Category Archives: Opinion/Editorial

Vol. 10, No. 23 – Aug 16 – Aug 29, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  Regarding the Ventura County Fair, I was glad to see that Harbor Blvd. was left open as an accessible route to the Fair this year. Never did understand why traffic was diverted at Sanjon .So much easier to just take Harbor all the way through.

Odd to me why folks attending the concerts (or comedy show this year) on the main stage start waiting in line as early as 11am for shows that start at 7:30pm. Each row of seats has 80 chairs so the 400th person entering would need to sit way back in row 5. And if a person wanted to stand by the stage, he/she could do that even after the show has started.

“Always keeping my eyes open for Ventura news”.

I was going to bungee this year, but I wasn’t able to because they had to shut the attraction down due to a malfunction. Oh well, maybe next year.

Amazing to me that in just a short few days all of the rides, businesses, etc. are gone and on their way to the next fair.

•  I have always wondered if the Breeze should have a column covering international, state or government news, etc. So we took an informal poll and asked 20 readers to weigh in (poll in this issue). Fourteen people said they like the Breeze just the way it is. Of the six that said yes, only a few were a definite yes, so we’ll keep the coverage just the way it is.

•  The Ventura City Council has approved a funding agreement that will finalize $125,000 of support for the Museum of Ventura County. We’ll have an article on this topic in our next issue.

The agreement reads:

“Approve and authorize the City Manager to execute a Funding and Services Agreement, including milestones, with the Museum of Ventura County for a term of six-months, August 1, 2017 – January 31, 2018; $125,000 to support general operations.”

The document can be found at https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9152 if you want to read the whole thing.

To me, the most important thing is to hire a professional (curator) to make the Museum much more enjoyable, which the Museum says they will do.

•  I have been getting emails stating that my Capitol Credit Card has exceeded its credit limit. These type of email alerts are just ways of hackers taking over your computer. Don’t ever open emails, even if they look real unless you absolutely know the source. If you aren’t sure, just make a call to the company. All of your credit cards, etc. have a contact number on the back, so use it.

•  An artificial intelligence program just annihilated its human competition at a world championship video game contest. The AI win stunned the gaming community, because bots (robots) are generally considered inferior to expert human players.

This one is from Open AI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research firm with backing by entrepreneur Elon Musk, of Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX:
Even though he supports it, Musk wants to ensure that AI doesn’t grow unchecked and become the death of humanity. Musk said that AI is “more of a risk than North Korea.” Computers have also defeated the best humans in traditional board games like chess and Go.

Maybe a computer can publish the Ventura Breeze, and I can find something else to do.

•An update on the Ventura Police Officer who recently attempted suicide on July 28th while at the police headquarters. Good news, the officer is expected to survive.

On August 2nd, the Ventura County Star parent company Gannett Co. of McLean, Virginia, made a Public Records Request to the City for the release of the officer’s name.

Even though the City believes there is a strong argument to not release the officer’s name under exclusions to the Public Records Act, they have decided to do so rather than engage in a protracted and potential costly legal proceeding, which would not be in the best interest of Ventura.

The attempted suicide was a very personal and tragic event for the family. To respect the privacy of officer and his family during this very difficult time, the Breeze is withholding his name. We can tell you that the officer is a sixteen-year veteran of the Ventura Police Department.

•  Regarding North Korea, when President Donald Trump stated that he will bring “fire and fury” that the world has never seen,” I assume that he knows that we dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. So the worst “fire and fury” would need to exceed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. So, my question is, would we need to drop three nuclear bombs or just one that exceeds the tonnage of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”? Certainly hope that we won’t find out.

•  According to an annual report compiled by scientists around the globe, 2016 was the warmest year on record for the planet as a whole, surpassing temperature records that date back 137 years. The conclusions contained in a draft federal report on climate change is conclusive that human-induced global warming is real and if left unchecked the consequences could be dire.

So, quit complaining when our local temperature reaches 80 and we are all sweltering.

•  Even though the closing of Ringling Bros. circus is a win for animals and animal rights, I think it is sad that they shut down completely. Still would have been great family entertainment without the animals.

•   As if you care, these are the cities of Ventura County (total population of about 850,000).
Camarillo
Fillmore
Moorpark
Ojai
Oxnard
Port Hueneme
Santa Paula
Simi Valley
Thousand Oaks
Ventura

Vol. 10, No. 22 – Aug 2 – Aug 15, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

These are the type of nearby (including the original Museum) buildings that should have guided the design of the addition to the Museum.

•  In this issue we have an article regarding the funding for the Museum to keep it “alive”.

Elena Brokaw Interim Executive Director has commented that the museum gets 390 paid visitors per week and they spend 15 to 20 minutes going through the Museum.

15 to 20 minutes? Good grief can we expect people from all over Ventura County (this is the Museum of Ventura County) to drive an hour to spend 15-20 minutes at the Museum. It hardly pays to drive from as far as East Ventura.

And half of that time is undoubtedly spent looking at the amazing George Stuart historical figures.

The Museum is just not fun, or interesting for all family members (the young and young at heart) to attract and hold a large audience. It needs to be much more pro-active and exciting.

Also the architecture of the addition done a few years ago is horrible (my opinion, of course, yours is always welcome). It completely ignored the contribution of the existing Museum and of all of the surrounding buildings.

I’m glad that the Museum has obtained funding to stay open for at least another six months but for me to support it the following must happen:

Hire an architect to completely re-design the exterior (I know there are not funds available) but perhaps donors, and board members could at least get excited looking at some renderings of a proposed re-design.

If possible hire a curator who has experience to develop a museum that will appeal to all ages, and keep visitors returning. Keeping the Museum open just for the sake of a having a museum means nothing.

Dave Grau, of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association, urged the city council to slow down before committing years of money. “The museum hadn’t presented a clear plan for what would change and where the money would go”, he said.

•The City of Ventura’s sponsored Music Under the Stars next concert series presents Orquesta Charangoa on August 5 at the Olivas Adobe.

I am disappointed that I don’t see more of our City Council members supporting this City sponsored music series by attending. I might have missed seeing them (they would have been introduced), but so far Jim Monahan and Neal Andrews have attended. Hopefully, all members will attend some of the concerts before the season ends on September 9. City Manager Mark Watkins and a large group of city employees attended the last event there.

•  On July 24, 2017 the Ventura City Council approved a General Plan Amendment, Specific Plan Amendment, and Sign Agreement within the Auto Center Specific Plan that will make the surrounding area significantly more conducive to economic investment and growth. The amendments will increase economic vitality by improving accessibility, visibility and circulation in and around the Ventura Auto Center. It will also eventually bring many big-box stores to Ventura so that we don’t need to go to Oxnard to make many of our purchases.

The Council voted 6-1 for approval. Christy Weir was the no vote because she (and other residents)opposes the very large sign that is part of the approval. She still supports the other aspects of the amendment.

It prohibits used car dealerships as a primary use. Used cars can be sold by the dealers.

•  When you cross the street in Honolulu, look both ways — but not at the life-changing text your best friend just sent.

Honolulu just approved a law making it illegal for pedestrians to “cross a street or highway while viewing a mobile electronic device.” The law covers video games, pagers and laptops, and the ubiquitous smartphones .

The law goes into effect October 25, giving police time to explain the situation to people who can’t take their eyes off that tiny screen in their hands.

How often do we all see people walking in cross-walks looking at their phones while completely ignoring the fact that a car might not see them? It’s as if “Well, if you kill me in the cross-walk you are in big trouble and I will sue you.”

I would also like to see the City either remove the red hands that tell pedestrians that they can’t walk across the street (people ignore them if the green light is on) or the police should start writing tickets for those that ignore them (which includes me).

•  Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director has previously stated “The United States has too many guns .The USA has 5% of the world’s population but 50% of the world’s guns. Enough is enough. It is just common sense to apply more controls.” Who am I to argue with a Trump appointment?

And data from the FBI found that in the US a gun is stolen every two minutes. Most are used in crimes and murders.

•  Deliveries of medical cannabis will soon be allowed in Oxnard after their City Council voted to relax one area of its marijuana ordinance (See Person to Person in this issue for Venturan’s opinions).

By a unanimous vote, the council approved medical marijuana deliveries and requested more information on other commercial aspects of recreational and medicinal pot. It was an indication that other parts of the city marijuana ordinance could be relaxed in the future.

“I’m not really opposed to one commercial establishment if we can do it correctly,” said Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez. She added that one possible location for a dispensary could be in downtown near the police station.

It is about time for our City Council to deal with this issue in a more compassionate manner.

Vol. 10, No. 21 – July 19 – Aug 1, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  My talk-interview radio show on KPPQLP Ventura (104.1FM) can now be listened to at www.venturabreeze.com “Face of Ventura” (top left). I know that the station is low wattage (not to interfere with other nearby FM stations), so some of you have had a difficult time hearing it so here is your chance. Find out more about the VPD, the Rubicon, Ventura Music Festival, the Fair and much –much more.

Always looking for suggestions of who should be on my show and the good and bad of it.

•  Music Under the Stars, at the Olivas Adobe has started another concert season, so if you have never attended here is your chance. Concerts on Saturday evenings until September 9. The next concert, on July 22, is the The Swing Kings. See the ad in this issue for details. And be sure to come say hi to me.

•As reported in this issue, Ventura City Manager Mark Watkins will be leaving his position in December of this year. I was quite surprised to hear of this. In my opinion he has been a very good city manager and will be missed. Some people think that his position is overpaid, but I’m not one of them.

These are the top salaries in Ventura, including benefits:

Kenneth Corney, Police Chief $220,117.00+$124,337.00=$344,454.00

Kris Mcdonald, Fire Battalion Chief $255,634.00+$70,845.00=$326,479.00

David M. Endaya, Fire Chief $198,815.00+$112,906.00=$311,721.00

Darin S. Schindler, Assistant Police Chief Ventura $197,985.00+$107,718.00=$305,703.00

Mark Watkins, City Manager $242,059.00+$58,289.00=$300,348.00

I believe that the city manager should be our highest paid official. He (or perhaps she one day) is similar to a CEO running a very large corporation. He only answers to a board of directors that we call our City Council. His duties are very large, complicated and important. The City Manager and City Attorney are the only positions that are hired (and can be fired) by the City Council. The City Manager hires the head of all departments.

• The Museum of Ventura County is in deep financial trouble. Interim Executive Director Elena Brokaw was brought in to decrease the Museum’s operating costs which she has greatly done, but even she has stated that she is not a museum curator and that the Museum needs one to keep afloat.

In my opinion, the Museum really needs a professional museum curator to run it. The museum needs to be much more interactive and appealing to entire families. In its current state, it is hardly appealing to anyone.

The addition made several years ago to the museum is atrocious. That is my professional opinion (I’m a graduate of the USC School of Architecture and had my own practice starting in 1968, so it means something). This is also the opinion of several museum board members that I have spoken with and also most folks that I speak with. The design completely ignored the Spanish look and feel of the Museum and of the surrounding buildings.

At a recent City Council meeting (referring to the “metal bars” in the front of the Museum), member Mike Tracy (our ex-chief of police) said, with sarcasm, “I like bars” but in this case the bars are not keeping people in but people out.

Our next issue will have an article about the Museum.

•  No one from the six Trump banned countries has killed anyone in a terrorist attack in the USA since 1975. In the years since the September 11 attack, only three of the over 780,000 refugees from these countries have been convicted of terrorist related crimes. In this amount of time, more Venturans have been killed by Venturans. Perhaps the six countries should ban visitors coming from Ventura.

•Some people are willing to take less for the good of the “company”. Kevin Durant is a basketball player for the Golden State Warriors. He recently agreed to terms on a contract worth only about $53 million for 2 years for the good of the team. I certainly hope that he can manage to live on only $26.5 mill a year. My hero.

•  The City of Ventura is now a “Bicycle Friendly City” .The Cycle California Coast

(http://www.cyclecentralcoast.com) has identified the following benefits for communities, nonprofit organizations, businesses and government agencies who are a “Bicycle Friendly City”.

~ Increases the number of tourists visiting Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
~ Increases the positive visibility of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as tourism destinations in print and online media and advertising throughout the community.
~ Fosters a positive impression of bicycling and bicycle tourists within the community.
~ Where practical and economically feasible Ventura encourages the development of bicycle infrastructure, bicycle-friendly businesses and a destination for bicycle tourism.

This will be good if it increases tourism, but I’m not sure if it greatly increases Venturan’s biking to work and using their bikes for everyday use. We are just not a bike culture, but I certainly hope it will increase bike usage. Look for the coming “Grand Loop Signs”.

•  In 2014-15, Ventura paid $13.8 million to its retirement system for past and present employees. That amount could grow to almost $18 million during the current budget cycle.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) oversees Ventura’s retirement system, which is funded through employer and employee contributions and is dependent on a strong showing by stocks, bonds, real estate and other investments.

CalPERS says that the costs will rise even faster in the years ahead.

The City Council voted to pay the annual bill in its entirety at the start of the year, rather than in monthly payments. The move will save $390,000 in interest in 2017-18 and the savings could really add up over time.

This is just a temporary fix, as the cost of Ventura’s retirement system needs to, somehow, be reduced by the City Council.

Vol. 10, No. 20 – July 5 – July 18, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  At a recent City Council meeting, one of the council members didn’t say a single word during the deliberation of an item to be voted on. When it was his time to vote, he said no without comment, which is his prerogative. This bothers me. I think the citizens, need to know what councilmembers are thinking about items on the agenda if they expect us to vote for them in the future.

•  The Thousand Oaks City Council has taken the first step to possibly allow one medical marijuana dispensary and one marijuana testing facility to open in an industrial part of town. The council directed the city staff to write a proposed amendment to the city’s Municipal Code chapter on marijuana, establishing a regulatory framework for the dispensary and the testing facility.

I think that it is time for our City Council to take a similar action. This could bring in additional tax dollars and keep Venturan’s who really need medical marijuana from leaving the city to obtain it.

“Do you know what Focus Area One is, who the City Council can hire and fire? Tune into KPPQ104.1FM Saturday at 10am to hear my interview with Ventura City Manager Mark Watkins to find out.”

• 7% of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows (no kidding), according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy. I would assume that these people also think that brown eggs come from brown chickens and are cheaper because they are plain wrapped.

•  By a 5-0 vote, two future projects have been approved by the Ventura Port District to be located on Spinnaker Drive in the Harbor “For development of visitor serving uses”. The Ventura Port Board of Commissioners unanimously chose the developer and management company, H. Parker Hospitality (who partners with the Fess Parker Brand H. Parker Hospitality), to develop the two parcels that the district owns.

One is at the end of Spinnaker Drive next to the Channel Islands Visitor Center (on the dirt lot). The other site is the large grass next to the former Blackbeard’s BBQ (soon to be a beer and sausage restaurant).

Parker proposed a 64-room upscale facility and spa, with a beach cafe and a high-end restaurant with live music for the dirt lot and a hostel offering 12 shared rooms and 28 private rooms for the grass area. They would manage both.

I think that these projects would be wonderful for the Harbor even though they are many-many years away from fruition. These, along with the large development in the early stages of grading across from the Harbor, will have a large economic impact for the Harbor, its businesses, and the City of Ventura.

My concern, of course, is the large number of additional cars that would come to the Harbor. Parking is almost impossible now when events are held there, and during the summer months especially. The two projects will have their own on-site parking, and I certainly hope that will be sufficient.

Many great events (art, auto shows, etc.) are presented on the open grass area. Hopefully, some grass will remain, so that the many annual events held there can continue.

Likely later this fall-winter they would start the permit entitlement process which will require going to the Coastal Commission for approval.

The Ventura Port District is governed by a five-member Board of Port Commissioners, serving four-year terms without compensation. The current members of the Board are James J. Friedman, Everard G. Ashworth, Bruce E. Smith, Brian Brennan and Nikos T. Valance.

•  The Ventura Planning Commission have approved the staff recommendation regarding making revisions to the Ventura Auto Center Specific Plan. They will be sent go to the City Council which will have the final approvals.

The Auto Center Plan is part of Focus Area One, which includes property behind the auto mall. This property could also contain large big box businesses bringing more people to the auto center area.

Other improvements would include extending Olivas Park Drive and widening the street in front of the dealerships.

Commissioners had extensive discussions regarding the proposed signage that the dealers wanted so the center would be more visible from the freeway. They eventually approved the signs by a 5-2 vote but added that the Design Review Committee retain approval rights of all signage at the center, instead of the Community Development Director as recommended.

A sign roughly 82’ tall and 218’ from the freeway was approved. The sign would sit below the freeway height. There were several community speakers who were opposed to the sign. Part of the approval is that the City has occasional use of the sign to showcase events and happenings in Ventura.

The commissioners also approved the auto dealers’ request that used vehicles sold there must be five years old or newer. Lots selling only used cars are prohibited.

The plan now goes to the City Council for a final vote. It will be an agenda item at the July 10 meeting.

The Ventura Auto Center is the biggest sales tax generator for the city. These conditions could help it bring in even more revenue and taxes.

Unlike Oxnard’s Auto Center, there is little reason to drive by our dealers unless looking for a car (or RV) or going to plays cards at Players Casino. To visit several big box stores in Oxnard, it is necessary to drive through their auto center, so they have much greater exposure. How great would it be to have the only IKEA on the central coast, for example? Imagine how many people from the region would visit Ventura.

Vol. 10, No. 19 – June 21 – July 4, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  In a future issue we will have an article about the “controversy” of the City having two golf courses that are costing Ventura a lot of money to maintain. A few of my friends who play golf told me that if these two courses allowed players to only use 9-holes that more people would play there. So, instead players use the 9-hole course in Saticoy which is not in the City. I’m sure the logistics of how players would use only 9-holes would need to be figured out, but I’m positive that golfers are very honest and would only play nine holes if that is what they paid for.

•  The VCMC (Ventura County Medical Center) had their ribbon cutting ceremony for their new addition (see article in this issue). I attended and was shocked that I didn’t see any Ventura officials in attendance (sorry if I missed you – let me know if so). VCMC is located in what Ventura is calling the Wellness District, and VCMC is an important part of it.

•  I’m glad to hear that the Pierpont Inn has finally (after 18 months) secured their permits to continue with the construction (they previously started renovating without permits). Hopefully, the remodel will restore the lobby and other areas to the Hotel’s wonderful original look. The restaurant and inn have remained open.

•  I think that the Breeze might have suggested that the recently sold Anastasi property located at Seaward and Harbor will not have a project built there. Of course something will be built there but, as always, it could be many-many years away.

•  FOOD Share CEO Bonnie Atmore (aka Bonnie Weigel before her recent marriage) has resigned after nine years running FOOD Share to focus on a land trust she and her husband, Rich Atmore founded. Under Bonnie, FOOD Share grew from serving 38,000 people per month to 74,500.

She and Rich plan to spend more time on the Rancho San Buenaventura Conservation Trust, which oversees 860 acres and is in the process of buying 752 additional acres in the Ventura hillsides.

I wish them much success, and based on her past experiences, they will certainly attain their goals.

•  Residents living on Vista Del Mar Dr. have shown what can be achieved if neighbors get together to try to make things happen without forming an actual community council. By contacting City Council Members and heads of other City departments, they have had informative signs installed and overhanging trees and vegetation growing onto the street cut back to the curb or pavement edges making it much easier and safer to drive this very narrow street. And a special thanks to City Council Member Mike Tracy (and 2 VPD officers) for meeting with the neighbors at one of resident’s homes. If you use the street as a short cut please drive safely and slowly.

•  Once again, thank you all who have reached out to Diane and I by emails, phone cards and personal cards to express your thoughts regarding the passing of Scamp. It has been really amazing and comforting.

•  I’m glad to hear that teen vaping, which has been skyrocketing, fell dramatically last year in the United States. A recent government survey suggests the number of high school and middle school students using electronic cigarettes fell to 2.2 million last year, from 3 million the year before.

Health officials have worried about the booming popularity of vaping products among kids and the potential impact on adult smoking rates in the future.

It’s the first decline CDC has reported in teen vaping since the agency began tracking it in 2011.

If you don’t know what they are, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that can contain nicotine.

Health officials have warned nicotine in e-cigarettes is harmful to developing brains.

And if you read my column, you know that I have always been opposed to them.

•  Very glad to hear that Patagonia bought the former Brooks Institute property that has sat empty since Brooks went out of business leaving many holding the bag.

The almost 8-acre site, located at 5301 N. Ventura Ave., is zoned industrial so it will be interesting to see what Patagonia does there (especially to the very large sound stages). The property is not actually located in the city of Ventura.

•  Recently, the Planning Commission approved amendments (7-0) to our “adult business” ordinance to forward to the City Council for approval.

Adult businesses must meet some location requirements so they can only in a few very specific areas:

M-1 and M-2 zones (heavy industrial)

Must be minimum of 500’ from defined sensitive areas

There must be 200’ between them

This means that there are only about 80 properties in Ventura where they can be located.

Also, there must be a minimum of 6’ between the “entertainers” and the patrons (so VPD officers will now carry tape measures as part of their regular equipment – kidding).

• The Ventura Port Board of Commissioners have given their blessing to two future developments in the Harbor. It will be many years before anything is built, but approvals include….. the California Coastal Commission plus all of the many Ventura City approvals.

The Board Commission stated that, “The sites are underutilized and could bring more tourism and make greater use of the bigger area that includes Ventura Harbor Village, the Channel Islands Visitors Center and the Harbor beaches.”

One site is at the end of Spinnaker Drive and the other near what was Blackbeard’s BBQ (now being remolded to be a full-service restaurant). While I agree that the Harbor could be much better utilized these projects must account for the many autos that they would bring to the area. Even now there are weekends when there are no parking places in the Harbor and many people just leave. More about this in future issues.

Vol. 10, No. 18 – June 7 – June 20, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

Pokemon Should Go. Photo by George Robertson

•  Recently, Venturan’s were surprised when California St. was closed for the day between Poli and Main, for what appeared to be a private party. They were even more surprised when they found out that it was due to filming an ad for Pokemon Go. There was little warning that the streets would be closed for the day. There should be much more warming when this type of thing occurs. Phone calls, emails, use of Nextdoor.com, etc., etc.

From the City – “Commercial for Pokemon Go, talent playing hand held video game in the street.  California Street will be a scene of a street type fair with a small stage for background.  Production assistants will be a various locations to assist with traffic/pedestrian control while the Drone is in the air. A drone will be tracking shots, camera on sticks and hand held cameras used.”

Either the City or PokemonGo should have done something  to show Venturan’s that they care about us.

I figured that the saving grace is that the filmmakers were charged a lot of money for this inconvenience. But, turns out, the amount was shockingly low.

The fees were basically about $410 if you subtract fire, police  and parking fees reimbursements.

$50.00                   Film Permit Application

$300.00                 Film Permit

$496.00                 Fire Inspection (4hrs/ x $124/hr)

$6204.00              Police (2 officers @$94/hr ea. X 13hrs)

$60.00                   Staff Administration

$4,397.75              Parking

$11,507.75           Total

•  The Ventura Auto Center is in the final stages of their expansion application. The proposed improvements include widening of the freeway frontage road and extending Olivas Park Drive to connect to Johnson Drive – plus enhanced signage and many other improvements.

There is some concern about proposals for a new large sign as part of the Ventura Auto Center Specific Plan that will be appearing before the Planning Commission on June 14. The meeting will start at 6pm in the City Hall Council Chambers. You can attend the meeting and express your thoughts, good or bad.

The new illuminated “freeway sign” will stand 82’ high. The large sign will also need to have the approval of the Design Review Committee, so there will be several opportunities to express concerns if you have any. The design of the smaller dealer signs are dictated by the auto manufacturers.

After the Planning Commission approves the Specific Plan it will go to the City Council for final adoption – possibly in July.

Debbie Fox, owner of Fox Fine Jewelry stated,  “the Auto Center is getting a long overdue makeover and Venturans will benefit with increased sales tax dollars. This is a great opportunity, but there needs to be a balance between increased taxes, and sight and light pollution from the signage.”

If you are interested in seeing what changes are in the plan, visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov “Public Meetings,” scroll down to Planning Commission and select June 14 Item 3.

The City Council has set the Auto Center’s future as a high priority. Let’s face it, the Auto Center is looking rather old and worn out. I agree that the Center really needs sprucing up and it is important to Ventura because of the large amount of taxes it pays and the amount of people it brings into Ventura from other cities. I also think the extension of Olivas to Johnson is a wonderful idea.

Part of the approval is that there cannot be car lots that just sell used cars, used cars must be part of the selling of new autos.

•  Congratulations to our former Superintendent of Ventura schools, Dr. Trudy Tuttle Arriaga, who has been selected as Professor of Education of the year at California Lutheran University. She will receive the honor from the Association of California School Administrators. Trudy has been teaching at CLU for almost 10 years and became a full time teacher after she retired from Ventura in 2015. Recently, her replacement as Superintendent, Dr. Babb, was “dismissed” by the school board.

•  Another proposed project that has been many years in the making has come to an end. Anastasi Development Co. LLC is in the process of selling the large property that it owns at Seaward and Harbor Blvd.

After years of public input and city review, officials approved plans in 2010 for 138 condominiums with some retail space. Later on Anastasi reduced the units to 86 town homes.

As usual in such cases, Anastasi is blaming the City for delays in their decision to sell the property. City says that they just never listened to its concerns so Anatasi never submitted plans that would obtain approvals.

It’s unfortunate that once again a piece of property that has been vacant for many years will sit for many, many more .

Hopefully, the future property owner’s will want to develop condominiums there. I think that there is a great need for more condominiums in Ventura as the cost of single family residences just keep rising.

•  It’s sad that Ventura keeps losing some of its ionic businesses due to various factors. Included are Tipps Thai, TLC and Avenue Hardware.

•  I want to thank the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging for giving the Ventura Breeze their 2017 Optimal Aging Champion Award Age-Friendly Media Award. (see article in this issue). It means a lot to all of us at the Breeze to be recognized for all of the effort that we put in celebrating and educating our senor population (people like me).

Vol. 10, No. 17 – May 24 – June 6, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I sincerely thank all of you who have reached out to my wife Diane and I regarding the loss of Scamp. We have received emails, phone calls and even sympathy cards in the mail. Many of them came from people who have never met us or Scamp. This has meant a lot to us and we love you all for being so kind and understanding.

There are, obviously, a few minor changes to our revised Pet Page. We have all of the same wonderful pet information just without the comments from the Professor. I’m sure that you will still enjoy reading it.

•  In our last issue, a reader complained that there were too many ads, so I thought I would give a lesson in Newspaper Publishing 101. The industry standard is there should be an equal amount of ads and editorial (50%-50%), especially so when the paper is free. Because we manage to keep our overhead down, we don’t need to quite meet this criteria. In the last issue we had about 37% ads. In order to keep to about 40% ads this issue has expanded to 28 pages. This is our first 28-page issue.

Ashley Bautista and officer Jeff Wojnarowski were also guests telling us about the Ventura Police Department.

So, we all need to thank our advertisers for their great support, which allows us to distribute our beloved newspaper every two weeks. Pleas show your support by frequenting our advertisers.

•  It’s not very often I would complement a utility company, but Edison is great at telling its customers when they will have a temporary black-out. Informed me by email, regular mail and phone message.

•  I want to remind you that The Ventura Chamber of Commerce will hold its Spring Carnival Business Expo on May 25 from 4:30-7:30pm. The event will be held at the Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor Resort.

The hotel’s ballroom will be filled with over 75 exhibitors, including restaurants (with food), businesses, and services, showcasing the best of what Ventura has to offer. The Ventura Chamber’s popular, twice-yearly expo is free and open to the public.

As always, our booth will be right next to the food, so be sure to come say hello and grab a snack.

•  I don’t enjoy many comedians and maybe this recent experience is why. Flipping through channels, “comedian” Kevin Hart was just coming on, so I decided to watch for a few minutes. It was an amazing stage with flames shooting up from the floor. He opened by saying, “I’m Kevin Hart, do you like my flames?” And the crowd roared with laughter. Maybe I need to learn to laugh more easily, so that I can find this type of banter funny.

•  Six developers have been invited by the City Council to submit proposals to build housing and provide services for veterans in Ventura. This project would be on City owned property next to the current Veterans Home of California on Telephone Rd.

Karyl Lynn Burns and Brian McDonald were recent guests on my KPPQFM104.1 radio show talking about the Rubicon Theatre Company. The show airs at 10am Mon., Wed, Fri. and, other random times each week.

The six were chosen from 13 companies that had responded to developing the 9.5 acres.

Councilmembers Cheryl Heitmann and Jim Monahan were selected to work on this project. They will work with City staff and consultants in developing the formal request for proposal (RFP). As part of the request, the submission must include audited financials to ensure the developer is solid (I hope this is to prevent what happened with the closing of Brook’s Institute). Councilmember Monahan was instrumental in having the Veterans Home of California constructed.

A measure passed by state voters in 2014 set aside $600 million for multifamily housing for veterans, with at least half of that going to those with very low incomes. The City hopes to secure some of these funds.

•  Local event organizers were shocked when hearing that Ventura was raising fees and increasing insurance requirements when hosting a concert or other gatherings in the city. Thankfully, in response, the City Council put the changes on temporary hold and asked for input from those wanting to promote events.

The proposed charges were based on the expected size of the event, whether alcohol is served and other considerations. It also raises the insurance requirement, which has been in place for more than 30 years (so this might be warranted).

I hope the Council realizes how important our (typically held outside) concerts and events are to Ventura and doesn’t price promoters out of the City.

In fact, I think the City should do everything possible to bring in even more events. The Promenade should be filled with musicians, entertainers, and vendors every weekend.

•  Amazingly, it has been almost 16-months since the City red-tagged a portion of the historic Pierpont Inn. The owner, Irvine-based DKN Hotels, started a remodel of the lobby-restaurant area without the required permits, which Included removing some bearing posts and walls. They should have known better.

The Inn is still functioning nicely with a small registration area and the restaurant is still open (contrary to what the VC Star reported) with an entrance in the rear of the hotel. And the rooms have been remodeled.

The delay in moving forward with required permits and construction is costing the owner about $1,300 per day in City fines.

I understand that final plans have been submitted to obtain permits and get the construction going.

Vol. 10, No. 16 – May 10 – May 23, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I know that I have written a little about this but actually making the decision that Scamp’s life no longer had any meaning to him was one of the most difficult and agonizing decisions (and writing this) that I have ever had to make. Fortunately, I didn’t need to make it alone.

We basically kept Scamp alive for several weeks by spoon feeding him, but he was drinking water, still walking around and still smiling at us which is what kept us continuing his life. Was it for his sake or ours, I hope his.

But, on April 28th we decided that he is time was up. Called the vet (Ventura Veterinary Hospital) and took him in on Saturday.  I went in while Diane stayed in the car with Scamp. A young lady that works there came out to speak to Diane who started to cry and then the young lady started to cry.  I asked her do you cry every time and she said “yes”.

I did feel comfort right then in knowing that they would be so caring towards him.

We took him into the examining room and were given a few choices to make.  The first one was do we want to be with him when they put him to sleep.  They explained that he would be given an IV and then the fatal shot.  We decided to say goodbye in the exam room knowing that he would have several compassionate ladies with him petting him and saying goodbye. And our last thoughts of him wanted to be of him still looking at us with his cow eyes.

The other decision was did we want him to be cremated individually so that we could have only his ashes or cremated with 400 other animals.  We decided that (need to stop for a moment because I’m crying) he would like to be with other animals, so we made that decision.

While lying on the exam table unable to get up, he suddenly stood, stared (taking another pause) at Diane then stared at me and laid back down to never get up again. I’d like to think that he was saying goodbye.

It is now been nine days and our large house still feels empty without this 20 pound hairy (he had hair and not fur) little guy.  I still look at the bed with our cat, Savana, in it and then look for Scamp who isn’t there.  Or, I’ll look down at the floor while eating and he isn’t there either. I’m sure that will eventually stop to some degree.

I, again, want to thank all of you for your kind words, emails, prayers and cards. They have really helped make it easier for us.

The next question, is, of course, is we will be getting another dog?  That decision will be 100% up to Diane because she is the one that takes care of our pets.  I’m like a grandpa and hand them to her when they need their diapers changed, bathes (or fleas removed).

•  The Ventura County Star has announced that the Los Angeles Times will soon start printing the VC Star beginning with the July 12 edition. The Star will be closing their printing facility.

The Star stated, “The cost-cutting move comes as The Star, like newspapers across the country, continues to grapple with declining advertising revenue.”

Well – we must be doing something right as this issue contains our largest number of ads to date. I want to thank our readers, advertisers and especially our great account rep, Breezy Gledhill, for making that possible. And, of course all of the other people who continuously work hard on each issue.

The funny thing is that the Star gave us a printing quote a few years ago. Just imagine if we had accepted – the headline would have been,  “The LA Times’ stock jumped 11% since it was announced that they would be printing the Ventura Breeze.”

•  In our last issue we had an article about the planting of a new tree at Two Trees (funny why that is capitalized). We have had some emails and a call disputing some of the facts of just how many trees are up there and when they were planted and cut down. Were there 5 in ???? and 2 in???? and 15 in ????. So, maybe some of the numbers were wrong but is it at all important? The important thing is the new tree replaces the dead one and we got that right!

•  An exciting find. A team of astronomers says they have sited a super-earth called GJ1132b that might be capable of sustaining life and it is “only“ 39 light years away. Before you get too excited and buy a ticket to visit, that is “only” 229,266,396,108,687 miles away.

•  I have had four shows on my new radio show (on KPPQ-LP 104.1FM). The show airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am and a bunch of other times during the week that I don’t know about. Try to listen (low wattage so not always easy to pick up) and give me your feedback (good and bad) and suggestions for future guests. I haven’t aired a new show because I have had a viral cough for several weeks which makes it tough to host a radio show. And the meds wiped me out, but made me happy. You can listen to the shows at www.venturabreeze.com “Face Of Ventura”.

•  In his first 100 days in office, the Trump’s have spent $30 million on traveling expenses. It’s nice to know that they now have funds available to start taking some vacations.

Vol. 10, No. 15 – April 26 – May 9, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I want to congratulate the new members of the Measure O Citizens Oversight Committee. With the passage of Measure O last November an oversight committee was required to review the new revenues and to recommend expenditures for the new funds. Ventura’s half-cent sales tax oversight board received close to 70 applications for seven spots. The tax is expected to generate close to $11 million in 2017-18 and will last 25 years.

The members for a one-year term are Kristopher Hansen, Bill Hickman, Mary Laurel Rutledge and Jordana Ybarra-Telias. Three-year term members are Kathlene Bololes, Marni Brook and David Jaffe.

In a previous issue, we erroneously stated that the members would serve 3 and 4 year terms. They have a very important job so I hope that they do it well. Their first presentation to the City Council will probably be on May 10. Should be very interesting.

•  Deciding when Scamp’s time will be up has been one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make (so I will let Diane make it). We are not even sure if spoon feeding him to keep him alive is the right thing to do. He is still drinking water on his own and moving around the house and smiling at us. Just not sure if we are keeping him going for his sake or ours?

•  The latest guest on my new radio show on KPPQ-LP 104.1FM was Elena Brokaw – the Interim Executive Director for the Museum of Ventura County. The show airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am. Try to listen (low wattage so not always easy to pick up) and give me your feedback (good and bad) and suggestions for future guests.

•  In this issue our Person to Person question is “What is your favorite season in Ventura?” Interesting that no one specifically said summer which would shock mid-westerners. A compliment to us that all of our seasons are wonderful.

•  I know that I shouldn’t make too many comments about our president, but like late night comedians it is impossible not to. When running he kept telling us that he never would settle a law suit (real men don’t do that). He just paid a $25 million settlement in the Trump University litigation. Maybe he doesn’t consider a measly $25 million a settlement.

•  Three very important people make the Ventura Breeze happen me, Alfred J. Lewis and Breezy Gledhill are left-handed. There have been some (and are) other lesser known lefties like Alexander The Great, Julius Caesar, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Napoleon Bonaparte, Beethoven, Charlie

Chaplin, Babe Ruth, Bill Gates and 6 out of the last 8 US presidents – to name just a few. About 10% of the population are lefties. No wonder the Ventura Breeze is so amazing.

But being left-handed has not always been easy. Even today I read a report that a school teacher in Oklahoma sent a 4-year old left-handed boy home with a note from the teacher that left-handedness is associated with evil and the devil.

In fact the word left derived from the Old English word “lyft” which means weak and useless.

In the old days when people used ink pens our hands went right over the writing and smudged the ink. That is why some older people write with the hand kind of upside down so that the hand is in back of the ink. Of course lefty kids today don’t have that problem because they do as all of their writing on computers, tablets and phones.

But now at least you know that if the Breeze does something wrong that the devil made us do it.

•  Say it isn’t so – my world just got turned upside down. The writers of “reality” TV shows walked off the job recently in an attempt to unionize more unscripted shows. Will I find out next that the Easter Bunny really has nothing to do with Easter?

•  Between Donald Trump and Mexican drug cartels there is a war on journalists and journalism. Trump has called journalist “enemies of the people.” That’s one of the nicer things he has called us. Anything that he doesn’t agree with is “fake news”( I know I said I wouldn’t comment too much on him , but I just can’t help myself).

In Mexico, so many journalists have been killed for writing articles exposing the drug cartels that several newspapers have closed down.

Of course no news organization is perfect (liberal or conservative) but an independent press is vital in all democracies and guaranteed by our constitution.

•  Jackie Moran, who was elected to the Ventura Unified School District board last year, has been found not guilty of truancy by allowing her son to be routinely absent from Cabrillo Middle School.

Moran had been charged in February with allowing her son to be routinely truant.

She told Judge Michele Castillo that her son had to miss school because of an ongoing medical condition (without doctor’s proof). The judge felt that Deputy District Attorney Brandon Ross did not prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’m not taking sides but to waste the time of a judge, district attorney, etc. for what could have been a $100 fine is ludicrous. Certainly the school and the Moran’s should have been able to work this out without going to court.

Vol. 10, No. 14 – April 12 – April 25, 2017 – Opinion/Editorial

•  I have been asked why we didn’t include April fool gags in our last issue like we’ve done in past years’ issues (that has gotten me in so much trouble).

Because Scamp announced that he is very sick and won’t be with us for much longer, I didn’t want readers to think that this might be a joke, so nothing funny out of respect for him.

Regarding Scamp (read his article), he is still with us. This has been a transition time for Diane and I. He is kind of here and kind of not here. He’s not sitting next to us any longer when we eat so kind of getting used to him not being here. I said “kind of,” but it isn’t going to make it any easier.

If he would just start eating, he might get some of his strength back.

Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko was my first guest on radio station KPPQFM.

•  On my new radio show on KPPQ-LP 104.1FM, I have interviewed Mayor Erik Nasarenko and Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney. The show airs on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (hopefully) at 10am. You can still hear my interview with Erik on Saturday at 10am. Try to listen and give me your feedback (good and bad) and suggestions for future guests.

•  In referring to an article in the LA Times about the homeless in Pomona, our Ventura City Community Development Manager Peter Brown stated, “Which once again shows that our homeless population is not unique or even worse than other cities.”

“A couple of really interesting articles in the Times the last couple days. Pomona could be replaced with Ventura” because this article is 100% in line with what’s happening here (like it or not), because it’s all about balancing the needs of all community members.”

Pomona has taken a different approach though. Officials agreed after months of soul-searching on a comprehensive strategy that gives as much weight to enforcement as assistance. And the city is moving swiftly to remove an obstacle to that enforcement – its failure to offer people living on its streets a place to sleep or store their belongings.

Pomona has built nearly 400 steel lockers, one for every “unsheltered” homeless  person in the city . Officials then approved a comprehensive plan, as well as $1.7 million to buy land for a temporary shelter with 175 beds.

To compare us to Pomona, there is one homeless per 219 residents in their city and in Ventura it is one per 275 residents, so they have us beat. And where would you rather live, here or Pomona?

There is always the concern that if our services for the homeless are more comprehensive than other local cities that we will become a magnet for the homeless. This indeed might be a reality, so it is very important that other local communities provide their share of homeless services.

Some living in Pomona argue that the city’s generosity has prompted neighboring towns to send their homeless people to services in Pomona.

Hopefully, the recently approved overlay districts that will allow homeless facilities to be created will greatly help the situation – that is, if developers can be located to provide the facilities.

•  I recently attended “Live at The Fillmore” – the top Allman Brothers tribute band – at Discovery Ventura. To be honest, my music tastes are rather specific (always have been) to jazz and classics so really don’t know what the original Allman Brothers band sounded like. So, I don’t know if the band sounded like them, but they were good (I think) and had two full drummers which I had never seen before.

A great evening, and, because the food there is excellent, I ate while listening to the music. You can eat in the restaurant, the bar, while bowling or on the patio and hear the music anywhere. If you haven’t checked it out, go have a drink and take a look. And you’re not drunk if you see the bowling pins floating in the air.

•  The cigarette tax rate has increased from $0.87 to $2.87 per pack of 20 cigarettes. I have never smoked, but I really oppose this. If this is a way to get folks to stop smoking then raise the cost of a pint of gin to $50 to get people to stop drinking. If it is intended that the additional money will be used for research and anti-smoking campaigns it might not happen. Additional revenue monies never seem to be used for what they were intended for. Look at the zillions of dollars being collected by lottery and building fees for our schools and yet our schools are always short of money.

•  The amount of applicants who want to serve on the Measure O sales tax oversight committee have overwhelmed the city. It seems that how the new taxpayer money is spent has great interest to Venturans. About 70 applications have been received from those wanting to serve on the seven member board for either a four or three year term.

The tax is expected to generate nearly 11 million in 2017-18 and will last for 25 years.

Three members of the City Council serve on the Appointments Recommendation Committee. Neal Andrews, Christy Weir and Matt La Vere. It will be a monumental task for them to select seven from this large amount of applicants. Hopefully they will be selected in time to provide guidance for our next budget.