Author Mark Trimble is shown with Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Iranian born citizen who is the founder of Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center).
Author Mark Trimble is shown with Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Iranian born citizen who is the founder of Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center).
Enlarge Photo
Israel Series Part 5

During my most recent counter-terrorism training mission to the Middle East, I had the honor of meeting a courageous and innovative individual.

Her name is Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, ESQ. Nitsana is the founder of the non-profit Shurat HaDin (English translation: The Israel Law Center). Western Intelligence agencies and countries, including the United States, have benefited in their fight against Radical Islamic terrorism because of the dedicated work of Mrs. Darshan-Leitner and the Israel Law Center.

Mossad officials (The Israeli Intelligence Institute that is the equivalent of the CIA in the U.S.) stated because of the legal activities of Nitsana and The Israel Law Center, terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip has been reduced by as much as 60%.

Established in 2003 and based in Tel-Aviv, Shurat HaDin has become the world leader in fighting terrorism through civil lawsuits and other legal action. Shurat HaDin works together with western intelligence agencies and volunteer attorneys around the world to file legal actions on behalf of victims of terrorist acts.

Following the model pioneered by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center a non-profit legal center that over the last four decades has successfully confronted and shut down racist groups across America,Shurat HaDin represents hundreds of victims in cases against Islamic terrorist groups and countries that are state sponsors of terrorism such as; Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Authority, Iran, Syria, and the financial institutions that act as front organizations for these terrorist elements finances.

Shurat HaDin’s main goals are:
-Stop the flow of terror CONTINUED »

 

Interested parties who wish to become a write-in candidate can do so. The write-in nomination period opened on September 6th (technically the 7th as the 6th was a holiday), and will close on October 16th; a notice concerning the write-in period is posted on the Fillmore city’s website. The same candidacy provisions apply, i.e., 20 valid signatures of registered voters are required to become a certified candidate, and FPPC forms need to be completed and filed with the City Clerk’s office. The candidates name will not appear on the ballot and would need to be written in by a voter at the polls.

 
CSEA - California School Employees Association

On October 28th, the CSEA will be hosting a forum at the Sespe Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. We will be putting a list of questions together for them. Come join us and ask where your children’s monies are bring spent. There are three positions opened. Nominees are: Tony Prado, Mark Austin, Kim Rivers, Lucy Rangel, and Dave Wilde. For information contact gamapiggie@yahoo.com.

 

Response to Brian Sipes’ Ventura County Star interview [“Five candidates seeking two seats on Fillmore City council” 09/27/10]:

SIPES’ INTERVIEW, VC STAR: “Sipes said the current City Council is grappling with what he characterized as the overspending of past councils, including the approval of the city’s new water recycling plant. Fillmore Public Works Director Bert Rapp has put the price tag at $70 million, to build the plant, related components, and a recycled water main throughout the city. Sipes believes the cost could have been considerably less, which might have averted sewer rate increases that the council adopted earlier this month.

“In 2006, we as citizens brought up numerous issues with the plant in respect to increases to our rates,” he said. “The City Council at that time refused to take our concerns seriously. And now we’re paying dearly for it.”
Sipes said the City Council chose to finance the plant with state bonds, as opposed to state revolving loans, at least part of which could have been erased with federal stimulus funds.

With the tacit blessings of a majority of the city’s property owners under Proposition 218, the council on Sept. 14 adopted an initial $2-a-month increase in sewer rates, raising a property owner’s bill to $82 a month, to help offset the costs of the plant. On July 1, 2011, and continuing each year until 2014, the sewer rates will increase by 5 percent plus the inflation rate.”

RESPONSE:
Use of the State Revolving Loan fund would have increased rates $4.00 per month, due to 20 year payback of loan. The goal is to have the lowest monthly rate as possible. It was considered and rejected. Now Mr. Sipes can stop saying “I don’t know why it wasn’t considered”.

The new Sewer Plant work was advertised nationally, competitively bid and the least cost vendor was selected to do the work. Mr. Sipes has buried his head in the sand and refuses to acknowledge the truth on this matter because it does not serve his political purposes. Mr. Sipes cost saving idea was to put the new plant near the Santa Clara River without flood protection (to save money) and to pump the sewage from the new business park up to the new plant thereby increasing costs forever.

Delaying the project to study his and Gayle Washburn’s Google research on uncertified impractical and in some cases experimental concepts may have delayed the project to the point it could not meet the State Mandated Time Schedule Order which would have started the meter on Minimum Daily Mandatory Fines. If he followed Gayle Washburn’s lead he would not have competively bid the work at all and would have single sourced the work. Mrs. Washburn stood before the Santa Paula City Council, just like a salesperson, and got involved with their affairs now their sewer bill is $77.12 plus $0.58 per unit of water starts Sept 1, 2011 (see attached table) and the city doesn’t even own the plant. The construction bid price was $57M but if Santa Paula gets tired of high operating costs and wants to own their plant it will cost them $85,000,000 to buy it plus pay another $1M operations termination fee. Wait till that bill is added to the rate they are paying now.

Concerning “Obama-money” Brian Sipes fails to mention that Fillmore, and Santa Paula for that matter, did not qualify as economically disadvantaged communities because the median incomes were too high. Piru qualified and got an $8M grant. Fillmore did get a $3M Prop 50 grant for water recycling. Brian won’t tell you but Santa Paula did not get any grants.

For all the time he sits in council meetings one would think that he would be able to present facts and truthful information, but that just doesn’t seem to be his style.

Brian states that his voice wasn’t heard. The truth is every time he speaks at Council Meetings his comments are in the minutes. He’s in a lot of City Council Minutes. He says “past councils” didn’t listen to him or others. Does he not remember, or does he just not want you to remember, the numerous sewer workshops specifically the one with the panel of experts which answered every single question posed to them. All concerns were not only heard, but addressed with answers being provided. No Brian, if anyone is not listening it is you. You failed to listen then and you fail to listen now.

 
Question #6

November 2nd you will be able to vote for TWO candidates

Question #6: Should the city financially assist the completio of the business park? Why/why not? Do you agree or disagree with the financial and contractual decisions made concerning the new wastewater plant?

Patti Walker: The City provided assistance by lending money to drill and cap Well #9. The Council voted to approve the formation of a Community Facility District (CFD) for the sale of bonds to cover the infrastructure. In addition, the Council approved requested changes in the building conditions to align them to the requirements to the Floodway section of the Fillmore Municipal Code .
In my opinion it would be wasteful of staff resources to further study and discuss borrowing of a substantial sum of money from the CA I-Bank. The loan would have been paid back from the CFD, but the General Fund was the collateral. The evening this item was debated, the Council moved to foreclose on property that had defaulted on its CFD causing a loss of revenue to the City. Also, the applicant had given no thought to repayment of a requested loan from the Redevelopment Agency, nor had there been discussion with other property owners to garner support for the loans.
The cost for the wastewater plant is enormous. Too costly for our community. Regardless, we will have to live with that decision for too many years. It’s true that it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, but when making decisions that have such a huge financial impact on the entire city, the community should have been asked to support the project prior to making the financial obligation on the plant. If that had been accomplished, the City may have seen buy-in by the community.

Brian Sipes: I am a strong advocate of collaboration. I also believe in the free market system. But, government can only do so much. And, the free market system will determine if the business park is viable. I am hopeful and I fully support the concept of a business park. This community needs jobs, services and goods. While some assistance can be justified, the City has already gone above and beyond in assistance for the business park.
The City used taxpayer funds to purchase land for the sewer plant from the developers for $2.6 million. The City also chose to locate the sewer plant at this site to anchor the business park and assist the developers in paying for the levee, roads and other infrastructure. Other locations already owned by the City may have been more cost effective for the ratepayers but would not have helped the business park. In addition, the City Council loaned $750,000 to drill Well #9, which was required before development could proceed.
Being a fiscal conservative, I disagreed with the decision by our prior Council to finance our sewer plant with municipal bonds instead of state loans with half the interest cost. As far as the contractual decisions, if I were on the Council at that time, I would have proposed that the contract not be approved and signed before the taxpayers could vote on rates. I would have proposed a re-bid which is what Piru and Santa Paula did. Those are actions that could have helped Fillmore.

 
Question #6

November 2nd you will be able to vote for THREE candidates

Question #6: What do you perceive as the most important issues for the School Board, and the District? What policies would you work to change, add or subtract? For example, 20% of a student’s grade is determined by the AR program. How would you handle objections from parents in regards to the AR standards? Should the program be modified (and how?) or remain unchanged? Why?

Tony Prado: The most important issue facing the Board and the District is money. The federal, state and local economies are in bad shape and will continue to be in bad shape until tax revenue increases. All district employees deserve salary increases, all our educational programs need an infusion of money and our facilities need upgrading. The District is working hard in educating our students with less money. Not knowing what monies to expect from the state has put the District in a position of guessing how much to cut from their budget as has been the case the last two years
Grading issues of teachers at each school site becomes the responsibility of the principals. Board members should not attempt to micromanage grades. When parents have a concern about grading systems of a teacher or a school site, parents should contact the teacher first, then the principal and then the superintendent. If the concern continues then it should be brought to the attention of the Board. The Board then will discuss the issue. A majority of the Board members will determine a course of action.
AR is having a positive impact in our District. More students are reading! In our District 2nd language learners are a high percentage of our students and its helping them learn English, other students are learning to be better readers and writers. Personally, I do not believe AR should be 20% of a students grade. Remember, vote for Tony Prado.

Lucy Rangel: Some important issues are: earning back the trust of parents, staff, and the community, future budget cuts due to lack of funding, and evaluating the effectiveness of programs to raise student achievement.
I would like to address the current change at the high school regarding the Accelerated Reading program as I have had a number of parents contact me regarding this issue. We have had this program in our district since the late1990’s. Most of the research has been done in the elementary classroom, where it has proven to be successful. However, there are limited studies regarding AR use with high school students. It is at this level where most parental concerns have been voiced now that AR will count for 20% of a student’s English grade. Since AR is a supplementary and not a core program, I understand the concerns of these parents.
If I could make any change in this program, I would use AR as an incentive. Once students scored proficient or advanced on their standardized tests, and they maintained this level, they would have several options. They would be allowed to read any book they were interested in (with parent approval), and not have to take a test. The other option would be that if they read an AR book, took a test, and received a passing score, then they could earn extra credit points. Forcing students to read for pleasure can become counteractive for high school students, especially if they are already good readers.

Mark Austin: An important issue facing the School Board and District will continue to be providing a quality education, while experiencing ongoing budget constraints. This issue will require a strong School Board in the coming months, as it is likely that additional budget reductions may be needed. Another issue facing the School Board and District is the continued failure to meet the State Academic Performance Index (API) and Federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards. While some progress is being made to meet the API and AYP standards, my belief is that this is not good enough, and that we are failing to provide our children a quality education.
The Accelerated Reading (AR) Program may be an opportunity to improve a program that could substantially improve the quality of education. The AR Program’s primary objective was to promote reading, which has been shown to increase academic achievement. However, what has occurred within the District has become quite the opposite of positive in many cases. Children are circumventing their reading assignments by watching movies done on the assigned book. Other students have gone so far as to have their peers prepare the written assignments on the reading assignments. In other words, the AR Program is not working as intended. In my opinion, this program needs to be re-examined by the School Board and modified to attain its objective of promoting reading. www.votemarkaustin.com.

Kimberly Rivers: The greatest challenge our Districts faces is providing a first class education to ALL students. Too many students are being suspended and not enough are graduating. Our District must have a program in place for families struggling to keep their kids in school that let’s them know every child, even the so called “problem” kids are welcome in our classrooms. Not only is this the legal duty of our District, but also I believe it is a basic requirement for public education.
Second, wherever I go in the District I talk with people who feel heard, while others feel their ideas will never be heard. A promise I can make is that my door will be open to everyone; students, parents, staff, residents, you are all stakeholders in our District. Only with input from everyone can we define and create a path to a first class education.
I understand the AR program is intended to encourage reading. I have heard from families and teachers that the excessive reading assignments and detail orientated quizzes are causing students and parents to be resentful of reading, leading some students to pretend they have read a book and trade quiz answers. For some, reading has become distasteful. Clearly the AR program needs to be evaluated for effectiveness. I believe that with input from parents, teachers and students the program can be modified to not only encourage reading, but to encourage a love of reading that is so vital to creating life long learners. www.votekimrivers.com.

Dave Wilde: The budget issue is huge. We have to do what we can reduce the threat of staff layoffs. Teachers and support staff are what make the difference in a student's education. Funds must be made available for instructional materials and instructional staff preparation. An addition to the budget issue is the student environment and safety. With decreasing funds we must continue to do what we can to guarantee students a safe and positive learning environment.
The second question is not about policies in general, but specifically the high school AR program. Parents, teachers, and student responses have not been decisive. Most high school teachers feel they are preparing students to be successful readers in what ever future challenges they face. That is their job. The 20% issue is designed to impress students with the importance of reading. When the percentage was 10% many students failed to complete their AR assignments, and the hope was that 20% might change that. Is it right? I don't know yet. If students still fail to complete their reading assignments another plan should be implemented. The board should not be making decisions about the AR program, otherwise they could be accused of micromanaging the district. It is the high school that has that responsibility. If there is a significant number of students and parents who have concerns about the program they need to continue meeting with the high school to reach an agreement. The board's input should be a last resort.

 
Advisory from Ventura County Environmental Health Division

As part of the Ventura County Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program, the Environmental Health Division (EHD) is providing the following precautionary information for the public. Rainfall that is significant enough to result in runoff can flow into storm drains, channels, creeks, and rivers that empty onto the beaches of Ventura County. In general, 0,2 inches (2 tenths of an inch) of rain may be enough to create significant runoff conditions.

There is a potential for storm water runoff to carry disease causing bacteria to the beaches and into the ocean water. In addition, storm water runoff can transport physical hazards such as partially submerged tree limbs and logs into the ocean that could result in serious physical injury. Contact with this runoff water will result in an increased risk to human health and should be avoided for at least 72 hours after all rainfall activity has ended.

EHD is advising the public to avoid body contact with all storm water runoff and ocean water at all Ventura County beaches. Any items that may have come in contact with runoff or ocean water should also be avoided. If contact occurs, wash thoroughly with soap and water.

Any shellfish on or from Ventura County beaches may have also been exposed to this contamination and should not be eaten.

This advisory is in effect for all Ventura County beaches as a result of the recent rainfall and will remain in effect for 72 hours (3 days) after all rainfall has ended. Results for specific beaches are also available on the EHD hotline (recorded information), 805/662-6555, and on the EHD Web page at: http://ventura.org/rma/envheahh/prograrn$/tech^serv/ocean/index.html

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Today at about 9:00 am, an elementary school student reported to police that he was on a sidewalk in North Fillmore. Note: It is a late-school day. He stated that an unknown male in his 20's approached him and tried restraining him. The student states that he broke free and ran inside of a house. He called 911. The student reports that the adult male fled on foot.

The youth describes the male suspect as unknown race, tall, 20-ish , dark hair.

We have Detectives interviewing neighbors and deputies canvassing the area.

The schools have been notified.

There are no other witnesses. No known suspects etc... No persons injured.

The School District is working with the police to notify all parents in the City via the School District automated parent notification-telephone system and fliers.

Any tips call 805-524-2233.

Capt. Tim Hagel

 
Fillmore City Manager Yvonne Quiring faced surprise employee vote of no confidence at Tuesday’s special council meeting. In the very unusual agenda, former Mayor Scott Lee read the demand for council redress of grievances.
Fillmore City Manager Yvonne Quiring faced surprise employee vote of no confidence at Tuesday’s special council meeting. In the very unusual agenda, former Mayor Scott Lee read the demand for council redress of grievances.
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Fillmore City Manager Yvonne Quiring
Fillmore City Manager Yvonne Quiring

There was a shake up at City Hall on Tuesday that only a few had expected. The City Council had scheduled the annual evaluation of both City Manager and City Attorney to take place during a closed session of the Fillmore City council on September 28th at 5pm. Another joint meeting was scheduled later that evening at 7pm with Fillmore Unified School District at Fillmore High School cafeteria. But when an unexpected bombshell was presented at the beginning of the 5pm session, the closed meeting was canceled and the meeting remained open.
The shakeup began when Scott Lee, a former Mayor and City Council Member, read the Council a letter signed by thirty-two of the City’s thirty-seven fulltime employees. It read: The Management and Represented employees of the City of Fillmore are writing this letter to inform the Council of its displeasure with City Manager Yvonne Quiring, …. the employees have no confidence in Ms. Quiring’s leadership, and our concern for the general welfare of the City under her direction.

It went on to state that the employees are being micromanaged, belittled, intimidated, given unclear direction, harassed, fear retaliation for informing Council of the current status of their working environment and that her contradictory management style consist of speaking kindly before a group of employees, then holding closed door meetings wherein staff is unfairly berated bringing the morale of the entire City Hall to a now intolerable low.
Quiring was hired October 2009 and previously worked for the City of Lathrop. Lee also informed the council that the represented employees of the City of Lathrop also presented a vote of no confidence in February of 2008.
Those signing on to the letter were: Public Works Director, Community Development Director, City Engineer, Building Official, Assistant to Finance Director, Recreation Supervisor, Assistant Planner, Human Resource Officer, Confidential Accountant Tech, Accounting Supervisor, Planning Teck/Clerk, Financial Assistant/Treasurer, Public Works Supervisor, 12 Public Works employees, Fiscal Assistant/Treasurer, 3 Fiscal Assistant employees and 4 Facilities employees.


Above: Former Fillmore Mayor Scott Lee's reading of the letter. Below: The text of the letter:

September 27, 2010
Fillmore City Council 250 Central Avenue Fillmore, CA 93015
SUBJECT: Vote of No Confidence - City Manager Yvonne Quiring. Dear City Council,
The Management and Represented employees of the City of Fillmore are writing this letter to inform the Council of its displeasure with City Manager, Yvonne Quiring, that the employees have no confidence in Ms. Quiring's leadership, and our concern for the general welfare of the City under her direction.
Thirty-Two of the City's thirty-seven fulltime employees agree that they are being micromanaged, belittled, intimidated, given unclear direction, harassed, and fear retaliation for informing Council of the current status of their working environment. Management staff feels that Ms. Quiring has created a hostile work environment within which staffs ability to focus on and complete work has been stifled. Her contradictory management style consists of speaking kindly before a group of employees then holding closed door meetings wherein staff is unfairly berated bringing the morale of the entire City Hall to a now intolerable low.
Staff also wants the Council to know that the concerns expressed in this letter are not precedent setting. During Yvonne Quiring's previous position as City Manager for the City of Lathrop, the represented employees also presented a vote of no confidence of Ms. Quiring in February of 2008 to its Council for many of the same reasons that we present before you in this letter. City staff believes this management behavior is a characteristic that is engrained in Ms. Quiring and cannot be corrected.
Management staff is fully aware of the difficult decisions that stand before the City given the current economic conditions, however we cannot continue to work under the hostile conditions created by the City Manager. It is critical to the City's well being that we present our concerns to you, the City Council.
The City of Fillmore deserves visionary leadership that genuinely fosters professional growth and encourages staff in achieving that vision. Ms. Quiring's poor treatment of staff does nothing to build a healthy and successful team.
It is with great anxiety that staff brings these concerns to your attention. Most of the City's long-term employees have gone through the highs and lows of a career in public service, however none have experienced the work environment that currently exists in the City and no one should have to work in such a hostile work environment. The management and represented employees of the City of Fillmore respectfully request that the City Council take action on this issue.
Sincerely,
Management and Represented Employees of the City of Fillmore, See Attached Signature Page, Exhibit A [signatures of 32 fulltime Fillmore city employees].

This unexpected reading left the Council with little time left to address the scheduled evaluations, so they were postponed until later, giving the Council the needed time to discuss this new information.

The City Council then adjourned and proceeded to join the Fillmore Unified School District for their joint 7pm meeting at the high school cafeteria. All Fillmore City Council Members and all Fillmore School Board members were in attendance with the exception of School Board Member De La Piedra.

About 35 people attended the joint meeting which began with honoring the nonprofit Child Development Resources (CDR). Mayor Patti Walker presented a proclamation recognizing CDR 30th anniversary celebration and service to the community. CDR Board Member Frank Millar accepted it on their behalf. Millar then went on to announced CDR’s third annual “Celebrate the Child Event” to be held on Sunday October 10th 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at the historic Camarillo Ranch and invited everyone to attend. During the event attendees will enjoy a variety of delicious multicultural foods and participate in child-friendly hands-on activities. Log onto WWW.CDRV.org for more information.

Next up was the public comment time with new running track being the topic of discussion. Many who spoke voiced their desire to have the track opened up to the public and year round use. Fillmore resident Joan Archer brought to the Board and Council’s attention that the citizens of Fillmore had access to the old track and that she didn’t recall disclosure of the restriction in using the newly built track prior to the vote on the bond issue that ultimately resulted in taxpayers dollars paying for the new track.

Archer told the Council that youth fitness programs and facilities are abundant in the City but adult fitness isn’t and could be improved by the use of the track. She went on to say the track is a safe venue to promote public health and fitness, and rather than using it to promote just the youth health and fitness the track could be a combination of city school and volunteer resources. Archer ended her comments with “I believe that the City Council and School Board constitute a small group of thoughtful, committed people who can find a more effective resolution of this issue than has been found thus far.”

A representative of Fillmore Youth Condors Cross Country spoke of the desire for his group to use the new track. The Condors are a non-profit club comprised of young runner’s ages 5 to 16. All are members of the Southern California Youth Track & Field Conference with a goal this year to qualify to run at the AAU Junior Olympic Championships in Orlando, Florida.

Maribella Hernandez and Manuela Twitodell, both members of a runners club, expressed their desire to extend the use of the track to the citizens of Fillmore, adding that because the track is all-weather it could be opened in the winter and would be of such value to those dedicated to running. Twitodell stated the use of the track, “Gives a wonderful profile to the city.”

Council Member Brooks stated he is “…pushing for the public to have as much use as possible” and Council Member Washburn agreed replying, “I hope we can get as much use as possible.” The School Board went on to state, “The students should come first” and voiced their concern of how many groups might be using the track. The School Board also reminded those in attendance that this is a different situation than using a dirt track and the cost of repair and upkeep is considerably more with this track. Also discussed was the cost of liability if someone should get hurt along with the cost of security. A Fillmore resident rebutted the School Board’s concerns over liability with, “These were the same concerns talked about with the other parks in town. We cannot let this prevent us from moving forward; this is no greater liability than a skatepark.”

It was suggested that the public could have access to the track between 6pm and 10pm, to which the School Board responded that that would have an added cost of lighting the track, especially during the winter when it gets dark earlier. The City Council scheduled a meeting for October 20th to discuss the issue and the future use of the track with members agreeing it would require at least two or three meeting to resolve the issue of the tracks future use.

The pool was also on the agenda and a question of whether the City of Fillmore would have the available funds needed to meet a legal requirement of three trained lifeguards on duty while the pool is open. Closing the pool was a possibility if the needed funds could not be found. Presently the school district is using the pool for 3-one hour classes each week.

The discussion of the November 12th football game between Fillmore and Santa Paula, which marks the 100th football game between the two towns, brought smiles to all those in attendance with many looking forward to the event with great anticipation. Use of the train to bring Santa Paula residents was suggested to alleviate some of the extra parking that will be needed and security was discussed. Other activities were suggested such as honoring the oldest participant of the rival games who was in attendance. This is an event that so many will be looking forward to, so be sure to mark it on your calendar.

 
Israel Series Part 4

“I tell you to act upon the orders of Allah…to defeat them (the U.S. and other Western targets) through suicide attacks so that you may be successful before Allah.” -- Usama bin Laden

Homicide Bombers pose one of the most extreme problems law enforcement faces in the 21st century. The homicide bomber essentially becomes a human bomb, who selects the time, place, and situational circumstances of the attack. For Radical Islamic terrorists, human bombs are one of the surest methods of hitting an intended target as well as being simple and low cost operationally.

In Radical Islam, the Arabic word Shahid, which means witness, is used as an honorific to describe Radical Muslim Homicide Bombers who have died while murdering others fighting in Jihad.

The phrase, Suicide Bomber, is not accurate, the Homicide Bomber’s intent is not to solely commit suicide, it is a terrorist act intended to cause the highest possible amount of innocent casualties and as a form of 4th Generation Psychological Warfare to frighten the public through random acts of violence in an attempt to gain extensive publicity for their Radicalized Islamic agenda.

Suicide is a CONTINUED »

 
Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

On Tuesday, September 21 the Fillmore School Board of Trustees met for another regularly scheduled meeting. Member John Garnicas was not present. Coming in from closed session Board President Tony Prado first opened and then closed the public hearings related to the board approving resolutions regarding “The Sufficiency of Textbooks or Instructional Materials for the School Year” and adopting textbooks and materials for the “Structured English Immersion Program”. No comments were made by the public on this topic, or during the general public comment period.

Prado presented Sespe Elementary Kindergarten teacher Norma Vasquez with the first “Students First” award of the year, for her “dedication and outstanding work at Sespe School.” Vasquez thanked the Board and commented, “I’ve always thought of it as part of the job…it’s for the students. And community. For all of us.”

The Board Student Rep Sean Chandler reported on the preparations for homecoming, which will take place on Friday, October 1. The event kicks off with a parade, then a football game against Bishop Diego High School from Santa Barbara, followed by a dance at the school. The floats are being built in the theme of “Cartoons” and will be displayed on Second Street during and following the game.

During Board reports CONTINUED »

 
County police and fire units responded to a single vehicle collision on Highway 126, near Sharp Ranch in Piru, September 23, at 7:54 p.m. An earlier model Honda Civic struck the left rear of a large truck hauling chilies.
County police and fire units responded to a single vehicle collision on Highway 126, near Sharp Ranch in Piru, September 23, at 7:54 p.m. An earlier model Honda Civic struck the left rear of a large truck hauling chilies.
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Massive damage was done to the car.
Massive damage was done to the car.
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Very minor damage was done to the truck.
Very minor damage was done to the truck.
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Question #5

November 2nd you will be able to vote for TWO candidates

Question #5: With City budgets shrinking, what cost saving measures would you propose/consider?

Brian Sipes: During these times of financial uncertainty, it is critical that elected officials and staff look at every opportunity to cut any unnecessary expenses while preserving City services.It is possible we will see another budget shortfall. One recommendation would be for the City of Fillmore try to keep our workforce within City Hall, instead of using expensive outside consultants. The City could try to implement and utilize a volunteer/ intern corps of citizens for some tasks. Our Public Works Department may want to transition to automatic irrigation controllers for our parks. This is would have a dual benefit of saving water and energy. In 2007, I brought forward a green energy agreement that cities could sign on to. If our City Council would have signed this agreement, the City of Fillmore would have had the ability to receive grants for fuel efficient vehicles and for common forms of infrastructure. To me, to better our City, we must be fully engaged and open to alternatives. If elected, I would like to create an advisory commission made up of citizens and a few staff members to go through future budgets and make suggestions to reduce overhead.

Patti Walker: Like other cities, Fillmore has battled the effects of the economy - reduction in sales and property tax revenue and payment of about $2.4 from the RDA to the State. The City that has to pay back the money, not the State.
At the start of this fiscal budget cycle, we saw that almost every department had financial issues. City staff came together and brought all ideas to the table to find cost savings on almost every page of the budget. The entire staff worked hard to reduced this year’s budget deficit from more than $1,000,000 to a gap of approximately $275,000.
In my opinion, the citizens of Fillmore have been asked to give enough. They have seen an increase in their sewer and water fees, an increase in trash hauling fees and an addition of paying street sweeping costs. If that wasn’t enough, there have been increases in the costs to use the parks plus a reduction in the hours at the theater and pool. At the county level there will be increases in the bus fares.
As publically stated, there is discussion of setting up furlough days, an idea I support. Other discussions of finding budget reductions to close the $275,000 gap have been turned over to the City staff. Obviously, they can choose to have discussions on paying a percentage of the retirement costs and/or pay some of their other benefits. This council gave direction to avoid cutting positions, but this is something that may not be avoidable.

David Lugo: With our shrinking budget the way to cut cost is by stop outsourcing jobs that our own city employees are capable of doing. Stop all improvements to the city until we start getting more revenue coming into the city buy bringing in new businesses. The Business Park would be a place to start for revenue to the city, getting that going would be a boost for our economy and bring jobs. I would cut the Assistant City Manager and the Economic Development positions that would save about $300,000. They are not needed in this slow period we are in at this time. In times like this we need to ask staff to take on other duties like these to help us get through these times. “Your Voice”

 
Question #5

November 2nd you will be able to vote for THREE candidates

Question #5: This year, several administration positions were filled by appointment, without the positions being advertised and ‘hired’. What is your opinion of appointments vs open competition for a vacant position?

Lucy Rangel: Although a Superintendent of a school district may be well within his right to appoint an individual for a vacant administrative position, one should ask whether this practice follows the best procedure for hiring the most qualified individual for that position. It is my opinion that this practice undermines the democratic process which we strive to teach our students. It can lead to an atmosphere of mistrust, lack of respect, and an overall feeling of unfairness, especially for those who would like the opportunity to be considered under an “even playing field”. Hiring practices in the FUSD have been inconsistent and unfair. Qualified individuals have been overlooked because positions have not been opened up.
Choosing a new leader is not an easy task for any organization; and the complex work of any school makes the selection of an individual even more challenging. The increased demand for high quality leaders in schools requires districts to select an individual who is prepared for the task of teaching, learning and organizational performance. It is critical that consistent hiring practices be established. Perhaps there should be a district hiring committee composed of varied stakeholders who know the community, culture, and school processes. Open competition for a vacant administrative position should exist in our district instead of the position being filled by appointment because we owe it to our students, staff, and community to find the best qualified candidate.

Kimberly Rivers: The selection of all employees within the District should be based on the needs of the District, and on which individuals are best qualified to meet those needs, using the most transparent process. Therefore I support “open competition” for available positions at every level. Although, the Board, being a publicly elected body must adhere to current stated policies and employment contracts that govern most aspects of its operations. In reviewing Board policy and the contract with the Superintendent, I have not located any language, which would support the idea that the Board is locked into approving any personnel decisions. The Board as stated in its policy, and in the Superintendents contract has “final approval” of all personnel decisions.
Currently the Board has the authority to annually re-negotiate or choose to not renew the Superintendents contract. I hope the public is aware that Board Policy and the Superintendents contract are public documents, available for viewing by any member of the public. The issue of appointments may be one where the Board needs to hear from concerned members of the community regarding the current procedures for filling vacancies in the District. The Community (including students, classified staff, certificated staff, parents, residents, business owners etc.) has every right to evaluate our Superintendent. When elected I will ensure the Board acts in a responsive and reasonable way to such concerns, always with a focus on what is best for the students, and working to create a transparent and accountable process. www.votekimrivers.com.

Dave Wilde: To be fair and offer all qualified district personnel an equal opportunity positions should be opened up to all who are interested. I'm sure there must have been good reasons for offering those people these new positions, but to demonstrate respect for the rights of district employees the process of announcing an opening and the interview process should be exercised. If there is a person who the district feels is the right fit for an administrative position using the normal hiring practices would not prevent that person from getting the job. So, you have the same desired results and all other interested people feel they had the opportunity to compete. The Fillmore School system is a team made up of all the district's employees. Not recognizing those rights will cause a breakdown in that unit. It may also result in a loss of support when needed at a later date.
Tom Peters, a famous business leader of the late twentieth century, professed that one of the ways to get the most out of your employees was to ensure they were treated with respect and had an active role in running the business. I wish I could remember his exact words, but you could find it in one of several management books he wrote.

Mark Austin: My opinion is that the use of appointments for filling vacant administration positions is not appropriate. By using this method, both the School Board and Superintendent, may possibly be accused of violating the public’s trust by not allowing for transparent government. Many individuals living in the boundaries of the Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) view the appointments of these administration positions - just as that - back-room dealings. It is my strong belief that the FUSD needs to move away from this mode of operation in order to begin to gain back the community’s trust.
I believe in the use of open competition to fill vacant positions at the administration levels. These openings should be advertised in a way to acquire a large pool of the most qualified candidates. Existing staff that is employed by the FUSD would be encouraged to apply for these positions. By using this method, the FUSD would allow for a more open and transparent process.
Please visit my website at www.votemarkaustin.com or feel free to contact me at 805-427-0456 to answer any questions or to provide me with input on how you feel the FUSD could be improved.

Tony Prado: One of the few goals of a board is to create an environment where there is on-going positive growth among district leaders. It is essential that the Board agree on hiring a superintendent who is highly qualified and will continue to grow on the job. Attracting a highly qualified individual to become superintendent of F.U.S.D. is very difficult just as it is difficult to attract others for district administrative, principal and assisstant principal positions. Fillmore is a small community and has a small school district with below average District salaries-at all levels.
I believe we have a highly qualified Superintendent, who has faced some critical issues and has successfully resolved them. When a position has become vacant such as district administrator or principle or assisstant principle, it is highly advantageous to open the position for competition. But if the Superintendent believes that there are individuals within the district that have shown leadership capabilities, then he makes his case to the Board and the Board will allow him to appoint his choice or deny it. This scenario allows for district employees an opportunity for advancement. Whatever method is used, the Superintendent owns the decision and benefits or suffers the consequences of his decision.
Remember Vote for Tony Prado
A good superintendent provides professional support to ensure that district and site leadership performs at an optimal level. Successful leadership promotes stability, and stability of leadership helps create effective teaching which brings about learning in the classroom.

 
Fillmore reached 115 degrees in the shade in today.
Fillmore reached 115 degrees in the shade in today.
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Hundreds of people packed Shiells Park on Saturday for the 5th Annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraiser. Members of 45 teams from Fillmore and Piru walked laps around the field for 24 hours, beginning at 10 a.m. Each team consisted of 10 members, each trying to raise a minimum of $100 from sponsorships. The goal this year was to raise $75,000 towards the society’s goals: advocacy, education, research and support. The first hour of the relay was led by approximately 60 cancer survivors. No fundraising amounts were available at press time.
Hundreds of people packed Shiells Park on Saturday for the 5th Annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraiser. Members of 45 teams from Fillmore and Piru walked laps around the field for 24 hours, beginning at 10 a.m. Each team consisted of 10 members, each trying to raise a minimum of $100 from sponsorships. The goal this year was to raise $75,000 towards the society’s goals: advocacy, education, research and support. The first hour of the relay was led by approximately 60 cancer survivors. No fundraising amounts were available at press time.
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API Scores for Fillmore Unified School District. In Ventura County there are 100 schools scoring above 800, with 23 schools scoring above 900, and 69 schools scoring in the 700’s. The remaining schools scored below 700.
API Scores for Fillmore Unified School District. In Ventura County there are 100 schools scoring above 800, with 23 schools scoring above 900, and 69 schools scoring in the 700’s. The remaining schools scored below 700.
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FUSD Schools in Program Improvement (PI).
FUSD Schools in Program Improvement (PI).

On Monday, September 13, 2010 the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell released the 2009-10 School Accountability Progress Report. According to the press release from O’Connell’s office, the report “Provides results from the state accountability system: the Academic Performance Index (API), as well as the federal accountability system, comprised of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Program Improvement (PI).” It goes on to explain Both the API and AYP data are based on results from the Statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system. All results for this year and past years are on the California Department of Education (CDE) Website.

What is API? According to the information packet on API provided by the CDE, API scores are “used to measure the academic growth of a school. The API from one year is compared to the API from the prior year to measure improvement. Each school has an annual target, and all numerically significant subgroups at a school also have targets.” API Scores range from 200 to 1000. The CDE has set the minimum target API for all schools at 800, with an ultimate goal of every school meeting or exceeding that target by the 2013-14 school year. To reach that goal each school, and subgroups within the school have “growth targets” to meet each year. The idea is that if the school meets those growth targets, it will achieve the goal of 800 (or above) by the school year 2013-14.

In Ventura County there are 100 schools scoring above 800, with 23 schools scoring above 900, and 69 schools scoring in the 700’s. The remaining schools scored below 700.

What is AYP? According to CONTINUED »

 

Each year the Fillmore Post 9637 selects a member of the community to Honor for their commitment to help and or recognize our fellow citizens that are serving our country in uniform. This year we honor a man that went into the Marine Corp in January, 1966 and served till October 1969, Dick Diaz.

Not wanting to get his boots dirty he got assigned to a Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron, (kind of like a flying gas station) where he logged more than 1500 hours. These transports also moved troops in and out of Vietnam.

By keeping his nose clean and doing a good job he came out of the service as a sergeant E-5, not bad for 3 years, he also was awarded the Vietnam Service and Campaign Metals as well as the Good Conduct Medal.

With an Honorable Discharge in hand he began a 36 and 1/2 year career in law enforcement. In the 1980's he was chief of Police in Fillmore, went to Ventura County Sheriffs Department as a Lieutenant, and retired as a Captain. His father-in-law is a Korean war vet; his son is in the Navy.

His articles in the Fillmore Gazette highlights service members and lists the local people serving in all branches of the military.

It is our honor to recognize Mr. Dick Diaz

 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Fillmore police are looking for a man in his early 20s in connection with a strong-arm robbery that took place Saturday afternoon, September 18th.

A 22-year old Fillmore man was at or near a store in the 600 block of Ventura Street when the suspect approached him and reportedly punched him in the face, taking the victims cash and newly purchased clothes.

The suspect is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, medium build.

If anyone witness the robbery or has information they may call the Fillmore Sheriffs at 524-2233.

 
Question #4

November 2nd you will be able to vote for TWO candidates

David Lugo: The current council made the decision to make Two Rivers park the permanent home for Fillmore Little League which was a great thing for them no longer will they have to worry about raising costs that go along with the use of school property. They can know every year where they will be playing.
I disagree with the decision they made on prop. 218 it is a decision that I feel could have been avoided and if elected I will do my best to see that they do not raise in the future the city council has the power to not increase the rates on a yearly basis, my vote will be NO on increases. “Your Voice”

Brian Sipes: For years I've been a proactive citizen of Fillmore advocating for fiscal prudence with our tax dollars at City Hall. Since I have attended most City Council meetings, various subcommittee meetings, and community workshops, I've seen some good, well thought out decisions made by the current City Council. A decision that prompted my approval from the City Council is the small business ordinance that now gives local businesses an extra 5% credit when bidding on projects with the City of Fillmore. This is a victory designed to keep local businesses competitive with outside contractors. This measure subscribes to my vision of keeping Fillmore, the last, best, small town, in Southern California.
I firmly disagree with the City Council's decision to assess extreme administrative penalties exceeding over $10,000 to a specific property owner that had an excessive amount of vehicles in their driveway. I do not favor draconian measures that appear to be unreasonable. This specific incident was overly harsh and property owners cannot afford these steep penalties. Instead, I would promote a policy that would direct City staff to work with property owners to comply with City codes. It takes constant communication and being accessible from those whom represent City Hall.

Patti Walker: The council implemented policies that support and enhance economic development. Since the March 2010 adoption of the City’s Strategic Plan, much has been accomplished. Council directed staff to review signage to focus attention on the downtown corridor, workshops were provided to enhance business opportunities, and recently we’ve seen the start up of the farmer’s market.
In this economic downturn, the Council enacted policies that support local businesses. The Council adopted two resolutions, one pro-rates business license fees and another allows for a 5% bid credit to local businesses.
The Council worked to make government more transparent and accessible. The manager provides a Weekly Update posted on the city’s website every Friday outlining what is occurring in each department at City Hall.
Never before has the budget been posted on the website. Also available are Council meeting agendas which included staff reports, minutes and warrants available for public review. This information is provided no later than the Friday prior to the Tuesday Council meeting.
With two staff vacancies, implementation of many Council directed issues are on hold. The Council was focused on finding a City Manager. Immediately thereafter attention turned to the 2010/2011 budget. Currently attention has been focused on the hiring of a Finance Director. This position is very important and much has been on the back burner until the Finance Director and Deputy City Manager positions are filled. Being able to round-out the staff by filling these two positions will allow the City to run smoothly and efficiently.

 
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