∙ In this issue, we have included a new Real Estate/Development column on page 12. This is to inform our readers about trends, new and proposed projects, and other related items impacting Ventura. I hope you find it informative.
∙ Spencer Noren, a Ventura parks and recreation commissioner, was removed by the City Council following an investigation into alleged harassment of city employees. The City Council unanimously voted to oust the commissioner for acting in an intimidating and threatening manner.
The city hired Fresno-based law firm Lozano Smith to conduct a six-month investigation into Noren’s actions. The probe, which included more than 10 interviews and a review of 30 documents, cost the city about $50,000, said Ventura City Attorney Andy Heglund. I’m not sure why the city needs to hire outside attorneys when we have our own legal department.
Perhaps this explains it: “It was important to the city that we retain an independent third party who would have experience in being able to conduct a fair process,” Heglund said Tuesday. “It was an expensive process but one well worth it given the circumstances.”
In November, the city received a formal employee complaint alleging that Noren acted in an intimidating and threatening manner toward city employees, according to a city staff report.
∙ The Ventura Land Trust has been awarded $7.2 million by the State of California to complete the acquisition and conservation of 1,645 acres of Ventura’s iconic hillsides, now called Mariano Rancho Preserve.
Mariano Rancho Preserve is situated in the hills north of Ventura. The eastern edge of the preserve includes the famous “Two Trees;” the preserve extends west to Ventura’s Grant Park and the Ventura Botanical Gardens. It provides views of the ocean and Channel Islands National Park, the mountains of Ojai and the Los Padres National Forest.
If you haven’t walked (hiked) the Harmon Canyon, also part of our treasured hillsides, you certainly should. Two minutes off of Foothill and you are in another beautiful world.
∙ The Supreme Court has agreed with a former high school football coach who prays at the 50-yard line after games ruling that his public prayers is free speech and free exercise of religion. Is this the beginning of the Supreme Court allowing a larger role for prayer and religion in public schools? I certainly hope not. This is happening even though the constitution mandates a strict separation of church and state.
The thought is that even if a coach has a team praying it is not mandated but a choice the athletes can independently make, as athletes do not have to kneel and pray. This is nonsense, as it would take a very brave high school, or even college or professional athlete to stand while the whole team prays, so I consider this to be mandatory and not arbitrary.
I know a constitution is important but also certainly needs an occasional re-writing or amending. It was written by only men over 200 years ago.
For instance, the Seventh Amendment from the Bill of Rights reads;
“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of common law.”
∙ Congresswoman Julia Brownley recently wrote:
“The Supreme Court has ruled in an irrational, unprecedented, and dangerous manner. The Supreme Court made yet another alarming and harmful ruling for our health, our communities, our planet, and our future.
This ruling undermines the Clean Air Act and restricts the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions – a known threat to our planet and a primary driver of the climate crisis. As a member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I have worked to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, create clean energy jobs to grow our economy, tackle systemic environmental injustices, and protect our planet from the catastrophic consequences of human-caused climate change. Today’s ruling not only jeopardizes our nation’s goals and our international goals to combat the climate crisis, but it puts the health of every American at risk. It will also compound the devastating economic consequences of the greenhouse gas-induced climate crisis, which has already led to increasingly common wildfires, floods, coastal erosion, and other weather-related disasters. Something we’ve been impacted by, repeatedly, in my district.
After years of trying and failing to gut the Clean Air Act, Republicans – and the polluting industries that bankroll them – have convinced the Supreme Court’s radical majority to gut the law for them. This decision undermines a bedrock environmental law that has significantly reduced harmful pollutants in the air we breathe for over half a century. The conservative majority of the Supreme Court is pandering to Republicans who prioritize large, polluting corporations and their profits over the health and well-being of the American people and the long-term sustainability of our planet – which is appalling and shameful.
The climate crisis is real, and our planet is in immediate danger, and I will continue to fight in Congress for the health and safety of our people and our planet.”
∙ And regarding the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden delivered impassioned remarks condemning the “extreme” Supreme Court majority that ended a constitutional right to abortion and pleading with Americans upset by the decision to “vote, vote, vote, vote” in November. He signed an executive order to try to protect access to the procedure under mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to be even more forceful in response to the ruling.
∙ Inflation in Turkey has reached 78.6% annually in June – the highest in almost 25 years, according to official data provided by the Turkish Statistics Institute. But many Turks no longer trust official figures and believe inflation to be much higher. Independent experts say the real inflation rate could be more than 175%. So, we can’t just blame Biden for our inflation – we live in a connected one-world economy.