Vol. 9, No. 21 – July 20 – August 2, 2016 – Opinion/Editorial

SheldonPicColor•  I want to thank the Ventura County Fair for placing their flyer in this issue of the Breeze. Always a great event and very fun and rewarding way to spend a day, or two.

•  We are pleased to introduce our new “Real Estate Showcase” page in this issue featuring property listings from local Realtors. We hope you enjoy this new service.

•  One of Ventura’s finest evenings is undoubtedly the summer outdoor concerts at Olivas Adobe. Ventura’s coolest “Music Under The Stars” summer nightclub offers a great mix of high quality bands including a large dance floor, full beverage service, a gourmet food truck and fine coffee, espresso and smoothies from the Javacat truck at all of the events. Or, you can bring your own food and drinks.

Seating is limited and concerts regularly sell out, so avoid disappointment at the door by buying tickets early at the City’s Web site, www.cityofventura.net/mus. There are 7 concerts remaining.

Olivas Adobe is located near the Harbor, at 4200 Olivas Park Dr. Tickets are $20 and are available at 658.4726 or at door for not sold out concerts. www.cityofventura.net/mus for more information. Come say hi because I regularly attend all the concerts.

•  In this issue, we include an article regarding the City Council meeting to address homeless living conditions. I want to complement the City Council for the manner in which they dealt with his sensitive situation.

Council members showed concern for both the homeless and for Venturans who might be impacted by the placement of homeless facilities in, or close to,  residential areas. In my opinion it was one of the best run and articulated City Council meetings ever.

Even with new zoning, their vote was mostly symbolic due to lack of funds to build new facilities. Ventura doesn’t have the money, so it would require private enterprises or non-profits to build facilities.

•  In a very controversial agreement, the City has agreed to pay $2.3 million to buy the Harbor Community Church property at 3100 Preble Ave. With the church agreeing to leave Ventura and drop their lawsuit against the City (see article in this issue). This seems like an excessive amount to pay, but apparently our City Attorney felt that the church had a good case against the City if their lawsuit were to make it to court. For $2.3 million, I’m willing to sell the City my house and agree to leave Ventura. Hmm, better not give them any ideas maybe they want to get rid of me.

•  The City Council recently passed a $265 million operating budget. Some Council members took the opportunity to mention the need for additional revenue to provide residents the services needed. Residents will decide in November whether they want to help pay for more with a ½ cent sales-tax increase. Much more about that as elections get closer. Read some “Mailbox” comments and an article by City Staff regarding the proposed increase.

The 2016-17 fiscal year budget is roughly $8 million less than the 2015-2016 budget because of fewer capital projects being initiated.

The budget includes $205,000 to have security ambassadors at Mission and Plaza parks and, starting soon, along the Promenade. I think that this is extremely important, especially on the Promenade where many tourists congregate and are offended by the gathering of the homeless.

Former Ventura city council member, and current Ventura County Supervisor, Steve Bennett was a  co–founder of SOAR, Ventura County's aggressive growth–control movement. He is shown with a October 2005 poster recognizing the tenth anniversary of SOAR.
Former Ventura city council member, and current Ventura County Supervisor, Steve Bennett was a  co–founder of SOAR, Ventura County’s aggressive growth–control movement. He is shown with a October 2005 poster recognizing the tenth anniversary of SOAR.

•  Even though the City Attorney’s office expressed concerns that the Save Our Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative might expose the City to litigation and legal challenges, the City Council voted 5-2 to place the measure on the November ballot.

The majority of the council felt it important to respect the desires of the more than 10,000 residents who signed the initiative’s petition.

Council member Cheryl Heitmann said, “It isn’t a perfect initiative and the initiative process isn’t perfect but it is a democratic process. I think it’s important to honor that process.”

Council member’s Neal Andrews and Jim Monahan voted no, and I agree with them. We have an existing SOAR in Ventura now, and it will last for many years, so I think that we should have waited to put a new revised SOAR initiative on the ballot in 2018.

•  The City Council has reached new labor agreements with its police and service unions. All three contracts, approved in May, run through June 30, 2018. The contracts cost the City $787,370 in the fiscal year that ended June 30. It will cost another $1.6 million in 2016-17 and another $1.1 million in 2017-18, according to Assistant City Manager Dan Paranick.

The average pay in 2015 for those covered under the police contract, which includes officers, sergeants and corporals was roughly $105,000, and retirement and health benefits averaged around $50,000. The average pay in 2015 for management, assistant police chiefs and commanders was around $145,000, and health and retirement costs were $62,000.

•  Besides offering you the opportunity to become rich, the California Lottery’s sole mandate is to raise supplemental funds for all California public schools. They send about $1 billion a year to public education. That means K-12, Community Colleges, CSU and UC campuses and several specialized schools. Now this may sound like a lot, but it is approximately only $166 per student per year.

$166 is better than nothing but not much when you think of all the fuss made about the Lottery solving our schools’ financial problems and the quantity of paid employees needed to operate.

 

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