Letters to the Editor
July 23rd, 2009

To the Editor:
Martin Farrell is not the only one watching this new council; I have observed their campaign and almost every meeting so far. I think Martins got this group pegged dead on. Their a little machine that has skill sets that lack anything to do with good leadership. They are on the council by organizing years of constant never ending attacks and criticisms of a council that was actually providing good stewardship for the City of Fillmore. During their tenure I’ve seen nothing but destruction and incompetence. They sure can dish it out so let them take a little heat. Keep it up Martin your on the right track.
Roger Keller

To the Editor:
I would like to thank Patrick Maynard, Fillmore’s Disaster Control Coordinator for helping the residents and volunteers of El Dorado Mobile Home Park’s Emergency Block Captain Program to achieve a greater level of awareness and performance necessary in the event of a severe emergency or disaster. With the cooperation of El Dorado Manager Helen Rosette, the Board of Voice of El Dorado Mobile Homeowners Association activated the Emergency Block Captain Program last year. Understanding its potential value, many HOA members as well as non-member residents have worked very hard to keep this program front and center.
Fillmore’s Fire Department along with Maynard at the helm held a very interesting and informative Emergency Training and CPR seminar on Saturday, July 11. Forty-three persons, mostly from El Dorado, attended the 4-hour session. On Saturday, July 18, Maynard and the Fire Department coordinated a live practice-run complete with mock victims with numerous injuries, smoke, darkened conditions, and emergency supplies. Twenty-three attendees successfully rescued, triaged and treated their 24 “young victims” with mock minor to critical injuries. Future classes and practices will be planned for the near future.
Many others including Allan Hair of El Dorado, The Gazette, The Sespe Sun and The Ventura Star also deserve a big “thank you” for helping to make the Emergency Block Captain Program a reality. Space is limited and you all know who you are.
Thank you again,
Paul Schifanelli

To the Editor:
Mr. Farrell, you commented that it is your business to criticize the activities of the council. If you were criticizing the activity you are correct, it is yours and the communities business; but that is not what your column is doing.
You also wanted to know who or whom you had slandered. Do not forget that slander means “false and defamatory statement concerning another”. Point in fact, on 11-13-08 you said in your Realities column“... Mr. Creagle was cited by a Sheriff’s deputy.” I personally communicated with Police Chief Tim Hagel. As of this date, he has confirmed that there is no record or document to show that Mr. Creagle was cited for this or any other matter that would be under the purview of the Ventura County Sheriff or the Fillmore Police Dept.
On more than one occasion you have indicated that council members have allowed one member of the public, Brian Sipes, to attend employee meetings. At least that is what you said on 4-30-09. Let me refresh your memory. You said “He (Brian Sipes) has been warming-up in the wings for quite a while and friends on the Katzenjammer Council provide him special privileges, such as passes to attend employee meetings. As a person of interest he is interviewed by the Ventura Star and receives a full council agenda packet.” Mr. Farrell. If you can prove that “passes” were given to Mr. Sipes to attend employee meetings by a council member, I suggest you provide that proof. If he was in attendance, it would have been only at staff’s recommendation or request. If you’d like to attend employee meetings, I am sure, if approved, it would be allowed. I am not sure where you are getting your information (though I have a suspicion). If you believe all you hear (which is indicated by your column) you may want to find a new informant.
With respect to Mr. Sipes, I do know that he is very interested in city government, a trait that should be applauded, not ridiculed. Mr. Sipes has chosen to be involved in the matters before the City Council. He made time to attend one of the open sessions relating to interviews for the Transitional City Manager. This meeting was properly noticed and he was the only “public member” to attend. Mr. Sipes is in attendance throughout most council meetings. Can you say the same? Your paper also receives a full copy of the council agenda packet. If Mr. Sipes does I am sure it is one he pays for or obtains from the city website. Again, can you say the same? For the community’s information, a complete copy of the council packet is available on line for the reading pleasure of anyone who is interested.
You have repeatedly targeted Mayor-Pro-Tem Gayle Washburn over her concerns and stance on the cost of the water treatment plant. Your July 9 editorial challenged Ms. Washburn to find any lies in your editorials. You allow for your “lies” to be “errors of fact”. So be it. Well, Mr. Farrell, I will provide you with an opportunity to correct an “error of fact”. On 03-05-09, you stated, “Ms. Washburn ... you (and your followers) have been foolish, and woefully ignorant, and fundamentally wrong in your insistence that City Engineer Bert Rapp has made a mistake in choosing the companies he has to design, build, and operate our plant. Maybe more to the point, you and yours have caused more than a year’s delay with plan approval and construction, which cost the city more than $1 million in wasted time and effort.” I took the time to delve into this “error of fact” and spoke to Mr. Rapp and as of this date there isn’t any information or documentation to support your assertions that there was a year’s delay or a $1 million additional cost as a result of Mayor Pro-Tem Washburn, or any of her “followers” in the plan approval or construction of the water recycling plant.
Then on 3-26-09 you said in your Realities, “Then there‘s the long-anticipated still-in-the-works Business Park plan, and our new state-of-the-art water treatment plant (under budget and ahead of schedule) which the Katzenjammers all vehemently oppose.” In order to correct your “error of fact”, on March 24, 2009, the support for the formation of a Community Facilities District to fund the infrastructure of the Business Park was unanimously supported by the current City Council. As for the water treatment plant, it is the responsibility of the council to use the citizen’s money (taxes) in a careful and effective manner. There is no disgrace if a council member uses his or her vote in opposition to what they believe is a misuse of public funds. And keep in mind that Fillmore’s sewer rates went up on July 1, 2009.
Your “Realities” column is not always based on reality, other than your own perception of reality. I know for a fact that many of your comments have not been fully researched. Some of which I have outlined in this commentary. You indicate that Ms. Washburn is not able to admit her mistakes, can you?
In the current column, you said that no finance director has appeared at council meetings since Barbara Smith retired. Obviously you were absent because the interim FD, John Wooner, did appear before the council on June 23, and he presented, at council’s request, a new format for the upcoming budget. Go back and look at the council meetings from the point Ms. Smith tendered her retirement notice and her last day. You will note she was not in attendance.
It is important to note that staff is a recommending body; not decision makers. As for Mr. Payne’s comments in his column last week, he, Tom Ristau, and Barbara Smith were all paid handsomely for their work. These employees fulfilled their obligations for the position they held. Some of their names are on the plaques that adorn various community buildings.
It would be shortsighted for a decision maker not to ask questions which are fiscally sound. Mr. Farrell and Mr. Payne believe it was fiscally sound to purchase property for the current site of the water treatment plant using public funds without so much as an appraisal or comparables to determine if the amount is just!
As for those employees who left they submitted their resignations or notice of retirement prior to any discussion by the council of any request by employees for an employment contract. It should be noted that it is rare for city employees, other than city managers and attorneys, to have contracts. Also for clarification, Mr. Rapp currently has a binding employee contract. Speaking of employees, as for patting past employees on the back, Mr. Payne in his recent column failed to give credit due to Steve McClary as he was the employee who penned “The last best small town in So. CA”.
I personally would like to know what you meant when on 4-30-09, you said, “My criticisms of Brooks, Washburn, Walker, Hernandez, and now Mr. Bartels, are intended to show that a series of bad decisions by the group has led the city into serious, long term, trouble, fiscal, legal, and as far as city staff goes, psychological.” Look at the items that have recently been listed on the executive session portion of the agendas. Most of these items were items the new council inherited. Are they the bad decisions you speak of?
Gayle, Jamey and I were the top vote getters in the past two elections. The question to be asked is why? Is it due to the fact that the home and business owners in Fillmore saw their sewer rates almost quadruple in two years? Is it because over 1500 citizens said they didn’t want 700 homes on 100 acres in North Fillmore and their elected officials ignored them? The people have a voice and it is their vote. They expect their vote to remain their voice.
Martin Farrell and Roy Payne are allowed their freedom of opinion; a freedom which I fully support as I have expressed repeatedly on my position on First Amendment Rights. Regardless, there may be members of the community who will take their comments as gospel. For that I could not remain silent.
Patti Walker

To the Editor, July 22, 2009:
On July 8th 2009 I penned a letter which the Fillmore Gazette ran under the title “Take Our Town Back?”. In that letter I closed by stating that the faction of Walker, Washburn and Brooks have been Deceitful, Hypocritical, speaking in Half-truths and I asked what does this cabal really believe, what do they really want and what have they really accomplished?

On July 19, 2009 Ms. Walker wrote a lengthy letter to the Fillmore Gazette and in that letter she listed what appears to be her three reasons as her justification for the election of the Walker, Washburn, Brooks cabal. Those three reasons were 1) executive session items that the “new council inherited”; 2) “the fact that the home and business owners in Fillmore saw their sewer rates almost quadruple in two years”; and 3) “citizens said they didn’t want 700 homes on 100 acres in North Fillmore and their elected officials ignored them”. Ms. Walker also stated in her letter “It is important to note that staff is a recommending body; not decision makers”.

Let’s look at the three reasons that Ms. Walker uses to justify “taking back our town”. First, Ms. Walker as you suggested to determine what executive session items the “new council inherited”, I have reviewed online the City’s website (Ms. Walker incorrectly alleges that “a complete copy of the council packet is available on line”…this is not true, staff reports are regularly missing from the online packets). It appears that from January 13, 2009 to July 23, 2009 the City Council has held 24 “behind closed doors” executive sessions. At thirteen (13) of those behind closed doors meetings the City Council discussed the appointment of a new City Manager. Ms. Walker the new council did not inherit that issue, they created it. At two of those meetings the City Council discussed the appointment of a new Finance Director. Ms. Walker the new council did not inherit that issue, they created it. At three of the “behind closed doors” meetings the City Council discussed the Sales Tax Sharing litigation. Ms. Walker, you were on the City Council and voted for those Sales Tax Sharing agreements, so I guess you are taking the blame for that litigation? Litigation was discussed at 14 of the behind closed door meeting, but no specific litigation is identified on the agenda so it is difficult to determine if the “new council inherited” those items and how many different cases are involved. So Ms. Walker, it looks like the majority of the executive sessions items were of your own doing and not something you inherited.

Second, you said in your letter “keep in mind that Fillmore’s sewer rates went up on July 1, 2009”. What have you and your cabal done to try and lower the rates? Answer, nothing! Your city council cabal did not even review the sewer pro forma this year to see if any sewer rate reductions could be achieved. The cabal simply passed on it and let the $80 per month sewer rate that was adopted by Ordinance 08-809 on June 10, 2008 (which Ms. Walker voted for last year) go into effect without even placing it on a council agenda for discussion. Cabal member Washburn claims to be an expert on the sewer pro forma spread sheet and it should have been a simple matter for her to review it in an effort to reduce the sewer rates. So I guess the “new council” is not as concerned about the rates as they led the public to believe when they were trying to get elected to office.

Third, regarding the 700 new homes in North Fillmore, why is the new council hiding from the public the fact that the passage of Measure I has rendered the Housing Element noncompliant with State Law and will require an unnecessary expenditure of city funds (estimated by the City Planner to cost $200,000) to correct the violations of state law? And why has the new council buried the draft Housing Element after the City paid a consultant $86,000 to prepare the document? Is it because the new council does not want to face the fact that they have no idea where to locate the 985 new housing units that must be planned for in the new Housing Element, plus the 350 units that were removed from the North Fillmore Plan by the passage of Measure I?

Ms. Walker in her letter attempts to discredit me by stating “Mr. Payne believes it was fiscally sound to purchase property for the current site of the water treatment plant using public funds without so much as an appraisal or comparables to determine if the amount is just!”.

First, remember what Ms. Walker stated earlier, she said “It is important to note that staff is a recommending body; not decision makers”. So let me remind Ms. Walker that the City Council and the City Attorney approved the purchase of the land, not me.

Second, the price of the land has very little to do with the sewer rates (the land cost is less than 1% of the total cost of the new water treatment plant).

Third, there are very few places you can place a sewer plant, it needs to be at the lowest elevation of the city because effluent runs down hill (Ms. Walker where would you put the plant?).

Fourth, we had a willing buyer who offered to sell us the land at a reasonable price and rather than use condemnation to secure the land, a mutually agreed to price was set, saving the city the cost of an appraisal and potential litigation (and time).

Fifth, the value of the land today is about 3-4 times what the city paid for it. Sixth, the purchase of the land helped to jump start the new business park which the new council cabal claims is one of their highest priorities.

Ms. Walker in her letter also attempt to discredit me by stating “Mr. Payne in his recent column failed to give credit to Steve McClary as he was the employee who penned ‘The last best small town in Southern California’ “. Ms. Walker again does not have her facts straight. The quote was first provided to the city by Mr. Dave Wilcox of Economics Research Associates in a report he prepared for the city in 1993 about the Downtown Specific Plan. After seeing Mr. Wilcox’s quote, I had it inscribed on a small promotional memento that was handed out to a group of developers that were invited to a developer meeting that the City hosted in late 1993 to get developer feedback on the new downtown specific plan and to try and recruit new businesses to our downtown. Following the January 1994 earthquake, Fire Chief Pat Askren had the slogan posted on the marquee of the Towne Theatre to help pump up citywide morale. Mr. McClary was not even working for the city when these three events happened.

In closing, Ms. Walker states in her letter “there may be members of the community who will take Mr. Payne’s comments as gospel”. Ms. Walker says “for that I could not remain silent”. Ms. Walker, you should have remained silent.
Roy Payne

Letter to the Editor:
RE: The Bob Stroh - Martin Farrell Saga
It's with deep regret for Fillmore,that Martin Farrell's deceptive comments will never come to fruition. I commend Bob Stroh for standing up for truth and common decency. In point, Bob Stroh is absolutely correct in one of his assertions that Martin Farrell's "Realities" section has harmed private citizens names within the community for malicious intent, nothing more or less. For example, Martin Farrell has lied when my name was shuffled into his loony tunes "Realities" section of the Fillmore Gazette--April 1st & April 29th.editions. I'll take this opportunity to clarify and put to rest these erroneous lies and constant bamboozlement of attacks arrowed at me.
Lie # 1
Martin Farrell, April 1, 2009, states:
"Waiting in the wings is another political wannabe, Brian Sipes. He is a card-carrying member of the Katzenjammer group, targeting Hernandez’ seat on the council. Should Sipes somehow defeat Hernandez in the coming election, it would be four to one, with Councilman Steve Conaway the last man standing for experienced, professional leadership."
Clearly at this point of time, I'm not targeting any council members seat. The next city council election is well over a year away. Right now, we as citizens need to encourage our Mayor and City Council to legislate forceful decisions that will spur our local economy to enhance our livelihood in Fillmore. Thus so far, in my opinion, we have seen thoughtful and proactive measures that intend to secure the succession of the future business parks and the current City Council has become supportive partners with our local downtown mercantile. Despite what we hear and read in the press; progress is being made at City Hall.
As for Councilman Conaway, the "last man standing for experienced,professional leadership" as Martin states, this satement is visibly and largely inaccurate.I'll write a letter some other time explaining Steve Conaway's lengthy efforts that have brought down the morale at the dais as well as stifling a collaborative, working relationship amongst his fellow colleagues on the council. Differing opinions is expected, but thwarting efforts of conducting City business within a diplomatic approach is wrong.
Lie's #2 ,3 and 4
Martin Farrell, April 29, 2009, states:
"I leave you with my last prognostication: card-carrying Katzenjammer, Brian Sipes, will be appointed to replace Councilwoman Laurie Hernandez. Brian is a Councilman-in-Waiting. He has been warming-up in the wings for quite a while and friends on the Katzenjammer Council provide him special privileges, such as passes to attend employee meetings. As a person of interest he is interviewed by the Ventura Star and receives a full council agenda packet. Surely he is in the fast track to join Katzenjammer fame and council cluelessness."
Councilwoman Hernandez has not resigned and from my knowledge, Hernandez has no intentions on resigning, hence, I cannot be appointed..period. However, if a resignation does occur, then there is a stringent process that must be undertaken to comply with city and state codes. We as a City experienced this in 2007 when former Councilman Ray Dressler resigned over health concerns.
Moreover on the stated accusations; I have never received or inquired for certain "Special Privileges", "Passes to Attend Employee Meetings" or a "Full Council Agenda". All of these outlined accusations are boldfaced lies that Martin Farrell has emblazoned in his editorials with a slimy quest to subvert my reputation as a private citizen and business owner in the community.
Another nonsensical accusation that Martin Farrell has lied about is that I am some sort of puppet for Mayor Pro-tem Washburn, Councilman Brooks as well as Mayor Walker. The truth is very simple to explain. Never once has Martin Farrell ever questioned my stances on any such local issues. Martin Farrell precluded his judgment as to what my opinions are instead of doing his research so that the truth can be echoed accurately.
So I ask the public; Doesn't Fillmore deserve responsible and ethical journalism? In fact I do, and hopefully Fillmore will discover other credible venues to receive their local news. There are choices out there.
To conclude my letter, I ask the public to faithfully question all accusations made by Martin Farrell and the Fillmore Gazette in the future, so the truth will be unequivocally clear.
Brian N.Sipes,
resident of Fillmore

To the Editor:
Re. Martin Farrell’s nineteenth Realities column attacking any and/or all of the council members except Steve Conaway since the election: Although he didn’t print my last letter Martin asked me to be specific in naming anyone he has slandered or made gross fallacious claims against – easy, how about me? Realities 6-3-09, you told your readers that I “have been a regular, outspoken supporter of these views (to get rid of the city employees Martin specified), in print and at the dais.” You were asked to prove it (Letter 6-10-09) and you said you would (Realities 6-10-09); it could be accomplished very easily by reading my letters to your own newspaper just back to the election. No need for “scientific speculation”; everyday common sense will get the job done. Obviously you couldn’t prove it because it never happened. As you intimated, what may have been an honest “error of fact” becomes a lie when allowed to remain uncorrected. You’ve never retracted or corrected the false claim; hence, you lied to your readers about me. I occasionally see Kevin McSweeney and Bert Raap and would appreciate it if you set the record straight.
The same applies regarding your claim that Bill Bartels is not up to the job of city manager, you offered as evidence the need to hire two people to assist him. It was pointed out to you in Roy Payne’s recent piece that the only people hired were the ones to do the jobs of the vacant positions; they were not hired as Bartels’ assistants. You chose to let that “error of fact” (or was that “legitimate hyperbole”?) remain uncorrected making it a lie thus besmirching Bartels’ reputation.
You are entitled to your opinion about Gary Creagle’s time on the council but I certainly don’t remember it as you label it, were you in Fillmore then? I seem to remember that he served for four years and didn’t seek reelection. On the council during his tenure was Deloris Day, Pat Quinn, Roger Campbell, I think Hub Cloyd and some I don’t recall. It’s irrelevant but you go ahead with your rant against him, he’s a big boy and can take care of himself.
Martin asked me to “provide evidence of any [of Conaway’s] non-objectivity [as a result of his trip to Washington D.C.] First off, Martin, you may not be helping Conaway by acting as his surrogate because you’re getting some facts wrong thus giving the impression that there is something to hide. You said that Conaway took the trip “with full knowledge and approval of city council, legal counsel, and after much discussion” (Realities 7-8-09.) You are wrong. Council minutes for the Jan. 9 and 23, 2007 meetings show that at the end of each meeting Conaway announced that he would be traveling to Washington D.C. to make a presentation at the Mayors Conference. The presentation was made two days later. There was no discussion and no vote of approval or disapproval. Nothing more was said publicly about it until sometime after Mar. 7, 2007. Upon his return Conaway gave no report to the council, as is the custom and full details of the trip were made public by an international watchdog organization. At that time we were told that the city attorney had given his okay. Remember, Conaway spoke at the Mayor’s Water Council – American Water is one of only four full members on the board. Hundreds of Fillmore citizens asked for help in lowering their sewer bill and the idea of reopening the bidding process was discussed; Conaway stood firm in his support for American Water’s contract and was not in favor of reopening the bidding process. Some may believe that a trip like that would have no bearing on a council member’s objectivity; I’m not one of them.
Martin also asked me to comment on Roy Payne’s column(s) but I don’t have room this week.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
Bob Stroh needs to get his facts straight. His latest letter to the Fillmore Gazette is a prime example of the half-truths, hypocrisy and outright deceit that he and the council cabal have been engaged in for the last 3-4 years.
In his letter he says the city’s sales tax revenue is being held by the state because of a deal that I made. As I have pointed out time and time again and as Walker recently stated “staff is a recommending body; not decision makers”. If the truth be known the only way that the agreement could be entered into was for the City Council to approve it and Walker voted for the sales tax agreement that is under litigation, but Stroh and his cronies don’t want the public to know that so they try to shift the blame to me. Further, to my knowledge, the only sales tax money that is being held by the State is the sales tax revenue related to the Sales Tax Agreement, not the general city-wide sales tax revenues.

If the City Council cabal is relying on the Sales Tax Agreement revenues being held by the state to balance the budget, then they have been making foolish unwise decisions about the use of city funds. When the Sales Tax Agreements were initially approved, it was clearly the policy of the City Council to only use those monies for one-time expenses and not to rely on those revenues to balance the budget because it was assumed that the revenues would be temporary in nature. The City never used those monies to balance the budget when I was City Manager.

Regarding the $85,000 per year savings that the City Council presumably is saving by not filling the temporary position that I held, again Stroh speaks in hypocritical half-truths. In previous letters Stroh has argued that I was paid by developers and not by the City for the work I was doing and now he wants you to believe that the City used city monies to pay me for my work and that the city will be $85,000 ahead which is not true. You can’t have it both ways Mr. Stroh. Developers reimbursed the city for about 50% of the work I did for the city each year (the same way the staff at city hall is paid when they work on developer projects). The reason for this is to save the taxpayers of Fillmore money and not have the taxpayers paying for development projects within the City. So there is no $85,000 per year savings to the City.

Regarding Stroh’s claim that “$1.5 million front money for a mandatory well for the new business park was cut in half (by the new city council) while still fully supporting the park’s development”, my intent and approach with the developers was to have them fund the entire amount of the well and no front money required by the City. If you read my resignation letter of February 3, 2009 you will see that I stated that I “Led the effort to perform an updated Water Assessment Study to secure $1.2 million in funding from the Business Park developers (if CFD 8 is formed) for the construction of Water Well 9”. The City Council did not want me to finish my work on the Business Park and questioned my integrity and my value to the City and said I had no right to speak out on issues affecting the City so I chose to resign rather than to work for the new council.

If I had been able to continue, then there would have been no cost to the City for a new well. So if Stroh wants to give the new council credit for spending $750,000 of taxpayer money for a Water Well that is the responsibility of new development then go for it, but don’t claim I had anything to do with the City spending $1.5 million or $750,000 because I did not.

Last, regarding the City budget, the new City Council has made no efforts whatsoever over the last six months to try and anticipate the impacts on the city budget of the global economic downturn and more specifically the state economic downturn. The City Council is just going to use the prior management at city hall as the scapegoat for any shortfalls in the city budget instead of taking responsibility for their failure to act in a timely manner. Does anyone really believe that the City should have spent the last 3 months and paying an outside consultant $36,000 in trying to change the format of the City budget to make it look prettier? Walker, Washburn and Brooks need to try and explain that expense!
Roy Payne


Letters to the Editor
July 9th, 2009

To the Editor:
From the last election to last week Martin Farrell, in his Realities column, using over 300 column inches, or by my estimation, about two-and-a-half full newspaper pages, has attacked, with the exception of Steve Conaway, all of the council members, Bill Bartels and a few private citizens with slanderous and grossly fallacious claims. When confronted with the truth he deflects. Unbelievably, last week he wouldn’t apologize for besmirching Bartels’ reputation because of some fiction he created about my comments regarding Conaway’s trip to D.C. Okay, let’s go over that trip again.
But first, Martin criticized council member Washburn for insisting that a new project go out to bid instead of just giving AECOM (formally Boyle Engineering [Glen Hille]) another no-bid contract as Bert Rapp recommended; they’ve gotten 37 no-bid addendums (around $6.5 million worth) not including those not related to the sewer project (maybe $3.5 million). Glen Hille, of AECOM, made his 45 minute pitch to get the contract without having to bid it and Conaway argued for that. Now, back to Conaway’s D.C. trip:
Please recall from the trip emails released by the city:
- From American Water to Glen Hille: “happy new year partner. Just checking in to see if we know whether the Mayor or Vice Mayor will be representing the city?”
- From Glen Hille to Tom Ristau: “Have we received confirmation from Steve?”
- From Bert Rapp to Steve Conaway: “Steve, Are you able to go to Washington D.C. on January 25th to make a presentation on our DBO for the Water Recycling Plant? All expenses are paid by the conference.”
- From the City to the U.S. Mayors Conference: “Mr. Anderson, I have attached receipt reimbursements for Mayor Steve Conaway with American Water…”
- From American Water to Steve Conaway: “…you fly roundtrip between Burbank and National Airport (which is located only 15 minutes from our hotel).”
Although all very legal, the relationship between American Water, Glen Hille, Bert Rapp and Steve Conaway and new member, Martin Farrell looks and sounds a lot like the ‘good ol’ boys club’. Does anyone really believe that Conaway can be objective when it comes to deciding whether Glen Hille’s AECOM gets a no bid contract or if it’s opened up to competitive bids possibly saving us money?
It’s the people’s money Martin, thank God we have council members like Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks and Mayor Patti Walker who understand their responsibilities to the people. Trust me, they won’t be taking any trips paid for by companies dealing with the City of Fillmore; Steve Conaway still can’t say the same.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
I used to enjoy reading the editorial section until Martin Farrell embarked on some kind of campaign to personally discredit certain members of the City Council. Week after week, his poison pen has continuously dishonored these city officials. Comments have been unprofessional and down right shameful for a person who represents a community newspaper.
Our civil liberties and free speech allow us to express varying points of view regarding actions, decisions and policies made by our City Council. But, to openly disrespect and ruthlessly attack the characters of those who serve our community is unconscionable. Mr. Farrell, if you believe you’re capable of demonstrating a higher level of competency than our current Council members, you certainly have the option to run for a seat in the next election. In the meantime—GIVE IT A REST!
Sandy Pella

To the Editor:
Dear Fillmore Gazette:
I am a paid subscriber to the Fillmore Gazette, even though I could read the paper on line for free, because I feel we need to support our local paper financially. I do not live within the City limits, therefore I have not voted for or against any of the elected officials and have no axe to grind in city politics. BUT… what happens in Fillmore affects us all.
The last few months after reading the letters to the editor and the editorial columns between Martin Farrell, Bob Stroh, and others, I have been left with a slightly sick feeling. Are you all going to constantly dwell in the past? Rehash old issues? What good does that do? There are so many positive aspects to our Fillmore community that could be featured in the space you are taking up with your attacks on each other. Why not spend the time and energy expended attacking each other and rehashing past events that cannot be changed, in coming up with positive solutions to the problems currently being faced. My grandmother always said a house divided cannot stand; is this what we want for our community.
I also watched a video tape of the June 23rd City Council meeting and that was a real eye opener. Why not leave your personalities at the door and take up your responsibilities as council members to do your best for the City of Fillmore.
Thank you,
Donna McKinzie Voelker

To the Editor:
The editor of this paper has for 10 months now, engaged in a malicious negative campaign with ill intent against me, other council members, citizens and city staff members.
I feel sad for the community that this divisive individual chooses to hurt others.
Many of you have called and contacted me in dismay and shock. The love and support I receive from friends and supporters sustains me and I thank you deeply.
I guarantee that Mr. Farrell cannot point to any written or spoken word where I have abused or threatened any staff member. There are many other statements made that are outright lies.
I will never disrespect anyone for disagreeing with me. But I have no respect for libelous, slanderous liars.
The comments coming from Farrell's editorials are shocking, hateful and disruptive to the community. I am always open to ideas and criticism if there's a way to improve my efforts, but that is not what we are getting from Mr. Farrell. What a sad commentary for our City. This is not what our city is about and with a lot of hard work and forgiveness we can always work together if some would only try.
Mr. Farrell’s lies and malicious, divisive and hateful words need to stop. I am expecting an apology and a retraction. And in the future, any comments about me need to be based on facts -not gossip or lies.
Gayle Washburn


Letters to the Editor
July 2nd, 2009

To the Editor:
From the last election to last week Martin Farrell, in his Realities column, using over 300 column inches, or by my estimation, about two-and-a-half full newspaper pages, has attacked, with the exception of Steve Conaway, all of the council members, Bill Bartels and a few private citizens with slanderous and grossly fallacious claims. When confronted with the truth he deflects. Unbelievably, last week he wouldn’t apologize for besmirching Bartels’ reputation because of some fiction he created about my comments regarding Conaway’s trip to D.C. Okay, let’s go over that trip again.(Bob Stroh)... Editor's note: LETS NOT! Please refer to this week's editorial.

To the Editor:
It’s sad to see that our government will strike down an initiative that didn’t follow the formatting of a petition and will do nothing to an initiative that lies to get signatures to qualify it. The owner of El Dorado used professional liars to coerce voters into signing their initiative telling voters that theirs was replacing my initiative, therefore stealing the signatures of my popular initiative. I have several affidavits attesting to the fact that these were the tactics used to gather signatures. The truth is that El Dorado’s owner’s initiative is nothing like my initiative. My initiative was designed to protect the lifestyle of every homeowner in El Dorado. The initiative proposed by the owner of El Dorado is about selling us their lots, typically at 3 to 4 times the appraised value. Their initiative wants the City to provide loans to us to buy lots. Where is the City going to get the money to loan us? Why should the City be exposed to this risk?
The few homes that have sold this year were sold for a fraction of what they would sell for in any other park in the county. Our high rents (about $300 a month more than Rancho Santa Paula) have cost us all about $30,000 in home value minimum. That’s close to a million dollars of our equity in their pockets (302 spaces). It costs about $150 per month per space to run this park, they charge about $650 average. That’s not excessive?
Dave Roegner

Letters to the Editor
June 25th, 2009

To the Editor:
Re. the “challenge”: Martin Farrell can’t substantiate his reckless claim about what I said regarding some city employees so instead of manning up and admitting he was wrong and apologizing to the people of Fillmore for misleading them about the matter he runs hiding behind righteous indignation, childish name-calling, avoidance and his latest, desperate rhetorical questions. Typical Farrell behavior; cast aspersions and when challenged for proof, run for cover. I assume Martin that most of the people who read your newspaper are grownups; middle school bullying only works in middle school and quite frankly looks rather silly when employed by old men. Have you apologized yet to Bill Bartels and the city for the false statements you made about him that were ironically refuted by Roy Payne? Or any of the other people you have so freely lied about? Does the title ‘newspaper publisher’ mean not having to ever say you’re sorry? Credibility has to be earned over time and can be lost very quickly – Martin, you have a lot of work to do.
Bob Stroh

Letters to the Editor
June 18th, 2009

To the Editor:
Driving on Central Avenue in Fillmore has become quite something these days thanks to all the work of the City. Hope you have noted the new paving, the new parking slot markings, crosswalks, along with the flowers around the new clock , it is very attractive and makes a great show to Fillmore-ites plus our visitors. Our thanks to the city personnel for decking us up!
It quite a sight to view the white roses--in full bloom--on Central Avenue. Our thanks to the personnel who do the work!
Conway Spitler

To the Editor:
Re. the “challenge” – giving Martin Farrell a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate his integrity to his readers: If Martin can prove his claim that I have written and spoken at the dais supporting the unconditional termination of a group of city employees he has identified, then I will contribute $250 to the Fillmore Boys and Girls Club. If he can’t prove his claim then he will make the same contribution and the loser will apologize. He hasn’t accepted the challenge and his confident assertion that I “have been a regular, outspoken supporter of these views…,” has turned into something like, it may take a few weeks of searching to find the evidence.
Regarding council member Conaway’s trip to Washington D.C.: While addressing the city council on April 22, 2008, I said, “I don’t believe the Mayor profited or realized any personal gain from his relationship with American Water.” I went on to explain that I was talking about the trip. Steve wasn’t at that meeting so I emailed the text to him the next day. I will admit that although my statement on March 19, 2009, is factually correct there may have been some who were unfamiliar with my previous statement and assigned a meaning unintended by me. Also, if anyone is interested in how the Mayor’s Water Council (MWC), who invited Conaway to speak in D.C., is tied to American Water let me know and I will get you the information along with the emails organizing the trip between the MWC, American Water, Glen Hille, Tom Ristau, Bert Rapp and Steve Conaway. Shortly after Conaway’s trip hundreds of Fillmore residents asked the city to reopen the bidding process in an attempt to find a cheaper solution to our sewer problem (like Santa Paula and Piru did.). While a small restaurant owner’s sewer bill went up $24,000 per year (she went out of business) Conaway continued to speak in favor of American Water. His ability to be objective after the trip has always been my main concern.
Bob Stroh

Letters to the Editor
June 11th, 2009

To the Editor:
In response to Roy Payne’s Letter to the Editor, June 4, 2009, I’d like to clarify some of the amounts set out in his “Before and After” table.
On June 29, 2005, the City Council approved Mr. Payne’s Special Project Manager Fee Agreement providing for a retainer of $2000 each month paid from the General Fund and Redevelopment Agency (and water and sewer) accounts. The retainer covered 16 hours of service each month. Additional hours were charged at $125 an hour. Mr. Payne was provided, at city expense, a cell phone and work station. From his date of retirement (August 2005) to his resignation (February 2009), Mr. Payne received a total sum from the city $317,928 for work performed pursuant to the Agreement.
Ms. Spangler’s work is similar in nature to Mr. Payne’s in that she is working on the business park fee structure and, like Mr. Payne’s fees when he provided his services on items relating to the business park, her fees are paid for by the developers within the business park project area. Ms. Spangler is performing the work for $100 per hour, a reduction of $25 per hour compared to Mr. Payne’s rate.
As for Mr. Bartels, he was provided an additional $10 an hour only for that period of time he took on the additional task of Interim City Manager which was approximately six weeks.
Patti Walker
Mayor, Fillmore

To the Editor:
Blog response by Roy Payne regarding Livermore Sales Tax Agreement
Submitted to Blogs & Forums by Roy Payne on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 9:42am.
Re: Livermore Sales Tax Agreement
Oogie Boogie, Legal yes, but since the Washburn, Brooks, Westling, Creagle, Stroh, Walker, Sipes cabal find it so morally offensive that Fillmore entered into a legal Sales Tax Agreement; I suggest they give the money back to Livermore. It appears Livermore certainly needs it more than Fillmore to pay for the 179 Livermore city employees whose salaries exceed $100,000 per year and to maintain their cost of per capita services at a rate twice that of Fillmore.
Timm Herdt’s article in the Sunday, June 7, 2009 Ventura County Star stated “Officials from the San Francisco Bay Area city of Livermore say the Fillmore deal costs their city about $2 million a year in lost sales taxes, even though they continue to deal with the traffic and other public-service effects created by a 165,000-square foot Owens & Minor distribution center that has been in their town since 1993”.
I found it very amazing that it would cost the city of Livermore $2 million a year to deal with the traffic and other public service effects of a 165,000-square foot warehouse distribution center. So I visited the city of Livermore website to see if I could verify this information. According to the “Economic Development and Fiscal Element” of the city of Livermore General Plan, Livermore has 12 million square feet of industrial and warehouse space in their city. Therefore, a 165,000-square foot warehouse is 1.38% (or 1/72) of the total industrial and warehouse space in the city of Livermore. If it takes $2 million a year to deal with the traffic and other public service effects of a 165,000-square foot warehouse distribution center, then it would take 72 times that amount to provide traffic and other public services to the total inventory of 12 million square feet. 72 times $2 million is $144 million. The total city of Livermore general fund operating budget is $82 million. So how can they possibly be spending $144 million on traffic and public services for 12 million square feet of industrial and warehouse operations in their city? Answer, they are not and they are not spending $2 million a year on the 165,000-square foot Owens & Minor distribution center.
According to their website, Livermore has a net assessed property valuation of $15.1 billion. I estimate the property value of a 165,000 square foot industrial-warehouse building to be $25 million. Therefore, the Owens & Minor facility in Livermore represents about 0.17% of the total assessed valuation of the city of Livermore. Therefore, based upon the total city of Livermore general fund operating budget of $82 million and using the proportional value method (ratio of cost of services to total assessed value) of determining the cost of services of an industrial development, the cost of providing services to the Owens & Minor 165,000 square foot warehouse distribution center is $135,000 per year, not $2 million per year.
So what was Livermore really doing with the $2 million they say they are losing? Well, on January 28, 2009 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the City of Livermore had 179 employees with total pay over $100,000. The City Manager in Livermore had a base pay of $222,749 and the Finance Director a base pay of $170,360. If you compare the per capita cost of general fund expenses, Livermore’s per capita costs are $1,000 and Fillmore’s are $487. In other words the City of Livermore is charging its residents twice the amount that Fillmore is charging to provide general fund services such as police, fire, recreation, finance, planning, etc.
Roy Payne

To the Editor:
Re. Martin Farrell’s Realities:
Martin, in defense of my accusations that you used personal attacks against city staff and council members, you said, “critical examination is vital to good democratic government.” So please take the time to share with your readers the evidence (not rumor) your critical examination turned up supporting these claims you made last week.
Roy Payne retired a few years ago with a very nice retirement package. Before he left, according to Tom Ristau, he negotiated his own contract to do special projects work, a new position that wasn’t needed before Ristau became city manager and cost around $85,000 just last year. Four years later Barbara Smith said that Roy had completed the seven tasks he had contracted to do. Who was Roy assisting, Tom Ristau, Bill Bartels, who? When Roy quit Ky Spangler was hired to complete some other work Roy was doing (as shown in Roy’s chart last week) and will be finished next month. You say she is assisting Bill, was Roy also assisting Bill? I don’t understand.
Regarding council member Conaway’s trip to Washington D.C.: I emphasized that I did not think for one minute that Steve did anything to benefit himself personally. My only worry was whether he could remain objective when the council was considering matters pertaining to the sewer plant. This was a legitimate concern particularly after discovering that American Water utilizes a tactic of nurturing relationships with elected officials so they can do their bidding for them. I was well aware of the details of the trip but never heard Steve say it was or was not a mistake to go so I assumed he did not feel it was a mistake and if given the opportunity would go again; perhaps that could be clarified.
As to your claim that Walker, Washburn and Brooks have often and openly voiced their intention to get rid of the staff members you referred to, certainly you can provide the evidence your critical examination uncovered that caused you to make that claim. And please, save your arguments criticizing their desire to critically examine a temporary employee’s contract that was completed and a city managers contract that was expiring. Conversations I have had with Walker and Washburn along with all of their public comments regarding city staff tell a different story. While on this subject, and finally, Martin, you said that I “have been a regular, outspoken supporter of these views, in print and at the dais.” I don’t recall ever thinking or supporting those ideas either by writing or speaking them. So here is a challenge for you, and an easy way to prove your honesty to your readers; provide the letter to your paper from me or a recording of a complete statement I made at the dais supporting the unconditional termination of the staff members you referred to as judged by a mutually agreed upon person and I will apologize and contribute $250 to the Boys and Girls Club. If you can not provide proof then you apologize and make the same donation.
Bob Stroh

Letters to the Editor
June 4th, 2009

To the Editor:
Brooks said “I have come with a sword. I have come to create division”.
It appears that the sword that Mr. Brooks wanted to yield to slash city management salaries and to rid Fillmore of out of town city management employees, has stabbed him in his hindquarters.
My review of the cost (as best I can estimate from available city documents…more about this later) and home residence of city management employees yields the following comparison:

So through the efforts of the Brooks/Washburn/Walker cabal, the costs of top city management employees has increased by $2,879/month and the number of top city management employees now residing in the City of Fillmore is still zero.
Walker says that “existing staff members have stepped up to fill these positions and keep the city running smoothly during this transition”. Ms. Walker how can it be true that existing staff members are filling these positions when you have hired an interim city manager from Wasco, a finance consultant from Wasco and a limited term assistant to Mr. Bartels to fill the vacated positions?
I would also like to discuss the apparent lack of transparency at Fillmore City Hall and the failure by the City Council to properly oversee the actions and representations that have been made to them, but will do that another time.
Roy Payne
Fillmore City Manager (1989-2005)

To the Editor:
For many years Martin Farrell, publisher of The Fillmore Gazette, has tried to affect outcomes at City Hall by using personal attacks and outright lies against those in opposition to his agenda. He carries out his mean-spirited assaults with utter disregard for the harm he may bring upon his victims and their families. He knows no limits. Most folks when voicing disagreement with others at least make an effort to be truthful, respectful, focused on the issues and civil, but not Farrell.
His latest target is Bill Bartels. Not one thing Farrell claimed or inferred about him is true. Bartels’ only position on the North Fillmore plan was to professionally do the job he was tasked to do. Bartels is not associated with any political group that opposed that plan. There is no correlation between the jobs that Roy Payne contracted to do, that are now performed by Ky Spangler (at $25 less per hour than we paid Payne), and Bartels job.
Mr. Farrell, owning a newspaper doesn’t give you license to harm people or use your position as publisher of the only print newspaper in Fillmore to damage our city’s image with your contentious bullying falsehoods. Your opinions, on the other hand, are invaluable and welcomed and when made in a civil and honest manner and considered with all others will contribute mightily to the overall good of our city.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
On May 18 a traffic collision occurred on S.R. 126 (Ventura St.) at Central Avenue in which a Ventura County Sheriffs motorcycle deputy received minor injuries when his motorcycle was struck by a vehicle in the intersection. Not being involved in the investigation, I don't know who was at fault or what mitigating factors came into play. However the accident prompted me to explore a concern I've had about that intersection for years. I believe the intersection is hazardous, even with the current signal system. I have long held the opinion that there should be left turn arrows granting the right of way for left turning vehicles on 126.
I have no statistics on the accident history of the intersection but I've observed conditions there first hand for years. Some west bound drivers on S.R. 126 approach the intersection at highway speeds of 55 MPH or more, ignoring the speed limit signs on the east side of town and, presumably, believing they're still on a rural highway, creating a hazard for left turning vehicles. The roadways are wide at this intersection and pedestrians (which abound in Fillmore) add to the difficulty by forcing left turning drivers to heed not only on-coming traffic but the peds also as they cross the street.
I believe the solution would be to install a left turn only arrow to the signals at this intersection, without a "Left Turn Yield On Green" phase. Maybe a left turn only arrow wouldn't have prevented the collision that injured the deputy, but it would surely decrease the hazard to left turning vehicles. The deputies are doing their jobs. They can be seen almost daily making traffic stops, proof that there is no shortage of violations on Ventura Street.
There are left turn arrows at Ventura St. and Rt. 23. Why not Ventura St. and Central Avenue
I urge the installation of left turn only arrows for 126 traffic at this intersection.
Matt DeMarco,

To the Editor:
To: All supporters of Fillmore Boys Volleyball
I want to thank all the following people who have made a difference with their support of time, money, and many other things. With your help the young men consisting of Nathan, Gera, Miguel, James, Chris, Erik, Noah, and Vince were able to win co-champions of the Condor League in their first full season of boys volleyball.
A special thank you to Martin and Susan with the Fillmore Gazzette for promoting the team in so many ways. To all the people that helped put on the spike-a-thon that raised over $1,000.00 dollars. The following donated money so our young men could be good representatives for Fillmore; Fillmore Soroptimist Internationl, Marge Aguirre, Norma Sanford, Mrs. Flores, Fillmore boys volleyball family, and Lani Farr. A special thanks to coach Drew Ferguson and Andy Aguirre that worked so hard to train these special young men, and the young ladies that kept the stats. A special thanks to Lynn Cole for all your time and patience.
Coach Joe Woods
Fillmore Boys Volleyball

To the Editor:
I believe in giving a compliment when one is due. The Fillmore/Bardsdale cemetery is looking as nice as I have ever seen it, if not better. Last year it was pretty torn up from installing a new irrigation system. It looked so bad that I was ashamed to send pictures to my relatives of the decorated graves; so much so that I sent them pictures of the year before. I was proud to send them pictures that I took this year. My family and I thank those involved for such a fine resting place for those that have gone before us.
John Heilman
74 year native.

Letters to the Editor
May 28th, 2009

To the Editor:
Re: Last week’s article “FUSD Board President Rebuts FUTA”
Mr. Garnica, you accused FUTA’s article of being nothing more than opinion and containing factual errors. Your article in last week’s edition of the Gazette also contains opinion, factual errors and attempts to purposely mislead the public. First, your opinion that the administration was the first to “feel the pain” makes me believe that you are certainly out of touch with reality. How can you compare not filling a long time vacated position (Technology Director) to a currently employed, living, breathing person receiving a pink slip. Empty office furniture doesn’t “feel the pain.” Some of the hardest working and lowest paid people in the school district ARE in fact feeling real pain. Second, if the “full-time quasi-administrative position” (thank you for the “open and transparent” specifics) you are referring to is the “Accounting Supervisor” then you certainly are out to deceive the citizens of Fillmore. This district office position was cut with the school board’s left hand while the right hand snuck around and created a new district office position called the “Attendance Accounting Specialist.” Can you clarify for the citizens of Fillmore how cutting a district office position while creating a new district office position (apparently designed for the district office employee that was just cut) is a cut? Is this recently cut district office employee also “feeling the pain” in their newly created district office position? I would ask you, your colleagues, and Gazette readers to think carefully about the following question: “Mr. Garnica, are you simply a victim of the disingenuous way Sweeney, Bush and Townend are operating our school district? Or, are you part of the deception?”
A Very Concerned Citizen of Fillmore

To the Editor:
Fillmore Friends,
Our daughter, sister, granddaughter Alyssa Diane Aguilar graduated from San Diego State with Honors from Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society with her Masters in education/counseling. We are so proud of Alyssa and all her accomplishments. We wanted to give a shout out to the community and let them know what she has done. Alyssa graduated from Fillmore High in 1998 and thanks to all the generous scholarships from the community she was given a helping hand. We are so proud.
David & Donneta Smallwood
Javy & Evelia Aguilar
Robbie, Brianna, J.D.
Granny (Shirley Spitler)

To the Editor:
To The Voters Of Fillmore:
We are finished gathering signatures for the El Dorado Rent Stabilization and Homeowner Protection Initiative. On May 13 I submitted signatures on this Initiative to the City Clerk. I would like to thank all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen. I would also like to thank the Fillmore voters for their tremendous support of this important Initiative.
On May 20 a notice to circulate another initiative proposed by El Dorado MANAGEMENT was published in the Fillmore Gazette. It is called Fair Rent and Homeownership Initiative. As you might expect, this initiative highly favors the owner of El Dorado’s pocketbook. It offers NO rent control protection that we don’t already have, which only exists after a condo conversion. It gives the residents NO say in whether the condo conversion happens.
In addition, the paid signature gatherers are telling voters that my initiative is “unconstitutional” and that their initiative will replace mine. This is misleading and untrue.
This is the opposite of the initiative which I proposed. My initiative offers all seniors of El Dorado real savings on their rents. My initiative offers the residents a vote on a condo conversion (which, I gather, the vast majority does not want) that the City can use to stop the conversion from happening. In my opinion, management’s initiative will impose much hardship on the seniors of El Dorado. I am strongly opposed to management’s initiative.
Dave Roegner

Letters to the Editor
May 21st, 2009

To the Editor:
As a former teacher for the Fillmore Unified School District, it has been exceedingly distressing to read of the current struggle for fair utilization of the District’s budget. I am compelled to comment because I am personally acquainted with the dedication and competence of the certificated and classified personnel. I have also served as Fillmore Unified Teachers’ Association (FUTA) president and was a long time member of the former District Budget Committee.
A school district the size of Fillmore Unified should require only a competent superintendent and one assistant superintendent. Competent is the key word. The fact that our district employs three assistants suggests that competence is not a factor. Why was the Director of Personnel promoted to Assistant Superintendent with a salary increase of 48 percent? Why was the Director of Business promoted to Assistant Superintendent with a salary increase of 31 percent? Other district personnel received similar inflated salary raises. Why did the School Board approve these promotions and raises? In the state of California, such high salaries are usually awarded only to district administrators who manage 3 to 4 times the staff, 3 to 4 times the students and have a budget 3 to 4 times that of Fillmore Unified. As a consequence of our administrators’ grossly inflated salaries, teachers are cut, librarians are cut, classroom aides are cut, and the students suffer.
Our students will not only suffer with less direct contact and services now. They will suffer with decreased ability to qualify for higher education and lessened future earning potential. This is not what education is about and certainly not what is good for the students. The people of Fillmore and Piru deserve better.
I respectfully request the School Board to rescind the promotions of the Personnel Director and the Business Director and conduct an immediate review of ALL district administrative restructuring and personnel/salary increases made during the last 24 months. During a time of a budget crisis, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted. It is the legal and moral responsibility of the School Board to rectify this as soon as possible.
It is their moral imperative and duty to be the best custodians and conservators of our public funds for the benefit of the children in the Fillmore Unified School District.
Mary Ford

To the Editor:
As an individual teacher and FUTA member not representing anyone other than myself, I would like to apologize to Mr. Sweeney, the Board of Supervisors, and the other FUSD administrators for the false information printed in a front page article of the Gazette on May 7th. The erroneous information stated that Mr. Sweeney has received a 25% pay increase since he was hired not quite three years ago. This is very simply not true. His pay is approximately 5% more than it was on his hire date.
As we all know, we are in difficult economic times and the district has been required to make painful and severe cutbacks to the budget on the order of $1.7 million. If it were true that Mr. Sweeney had received such an enormous (25% salary increase), our natural and justifiable response would be to think poorly of both Mr. Sweeney for receiving it and for the Board for granting it.
Thankfully, this figure is nowhere near the truth:
1) On May 11th I went to the district office and filled out the form requesting Mr. Sweeney’s contract.
2) On May 13th by noon I had the contract in my hands.
3) The next day, the 14th, I sat with both Evalene Townend in her office and with Cathy Bojorquez in her office. Both of these women shared with me their information regarding the terms of Mr. Sweeney’s contract. Ms. Bojorquez gave me a copy of the district’s budget sheet that concerns Mr. Sweeney’s salary.
4) I learned from the original three year contract that Mr. Sweeney’s starting salary was $140,000/year.
5) I learned from the budget sheet that his salary for this year is $147,350. Math reveals the base salary increase to be 5.25%.
I love Fillmore Unified School District, where I have worked for eighteen years, and I love the community of Fillmore, even though I do not live here. I hate to see the community being divided by misinformation. There is an economic fire burning in our country, and it saddens me to see our community tossing logs into a fire of our own making. The desperate times we are in call for more than our usual level of cooperation in order to find workable solutions for a heartrending financial situation which none of us created.
Christina Wilson
Teacher, FUSD
FUTA member

(To see the original salary data provided by the District Office, click here.)

To the Editor:
In response to Fred Carpenter's May 14 letter:
Hi Fred, this is your next door neighbor (one of the leaders of the "Pro Rent Control". This survey was done by a group of volunteers who split up the El Dorado phone book, went down their list calling EVERYONE we had a phone number for and listing the results. I can't speak for others who did the work, but I personally would call back part of the list, starting at the beginning, if they were not home the first call. I got tired of calling and quit the callbacks before I reached everyone on my list. If you want to dispute the info we gathered, then do your own survey and quit speculating and trying to spread false rumors. We do our homework, I can't say that about the "Anti Rent Control" group which is less than half the number of our group. I have nothing against your "group", but I do understand your MO.
Dave Roegner

Letters to the Editor
May 14th, 2009

To the Editor:
May 8, 2009 FUTA Staff, This is an open letter to staff, one which I hesitate in writing, but one that is needed at this time as I am confronted with inaccuracies originated and published by the current FUTA leadership. There has been one change this year that represents the difference in the tenor of the District as well as the tone in relationships within the District. That change is the current FUTA leadership, who, unlike their predecessors, have been unwilling to work to create a harmony in all matters relative to the teachers they are supposed to serve. Selfless collaborative leaders are needed to ensure teachers’ rights are upheld; leaders who are willing to move away from the turmoil this District faced in prior years. My hope for this year was for current FUTA leadership to build upon the momentum generated from prior leadership. This momentum generated a new vision, brought salary parity, and forged an agreement between FUTA and the District to move our teachers from the lowest salary in the County to the median in 2007-2008. Prior to 2008-09, we had established a new mutual trust. Albeit cautiously, your leaders courageously and accurately represented teachers’ needs. It was more than the task of finding the money for a raise: it was the development of a new relationship that bridged the differences, allowed people with varied perspectives to heal, and to create a new FUSD. Unfortunately, over the course of this year, the leadership who led the District the prior two years were no longer considered and their practices that led to a harmonious environment have been eliminated. Whereas “trust and openness” were the watchwords of the prior two years, those words have been replaced with skepticism, secretiveness and animosity. Where our processes were interest-based, now the tone is adversarial. This year, you have been deluged with half-truths seemingly intended to polarize our employees, deceptions of how poorly the District is treating its employees, and a classic misdirection of facts that creates turmoil and keeps everyone wondering who is telling the truth and who is not. The new FUTA president came in with a process uniquely hers. Eliminated were weekly meetings between the FUTA president and Evalene Townend, our chief negotiator. Gone were the emails that went to all members of the negotiating team. Instead, a demand from the FUTA president was made to send emails only to her and she would decide who received the information, eroding the openness of communication and the sense of trust that was created in the two prior years. There are other changes.
Despite devastating budget cuts, FUTA’s leadership demanded more money during negotiations. Regardless of the cuts removing programs, reducing staff’s hours or days, or eliminating positions, the FUTA leadership wanted more money for their members. Although the rhetoric from the FUTA president is that she supports classified staff, she has not offered anything from the largest employee group in the District (68% of employees) to offset reductions. And instead of addressing what many are talking about, she frequently shares inaccurate and misleading information about salary raises for upper management in conjunction with a restructuring plan for the District Office. That plan was based on faulty information and was presented to the Board on the night the Board approved our final reductions. Again, classic misdirection which steers everyone away from the fact that FUTA leadership has not worked with the District regarding the current budget crisis. The FUTA president’s use of salary data in the Gazette article is inaccurate. She states, “The Superintendent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007-2008 received a 25% salary increase from $117,000 to $147,000.” All District salaries are verifiable and public information. When I was hired in the District, the Board signed a three-year contract with me for approximately $145,000. Currently, my total salary is approximately $152,000. This is not a 25% raise. It is less than 5%. In comparison to other superintendents in the County my salary is ranked 14 out of 17. The references to the assistant superintendents’ salaries in the Gazette article are equally inaccurate. Please continue to carefully listen with intent, verify facts, determine the possible motivation for the information, and confirm it with those you trust. We are constantly bombarded with choices. Our Board was faced with many choices as they were forced to reduce $1.7 million. The Board studied several solutions in dealing with this deficit. Since discussions began in January regarding these reductions, all updates have been consistently posted on the District web site and sent out via email. In addition, the Board sought out suggestions from staff and community members via a District-wide staff survey, personal contacts and public comments. All suggestions were reviewed and considered prior to the Board’s final decision. Our District is at a crossroads as we are called to make painstakingly difficult choices. Our Board has already made many difficult decisions necessary to balance our budget. Unfortunately, there may be more reductions coming as our state’s economy does not seem to be improving. All of these possible reductions will prompt our District’s change, forcing upon us additional choices as we adjust our instructional program due to fewer services and programs. You are at your own set of crossroads. I hope that you will listen to all, inquire about areas that do not make sense, draw your own conclusions, and do not accept the opinions of just the loudest. “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it is indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it is indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it is indifference.”- Ellie Wiesel, holocaust survivor It is not too late to stay involved, make a choice, and choose your own way.
Jeff Sweeney
Superintendent, FUSD

To the Editor:
Re: David Reeves Letter
Mr. Reeves is correct in that I did receive a copy of the survey taken in 2007. He should take another look at the results because it shows 69% of those who responded were in favor of rent control, and this is only 30%± of the spaces in the park, which I believe constitutes a minority. I was living in the park at the time of the survey and was never contacted or even aware of such a survey even though I live next door to one of the leaders of Pro Rent Control. This makes me wonder if they were being selective of whom they wanted responses from. Maybe Mr. Reeves would like to “retract his ludicrous ill-informed letter” after reviewing his survey.
Fred Carpenter

To the Editor:
This will be the ONLY response to those who find the need to voice their opinions publicly about the Voice of El Dorado Homeowner’s Association. As usual, the facts in those letters are incorrect, probably because those persons writing do not read the HOA’s frequent, written correspondence reporting ALL Board activity (which has NEVER included pursuing Rent Control), and/or participate in the running of the HOA and attend general meetings. In addition, every HOA Board member has always been available to clarify HOA positions and answer questions.
The Board of Directors once again invites all El Dorado residents who are interested in the truth, to participate in the next planned HOA general meeting to be held in the Club House on Sunday, May 17 at 6 PM. The agenda will cover a recap of HOA business and events during 2008, a review of tools/supplies for the Block Captain Program, and information about Condo Conversion at El Dorado; what it is, and how it could affect you! We will attempt to answer all reasonable questions pertaining to the noted issues.
Thank you,
Voice of El Dorado,
Board of Directors

Letters to the Editor
May 7th, 2009

To the Editor:
Another success! Thanks to all the parents and community members who helped and donated their time and items. We had another big success. On April 18, 2009 we made over $1800 on the yard sale for Grad Nite Live. Again thank you, it is one step towards making sure that our kids go on this final cruise together as the graduating class of 2009 from Fillmore High School.
Nora Toledo

To the Editor:
I would like to call into question a statement made by Mr. Roegner. "Most spaces in El Dorado have a lease with 4.5% increases per year. Over 10 years at that rate, the rent nearly doubles." I would like to point out to Mr. Roegner that his math could use a bit of assistance and at the ten year mark the increase would be approximately 48.6%. I'm assuming that when Mr. Roegner uses the term "nearly doubles" he is referring to a 100% increase. I'm not calling into question the need for Rent Control at El Dorado but as a voter if I am to make an informed decision I would prefer to see solid facts and not emotion based statistics. It's been stated that "some wind up losing their home because of the rent increases", how many cases have there been of seniors losing their home because of a rent increase in the past 5 years? I would also appreciate information regarding the price differentials of units being sold in Fillmore versus Santa Paula or elsewhere in the valley. Could you provide MLS listing numbers on a few examples?
Tom Fennell

To The Editor:
Re: Dave Roegner Letter
Dave Roegner, I am aware of the good work you have done for the Senior Center.
Therefore, I am sorry to see you continue to misrepresent the conditions in El Dorado, where I have lived happily for 35 years.
It used to be a peaceful happy place. But the "rent control gang," representing a minority of the park, continue to misrepresent the true facts, as you parroted in your recent letter.
Did you forget the City Council meeting where the Council voted NOT to consider rent control? Where 2'/2 times as many people urged a NO vote on rent control versus those in favor, I suggest you get a copy of the picture published in the Fillmore Gazette showing the sea of hands urging a NO vote if you have conveniently forgot. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It is sure true in this case!
Please stop the irresponsible misrepresentations.
Jim Heady

To the Editor:
This letter is in response to Michael Steel's letter:
You obviously have not lived in El Dorado very long. The previous HOA had about 15 members so 1/3 of the park belonging to the new HOA is by far a superior number. Over 69% of The El Dorado Residents want rent control and do not want the park subdivided and we have proof. Furthermore, for your information, Star Management started their push for subdivision long before the current HOA got involved with their decision to support Rent Control and fight subdividing El Dorado. So to blame them is absolutely idiotic. You clearly are ill informed just as Fred Carpenter is. We gave Fred a copy of the survey taken last year showing more than 69% of the residents are in favor of Rent Control, but of course, he hasn't retracted his ludicrous, ill informed letter from a week ago.
As far as the government getting involved, that is their job just incase you aren't familiar with politics. That's why monopolies like El Dorado are illegal in this Country. And the job of Government is to protect the minorities from bullies, and left wing, kool-aide drinking liberals. Our City Council has every right in the world to get involved and make sure that fair and equitable laws are past to protect Fillmore's Senior Citizens. Many of us have lived here for many years and since you have just moved here, maybe the one who should leave is you because you are clearly in the minority.
David Reeves

To the Editor:
WOW another super production from the Sespe Players. If you missed "The Pole Creek Radio Hour" shame on you. I hope all the Fillmore Merchants that were a part of the play gave big donations to the Sespe Players for the renovations of the auditorium. Chris Villegas is a genius and a very welcome addition to the core of the Sespe Players.
The next production is going to be Saturday, May 16the at noon on the steps of City Hall by the Children's Theater. "Fractured Wolf Tales" that should be a must see by adults and children alike. So much fun.
Then in October they promise a funny, scary and interesting Halloween special. We are blessed in Fillmore to have such an energetic group that entertains us. If you have talents and want to be a part of this wonderful experience I am sure they would love to include you. They have 30 years of entertaining in Fillmore WOW.
Thanks again Sespe Players. I am looking forward to your next production.
Marlene Schreffler
An Avid Fillmore Fan

Letters to the Editor
April 30th, 2009

To the Editor:
Saturday night my wife and I attended the Sespe Players The Pole Creek Radio Hour, what a joy. It was nice to go back to the Sespe Auditorium where we had been treated to some of the Players’ earlier productions several years ago. Many of the experienced Fillmore performers were in the show along with some very talented young people just starting out. It’s a tribute to the Sespe Players dedication and love of the art that their group continues to grow by encouraging and giving young people the opportunity to participate and develop their talent.
The Pole Creek Radio Hour lets you escape for a couple of hours to a very fun place with lots of laughs. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be the last chance to see it if you missed it last weekend. We both left feeling that we would have been hard pressed to find a more enjoyable way to spend an evening.
Thank you Sespe Players for a wonderful show.
Bob and Joann Stroh

To the Editor:
Response to Fred Carpenter's letter of April 23.
The Rent Stabilization and Homeowner Protection Initiative has a large number of signatures from El Dorado residents already and we are not finished gathering signatures. The fact is that anyone wishing to NOT be under rent control can sign a multiyear lease and be exempt. That way you can have higher rent increases as you wish. Why should you care if others get a better deal when it is offered to you also and you refuse? And don't cry me a river about the poor multimillionaire owner not making more profits and losing rights. The initiative does guarantee the park owner a fair and reasonable return on her investment. The homeowners have property here too. Where are the homeowner's rights?
Our "small group" has turned out twice as many residents as your group has at City Council meetings in the past. There is a network of dedicated unheralded residents working hard to help slow down rent increases and save the homes of our seniors. These are caring people who want to help others in need. We are not criticizing others as your group does, we are here to help. Most of the seniors in El Dorado will not take action to protect themselves. It is a widely known fact that seniors often fall prey to the greedy and dishonest. That is why there are many laws at all levels of government to protect seniors. That is what our rent stabilization initiative does as well. We are still the only city in the county that hasn't given this protection to it's seniors.
Most spaces in El Dorado have a lease with 4.5% increases per year. Over 10 years at that rate, the rent nearly doubles. Seniors on fixed incomes do not get that great of an income increase and some wind up losing their home because of the rent increases. Add to this Fillmore's large utility increases and even more seniors are in trouble. How can you not want to help your neighbors?
The initiative will be available to sign on weekend afternoons at Vons east door. It is also at Super A on Saturdays from 5pm-7pm and Sundays from 1pm-3pm.
Dave Roegner

To the Editor:
In support of Fred Carpenter
I also live in the El Dorado Mobile Home Park and am tired of a minority trying to speak for the majority. This group has taken it upon themselves to declare themselves as the Voice of El Dorado. What gives them the right to call themselves that? It sure isn't the people here in the park. Only about 1/3 of the homes have signed on with the Home Owners Association, even after repeated and aggressive campaigning to get people to sign up.
This group has caused trouble and division in the park. We are now in a struggle to maintain and keep the life style that we moved here for. Because of them the owners of he park are looking to change the way the park operates, they aren't going to be successful because the residents have to approve the changes also and I don't believe they will do that.
Like Mr. Carpenter, I would urge the City Council to look twice at what is going on and decide to stay out of a matter that does not concern them and has no relevance on the governance of the city. I believe this is a local park issue that the people here need to address and handle, maybe by encouraging those that are so discontented to go somewhere where they would be happier, they'll never be happy here.
Michael Steel

Letters to the Editor
April 23rd, 2009

To the Editor:
To: Mr. Martin Farrell:
I can't stand it any longer. I have been reading your personal comments/attacks in the Fillmore Gazette and can't stand seeing this and have got to get this off my chest. You allow our own EX-Mayor and Current City Council Member Belittle his own—our own Fellow council members. You, Martin Farrell, personally call names to citizens who are genuinely interested in what happens to our city. You are allowing and encouraging offensive talk and comments. If you would care to notice your competition, they only report the facts and they leave their own opinions to themselves. A rule you might not have learned in kindergarten is: Thumper's Rule. "If you don't have something nice to say, DON'T say it at all." I know that all the citizens who have in the past or are currently on the City Council and Planning Commission, have taken these Thankless jobs because they truly care about our great little town and are trying to do their best for all citizens. Why don't YOU shut up and let them show us what they can do!!! In this economic crisis we all need to work together and not against each other.
Martin, were you encouraged or did you encourage your children to think as Leaders and not Followers? When citizens get involved with city issues and you call them names and Belittle them, this makes our concerned citizens discouraged to voice their opinions. Martin, OPEN your eyes and SHUT your mouth if you can't say anything nice.
A concerned citizen

To the Editor:
I live in the El Dorado Estates and I’m concerned about the rent control petitions currently being circulated. I believe the petitioners have the cart before the horse. No one knows if the majority of residents want rent control, but it is being pushed by a small, but vocal group. I would hope if this ever reaches the city council they would make sure a vast majority of the residents want it. I believe the council has enough problems without adding an unnecessary one.
Contradictory to a previous letter, the owner cannot make the rent anything they want. Our rent raises are controlled by a consumer price index with a 3% minimum and 8% maximum. If this poses a problem, the resident is urged to contact the park office to obtain the parks voluntary rent subsidy program. I believe this to be fair and would object to any government enforced control.
Fred Carpenter

To the Editor:
For some, the city of Fillmore is just falling apart. Too many “key” staff have resigned, including the most recent, Barbara Smith, due to the fact that 2 new council members were elected in the last election. This is for sure the end of the City.
The true fact is that this is expected. It doesn’t matter what the business is, when a new administration takes the reins of an institution, some people are going to feel uncomfortable with the new ideas or the new approach to the same old ideas that the new administration will bring, and they will have two choices: 1. Accept, adapt and move forward 2. Resign/retire. Most of the city staff has already made up their minds, even though I will not be surprised if others still announce more decisions.
I believe that the way one resigns/retires demonstrates the quality of employee that one is. For example, Mr. Ristau demonstrated, in my opinion, a huge ego and ignorance by recommending another member of his staff for his position. People in management are expected to give his/her opinions of replacement only when asked by the committee or person in charge of the search, or personnel committee.
Mrs. Smith decide to announce her retirement not just by giving a date, but also by trashing the person that was appointed as intern city manager. In my opinion, Mr. Bartels hasn’t done anything wrong. He was the assistant city manager and he knows that as soon as the new person comes in he is back to his old position, so why trash him?
Besides, why didn’t Mr. Ristau promote Ms. Smith to the assistant city manager position when he had the authority to do so? If Ms. Smith is going to be upset with someone, it should be Mr. Ristau and not Mr. Bartels.
It is interesting to me, that at the time that Mr. Roy Paine resigned, no one questioned the qualifications of Mr. Ristau as a city manager. Why? Very simply, he was part of the “click”. But it is also valuable to note that, when one resigns from a position, it is normal to find an “alike” or “higher” position for replacement, which is not the case with Mr. Ristau. Would this talk about his qualifications as city manager? Perhaps.
According to media reports, Ms. Smith also went on and said “…There have been more closed-door meetings in this city in two months than there have been in 23 years.” I personally doubt that. The only difference that I see is that in the previous 23 years, she was part of the “closed doors meetings”, so she never felt that the door was ever “closed”.
Also, she “has requested that there not be any public honor or acknowledgment of her 23 years of service.” This is ridiculous, it is up to the employer to decide to make a public honor or acknowledgment of service, it is her decision to attend or not.
I believe that the city should continue with their current policy of public honor and acknowledgment and just let her decide if she will attend or not.
For the last 20 years or so, many of the city staff have accepted, adapted to each other and decided to work together, now a new generation of people are going to do the same, and perhaps, in a few years, we will have to experience a new transition again.
Eduardo Gonzalez

To the Editor:
Sadly, Fillmore’s Ship of State has been taking on water since the last Council election. As the weeks have gone by, the anticipated resignations at City Hall have taken on epidemic proportions, thanks to our new council majority of Brooks, Washburn and Mayor Patti Walker.
With the latest departure, that of City Finance Director Barbara Smith, Fillmore has lost four of its six senior management staff. These talented and committed people take with them almost a century of experience and intuitional history that is irreplaceable. Unfortunately, I doubt we have seen the last of the resignations.
Having worked with and developed friendships with these people over the years, I know none of them wanted to leave their positions. They took great pride in their work and accomplishments for the benefit the citizens of Fillmore. To the last one, they were highly dedicated to our town.
I hope Larry Pennell, the new interim City Manager, realizes that he isn’t stepping into a recovery, but a salvage operation. Fillmore’s Ship of State has sunk.
Ken Smedley
Former City Council member

To the Editor:
City politics in 250 words or less:
Roy Payne doesn’t want council’s fiduciary oversight of his contract negotiated by him while still city manager and quits after four easy years of pulling the strings from a consultant position. City saves thousands of dollars; Payne’s institutional control starts to crumble.
Payne’s appointed city manager, Tom Restau, quits after new council elected. Payne’s finance director retires. Steve McClary, all around good guy and great employee lands a great job with Ojai after stalling in Fillmore without a pay raise in three years - huge loss to the city.
Bert Rapp, with over a year left on his sweetheart contract, wants a new one; so he can leverage it in his negotiations for his contract with another city? Odds are he’s already interviewing. Kevin McSweeney wants assurances, says he wants to stay; council assured him he was valued and wanted.
Payne, Martin Farrell, Conaway, Cuevas and company have launched a smear campaign against Mayor Patti Walker and council members Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks they hope will whip up support for a recall. With Payne and Farrell leading the charge watch and see how rude, dishonest and downright dirty they are willing to go.
In the mean time, the global economic downturn will impact our city’s revenues and we will probably face some real problems meeting our responsibilities. The good news is we have a council who takes their fiduciary responsibility seriously.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
The field trip on May 2nd occurs in the environs of Fillmore, so I thought your readers might be interested. Thank you.
Beginners are welcome on all field trips, and rain cancels any trip. More information is available at www.VenturaAudubon.org
Saturday, May 2, 8:00 a.m. Heritage Valley Hotspots. Leader: Tom Halpin (746-4598). This trip includes areas around Fillmore & Piru. We will meet at the Fillmore Fish Hatchery to check out the herons & egrets. The hatchery is located to the right off Hwy 126 just 1.2 miles east of Fillmore. From there we will car pool to Rancho Camulos, Piru Creek and Lake Piru.
Saturday, May 9, 8:30 a.m. Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Bird Tour at the Ojai Meadows Preserve. Leaders: Jessie Grantham & Allen Bertke. This is a great chance to see first-hand how the newly created habitat for local migratory birds & wetlands species on the Meadow has attracted several previously absent birds and waterfowl. Meet at Nordoff High School.
Saturday, May 16, 8:30 a.m. Hedrick Ranch Nature Area. Leader: Sandy Hedrick (340-0478). Annual Meeting and Picnic. $10 for lunch. We will bird this lovely area with the possibility of seeing a Thick-billed Kingbird. Take Hwy 126 to Santa Paula, 10th St. Exit. Go under freeway, right on Harvard, right on 12th and cross S.C. River Bridge. Go 3.7 miles to 20395 S. Mountain Rd. On right hand side you will see a big yellow mailbox, right after the mailbox, look on left side for the #20395 which is set back a little on a green metal fence. Turn left and go toward the river approximately ½ mile on dirt road and turn right to parking area across the creek.
Susan Bee
Ventura Audubon Society

Letters to the Editor
April 16th, 2009

(Correction to April 9 Letter to Editor)
To the Editor:
I have two errors in my April 9 letter to the editor. The first is that instead of rezoning El Dorado, the owner has applied for a subdivision tract map. The second was a misinterpretation I made of the State law. The following sentence: "Those who don’t buy their lots will continue with paying their rent with the addition of their share of the park maintenance fees." is not true. Only residents who buy their lots will have to pay a monthly park maintenance fee. I am sorry for these errors, as I always try to be accurate. Call it a "Senior Moment" if you like.
Dave Roegner

To the Editor:
Roy Payne claimed that I am misleading the public by saying that the Measure I Initiative had been debated for a couple of years because it didn’t come on the scene until the summer of 2008 with very little pubic debate since it was cooked up over someone’s kitchen table – all while on my high horse.
The Initiative was the product of countless meetings of a large group of people for over six months at two different churches that all Fillmore citizens were invited to participate in. It was reviewed by a legal team and when the final version was completed it was presented to the city council in October of 2006. Hundreds of Fillmore voters reviewed and signed the petition. Proponents and opponents to the Initiative made their arguments in public. The petition was rejected by the City because of an oversight in the requirement of noticing it in the legal section of the newspaper. It was presented to the city council again in September 2007 and hundreds of voters again reviewed and signed the petition with more debate. After hearing all the arguments, for and against, in November 2008 (a couple of years later) the voters overwhelmingly passed the Initiative known as Measure I. I’ll let the readers decide who is misleading the public.
Good for council member Conaway for supporting the implementation of the Initiative but it should be made clear that the two council members he referred to didn’t oppose the implementation just the large expenditure to redo the EIR which they feel is unnecessary and their desire to have the public involved from the get go which the motion did not include.
We can look forward to more fabricated political attack pieces from Conaway, Payne, Farrell, Cuevas and friends.
Bob Stroh

To the Editor:
With all the Presidents Stimulus money going around, I was wondering why the city of Fillmore hasn’t tried to hall some of this money in. I believe that we are just as entitled to some of this cash as some of the larger cities in the county. Ventura and Simi Valley are sure getting their share, so why aren’t we?
I got some interesting information from my Simi Valley source regarding what was available out there. She is the same source that used to live in Fillmore until she moved closer to her work in Simi Valley. For those in the city that have forgotten, she is the one that told the city where to apply for funding for the bike and walkway along the railroad tracks. Of course she was never given the credit for finding the money for those funds but that is typical Fillmore—the big important (in their own minds) take all the credit.
To make a long story short, she pointed me to: www.stimuluswatch.org/project/by_state/CA that lists all the city stimulus money handed out in the state. It is an eye-opener and it makes me wonder why Fillmore is sitting on their hind ends when this cash is available. Using Simi as an example, a lot of money was being used for road improvement. (God only knows that many streets in Fillmore could use some improvement.) But the main thing that one notices is that Simi drew stimulus funds for their sewer and water treatment system.
So why is Fillmore paying through the nose when this money is available for projects like ours? Why are the citizens paying from $75 - $90 per month for building this system when these funds are available from the Feds and can cut our costs? Why has the city not applied for these funds that can save the citizens and businesses money on sewer and water along with other city projects? Being the poorer of the communities in the county the Democrats would have a field day taking credit for saving the common folks on such projects in the “Last Best Small Town.”
Perhaps it is time for those that think they are in authority to take their thumbs out of places where the sun don’t shine and start trying to get some of this money and save the overtaxed taxpayer some money. Another thing to think about is that this stimulus money is in fact taxpayer money so why shouldn’t we demand our just share of what we have already paid in taxes?
See it by clicking here
Terry Timmons

To the Editor:
On April 14, Finance Director Barbara Smith forwarded to me and City Attorney, Ted Schneider, by email her notice of retirement. Ms. Smith indicated in her notice that she has been advised by the pension representative that her remaining until July 1 would bring no additional retirement benefit to her. As a result, May 14, 2009, will be her final day with the city. Ms. Smith has also indicated that she values her privacy and has requested that there not be any public honor or acknowledgment of her 23 years of service.
As Mayor, and on behalf of the City Council, well wishes and heartfelt thanks are extended to Barbara for her work, service and support she has extended to the council and community of Fillmore.
Patti Walker
Mayor, Fillmore

Letters to the Editor
April 9th, 2009

To the Editor:
Where are the helmets?
(Reprinted from the VC Star with permission)
I am happy to see that we have places like this for our kids to skate, but I couldn’t help noticing that the photos showed some pretty amazing stunts being executed by skaters with not helmets! This not only gives kids a bad example, but, in light of the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson, it shows thoughtless publicity.
In Santa Paula, they have had to close the skate park because kids refused to wear helmets. It is not only the law, it is for their own protection. The rules are only as good as the enforcement. The message we are sending our kids is that it is OK to ignore laws that you don’t agree with. This is not what I teach my daughter.
Joe Spittle,
Santa Paula

To the Editor:
Vision2020's Civic Pride does it again!
This time with a Flower Show. For the first time in 11 years, Fillmore is once again in the flower business, thanks to Civic Pride's Linda Nunes and Joanne King and their dedicated helpers. They pulled together a display of flowers that would seem to have been a challenge, until you saw the quantity and variety of flowers entered. It was terrific. Kudos to the whole Civic Pride Committee for making "Fillmore Bloom Again".
Judy Dressler

To the Editor:
Mr. Stroh if you feel obligated to take credit for Measure I go for it. All I've ever asked is that the consequences of implementing Measure I be acknowledged. While my personal opinion differs from yours on this measure, I understand that the voters will is driving the bus. I don't agree with the direction of the bus or the cost of the bus. As an elected official I have an obligation to implement the measure based on the outcome of the election. How arrogant of two new council members, of which you actively supported, voting against implementing Measure I thereby ignoring the peoples will. Somehow you're pointing the finger of fault in my direction?
The Public is always welcome to participate in land use planning. To be truthful Bob your group, “Citizens for Responsible Growth”, participated in many sessions prior to final decisions. All one has to do is look at the comments provided in the EIR and the numerous meeting minutes for your participation in the process. You haven't been locked out and your suggestion that the public is not being heard falls flat on its face. I heard the public on Nov 4th. The same can not be said for the candidates you supported.
Like you, I agree and desire more citizen input in local issues. Having a balance represented at council meeting would be a benefit to all, but as you know, it’s seems that only one side is represented at meetings.
Steve Conaway
Fillmore City Councilmember

To the Editor:
And to Tom Dawson,
If development stopped 10 years ago a new sewer plant would have been required. Rates would have been much higher than they are now. New development lowers sewer rates, not drives them up.
The "mother of sewer drains" is actually a Storm Water drain. Two different things.
The “road to nowhere”, assuming you’re referencing B St, is being completed. This will help your 30 commute from the Fire Station to your house.
As for fixing our problems we're trying right now to fix Measure I so that the people get what they thought they were actually getting. We're trying to do it so other problems are not created and get city into trouble with the State. It would have been nice if the boat load of problems were fixed in a well thought out Measure I, but they were not. We're busy fixing the slim staffing at City Hall. We’re busy trying to locate the best candidate for City Manager. We have no shortage of problems and are trying our best. Please be patient. It just really stinks when you shoot yourself in the foot with bad public planning drafted in a private dining room and have to fix problems of your own making.
Steve Conaway
Fillmore City Councilmember

To the Editor:
Why does the editor of the Gazette feel that he must continue to attack Fillmore community members with hateful & malicious writings???? Now the attack is against Brian Sipes, a good citizen and successful local businessman. Mr. Sipes is an asset to our community and to those organizations in which he participated.
Our current city council has been respectful & businesslike in all of their actions so why does Mr. Farrell feel that he must continue with these personal attacks??
These are tough financial times for everyone but must Mr. Farrell continue to create mistrust & divisiveness within our community so that he can sell more newspapers???
Thank you,
Donna Cruz

To the Editor:
The owner of El Dorado Estates has filed an application with the City for a rezoning of El Dorado so that they can sell the residents the lots their homes are on. Those who buy their lots will have to pay their share of park maintenance, which is currently the owner’s expense.
Those who don’t buy their lots will continue with paying their rent with the addition of their share of the park maintenance fees. Those who are not low income will have to sign any lease the owner desires when their current lease expires. Those who are low income will be on State Rent Control once their current lease expires. Those who are low income will have trouble affording to have to pay their rent along with the new park maintenance fee, so they may not last long enough to see State Rent Control.
Last year we had an electrical problem that effected 1/3 of the park. It took over a month of work to fix. We had 3 large generators that powered 100 homes. The expense of this was enormous. If the Rezoning is allowed the residents would have to pay for anything like this that might occur.
The Rent Control Initiative will stop this terrible situation. We will be gathering signatures from Fillmore registered voters at Vons on weekend afternoons. Please come out and sign this important Initiative. If you can’t get there please call me and I, or a friend, will come to your home so you can sign. My phone number is in the book.
Dave Roegner

Letters to the Editor
April 2nd, 2009

To the Editor:
Why did the Piru Principal get demoted?
As many of you already know, on Friday, March 6, 2009 the Piru Elementary school principal was told by the superintendent Jeff Sweeney that this will be his last year as a principal. The parents of Piru School find it very disappointing that the district would consider such a drastic change without any consultation of the parents. For the first time in many years, Piru School has a principal who cares about our children. He is determined to make Piru School succeed. He has put great emphasis on academics which is reflected in the improvement in our test scores. Additionally, he has brought an increased awareness in the areas of exercise, health and nutrition, as well as many other things that enrich our children's lives. This is due in part of Mr. Durborow and his talented ability to think outside the box.
Why did Mr. Durborow get the demotion is the question many people are wondering. "Lack of confidence" is too broad of a statement. Could it be because Mr. "D" wants to make more positive changes, or is it because the academics are getting better even though Piru has the most English learners in the district? Maybe it's the fact that Mr. "D" has spent hours applying for grants to help the school but the grants aren't all spent in Piru? Maybe it's the fact that by going charter the district would lose over $2 million. Perhaps he was demoted due to the budget crisis - we don't know. But if the district is trying to cut back why don't they start at the district. Why does Sweeney need three Assistant superintendent’s assistants? There is something very wrong with this picture. "Lack of confidence" is just not enough for me.
Now let’s not forget about the school board members. Why do we even bother to have five members, wasting our tax dollars if they're going to do whatever Sweeney wants them to do. For your information, Sweeney is not the "Boss" YOU ARE! I know one thing for sure, and that is that none of them will get my vote again.
Concerned citizen

To the Editor:
At Tuesdays council meeting Measure I was on the agenda and prior to public comment Council member Conaway spoke of his distain for the measure wanting to go on "record" with all the bad things he says it will cause. Defeated Council member "it was the signs" Cuevas also spoke on all the bad things Measure I will produce and Fillmore will pay for voting the measure I in, I was involved with the North Fillmore Project in the early stages at the Store Front on Lemon Way along with the Great late Shirley Micarrlli who was greatly involved in the North Fillmore Project. Lots of Ideas were brought forward at these meetings with council members, residents, contractors and just everyday folks in attendance. But most of the public didn't really show support or non-support for this project, due to lack of communication, hard to understand notices posted by the city ect... Of course the City said they did everything they were required to by law, it would have been better had the notices had been written so everybody could understand them and there real purpose. The North Fillmore Committee tried to play catch up with the steam rolling the city council and developers, they were pushing the North Fillmore Plan through the way THEY wanted, not the way the PEOPLE wanted. The final plan was given to the North Fillmore Committee with ONLY a week to approve before it was voted on by the city Council when it was suppose to have 30 days to look it over and provide feed back on whether the city should or should not approve the final plan. The North Fillmore Committee DID NOT like the plan nor did they approve of it, but guess what, the council members at the time did and approved it. Now to my point, better late than never THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN we do not want high density housing, we want to keep beautiful rural area, we want less congestion. There are allot more places available around town to provide low to high end housing that already have streets, sewers, water and other services that the city maintains now, not new ones that the city can't afford to maintain. If Measure is going to cost me more that's OK buy me, I chose that, the people chose that, not the Developers handing council members golden beans in exchange for citizens quality of life. Council member Conaway said Measure I will cost the citizens around 300 thousand and higher sewer rates, maybe the council should have thought about this prior to all of the development we have seen for the past 10 years. During the council meeting well #9 was discussed and will cost the city 1.2 million when all done, it was needed because of new development, just think what 350 less homes will save when another well needs to be put in, do to over extending our supply with developers demands. We are all ready paying for 100 thousand dollars of new development, a street that goes nowhere, breaking water mains, the mother of all sewer drains, sewer plant, this list could go on forever, Let's learn live within our means, I know the new council will stand back and take a breath and look at what's best for OUR (not the developers/state) TOWN. Not all things please everyone but when THE PEOPLE speak then it is time to take notice and help fix the problem that has been created and learn that EVERYONE'S voice counts and not a select few. Heres a novel idea, fix all the towns problems first before creating new ones, and leave some space for our children's future to work with.
Tom Dawson
20 years North Fillmore

To the Editor:
As Measure I is being implemented, as per the will of the people, claims are being made by council member Conaway and former council member Cuevas that the voters were ignorant about what would happen if the measure passed. I disagree, Measure I and the future development of North Fillmore have been debated for a couple of years now; thoroughly discussed, openly and publicly, by the proponents and the opponents of Measure I. Public statements, both written and verbal, were made by Conaway and Cuevas and others on several occasions before the election was held. There was an opposing ballot statement for the voters to read before they made their decision. Conaway and Cuevas don’t seem to give us voters much credit.
It’s unfortunate that the public isn’t engaged in the decision making process before large sums of money are spent on plans and Environmental Impact Reports that paint a clearer picture of how a development will effect our quality of life. It’s after the plans are made and the EIR is done that the public, for all practical purposes, is brought into the picture and invited to workshops designed to sell them the project but not change it. The process needs to be changed. As council member Washburn suggests, the planning department and commissioners, council members, consultants, property owners, developers and the public, all participating from the start as I think some other cities do. It could save a lot of time, money and trouble.
Bob Stroh

Letters to the Editor
March 26th, 2009

To the Editor:
Brooks, Walker, Sipes and Washburn strategically chose not to provide the cost burden to the citizens when “selling” and advocating for Measure I.
As Fillmore taxpayers we now learn:
• Our tax dollars, at an estimated conservative minimum of $200,000+, will have to pay to correct Measure I.
• Measure I short changed our kids. It reduced planned and financed park land from 16 acres to 10 acres, now without a way to fund the 10 acres.
• Measure I claimed it would reduce sprawl. We now know that the State of CA requires that affordable homes will have to be built somewhere else in town, or outside the CURB boundary. How does this reduce density or sprawl?
Brooks, Washburn and Walker wouldn’t even second a motion to follow the people’s will on Measure I.
• They asked the citizens of Fillmore to sign their petition and weren’t even willing to step up and do what is required from the Measure, which is to re-do the city’s formerly compliant and approved, specific and general plans.
• When a motion was finally approved and called for a vote, both Brooks and Washburn voted no to begin the work that Measure calls for. Go figure!
Measure I seriously devalued property values in North Fillmore.
• It reduces the number of homes which can be built, except for one property owner, who had provided them financial support during their campaign. He was formerly limited to 82 homes and under their Measure can now possibly build up to 100 homes. Is it any wonder that this particular property owner who contributed the maximum dollar amount to Washburn/Brooks and Walker campaigns benefits?
Washburn and Brooks campaign signs said “Stop Eminent Domain” and “Stop Hillside Drive”
• What we heard last night is that Measure I did not address either of those issues. Washburn complains about reducing traffic but she wouldn’t even support Measure I last night which reduces daily traffic trips in North Fillmore.
Can we continue to watch our City be destroyed by people with a private agenda? I hope not!
Cecilia Cuevas,
Former Fillmore Councilmember

To the Editor:
Piru-Fillmore community is upset and coming together of the demotion of principle Richard Durborow. He came to Piru School with open arms and took a strong look and observed the needs of the children’s education; listening to the pleads of parents and the community that wants to grow and change. We will now be a K - 6th grade school that is what we have been hoping for. Embracing everyone’s desires, needs and ideas to improve and be successful; Durborow monitoring achievement motivation, safety and learning engagement, children’s behaviors and the importance of responsible behavior, caring school climate, community values. For these kids are still very young but will move on to a middle school and a high school. With Mr. D's building blocks they will be leaders to have the healthy and happy education they deserve and the respect others must have. It makes a team to educate a child. With time and patience Piru is very successful, healthy and happy. Test scores have also gone up and recognized by an official audit team of educators that were very impressed. Student and parents are realizing the educational gain. We were also recognized for its school program improvement in educational leadership, nations premier program for school administrators; nations premier journal for school administrator. We have wonderful volunteers that give the best gift themselves. Yes we have had wonderful hard working principles that had our support. We all have comments and opinions but we need to reflect on the importance here. Richard Durborow is a great man, our hero and the best advocate for Piru School. We have been blessed by his commitment to our students and the community. With him, Piru School is succeeding and achieving in all areas. Our hearts have been ripped out and we are furious of the decision making of the Fillmore unified school district to demote him. Mr. Sweeny said the topic involves a personnel matter. We are to just accept that and go on. Perhaps is it that we are strong and succeeding and the will to change and be better. We all have worked so hard together to just sweep it under a door mat. We will continue to reach higher to put children first and to continue in the support of our principle.
K. Warring- Ponce

Letters to the Editor
March 19th, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letters to the Editor
March 12th, 2009

To the Editor:
It's very difficult for me to sit by and not comment on what's going on in the City of Fillmore even though it has been many years since I lived there. I have religiously kept track of what is going on there since my move in 1973. Many of the relationships I formed there during the 25 years of my residence continue even today. I have observed the many changes that have occurred in the population and to the physical demographics of the City, some for the good and others not so good. I have watched as the City has grown, sometimes struggling to find its way, solving the many problems brought about by mother nature, new State and Federal mandates and outside pressures. Most of the time the "powers that be" have faced these problems head on and have been able to find solutions that were supported by the majority of the people.
It was my good fortune to have been elected to the City Council twice. I served from 1962 to 1970, went though a recall election in 1967 or 1968, the council prevailed, and lost my bid for a third term to a magnificent lady who became an outstanding council lady and Mayor, Delores Day.
When I was elected it was the first time the "good old boys" network had been broken since the City's incorporation in 1918. I was an outsider with no axe to grind. My intention was to learn from the experienced members of the council, gain some respect from them and over time get a historical perspective and with some luck move the City in a more progressive direction. Many of my constituents felt the City was in a rut and needed a shove to be out of it. In order to accomplish this I knew I had to do my homework.
From my experience I had learned there is a fine, gray line between being a policy maker and an administrator, I was a public school administrator in Santa Paula at the time. I set as one of my goals to find that line and to do my best not to cross it. The City council is a policy making body not an administrative organization.
At any rate my goal was to sit back and learn as much as I could from the likes of men like Dewey Thompson, Frank Munoz, Ray Lindenfeld, Bob Linville, Leon Harthorn and Fred Bryce, all of whom were good teachers and men who had the best interest of the city at heart. I was in good company and I knew it.
As time went on we became a team, not there weren't debates, some public, but we bent over backward not to air our dirty laundry in public, without violating the Brown Act.
My reason for reciting all the above is to say to the two new council persons, "I think you have gotten off on the wrong foot." The resignations of three of your administrators is proof of that. You both came aboard with axes to grind and without knowledge of what might be different from the one sided information you brought with you and weren't, or don't seem to have been satisfied to really sit back and learn what was really going on before letting the axes fall.
Now why put in my two cents worth when I am sitting in the Mountains of North Carolina rather than where I lived on Central Avenue? It is mainly because it pains me so to see and read about the divisiveness in the town that I care enough about to still, after all these years, call Home. Please put your axes away and help bring back the harmony to our beautiful City.
Bill Shaffer
Former City Councilmember

To the Editor:
I would like to again thank the Chamber of Commerce for a wonderful evening at the Awards Ceremony and dinner. I felt very special after all the accolades that were bestowed on me - as I'm sure all the recipients of the other awards did also. Chuy Ortiz did a delicious dinner - as always - all in all a night to remember. Thank you to everyone that helped to make it so special.
Judy Dressler

To the Editor:
It is with sadness for our city that I inform you that City Manager Tom Ristau submitted a Letter of Resignation this morning to the council. If you are unaware this is the third long standing employee to exit City Hall in three weeks. Roy Payne, retired CM and Special Project Manager, resigned. He served Fillmore for over 23 years. Next was Steve McClary who was outstanding and highly professional in fulfilling his duties left after 12 years with Fillmore. Now Tom Ristau resigns after working for the city and serving the City Council with approximately 17 years experience. That, my friends, is a lot of institutional knowledge to leave the building. I fear more highly qualified employees will not be far behind.
One only has to look as far as the last election and the campaign promises and statements made which point to the individuals and their associates which might be the cause of the turmoil. Walker ran for election in 2004 and lost. Walker and Washburn ran in 2006 and Walker was elected to office. Washburn lost that election attempt. Washburn then ran with Brooks in 2008. We all saw their names on the same signage, so don't tell me they didn't run together. Walker submitted a letter to the paper clearly stating she fully supports Washburn and Brooks. Two meetings ago Council Member Brooks asked Mayor Walker, "You want me to change my vote?" Without going into detail he changed it.
This, on top of the news of Mr. Roegner's filing of notice to circulate a petition for referendum purposes to enact Rent Control at El Dorado. Evidently Mr. Roegner's writing has improved greatly as his efforts are much more formal than past writings he has emailed to me. Anyone want to guess where he's seeking legal help?
Soon the council will address the costs of following the will of the people regarding Measures H & I. After all, that is what the voters wanted. Will these same voters support the city spending literally over $250,000 dollars to comply with the short sighted measures, which I opposed on a number of grounds? Once the city completes a new Specific Plan, EIR and CEQA, General Plan and Housing Element, will the current council members even approve any development in the area? One new council member went so far as to say "We (speaking on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Fillmore) don't want anything to change in North Fillmore". Pretty telling statement. That person was elected to office and at his first meeting sought a performance review of the City Manager. I'm not sure what basis or experience he was going to draw from to perform that review, but that doesn't matter evidently, not at least to him. Sadly the other newly elected councilmember supported his motion as did our new Mayor. I almost forgot to mention that Washburn and Walker were drafters of botched efforts to limit development in North Fillmore. Do you think a property owner in North Fillmore has any chance with these three individuals?
It's my belief that citizens need to know what is happening in our town.
Steve Conaway,

To the Editor:
I guess if I need dissension at City Hall, I can Google Washburn. If I'm looking for divisiveness, I can Google Washburn. If I need lengthy City Council meetings, I can Google Washburn. If I'm looking for any kind of trouble at City Hall (like someone else to fire), I can Google Washburn (maybe Brooks and Walker too).
On the other hand, If I want cooperativeness, a sense of fair play, a straight shooter, a serious minded Councilperson and of course, someone who is doing their best to "get-a-long" and make good things happen for all the voters in Fillmore, than I won't "GOOGLE WASHBURN" (nor Brooks or Walker either for that matter). She (and they) are the epitome of the phrase, "be careful what you wish (in this case, vote) for".
Oh, by the way, who's next to leave City Hall? Pretty soon those 3 will have the City in real turmoil and adrift on the shining sea! Yep, "voters" always get what they vote for. UGH!
Charles Richardson

To the Editor:
The content of this editorial could have been entitled ‘Self Indulgence, A Path to Tyranny’. In the event that many of the readers missed Paul Harvey’s program, “The Rest of the Story “ broadcast on the Seventh of July 2008, he included a prayer for our Nation by Billy Graham that received an immediate and overwhelmingly positive response. The content of that prayer I believe to be an appropriate way to introduce the subject of this commentary. For your benefit, please do not assume that because I mention Billy Graham and prayer that this is a religious article. Those readers who may not believe in God and would give up your seat for this ride, hang in there. I will only take his opportunity to remind you that even the devil believes in God, and trembles.
Mr. Graham, even in his late years, has a way of cutting to the chase and addressing clearly and concisely the root of the problem facing our country. He petitions God’s forgiveness for America as a Nation, for reversing our values, for calling evil good, for exploiting the poor and calling it a lottery, for rewarding laziness and calling it welfare. He asks God’s forgiveness for our nation allowing the killing of our unborn and calling it choice. He asks forgiveness for our neglecting our children’s discipline and calling it building self esteem, for our coveting our neighbor’s possessions, and calling it ambition, for polluting our airways with pornography and profanity, calling it self-expression. He also ask God to forgive us for having forsaken the time honored values of our forefathers, and calling it enlightenment, and ignoring the abuse of power in our Government , calling it politics. Although each and every one of the issues above could be written about at length, it is the last two which I choose to elaborate on.
The desire for immediate self gratification, brings lawlessness.
We as a nation, are going to extraordinary lengths to hide our immorality from our collective conscience. For the purpose of this article, it is of little consequence whether you believe in the God Mr. Graham addresses or in GOD’s ability to offer forgiveness. We (the people) have forsaken the time tested values of our forefathers. If we combined the issues Mr. Graham has addressed in his prayer, including I might add, our reluctance to speak the truth calling it instead political correctness, it is evident that it is generally the attitude of most of the people that needs adjusting. Our very freedom is threatened by each person who allows his or her values to be distorted by their need to put themselves above the common good.
The media reports evidence of this on a daily basis. On our streets, there individuals who run through stop signs and red lights, speed through school zones, speed on the highways and pass on the shoulder of the road. They put their own itinerary above the safety of others. The branches of the vine of lawlessness are too long and varied to continue to elaborate on further. Most people know lawlessness instinctively. It is unfortunate that so many choose to excuse, ignore, or capitulate to its effect on others. We are being led astray when educators, politicians, the media and special interest groups tell us that changing what something is called changes the substance of the object in question. What they hope to change is the public perception of their morality. The ACLU would have us believe that the term illegal has been removed from our vocabulary, that un-naturalized residents have the same right to public assistance as citizens. THEY DON’T, THEY ARE NOT CITIZENS! The so called ‘legal’ minds of the ACLU say it is unfair to round up and deport those who have begun their residency in our country with no regard for our law from the beginning. I would agree that we should ‘let’ them continue residency had the terminology not been reversed to mean ‘allow’ rather than the original meaning which meant ‘to restrain’. I would not be surprised to learn that these same individuals were responsible for changing the word ‘gay’, which once meant joyful or happy, to now be the accepted term for ‘perverted’. Calling a horse a goat does not make it any less a horse.
Attorneys for the ACLU, many public officials, and unfortunately some Judges on the bench of the California Supreme Court, argue that it is unfair for a vote by the majority to take away the right of a specific minority. There is no truth in this argument, regardless of what you would be led to believe. Every responsible person with the ability to reason recognizes that Law is written for the common good of the Majority. There are numerous ‘minorities’ in our nation. Hunters, fishermen, and nudists are only a few that first come to mind. Should the general law be changed to accommodate each such group’s chosen life style? Their right to pursue and enjoy their chosen life style is not threatened by the law of the majority. They are given the privilege of being able to pursue their lifestyle under specific guidelines that outline the limitations of how, where, and when their lifestyle can be pursued without having an adverse affect on the majority. We would be led to believe that the use of the word minority should be coupled with the term ‘ethnic’, as with the Hispanic, Black, Jewish, Armenian, Asian, Islamic or native Indian minorities. These are people born into specific groups and should not be discriminated against because of their family’s origin. Our Constitution states that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of these rights are threatened by marriage continuing to be the union of a man and a woman in Holy Matrimony. The homosexual group’s agenda would require the majority of families to accept their lifestyle and allow them to promote it to the children of mothers and fathers who can have children of their own. Like it or not, the right to have children is given only to heterosexual couples. They, and they alone should be joined in matrimony.
I find it particularly grievous and indeed unfortunate that these people the so called gay community) have been singled out and led astray in their hope, due to their persistence. They are being used as pawns by those with a much greater agenda, to arrest the government of the people, by the people, and take firm control of government for themselves. All that is required is for the people to capitulate and accept that they will be controlled by the few.
Those who have continued to read this far may be questioning what the foregoing has to do with the possibility of our loss of the freedom to which we have become accustomed.
Lawlessness in politics leads to Tyranny
The spirit of Self Indulgence has not been confined to those who appear to have very little. How many of the readers have lost their jobs because those in charge at their place of employment drained the profits to fill their own pockets with even more? Why is the news filled with reports of people losing most of their savings to unscrupulous financial advisers? People are losing their homes because of an economy devastated by those who gave them loans they couldn’t afford, or because ruthless speculators drove up real estate above it’s true value? The greed of a few has caused the prosperity of many to suffer. The Crime Syndicate, which many would have believed had become less dangerous or disappeared, has reappeared. We now know that it only moved from the mansions on the shore of Lake Michigan to the State House and further up in government. Those elected to serve the people are serving themselves. It is reported that many have been elected by voters who have long been in the grave, or by falsified voter registrations. The political arena is full of self serving attorneys, lawyers, judges and politicians who, rather than acting as employees of the people and serving to promote the betterment of those who provide their jobs, promote their own agendas and believe their own bias is more important than the will of the people. Scandalous behavior by these public officials is usually reported by the media, only when it has grown beyond damage control, and even then reported with a spin to provide the person the possibility of getting out of the dilemma. This has occurred in our local, state and federal government. When will we as a people, and as citizens, demand their jobs be remanded?
WAKE UP AMERICA, and especially at this time, those in California. On March 5th 2009, the California Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the vote of the people on Prop 8, would be upheld. I find it highly ironic and despicable that four individuals appointed as servants of the people to perform as Judges, and who have stated publicly that the minority should not be subject to the majority vote, have overruled the vote of 4,618,673 citizens by a 4 to 3 Majority. It is clear that they only want to accept the majority vote when they are part of the majority. These four people, by their unwitting ideological bias, on May 15th 2008 overturned Prop 22, setting in motion unmeasured devastation, disappointment, rioting, and expense for the citizens of California. Should the Judges on this momentous decision decide against the vote for Prop 8, we must immediately disappoint them and point them in the direction of new employment. Precedence for such an action has been established. Our very liberty and independence in America and California is at stake.
Stan Mason
A Watchman on the Wall

Letters to the Editor
March 5th, 2009

To the Editor:
Re: Editorial Comments
I am stating for the record, that I disagree with your opinions expressed in recent editorials. We have never had a conversation about these issues and they appear to be based on gossip and assumptions.
My positions on staff and other issues have been published in the Gazette and online during the campaign. I suggest you read them. I also speak my own mind and no one else speaks for me.
The people of Fillmore wanted some change in the community. I believe one of those changes was an end to this kind of bullying and dialog that has occurred for many years. Many months ago I temporarily discontinued my blog because I didn't appreciate the disrespectful comments coming from either side and refused to post any comment demeaning staff, other Council members or members of the public. It serves no good purpose.
While elected officials and staff are always subject to criticism, there is no need to become abusive or hateful.
I suggest we put an end to a culture of divisiveness that has existed for a long time. I ask all fellow citizens not to participate in this behavior either.
We have to agree that we all want the best for Fillmore and this is not the way to achieve that. We have economic and other challenges ahead of us. It's time to move on and get to work.
Gayle Washburn
Fillmore City Councilmember

To the Editor:
In response to Martin Farrell’s Realities of February 26, 2009, I had the opportunity to speak to Steve McClary on what will be a well-earned position (and promotion) as Assistant City Manager for the City of Ojai.
First, Mr. McClary applied for the position in Ojai in October, 2008. In other words, prior to the 2008 election.
Second, the only staff which answer to the council are the City Manager and City Attorney - all other staff, which included Mr. McClary, respond to the City Manager. The council has no authority over the hiring or firing of the staff.
Third, at the January 27, 2009, City Council Meeting the City Manager told the public that he was looking to re-write the job description for both Mr. McClary and the Administrative Assistant, Angela Mumme.
Finally, Ojai’s government offices are closed every Friday, his new position will entail few if any evenings, both pluses for a young man and father.
Steve McClary was an asset to the city. Let’s not turn this opportunity for him into a means to belittle any member of the Fillmore City Council.
Patti Walker
Mayor, City of Fillmore

To the Editor:
On behalf of the Fillmore-Piru 2009 Relay for Life (RFL) Committee, a BIG Thank You is declared to Mayor Patti Walker and the Fillmore City Council for granting the fee waiver to allow the RFL committee to use the Fillmore Senior Center for its planning and strategy meetings and, also, the use of Shiells Parks for the RFL event scheduled for September 26-27, 2009.
The RFL is the American Cancer Society's unique fundraiser of local community action to raise the spirits of people touched by cancer. The donated funds will provide education, advocacy, and continuing patient services, programs and life-affirming cancer research. The support, hard work, and generosity of everyone will help make the 24-hour celebration become a success and truly an inspiration.
Faith Lugo,
Chairperson RLF Committee

To the Editor:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank The City of Fillmore for their participation, In the Military Banner Program. I know there are several people / organizations responsible for the installation of these Military banners. But without the city’s participation, this program could not succeed. For an old Navy Veteran like myself, it gives me a proud feeling to see local men and women serving in the military, receiving the honor and recognition they deserve.
Raul Torres US Navy Veteran
Resident of El Dorado Estates