CitizensJournal.us- Letters to the Editor


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Since this is CITIZENS Journal, public opinion is especially important. We accept general letters here from the public, on varied topics in the form of comments, below. If you wish to respond to specific articles, scroll down to reader comments for the appropriate posting.  If you want them featured, include full name, address, phone number (the latter two will be kept confidential) and send to editor@citizensjournal.us).

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This page contains letters from Mid January, 2017 to December 2018

For previous letters, see http://citizensjournal.us/citizensjournalus-letters-to-the-editor/

13 Responses to CitizensJournal.us- Letters to the Editor

  1. Tom June 17, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Comment on letter by
    Lawrence Paul Stein June 16, 2017 at 8:27 am

    “By dividing the actual expenditures (88,490,083) by 70% I am showing a result of $126,414,404, a number that is greater than the original budget amount of $122,348,06 by over $4,000,000.”

    The General Fund Report shows that 70% of the adjusted budget amount was spent after 83% of the year had elapsed.

    To project the full year spending, the spending to date amount should be divided by the percentage of the year that has passed (83%), not the percent of the amount spent (70%).

    $88,490,083/.83=$106,614,558.

    Reply
    • Lawrence Stein June 17, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Let us see where the city stands with the May report. The original budget amount was $122,000,000 for the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year. The proposed adjusted 2017 – 2018 general fund budget is $128,000,000 (original 2017 – 2018 budget $125,000,000 + $3,000,000 augmented adjustment). How can the city say they are running out of money when the general fund budget has the potential growing by $8,000,00 in a year’s time? How much of the $8,000,000 is going to parks and streets? How much of the $8,000,000 is going to city employees? How much of the $8,000,000 is going towards equipment for public safety?

      Reply
  2. Lawrence Paul Stein June 16, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Note the last page of the General Fund report. The reports states that the city has used 70% of the budgeted amount. By dividing the actual expenditures (88,490,083) by 70% I am showing a result of $126,414,404, a number that is greater than the original budget amount of $122,348,06 by over $4,000,000. Who is watching the approved expenditures compared to the approved budget? If one were to take the adjusted budget number there is still a planned excess expenditure over the amount approved. The May monthly expenditure report was to have been on the city’s web site by now. Is staff waiting until after the budget hearing before they post the numbers?

    I am not allowed to rebut any comments made by staff after my 3 minutes. Staff stated that the General Fund Budget for 2016 – 2017 is the original figure of $122,348.006. The adjusted fund budget is $125,877,206. Please remember two things, 1) The adage about how figures don’t lie. 2) How former city manager Sotelo constantly bragged how he turned the city’s finances around.

    See: http://citizensjournal.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/20170607-April-2017-Monthly-Expeditures-total-pages.pdf

    Respectfully submitted,

    Lawrence Paul Stein

    Reply
  3. Lawrence Paul Stein June 6, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Oxnard not answering publicly asked questions

    It is typical that the City of Oxnard releases documents Thursday evening, after the close of business for the public to review, primarily for a public meeting the following week. For the uniformed, the city is closed every other Friday. Due to Monday meetings, many members of the city staff are unavailable to answer questions prior to public meetings. Why is it that if an engaged member of the public studies those documents and prepares for the meeting cannot get answers to the questions that the engaged member of the public asks?

    Regarding the budget, one expects that the elected officials are working closely with the city manager and his staff to address the issues facing the city and working to find viable solutions to city issues. One cannot find viable solutions without considering the financial implications those solutions present.

    I am particular concerned that funds set aside for specific purposes are not being used for those purposes. I am also concerned that as a result of under spending, those unspent funds are not returned to the unappropriated fund balance from which those funds originated, to be appropriated at some future date. It is not staff decision to determine how public funds are to be expended, but the elected officials.

    If the budget specifies that specific amount of funds are to be used to pay for staffing, those funds should be either used to pay for staffing or returned to the appropriate fund. It was stated Monday evening (06/05/2017) that funds for staffing of non city employees are part of the budget and are separate from the funds allocated for department staffing. The so called 5% variance as a result on not being 100% staffed 100% of the time should not be expended for non staffing expenses. This is particularly true if the budget already considers the need to use outside labor such as consultants, attorneys and staffing agencies needed for specialized needs.

    The budget is just a tool. It is not written in concrete. However, any changes to the budget must be presented to the public and the elected officials in a public forum, not behind closed doors or in closed session.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Lawrence Paul Stein

    Reply
  4. Mark Savalla June 4, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    COMMUNISM HERE WE COME

    I am amazed at the boldness of the Ventura County Star to support the plan of the Communist party to undermine, subvert and take over the United States. The Star, without comment, published a list of certain bills submitted to the California Legislature. Each of the bills mentioned are noted in the Communist Strategy against the Trump administration. One of the topics was:

    “Immigration

    The Senate approved a measure to block the state from contracting with companies that want to help build the border wall championed by Trump, one of more than a dozen Democratic proposals to resist the Republican president’s immigration agenda.
    Trump’s vow to build a wall on the country’s Mexico border, much of which would run through California, has drawn particular ire from lawmakers. The state shouldn’t do business with companies that work on the project, which is harmful to immigrant families and the environment, said Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat who authored the bill, SB30.

    Lawmakers also advanced measures to train defense attorneys on immigration law and protect college students from federal immigration officials. Another would bar employers from letting federal immigration agents access their worksites and files without a warrant or subpoena, an effort to prevent raids.

    Republicans charge the measures are designed to score political points rather than enact good policy. They characterize some of the proposals, including the border wall bill, as overreaching. Republican Sen. Jeff Stone said state shouldn’t blacklist companies bidding on a lucrative contract.

    Also moving forward are measures to prohibit local governments from contracting with private prisons to detain immigrants, and to reduce using false documents to conceal immigration status from a felony to misdemeanor.”

    This bill is part and parcel of the second point of the Communist strategy: “2. Support the upsurge for workers’ rights and racial justice
    The Fight for $15 and a Union along with Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers, Rev. Barber’s Forward Together Moral Movement, Bernie Sanders’ political revolution are raising consciousness about how systemic racism and low wage jobs are good for big corporations but not for the people or our country.

    The AFL CIO and Working America are going door to door in swing states with this message. These movements pushed the Democratic Party to adopt the most pro-worker and progressive platform in its history. A landslide vote that wins a Democratic president, Senate and House of Representatives will send a message that racist “dog whistle” politics are unacceptable. The real win will be if and when labor and community organizing pushes even harder after the election to enact the progressive platform, and to run its own candidates at the local level. If Trump were to become president all people’s rights and needs will be endangered putting the people’s fightback onto the defensive.”

    You would think the STAR would at least comment on blatant attack of political war on the United States in the Editorial section of the paper. However and not to my surprise there was no mention of the Communist movement of the California legislature.

    Reply
  5. Lawrence Stein May 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    How is it that the General Fund has grown from $112,000,000 to $125,000,000 in a few years while the number of actual city employes have gone down? At the city council meeting of 5/16/2017 the city mayor spoke of the need for awareness for water safety for 20 minutes.

    The plans for a public pool at College Park was proposed in 2002 (Phase V). This was after the city closed the public pool at the Old Oxnard High School following buying the property from the Oxnard High School District. 15 years later no pool, which would have cost $3,000,000. The city did find funds to build a $12,000,000 fire station that was previously proposed to cost $4,000,000 (see Fire Department 10 year Strategic Plan 2005).

    Several times in the last 15 years, members of the public have asked for life guards at its 5+ miles of west facing beaches to little avail.

    The cities of Ventura and Port Hueneme have life guards at its beaches. Those beaches attract tourists. Camarillo and Ventura seem to be able to find finds to support aquatic centers.

    Filled headcounts are going down, while the General Fund is going up. Where is the money going?

    Respectfully submitted,

    Lawrence Paul Stein

    Reply
  6. Dennis ralph May 25, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    The mayor of Oxnard championed the multi million dollar Taja Mahal at Rice and Rose in college park, not near or close to, but in the park. It now stands as a beacon of the corruption that serves as the hallmark of Oxnard’s incredible stupidity!
    That land that fire station 8 sits on was public park set to become a pool or a aquatic center, deeded to the citizens for “public park use in perpetuity.” Tim Flynn wanted the vote from the firemen’s Union so that’s what we got a fire station “in the park.” He and Oxnard fire department saw to that you and your kids did not get a pool, you got a fire station in a public park! Thanks to mayor Flynn and your city council.
    It’s a long sad story but the local fire union with the help of political powers, unscrupulously confiscated our land that was deeded to the citizens for “public park uses in perpetuity” laid waste to our park to satisfy the want of a new station. What land was promised to the kids and youth of our city as park was taken by greedy self serving individuals from our fire department. Personally I hold the city of Oxnard and the fire department in disdain. I have no desire to be involved with handing out accolades to originations that I feel are unworthy. To all the kids that were to get a public pool on that acreage but never will, good luck because within that long story lies the fact that the land that was once yours now belongs to a single individual residing in Arizona. Oxnard will always be corrup, dishonest, and untrustworthy.

    Reply
  7. Ray Holm April 15, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Dear Editor:

    The best man(or woman) always wins! President Trump and Councilman McCoy won! We don’t feel sorry for the losers as good sportsmanship, taught from an early age, help us to accept the results of the contest, and the looser always has a chance in America to try, try again, and again.

    Of course there are always cranky-goofy losers as displayed in the Acorn letters to the Editor, April 13. It just go to show that some people have nothing to contribute to make Thousand Oaks or America better. What a waste of life. I hope they find their way, or go to Disneyland and just chill out!

    Ray Holm

    Reply
  8. Mark Savalla March 30, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    TO: Letters to the Editor, Ventura County Star.

    TRAVEL BAN COULD COST US $188B IN TOURISM, ANALYSTS SAY

    The only reason I haven’t cancelled the VCS is so I have material to refute regarding your one sided Progressive articles that don’t give the public accurate information regarding numerous topics especially when it comes to our current president.

    The TRAVEL BAN article by Bart Jansen (USA TODAY) proffered the position that president Trumps travel ban was hindering tourism in the United States. Then as an afterthought he states that the travel ban will decrease the number of students who will come to this country and also that big business is worried that the “order would make it more difficult to “attract talent, business and investment to the United States”.
    If the Travel Ban stops “students, talent and business” from those countries that provide terrorists I’m all for it. Secondarily, “Many experts remain bullish about prospects for tourism, despite a strong dollar that makes the U.S. expensive for some international travelers. The U.S. Commerce Department predicts a record 78.6 million international visitors will visit the U.S. in 2017.
    Brand USA, which promotes travel to the U.S., said it has “not received any data that shows any tangible change in bookings or cancellations by international travelers.”
    Travelers from the Middle East comprised just 3.6 percent of non-resident international arrivals to the U.S. in the first half of 2016, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. The president’s order does not include the Middle Eastern countries that send the most travelers here — Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
    These are facts not presented in Mr. Jansen’s speculative article.

    Reply
    • Mark Savalla April 12, 2017 at 11:21 am

      This letter was actually printed in the VCS on4-12-17. Shocked out of my socks.

      Reply
  9. Citizen Reporter March 26, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Received from Manuela Walter, Camarillo:

    Do You Know What Is Happening In Our Schools?

    February 15, 2017, FoxNews.com ran a story by Todd Starnes that an English Teacher at Camarillo’s Rancho Campana High School told her students that she lost a $100 bet because President Trump was not shot on Inauguration Day. February 24, 2017, the Camarillo Acorn ran the story “Teacher apologizes for Trump remark”. According to the Acorn article, OUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Rocky Valles, said that the teacher apologized and has returned to her duties. That sounds like a slap on the wrist. Can you imagine what would have happened if a teacher made such a remark under President Obama, or if Hillary Clinton had won the election? I assure you, it would have been more severe than a slap on the wrist.

    This is not the only anti-Trump / anti-conservative incident that has occurred at Rancho Campana High School. In November 2016, a teacher told students that “Trump hates women.” In February 2017, another teacher told their class that “The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are Death, War, Famine, and Donald Trump.” Also in February, a teacher allowed one of their students to be singled out by another student in front of the class for being an acknowledged Republican, and allowed that same student to perform a rap song, during class time, that referred to President Trump as a “racist bastard”. It is very disturbing that this was allowed to occur. These are not isolated events. Other equally-disturbing incidents have occurred at this high school.

    Teacher’s personal political opinions have no place in the classroom, and those who exhibit this type of behavior share responsibility for the hatred towards, and violence against, President Trump and his supporters.

    I am sure we can all agree that teachers have a significant influence in our children’s lives. In fact, the OUHSD’s own Employee Handbook, in their Blueprint for Greatness, states “The District’s motto of Students First, Every day, Every school, Every classroom provides a laser focus for what matters most and for how adults can dramatically influence the lives of students.” The Handbook’s Code of Ethics states that “The educator accepts the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards”, and “Shall not intentionally expose the student to embarrassment or disparagement.” Clearly, some teachers need to re-read their Employee Handbook.

    Parents: Talk to your school age children. Find out what is going on in the classroom. This unacceptable behavior must stop. Teachers and school administrators must be held accountable for their actions and inaction.

    Of course, there are excellent teachers who understand that their job is to teach our children, not to use the classroom as a platform for their personal opinions and agendas. To those teachers, thank you.

    Reply
  10. Dotty Pringle March 14, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Well researched and written!

    Reply
  11. Citizen Reporter March 1, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Received from Alicia Percell, regarding the recently concluded Oxnard Utility Rate Advisory Panel work on wastewater rate review.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Alicia Percell
    To: Ruth Osuna ; greg.nyhoff
    Sent: Wed, Mar 1, 2017 10:32 pm
    Subject: Corrections for memo to UTF

    Ms. Osuna, (bcc: city council members)

    I am writing to alert you and the Utilities Task Force members to a number of factual errors in the agenda packet (see attached) posted for the March 2 meeting of the UTF.

    1) Page 1 of your memo states, “Thus, the URAP held five meetings and most members also participated in a wastewater facility tour.” On slide 3 of the PowerPoint presentation, it again says there were five meetings, and it shows a schedule of 5 meetings. The January 30 tour of the OWTP was a special meeting, so there were 6 meetings.

    At the end of the February 1 URAP meeting, Aaron Starr mentioned that he had not received a 24-hour written notice for the January 30 meeting as required by the Brown Act, having only received written notice a mere 24 minutes prior. Your reaction was to argue that the tour was not a meeting, though the agenda posted online said it was a special meeting, and a majority of the URAP members were present, and they discussed subject matters within the jurisdiction of the URAP. Under the Brown Act, that is clearly a meeting, and I don’t understand your apparent aversion to acknowledging it as such, even now in this memo to the UTF, after you were shown a copy of the posted agenda for a special meeting.

    The URAP never received draft minutes from that January 30 meeting for approval, though they did approve minutes of the other meetings (with the exception of the final one).

    See the posted agenda for the January 30 tour of the OWTP as a special meeting of the URAP here:
    http://oxnard.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=oxnard_adc0d1806fba8ce33aa2d755e93f9e2e.pdf

    2) Page 2 of your memo states, “In addition to the above rate recommendation, the members of the URAP considered six motions…” There was a handout circulated by Aaron Starr with six motions on it, however, at the end of the final meeting he only chose to offer five of those motions for consideration by the URAP.

    There is a bullet list spanning pages 2-3 of the memo, and for the 5th bullet point the memo indicates that it failed due to a lack of a second. That is incorrect. This is the motion that Aaron decided to skip. Since he never made the motion, there was no request for a second, and it should not be reported that a motion never made was deemed to have failed.

    The same error occurs on slide 36 of the presentation, asserting that the motion failed due to a lack of a second, though it was never moved.

    3) The first bullet point on page 2 of your memo does not accurately reflect the amendments made during the meeting, which were to delete and insert a few words as follows:

    A motion to recommend that the City Council require that the Cost of Service Study list the planned emergency repairs and capital improvement projects, along with their expected costs and completion dates, and that the City Council establish a policy that each utility shall make an annual report to the Council regarding all such planned emergency repairs and capital improvement projects included in the most recent Cost of Service Study. The report shall itemize for each project the following:
    Construction status
    Original projected date of completion from the Cost of Service Study
    Revised projected date of completion
    Original projected costs from the Cost of Service Study
    Costs incurred to date
    Revised projected costs to completion

    4) Page 3 of your memo states, “One additional scenario (Scenario 6) was presented to the URAP at the February 22 meeting, which was not considered in discussing the final recommendations due to a lack of support for a very small CIP program, no IUF, and not meeting the City’s financial policies.”

    That’s incorrect in several ways.

    The Scenario 6 which Aaron Starr developed was not only discussed, but it was voted on. You can see the vote on it in this video at the 02:53:50 time stamp.

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/100233678

    The vote on the motion was 2 in favor, and 5 opposed.

    It is also interesting that your memo projects your own opinions of that scenario onto the members of the URAP. Your memo alleges that it was opposed, in part, because it contained no infrastructure use fee (IUF), yet a majority of the URAP later adopted a recommendation that the city stop charging the IUF.

    Your memo also claims that Scenario 6 did not meet the city’s financial policies. Which of the city’s presented financial policies did it fail to meet? It met the debt coverage and reserve requirements. Unlike EACH of the 9 scenarios developed by staff, Scenario 6 also met the council policies regarding using no more than 50% debt for long-term-asset financing, and that assets not be financed for more than 75% of their useful life. Your memo fails to even mention that Scenario 2.2B adopted by the URAP fails to meet those policies, and it falsely asserts that Scenario 6 didn’t meet the city’s policies.

    5) Slide 32 of the PowerPoint presentation incorrectly reports that the vote total for that motion was 5-0 with 1 abstention. As can be seen at the 02:57:55 time stamp in the same video linked above, the vote on this motion was 6-0.

    You and I may have differing opinions about what the council should do on this subject, but surely we can agree on the importance of accurately relaying facts to the decision makers.

    Alicia Percell

    Reply

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