Letters to the Editor

June 13, 2008
Thanks for your support To the Editor:I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the people of the 24th Congressional District for your support on Tuesday and for the past 22 years.It is an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties in Washington, DC. This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have many challenges ahead. I do not take your support lightly and pledge to continue to serve with commitment and dedication.Should you have any questions or concerns about any federal issue, please don’t hesitate to contact my office in Thousand Oaks or Washington, D.C.Elton GalleglyMember of CongressInvesting in our youthTo the Editor:Regarding Weed & Seed: Funding for successful federal program running out, article on June 4th, 2008:The Las Piedras community policing building supported by the Department of Justice for “weed & seed” programming was home to many community services including but not mentioned the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley.You mentioned the “Girl Power” program but failed to state that this is a specialty program designed and created by the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley. It was in December 2003 that the Las Piedras site was officially recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America as an official extension site for our organization.For more than five years, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley’s Las Piedras clubhouse has been providing positive programs and activities for the children of this neighborhood in this shared building. Daily after-school homework assistance; computer training; character & leadership development; sports, fitness & recreation; gang & drug resistance training; and a safe, fun and caring place for these kids to escape the many dangers they face in their lives including violence, hunger and poverty are just a few of the issues that the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley has dealt with for the betterment of our community.While we have been fortunate to receive some “weed & seed” funds for our efforts as well as some City of Santa Paula CDBG funds, the vast majority of our efforts to serve the children of the Las Piedras neighborhood has come from the support of concerned citizens and businesses who believe that the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley provides kids with the kinds of programs that young people want and need to succeed.Losing the funding from “weed & seed” as well as the elimination of almost all CDBG program funds will have a tremendous impact on our efforts to keep kids safe and provide positive outlets throughout the year. In our annual report to Boys & Girls Clubs of America for 2007, the Las Piedras clubhouse had 87 girls and boys as members and an additional 460 kids and their families were served by our organization including a 4th of July picnic, community clean-up days and participation in the annual Christmas party, where hundreds of kids are given toys, food and other items in collaboration with the Santa Paula police & fire departments, Rotary Club, Toys 4 Tots and others.Also, in our annual report, 75% of our kids come to the Las Piedras clubhouse at least three times a week and more than 50% of these kids have been attending this club site for more than 2 years. The most telling part though is that 100% of these kids are from low-income households as determined by the free and reduced lunch standards in our schools.As our Police Chief Steve MacKinnon himself said, “this area would have a significantly higher crime rate, higher school dropout rate, increase drug abuse, health issues and a clearly measurable deterioration of the family unit” when speaking about the entire family of services at the Las Piedras Community Policing building, where the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley has been actively reaching out to the local children for longer than this funding has been available.We like to believe that the Boys & Girls Club has played a large role in ensuring that the above mentioned problems have not escalated and that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our community’s children are getting opportunities to succeed.For more than 50 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley has been providing positive programs and activities for kids in Santa Paula. We also serve the children of Fillmore and Piru. My question to the community of Santa Paula is what will happen to these children if there were no Boys & Girls Club for them as there was for many of you?The Las Piedras clubhouse has an annual budget of approximately $64,000 with the majority of these funds paying for the two professional staff members we have working at this location as role models and so much more. We get some additional grant monies from foundations, but with the loss of “weed & seed” funding we are going to have to depend on the generosity of the communities we serve to support our efforts, not only at Las Piedras, but also for our Harvard clubhouse and the six elementary schools sites in Santa Paula as well as our two Fillmore clubhouses and the one at the Rancho Sespe migrant farm workers’ apartments in Piru.It takes about $50,000 annually for a young person in the juvenile justice system but only $500 for a child to enjoy all the positive outlets found at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley. Where do you want your money to be spent? Please invest in making a difference in the lives of thousands of young people who count on the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley to be “The Positive Place for Kids.” Your contributions will give them a chance to succeed.With hope & opportunity for youth,Doug Caldwell, Chief Executive OfficerBoys & Girls Club of Santa Clara ValleyHow does your garden (center) growTo the Editor:For the past few months, I have been watching with wonder and awe as the hardware store on the corner began building an unknown structure. Then, the sign came up . . . LUMBER AND GARDEN CENTER COMING SOON!Imagine, I thought to myself, right here in Santa Paula!Well, it’s finally here and what a center it is!!! My goodness. I went there this past weekend to see for myself. Not only is it beautifully designed, but the plants were all placed so well, fountains working their magic in the background, I felt as though I was strolling through an English garden. So much to choose from!There are plants of every description and the courteous and knowledgeable garden personnel were right there to assist me in choosing just the right plants for my front and back yards. I ended up with new ideas and have now intertwined herbs of every description in with my flowering plants! Beautiful and practical.I also purchased tomatoes and other vegetables for my summer garden and found organic soils as well. I can’t wait for that first salad! With food prices rising every day, growing my own sustainable garden is not only a healthy alternative for me, but a money saver also.I want to sincerely congratulate and thank Brenda and Ray Padgett for bringing this center to Santa Paula, HERITAGE HARDWARE LUMBER AND GARDEN CENTER. What a gift to our city!The beautification of Santa Paula has started!!!Dee JohnstonSanta PaulaFact vs. FictionTo the Editor:I am not one of the regular letter writers for the opinion page, but a letter from a regular writer concerning fact versus fiction that took Peggy Kelly to task for her reporting on the wastewater treatment plant - did this letter writer and I read the same article?I can only assume that the comments to Peggy Kelly, that she does not “back up your position with any sort of factual argument that would prove that your suggested time frame could have happened any faster than what is now going on” has nothing to do with the earlier quote from her May 30 article that if the “City had continued down the path it had taken BEFORE a council majority decided in July to switch to the Design/Build/Operate/Finance process, ground likely would have been broken in April on a new plant that would have topped out at a plant cost of about $58 million – or much lower, as the cost included a an almost 20 percent contingency – financed through bonds then hovering a little above 4 percent.”The letter also states that “First, in no way do you back up your position with any sort of factual argument that would prove that your suggested timeframe could have happened any faster than what is now going on.”My take on the article is Peggy is not writing at all about “what is now going on” but rather two separate, albeit related, issues. Factually in July 2007 the city was at the 60% design stage of a conventional build plant (Not DBOF) at the price quoted by Peggy – who was careful to note it was only the cost of the physical plant itself – a price that, counter to the writer’s statement, did include possible cost overruns. Also in July bonds were hovering above 4%. If the Council - which was receiving regular updates – had continued down that path of building a plant using conventional methods. Groundbreaking was anticipated in April.To tie the statement to the protracted negotiations with Alinda/PERC and accuse Peggy Kelly of implying that the contract negations would have been completed with Veolia “in the suggested time frame” to meet the April groundbreaking is mistaken, as the actual bidding process for the DBOF was not even opened up until the fall.As far as the statement that two Councilmen “backed by Peggy sat on the decision regarding the wastewater treatment plant for years without bringing closure to the matter and were only too happy to let the new council bite the bullet” is also untrue.Remember, in July 2007, if the council majority had not decided to switch to DBOF, the conventional plant then being planned etceteras had an anticipated April groundbreaking. The last Council had brought closure to the issue and those still seated had no need to be “only too happy to let the new Council bite the bullet” regarding the wastewater treatment plant. I disagree with the letter that “At present the city is negotiating a very large, very complex contract with PERC” as PERC, pointed out in Peggy’s May 30 article, has only a 10% interest in a partnership with Alinda, the financier of the plant. Alinda is the entity that the city and its consulting attorneys are negotiating with. The negotiating itself seems backwards as usually all the fine points of such large and complex issues are agreed upon before a contract is sealed. Perhaps Peggy Kelly – who was urged by the letter writer to “stick to the facts” - should take comfort (if she needs any) in the old maxim “Shoot the messenger….” That’s usually what happens when facts, even those misunderstood or intentionally misinterpreted for whatever motive by the reader, are reported.Peter WrightSanta PaulaToday’s gas prices have a source
To the Editor:Some politicians, encouraged by  overly “green” simplistic citizens, have been vociferously opposed to the drilling for oil, the building  of refineries, exploring offshore, and building nuclear generating plants to increase our oil supply and cut down on imported oil, and in the process forcing us to become more dependent over the last 25 years on imports. The candidates I will vote for want to remove  some of the  1960’s inspired restrictions so that we can increase our supply and get the price of oil and gas at the pump back down to a reasonable level. The law of supply and demand will always apply.Ask the politicians that you support exactly where they stand on this critical issue, unless of course you like the prices you are now paying!!! Environmental extremists will financially break all of us, and the country, if we don’t change directions soon. How do your representatives vote?The Democrats tell us that they can do a better job of spending your money than you can. I disagree. The higher the gas at the pump price goes, the more taxes you are forced to pay. You have a big choice to make this November. One has to wonder how much higher Bush’s popularity would be if the stated reason for intervening in Iraq were to secure oil and it had come out that way. Would he get credit for $3.00 gas?There is no free lunch, or put another way, when someone you don’t even know offers you  “free medical care”, ask this gift-horse politician, where are you going to get the $1 Trillion a year it will cost(?). Remember Iraq has cost about $2 Trillion, but that’s over 6 years, so it does not compute that ending Iraq will automatically free up a trillion dollars a year in “new funds”. Oh, but they’ll  “fight for you”. What a joke.David KaiserSanta PaulaLack of respectTo the Editor:First and foremost, a big congratulations to all of the 282 graduates of Santa Paula Union High School. Thirteen years of schooling accomplished and now ever onward. Best wishes to all of you in whatever you choose to accomplish. Congratulations to the valedictorian and salutatorian on their wise words. You did, by far, a wonderful job. Also, to Alyssa Grant, you sang beautifully and so heartfelt to your classmates and those of us in attendance. What a beautiful voice you have. And thank you to the band and Jerry Cruz for a job well done.On another note, this is the fourth and final graduation I have attended for our children and I must say I was appalled at the behavior exhibited at the graduation ceremony. It was the worst I have ever witnessed. There was a major lack of manners and dignity from those in attendance.1. Many men did not remove their hats during the band playing the National Anthem. (Granted it was not announced to do so, but that should not be necessary.)2. The excessive air horns being blown was ridiculous. We were not at a sporting event folks, this was supposed to be a ceremony honoring our students in their accomplishments thus far.3. The beach ball that got going in the stadium was absurd while the names of the graduates were still being read. Many people still videotaping and listening for their student’s name were robbed of that joy. Even if someone tried to stop the ball from being tossed around, people were booing.4. The balloons are always a problem. They, without a doubt, block people’s view of the event taking place and “bounce” off others trying to watch.5. Last, but not least, I couldn’t believe the people trying to leave to get to the field before the ceremony was over and, again, graduates’ names were still being called and diplomas were still being presented. This was not a sporting event!!! Sure at a football game, for instance (where some of this behavior may be acceptable), people start to leave to beat the rush and see their player on the field, but a graduation is certainly not on that level. A graduation is a very special, honorable event and there was a major lack of disregard and respect to the graduates, faculty and band members not to mention those of us in the crowd that would have liked to savor the monumental moment.In the future, I recommend the principal be more proactive on the announcements beforehand. Such as “Please rise for the national anthem and remove your hats!!” I would also recommend that those in charge of the ceremony emphatically make an announcement for attendees to remain in their seats until all names of graduates is complete. (Believe me, most people there want to get to the field to see their graduate and take pictures! Note to people leaving early: you are not the only ones that wish to do that!!) A little respect goes a long way and our students certainly deserve that much from family and friends in attendance.Mrs. Susan S. MontoyaSanta PaulaSPESD Board performance questionedTo the Editor:Fish rots from the head, the saying goes! The performance of the board and administration of the Santa Paula Elementary School District stinks and must be fumigated!Leadership is gauged neither by the position held nor by spoken or printed words but by the quality of education our children get. To attain that, the school board and administrators must meticulously screen applicants and not give way to race, blood, friendship or personal preference, and be able and willing to lead, motivate and harness human potentials to higher level. They too must trust and support others and not micromanage, otherwise the upper echelon people will be like robots and spineless. Consequently, morale will collapse and result in high turnover, including buying out the remainder of the term of office of those the board members dislike.In just a 7-year period, we had 3 different Superintendents. Interestingly, only one finished the term, one was bought out of the job while the fate of the current one is in limbo. During that same period, the district had 3 different Asst. Superintendents for Curriculum and 4 for Finance & Business. How much did it cost the taxpayers? How much have been spent for outside consultants and on legal representation in a claim that have cost the district almost twice as much and counting? How much did the district throw away in order to settle cases out of court?  Teachers and staff members are underpaid and the treasury bag is almost empty.  Has the board redefined the term “good” stewardship?Over the years, I watched our schools’ erratic performance as compared to other schools in the county. Our educators, administrators and the board members are no different from those at highly achieving schools, having the same faith in the system and possessing the needed fortitude.  Why then many schools in Moorpark, Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Ojai, Oak Park, and now Oxnard, are consistently garnering honors and awards for academic excellence, while our children at SPESD are barely passing the state mandated scores?Like politicians, the board knows that many of the constituents are apathetic and individualistic yet incongruously tend to whine but continually refuse to do anything to change what they are complaining about.  I believe, however, that most of the citizens of our beloved City of Santa Paula are not aware of what’s going on in our school district.  I challenge them to see the hidden agenda and smell the squalor. After all, our future is at stake.No man is an island!  Everyone must, therefore, symbiotically coexist. There must be genuine reverence and collaboration between and among the board members, school administrators, teachers, staff and the union in order to have a cohesive and well functioning team wholeheartedly focused on one common goal - effective tutoring of the children. Be on guard and realize that animosity erodes everything that is good.   If they don’t change course and steer the ship to the right direction, then they should have the humility and the courage to give others the opportunity to serve.Others are doing it well so why can’t they.  It is not easy and it will take some time, but it is doable!Andrew F. CastanedaSanta PaulaCEDC issue clarificationTo the Editor:There has been discussion on these pages recently about the Santa Paula Redevelopment Agency’s grant agreement with Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) related to its Plaza Amistad project as well as statements regarding the City’s and Redevelopment Agency’s legal representation. I am writing to clarify issues on both matters.On August 7, 2006, the City Council sitting as the Board of Directors of the Santa Paula Redevelopment Agency approved an agreement with CEDC to provide funding to assist in the construction and maintenance of affordable housing units in Santa Paula pursuant to a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) that was issued by the Redevelopment Agency on September 15, 2005. This agreement states that the grant would be paid to CEDC by October 15, 2006 and must be used solely for the purposes set forth in the NOFA (to construct or cause to be constructed and maintain affordable housing units). This agreement contains terms for repayment of funds provided by the Redevelopment Agency if the affordable housing units are not maintained pursuant to the NOFA. In addition, the agreement contains terms for termination if the affordable housing units are not maintained in accordance with the NOFA. All grant funds must be returned to the Redevelopment Agency under this provision for non-performance. On June 2, 2008, the Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors directed the Agency’s Legal Counsel to send a demand letter to CEDC for repayment of funds pursuant to the terms outlined above.The City Attorney, Karl Berger, and Assistant City Attorney, John Cotti, are members of a private law firm which specializes in municipal law. That firm contracts with the City of Santa Paula and Santa Paula Redevelopment Agency (along with other entities which the City Council serve as the governing body) to provide legal services. The City does not have any practicing attorneys as employees. Other attorneys from Mr. Berger’s firm also provide legal services to the City. In 2007, the City paid $170,880 for general legal services. Additional legal work performed by the City Attorney on the City’s, and its subsidiary agencies’ behalf, are billed to other parties and the City is reimbursed. The extent of these additional legal services depends on matters before the City at any given time. The City Attorney’s law firm provides almost all legal representation required by the City including litigation matters such as the current lawsuit against the City by CEDC. The City uses outside legal counsel only in rare instances where highly specialized representation is required.Wally BobkiewiczCity ManagerCity Council breaks the lawTo the Editor:Much has been said about Cabrillo’s lawsuit against the city because it rejected Plaza Amistad. The blame lies not on Cabrillo, but on the city council’s disregard of the city attorney’s admonition that they were skating on thin ice in their plan to deny the project. In addition, the council had also been notified of, but disregarded State Government Code Sections 65589.5 and 65008 that prohibit the disapproval of projects similar to Plaza Amistad. Cabrillo then had no alternative but to sue for what they are legally entitled under the laws that was broken by Mayor Gonzales, Vice-Mayor Fernandez and council member Luna. As a result the city is now paying legal fees that the city can ill afford.As for the $400,000 of redevelopment fund Cabrillo received for the project. On an earlier vote council member Luna voted in favor of awarding the funds to Cabrillo. Now he, Mayor Gonzales and Vice-Mayor Fernandez are requesting that the funds be paid back, even after being told that the funds were already spent in accordance with the conditions under which they was awarded. It is difficult for ordinary citizens to fathom the often irrational behavior of the city council majority comprised of the three above-mentioned council members. Another example of this behavior is their harassment and bullying of our highly competent, admired and respected city staff. But then, what can be expected from the three who took a sleazy political cheap shot at John Procter by denying him the mayor’s seat to which he was rightfully entitled.As a consequence of the above actions, the three council members have smeared the reputation of our beautiful city that we all love so much. We, the residents of Santa Paula deserve and demand much better representation.Robert BorregoSanta Paula

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.