Letters to the Editor

August 12, 2011

Weeds, weeds, weeds

To the Editor:

I really don’t know how to express my disappointment, disgust, despair and downright anger over the weed abatement management by our city. I was really impressed by the team of four Weed Whackers who were everywhere around the town, cleaning up weeds last year. I think the Rotary did the railroad corridor as well. After all their hard work, the weeds are back. Why? The city won’t spray regularly to keep them abated. Typical of government agencies, they have let the problem go to unmanageable levels again. I’m sure the original enthusiastic citizens who put in long hours, weeks and months are so discouraged, we’ll never have them volunteer again. I don’t blame them.  

On the way to my home, the weeds are in the cracks and potholes and are making the crevices even larger. I soon will be driving through weeds that are a foot high. Coming back from Ventura on Santa Paula Street on the west side, the weeds are already 6 inches high edging the pavement. And then there are the sidewalks.... Weeds are invading the sidewalks and breaking up the cement. Sidewalks are a city issue, but they also are citizen issues. If the sidewalk in front of my property is covered in weeds, I can’t wait for the city to get rid of them. There are too many sidewalks in need and not enough staff to deal with it. We citizens need to protect our assets and take care of the weedy sidewalks before they deteriorate beyond repair. How many homeowners or buyers do you know that would want to walk through weeds to purchase a home? 

Then there is downtown. Have any of the merchants there seen the weeds on their sidewalks? Can’t they get together and hire someone to take care of downtown? Or are they going to wait for someone else to do it for them? If you’re waiting, it will be a long wait because the city certainly isn’t addressing the issue and I can almost guarantee that no volunteers will come forward to weed without being allowed to spray.   

I guess the city doesn’t have a person fluent enough on the computer to program a maintenance timeline that includes weed abatement. If they don’t have a designated person who can spray, are they just saying “oh well, maybe next year”. By next year, there will be so much damage done by weeds that we’ll never recover and that scares me. This council was going to make quality changes. How about doing quality maintenance so our town doesn’t continue to decline?

Kate Nolet

Santa Paula

Are referees being positive role models for our players?

To the Editor: 

As many youth athletic organizations begin to end their soccer season and start getting ready for Coast Soccer, it is important to remember that the true purpose of our athletic activities are designed to teach our children perseverance, commitment, teamwork, and athletic skills under the umbrella of “friendly” competition. Nevertheless, this cannot be realized if referees abuse of their given leeway power as they make “judgment” calls. It is true that the referee is the one with the highest authority who presides over the game making “on the fly” decisions that enforce the rules of the sport; nonetheless, this must be done from a neutral point of view. The referee should maintain the dignity of his position, honor his assignment, and most important, conduct himself honorably at all times and maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer. In addition, the referee should not discriminate against nor take undue advantage of any individual team on the basis of race, color or religion.

A few weeks ago I watched my daughter’s team play against another team “fighting” for a semi-final spot. It was a hideous and uncontrolled game by the referee. As our forward ran into the goalie trying to strike the ball into the net, our forward was issued a yellow card. Parents thought it was not a fair call because she did what she was taught to do: to score a goal. A few minutes later, another player from our team kicked the ball from mid-field and the goalie went backwards with the ball in her hand. It seemed as if the entire ball had crossed the line (a parent near the goalie said it had crossed), but the referee said no. A few minutes later, the referee issued the same forward a yellow card, and consequently a red one. Her father questioned this call, but the referee just threatened the father and was told to just sit down and say nothing. He refused to clarify why the yellow card was issued, and this infuriated the parents. Not for the yellow card, but because of the way he treated them on the sideline. It would have taken him about 10 seconds to defuse the problem with a simple explanation to her father, besides the coach. But the way he addressed her father was inappropriate, unprofessional, an uncharacteristic. Other parents acted in a respectful fashion, asking why the yellow/red card was given; nevertheless, all of them were disrespectfully addressed and were told to sit with their “mouth shut.” The referee did not make an effort to control the behavior in an effective manner; instead, he worsened the problem by being a “dictator”, controlling and threatening to the parents. He could have addressed the issue in a more respectful fashion.

In this game the referee displayed a lack of values and professionalism. Parents were being condemned for having an opinion and expressing it. Their voices were being stifled, and many parents were threatened that if they spoke out they would be thrown out of the field. He ejected the forward’s father because he insisted to get a clarification of the yellow/red card. Another parent was also ejected because he questioned the same call. Eventually, he stopped the game. It was clearly communicated through his actions that as parents we have no right to complain or give an opinion, but instead, we must remain voiceless “admiring” his “judgment calls” just like a child is when his parents are berating him. Parents feel that they cannot object to none of such “judgment” calls just because he is the authority figure. We all respect his position, but imposing consequences such as ejecting parents, issuing red cards, stopping the game because parents want a justification for a call, or because of his inability to communicate with parents, should not be borne or tolerated in any league in any sport, at any age.

How can we build confidence and create a family and community ambiance if we allow people like him to “creep” in the lives of our children? We need to collectively hold referees accountable for maintaining high ethics and values; referees need to remember that they are working with very impressionable minds: our children and our community’s future leaders. We want to keep our children away from people who petty, who exclude, who discriminate, and who hold grudges.

This type of actions can truly hurt any child’s thoughts and feelings, needs and perspectives, and their motives and values. Referees need to be positive role models to our children, construct a positive image of themselves, and understand that parents will always be there to support their children. They are always confronted with behaviors that blame; experience both negative and constructive criticism; many of their calls will be questioned, but they should never put children in a situation in which they could develop psychiatric disorders due to the stressful environment. In addition, referees need to promote positive social values, morals, ethics, attitude and self-esteem. They need to take a moment to pause and reflect before they take actions that might be perceived in a negative light - a moment to delve beneath the surface and show that they care. As an educator myself, I firmly believe that our everyday interactions can have a positive and lasting influence and impact in the lives of people around us. In soccer, we are surrounded by many people, and as we hear them talking, we should not take things as if they were a personal affront, but we need to think how our actions might have been interpreted.

A refereeing mistake is one mistake too many and intolerable for the purist in our sport. These unwitting mistakes of decision making and poor handling of parents impacted our forward’s morale and self-esteem negatively. Our forward left crying, for she had set her mind up to score four goals and make up for three of our key players that were absent; she only scored one. The referee’s inconsistent calls compel parents, coaches, and spectators to question his calls, particularly in a closely contested game. His behavior is inappropriate during play, and his officiating has become inconsistent. This has become a problem pattern within certain teams. I am only speaking out for those who have been told to “sit down and shut up...” Many parents and coaches ask themselves if there are any punitive sanctions for this type of character and decision-making in a referee? Why does he have a hard time keeping things even? Why does he have eyes to penalize one team only? Doesn’t he need to promote the idea of fairness and moral character to all? Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Let’s do it for the best interest of our children and our community. There is nothing objectionable about having a safe, comfortable place where parents can watch our children doing what they love to do. I want to stop the public punishment and embarrassment faced by the parents, coaches, and players because they are speaking out against the unfair treatment. We cannot remain “silenced voice” on the sideline being treated like children or threatened by referees. This is not the best interest of the children, the community, or the sport of soccer. Let’s make a change.

Sam Ramirez

Santa Paula

Promises not kept - once again

To the Editor:

For those of you who have followed the record of Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CDEC), it will not surprise you that they are going back on commitments made to the City. I refer here to their new development project being built in Santa Paula on Santa Barbara Street. When Cabrillo got approval from the city to build “Paseo Santa Barbara” (formerly Plaza Amistad), it was with the understanding that current residents of Santa Paula would be given preferred consideration to occupy the new residences.  The notion was not expressed to go to other cities, first, and to actively recruit more low income residents from outside the City.  We have enough already.

 However, if you read the VCS Home Insert (Page 31) advertising in last Sunday’s (August 7) Star, you will see that they are actively recruiting residents from other cities, and not first and foremost Santa Paula.  It is my understanding that this is being done at a time when the Santa Paula Housing Authority has a very long waiting list for this type of housing right here in our city. Bear in mind, the City gave Cabrillo $400,000 for the project with the understanding that Santa Paula residents would have first call on the new units; this is disappointing, to say the least. Is Cabrillo giving priority to increasing their coffers rather than serving the people of Santa Paula?  Likely, Cabrillo can demand higher rent from out of town people than from current, lower income Santa Paula residents.  Because Cabrillo does not have to pay taxes, this surplus goes directly into the pockets of Cabrillo and their executive management, one would assume.  You and I, residents of Santa Paula, are left to pick up the tab—ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

I am thankful that certain members of our current City Council confronted an obvious conflict of interest in the case of one Cabrillo Executive that served on the Santa Paula Planning Commission for some time.  These same council members were also responsible for getting the project right-sized and settling a law suit created by vague agreements made by previous Councils.  You may remember that a few weeks ago, certain of our current council members had to solve a financial crisis caused by our City having a disproportionate share of low-end, non-tax paying projects.  We cannot afford to subsidize projects that cost the rest of us in order to make Cabrillo’s executives wealthier.

So, what can you do?  Contact your City Councilman and let him know that you object to this recruitment of out of town residents to fill the new units now being built on Santa Barbara Street. These units should be made available to local people right here in Santa Paula.

Larry S. Sagely

Santa Paula

My how things have changed!

To the Editor:

When I was young and a student was caught cheating, the teacher was NOT forgiving! That student was reprimanded first by the teacher or principal and then again at home. Teachers working with parents held kids accountable for good behavior and good work.  

Students and teachers were expected to “measure up” to high standards. If teachers did not perform, they were fired. There were no Teachers Unions to protect poor teachers. 

Many Santa Paula parents home-school their children or send them out of town to school. Yet, Santa Paula has some very successful schools where the usual excuses for low achievement do not pertain. Our best teachers know how to inspire our kids and hold them responsible for their learning. They know how to work with parents and help them hold their kids accountable.

But, Santa Paula also has some schools and teachers that do not measure up year after year. Apparently, our superintendents have not held some teachers and principals accountable for low student achievement and have kept “poor” teachers on the payroll.

The United States used to be a leader in education. Our students used to “measure up” and be able to compete with students the world over. Teachers used to hold students to high standards rather than “forgiving” or making excuses for poor performance and poor behavior. School Boards used to weed out poor teachers.

Our new superintendents and principals need to do what it takes to provide “good” teachers for all our kids. Our kids deserve to be held accountable to high standards of behavior and performance. They must be well prepared for each new grade or class to achieve their “best” and be successful.

David Kaiser

Santa Paula

Send snail mail!

To the Editor:

Ok...email is fast and great, and saves a tree or two along the way (although many people still ‘print out’ their emails, so how many trees does it save)? Texting of course is cool, and not ‘old school’ - but let us face it, people are texting more than they are talking to each other these days (which is another topic -- “communication, remember that”?).

Who does not like to get a real snail mail letter or note from a friend far or near? Send a letter anywhere in the US for just 44 cents, or a postcard for 29 cents? What a DEAL is that! Let us not lose our Santa Paula Post Office. Use it, or we may lose it... forever!

Concerned Santa Paula Citizen - who loves to get and give snail mail!

Pamela Strange

Santa Paula

Steckel Park Aviary

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to an article published July 20, 2011 regarding the upcoming “closure” of the Steckel Park Aviary. Shame on the County for this harsh announcement! The aviary has been a part of Santa Paula’s history for 50 plus years. It has become a much publicized and “word of mouth” recreational attraction throughout the local communities of Ventura County as well as Southern California at large. Throughout the decades it has become a “destination” site for school field trips, tourists and “locals”.

There is no doubt in my mind that the aviary in itself generates revenue for the County. A great number of Steckel Park’s visitors are there specifically to see the birds. They are willing to pay the entrance fees required for this sole purpose. One would then beg to differ how removing this attraction will save the County money in the long run? Furthermore, (as referenced in the article) there is a “caretaker” on site who is responsible for all aspects of the aviary. In exchange for rent, the caretaker purchases all the seed and fruit required to feed the birds. She monitors the birds’ health and keeps the cages cleaned. I personally know that this caretaker is an experienced avian enthusiast. She has cared for these birds for 17+ years as if they were her own pets.

The aviary has been a sanctuary to many types of birds. It has proven it can create and maintain its own natural order when given the opportunity. It has become a “safe” home to hundreds of birds that were injured, rescued, donated, retired and conceived within its own wire enclosure. The majority of its occupants (if not all) have developed “bonds” within their flock and any thought of separation could prove detrimental to their overall wellbeing.

In reference to the aviary’s “declining” state, this fact has transpired because County officials have closed the long-standing “open door” practice of accepting donated birds. Also, the County is not interested in supporting any breeding activity throughout the aviary.

In response to the figure of $150,000 to repair the aviary, I beg your readers to go look at the aviary. It is indeed need of “polishing” but that figure to repair it seems a bit inflated. And, as far as any safety issues are concerned, why not just fence off the creek bedside, where visitors view the birds? It wasn’t too many years ago that the County did extensive bulldozer work within Santa Paula creek to ensure the future safety of the caretaker’s home and aviary. Why now, is that not sufficient?

And lastly, the County has threatened this treasured site’s closure in the past but public “outcry” has always prevailed. Let me remind you that the only public forum this “closure” has been addressed in is a local Rotary meeting. Why is that? Shouldn’t this be presented to the public in a much broader forum? I for one believe so. Let’s make some noise collectively and Save the Steckel Aviary!

Marikay Lindstrom

Santa Paula

Well now…

To the Editor:

It is not too late for me to give you a few pointers for your (short time left) vacation. Some of you aren’t going too far away.

If you like camping or hiking and enjoy being outdoors and not overly crowded, try Shaver, Edison, or Huntington Lakes in Fresno County. Yosemite is about an hour farther. You leave early, arrive, set up camp, have lunch and still have a lot of first day hiking. Leave all the toys home. You go to do and see things different.

Mariposa on Highway 49 has a small airport. Fly there for a couple or few days. Fun old town with motels and eats. Early September is a very good rodeo and county fair days and real good fun and lots of cowboys and girls. You will pass my son’s ranch and see Angus and mini cattle smiling at you. And a wild turkey that hangs around. And big mule deer. 

Going hiking take a hiking pole, wear Levis (not shorts) and don’t ever go alone on any trails. It is much fun and relaxing even to go to Frazier Park that is only 70 miles. The truck stop there has a great buffet and a good motel. Or drive up to Mount Pinos, Ventura County’s tallest peak at 8,000 feet. Fun drive.

But don’t pay attention to me and just stay home, watch your soaps and sulk. Sheesh!

Ken Zimmet

Santa Paula

A salute to Jannette Jauregui

To the Editor:

Ventura County is fortunate to have a journalist, historian and author that represents us veterans. Her recent book entitled “Ventura County Veterans” was recently released for sale. The book came from personal collections of each veteran and their family.

We veterans now residing at the Veterans Home at Ventura, CA and other interested buyers attended the book signing held on Thursday, July 7th at Garman’s Restaurant and Irish Pub, 932 E. Main St., Santa Paula, CA. A large crowd attended the book signing and sale.

We veterans now living at the Veterans Home, Ventura, CA are proud to have adopted Jannette as our adopted daughter and close friend.

Yours in comradeship,

Bill Florio

MSGT, USAF Retired

And U.S. Marine Veteran

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