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.

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