Letters to the Editor

June 24, 2011


To the Editor:

Congratulations to the students, teachers, staff and administration of McKevett School for the excellent performance that they gave in honor of McKevett’s 100th anniversary. The halls were decked with beautiful paintings made by the students. Some children displayed their carefully made replicas of California missions. It was a privilege to celebrate with them.

Rosalie Carlson Dahl

Kindergarten teacher at McKevett 1956-57


Fox in the henhouse

To the Editor:

Re: Ventura STAR Article on Gabino Aguirre of June 19, 2011

In the gushing praise for Aguirre, the STAR failed to mention several important points. Let’s try to balance the record with all of the facts. Let us begin with the fact that Aguirre’s verifiable voting record in Santa Paula brought us such an extreme imbalance of low-end, subsidized, housing that it almost broke our city. We are thankful that other council members stepped forward to fix things. While on the council, Aguirre openly admitted that he represented only one segment of the town. It would seem to me that the priority of a council member should be to look after the best interest of Santa Paula as a whole and, in fact, council members in Santa Paula by law serve “at large”, they do not represent a specific geographic area or constituency – at least they are not supposed to. In 2005, while Mayor, he gave a speech for OPANAL (an anti-nuclear group) in Santiago, Chile, bad-mouthing our country and the very system that has afforded him so much as an American.... It is tragic for this guy, with his blatant biases, to sit on a redistricting committee that is supposed to be neutral. His kind of thinking has had a lot to do with why California is broke. I really hope that the committee as a whole is looking out for the best interest of our state, and not special interest groups. We can’t afford more of the kind of thinking that got us into this fiscal mess. It’s high time for the people of California to wake up: we have been misgoverned for too long.

Larry S. Sagely

Santa Paula


Vision for Santa Paula

To the Editor:

Sometimes we have to stand on the shoulders of the past to see into the future. History is a good teacher. Unfortunately Scott Brown has a short memory of Rick Cook’s past  performance on the old City Council a couple of years ago. He was one of those that voted to allow a number of tax-exempt housing projects to be built in Santa Paula by Cabrillo Economic Development  Co. What Cook and some other people could not see was the expensive long term commitment for our police and fire departments for years and years into the future. Without property taxes adjusted as the market values increased as they did over the past 20 years, there was no money to cover these commitments and costs to the city. These type of projects all require services - big time, due to density, location and so on. Is it any wonder Santa Paula is  behind the economic eight ball?

What we really need, at this time, is balanced housing and development that will contribute to our tax base. This is the direction, I think, our four members of our great city Council are going! The city manager knows that the state of California is a drain on the City.

Previous old City Councils knew for years that our wastewater treatment system was obsolete and we were being threatened with huge fines - yet they made little or no provision to save funds necessary for the huge financial drain a new plant would entail. Some did not plan for or see into our future; the old city council  had poor vision.

If Scott Brown or Rick Cook have a case of myopia, I have the name of a good local optometrist that I will share with them.

David Kaiser

Santa Paula


Distortions: Intended or unintended?

Re: Letters to the Editor by Scott Brown on June 17

We have got to stop this Elementary School thinking and behavior that was presented in Mr. Brown’s letters, and begin to think and act at a level that will position our City for truly great things. Four of our Council members (Robinson, Tovias, Fernandez and Gonzales) have demonstrated such mature thinking and behavior. In his letters, Mr. Brown tries to present a case that takes the opposite position, saying that Rick Cook is the hero for taking a 5% cut, amounting to about sixty dollars per month ($60/mo.), depending on how you compute it. This is a drop in the bucket when compared to what his decision-making has cost us. Brown fails to mention the fact that most of the problems we now have were created, or at a minimum aggravated, on Cook’s previous watch, either as Mayor or as a Council member.

I know this to be true as I watched it happen. Let’s review some of the facts that happened on Cook’s watch:

• Authorization was given for building still more low-end housing, a major cause of our current financial mess. The financial crisis was not even on Cook’s radar, though the indicators were there for him to see.

• All that happened during Cook’s watch regarding the urgent need to get a new sewer plant was talk and more talk, resulting in a custom designed plant that would have cost nearly twice the current plant. Two of the four Council members mentioned above reversed the earlier decision, and we now have an award winning wastewater facility.

• There was no action taken to address our budget crisis, or even the recognition that our current accounting system is completely inadequate, to manage our city’s financial affairs. The four of our present Council mentioned above recognized the problems and are taking the steps to fix things that were created during Cook’s earlier watch. A 5% salary cut pales when compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars saved by the four Council members. We avoided fiscal disaster, and are in a far better position than our sister city, Fillmore, thanks to these four Council members.

• Cook was also among those promoting and voting for the failed Fagan Canyon project (now Dickenson Canyon) that would have dumped traffic from over 2,000 dwelling units onto existing city streets.

• Cook was among those who voted for every CEDC project that was proposed, regardless of size. The new Santa Barbara street project currently being built would have been 50% larger had the old Council’s standards been in place. While it’s still too big, filling the whole site, it could and would have been worse had the old Council been the deciding body. Remember under the Krause Council (Cook was a part of it) we kept being bombarded with the line that Santa Paula had no choice but to perform exactly as the low-income advocates demanded, or we’d be sued. That was a totally false legal theory and it was finally admitted to be false.

• During the past election Cook received major funding from the very union, the position of whom he advocated, at the expense of our City during the recent budget crisis.

• During Cook’s watch, we retained a lot of highly paid management deadwood personnel.  Once again, the four Council members took action to correct past problems.

What more shall I say, lest time and space fail me? In a word, the four current Council members have had to spend a majority of their time fixing problems created by past City administrations, Cook’s included. What I have presented was recognized well enough that in the last election, Cook only beat a relatively unknown candidate by a very few percentage points, even though Cook has lived here all of his life. As an aside, I know as a fact that other Council members have taken pay cuts much greater than 5% without making an issue of it. They serve for the benefit of the City, not special interest groups. By the way, none of the Council members making the right decisions and taking the right actions should receive cuts in pay. They are paid far less than they deserve for the time they must devote and the headaches they endure in these troubled times.

Yes, Mr. Brown, it is time for us to act by commending those responsible for saving Santa Paula, and by replacing those responsible for our problems. You and I certainly disagree on who that should be, but I am sure those that have the best interests of Santa Paula in mind will make the right choices at future elections. I salute the four Council members who have taken the pain and action to do what was in the best interest of Santa Paula.

Larry S. Sagely

Santa Paula


Remembering Dave

To the Editor:

I took two books and ten magazines to read on my 3-week vacation. Two weeks later, I had finished 8 magazines, the book about Sandy Koufax, and was left with two bicycling magazines and the book Dave Dike pressed me to take the last time I saw him. At that time, I was returning the Pete Sampras book he’d left at my office, after I had told him how much I had enjoyed reading “Open” about Andre Agassi. He took me into his den and said that he had a thousand tennis books. I’m not sure I believed that number, but there were books and books about sports, tennis in particular. This in addition to his vast collection of racquets, presses, and all things tennis.

I started reading the book, by Gordon Forbes, a tennis player from South Africa, describing the tour in the late 50s and 60s. It had stories which made me laugh out loud. It also slipped in passages of the notion of practicing hours; forehand to forehand, down the line, backhand to forehand, backhand to backhand, and the five shot routine which Dave dictated so many times when we would practice. I was looking forward to returning the book, and discussing its merits with Dave. But when I returned, I got the news of Dave’s death.

David and Juliet Dike came to Santa Paula in the height of the tennis boom. They were Ventura County Mixed Doubles champions, and Dave was a finalist in his age bracket in singles many times. I only played him a full match once. It was at Roy Wilson Jr.’s court, he won the first set, and I the second. Certainly endurance was on my side. Dave called for a 10-minute break, and retreated to his Volkswagen van for a smoke. Strategy and tennis smarts were on his side, and he won the third set and match. He had that big topspin serve to your backhand which was devastating – seemed like you were reaching for the sky. Some time later on his 40th birthday, he gave up smoking. But his vast repertoire of shots remained.

That was a long time ago. There was a time when the Dikes considered moving to Hemet to run a tennis club, but it didn’t happen. They stayed here and young and old were introduced and nurtured in the sport of tennis. As the years went by, I was evermore impressed with the Dikes’ longevity in teaching tennis. I used to sign up for the city recreation Thursday night adult class, mostly to hear what Dave would come up with. One night he was explaining how a certain tennis stroke put centrifugal force on the ball. And the quiet but witty Tim Stegman found a pause to ask, “Mr. Dike, was that centrifugal force or centripetal force that affected the ball?” Dave answered quickly in the affirmative, choosing one or the other.

When my wife first moved here, and hadn’t met him yet, we got a phone call one Saturday. She answered, then said, “It’s Red Auerbach calling, for you.” I was really skeptical that the call was coming from Boston. Dave didn’t know that Sherri has zero interest in professional basketball, and didn’t know Red from Joe Blow. Well, it wasn’t Red, but rather the prankster Dave, a story my dad never tired of.

Then there was the Sunday when I put my bicycle in Damon McCartney’s van and we went to Ventura to run in a 10K race. I brought the bicycle to ride over to the Oxnard Boys and Girls Club after the race, to play pick up basketball in the gym Gordon Cruickshank reserved. Fortunately, Dr. Cruickshank offered to give me and my bike a ride back to Santa Paula after that, as I was tired. Fortunate, because at home was a message that Dave Dike wanted to hit some tennis, on the old court on the Lingdooley Ranch in O’Hara Canyon, courtesy of our mutual friend Bob Bixby. To play tennis with Dave wasn’t just exercise, no, it was special, especially in such a venue. I told him of my day’s activities, that I might be a little tired, but I’d try. He raised the story from a 10K to a half marathon, to a full marathon.

The years went by, and the Dikes were still teaching tennis, even as the U.S. has no players, men or women, in the top 10 in the world. Lately, I had been extending my evening dog walks a few blocks just to walk up 6th Street by the tennis courts. Sometimes if he didn’t look too busy, I’d yell out, “Hey, bend your knees!” Dave might interrupt his teaching to say something like, “There goes the human backboard. He hit the backboard so many times he knocked a hole in it.” Then I assume he went back to explaining about centripetal force.

Dave was unique and unforgettable. Unique, as in the high school fund raiser he organized consisting of indoor volleyball, gentlemen’s tennis doubles, using wooden rackets, and 9 holes of 3-par golf across the river. Unforgettable for me – he gave me a Spalding Pancho Gonzales Signature racquet as a price at that triathlon.

RIP Mr. Dike.

Douglas Smith

Santa Paula


High School District retirements

To the Editor:

I would like to offer congratulations to Santa Paula High School District employees, Superintendent Dr. David Gomez, Renaissance High School Principal Lorenzo Moraza, and Assistant Superintendent Francine Torigiani upon their retirements.

It is significant that our high school district has lost the wealth of experience that these three individuals have brought to our educational system, however, equally significant is that their many accomplishments have greatly improved the opportunities for Santa Paula  student achievement.

During the past decade of achievements of Dr. Gomez, more students than ever before are passing the California School Exit Exam, the dropout rate has significantly declined to an all time low and better than some schools of higher income cities, the achievement gap and proficiency of all English language learners has improved in reading/language arts and mathematics. Santa Paula and Renaissance High Schools have both had major infrastructure and facilities renovations. The curriculum, instruction and assessments of students are much better aligned with state standards.

Mr. Moraza’s achievements are equally impressive during his tenure. A six-year WASC accreditation (highest accreditation) was garnered. Renaissance High’s first bilingual counselor and four bilingual teachers hired with direct instruction in all core subject areas as well as an increase of computer aided courses for all students in a state of the art computer lab. By adding new courses, on campus and online as well as enrolled students in Ventura Community College, students had more learning opportunities leading to higher success rates. The 2011 Class was the largest graduating class in the school’s history. Throughout the year, the students were exposed and encouraged by trips to college and university campuses. As with all student learning, support services are essential but even more so with students who face extraordinary challenges. Counseling and medical services provided by Clinicas del Camino Real, Ventura County Public Health as well as scholarships given by Santa Paula Latino Town Hall, the High School Alumni Association and private individuals focus on student needs resulting in higher performance academically.

Francine Torigiani, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Personnel, was a true foundation block for the entire District. Our high schools functioned better and excelled because of the experienced fiscal management and countless other duties that the average citizen does not know about.

Congratulations to these highly qualified individuals and to the Board of Trustees who have worked to put this team in place and have provided an outstanding group of replacements for the coming year.

Santa Paula students and the community have greatly benefited from the fruits of this dedicated labor.

Laura Espinosa

Santa Paula


Re: “Shared Pain” by Scott Brown

To the Editor:

I read Scott Brown’s (also known as RB) article, which was printed on 6/17/2011. His article suggests that he was affected by the 5% cut in pay in some form or another and be affiliated with the SEIU or a public union. His disgruntled attitude has somehow skewed his perception of conditions in present Santa Paula in comparison with Santa Paula of a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, Councilman Cook was not the “hairy chest hero” he portrays in his article. During Cook’s previous term on the city council he voted and promoted projects that were revenue poor for the city, consequently poor city coffers. His animosities towards the opponents of Fagan Canyon were evident during city council hearings on the project. He continued to push for Fagan Canyon even as the voters had opposed the project. This is not true representation of government by elected officials, there are more examples but it is now all history. Scott Brown’s article describes writing on a cocktail napkin so I say to Scott Brown, “As you sip a few more cocktails and calculate the future of Santa Paula on your “cocktail napkin” (your description), maybe Cook should also give up a good chunk of his healthy police and disability retirement from the City of Santa Paula, and if you take his time with the County of Ventura District Attorney into your brilliant cocktail napkin calculations; I believe this could be described as “triple dipping”. Mr. Brown, sometimes city council positions are about power and not so much about money. Fortunately, his one vote on the council versus the “myopic four’s” vote is a no! Councilman Cook’s election was heavily influenced by the public union money; no doubt it influenced his past votes and will affect his future votes in dealing with the public unions! I don’t begrudge the earnings of anyone but if you want to flaunt your hero to the public be as transparent and honest as possible! And good luck with your recall of the “Myopic Four”, you’ll not have my support!

Andrew F. Castaneda

Santa Paula

Site Search



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