Category Archives: Opinion/Editorial

Vol. 11, No. 12 – Mar 14 – Mar 27, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• It’s nice that the green pig (see article) will be back in the St. Pat’s Parade because people like the pig. I’m not sure what a green pig has to do with St. Pat’s day, but what does a red-nosed reindeer have to do with Xmas?

• A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge has ordered SoCal Edison to maintain any evidence related to the possible cause of the Thomas Fire.

The motion for a temporary restraining order against the utility was filed on behalf of people who lost their homes in the Montecito mudslides.

There will be many lawsuits filed against Edison (fire and mudslides) based upon witnesses that state they saw the fire start on Anlauf Canyon Road near Steckel Park from an Edison power line.

Edison must preserve power poles and any related equipment/items that were removed. An inspection of the removed equipment at Edison’s warehouse was also ordered.

“Are you sure that we belong in here without a librarian?

• The newly opened library on Hill Road has implemented “express hours” that allows readers to use the library without staff present (like driverless cars). It becomes one of just a few in the nation to offer this service. The purpose is to provide 12 additional operating hours at low cost (just utilities).

Librarian Molly Krill will help train people to use a new card that allows them access the library from 8 to 10 a.m. every day except Thursday. Cameras will keep you honest, we hope.

Next we will have robots that open the door for you and say, “may I help you find a book or the Ventura Breeze?”

• Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seeking to stop women removing their head scarves in public, defended the garments, saying wearing them protected against “a deviant lifestyle.”

The comments were the first from Iran’s most powerful figure since the spread of a movement in which women remove their head scarves, or hijabs, in the streets. Is this his way of saying that men are a bunch of dogs that can’t be trusted? Has he been following our politics?

•Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife have donated $33 million to fund 1,000 scholarships for “Dreamers” immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. It’s wonderful that people with huge amounts of money help causes that they believe in. I wonder what he thinks of community newspapers (hint hint)?

• Researchers have reported smoking e-cigarettes deliver cancer-causing chemicals — and popular fruity flavors appear to be the worst. Those who vape have higher levels of the cancer-causing chemicals than nonsmokers, a team at the University of California, San Francisco, found.

They said teenagers who try vaping are poisoning themselves with many of the same chemicals that make traditional cigarettes so deadly. And it is no coincidence that e-cigarettes come in fruit flavors, chocolate, candy and other flavors that appeal to young people.

Public health groups, the Surgeon General’s office, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worry about evidence that vaping can get teens addicted to nicotine, and will lead them to smoking cigarettes.

Apparently, the “flavor” of the e-cigarette matters. The levels of acrylonitrile were higher in those who preferred fruit flavors compared to candy, tobacco or menthol flavors.

This is significant because 67% of those who use e-cigs preferred fruit flavors.

• In keeping with the decision to move to City Council district elections, the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD)board of trustees voted unanimously to move to district-based elections in 2018. They selected a map to divide up Ventura into five trustee districts. They didn’t agree on the map (the board voted 3-2 to adopt the particular map).

The district currently has an at-large system for electing board trustees, as do most school districts in Ventura County.

This is similar to the reason that the council went to district voting. The VUSD would be facing lawsuits that other districts have had to face to provide districts that reflect the racial make-up of the community.

I am opposed to district voting, so I am eager to see how it works. What if only one completely unqualified person runs in one of the districts? Or, if there are two highly qualified candidates living in the same district, only one can be elected. I know some of you think our politicians are unqualified now.

• I think that the City is trying hard to make it as easy for fire victims to re-build. A recent Ventura City Council action directed city staff to return with a plan that allows anyone who is rebuilding to qualify for the streamlined process set aside for fire victims, even if the new house has a completely different footprint and design.

The city already hired outside help and set up an extra office to deal exclusively with people impacted by the fire.

Mayor Neal Andrews and Council Member Mike Tracy voted no because of the anticipated increase in staff time and finances.

“Everyone on this City Council would love to be able to write a check to all of you to help you complete your projects,” Tracy said. “However, we have a responsibility to everyone else in the community legally and ethically to make sure that we don’t give away the barn.”

Andrews stated, “Every subsidy that we offer here comes out of something else that the city would do and therein lies the rub for me.”

The council voted to allow recreational vehicles on properties during the rebuilding process and up to two units of on-site storage facilities per lot.

Vol. 11, No. 11 – Feb 28 – Mar 13, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• Mayor Neal Andrews is having some health issues and has missed some recent City Council meetings. I certainly hope that he feels better soon so that he can get back to do what he loves – serving the residents of Ventura.

• Patagonia is moving forward with plans to turn the former Brooks Institute 8-acre campus into expanded offices for its outdoor clothing-equipment business. As you know, Brooks unexpectedly shut down a few years.

The property, located is at 5301 N. Ventura Ave., is located outside of city limits so it is governed by the Ventura County. Patagonia bought the campus last spring, a few months after Brooks closed.

It’s great that Patagonia will be occupying this facility and will be expanding its footprint in Ventura. They are a wonderful asset for the city and are considered one of the best companies to work for in America.

• Funny what it takes to represent a country in the Olympics. The last names of the four people representing Mexico in the Winter Olympics are Franco, Schleper, Von Hohenlohe and Dickson. Wonder if any of them have even been to Mexico?

• Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) claimed recently that people who commit mass shootings are often Democrats. The first-term Republican congresswoman made the comment at a discussion about the Florida school shooting. “It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats. But the media doesn’t talk about that either.”

Even for a politician this has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. I don’t believe that mass murderers are asked their political affiliations, and I have never heard anyone accuse mass murderers of being Republicans.

• According to findings presented by University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas at the 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Texas, seniors drinking a moderate amount of alcohol each day (no more than 2-3 glasses of wine or beer) lowered their risk of premature death by 18% compared to seniors who exercise daily. Daily exercise for 15 to 45 minutes was found to only reduce premature death by 11 percent.

Researchers added that two cups of coffee also helped maintain longevity, lowering the risk of death by 10 percent. The biggest key to a long life that Dr. Kawas’ group found was having a hobby. Two hours of work a day on a hobby dropped the risk of death by 21 percent. E

Now, they need to find seniors who exercise, drink alcohol and coffee each day and have a hobby to see what the impact is (maybe the right combo will take them well in to their 100’s).

In either case, preemptively, I will now drink:

2 cups of coffee per day (up from the one that I started drinking 6 months ago)

2 glasses of wine (don’t like beer) per day

I am too busy to have a hobby, but do play tennis and work way over two hours a day, so I will probably live to be at least 109.

•From a May, 2012 Ventura Breeze issue:

“After an extensive three-year investigation by the Ventura Police Department, they have announced an arrest for the June 3, 2009 murder of Wendy Di Rodio. Ventura Police Department Major Crimes Investigators arrested Gina Drake, a 45-year old Ventura resident, and the niece of victim Di Rodio without incident on May 25, at a business in Somis.”

Now, after all of this time the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office has announced that Gina Drake has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Gina Drake is expected to be sentenced to 11 years in state prison. Doesn’t seem long enough to me for stabbing ones’ aunt to death.

•If an “Illegal” kills one person (terrible of course), Trump makes the case that it proves “they” are horribly violent people which is why we need to build the wall and send them all back to where they came from. If a good legal American kills 17 (or many more with mass killings), he says we need more mental health services because where would we send them back to and what state would we build a wall around? Then he reduces funds for mental health.

•There has been many instances of bullying at Balboa Middle School. Three separate incidents this year involving Balboa students resulted in the arrest of six students and the dismissal of the principal. A new principal has been selected.

Superintendent David Creswell, who is in his first year as superintendent at VUSD, said the district has placed more school resource officers at Balboa, removed the principal and increased police patrols. He is also making sure a process is in place by which children can report to an adult if they feel unsafe or threatened.

I know that each generations says this about their youth, so I am saying it also. Today’s kids (as young as 5) are playing video games that actually give them points for killing more people in games. They are becoming desensitized to death, which might help explain the shootings at our high schools. To them, talking to grandma means texting her.

It is so important that parents carefully monitor the time and content that their kids watch on social media and the games they play. Going outside today means playing video games on the front porch.

•Many homes destroyed in the Thomas Fire have been cleared of hazardous materials and debris, the first step in rebuilding. During a report on the fire, Ventura Interim City Manager Dan Paranick told the City Council that clearing the remaining homes should be completed by the middle of April.

This is just the very beginning of the arduous task of having design plans drawn, obtaining permits and bids, building a home and then landscaping and furnishing it. I see some “for sale” signs on several lots now and expect to see more.

Not being pessimistic, just realistic. As many of you are aware, I was an architect and General Contractor for more than 30 years, so I know of what I speak. Speaking of that, if you have preliminary or final drawings for your proposed home, I would be happy to look at them to see if I can offer any suggestions or comments at no charge.

Vol. 11, No. 10 – Feb 14 – Feb 27, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• The Botanical Gardens Welcome Center is now being built (see article in this issue). The fire caused much damage to the Gardens, but it is very encouraging to see work progressing and green stuff starting to grow.

• At the recent fund raising concert at Plaza Park, two of the most uplifting and encouraging speeches were given by our own Police Chief Ken Corney and Fire Chief David Endaya. They gave special thanks and tribute to all of those that were involved in the fires – those that lost their homes, the first responders, behind the scenes fire and police staff, and all Ventura city employees that made wonderful contributions. It is a testament to all of them that there was not one death in Ventura because of the fires. Proud of Venturan’s for taking the fire seriously and evacuating even if not mandatory.

Is the county waiting for a child to fall through these open rails at Foster Library and suffer serious injuries or even death before they enclose them?

After so many folks died in Montecito who didn’t leave when just ‘suggested”, all future evacuations might be mandatory.

After experiencing the Thomas Fire fundraiser in Plaza Park, it makes me sad to think how great it would have been to have had similar concerts above city hall that were planned.

• In Mexico, about one journalist or photographer is killed each month because of their coverage of the drug lords and gangs. This makes it the country only second to war torn Syria for such deaths

• California added 859 new laws that will take effect this year. A slight decrease from 2016. That means that in 10 years there are almost 10,000 new laws. Scary ain’t it? These are a few of my favorites:

  • You can’t smoke marijuana in any way while driving or riding in a car on California roadways. So remember, not even if you are a passenger.
  • Schools in low income communities must provide tampons and other sanitary products to students in grades 6 through 12. Who determines what constitutes a low-income community?
  • School buses must have a child safety alert system that requires a driver to make sure no kids are left on the bus. Couldn’t they just yell, “Are there any kids left on the bus?” Though, perhaps if the kids have earphones on they won’t hear it.
  • Californians who are transgender, intersex or don’t identify as male or female can choose a gender neutral option on their birth certificates. How would they know this upon just being born?
  • No more jaywalking tickets can be issued for stepping into a crosswalk after the flashing signal begins as long as you can still cross safely before time runs out. Who decides if it is safe, the pedestrian or the police officer who writes the ticket? I’m all for eliminating these signals all together as you might know.
  • All landlords in the state must provide information about bedbugs to apartment renters. What about cockroaches and fleas?
  • Using a ball hook to handle or control elephants will be against the law in California. Reminds me of the old joke about the guy standing at Main and Ventura Ave. blowing a horn. When a friend asks what that was, he said, “This keeps elephants away.” The friend responded, “There are no elephants here.” So he responded, “See, it works.”
  • Vegetarian Augustynolophus Morrissi is now the official state dinosaur. I have requested that the Ventura Breeze be named the official state newspaper and that the grunion be the official state fish.

• To thunderous Republican applause in his First State of the Union address, President Trump announced that Guantanamo would remain open. It has been more than 10 years since a “prisoner” was sent there and operating the facility costs nearly $11 million annually per detainee. Surely we can find a place to house them that costs less than $11 million per detainee.

• Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has purchased the Los Angeles Times and two other papers for $500 million. I offered him the Ventura Breeze for only $2 million but he wasn’t interested. So, the offer stands if any of our readers are interested in purchasing the Ventura Breeze. A 10% discount is offered to Venturan’s.

• I’m glad to learn that the Ventura Unified School District along with the teacher and support staff unions have finalized their agreement for a pay increase.

The agreement includes a 2% pay increase for 2017-18 effective at an employee’s mid-year point and a onetime $400 bonus paid to each employee who has worked at least 50% of the 2016-17 work year. Also like the fact that part-time employees will also get a prorated one-time bonus in the agreement.

Not all union members were in agreement. Of those voting, 69% were in favor of accepting the agreement.

• Removing sand, rocks and even shells from the beach is illegal. It is considered “tampering with geological features.” Sounds ominous doesn’t it? Better think twice the next time that you take a bucket of sand for your cat box. You and the cat might go to jail.

• Ventura’s own clothing giant Patagonia and other retailers are involved in a legal and political battle over President Donald Trump’s plan to shrink two sprawling Utah national monuments.

Patagonia filed a lawsuit after Trump announced that Bears Ears National Monument would shrink by 85%. The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with a rock climbing advocacy group and other organizations, is among a group of litigation over the president’s move to reduce the size of the monument and also cut in half the land protected in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Vol. 11, No. 9 – Jan 31 – Feb 13, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• I want to compliment the City Council, Community Service Director Jeff Lambert and Chief Building Official Yolanda Bundy for the wonderful job that they are doing to help those who lost their homes in the Thomas Fire. They have set up a separate department in order to expedite the plan checking period for homes to be re-built. Plan check will be completed within 14-days compared to the usual 5-6 weeks. In addition to using City employees, outside consultants have been hired to make this possible.

Also, homes that had non-conforming setbacks (a setback is the distance which a building or other structure is set back from property lines) can be built using the same layout as previously existed and an increase in lot coverage will be allowed. If the lots are sold, these conditions will go with the lot and can be used by the new owners.

Many fees have been eliminated, and the City Council is looking at eliminating or reducing the other remaining fees as suggested by some council members. This could be difficult because of the higher salaries that the consultants are costing the City. And the fire has already cost the city millions of dollars.

You can go to City Hall and obtain more information before proceeding with your drawings, etc.

People who might have the only remaining home on their block also have major decisions to make. It would be extremely difficult to live in a home when lots are being cleared and during the noise and dust from several years of construction. And, the big challenge is that their insurance won’t pay for them to live somewhere else during this period.

• The Breeze hopes to follow a few fire victims through the entire process until their new homes are built. Dealing with insurance, plans, etc. I know that this is a difficult period for most, but if you would like to share your experience with us please let me know by emailing In addition, for other readers, please feel free to include feel good stories, etc.

•On page 2 of this issue, you will see an ad regarding the “let’s just have fun” party that the Ventura Breeze and Secret Garden is having on Feb.11. Would love for you to join us. Just bring some food, a chair and your tuba.

•A must see event is Buyer & Cellar now playing on the Rubicon stage, starring Brian McDonald in a one person rollicking comedy. Brian is the Rubicon’s Associate Artistic Director / Director of Education and Outreach. He has been with the Rubicon for fifteen years and, in addition to all of his wonderful contributions, he teaches summer acting classes to our youth (including my grandkids). See the review on page 23.

•Portside Ventura Harbor, the Ventura Harbor’s new waterfront development, is expected to open their first phase with 56 residences for lease in the summer of 2018. More information on this, along with Harbor developments and events, can be found in the Harbor Views insert that will be included with our Feb. 14 issue (Valentine’s Day for all you lovers).

•The temporary ban on leaf blowers (to continue) has been approved by a 5-2 vote by the City Council. Member’s Monahan and Tracy voted against it. I agree with them. I don’t think blowers cause anymore ash in the air than autos and wind. All the current moratorium does is make folks mad at the gardeners who keep using them . Many of these folks have lost several customers whose homes were destroyed, and this just makes their lives a little more difficult.

I know that some cities have outlawed the blowers entirely. Perhaps this can be considered by the City Council in the future.

•Ventura has settled its lawsuit against Brooks Institute. The city had claimed the school breached its contract. Brooks has paid Ventura approximately $72,000 to settle a breach-of-contract lawsuit. This amount doesn’t even begin to cover Ventura’s losses.

Brooks closed in 2016 without any warning and left partially completed construction, including the building located behind City Hall and several buildings downtown. Massachusetts based GPHomestay bought Brooks in 2015 from the struggling Career Education Corp.

I think that the City must assume some responsibility for this calamity for not doing a sufficient job of vetting Brooks’ financials prior to leasing them 20,000 square feet. There weren’t any safeguards, such as sufficient up front money if they did go under.

•Unbelievable! This is the President of the United States lowering himself to this level. Doesn’t he have more important things to do running our country?

This is what Trump said. “The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!”

•Finally, Highway 101 has reopened after the massive Jan. 9 mudslide in Montecito closed the busy freeway. Caltrans had promised that it would re-open many times before it finally did.

Folks stuck north of there had to drive to Bakersfield to get here, which took 6-8 hours. Amtrak and Island Packers were the other ways to go back and forth to Santa Barbara.

•The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is again warning victims of the fire to watch out for scams, including people posing as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inspectors.

Officials want people to know that FEMA inspectors will only arrive once an assistance application has been completed. Inspectors will not collect any personal identifying or bank information or ask for money.

Amazing how good some crooks are at what they do, even going so far as to wear apparel that makes them look official. So please be very diligent in dealing with people that want to be of help, including those asking for money to help fire victims and first responders.

Vol. 11, No. 8 – Jan 17 – Jan 30, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• The Thomas Fire, which began more than six weeks ago and became the largest wildfire in modern California history, is now fully extinguished. The blaze consumed 281,893 acres in both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, destroyed 1,063 structures, most of which were in Ventura.

Infrared and helicopter sightings did not locate any active flames or heat in the fire area after the rainstorm.

Even though the Thomas fire is now completely out it is really difficult to feel good because of what has happened to our neighbors and friends in Montecito, where about 25 people have died from mudslides.

We all feel very attached to Montecito, as many of us go there to have dinner or to walk around their wonderful downtown. After visiting the Santa Barbara Zoo, many people drive through Montecito to get on the freeway.

This is a town of only about 10,000 residents, so the financial and personal impact on the city is overwhelming.

Roy Rohter, who founded St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, died in the mudslide. Ironically, Rohter’s daughter graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, from which the name Thomas Fire came from.

Sadly, many residents had received voluntary evacuation notices but decided to stay. I’m sure with future potential disasters, authorities will deliver many more mandatory evacuation notices. Some people, in mandatory evacuation areas, refuse to leave. The answer may be to always err on the side of caution and leave whether voluntary or mandatory.

We were all happy when 2017 ended and were looking forward to a new start in 2018, and then this tragedy happened. When people ask me how I am doing, I find it is difficult to say, “I’m doing well” even though these dual tragedies has no serious direct impact on me. But the loss of many friends’ homes and the deaths in Montecito makes it difficult to feel very good these days.

• There are many Venturan’s complaining and wondering why there was not adequate water while fighting the Thomas fires. We must remember that this was the largest fire in the recorded history of California. It would be almost impossible or economically feasible to prepare for a fire of this magnitude. We are attempting to find out exactly why this occurred and what future solutions might be.

This would be a similar event to experiencing 30 inches of rain in 24 hours. It would be impossible to prepare for that type of scenario also.

• Reminding you that Harrison customers can get four free bulky item pickups each year.

• Impossible to believe that even this President would use the term s—hole to describe other countries. 41% of immigrants from the s—-hole country of Africa who are over 25 years old have bachelor’s degrees compared to 32% of US born citizens. And, 16% have master’s degrees or above compared to 11% of US born. Both percentages are higher than immigrants from Norway.

Conspiracy 101: First “they” caused and controlled the Thomas Fire and the winds that spread it. Then, “they” seeded the clouds by contrails and caused the heavy rains which resulted in many deaths. Who are “they”? We are not sure but the rumor is “they” are a group of 12 that control the entire world, including perhaps 2 Martians. What “they” gain from this is not clear.

The workmanship on the Ash overpass is deplorable.

• We are all happy that the construction on the freeway overpass at the end of Ash is now complete. But the workmanship is deplorable. I mistakenly thought that this was a City of Ventura project and complained to the wrong people, but it is a Caltrans project. I am attempting to find out more from Caltrans about who the contractor was and if they have been paid. The concrete work is awful, and the handrail looks as if it was installed by someone who had been drinking too much.

And, it’s hard to believe that painting of the overpass wasn’t included in the Caltrans contract. I’ve been in contact with our City Council and hopefully, even though the bridge is not owned by Ventura, can have it painted as it certainly reflects on Ventura.

• The Ventura County Board of Supervisors has stated their opposition to new offshore oil and gas leases in the Pacific Ocean. This is based on the announcement by Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, that the federal government plans to open up the Pacific coast to new oil and gas drilling for the first time in 30 years. The plan was made possible by President Trump’s April 2017 executive order opening up the offshore plans already in place.

This is a bad idea for many reasons, one being the fact that we now have a glut of oil in this country and do not need further ocean drilling. No company has shown any interest in doing this.

• As reported on some news outlets, “Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old Jewish student at the University of Pennsylvania who went missing from his parents’ Southern California home, has been found dead.” What the h— does the fact that he is Jewish have to do with this tragedy? Would it have been reported that “Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old Presbyterian student” or “Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old Catholic student” was dead? Of course not.

The sad part is that his death is being investigated as a homicide and his friend that he was with has been arrested as a suspect in his death. The religion of his friend was not reported.

Vol. 11, No. 7 – Jan 3 – Jan 16, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• Even though the Thomas Fire was the largest in California history, it was nowhere near the most devastating in the terms of structures or lives lost. The Cedar fire took 15 lives and destroyed 2,820 structures. The Thomas fire claimed a little over 1,000 structures (perhaps 600 in Ventura) and two lives – one of which was caused by a vehicle accident. Of course, if you lost your house that is little consolation.

Now comes the extremely difficult part for the hundreds of people who lost their homes. Recovery for families will be a long and arduous process. In some cases it will be very difficult to rebuild some of the lost homes in their previous forms. Many of the older homes had non-conforming yards, and perhaps heights that are not allowed any longer.

New structures will need to adhere to existing zoning and building codes which are much more restrictive then when many of these homes were built. Geology and soil reports will be required in many cases that could result in very expensive foundation modifications.

Hopefully the City will take every step possible to expedite the planning and building department approvals so that folks can get on with putting their lives back together. The City Council has voted to declare a local emergency and approved an ordinance that suspends deadlines associated with “routine” land use, subdivision and zoning applications. That allows planning staff to focus on projects related to the disaster.

I have seen a few destroyed homes with ”lot for sale” signs up already. I would expect more of these as time goes on. The process of clearing the lot, dealing with insurance companies, having plans drawn-up, managing contractors and pulling permits could easily take two years or more and many people just won’t be prepared for this. Especially some of the older ones.

Hopefully, the outpouring of love and concern shown by Venturans will continue for a long time during these extremely difficult times. As you might know, I am a retired architect and contractor so if I can be of any help (no charge), please let me know.

Driving through the burned areas, it is amazing how quickly the city had EarthGuard sprayed on homes and hillsides. It actually looks a little spooky with all of them being green. The cost of this will be in the millions of dollars, which will certainly put a strain on our City budget. Not sure if Measure O money can be used for this.

I saw a lot of insurance company signs already posted on many lots. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Are they taking advantage of a bad situation to advertise their product or just showing that many people had fire insurance and will be taken care of?

It bothers me when the news media points out that very expensive homes (some even owned by movie stars) are in danger of burning as if this is a worse scenario than the less expensive properties. It is likely more of a hardship for the less affluent owners when compared to the Montecito properties, and many of those folks likely have second homes.

In addition, we now need to be concerned about rains coming. As much as we need the water, when they do come we hope that they will be light and spread out over longer periods of time.

• At the December 18 City Council meeting, the Council adopted an emergency ordinance banning the use of gas, electric, and battery powered leaf blowers in the City of Ventura (it includes homeowners and gardeners).

Public health officials have cautioned against the use of leaf blowers to clean up ash as they cause fallen ash to become airborne. This increases the risk of the ash being inhaled by both residents and animals.

I’m afraid the ordinance is mostly symbolic. Any person convicted of violating the ordinance would be guilty of a misdemeanor. The police department will not be able to deal with this. Perhaps code enforcement would be able to, but they don’t have enough staff to respond in a timely manner.

Some people are taking it upon themselves to tell gardeners to stop but many of them are not from Ventura (and probably wouldn’t know about the ordinance even if they were).

•The lack of water pressure at homes and especially in fire-hydrants is of great concern to us all. We all saw firefighters just standing watching homes burn to the ground because of lack of water. The Breeze will have future articles dealing with this serious problem. With fire comes electrical outages, which means pumps can’t work so there needs to be a backup system to ensure water pressure is not lost.

• I have mentioned this before, but it is very important. Fire victims may be targeted by scammers posing as contractors offering their services. If nothing else, never give money in advance to anyone offering services. The contractor’s law is very specific about this and only allows a small amount to be paid up front.

Crooked companies, officials warn, may use websites that appear legitimate with false endorsements from the Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Cal Fire.

Authorities urge fire victims to thoroughly vet contractors or other vendors they are considering to use in their attempts to rebuild. A contractor’s license status can be checked through the California Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board. More information can be found by visiting Another way to ensure the legitimacy of a contractor or vendor is to check the official listing of certified companies at And do remember that licensed companies can also be dishonest so get multiple quotes and verify references.

• Ventura County Treasurer/Tax Collector Steven Hintz said his office will waive all penalties and fees related to late property tax bills for homeowners affected by the fire. Homeowners can also get their future property tax bills reassessed to reflect the current values of destroyed or badly damaged homes.

Hopefully he was not motivated by the fact that he lost his home in the fire (kidding – sorry to hear Steve). Get more information at

• The Breeze is looking for people who are willing (if not too painful) to share their experiences as they rebuild their homes and lives. If you are interested, please let me know at

Vol. 11, No. 6 – Dec 20, 2017 – Jan 2, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

First off, I want to thank the amazing Ventura Breeze writers for working their fingers off to make this wonderful issue happen. Much research and thought went into their articles. I’m very proud of this issue.

On Dec. 4, when we heard a fire started in Santa Paula, never did we ever imagine that it would completely burn over 600 structures in Ventura and become one of the largest fires in California history (maybe the largest eventually)?

It is called the Thomas Fire because of its proximity to Thomas Aquinas College. Perhaps it should have been call the Santa Fire because of Santa Paula and the time of year.

I certainly appreciate the amazing job the now over 8,000 firefighters (fighting the Thomas Fire)and the first responders have been doing to save structures and to try to limit the scope of the fire. But, the reality is that the 50 MPH winds, low humidity, and plenty of fuel made that virtually impossible.

Amazing to me, though, is how so many neighbors spontaneously pitched in to help each other.

One example is the street my son lives on. The hills on both sides of the street always burn when we have fires. He, and I, along with a few other neighbors, spent that first night patrolling his block and putting out small fires that would have become big fires. All through the night, cars would stop and men and women would jump out with shovels to help. People all over were driving around that to see how they could help. We have a few heroes in this issue, and we thank them all.

I got home at 5am in the morning, slept for a few hours and then went back out. I slept for 13 hours the next night, which I haven’t done since I was six months old.

And, the people volunteering at the Fairgrounds, helping the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the churches, distribution centers and more to organize and distribute clothes, food and other essential goods are to be appreciated. Many of them came here from other states and towns in California.

It is wonderful that no one has been killed in Ventura (and only two people, thus far, one being a firefighter). Our hearts go out to the families of both. I attribute this to the quick actions of our police and fire departments in alerting people to evacuate their homes on that Monday evening. And to folks heeding their warnings and leaving their homes in a timely manner.

By the way, if you’d like to contribute to the fallen firefighter’s family (Corey Iverson), a GoFundMe page has been set or you can contribute through CalFire, San Diego.

The County was great organizing several meetings to inform us about the conditions of the fire and setting up an assistance center at Poinsettia Pavilion. They brought together city, county, state and government agencies to answer questions and give citizens direction on what to do next.

One thing that has irritated me is listening to people complaining about innocuous things such as their driveways are full of ash, or they lost some food because there wasn’t electricity. None of this means anything if you still have your home.

And, of course, the deplorable thieves who take advantage of others misfortunes and break into evacuated homes. These are horrible people.

The attitude of many of the people who have lost their homes has been just amazing. In some cases they have tried to cheer me up.

Amazing how random fire is. I was on streets where only one house burned, and on both sides of the street. Flying embers are what caused a large percentage of the fires not because they were in the burning hills.

Now, what happens to those who lost their homes and apartments? Ventura has a very low vacancy factor so many will need to leave Ventura, and it will take several years to rebuild their homes and apartments. Will they return? What will this do to our economy? Several weeks of no income could put small merchants out of business.

In a few years, when there is a large amount of construction, our economy will be booming but tough times ahead for a lot of people that will last for a long time.

There have been some complaints about price gouging for housing and gas but, generally, very little of this has occurred. A phone line is devoted to handling calls about gouging at 662-1728.

Unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors may try to scam you. The Contractor’s State License Board has a disaster hotline 800-962-1125 or visit for information. And don’t assume just because a person is licensed that they are honest. There are also licensed crooks, so check local references very carefully. And talk to them in person, if possible.

Ventura Fire Chief David Endaya stated that the still-growing fire is of a magnitude that he had never seen. And is “the most important evacuation we’ve ever done.”

The Ondulando neighborhood was especially hard hit by the Thomas Fire with rows of homes gone. It is hard for me to imagine losing my home and all its contents. Even the homeowners weren’t allowed back in their neighborhoods for several days in the mandatory evacuation areas.

The lack of water pressure in our hydrants is a huge concern that will need to be addressed in the future. I was standing with firefighters watching homes burn to the ground because they didn’t have water. Had to be very frustrating to them and counter to their training.

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved $500,000 to help low-and middle-income families with short-term rental assistance.

The Ventura City Council voted to declare a local emergency and approved an ordinance that suspends deadlines associated with “routine” land use, subdivision and zoning applications. That allows planning staff to focus on projects related to the disaster.

It’s a “temporary measure to protect against unintended consequences” that can happen when a deadline is missed, City Attorney Gregory Diaz said. Still, the time to prepare new building plans, secure planning and building department approvals will be very lengthy. Our departments will be overwhelmed with new projects. And, it is very likely that many homes will require changes during the rebuild process due to ever changing building and planning requirements and codes.

Vol. 11, No. 5 – Dec 6 – Dec 19, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I apologize that your favorite newspaper is a day late due to the loss of electricity. More fire coverage in Dec. 20 issue. Go to Ventura City website for current information:

•When we heard that a fire started near Steckel Park in Santa Paula, we certainly wouldn’t have imagined that it was going to decimate so many structures across Ventura. With winds over 50 mph, fire moves too fast to manage. How sad for all the folks who lost their homes and those in the apartments who lost their belongings. I was at the fire lines where firefighters – whose job it is to fight fires – had to standby in many cases and watch as structures burned to the ground. And, it is heartbreaking to see the Botanical Gardens, with so much love, money and energy poured in, now gone.

•  The City Council is still dealing with how to determine the boundaries for council members that will need be elected by districts, and not at-large.

Currently, there are 7 members of the Ventura City Council. Each member must be a registered voter in the City and is elected at-large. Each member represents the interests of the City as a whole.

Many district boundaries have been submitted by Venturans for consideration. The more I think about it, I am opposed to election by districts.

If only one person runs in their district they would be automatically elected to the council even if they only received one vote.

If there are several highly qualified folks running for the council living in the same district, only one could be elected.

I think at-large council members has worked just fine for Ventura and has not favored one area over another.

•  The Museum of Ventura County has named Elena Brokaw as its permanent Executive Director. She has been the interim executive director since 2016.

The museum has faced large financial issues. It recently receive $125,000 from both Ventura and from the Ventura County. The Museum has also obtained larger financing from corporate and individual gifts. I hope that it can be used to make the museum more interactive and fun for the whole family.

Elena has been my guest on KPPQFM104.1. If you would like to hear her interview, visit Face OF Ventura and select her show. You might find other shows to be of interest as well (or perhaps not). If you have a recommendation of who I should have on my show please let me know.

•  LA County saw an increase in reported hate crimes last year linked to white supremists, with a wave of incidents targeting Jews, African Americans and Muslims. I wonder why that is?

• Every day another well-known male is being fired because of sexual harassment accusations. Some even admit to it and apologize. Minnesota Public Radio said that it was severing all business ties with Garrison Keillor, the creator and retired host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” after allegations of “inappropriate behavior” with an individual who worked with him. Good grief, no one is more all-American then him.

Pretend for a second that there is a TV show called the Apprentice and that one of the male judges made this statement – “You know,” said (you fill in the name), “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women-I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the xxxxxxxx. You can do anything.”

This judge would be immediately fired, or become President of the United Sates.

•  I received an email from a reader (glad that he does read the paper even if to just get mad at me). In part he said, “that’s why I always grab your paper to make a large carbon footprint with my chimney bbq starter.” So now I know that there is yet another reason to read the Breeze besides lining the bottom of your bird and rabbit cages with it. We may need to print more copies.

•  Amigos Restaurant in downtown has been shut down by the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission). The notice doesn’t say why but the space is for lease, so Amigos is gone. Will yet another Mexican restaurant open there?

•In a previous issue, I questioned why the national anthem is played at sporting events (does this make me un-American or just curious?).

Here’s a timeline of how the national anthem became a sports tradition in the first place:

1814: Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner.

1889: Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy called for the song to be played whenever the American flag was raised.

1916: President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order declaring the “Star Spangled Banner” the American national anthem.

1918: The song was played spontaneously during the seventh-inning stretch on September 5, 1918, during Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. After this, other baseball parks began to play the song on holidays and special occasions, and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee made it a regular part of Boston home games.

1931: Congress passed an act officially confirming the “Star Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, and President Hebert Hoover signed it into law.

1941-42: Playing the national anthem before the start of regular season baseball games became the standard. And with the U.S. in World War II now, the National Football League also included the playing of the anthem before games.

1945: NFL commissioner Elmer Layden said, “The playing of the national anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kickoff. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.”

2009: NFL players began standing on the field for the national anthem before the start of primetime games. Before this, players would stay in their locker rooms except during the Super Bowl and after 9/11.

Vol. 10, No. 4 – Nov 22 – Dec 5, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  Some of our readers are confused about whether we can use their names in the Breeze. We, in fact, do not need permission to do so. Also, in most cases, when a person is outside – in the public – we do not need permission to include a photo of them. The exception is if the individual is under the age of 18, then we need parental approval.

Newspapers are, by definition, designed to serve the public’s interest. “Put simply, the public interest is about what matters to everyone in society. It is about the common good, the general welfare and the security and well-being of everyone in the community we serve.”

If you think about this, we, and every other newspaper would need to get permission from every person mentioned in every article, press release, police report and photo.

We, of course, don’t use a name in a manner that might create a liability problem. We can’t (or shouldn’t) make a definitive statement such as, “xxxxxx xxxxx killed his neighbor” unless that individual has been convicted of the crime.

•  In our “Mailbox” section there is a letter taking me to task for some of my comments (please read it). I really appreciate getting emails from readers that don’t agree with me.

I wish that I received more that took me to task for what I say. Very important in a free society that we can discuss things in a civil manner, especially in the press. Except, of course the “fake news” about our president.

The only thing that I ask is that you tell me why you think I’m wrong or I won’t print it. If you think my opinion on a subject is wrong I want to hear yours.

•  The West County Emergency winter shelter for homeless people is scheduled to open Dec. 15 at the National Guard Armory until March 31, at 1270 Arundell Ave. All people deserve at least this minimum protection during what can be a cold winter. Nobody deserves to be left out in the cold/rain. Try it a few times and see how it feels.

•  Speaking of the homeless, many of these people are clinically mentally ill. I hear people asking why we allow the mentally ill on our streets? Why don’t we just arrest them and put them in jail? Aren’t they all violent?

According to the UC Firearm Violence Research Center, no more than 4-5% of all violence is committed by the mentally ill.

There are very specific laws regarding how folks can be incarcerated against their will, especially the mentally ill, and for very good reason.

Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code the (Lanterman–Petris–Short Act or “LPS”) which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled. A qualified officer, which includes any California peace officer, as well as any specifically-designated county clinician, can request the confinement after signing a written declaration stating the psychiatric diagnosis that the diagnosing medical professional believes to be the cause or reason why they believe the patient to be “a danger to themselves or others” or the psychiatric disorder that has rendered the patient incapable of making their own medical treatment decisions.

Basically speaking, a danger to themselves means they have attempted suicide, a danger to others doesn’t mean yelling at people or even threatening to harm them. It means physically assaulting them, and gravely disabled means not even able to feed themselves to the point if left alone they could die.

•  On Nov.12, the Cave, which is located inside Ventura Wine Company, held their Holiday Wine Tasting. The event featured wine tasting of over 100 wines, appetizers, music by the Vanise Terry Band and a keepsake wine glass. 250 tickets were sold, and it appeared that everyone showed up. The Cave is located at 4435 McGrath St.

• By now, I assume you know that 3 freshman members of the UCLA basketball team shoplifted (I don’t need to say that they were suspected of this crime because they admitted doing it). They took items from several stores while the team was in China for a game.

One of the players originally stated, “I ain’t (I just added ain’t to my computer dictionary so it doesn’t highlight it) got nothing to say.” So much for student-athletes.

And his dad said, “Everyone’s making it a big deal. It ain’t that big a deal.” Good grief his son is representing his family, his school and his country and his dad thinks it “ain’t” that big a deal. Would it be a big deal to him if his son had used a gun to hold up the stores?

UCLA has announced that it has indefinitely suspended the players from the team.

UCLA’s Coach, Steve Alford, said the three players will not participate in workouts or practices, will not travel with the team and will not dress for home games during the suspension, which is indefinite because the school is going through its legal process with the three students.

I certainly hope that their punishment from the school is more severe than a brief suspension.

•  Ventura has now shut down the entire main building at the Pierpont Inn Wyndham Garden, located at 550 Sanjon Rd. The lobby, Austen’s Restaurant, offices and other uses are located in this building. The rooms remain open.

It has been over two years since the City first red-tagged (means shutting it down) a portion of the main building because DKN Hotels that own the Inn started construction without obtaining the required permits.

It is just amazing to me how a large company can be so clueless.

This means that the restaurant will miss income from Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s eve.

The Pierpont Inn is Landmark No. 80 on the city’s registry of historic locations which makes this an even more serious situation.

Vol. 10, No. 3 – Nov 8 – Nov 21, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  As you probably know, the State has mandated that Ventura selects councilmembers by districts, and not at-large. The City Council is working to make this happen.

I certainly agree that more racial diversity on the council is important. But I do not agree with those appearing at City Council meetings saying that they are underserved in Ventura because we have an all-white City Council.

I have not observed our City Council slighting areas of Ventura because of the “whiteness” of the members or appear to not consider the needs of all citizens. Though, I do agree that more minority representation on the Council would be a good thing so that all Venturan’s feel that they are represented equally.

A good example of this is the Westside. When people on the Westside requested a new park, the Council took action and found the funds to create Kellogg Park.

The Westside contains one of the most comprehensive, and most utilized parks in Ventura, Westpark. It provides the only public indoor basketball court in Ventura, the Boys and Girls Club, what was one of only two city libraries (we will soon have a third), a senior center and a bike path to Ojai. .

Having districts still might not make the council more diverse, though, as only voting will do that. According to “” Ventura is 25% Hispanic, which is about 27,000 residents. This is much more than enough voters needed to put a Hispanic member on the council.

•  I don’t understand why some folks put out all three of their trash cans on pick-up day. If they can’t remember which two cans will be picked up, they can just look up and down the street to see what neighbors have done.

•  Funny regulation that doesn’t seem to make sense: A neighbor got sited by the city for parking his boats on his driveway – but on gravel. Ventura ordinance says, “All driveways, drive aisles, parking areas, and accesses to such parking areas required by this chapter, as well as all outdoor display areas for vehicles and all outdoor storage areas, shall be completely surfaced with asphalt or Portland cement concrete surfacing or other acceptable surfacing materials, including permeable materials such as block pavers, as approved by the city engineer. Adequate drainage shall be provided for all such surfaced and paved areas in accordance with the requirements of the building official and the city engineer.”

As a result, his boats, that were parked about 20 feet back from the street, had to be moved right up to the sidewalk for all to see.

•  The Ventura City Council is continuing to decide how to spend the rest of this year’s money coming from our recently passed sales tax. Voters approved Measure O in November, and it is expected to bring in about $10.8 million per year.

There is an oversight committee that makes recommendations to the council on how to spend the money. Even though the council is not legally bound by the committee’s recommendations, it is good that the committee continues to advise the council on how to best use the money on our behalf.

These are the committee members:

Kathlene Bokoloes, Marni Brook, Kristopher Hansen, Bill Hickman, David Jaffe, Jordana Ybarra-Telias and Mary Laurel Rutledge

Their next meeting is on November 9, 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM in the Community Meeting Room at City Hall. You are welcome to attend and speak.

•  Breeze writer Paul Peterson will continue to write about the legalization of marijuana in California and how Ventura is dealing with it.

Regarding a recent City meeting to discuss marijuana he stated, “We were the only media represented and were called out for special recognition for the story we did, and that the sequel is eagerly awaited. A woman held up the paper in the crowd (room was pretty full) and said, “I hope everyone sees this in our Breeze.” I spoke with Jeff Lambert, Ventura’s Community Development Director, before and after the meeting and we agreed to talk more. He also introduced me as “repping” the Breeze and we got applause. I have offered to help them sort out things because I have invested time in all these confabs. He seemed eager to accept my input. The crowd was 100% for cannabis and no naysayers were in sight. There were quite a few of medical patients there to testify.”

To hear my radio show on KPPQLP 104.1 fm discussing marijuana regulations in Ventura and other cities and states, got to “Face of Ventura” (by the top) and listen to the show Cannibis (show 014).

•  On Oct. 23, it was hotter here than in Death Valley (102 vs 100). If I had known that, I would have gone there to cool off.

•  I know that people-kill-people and not guns, but it sure is easier for people to kill people if they can shoot 600 of them from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel in a matter of minutes.

I have changed my mind about the second amendment being law. I think that we should adhere to it but it should just allow single shot guns available in 1791 when it was passed.

•  I don’t understand people that say professional athletes should just play sports, shut-up and not express their opinions about politics or anything else. They have the same rights to their opinions as you and me. Blame the media (and Trump) for making a big deal out of their opinions if you want to blame someone.

There is much concern about some athletes expressing their views by not acting properly while the National Anthem is played at sporting events. To me, the answer is quite simple – don’t play the anthem at sporting events. I don’t understand why it is played to begin with. What does it have to do with a sporting event?