really cared about the children of Piru's education and the community of Piru they would have from the start when parents wanted to fix their school them selves and invited you to come and still choose not to care and ignored us. It's really sad that it took the Ventura County Board of Education to tell the Fillmore School Board the condition of Piru School was UNACCEPTABLE.
May there be less and less brain washing that has been imposed on you. That you make your own decision with out being bullied. What parent wouldn't jump at the chance to send their children to a free better school. No one is driving away the children of Piru to attend other schools other than the district and those who are using bully tactics to do so. Keep your minds and hearts open!
The Silent Majority with the Parents united y Padres Uni dos


To the Editor:
As a parent of two Piru Elementary School students I realize there has been an enormous divide among the parents and staff of our school this year. People have and always will disagree over education reform, restructuring of schools and educational material content. In the end someone always wins and we must agree to disagree. In all of these discussions where is the most important factor? Our Children! All the children of the Fillmore and Piru communities! They are not monitory items to be bartered with they are children.
My concern is for the safety of all the children in our communities. On January 28, 2010 I was on the Piru Elementary School campus and witnessed their first fire drill of the 2009-2010 school year. I observed the fire alarm bell in the room I was in to be quite low and in my perception hard to hear. I was also told later that day that the Fire Alarm bell did not work at all in two upper grade classrooms. The principal of the school was notified of the problem that day thou not by me. On February 9, 2010 I along with other concerned parents of Piru Elementary filed Williams Act complaints with the FUSD district office. There were numerous hazards sited, the fire alarm not working and being hard to hear were among the complaints. On March 25, 2010, I received the districts response to these complaints. This is FUSD response to the fire alarm issue and I quote, “Not an immediate threat to health and safety.”
Does that sound like an expectable response to you? To me it was not. The safety of our children is at stake. I have appealed this and other Williams Act complaints to the state but I feel this matter deserves immediate attention. I attended the FUSD School Board Meeting on April 13 to plead my case. I was asked my motives, it was implied that I was a liar and at one point a board member threw her arms in the air and said, “this is ridicules’” when referring to the complaints posed to the board. Never the less the fire alarms were tested, with me present and it was agreed that they cannot be heard in two classrooms.
The FUSD Superintendants and the FUSD School Board need to address this matter immediately.
My motives are simple. The children of our communities deserve to have safe, hazard free schools to attend. How can we expect them to thrive in an environment were they are not safe. Everyone needs to put aside their differences and put the focus back were it belongs, on the children.
One of many concerned Parents at Piru Elementary.


To The Editor:
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who contributed to the success of Fillmore High School's twelfth annual arts show "Art Unleashed". It takes a lot of people and a lot of hard work, dedication and talent to coordinate an event such as this. Thank you to Fillmore Lions Club, Fillmore High School ASB and Lucy Quezada-Romero for your donations and for being a patron of this event for the past 12 years. Thank you to the Administration at Fillmore High School for your ongoing commitment to this event, and to Principal John Wilber who has seen to it that we get what we need to keep the show going year after year… To the staff and teachers at FHS who supported the student’s efforts and allowed students to take part in hanging the show…To the custodial staff- Larry, Baldo, and Tony thanks for helping with breaking down the show. Special thanks to Greg Godfrey and the fantastic members of the Fillmore High School Concert Band and the Fillmore High School Jazz Band who played at the event- the musical concert helped to make the evening a resounding success… To Mary Ellen Wortham and FHS photo department and Mr. Henry Beltran and the woodshop classes for your artwork. … To Josh Overton, the drama department and the poetry club for the outstanding performances. Thank you to the parents and the community who attended the show and helped to make this a special night for the students. Last, but not least, to all the student artists, actors, poets, and musicians who put in numerous hours preparing for this event, hosting and cleaning up after a long day and night- especially my Art students and former students who came back to help- thank you- without you there couldn't be a show. I am very proud of all of you.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School Art Departmen

Letters to the Editor
April 15th, 2010

To the Editor:
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who contributed to the success of Fillmore High School's twelfth annual arts show "Art Unleashed". It takes a lot of people and a lot of hard work, dedication and talent to coordinate an event such as this. Thank you to Fillmore Lions Club, Fillmore High School ASB and Lucy Quezada-Romero for your donations and for being a patron of this event for the past 12 years. Thank you to the Administration at Fillmore High School for your ongoing commitment to this event, and to Principal John Wilber who has seen to it that we get what we need to keep the show going year after year… To the staff and teachers at FHS who supported the student’s efforts and allowed students to take part in hanging the show…To the custodial staff- Larry, Baldo, and Tony thanks for helping with breaking down the show. Special thanks to Greg Godfrey and the fantastic members of the Fillmore High School Concert Band and the Fillmore High School Jazz Band who played at the event- the musical concert helped to make the evening a resounding success… To Mary Ellen Wortham and FHS photo department and Mr. Henry Beltran and the woodshop classes for your artwork. … To Josh Overton, the drama department and the poetry club for the outstanding performances. Thank you to the parents and the community who attended the show and helped to make this a special night for the students. Last, but not least, to all the student artists, actors, poets, and musicians who put in numerous hours preparing for this event, hosting and cleaning up after a long day and night- especially my Art students and former students who came back to help- thank you- without you there couldn't be a show. I am very proud of all of you.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School Art Department


To the Editor:
Dear Honorable Gallegly,
I feel compelled, as it is in my core nature not ever to give up, that after my call today to your office for advice or assistance with the GMAC mortgage Company who has violated my 30 fixed rate mortgage contract, and after getting the generic redirect to two agencies (one the Cabrillo Housing Authority for migrant workers and another to an agency who's call center's unfortunate ability to speak English clearly....I could not understand) from your staff, that I as of today am throwing my full vote(s) and donations to the Tea Party movement and candidates.
In short I and my wife have all documents, statements, letters, phone records, etc.; to prove we fulfilled all our obligations to GMAC for over 23 years without missing any payments; however they changed my interest rate and maturity date for my house without cause or proof that I have asked for numerous times in writing. And even the CA. State Department of Corporation has ignored my request for a finding, but has told me over the phone that I am correct in my complaint, however I presume for some political or economic reason they choose not to pursue this with GMAC.
Well if you have bothered to read this far, I and my family have all been "dyed in the wool Republicans" however as of today I quit. And I will council my family to do likewise.
Joe D Blaylock


To the Editor:
As a resident of the city of Piru and a former Piru Elementary School student I felt compelled to make my voice heard in support of Piru Charter School.
When my homeschooled child came to me interested in attending public school I began researching how our local schools were performing academically.
In my research I discovered that Piru Elementary School only ranks 11 according to API scores (0 being worst and 100 being best). With Further research attained at www.greatschools.org I was able to make a comparison based on API scores between those schools within a 10 mile radius of our city. The results are as followed:
School Name followed by API score: Piru Elementary 739; San Cayetano Elementary 706; Sespe Elementary 770; Barbara Webster Elementary (Santa Paula) 740; Santa Clara Elementary (Santa Paula @ HWY 126) 936; Campus Canyon Elementary (Moorpark) 818; Walnut Canyon Elementary (Moorpark) 854; Castaic Elementary 857.
Because my child’s education comes first I sought out to find a school that would challenge him.
When it was brought to my attention there was a petition to convert Piru Elementary into a charter school I felt a spark of hope as I had visited Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School located in Castaic.
I knew that charter meant a required API score of no less than 800. It meant smaller classroom sizes. It meant funding would be controlled by the charter school therefore; any needs of the school could be met in a prompter manner.
What I know it does not mean is that minorities will be deported if not here legally nor will they lose their homes as I have heard many non-charter members use as what I call a bullying tactic. As I sat amongst families of Indian and Hispanic descent everyone at the tour was encouraged to enroll their children and no one was told that they could not enroll their child if they were not here legally.
To the teachers who have challenged the Fillmore Unified School District I say thank you for being selfless and putting the needs of the children of Piru first!
To the Fillmore Unified School District I say you should be ashamed of yourself; Piru Elementary School did not run itself into the ground!
Finally, to the Piru community let us come together in support of change for the best interest of our children! Let us give the children of Piru the opportunity to be the next lawyer, the next astronaut, or even the next president of the United States of America. Why not? In America anything is possible.
A Piru Charter School Supporter


To the Editor:
Yo soy mexicana-americana. Mi padre de Mexicali. Sin cambio en la escuela de primaria de Piru, los hijos de Piru tendrá que trabajar más duro para aprender lo que es necesario para llegar a la Universidad. Piru Elementary School hoy sólo ocupa el 11 en el estado (cero ser peor y un centenar de ser mejor) de acuerdo con los exámenes de que cada niño toma anualmente. Esto no es bueno. Recuerde por qué llegó a este estado-para una vida mejor para usted y su familia. Concedamos a los hijos de Piru la oportunidad de ser el abogado siguiente, astronauta o incluso el próximo Presidente de los Estados Unidos. ¿Por qué no? En América, todo es posible. Hacer oír su voz – apoyo Piru Charter School.


To the Editor:
As a member of this community I am very sad and disturbed by what is going on in Piru, in regards to converting Piru Elementary School to a charter. Lets face it we all pretty much want the same things for our children in regards to education. And its easy to say that we all have our own childrens best intrest at heart. As parents we can weigh the options and decide what is best for our children. So why are parents, students, community leaders and half of the teachers being railroaded into a charter school.
Even though the majority of parents dont beieve it is whats best for their children, the charter petitioners have totally disregarded what they want, and are continuing to fight the communitys wishes. Are these practices going to be applied to your new charter if allowed to convert Piru Elementary School in the fall? Is this really whats best for our children?
A charter school should be a collaberation between founding members, teachers and parents. What happened to the collaberating? ARe you only collaberating with a select group of parents that dont represent the majority of the school? Who will protct the ununionized teachers or the students from this type of collaberation? What if a parent has a dipute with a teacher or founding member that cant be resolved locally? Will that student be disenrolled from your charter school like has been done in the past?(Yes it has been done google it)
Yes you can say test scores went up when Mrs. Jolley came to Piru school. im sure she did her share, but what about the rest of the hard working teachers (which Piru will loose half of) if converted in the fall. I wonder how the rest of the teachers feel when they constantly hear that Mrs. Jolley singlehandedly raise Pirus test scores? Come on now you dont think people really believe that.
Maybe this charter will pass or maybe it wont I cant see the future, but what i do know is the petitioners have caused alot of bad feelings in a tight knit comunnity. I dont see how all this negativity will be turned into a positive place for our children the children of Piru Elementary School. But you reap what you sew and whatever the State decides you have to live with, and everything that you have created.
One more thing if you knew the people of Piru you would know they are pretty easy going, you could say they dont easily get involved in somthing thats not their buisness. Also they dont get their feathers ruffled over politics. so how are you going to open a school in a community that you cant even show up to a meeting with parents and community leaders without calling the authorities on them, when people peacefully disagree with you?
Respecfully Written by a concerned Parent
(name withheld in fear of retaliation to my child)


To the Editor:
I would like to correct some misinformation that you printed in your paper April 7 concerning the Piru Charter School hearing in Sacramento on April 6.
You wrote that “approximately 70 anti-charter persons were bussed from Piru to Sacramento by the school district for the purpose of protesting the charter.”
Having worked closely with Piru’s Parents with Power group, I can guarantee that the Fillmore School District did not charter the bus nor send the parents to Sacramento.
This was purely a grass roots effort springing from the parents themselves. They earned their own money for the chartered bus by means of yard sales, taco sales, and private donations. No one on the bus had been in any way encouraged by the FUSD to go to Sacramento.
To incorrectly state that the parents had been “bussed…by the school district” is to trivialize the tremendous amount of independence and courage Piru Parents with Power displayed in their heroic effort to save the school they so dearly love.
I did not see any evidence presented by your staff writer, so I trust his was an error of assumption, rather than of false information, since there is no information to support his mistaken assumption.
Thank-you for printing this correction in your paper.
Christina Wilson
Ms. Wilson:
The Gazette did not state that parents had been “bussed…by the school district”. Please do not misquote my editorial. I inquired as to who paid for the trip. If I implied that the district had done so, I was wrong in my implication. Parents who worked to pay their way are to be congratulated for their service, and I'm glad the district did not pay for the trip. It's always good to differentiate between news and opinion.
Martin Farrell


To the Editor:
Hello. I was wanting to inform you of the good news/letter from the Ventura County Indian Education Consortium. This letter informed me that my daughter Heaven Aparicio 2nd grade at Mtn. Vista was honored as Indian Student of the Year for her school. Only 1 student from each of 140 schools is specially honored. I am hoping the Fillmore Gazette will take notice and also honor these special students from Fillmore by taking a picture with a small article. These students will be honored in Newbury Park on May 7, 2010 6:30pm, with over 500 people in attendance. My hopes are that these students (my daughter included) will enjoy the positive attention & strive to continue to achieve great accomplishments In the years to come.
Thank you,
Naomi Aparicio

Letters to the Editor
April 8th, 2010

To the Editor:
I find it puzzling that an anonymous letter writer could be responding to a letter to the editor that was published on the same day. I refer to Gayle Washburn's letter on April 1, and the letter immediately following. Does this person who chooses to criticize and withhold his or her name have special access to letters before they are in print?
Susan M. Cuttriss
[The letter was submitted to someone who could offer another view to Ms. Washburn’s opinion letter. We have done this in the past when “facts” are being presented to the public and it is important for both views to be available in the same edition, without a week’s time lapse. An example of this would be with the Piru Charter issue. The Gazette submitted the Charter proponent’s letters/articles to the school district for a response to be published in the same issue. The goal in doing this is to present the public with both views on the issues. - the Editor]


To the Editor:
Support our local services
Today I received a very detailed advertisement from Pacific Aire, a company that sells and services furnaces and air conditioners. The advertisement was presented as a personal letter from "The Schneiders" in Camarillo. As far as I know, Pacific Aire is a legitimate company. However, the people of Fillmore and Piru should know that we have an excellent local company, Fillmore Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. which is owned by Mike VanDeMheen. Mike has taken care of my home’s heating and air conditioning needs for many years. He does installation, repair and service on all major brands. He is honest, very competent, and his prices are fair. Last week, I called him because my furnace wasn't working. He replaced the igniter. Would Pacific Aire have tried to sell me a new furnace because mine wasn't working? Probably. Mike and other repair people in Fillmore have worked hard to earn their good reputations. They understand that a good reputation is a must for a successful business in a small town. Before signing any contracts with a big company, get a local estimate. You may be very surprised. If you need heating or air conditioning work, call Mike at Fillmore Air Conditioning and Heating.
Mary Ford

Letters to the Editor
April 1st, 2010

To the Editor:
In his March 24th editorial, Farrell tries to politicize the unfortunate realities of the current economy. He opines that Measure H/I resulted in property owners not paying their CFD taxes. He quotes an anonymous Gazette reader. “These properties have been paying taxes for CFD No. 1 since 1992 and now after 18 years they have stopped paying taxes”
For the record, this CFD was formed in 1990 to build infrastructure for the failed North Fillmore Industrial Park. In 1999, there were also several defaults which resulted in Griffin obtaining various properties in the North Fillmore Industrial Park and after the rezoning from industrial to residential, they built the Hometown development.
Over the years, there have been many defaults and transfers of ownership on these properties. It is disingenuous to blame Measures H/I for the current economic state of housing, commercial development or business defaults. According to Bank Call Reports, $44.5 billion of construction and land development loans are delinquent throughout the US.
Also, the property owners and potential homeowners would have been required to fund an additional $18 million in debt for infrastructure costs. It’s possible that Measure I prevented that additional debt.
Gayle Washburn
Fillmore Council Member


To the Editor:
Mrs. Washburn was the sponsor of Measure I, prior to the election she proudly shouted the benefits of the measure. She and then citizen Walker, who worked to limit growth planning three times in North Fillmore, are now seeing the savage outfall of their coffee table plan. Yes, it’s true, property owners have been paying taxes on their land prior to the CFD. Additionally they have been paying CFD taxes on top of their normal tax amounts since it was formed. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve now had foreclosures, local property owners walking away from their investment, because the investment has little or no worth with Measure I forced upon them. One property owner spoke to the ills of the Measure, relating to the council how the Measure reduces his family’s security, but his words fell on the deaf ears of Washburn and Walker.
Griffin’s successful development in North Fillmore has nothing to do with Measure I and the impact it’s had on our local citizens and businesses. What is disingenuous is Mayor Pro Tem Washburn’s effort to hide the facts and shield herself and her cabal like group from criticism for their privately concocted scheme. Now that the real effects are being felt by local Fillmore residents it’s time she admit that she’s ruined families financial savings, limited freedom, increased density planning over the remainder of Fillmore, drove up sewer rates and conspired with her like minded group to control things they know little about.
Name withheld by request


To the Editor:
On Mar 18, 2010, The Ventura County Star published an article about the #1 goal of the Fillmore City Council which is Economic Development. This goal could strengthen and help Fillmore in so many ways.
The March 23 Council meeting broadcast on Channel 10 seemed to be a strange debate about high vacancy rates of new properties on Highway 126, debt, and risk. Councilwoman Washburn stated, "We didn't qualify for 'iBank' funding for the waste water treatment plant, how can we qualify now?" It was state revolving funds, which is allocated each year, and can’t be counted on for large multi-year projects, not "iBank" as was stated.
The Highway 126 vacancies discussed by Mayor Walker are not industrial properties as the business park would have, they are small retail and office space.
One of the business park developers proposed that the city take his funds, select a contractor and administer the work to study alternatives for funding the business park infracture. That concept as moved by Councilmember Conaway finally passed despite Councilmember Brooks elementary school technique of repetition, repetition, repetition. Is Councilmember Brooks comparing fellow Council members and the public watching the meeting to elementary school students?
Seven days prior to this meeting the Council said economic Development was Goal #1. At this meeting their actions said Economic Development really isn't important enough for Brooks Washburn and Mayor Walker to even have an options study done at the developer’s expense. How can the council make informed decisions if they are not willing to look at alternatives?
Ray Johnson


To the Editor:
I’m at a loss for words but I feel I need to express my concern and frustration over the disagreement between the teachers union FUTA and Fillmore Unified School District. It seems to me that all of us have, or should have, the well being of STUDENTS as our first priority. If this is the case then how is it even a possibility, a worst case scenario that Mountain Vista Elementary could loose 48% of its teachers?
Imagine what your life would be like if you were forced to lose 48% of your family and friends. This example is only slightly exaggerated, as the teachers and staff of a school spend countless hours working and planning together, even spending time together outside of school. This bonding is what creates the community atmosphere of an elementary school. Four years ago when Mountain Vista opened its doors these teachers began their work creating a wonderful environment for children. Now that the school is beginning to feel settled almost half of the teachers may be laid off? How does this make any sense?
Another point I want to bring up is the number of students that will be leaving the district because of these standoffs. Parents are tired of waiting to see what next year will bring. Families are looking elsewhere for their child’s education. With private school registrations beginning soon we may loose many students if this is not settled now. My children are in Fillmore schools because I believe in the quality education offered here and I want my children to have the benefits of a community school but I’m looking around.
My youngest daughter will enter 4th grade next year and I’m very worried about who will be teaching in the fall. Currently Mountain Vista’s entire 4th grade is composed of a strong group of young teachers who may loose their jobs. Will the entire grade level be replaced by teachers who either didn’t choose to teach 4th grade or didn’t choose to move to Mountain Vista? What am I supposed to do as a parent? I’m asked to support the schools and teachers but now I don’t feel like those who are supposed to protect our teachers and students are doing their job correctly.
Please keep class sizes small and keep our teachers jobs safe. Highly trained employees are our greatest resource!
Kelli Couse

Letters to the Editor
March 25th, 2010

To the Editor:
Can you do some checking and write a story about the hiring practices in Fillmore Unified. Many of us who are parents at the middle school are concerned about the recent moves of Mr. Shefierle, and Mrs. Godfrey. How come these moves were made without those positions even being opened and other people interviewed?
Some of us tried to talk to teachers during the break, but all they would say is that is the way it is in Fillmore. Mr. Schefierle's mom is Mr. Sweeney's secretary, and so the Schefierle's never have to interview, even when Mr. Schefierle became vice principal and principal he was just "appointed", as was Mrs. Schefierle when she was named principal of the C school, vice principal of the high school and principal of Mountain Vista. Soon, lots of people think Mrs. Schefierle will be appointed to be superintendant...without an interview!
What is going on here, and who is responsible? It seems like we have Fillmore royalty? Our schools are not doing very well right now and maybe we need to quit practicing nepotism, and make sure we are looking for the best people. If that is the Schefierles, then ok, but let us be fair and don't think parents don't notice.
We don't think Mrs. Godfrey would have been parent's first choice, but that Mr. Caroll will do a good job. Can we reopen these positions? If not, Mr. Sweeney should be reprimanded.
Please investigate this for us! Our kids deserve better.
FMS Concerned - not Hoodwinked – Parents

Fillmore USD BP 4112.8 Personnel Employment Of Relatives
The Board of Education desires to maximize staff and community confidence in district hiring, promotion, and other employment decisions by promoting practices that are free of conflicts of interest or the appearance of impropriety.
(cf. 4030 - Nondiscrimination in Employment) (cf. 9270 - Conflict of Interest)
The Board prohibits the appointment of any person to a position for which his/her relative maintains management, supervisory, evaluation, or promotion responsibilities and prohibits an employee from participating in any decision tha singularly applies to any of his/her relatives.
(cf. 4111/4211/4311 - Recruitment and Selection) (cf. 4115 - Evaluation/Supervision) (cf. 4215 - Evaluation/Supervision) (cf. 4315 - Evaluation/Supervision)
For purposes of this policy, relative includes the individual's spouse, domestic partner, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and the similar family of the individual's spouse or domestic partner.
In addition, the Superintendent or designee may determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether to appoint a person to a position in the same department or facility as an employee with whom he/she maintains a personal relationship when that relationship has the potential to create (1) an adverse impact on supervision, safety, security, or morale of other district employees or (2) a conflict of interest for the individuals involved which is greater because of their relationship than it would be for another person.
(cf. 4031 - Complaints Concerning Discrimination in Employment)
An employee shall notify his/her supervisor within 30 days of any change in his/her circumstances that may constitute a violation of this policy.
Legal Reference:
35107 School district employees
297-297.5 Rights, protections, benefits under the law; registered domestic partners
http://www.gamutonline.net/DisplayPolicy/517794L 3/17/20

To the Editor:
Dear President/Chairperson, School Site Council:
As a parent of children that attend Piru Elementary School, and on behalf of our parents community, I hereby request that answers to the questions already submitted to the Piru SSC be provided and addressed at the next SSC meeting of...2010. Please address the following items on the Agenda for the next SSC meeting set for March 23, 2010. A request was submitted in writing on ____ please consider this request our second and last request.
Please submit a copy of all minutes, agendas for the academic year 2009/2010.
In addition, on behalf of the parent’s community of Piru elementary, I would like to request that SSC make available to all:
1 - A copy of the SPSA
2 - Minutes and agendas of SSC meetings for the academic year 2009/2010
3 - Minutes and agendas of the ELAC meetings and Migrant Committee for the academic year 2009/2010
4 - The process of the SSC election (time and place) and a copy of the ballots showing the results for the parent/community side.
5 - A copy of the nomination process for the SSC election along with the ballots and the letters sent to our parents explaining the nomination and election process.
6 - A copy of the Budget and the expenditure reports of all categorical funds up to date.
7 - A detailed expenditure reports of all Title I funds with minutes showing approval of these expenditures.
8 - A request for money allocation for three (3) parents attending the Title I Conference.
9 - A summary of the Williams Case complaints’ filed and a monitoring of the District’s responses.
10 - The parent community would also like for SSC to help us organize a training session on all complaint procedures including the Williams Case. We would like to request the use of the school facility and that an invitation is sent to everyone involved in our leaning community at large. We have received the commitment of expert speakers and need a confirmed date from the SSC as well as a budget allocation for the costs incurred to serve our parents.
I would like for these items to be delivered to me as soon as possible and this written request to be included in the agenda of the 23rd meeting. I would like to remind the SSC Chair that it is the obligation of the SSC to be compliant with State and Federal Laws while representing our community. I do hope that all legally elected SSC representatives understand their fiduciary responsibility towards our tax paying community and are willing to immediately respond to our community’s request without further delay.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Rita Avila

Letters to the Editor
March 18th, 2010

To the Editor:
Council Member Brooks expressed (a belief) that he felt the City should not have recycled the water from the new sewer plant. He stated that (he believes) the cost is too much and will be a burden on the citizens for many years to come. No one is happy about paying our sewer bill, however Council decisions of this nature should be made on the facts not on one’s beliefs.
The decision to recycle the water instead of discharge to the river was made by the City Council after much careful consideration and study.
In 2004 the City had a comprehensive engineering Project Report prepared which studied both options: river discharge and recycling. If Council Member Brooks had read this detailed report he would have seen the 20-year lifecycle cost was the same for both options but not environmentally equal.
With the river discharge option the City would pay millions of dollars of Mandatory Minimum Penalties because the treated sewage would regularly violate the boron, chloride, TDS, Bis-2 and other limits polluting the Santa Clara River. These pollutants can only be removed with expensive reverse osmosis which would double the cost of a river discharge sewage treatment plant.
The City Council wisely pursued the water recycling project and obtained a $3,050,000 water recycling grant which made the water recycling the cheaper option by $3 million. There are other benefits to the recycled water as well.
By recycling the water the schools will see lower water bills in future years saving precious money for educating our children. Recycling the water reduces demand on the limited quality potable water supply in Fillmore and reduces the potable water system improvements that will be needed in the future. It also helps drought proof our community. Using the recycled water uses less energy than the potable system so there is a net energy savings.
I will grant Council Member Brooks that recycling the water is expensive but not recycling the water was more expensive and would have been a greater burden on the citizens according to the Project Report that I read.
Name Withheld

To the Editor:
Fillmore Mid-Year Budget Review
There are many ways to present a budget. For many years, I was the budget awards chair for a statewide municipal finance officers association and during those years saw many types of budgets. Each budget is designed to meet the distinct needs of the city in managing its finances. My role in Fillmore is to present to the City Council and the citizens of Fillmore the best and most easily read document I can develop. There are many challenges facing Fillmore; mainly because of the state of the economy. Focusing on how to face those challenges is more important than entering a debate about the merits of one budget format over another. I look forward to working with the City Manager, staff and Council to present the 2010-2011 budget.
Anita Lawrence
Transitional Finance Director
City of Fillmore

To the Editor:
Thank you for covering the Midyear Fiscal and helping to get the word out about the City’s finances. We want residents to be aware of how their tax dollars are spent. However, there was a statement which should be clarified. The paper reported that there were “some things budgeted more than once by $9 million, meaning the new budget which took place under interim finance director John Wooner and Interim CM Larry Pennell contained over $9 million in errors.” It is not accurate to say that there were $9 million in errors. Yes, the budget format was substantially revised and some entries needed to changed. However, the actual NET change proposed in the Midyear was $1, 433,515 to the City’s operating and Capital budget.
The City uses the midyear to reflect different types of changes in the City’s budget. Sometimes new grants are received; sometimes money needs to be redistributed in the budget from operating to Capital or vice-versa; and revenues need to be increased or decreased. All reasons why the budget did go up or down.
We want your readers to know that the General Fund is projected to end the fiscal year with a positive balance of about $1.15 million. The City also has another General Purpose Reserve (General Fund) of $1.5 million. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify what was written in the article.
Best Regards,
Yvonne Quiring
[Editor’s Note: “Some things were budgeted more than once by $9 million.” Anita Lawrence, Interim Finance Director, Council meeting, March 9, 2010. If Ms. Lawrence statement did not mean that “some things were budgeted more than once by $9 million” please explain what it did mean. If the $9 million was accurately allocated and counted for in the budget then there was no reason to move the money to other accounts. Was the $9 million accurately reported in the budget the council majority approved? Wanda Castel de Oro]

To the Editor:
Traveling toward Piru, heading Eastbound Hwy 126, I took to relevance of the beautiful, green Santa Clarita River Valley. It also dawned on me that it was also the 82nd Anniversary of California's 2nd largest Natural Disaster- the St. Francis Dam Disaster. Why that occurrence is imprinted into my memory is because I've heard so much on how it shaped the communities of Camulos Ranch, Piru, Buckhorn, Bardsdale, Fillmore, Santa Paula, and Saticoy. Literally, hundreds of people perished. Farms and livestock washed away. Homes, bridges, power lines gone. Total devastation in these communities bestowed shortly after Midnight, March 12th 1928. An Engineering failure caused the dam to break in the San Francisquito Canyon.
Think of it. Picture ourselves in that Era. A Life where there were no Cell Phones, little or no vehicles, not much Public Safety resources, really no warning of what was to come. Imagine being asleep in bed with our loved ones; at a moments notice, being washed away down a path of destruction, only where gravity pulls millions of cubic feet of water, up to 75 foot waves crashing. Knowing how to swim or stay afloat was of little importance to some, compared to wondering where your loved ones MIGHT be. Some families were found immediately. Unfortunately, some were never found at all.
I for one am a 3rd Generation of a Local Family that miraculously did survive. I am the Great-Grandson of the late Frank Savala. Many locals might remember this man's name still. He was a Rancher out in East Guiberson Road, near Torrey Canyon. He worked and raised his family out on Claude Baker's Ranch. It was to his strength and survival that he lived a Blessed Life with my Nana Sophie.
During the Disaster, Tata Frank, his 2 brothers- Mike and Albert, fought to survive by grasping onto a bed frame and floating downstream. Their Mother, Antonia Savala was found dead, still holding on to their baby brother- Jose. At that time, my Tata Frank was going on the young age of 17 years old. Damn! I ask myself, "What would I have done?" What if my Tata didn't survive? Would my Family have still existed? I thank God for he and his brothers' survival. I also pray that my Family Name- Savala, is never forgotten! Let us remind ourselves how fortunate we are to wake up each day, living in this beautiful River Valley. Let us also never forget the Families, victims, and survivors of this Disaster, who helped shape our surrounding communities. And, let us not forget the 82nd Anniversary of the St. Francis Dam Disaster.
I dedicate this Memory to the entire Savala Family. May God Bless us all!
Thank You,
Bobby Castaneda

Letters to the Editor
March 11th, 2010

To the Editor:
The following is an excerpt from a letter delivered to the Fillmore Unified School District office earlier this week.
Dear Superintendent Sweeney and Fillmore Unified School District School Board,
On February 17, 2010 a group of concerned parents from Piru Elementary School submitted complaint forms under the Williams Act. First, we submitted our Williams Act forms to our Principal, Leticia Ramos. She accepted, initialed and dated each complaint form. We then tried to submit these same forms to the Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) office. Katy Hadley refused to accept our complaint forms. Her basis for this refusal was the FUSD School Boards policy on uniform complaints. Our complaint forms were then literally, thrown back at the parent delivering them and she directed her secretary to make the parent 10 copies of the proper form. The five parents available at that time promptly filled out the FUSD Williams Uniform Complaint Procedures form and returned them to Mrs. Hadley’s secretary along with the original complaint forms. Mrs. Hadley was not in the office when we returned.
The following is an excerpt from the California Department of Education (CDE) website regarding Williams Act Complaint Procedure.
Williams Settlement complaints regarding instructional materials, emergency or urgent facilities conditions that pose a threat to the health and safety of pupils, and teacher vacancy or misassignment may be filed anonymously. Schools shall have a complaint form available for these types of complaints. Schools will not reject a complaint if the form is not used as long as the complaint is submitted in writing.
Your Local Educational Agency (LEA) clearly is in non-compliance with this Educational Code. Why does FUSD feel it is expectable to deliberately break the law?
As elected officials the FUSD School Board has an obligation to serve the best interests of the children and community at large. As parents we would like to know why the FUSD school board has a board policy 1312.3 in place that is in blatant violation of state law 4621(c) and 4680(c).
It is the responsibility of your LEA to insure that our children are educated to the fullest of their potential and in a safe, hazard free environment. Your LEA must also function in compliance with State and Federal laws.
As parents and community members we want to know what you are going to do to remedy this problem.
Concerned Piru Elementary School Parents

Letters to the Editor
March 4th, 2010

To the Editor:
I wanted to say what's right with Fillmore. On Saturday, February 20, I was surprised to see ambitious young women picking up trash on my street (Burlington) and the bike path by River Park. I asked them what group and cleanup event they were with and they said Big Brothers and Big Sisters. They were giving a day of service to the community for a free day at Disneyland. What a pleasure to see youth creating value.
Philip Ray
Citizen of Fillmore

To the Editor:
Since June 14, 1777 Congress proclaimed the "Stars and Stripes" the national standard of the United States. This standard became the symbol of presenting our "patriotism and devotion" to our country by displaying the flag. But over time the displaying of our flag has become drastically less and less. Observation has shown that on any one of our designated holidays, maybe ONE out of every ten house-holds here in Fillmore display the flag. It is sad that we as Americans do not take the time to show we are proud to be Americans.
It matters not what your political persuasion is or that the economy is in such a sad state of affairs, there is no reason we can't show our pride and patriotism. The United States is still the greatest county in the world.
The cost of a flag is minimal. There are numerous organizations/stores which flags can be purchased. Displaying our flag is not limited to certain holidays only. They may be displayed year round. On our next holiday, as you leave and return from work or home, look around your neighborhood as to just how many flags are displayed. NOW HOW ABOUT YOURS?
Concerned Americans
Ray and Judy Dressler

Letters to the Editor
February 18th, 2010

To the Editor:
One of the newest laws for highway driving was effective Jan. 1, 2010 and includes a hefty fine when you pass a car pulled over by the CHP for a traffic violation. NOW you are required to move into the empty lane to your left or slow and pass at only 20 miles per hour in this situation. All motorists should be aware of this new law and follow it or face a big fine. There has been very little about this for public information so many are not aware of it but it needs to be followed.
Marie Wren

To the Editor:
Re. Rich McKee’s front page comment in last weeks Gazette concerning the Brown Act: McKee’s original claim was triggered by a complaint involving an improper email from our interim city manager that was responded to by three council members. The impropriety of the email was quickly spotted and “cured” prier to the complaint and McKee’s original demand; the City rightly claimed that his lawsuit was groundless. McKee dropped that issue and filed on grounds of an improper closed session meeting based on a technicality that the city settled out of court.
McKee inferred that last year the City paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees because of the City Attorney’s bad legal advice that gets the city sued. I looked at every dollar for legal fees paid out in 2009 and found McKee to be absolutely wrong in his claim and his denigration of the City Attorney. The biggest part of the money paid for the cost of litigation was around $220,000 (this figure may be reduced to $155,000) for the sales tax issue. It has nothing to do with poor legal advice from the City Attorney and if we don’t pursue it we could lose over $1 million a year for around fifteen years.
Bob Stroh

Letters to the Editor
February 11th, 2010

To the Editor:
Dear friends,
Soroptimist International of Fillmore and the "S" Club of Fillmore High School invite you to attend a meeting to be involved in a Community Service Picnic. We are trying to organize a good old fashioned picnic with games and hopefully a lot of community involvement. We invite you to attend our informational/organizational meeting to learn how you can showcase your non-profit organization at our picnic. Our goal is to get Fillmore more involved in it's organizations and inform people of the opportunities out there for them. Please see the attachment for your invitation letter and remember to save the date: Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm at Fillmore High School, Room # 49.
If you know of any non-profit organizations out there please pass this letter on them as well so we can get as much involvement as possible.
Thank you everyone and we hope to see you there!
Kathy Vargas
Soroptimist International of Fillmore

Letters to the Editor
February 4th, 2010

To the Editor:
In response to the editorial comment regarding Clarence Freeman, the “present” Pole Creek debris basin is not of the same design Mr. Freeman commented on all those years. The current basin has been redesigned and is much larger due to requirements set out by Ventura County Watershed Protection District. Maybe they listened to Clarence after all.
Patti Walker
Citizen of Fillmore

Letters to the Editor
January 28th, 2009

To the Editor:
Mr. Freeman was a great man. I work for the Boys & Girls Club, one day one of the club members needed to interview an engineer. We looked in the FIllmore phonebook and found Mr. Freeman's name. I called him and asked him if we could interview him over the phone and he said, I can do better than that, and he came to the club and spent about 2 hours with the club member talking about his experiences and his schooling. What a great man!
My question is in regards to this statement:
I keep remembering the warnings of the late, great, Clarence Freeman, may he rest in peace. I’m hoping his conclusions were wrong, but he was a very intelligent man with great experience. We’ll see.
What warnings did he make? Did it have anything to do with the river or the new basins?
Thank you.
Cindy Escoto

To the Editor:
I am beyond anger when I go to are local Laundry mat and lose $7.00 of my hard earned money. I know it may be only 7 bucks but to lose it and not get my clothes washed makes me mad! I went to the so-called new laundry matt by the Dollar Tree. They are suppose to have all new washer/dryers! Well I put my money in and I had to wait until the cycle ended and had no clean clothes! It just took my money and didn't turn on.
There was no number! No nothing! Who runs these places?? Its funny they sure make money off us people that rely on these crappy places!
Jennifer Pillado

Letters to the Editor
January 21st, 2009

To the Editor:
On December 23, 2009, my husband’s birthday, I went to the Bardsdale Cemetery to take him flowers. To my shocking surprise the manager and his friends or workers were playing golf on the cemetery lawn over the grave stones. I was very hurt and thought that was very disrespectful and rude.
Don’t they know the difference between a golf course or park and a cemetery? I hope they will show their respect to the dead in the future.
Frances Limon
Santa Paula

Letters to the Editor
January 7th, 2009

To the Editor:
I noticed your article in last week's edition regarding yard sale signs. When I worked for the City, they were a problem too. The solution was simple. Three of us salaried employees that worked in town made it our little chore to go around on Saturday mornings and remove the signs. It wasn't too long before people figured it out, and then they put their signs on their cars and parked them in certain places where people could see them. This became a win-win deal. They were in compliance with the law and got to advertise their yard sales. At the end of the weekend they took their cars and their signs home. And the rest of us didn't have to put up with their signs all over town all the time. On Saturdays, Captain Al Huerta would visit all the yard sales in town and make sure they had their permits. Those who didn't got to buy one from Al on the spot. No fines, just made sure everybody had what they needed.
Maybe that's the answer to the problem today, too.
Vance Johnson

A Million Thank You’s
To our Fillmore Citizens that supported our downtown merchants by shopping locally throughout 2009. Especially during the Holiday Season. Because of you there are new business’s now opening. We look forward to seeing you and your friends in 2010.
Thank you and God Bless Downtown Business Merchants.

To the Editor:
To Fillmore Residents:
Pacific Clinic’s Transitional Age Youth (TAY) walk in center is now meeting at 600 Saratoga St., Fillmore. Located at the Chocolate Church, TAY offers goal Management, great Social interactions, and Wrap. Wrap is the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. You make your own creative plan for wellness: a way to take better care of yourself and understand your behaviors, making the most of your life. Must be 18-25 to participate, enjoying the company of others. There are computers available for job search, school, and leisure time. We also offer: peer support, homeless outreach, indoor/outdoor activities, and classes in independent living skills, study skills. In addition to those services there is staff available to help with employment, transportation, community linkage support, and more. We meet every Tuesday from 10:30 -2:30pm. Please tell a friend or family member about this program, it could be a great tool in some one’s life. They can learn to make better choices and gain an understanding of themselves. We have great staff on board with Peer Supporters who work with members helping them understand themselves and brainstorming solutions to make the right choice. We also have Case Managers who oversee, as well as, support member wellness. We work towards one goal: helping those in need to teach, listen, and provide mentorship. For more information, please call us at 805-240-2538 or visit us at www.myspace.com/TAY_tunnel our home office is located at 141West 5th St suite D in Oxnard 93030.
Frederic James/Marilee Rust
Pacific Clinics the (TAY)

To the Editor:
A small technicality in the Realities column from December 31, 2009 needs attention. In referring to the year 1906, the word isn't "Ott". It is Naught. According to Webster's Dictionary, Naught has several related meanings. One of which refers to the number 0 (zero). So 1906 would be properly referred to as Naught 6. We don't commonly use Naught anymore.
Larry Jennings

Letters to the Editor
December 31st, 2009

To the Editor:
Sespe 4-H would like to thank all of the citizens of Fillmore who donated socks to our holiday community service “Sespe’s Sock Box.” A special thanks to Marcia Hereema and all the members of the Bardsdale Methodist Church, the staff at the Santa Clara Valley Bank, the window clerks at the Fillmore Post Office, Fillmore City Hall, El Dorado Mobile Home Park.
Our club gave away 350 pairs of socks, and we couldn’t have done this without the help of caring Fillmore citizens. Thanks again!!
Sue Maynard
Sespe 4-H

Letters to the Editor
December 24th, 2009

To the Editor:
Correction to my statement to the city council on December 14, 2009: The owner of the Fillmore Gazette did not say that I had a favorite abortion clinic; my apologies to him and the council members. With that exception, however, I stand behind my statement in its entirety.
Bob Stroh

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To the Editor:
To Stop the Confusion
I am disturbed over some recent events involving one persons campaign for Sheriff of Ventura County. Dennis Carpenter has kicked off his campaign going by the name of "Carp".
Anybody that has lived in the county for more than 10 years may remember the REAL Carp, aka Larry Carpenter. He's had that nickname since high school. Any fact checkers can take a look a Fillmore High Schools 1964 yearbook, and see that's it's true. His official signature is Carp and has been for many years. That can also be checked by looking at his drivers license, or the many documents signed by him throughout his years as Sheriff of Ventura County. His logo has also been to have "Carp" in cursive over the Sheriff's badge. Guess who also decided to adopt that for his logo.
Several times a week my Father is approached by people asking him if he is part of Dennis Carpenter's campaign. I'm writing this to set the record straight, and to stop the confusion.
NO my Dad is not running for Sheriff. Been there done that.
NO, Dennis Carpenter is NOT a relative.
My Dad is NOT involved in nor does he support Dennis Carpenter's campaign.
My Dad had not yet publicly endorsed any candidate for Sheriff.
There's is only one Sheriff Carp, and that's my Dad, Larry Carpenter.
You may have heard the term "bait and switch"...... well, don't get hooked.
Margo Carpenter,
Daughter of Larry "Carp" Carpenter

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To the Editor:
In a December 10 letter, ashamed FUSD employee took me to task for not citing a Stanford CREDO report on charter schools in greater detail. This week, ashamed employee says the same Stanford report is fatally flawed and should be ignored. This new attitude is based on what ashamed employee refers to as “the Hoxby report.” There is no Hoxby report. What there is is a memo written by noted charter school advocate Caroline Hoxby.
Ashamed employee refers to this memo as being “from Stanford University.” Caroline Hoxby is an economist at Stanford, but she wrote her memo all by herself. This is in no sense a report from the university.
In contrast, the 2009 Stanford CREDO report, is a peer reviewed study. It was produced by CREDO, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, and is widely considered the best and most detailed study of charter schools ever done.
Hoxby, in her memo, accused the CREDO report of methodological flaws. This critique was answered in detail by the CREDO researchers in a paper called “Fact vs. Fiction: An Analysis of Dr. Hoxby’s Misrepresentation of CREDO’s Research.” They write:
“The memo, “A Serious Statistical Mistake in the CREDO Study of Charter Schools,” by Caroline Hoxby, does not provide any basis whatsoever for discounting the reliability of the CREDO study’s conclusions. The central element of Dr. Hoxby’s critique is a statistical argument that is quite unrelated to the CREDO analysis. The numerical elements of it are misleading in the extreme, even had the supporting logic been correct. Unfortunately, the memo is riddled with serious errors both in the structure of the underlying statistical models and in the derivation of a bias.”
Hoxby is controversial figure in academic circles, and her own work has been criticized for methodological flaws. She was the center of a controversy in 2005, when Professor Jesse Rothstein from Princeton flat out accused her of fudging data in a paper about charter schools.
Ashamed employee suggests that we ignore the Stanford study (which looked at 70% of all charter school students in the United States.) Instead we are referred to a paper on the charter schools of New York City which just coincidentally happens to be co-written by the same Caroline Hoxby. This study itself asks the question, “Is New York City a typical environment for charter schools?” It also answers the question: “Nothing about New York City is typical!”
Ashamed employee wants us to ignore the best and biggest study of charter schools ever conducted, because one controversial professor of economics wrote a memo critical of it, a memo that was systematically refuted by the authors of the report. Instead, we are supposed to extrapolate the results of a study by the same pro charter partisan about New York City’s charter schools, and assume we would get similar results in Piru.
Greg Spaulding