Vol. 12, No. 9 – Jan 30 – Feb 12, 2019 – Opinion/Editorial

•During the approximately eight years publishing the Breeze prior to Trump being elected president, I never have made political comments regarding Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals because it was always just Washington doing business as usual. But,I have some real problems with the Trump presidency and feel that I must comment.

Other than an occasional political cartoon or my column, the Breeze never takes a political view in our news coverage. We are not as liberal a paper as some think.

There are some readers who say they love the Ventura Breeze, but they won’t read it anymore because of my very limited words or the occasional editorial cartoon not supporting Trump.

I think that’s a ridiculous reason to stop reading the Breeze, especially if you otherwise like it. There are approximately 30,000 to 40,000 words in each issue of the Breeze, so my comments (most of which are just quoting others) are about .003% of the words in the paper.

Would you divorce your spouse if you had a great marriage, but every two weeks they made a comment that you disagree with? I rather doubt it.

And if you do disagree with me, you have an opportunity to be heard in the Breeze. In fact, I’m only one voice, so if several readers write in disagreeing, that is even a stronger voice than mine. So, let’s hear your comments at opinions@venturebreeze.com.

•What the heck is going on with Ventura City Hall? Ventura is losing department heads and other important employees at an alarming rate (including the head of the Ventura Unified School District). Some have left by choice, and others (apparently) have been fired.

Just a few weeks ago a press release went out (see cover articles) stating that the City of Ventura has named David Ward interim Community Development Director – with no mention of what happened to Jeff Lambert. When we asked about it, we were told by the sender that she couldn’t comment and to call Assistant City Manager Barry Fisher. That call, and others, was never returned. The position of community development director is an extremely important one.

When I asked several City Council members what happened I was told “we don’t know” or “can’t comment.” Several people mentioned that he was on “administrative leave,” whatever that means. Did he quit or was he fired? Then, a few days ago, it was reported that he accepted the Development Services Director position for the City of Oxnard. Hopefully when he starts his new job we can get a statement from him. I think Ventura will miss Jeff, and I will, personally as he was always willing to help the press and answer our questions (as has Dave Ward).

We did get a response from a former city council member who wishes to remain anonymous.

“Off the record – city managers don’t have “unchecked” authority to place employees (even those “at will” department heads who report directly to the city manager) on administrative leave.  I truly do not know what happened in this instance but based on my experience I’d bet you lunch (hope I get it if he is wrong) it involved consultation with the City Attorney and Human Resources Director – which would lead me to believe there is substance behind the decision.”

City work provides good pay, wonderful benefits and a retirement package which should attract and keep good employees for the long term. But that’s not happening, and we would all like to know why. Is there an on-going problem at City Hall? The City is losing talented people with knowledge on matters big and small. This is especially concerning given the string of longtime department heads now gone with only newcomers in charge.

Does the City Council do too much micro managing regarding decisions that should be left to department heads and especially the City Manager to resolve, are they spending too little time on major issues?

There are three newly elected council members, a new city manager who started in November, and many executive positions either vacant or being filled on an interim basis. Just a few who have left include public works directors, economic development department heads, finance directors and assistant city managers. We have more interim directors now than permanent ones.

Time will tell if this just all a coincidence or indicative of deeper issues at City Hall. Our new City Manager, Alex McIntyre, and our new and old city council members, certainly have plenty to deal with. I am concerned with so many changes occurring since the city has a great many large issues it has to manager/resolve, and so many with knowledge have exited.

I hope Alex doesn’t leave before he figures this all out. Perhaps our new Mayor, Matt LaVere, can guide all in the right direction. Plus, Ventura now needs to spend large amounts of money recruiting new executives.

I don’t think the constant re-training of newcomers is the optimal way to effectively run the city.

•Look for the Ventura Harbor’s Harbor News newsletter insert in the Feb.13 Breeze to learn all about what is happening in the Harbor.

•According to a report by 13 federal agencies under the Trump administration, climate change is taking an increasing toll on the nation’s environment, health and economy and the damage will increase over the century without swift action to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Maybe it’s time for him to fire all these people who obviously have no idea what they are talking about.

•Though it remains a concern, there has never been a terrorist attack by someone who entered the United States illegally through Mexico.

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