Category Archives: Opinion/Editorial

Vol. 11, No. 25 – Sept 12 – Sept 25, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• Our readers will be happy to know (I think) that I will no longer be making comments regarding national politics. Will be tough, but I think I can do it.

• The street at the new triangle project (231 apartments) off of Sanjon, which is being graded now, will be called Vista Del Mar Place. Since we already have a Vista Del Mar Drive, I think this will be very confusing. People living on Vista Del Mar Drive just say they live on Vista Del Mar. I assume, the people living on Vista Del Mar Place will also say the same. I’m sure many visitors will get lost trying to find their way to these streets when the project is completed.

• On this issue’s cover, we have an article titled “Ventura rebuilds”, written by City Staff. I know that some of you will disagree with this article, so I hope to receive your comments. I think Ventura is trying hard to work through an overwhelming amount of home plans to be checked and processed. Certainly, more than city staff can handle.

•The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled that prosecuting homeless people for sleeping on public property – when they have no access to shelter – violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The decision will protect the homeless in the Western United States.

The decision tells local governments that the key to getting homeless people off the streets is to provide housing, both short term and permanent, as well as treatment and services.

I know that Venturans are constantly blaming the Ventura Police Department and Ventura City Council for not dealing with our homeless situation. This is somewhat pointless because there is little that can be done about it until there is housing available. Our police and council are just as concerned about this and are working on providing some shelter solutions.

Many, many cities are struggling with homelessness brought on by rising housing costs and income inequality.

•Plans for new veteran’s housing in Ventura is proceeding with the City Council voting 6-0 to select a developer for the 122-unit project.

They chose Community of Friends/U.S. Vets Development Team to build the project on 9.6 acres that the city owns next to the existing 60-bed Veterans Homes of California. Combined, the two facilities will provide 182 units of veterans housing, still less than half of what was originally planned for the site.

• From the Ventura Police, stolen from unlocked vehicles:

Wallet, purse, money, 3 Nikon cameras, football equipment, cell Phone, $20 in cash, social security card, surfboard (from pickup truck bed), Apple mini iPad, Apple iPhone X, credit cards and $600 in cash.

So, lock your cars and even if locked, remove valuables. Be smart.

• These are the candidates for the city council elections in November (for our new city council districts) Irene Henry, Marcos Cuevas, Kevin Clerici, Sofía Rubalcava,

incumbant Erik Nasarenko, Spencer Noren, Ed Alamillo, Mike Marostica, Alec Gasca and Lorrie Brown.

There will be several opportunities to get to know them better (several are noted in this issue).

Very important that you vote so that you have a council member representing the district you live in where you live. Then, you’ll know who to complain to.

• Car manufacturer Bugatti has unveiled its stunning Divo super sports car – a vehicle that the French luxury brand is listing for $5.8 million. I was very disappointed that they would not accept my credit card as payment, but even if they would, they are already sold out.

• A very strange situation existed between Union Pacific and the Coastal Commission. About 5 years ago, Union Pacific installed some fencing on the east end of Vista Del Mar to keep people from crossing over the tracks as a shortcut to the beach. There have been deaths at this location (the trains always win). The Coastal Commission recently discovered this situation and requested that Union Pacific obtain permits for what they consider to be a structure.

The odd part is that the Commission is opposed to the fence because they want people to have access to the beach. Seems to me that there are other ways to get to the beach that aren’t dangerous. The fences have been removed which now provide a nice clear view of the awful graffiti on the buildings next to the tracks.

•A jury has found Plains All American Pipeline guilty of one felony count of causing the oil spill by Refugio State Beach in 2015 for failing to properly maintain its pressurized pipeline. The jury also found them guilty of eight misdemeanors by failing to immediately report the spill. The sentence has not yet been determined.

Glad to hear that. Too often the companies behind oil spills go unpunished.

•Ventura surfers (and others) can be very proud. On August 20, surfing became California’s official state sport. I was hoping it was tennis, so I could be proud of being a tennis player. Sure glad that our legislators have nothing better to do then waste time on this topic.

Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia. This has upset many men there, especially the clerics. One cleric stated, “allowing women to drive would invite promiscuity and could damage their ovaries. Woman possessed only half a brain and half of that was used for shopping.”

I completed disagree – it takes at least ¾ of their brains to go shopping. I had better hear from you ladies.

Vol. 11, No. 22 – Aug 1 – Aug 14, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• Because it is very seldom used, it seems to me that the large outdoor area at the Albinger Archaeological Museum is a waste of space. It’s basically grass, dirt and river rock that were foundations for the old buildings that were located there. Really not much to see outside after you enjoy the exhibits inside the Museum.

“Wouldn’t this make a wonderful Downtown park and open space?”

Why not remove the wall at the street and make it into a nice open space and park? The foundation area can remain with the small walal still defining it. Downtown needs more open area and the cost of doing this is minimal.

It could then become part of the Valdez Alley/Eastwood Park right next to it. A wonderful addition to downtown.

What say you?

•One day last week it was 82 degrees in Ventura and folks were complaining about the heat. The same day it was 121 in Palm Springs. So quit complaining.

• Hopefully the painful episode of the Harbor Church building, located on Preble Ave. in Midtown, will end soon. Painful because the City spent $2.3 million on the property and will be spending another $350,000 (or so) to demolish it.

Even though the property value is much higher now than it was when purchased, the four lots that will become available for purchase will be valued at about $1.4 million. This means the City will have lost about $1.2 million on this fiasco.

The church was – for years – providing food, clothing, ministry and other services for homeless people until the city bought the property in exchange for the church leaving town.

Its location, next to Blanche Reynolds Elementary and a park, were two of the reasons that neighbors opposed Operation Embrace that served the homeless. They felt that the program’s clientele brought in crime and was a safety risk to the neighborhood.

Because of this, the City ordered Harbor to shut down the program. Harbor Church appealed and sued claiming Operation Embrace was an extension of its religious rights. Rather than going through an expensive legal battle the City purchased the property.

•After what they considered to be a mass shooting (hardly considered a mass shooting in the USA these days) left three people dead, including the shooter, Toronto’s conservative mayor backed a proposal that even the most liberal American politicians wouldn’t dare support ― a total ban on all handgun sales.

“Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all,” Mayor John Tory asked at a city council meeting on Monday.

•For the first time ever, researchers have watched a star race past the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, verifying that its motion showed the effects of general relativity, as predicted by Albert Einstein. Just what world was he from?

• In 2003, Russell Galipeau (59) became the Superintendent of the Channel Islands. After 40-years of serving the National Park Service he is retiring. He did a wonderful job and will be missed. If you haven’t been to any of the islands jump on an Island Packer’s boat and enjoy our own National Park.

• According to the Ventura County 2018 Homeless Count and Survey, there were 1,299 adults and children who were homeless. This number represents a 147 person or 12.8% increase when compared to the number of homeless persons who were counted in 2017. However, the homeless count in Ventura County over the last 10-years show that even though there has been an increase in the last few years, the amount has declined sharply from previous years. It is down from 2009 by almost 40% and from all of the years between 2009 and 2015.

Housing is a major part of the solution and the City and County have taken the right steps towards allocating funds to open up a year-round shelter – it will, hopefully, be open by the end of this year.

The cities of Oxnard and Ventura account for nearly two thirds of the 1,299 homeless. Even the homeless like living by the beach.

• This reminds me of the old cartoon series Spy versus Spy. Everyone is suing everyone over the Thomas fire and the results could take years. The Ventura City Council voted to take legal action. The city filed a lawsuit against Southern California Edison over the utility’s alleged negligence in starting the Thomas Fire becoming one of the over 2,000 plaintiffs seeking damages from Edison. The city is being represented by Texas-based law firm Baron & Budd.

Electrical equipment and lines have been determined to be one of the leading causes of many wildfires.

The large number of cases and plaintiffs prompted the California Judicial Council to combine them all to be heard in Los Angeles County. The cases involve those affected by the fire and deadly mudslides in Montecito.

At the same time, the City is being sued by some as well.

This gets into some very tricky legal questions. What if a public utility can’t afford to pay the judgements? Can they declare bankruptcy and close down? Can they pass on the costs by increasing customers’ bills as they believe that they can?

They can’t raise rates without the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) which it is reluctant to do. The PUC declined a request by San Diego Gas & Electric to raise their rates to cover claims from fires in 2007.

•The New York Daily News just cut half its newsroom staff, including the Editor in Chief. I think that I’m the Breeze’s Editor in Chief so hope that I don’t need to fire myself. Tempting as it is, what would I do for fun? As you know, newspapers are struggling, but the Ventura Breeze continues our winning ways with the support of our readers and advertisers.

Vol. 11, No. 21 – July 18 – July 31, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

•Per the new owners of Carrows Restaurant on Harbor, all newspaper racks have been removed. But not to worry, just go over to Vons to pick up your favorite local newspaper.

•While attending the Ventura Music Festival at the Olivas Adobe, featuring the John Jorgenson Quintet, we couldn’t figure out why there was a lady on the balcony with what appeared to be a hawk. Turns out it was a hawk. The VMF hired a “falconer” who brought a Harris Hawk to keep the trees free of birds who, in the past, have bombed some attendees at the summer concerts.

•On our pet page is news about the new location for the Canine Adoption and Rescue League (CARL) Thrift Boutique at 2750 E Main St. I feel proud that I was able to provide their architectural drawings and help them through the city permit process. It’s a great location, so be sure to support them and the dogs that need adoption.

• Glad to see grading started on the large “triangle lot” development project. Even though it will increase traffic, it is an important part of the Downtown plan with a major public promenade along the bluff to be enjoyed by all.

• I may be in the minority, but I don’t like the fact that Union Pacific has had to remove a large amount of their fencing which makes it much easier to cross over their tracks – very dangerous. Legal crossings (an overpass or underpass) would be great but would cost millions of dollars.

• The dozens of Thomas Fire lawsuits against Southern California Edison proceeded recently when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Buckley approved some procedural conditions and ordered some evidence be shared in the litigation.

The lawsuits allege negligence by Edison, in maintaining and operating its equipment led to the fires and subsequent Montecito mudslides.

Congratulations go to new, or re-appointed, members of Ventura’s Cultural Affairs

Commission, Public Art Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission,

Downtown Parking Advisory Committee and Library Advisory Commissions.

They are Marie Lakin, Ken May, Alec Gasca, Todd Collart, Daniel Saltee, Maline Werness-Rude,

James White, Kevin Clerici, Debbie Giles and Berta Steele.

• The Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to ban vacation rentals that are not the primary residences of owners in the unincorporated areas of the Ojai Valley (not city of). The vote affects homes that are rented for less than 30 days (short term).

Union Pacific has removed their fences so now the ugly and graffiti filled buildings are more visible.

Ventura has been struggling for some time with what some see as this problem, especially in the small Lanes in the Pierpont area.

LeBron James has signed a contract with the LA Lakers for 4 years for only $37.5 mill per year. With his endorsements he might make less than $90 mill for 6-months work, so I’m starting a go-fund campaign to raise money for his kids so that when they reach 16 they can buy their first Maserati’s. My first car was a 1939 Chevy coupe, and I could even work on the engine.

•As we all know, Ventura has had one very tragic murder this year and some locals and news outlets have made it sound as if we are the murder capital of the world. Oxnard has had 9 so far this year, so maybe we aren’t so bad.

•The November election will be the first time City Council members are chosen from the districts in which they live, a total of four seats are becoming up for election. A good opportunity for Venturans who have never thought of running for office. There is not an incumbent in two of the districts which improves your chance of being elected.

The deadline to submit your ballet application is 5 p.m. on Aug. 10. To get listed on the ballot candidates need to collect only 20 signatures from registered voters who live in their district. To run, you must be at least 18 years old, registered to vote, and live in your district.

Four council seats – District 1, 4, 5 and 6 – are being voted on under the new districts. To find out what district you live in go to https://bit.ly/2JB8fm0.

Applications are available at the City Clerk’s office at City Hall which is open Monday- Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The office will be closed July 20 and Aug. 3.

For more information, go to cityofventura.ca.gov/election. If you do run, be sure to send your photo and platform statement to editor@venturabreeze.com for all to see. We have included several candidate overview statements already.

•Built by IBM and Nvidia for the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Summit is a 200 petaflop machine. This means it can perform 20 quadrillion calculations per second. As stated by MIT Technology Review, “Everyone on Earth would have to do a calculation every second of every day for 305 days to crunch what the new machine can do in the blink of an eye.”

Before you consider buying one: The machine weighs 340 tons. The system is housed in a 9,250 square-foot room at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s facility in Tennessee. To keep this machine cool, 4,000 gallons of water are pumped through the system (it couldn’t be in Ventura since we don’t have that much water). The 13 megawatts of energy required to power this behemoth could light up over 8,000 US homes.

Summit is now the world’s most powerful supercomputer, and it is 60% faster than the previous title holder, China’s Sunway TaihuLight. It’s the first time since 2013 that a US-built computer has held the title. And if you turn it over, it doesn’t say “Made in China”.

Vol. 11, No. 20 – July 4 – July 17, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• Santa Clarita has approved new rules that bans individuals from sitting on sidewalks and sleeping in cars on public streets. The rules are intended to block homeless people from living in public spaces. At the same time, they also approved spending $1 million to help build a homeless shelter and create a long-term plan to combat the issue.

These signs would be good to have in Ventura.

I’m not sure if it is legal to ban people from sitting on the sidewalk, but taking the next step and providing shelter makes it worth taking the chance. Officials from Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana have proposed new shelter sites to help solve their growing homeless situation.

Providing shelters is what is needed – it seems to me. Complaining about (and counting) the homeless does nothing to correct the homeless problem in any city. Pursuant to this, the Ventura City Council has approved spending $600,000 in the new $306.5 million operating budget (roughly a 10% increase over last year) to help pay for the acquisition of a year-round transitional shelter and $250,000 for operating expenses including agencies that work with the homeless community and provide social services and other necessary programs, especially for the approximate 30% of the mentally ill homeless. The funds are expected to be matched by Ventura County which has agreed to provide matching funding to cities opening their own shelters.

The council also directed staff to return with gap funding to continue extra police patrols (and extra security cameras) put into place after the April homicide on the Promenade. The city has been paying police overtime for the additional enforcement and will likely continue that until new full time officers are hired.

Many citizens are still confused, saying, “How come we still have vagrants on the Promenade if there are additional police present.” The police are there to diffuse any illegal activity that might take place (being homeless on the Promenade is not illegal)), and to deal with unruly people, such as a mentally ill homeless person who might be yelling at people. They might also try to get the mentally ill and homeless some help, but there is very little of that currently available.

• In a previous issue, I reported that the temporary ban on leaf blowers had been lifted. Not true – the City Council has not made a final decision. It’s the dreaded “fake news”.

• Ventura resident, Sadiki Shakur, 24, has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm for his role in the 2016 shooting that killed one man and injured another. He entered the plea in Superior Court as part of an agreement with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. Shakur was initially charged with murder and attempted murder. If convicted of these crimes, he could have received a sentence of 84 years to life in prison. As part of his plea agreement Shakur is expected to be sentenced to only 16 years.

•Speaking about the North Korean leader, Trump stated; “He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

News item – “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly ordered a high-ranking army officer to be executed after he was accused of giving extra food and fuel rations to troops and their families.”

His people had better sit up at attention.

• The City of Ventura owns a very large property portfolio, which they have done a terrible job managing. Ventura owns over 250 properties.

The Brooks Institute situation, where they walked away from space that was being remodeled on the fourth and fifth floors of 505 Poli St. is a good example of things gone wrong. Unqualified staff failed to require the school to pay a security deposit. The space, with unfinished construction, still remains empty.

When Brooks signed their lease, several non-profits (like Focus on the Masters) had to move to another floor or location, all of which turned out to not be necessary.

To solve the problem, the city has hired an in-house property management specialist, Charlotte Modugno, and consolidated all of the city properties and agreements to the public works department.

Other city leased properties include patios used by several restaurants that are located on city property.

City Councilmember Christy Weir asked for more information on 505 Poli St., which has 12 leases and much empty space. The building includes nonprofits, start-up companies and the Ventura Chamber of Commerce. I certainly hope that Charlotte does a good job so that city properties are professionally managed and proper rents are charged.

•A new study validates Einstein’s theory of general relativity in a distant galaxy for the first time.

This study supports my current understanding of gravity (which is non-existent) and provides more evidence for the existence of dark matter and dark energy — two mysterious concepts that scientists know about only indirectly by observing their effects on cosmic objects. Seems simple to me – if there is no proof who could argue?

Einstein’s theory of general relativity, published in 1916, explains how gravity is the result of a concept known as the fabric of space-time. Simply put, the theory predicts how much the mass of an object — in this case, a galaxy — curves space-time. Just look in the sky and you can see gravity bending.

•I’m glad to see that the Pierpont Inn has secured some permits to continue with the remodel of the main building. Construction was stopped about 3 years ago because the owners hadn’t secured the required permits. Hard to believe that a major hotel chain could be stupid enough to build without them. Hopefully the new construction will bring this iconic building back to its original beautiful interior. The rooms at the hotel have remained open.

Vol. 11, No. 19 – June 20 – July 3, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

•In past issues, I have commented on the horrible workmanship performed on the pedestrian crossing bridge that runs over the freeway to the promenade. Especially the fact that it was not painted when the construction was completed which, amazingly, the $400,00 budget did not include.

What self-respecting contractor would leave a project looking like this? And what DOT employee would approve the final payment?

I have contacted the contractor and the state (DOT) about this but have never heard back from either of them. Even though this is state property, and not the city’s, it certainly reflects on Ventura so I also “complained” to city’s Staff and the Council.

It seems that my “complaining” might do some good. I’ve heard from a city employee to discuss the problem further and was told that they will be making contact with the DOT to see if they can get them to paint it. If not, I, and the Breeze staff are standing-by with paint brushes in hand.

•America’s allies:

North Korea

Russia

America’s enemies:

The rest of the world

• Several years ago, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) installed fencing on Vista Del Mar between Seaward and San Jon for security reasons – without all of the required approvals. UPRR filed for a Coastal Development Permit to legalize the fences and applied to the Ventura Planning Commission for approval. It met with generally unfavorable comments and was to return at the July 11th hearing for what was expected to be the final action, and probably a denial. UPRR has decided to not pursue this at this time, but instead to rely upon new trespass signage to ensure the safety of those crossing the tracks.

I know people that live in midtown don’t want the fences there, because it keeps them from taking this short cut to the beach. People have cut holes in the fences anyway to cross over the railroad tracks.

I am opposed to folks using this shortcut because crossing over the tracks can be very dangerous, especially because it curves at that point and the Amtrak trains are extremely quiet. I have seen very young kids crossing over carrying surfboards and skateboards without taking as much caution as they should. So, if you must take this route, be extremely careful, as there have been deaths from trains at this location.

•Some of Trump’s staff have used the Bible to justify the internment of children who are separated from their parents trying to enter the country illegally. Perhaps they should go further and use this extract from Deuteronomy in the Bible to solve the whole problem:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

•The Museum of Ventura County has received additional funding from the City of Ventura and Ventura County. $1.7 million from county taxpayers, and the Ventura City Council earlier this month approved giving the museum $1.075 million.

The money will help the nonprofit operate its downtown Ventura location and the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula.

I think that this is wonderful. I wouldn’t have thought so several years ago, but Executive Director Elena Brokaw and the museum board have been doing wonderful things there. And non-museum events who have been leasing the facilities have introduced many new people to the Museum and brought in additional funds.

•The City of Ventura is suing Southern California Edison to recoup some of the costs spent on the Thomas Fire. The City Council voted unanimously to initiate this legal action.

Ventura will be represented by outside counsel – the law firm of Baron & Budd. Several other cities have also hired this firm to represent them in similar law suits. The city isn’t paying any money to the law firm and won’t pay unless it wins the case.

Even though state and federal government are reimbursing millions of dollars related to the firefighting effort and damages, the city has still spent over $5 million on the fire.

Ventura might need the money because it also faces lawsuits that allege the water system failed so that firefighters weren’t able to fight the fires. As I’ve mentioned, I stood with firefighters watching homes burn to the ground because of lack of water. It was very sad.

•Folks try to contact me through nextdoor.com and Facebook. I don’t routinely look at either, so if you would like to contact me please email publisher@venturabreeze.com.

•The City Council voted 7-0 to lift the ban on leaf blowers, which was put into place shortly after the Thomas Fire to reduce the spread of ash. With cleanup nearly complete, staff recommended lifting the ban and the Council agreed. And it does save water.

Temporary rulings like this are rather symbolic anyway, because they are largely unenforceable. The police don’t have the time/manpower to stop gardeners and write citations. And, if they had received a complaint, the gardeners will probably have stopped the activity anyway by the time the police showed up.

Vol. 11, No. 18 – Jun 6 – June 19, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

•The new signs at the Promenade stating that it closes at 10:00 PM is causing some confusion. The Promenade is officially a park and can be controlled like any other park in the city.

It does?

Based upon Sec. 20.050.040. – Closing of parks.

“Except as otherwise specified in this chapter, city park properties, as determined or designated by the director of parks and recreation, shall be closed to public use at a time to be determined by the director of parks and recreation and shall remain closed until sunrise the following day (most close at dusk). A park or portions thereof may be closed when it has been determined that: Continued use of the park or portion thereof could create hazardous conditions detrimental to the health or safety of the public or cause an adverse physical impact on the park environment.”

“The city council, director of parks and recreation, fire chief, chief of police or an authorized representative of any of said officials may direct any park or designated portion thereof to be closed to protect public safety, public property or natural resources within said city park, or any private or public property or natural resources in the vicinity of the park, from imminent damage or destruction or where there is a clear and present danger of a breach of the public peace or safety in said park or portion of a park or in the vicinity thereof. “

The ordinance goes on to say what is really the important part of the language. “That City parks and park facilities belong to all of the people of the City. That City parks and park facilities should be open for use and enjoyment by all City residents, businesses, and visitors. That in adopting this Chapter, the City Council has specifically excluded conduct and activities involving the exercise of First Amendment rights from its application and determines that it is not the purpose or the intent of this Chapter to regulate or interfere with the exercise of such rights.”

Obviously, the purpose of this is to control the homeless on the Promenade. But the City needs to be very careful in excluding the homeless from the Promenade and not the folks leaving Aloha or the hotel or those just out for a stroll. Laws can’t apply to just one particular group, or the City could be subject to being sued.

• Per a cover article, we feature the first re-build permit for a house destroyed in the fire. Several more have been issued. I think the City has done a wonderful job in expediting the permit process and should be commended.

• Two City Council candidates have announced their candidacy in the Breeze for the November election. Mike Marostica in district District 4 and Marie Lakin District 5. They are both very qualified, so I hope that further candidates will also be of a high caliber.

•A lot is going on in and around the Harbor. Construction has begun on an expansion of the Holiday Inn Express adding an additional 40 rooms. And the 300 unit mixed use development on the edge of the Harbor is zipping along finally (only after 20 years of first proposing it to the City). Two future wonderful developments in the harbor are in the very preliminary stages of design and approvals, so they will still be several years off but will be great additions.

•By now you should be aware of this area code change, but just in case you are not:

As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, people in 805 will have to add an area code to every call made, local or long distance. Those using landlines will have to add 1 and the area code. If you fail to dial 1 you should receive an automated recording yelling at you. A new 820 area code will be coming soon in the area but existing 805 will remain.

•I thought that the Thomas Fire had been officially extinguished but officials with the Los Padres National Forest just announced that it is now officially out. I wonder how much longer ashes will be falling from the hills?

Babbling by Brown:

•California’s economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom and is now the fifth largest in the world, so it is time for us to become a country and elect a king and queen. If we do become our own country we could then manufacture nuclear bombs and the US government would pay us a bunch of money to destroy them.

Sears keeps closing stores with the one in City Industry shutting down in California. Will ours be next?

•Alcohol and tobacco is found to reshape rat’s brains making them prone to cocaine addiction. So perhaps the “gateway drugs” are not what we thought they were. I have seen several drunk rats lately in my backyard.

•In a paper published recently in Science, researchers report that a rise in just half a degree Celsius could mean the difference between life or death for many species (plants and animals).

•A survey by the American Psychiatric Assn. showed that 39% of Americans are feeling more anxious now than they did a year ago – this is more than double of those feeling this way last year.

•There have been zero U.S. Commercial Airline jets deaths crashes since 2009.

• In the last couple of months, the Commerce Department has put in place duties on producers and exporters of certain paper from Canada used in the production of newspapers. This has increased the price of certain types of paper by almost 30%. Even if this greatly increases our production costs we certainly plan to keep the Ventura Breeze a free newspaper, so it is important that you continue to support our only source of income, which is from our advertisers.

Vol. 11, No. 17 – May 23 – June 5, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

• Hopefully the Amgen bike tour that went through Ventura brought us some positive publicity. I don’t watch channels 2-13, or listen to KFI, but I hope that those who jumped on the bandwagon to talk about how dangerous Ventura is, also informed these media outlets that they should cover this wonderful event. Media should also shine a light on the thousands of Venturans who came out to support it and who volunteered their services.

Should we have a painting party?

•In the past, I have commented on the horrible workmanship performed on the pedestrian crossing bridge that runs over the freeway to the promenade.

This is what the work consisted of per the Department of Transportation(DOT): “The department is working with the City of Ventura to provide for a safe and accessible pedestrian overcrossing that gives access to people shopping, recreating and living in the area. This polyester concrete overlay will improve the surface and the replaced handrail will provide comfort and safety for users.”

Even though painting was not in the contract for Guills, Inc. of Pasadena, I would think that for almost $400,000 they could have taken a little pride in their work and spent a day painting it.

I have contacted the DOT suggesting that they do the painting. If they won’t, perhaps Ventura could paint it (it reflects upon us) or the Ventura Breeze could have a painting party and we can all paint it. Of course, we would need permission from the DOT and probably need to provide a million-dollar liability insurance policy.

•Fire related debris removal has basically been completed. The debris removal process was performed by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery for a cost of about $67 million. About 670 properties were enrolled in the CalRecycle debris removal program and over 250,000 tons of debris has been removed.

Some properties still require soil samples to pass tests or need erosion control assessments. Others are ready (after permits) to start building, but I see more and more lots for sale as owners (some elderly) just aren’t willing to go through the re-building process.

•Even without the help of El Nino, 2017 was the third hottest year on record just slightly below the record high temperatures of 2016.

Homelessness is certainly not unique to Ventura as some may think. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has increased spending to address homelessness. Their new budget calls for $402 million to spend on programs that include homelessness prevention, rent subsidies, outreach, preservation of affordable housing, employment services and shelters. It’s all about the money.

•A judge has suspended the criminal case against Jamal Jackson, who was charged with premeditated first-degree murder for the April 18 attack that left Anthony Mele dead, ordering the defendant to undergo a mental health evaluation. The ruling came after Jamal Jackson’s public defender expressed doubt as to whether the man’s mental competency allows him to be judged at this time.

Jackson is due back in court on June 14 for a mental health competency hearing where results of his evaluation will be heard to determine if he will be able to stand trial.

• At a recent City Council meeting, a group of residents attended with a different message, the kind that we need. They held up signs that read, “Don’t use tragedy to spread hate” and spoke of a need to work together on solutions to address homelessness, as criminalizing the issue is not the solution.

Interim City Manager Dan Paranick asked residents who have possible solutions to share them with city officials. He said city staff was looking at the issue from all directions and taking into account everyone’s opinions and ideas to help solve the situation.

The city is working with the county to identify a site appropriate for a year-round shelter with necessary services. The goal is for a shelter to open in both Ventura and Oxnard and ideally be run by the same operator.

•Congratulations to Fox Jewelry (article in last issue) for raising almost $60,000 to be used by fire victims. Wonderful how most of the community has come together to help so many in need.

•Perhaps it is too easy to run for office in California. There are 28 candidates running for governor and 32 for senator. Want to run? Get 10 friends to support you and send in your $25.

•Recently Trump had the nerve to tell the French that the reason they had a mass killing is that they don’t own enough guns like we do. This statement suggests that we are much safer than the French because we own more guns, so I decided to look at the facts.

Gun ownership: France has 2.83 guns per 100,000 residents. USA citizens own 11.96 guns per 100,000 people. That means USA residents own 4.2 times more guns than the French.

Gun related deaths: France 14.96 per 100, USA 101.05 per 100. Almost 7 times more gun deaths in the USA than France.

The recent killing of 10 high school students in Texas, where everyone (I think you need to be over 6 years old) is allowed to carry a gun, didn’t stop that awful tragedy.

•The City Council has approved an ordinance that sets rules for those wishing to rebuild following the Thomas Fire. It is rather complicated but has good intentions and will expedite the process. The council listened to architect’s suggestions and concerns to help them make the guidelines.

•Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, the man suspected to be the Golden State Killer, was charged with murder in the bludgeoning deaths of Lyman and Charlene Smith in their Ventura home in March 1980, along with at least 10 other deaths. An ex-police officer, his list of crimes and murders is on-going.

I can imagine the euphoria of the police personnel who worked on this case for almost 40 years and the moment current investigators realized they had solved it (because of DNA). “We have found the needle in the haystack,” Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said at a news conference.

•As you know (I hope), we recently held an un-official naming of the St. Pats parade green pig. Hamlet was selected as the winner. It was suggested that we print a few of the other suggested names, so here they are; Greasy, Erin Go Oink, Darby O’portchop, Megan O’ Piggy, Sean O’ Bacon , Hamschock, Piggly-Wiggly, Pigasso , Ham L. Ton, Harley Hog, Iggy Piggy, Ham Solo, Cris P. Bacon, Pig A Choo, Albert Einswine and Chubby Buns.

Perhaps Green Eggs and Hamlet (thanks to Dr. Seuss) would be good. And next year at the parade, the pig might still be named Bacon. We were just having fun.

Vol. 11, No. 16 – May 9 – May 22, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

I want to comment on the people who organized the rallies due to the recent murder. I’m sure that they feel that they are doing the best for Ventura, but I feel that they are misguided and hurting the city.

My concern is the amount of misinformation being spread by them saying that they are helping the city by ridding us of the homeless-vagrants.

It has become like a mob mentality. I certainly understand why people are angry, but we need to use that energy to solve the problem, not exacerbate it.

Much false information is being disseminated that people are reacting to without confirming. For instance, the City is providing and funding “wet houses”. A wet house allows individuals to drink alcohol inside the facility. There is no such city sponsored program in Ventura, this is not true.

Also, saying Chief Corney is making up his own laws, and they are too lenient. He does not make up laws – just tries to enforce the ones that we have.

I saw signs that said the homeless are murderers and killers (isn’t that redundant?) If our homeless are indeed murderers and killers they must be going to other towns to commit these crimes and then coming back to live in Ventura because our weather is so nice. Ventura is a city of 110,000 people. In the first four months of this year we have had only one tragic murder. Hardly a high murder rate. Ventura is just slowly recovering from the fires and now we have this very adverse publicity.

I am really disturbed by having so many TV channels and KFI radio reporting on our “problem”. Was it to make the protesters feel important and powerful? Instead of helping Ventura, involving major news outlets made us look like the murder capital of the West and can only hurt our property values and tourist trade. Tourism brings in lots of tax dollars that help to support the additional police that are being called for.

In response, police have stepped up patrols to 20 hours per day along the Promenade and added security cameras which has greatly decreased the amount of vagrant/homeless people congregating there.

But the question is where did they go? I have friends that live on the east side that say they have very little homeless there. Now, if the homeless go to the east side, residents are going to call for more police involvement. Should we just tell them that’s too bad because all the police are at the promenade? Where does it end?

The city has been taking steps to reduce the homeless, but this must be done considering existing laws and the lack of funds. They started an anti-panhandling campaign, created a patrol task force and utilizing the Park Safety Ambassadors more. A homeless workshop drew almost 250 people. The workshop helped lead to new zoning that allows for overnight stays and daytime services.

Other steps include a program run by the Salvation Army that allows people who have a driver’s license and valid insurance to stay in two designated parking lots and River Haven, a transitional living facility off Harbor. The Ventura Police Department has worked to ensure every officer and dispatcher receives mental health training (many homeless have addictions or are mentally ill).

There is a much better way to solve most of the problems on the Promenade, and it is a win-win solution. The Promenade should be a destination place with many unique restaurants, street musicians, jugglers, artists, magicians, etc. A place full of folks enjoying our wonderful weather and beach. When there are many people present the homeless will leave or be more easily monitored.

Under state law, law enforcement officers and mental health professionals can commit someone against their will for up to 72 hours under very specific conditions. Even if they are “arrested”, Ventura County has 30 psychiatric beds (at our Hillmont facility) available for such patients in a county of over 850,000 people. And, even if they do get admitted, 72 hours is not long enough to stabilize someone. It then takes a court order to hold them against their will. And, again, where would they be kept and who pays?

This problem is certainly not unique to Ventura. It is worldwide, even the Roman’s had to deal with the homeless. Blaming our City Council and Chief Of Police is absurd. Chief Corney and the Ventura Police Department do an excellent job with the funds that they receive. Our City Council understands the problem and have been trying to solve it as best they can for many years considering existing laws and available funding. Some people have tried to make this a political issue, but it is a social issue that needs to be solved.

Even if it is scary to many citizens, it is not a crime for the homeless to be walking down the street talking to themselves or yelling at people. The real crime is that there are not adequate detox facilities for those who want to get off drugs, hardly any mental health facilities or adequate housing for the homeless who need support to turn their lives around and to stay warm during our winters. If there is nowhere for a person to go, they stay in a public place.

We also have a more violent homeless group because of state laws that shifted the responsibility for incarcerating many low-risk inmates from the state to counties (“prison realignment”). This allowed parole consideration for nonviolent felons, changed policies on juvenile prosecution, and authorized sentence credits. Over a year ago, Chief Corney expressed concern that these early release programs might result in a more violent homeless population (vagrants they are called), and it has.

And we have a new group of homeless, those that lived in apartments, without fire insurance, who lost everything in the fires. Some are now homeless living in their cars and some of those that lost their cars are living on the streets.

Of course, the community must work together – we cannot be divided. I welcome, and encourage, your comments to me – both positive and negative. Send them to publisher@venturabreeze.com if you want to be heard.

If you do send a note, please follow these guidelines:

Limit comments to about 300 words.

Don’t use profanity – I won’t print it.

Don’t just call me an idiot. It takes no intelligence to complain and criticize, so tell me why I am wrong and offer your solutions. Maybe I will agree with you and change my mind.

Vol. 11, No. 15 – Apr 25 – May 8, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

 

We are all feeling the pain over the death of Anthony Mele at Aloha Steakhouse. It is a tough, tough situation. And presents an even more challenging solution.

Is the answer more police, more housing for the homeless, more mental facilities? If Ventura had the answer, we could sell it to the world. This problem is hardly unique to Ventura. Maybe we have more homeless than some cities our size, because of the great weather.

Even though this tragedy occurred on the Promenade, it could have happened anywhere in Ventura where this person, who I would assume is mentally ill, has been. Downtown, midtown, Pierpont,etc.

Folks say we need more police officers on the Promenade, or at our parks or in our river beds.

Sure we do. We want 12 police officers at each location. Maybe a police officer for each homeless person. The issue is who is going to pay for them?

Proposition O – our sales tax increase – is helping a bit(we have hired more police officers), but should all of that money be spent on law enforcement? I don’t think so and folks who voted for it wouldn’t think so either.

Many of the people who complain about us not having enough police officers also don’t want $10-$20 million executive homes in Ventura that would bring in major employers and much needed tax dollars. Unfortunately, we can’t have it both ways.

I frequently hear the question, why doesn’t the police and City Council do something about this problem? But, I think solutions (whatever they are) are going be a collaboration between the city and the community. Resources cost money.

What is important is that we don’t let this tragedy stop us from doing the activities that we usually do and enjoy. If you frequent the Promenade, and also eat at the restaurants located there, please keep doing so. We need to support Ventura. This was, for now, a rare occurrence – don’t change your lifestyle and enjoyment of our great town.

But, yes, we need solutions. What are other cities doing about it? LA County has over 60,000 homeless they would love to know how to get control of this issue. We need ideas?

This is from the LA Times. “California’s state auditor sharply criticized the state’s response to homelessness recommending more spending in the state. California should do more to address homelessness, the audit concluded.

Please understand that I’m not trying minimize this horrible tragedy in any way. Perhaps the police should have done more but they are governed by state law regarding the arresting of the mentally ill. Perhaps looking to change existing laws regarding the mentally ill needs to be re-examined. And being homeless is not illegal, and if it was where would we incarcerate these people?

The mentally ill homeless presents its own problems and solutions. The LPS Act(see the article on page by Sheli Ellsworth for an explanation of the LPS Act) makes it difficult to arrest and help the mentally ill when they need assistance. It must be revised to make it easier for law enforcement to get mental health and medical treatment for this segment of the homeless.

We need to fix our broken mental health system and provide housing for the homeless which, of course, takes a large amount of money. More information about what is being done to change some the laws can be viewed at “Keep Cal Safe”.

Marchers called for action regarding the city’s handling of the homeless situation.

On April 23, dozens of people marched from the Promenade to City Hall to attend the City Council Meeting. The attendees demanded that the Council does more on the issue of homelessness. The crowd chanted “enough is enough” as they made their way to city hall.

Even though this topic wasn’t on the agenda the City Council gave the concerned citizens one hour speak. About 30 of them did so. Most gave emotional and personal stories of how their lives been negatively impacted by the homeless/vagrant population in Ventura. Some just vented their anger and just wanted the ”bums” kicked out of Ventura. How they are sent packing and where we they are sent to was not made clear. And who decides who the bums are?

I think that it was a shining hour for our City Council. They all sincerely thanked those that were there to express their feelings and each member told how this tragedy had personally affected them. They all agreed that this issue is out of control. Mayor Neal Andrews was almost in tears telling how this tragedy has affected his Council members. Co-owner of Aloha, Charnell Smith, was also brought to tears sitting in the audience.

Interim City Manager Dan Paranick explained some of the actions that have been taken already, and many others that will be implemented in the future. This includes more police on the Promenade, expanding the Ambassador Program and other initiatives. He said he hoped all the sides could gather together to share ideas and listen to each other to ensure the “future safety and quality of life in our city.”

Ventura Chief of Police Ken Corney stated that officers should have responded to the initial call differently and “put boots on the ground.” He also stated that there is no evidence that the homeless are being sent here from other cities.

There was considerable media coverage at the City Council meeting.

The City Council meeting was covered by many TV Stations and had a lead story in the April 24 edition of the LA Times. This negative publicity could hurt our very important tourism trade, which brings in needed tax dollars. This then translates to even less money available to help solve this problem

To review the City Council meeting, go to www.cityofventura.ca.gov- videos -available archives- city council -April 23.

To help the Mele family go to http://pierpontcouncil.org/page/Donate-Anthony-Mele.aspx.

Vol. 11, No. 14 – Apr 11 – Apr 24, 2018 – Opinion/Editorial

Mayor Neal Andrews, who has been struggling with health problems, seems to be doing much better. He recently presented his State of the City message and looked good. Poor guy finally becomes mayor and then he has to deal with the aftermath of the fire.

•I know that some people are not happy with FEMA, but consider this. If not for FEMA, Ventura would have a serious financial crisis on its hands (even with Measure O).

Thomas Fire costs:

  • Estimated cost to Ventura: $67 million
  • FEMA reimbursement: $46 million
  • CDAA reimbursement: $4 million
  • Insurance reimbursement: $12 million
  • Estimated to be paid out of pocket by city: $5 million

• We had a 5.3 earthquake off of our coast last Thursday and I didn’t even feel it. Savana the cat sure did – she went bonkers running around the house. The quake was the strongest in Southern California in many years, but caused no major damage and was not strong enough to create a tsunami. It did cause some minor slides on Santa Cruz Island.

• After the retirement of Mark Watkins, the city is looking to hire a new city manager. Assistant City Manager Dan Paranick is serving the role currently. I don’t know the inner workings of our government but as an outsider he seems to be doing an excellent job. I hope that he is being considered for the permanent position.

Our new Ventura Water General Manager Kevin Brown assumed his position just weeks prior to the Thomas Fire. He has had to deal with the many questions of why there was not sufficient water to fight the fires. I stood with firefighters watching homes burn down to the ground (still in my mind).

The Breeze has been trying to find out why there was not adequate water but we haven’t been able to obtain answers yet. I also would like to find out what is being done so we have adequate water during the next fire.

• Like all of you, I look forward to seeing if our new system of voting for city council members by district serves us well. I’m not convinced it will but will save my final judgement until after the next council election (and even before, perhaps, after seeing who runs).

• A sharp spike in vaping and the use of e-cigarettes by students has grabbed the attention of the US Food and Drug Administration. It cited a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students from 2011 to 2015, and the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey noted that 1.7 million high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days. A gateway drug, I think so?

•I saw on the news that a U.S. general explained that we have ISIS on the one-yard line and will soon push them into the end zone. If you don’t know football, that is called a “safety” and is good for 2 points. So when that happens will be leading 2-0, well on our way to victory.

• Ventura School Superintendent David Creswell has mandated that the Ventura Unified School District provides ethnic studies classes for all students in the coming years (with some being offered very soon). This was partially based upon Balboa Middle School (and the district) coming under attack after much bullying at the school which appeared to be racially motivated. The principal of the school was replaced.

A steering committee for ethnic and social justice studies was formed earlier this year. Members of the committee recently gave a presentation to the school board explaining their goals, and what they have accomplished so far. I think this a very good idea. Bullying of any sort remains a problem in our schools.

•A sustainable shellfish farming operation could be coming to Ventura. The Ventura Shellfish Enterprise has been in the works since 2015 to farm mussels in the federal waters off our coast. It would provide fresh, locally caught mussels and create hundreds of local jobs. The project could start within two to three years. I don’t know anything about shellfish farming, but if it brings new jobs to Ventura it sounds good to me.

•The City Council has weighed in on the national discussion on gun ownership and legislation.

City Council members Cheryl Heitmann, Matt La-Vere and Erik Nasarenko asked the council to consider a policy request designed to make it harder to own a gun. The council approved calling for stronger gun legislation. Even though this action does not have a legal ramification, it’s nice that they took a stand.

Roughly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides and they have been increasing each year. I doubt people buy a guns with the idea that one day they will kill themselves, or a family member.

I know that “people kill people” and not guns, but it sure is easier to kill a whole bunch of people with an AK-15 Assault Rifle as compared to a knife.

•Days after Delta Air Lines announced it would stop offering discounted fares to National Rifle Association members, a top Georgia Republican retaliated, vowing to kill legislation that would hand the airline a lucrative tax break.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) demanded that Atlanta-based Delta, one of the state’s largest employers, make a choice: Stop punishing the NRA, or watch Republican lawmakers strike down a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel, of which Delta would be the primary beneficiary.

This really bothers me. Not because it is the NRA, but because states should not get involved in this type of activity. If Delta Air Lines announced it would stop offering discounted fares to employees of McDonald’s would Georgia Republicans retaliate and stop eating them?

•And, last but not least, it’s been one year since my beloved canine friend, Scamp, went to doggie heaven. If dogs don’t go to people heaven, then I’m not going. Actually, I don’t believe in heaven anyway so don’t need to worry about it. I miss the little guy every day. It’s little things such as dropping crumbs while eating. The little guy loved to “clean up” now I need to.