Congratulations to each of Fillmore’s new council members, Rick Neal, Manuel Minjares, and Douglas Tucker. Kudos also goes to our new City Clerk, Nancy Blendermann-Meyer, and our new Treasurer, Shannon Godfrey. What a great victory; what a breath of fresh air!

Most folks watching the political scene would agree that this was the hardest fought most dynamic (and important) campaign in city history. I wish them all well as they begin their work to mend the personal and fiscal damage inflicted by the old régime. I also know they will avoid “personal, very personal” attitudes and bias. With a new cooperation on positive, creative solutions to the serious fiscal problems we face, and an open, honest relationship with all Fillmore citizens, we will thrive once again.

It will take a while for our new council to acclimate itself to the formalities, legal and technical, of running city government. I know they will do well. The new council victory will go a long way towards lifting the spirits of city staff.

Again, congratulations to our new council members, clerk, and treasurer.


As happy as I am with the council victory, Obama’s win plunges me into a sort of angry despair. This outcome confirms the validity of two best-selling books, Pat Buchanan’s “Suicide of a Superpower - Will America Survive to 2025?” and Mark Steyn’s After America, Get Ready for Armageddon”. Both books are starkly factual which drives the liberal left crazy. Buchanan’s book got him fired from CNN’s The Capital Gang. They claimed the book was racist, of course. It is anything but racist, but it is, in the words of William Houston: “... the bluntest and most cogent statement of the truth about the present course of Western civilization that has been seen in American bookstores in many years.”

“Where we once celebrated the unity, the melting pot and shared experience, that the Depression and World War gave us, our elites today proclaim, ‘Our diversity is our greatest strength’-even as racial, religious, and ethnic diversity are tearing nations to pieces.”

“Rejecting the commitment to a God-given equality of rights for all as inadequate, our government is engaged in the manic pursuit of equality of rewards, as it seeks to erect an egalitarian utopia that has never before existed. Less and less do we Americans have in common. More and more do we fight over religion, morality, politics, history, and heroes. And as our nation disintegrates, our government is failing in its fundamental duties, unable to defend our borders, balance our budgets, or win our wars.”

Both Buchanan and Steyn books (Steyn’s with sharp humor) see America falling, quickly. Obama’s re-election confirms their beliefs.

I agree completely. The nation is not just divided in half, it’s two percent heavier on the radical-liberal side causing us to fall apart. We are now in freefall and I think I can answer the question “Will America Survive to 2025?”. The answer is no. The America of 2025 will be unrecognizable to young people living today. We will be a country without a Constitution that our Founders would recognize.



Please note: The Gazette regrets the misspelling of four candidate names on the recent invitation sent out by Communities Building Together. The Gazette was not responsible for editing that text. We hope everyone turns out for Saturday's event at City Hall. Free food and drinks!

Candidate statement videos are published on the Gazette’s website here. Several candidates chose not to participate.

* * *
EDITED 10-31-12, at 11:00 p.m.

I won’t be long-winded; time and space are both short, and the most important election in our nation’s history, and in Fillmore’s history, is upon us.

As for our national election, and I mean this most sincerely, if Barack Obama is reelected for another four years it will take a couple of generations to recover our solvency, our military strength, and our traditional American character. We elected this strange man who has absolutely no experience in business, or in foreign, domestic or military affairs. He’s a complete empty suit. He bows submissively, and borrows massively from our worst enemies. He is the most radical leftist in government whose true religious sympathies can be identified by the Islamic ring he wears on his finger.

So, if you are looking for four more years of poverty, weakness, and social disorder, he’s your man.

As for me, he personifies just about everything anti-Christian, anti-democracy, and anti-American; he’s a true menace to American greatness.

Save America – vote for Mitt Romney.

* * *

Now, let’s try to save Fillmore from the Katzenjammers. I hope never to hear that word again, which can happen only if Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling are voted out of office.

I only have time to respond to the most recent flier to come flying out of Klub Katz. Here we go:

Gayle Washburn states online that in an effort to correct the $131,000 in water/sewer bill delinquencies, she presided over “a unanimous vote from the council – to hire a collection agency to collect the debt” That's a false statement. The truth is (check the video) the vote was 3-2, with Jamey Brooks and Eduardo Gonzalez voting “No”.

Washburn and Brooks claim:
1. A telephone “push” survey was biased. Wrong. No one was forced to answer the questions which were professionally proposed.

2. The sewer plant, again, was “too big and too costly” Wrong. Ample evidence of the falseness of this claim can be seen by looking at the links in last week’s Realities. We built the most economical plant that would satisfy very strict state and federal water quality standards. It was very costly but the cost was cut to the bone in planning and construction. Our plant is being copied nationally; even internationally, for its efficiency. A group from South Korea visited our plant recently. $83 million is a huge debt for this small town to pay off, but not as costly as having to pay $25,000 PER DAY for failing state and federal mandates. Again, get the FACTS from last week's Realities. Blame the liberal fascists who hike the water quality standards beyond our power to comply! 3. Open books for the city? What a joke. From the time they ran off all top management and brought in friends of friends to run things, all has been chaos. Pay for our interim managers, etc. has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Gayle Washburn did in fact fire our city counsel, unlawfully. Now we have two law firms to pay. The El Dorado lawsuit fiasco could cost another $500,000, after spending $320,000 on a suit we will finally lose 4. The water bills. Fully 20 percent of delinquencies here are due to Councilman Gonzalez’ two businesses. He was appointed to the council as a long-time political friend, keeping his debt quiet. I've been told offers to purchase these businesses have been made and rejected. The big thing here is that Gayle and Jamey kept his debt ($95,000) hidden from the public before, during, and after his appointment. He should not have been appointed.

No time for more. Want honest, open, friendly government again? Vote for MANNY MINJARES, RICK NEAL, DOUG TUCKER, SHANNON GODFREY, and NANCY BLENDERMANN-MEYER.



As I expected, the Katzenjammer wing of our city council gave me both barrels at Tuesday’s meeting. Public comment sessions have degenerated to such a low point that I wonder if some of those folks who express such contempt and hatred towards me should be required to wear spit masks like some convicts are required to wear. The intensity and acrimony they spout at every council meeting these days is truly venomous.

The usual suspects are mostly responsible and they have set a bad example for others. For the third meeting in a row extra police back-up was provided at Gayle Washburn’s request. Another needless expense because she can’t control her campaign friends.

This handful of hysterics share many things in common, but what they share most of all is fear of the Truth, sometimes unwittingly. Most of them are like Sandra Pella, only “knowing” what they’ve been told by their political friends and neighbors. Others think that newspapers should not criticize those in public office, and should remain silent in the face of repeated, outrageous slurs and verifiable falsehoods methodically delivered in a public forum – by them. Unfortunately, this infantile attitude is inflamed by uncontrolled emotion which sometimes makes them appear unstable at the podium.

But behind all this gushing malevolence is that group that formed about 8 years ago for the purpose of halting development in north Fillmore, and to halt the construction of our new wastewater treatment plant. They succeeded in destroying the North Fillmore Specific Plan, some 6 years in production, by supporting Measures H and I. These measures would never have passed had the citizens of Fillmore understood what they would do to the city housing plan and to our long-term financial health. As explained before, it will take much more than $300,000 to repair the damage H and I caused, and any reasonable development in north Fillmore (jobs and businesses) can be forgotten. Fillmore’s last large development space will continue for decades as a weed lot. Now we must scramble to find what small lots remain for development around the city to fulfill the state low income housing mandate. This means three and four-story apartment buildings instead of smaller, friendlier, cleaner, safer homes, condos, and apartments. This council has done nothing to solve this problem they created.

Thank God they couldn’t stop the water treatment plant. The Katzenjammers and company go wild when this subject is brought up. The entire present city council majority (Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, Brian Sipes, and recently appointed councilman Gonzalez) delayed the plant’s completion for more than 18 months. It is a miracle the plant was completed slightly ahead of schedule and under budget. With only a couple of months left to meet the state and federal MANDATED deadline for completion, the city narrowly avoided fines of up to $25,000 PER DAY.

Was this, as these bitter critics forever claim, an “overpriced, over-engineered, "customized" “Cadillac”- type of plant that we have built?” That was how Gayle Washburn described it back in 2007 when she, and the Katzenjammer groups: (Gayle Washburn, Citizens for Responsible Growth; Bob Stroh, Citizens United for Fillmore; Clay Westling, Concerned Citizens Committee of Fillmore; Richard Schuck (RIP), El Dorado Citizens for Affordable Sewage; Eduardo Gonzalez, Orange Blossom Village and Fillmore Convalescent Center) went on the attack. Gary Creagle provided his support at workshops and public meetings (LA Regional Water Quality Control Board, June and April of 2007)

Here is the Truth. After an exhaustive study of all available technologies compatible with Fillmore’s geographic and geologic area, three companies bid on the project. Rather than go over this process again, I refer readers to last week’s "Realitied Revealed". You might start with LINK 8 PART 1 and LINK 8 PART 2, which explains the plant and answers a “Letter of Concerns About the Water Recycling Program”, sent to our city engineer in 2007. This letter of response from City Engineer Bert Rapp answers all of the main questions presented, including type of technology, cost, function, financing (why bonds over state funds) and much more. Read all the pertinent communications, data, and charts. After you understand this information, I CHALLENGE ANYONE (especially Bob Stroh, Gary Creagle, Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Brian Sipes) to refute these facts. For 8 years you have harangued the council that authorized the new plant and insulted, ridiculed, and impugned the reputation of City Engineer Bert Rapp who, with City Manager Roy Payne, gave us our award-winning new water treatment plant.

The extraordinarily high cost of water to the citizens and businesses of Fillmore was not the fault of these two city employees, or of American Water and the contributing engineering firms. We built the best plant, with the best technology, for the lowest cost which would satisfy all strict state and federal mandated water quality standards, on time. This was a plant that the city was forced to build; patching-up the old plant would not work. And, failing to complete construction on deadline subjected us to $25,000 fines – per day! Read the official explanations in LINK 8 PART 1 and LINK 8 PART 2.

Again, I challenge these high volume liars to show what plant they would have built instead. This horse pucky about a technology that would have saved us “$20 million” is just that. Gayle Washburn, the most technology-challenged of the entire council majority, constantly demanded a different construction company, technology, location, etc. She didn’t (doesn’t) know what she was talking about, and the rest of them followed Gayle like sheep.

Tell us what you would have built, Gayle – after reading the voluminous answers Bert Rapp provided your groups back in 2007, which explain why we couldn’t adopt your loony ideas. You can’t. Yet you continue to blame American Water, Bert Rapp, and Roy Payne for Fillmore’s financial situation in order to get re-elected and cover your own pathetic incompetence. Gayle’s favorite company, PERC, chose not to bid on the job. That company built Santa Paula’s plant. Ask how that plant is doing today. I hear hey had to replace their filters after the first year, and their water bills have also skyrocketed.

Fillmore should ask itself: Do we really want Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling to continue to destroy our city with hair-brained policies, personal agendas and vendettas? It’s time to break the grip this cabal of Katzenjammers has on city government! Four years ago they wanted to “Take Our City Back.” They did it – and broke it. Just ask all those who had to work under them.


On another matter. Patti Walker and her groupies canonized Eduardo Gonzalez last night. All of us understand the importance of his convalescent hospital and senior living unit, for our senior residents. Most of us, however, should understand the importance of informing citizens of Fillmore that 20 percent of the city’s $500,000 delinquent water bills is due to Mr. Gonzalez’ businesses.

Gonzalez was appointed to the council by his long-time cronies in the council majority. He actually created the slogan Sewercide in his effort to stop the treatment plant. His delinquencies were kept quiet by Mayor Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Brian Sipes, because they have worked together for many years, back to 2007.

Patti Walker, in her lengthy diatribe, falsely alleged the Gazette refused to publish Gonzalez’ letter to the editor. This is completely false. His letter last week arrived after we had gone to press, but we immediately posted it here on our website, with our clarifications. His letter is published in this week’s print edition of The Gazette, and remains online.

However, if Mr. Gonzalez really wishes to expound upon his business practices, as he himself, Patti Walker and the council majority seem to desire, maybe that should be included in this discussion. Should we ask his employees? Would his halo slip a little? The last man to speak to this issue during public comment spoke briefly, but poignantly. His question was, “Mr. Gonzalez, are you a respectful man?”

Clearly, the Katzenjammers are panicking. They will do or say anything to hang on to the city council majority.

If the citizens of Fillmore want a sane, honest, and open government again, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling must be removed from office.



THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE AN EDITORIAL, though I do editorialize. What is usually about 500 words has been stretched to 6,500. This will provide source material covering important election issues.

This material is not in any particular order. Some goes back to 2007 when the city’s biggest issues were being fought out. I have gathered a representative number of false charges, statements and information from members of that small group I call Katzenjamers, which includes former mayor Patti Walker, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, Clay Westling, Brian Sipes, Bob Stroh, (non resident Gary Creagle), and a few of their minions.

No one will ever understand what has happened to the City of Fillmore during the past 8 years without realizing that every aspect of city government has been overtaken through the efforts of these few people. This is something entirely new to Fillmore. This group methodically succeeded in replacing the city manager, staff and employees while implementing their destructive agenda to halt all construction in north Fillmore and the water treatment plant by deceiving the public. This happened in the election of 2008. I pray it doesn’t happen again in this year’s election. For the good of this city, Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling have to go. They continue to blame everyone and everything but themselves for the sorry condition they have left our town after the past 4 years.

For the past four years the city council has existed with a four-to-one majority. Only the presence of Councilman Steve Conaway has enabled the truth to come out, and he has been reviled for his efforts to let the light shine in. The following statements are intended to demonstrate to Fillmore voters just why Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling should be replaced in this November 6 election.

This is also a generalized rebuttal to a host of false and misleading allegations by Bob Stroh and Gary Creagle concerning city government. This job proved to be larger than anticipated because of the number of these allegations, going back years, some more than 8 years. Also, the picture is much darker than I realized. I’ve been naïve, and I hate naïveté. After reviewing the video tape of the last meeting it has become clear to me that something new and very serious is being created. This article is much too long for an editorial, so it will be placed on It is a roughly focused collection cobbled together from among thousands of communications, going back to about 2007. It should answer many questions about the choice of water treatment technologies, the high cost of water, the cost of various public facilities, election behavior, the competence of past council members and city managers, etc. It is, of course, nowhere near complete, and more is to come. This should, among other things, give every fair-minded person an idea of just what an extraordinary amount of thoughtful effort went into deciding on what sort of treatment plant and what technology was best for Fillmore. EVERY city and town that has more than a slit trench for waste disposal is battling horrendous increases in the cost of water. Blame liberal government representatives who forced us to comply with their outrageously unreasonable (and ever increasing) water quality standards, not our former city councils, city managers, and (especially) not our former City Engineer, Bert Rapp. This was not some extravagant “Cadillac” plant. It was such a good deal for Fillmore (being under the state and federal gun) that our plant is being copied across the country – where they are also screaming about the high cost of water. [See LINK 1]

While Creagle’s blather is easily countered [See LINK 2] Stroh’s attack is more personal and pointedly malicious. But they work as a team, supporting the council majority. Stroh’s intent is to cause damage. I think of him as the Katzenjammers’ malevolent Minister of Propaganda.

Video is a wonderful thing, and all meetings are videotaped by both the city and the Gazette. I invite everyone to view the tapes of past city council meetings and decide for themselves just what is going on.

Let’s begin:
Gary Creagle (campaign leader for Brooks and Westling) admonished the Gazette for reporting that he and Jamey Brooks had posted campaign signs without permission and against posted prohibitions, despite the photos. Yet, he told the council that he did have permission. However, this was a childish lie, and he was forced to remove the signs. The signs have not returned. This may seem like a small thing, but it is a blatant lie, just like the Perry Ranch story about “Shorty” Crockett. That story, designed to cast aspersions on former city attorneys and our former city managers, was totally faked. [Also See LINK 2] Stroh and Creagle lie with the ease that comes with habit.

Gary Creagle made the following comment at the March 22 WRP workshop at the Memorial Building: He stated that “When I was on the Council [1988] the City had $7million in reserves!". Another Creagle falsehood. The truth: When Creagle started as a Councilmember the City had approximately $1.5million in the general fund. When he left office in 1988 the general fund had just under $600,000. The general fund decreased by $900.000 during Mr. Creagle’s tenure as a Councilmember. He was also harried out of politics by an unsuccessful recall movement.

Council meetings today.
Some attendees, two meetings ago, may have observed a Sheriff’s deputy posted at the chamber entrance. I learned he had been called in because rumors had circulated that violence was a possibility. Those rumors were circulated by the Creagle-Stroh cabal. At the last council meeting two deputies were called in. I was briefed by the Sheriffs Department and told that statements and behavior by the crowd of Creagle and Stroh supporters (raucous cheering and clapping for the Stroh and Creagle) added fuel to Stroh’s inflammatory diatribes, causing serious concern. I also had a slightly deranged looking man in his 50s wade through the audience to stand directly behind my usual chair. He then followed me to the end of the dais and stood directly behind me. When I turned to face him he just glared at me. The man was reluctant to go to the rear of the chambers at Captain McGrath’s direction and was thereafter directed to leave the building. These are the kind of flies that are attracted to the malicious, malodorous fumes from Stroh’s podium rants at every council meeting, for years.

It was Jamey Brooks who made that triumphal announcement upon being elected to the council “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”. I was impressed - with his lack of common sense. Any threat of violence is clearly caused by Mayor Gayle Washburn’s groupies, not by the single representative of the local newspaper. I should add. Nothing will ever prevent me from reporting on city council mischief.

Stroh needs to understand that even publishers of small town community newspapers have the right to defend their reputations against statements falsely and maliciously designed. His malice intensifies with the approaching election deadline. Consequences of Washburn’s negligence in managing attendants’ conduct during city council meetings (personal, slanderous, angry comments) by her supporters Stroh and Creagle, and loud, boisterous cheering and clapping are clearly her fault. It’s her way of fending-off public scrutiny and distracting from her innate incompetence. If objections to my editorial opinions cause this poisonous behavior at meetings, and the mayor is incapable of controlling the hostile oafishness of her political partners, she should resign. This is something that has never before existed in Fillmore’s history.

Another example of the Creagle mindset: The day after the 2008 election, when three of Creagle’s candidates, Washburn, Brooks, and Clay Westling, won seats at city hall, I received a phone call from an alarmed city official. “Martin! You won’t believe what’s happening here! Creagle had just burst into the upstairs offices at city hall and demanded to know where the office space for the new city clerk, Clay Westling, was. In a loud, boisterous voice, this (non-resident) campaign manager for Westling began walking about, pointing at various staff members, saying “You’re OK, or “You’re gone”. When I arrived Creagle and Westling had departed, and there were many unhappy staffers talking about the incident. Thus began the reign of the Katzenjammers.

Before that election (2008), I believe it was Thanksgiving Day, I was walking back to the office with camera in hand, when Creagle suddenly pulled-up the curb, parking at a radical angle, jumped out of his pickup and charged toward me, leaving his driver’s door open. While Westling stood near the pickup, Creagle stomped towards me, bumped into me with fists bared, yelling “I did not get thrown out of the council!” I thought he had gone nuts; didn’t have any idea what he was shouting about. It turned out that he was responding to a half-page ad that had run in the Gazette the previous week. The ad, placed by 5 former Fillmore mayors dismissed Creagle as a former mayor who turned out to be a loser, now supporting Westling, Brooks, and Washburn. Westling stood about 10 feet away from his manager looking surprised, and saying nothing. Creagle’s shouting attracted two Gazette staff members to the front door. Creagle was later cited by a Sheriff’s deputy for his conduct. After the election I passed by Creagle on Central Avenue speaking on his cell phone. As I walked by I overheard him say, “Well, we got three out of four”. It was a big day for the Katzenjammers!

Bob Stroh has characterized me as a religious bigot because I caution against the candidacy of Ms. Pella. No doubt she is a wonderful person. But, she is also a personal friend, political ally, and fellow pastor of the same church denomination as Jamey Brooks. Her comments stir my concern that she would be merely a clone of Brooks on the council (a disaster) when we need independent council members more than ever, not members joined at the political hip. This suggestion had nothing to do with religion. But Stroh saw another opportunity to attack, alleging I said I am a “congenital Catholic” and therefore a bigot. This foolish quote was false, never uttered by me.

Bob, do your Freethinker friends hate “organized religion”? Understanding this would at least help to explain your irrational hostility.

This peculiar lie of Stroh’s is easy to refute. But it deserves particular scrutiny because it reveals his hallmark malice. What would possess him to tell such a curious lie? He had searched the Gazette website and found my (3-year-old) response to a letter from Dennis DeCuir [See LINK 3] I had used the term “congenital CONSERVATIVE in that response. Stroh, true to his MO, completely changed the statement for the purpose of misleading his audience and to ignite animosity. His malice here is clear, as is his intent to paint me as a religious bigot. I expect he will call me a racist next. I am indeed a happy Catholic, but have always been equally happy with the task of facilitating the welfare of every church in Fillmore. I would like to hear from any church member who thinks I have behaved otherwise (anonymously if they wish). They have my 24-years as publisher of the Gazette to reflect upon. Provocative political deceit is Bob Stroh‘s trademark and a major reason for the outpouring of ill will during city council meetings. I think being a Freethinker prompts this attack.

Stroh (and Creagle) are personal and political friends of the council majority, Jamey Brooks, Gayle Washburn, and city clerk Clay Westling. Former mayor Patti Walker is always there as well. I welcome criticism and differences of opinion. But there are limits to this great thing we call free speech. Stroh has crossed the line.

As I responded to Ms. Walker, I’m preparing a documentary on the Katzenjammer years (hopefully soon past). It’s fortunate that their antics have been captured on videotape, and interesting that city clerk Clay Westling, an original groupie, bragged about just how this group was formed [See LINK 4]. It makes a long-standing pattern of conduct easier to understand. This was a political effort unprecedented in our city’s history, specifically targeting a take-over of all city government positions - and it worked. Fillmore has a new documented political party – the Katzenjammers. Only one councilman, Steve Conaway, is left of the old régime: for the past four years it’s been 4-1 on council votes. That’s an unhealthy condition – a one-party government.

My opposition to this group and to its destructive activity during the past 8 years or so is due to their outrageous mistreatment of prior city employees, staff and upper level department heads: what they did after they got in. Insulting, dismissive, and demeaning activity drove away the best, and intimidated others. [See LINK 5] This deconstruction of most of the good work of previous city managers and council majorities is a tragic loss, camouflaged by denials, misrepresentations, and flights to the closed session. The “Take Back our Town” slogan and agenda was just a vengeful grab for political power for its own sake; and for the purpose of replacing former employees and officials for personal reasons, as Brooks famously put it, “It’s personal, very personal” It also allowed the group to settle old scores, as with the Meyers law firm and Ted Schneider. “Taking Back our Town” like this destabilizes city functions.

The story began with the disastrous Measures H and I, which prevented 700 (ORIGINALLY 1,100) new homes from being built, dooming north Fillmore to generations of weeds. Those homes would have spread-out the water/sewer costs to all city residents by 20 percent. Instead, all of north Fillmore was condemned to foreclosures, destroyed businesses (Keller Classics) and a disrupted housing plan. That low income housing plan is still a serious, unresolved, expensive problem. This was an early Katzenjammer catastrophe. The people were fooled by false promises. The only thing that resulted from H and I is a mandated obligation to spend up to $300,000 to re-do the housing plan, and scramble to find space for low income residents. A very serious problem still without a solution, and without council discussion.

Next came opposition to the water treatment plant. Creagle. Stroh, Walker, Washburn, and councilmen Brooks and Sipes have repeatedly misrepresented and obstructed this project, delaying its construction for 18 months. Most of their objections are clearly answered in former City Engineer Bert Rapp’s letters [See LINK 6] Washburn’s alleged alternative treatment plans were always dead ends, arguing with the experts. [See LINK 7] [See LINK 8 PART 1] and [See LINK 8 PART 2]. Stroh, in particular, badgered and insulted City Engineer Bert Rapp for years. The Katzenjammers always charged Rapp and a multitude of nationally recognized experts on water treatment with misrepresentations, bias, and sweetheart bargains; all were untrue. The plant was built the best, most economical way possible, as is recognized by virtually technical authority today. But, it was still expensive!

The water treatment plan was bid out to three companies. Nationally recognized experts recommended the technology (which is commonly recognized now) and the plant was voted Project of the Year by Ventura County. Compared to Santa Paula’s new plant, built, operated (with problems), maintained and owned by the PERC company, our plant is owned by Fillmore and virtually flawless, with its operation guaranteed for 20 years. We were forced by state and county to build a plant, and to build it beyond our existing needs (thus its size, to accommodate 20.000 residents). The old plant was costing the city huge fines (something like $240.000 remains to be paid, with interest) and these fines are mandatory and cannot be forgiven. Again, we own our plant, while Santa Paula would have to pay $90 million to purchase their new plant. Read Peggy Kelley’s front page story (Santa Paula Times, Friday. Sept. 25. 2012) then ask which project, though they are very different, is best for its community. Headline: “SP has highest sewer rate of VC’ cities, City Council to consider alternatives”. Mayor Washburn and her group of’ supporters were in love with PERC; Washburn even addressed the Santa Paula council, lauding PERC, after promoting Vertreat and others for years. Santa Paula didn’t have to build a re-circulating system (different geology - $20 million) and that city, twice Fillmore’s size, should have provided water at a lower rate (economy of scale). Our high sewer/water costs are due to three things: absence of 700 new homes in north Fillmore (Measures H and I), a killer economy, and government mandates with unreasonable deadlines, carrying draconian fines ($10,000 per day). Criticisms by Creagle, Stroh, Washburn, Brooks, Walker, and fellow Katzenjammer travelers are completely bogus and self-serving. No project in city history was so thoroughly studied AND REPEATEDLY EXPLAINED TO THE RESIDENTS OF FILLMORE and Bob Stroh [Again, See LINK 6].

Washburn and Brooks have spent a lot time blaming the city’s financial troubles on expenditures such as the swimming pool and skateboard park. Washburn neglects to mention that she pushed hard for the two tennis courts to be finished before the swimming pool. She is an avid tennis player as are several of her political supporters. Those courts cost a half- million dollars, and, relative to the skateboard park, are lightly used. Skateboarders, on the other hand, outnumber tennis players about 20 to one, and their park is heavily used seven days a week, regardless of the weather. Should we have eliminated the tennis courts altogether or maybe used that half-million to finish the ball park?

“Work Order 37 [treatment plant] is not a new project, as Mr. Stroh would have all believe. It is the final phase. Approximately 2%, of the Professional Engineering contract, with AECOM which will test and document the Treatment Plant Startup and Performance. The scope of work was planned from the beginning. The funding of the anticipated work was calculated years ago. Reasonable people would want city to verify we are getting the performance out of the plant that is in the contract. Collecting baseline data is key for State Regulators and will be critical in the years to come. Work Order 37 was passed by the council. Inflow and Infiltration work on the sewer collection system was omitted from the motion. The work needs to occur, but the council wanted to provide opportunities for other Engineering firms to perform the work.” [Steve Conaway]

“And to the root of Mr. Stroh’s letter, the Mayor’s [Steve Conaway] trip to Washington D.C. to make a presentation at the US Conference of Mayors. Bob [Stroh] believes the trip was about Water Privatization. He couldn’t be further from the truth. Fillmore owns the plant and all assets. Fillmore has been told repeatedly, by one of our own, that we did it wrong. We couldn’t use Design Build Operate, it was illegal. We should have used the Acme Blasto-matic 9000 technology. Fact: Santa Paula saw a huge benefit in a DBOF contract. So much so that they started over after expending $3,000,000.00 dollars on their previous design. The County of Ventura tossed out their previous work and also changed to a Design Build Operate Plant. [Gayle Washburn and friends fought long and hard to prevent the DBOF plan] [Steve Conaway]

[Steve Conaway] “When at the conference I spoke to Mayor Coody from Fayetteville Arkansas. He related as story from his town of his effort to use the DBO approach for a vital water project. In the end his council chose to not use the BDO approach. Mayor Coody said, “To this day the plant is not completed and the project is millions of dollars over budget”. I’m proud to have contributed to the US Conference of Mayors. As was previously stated my comments came after the lowest qualified bidder was awarded the contract and the contract signed for our Water Recycling Plant. Objectivity wasn’t and issue then, it isn’t now. I see the benefit of not throwing the baby out with the bath water for the final 2% of the original work scope. Call me crazy for supporting the completion of the plant so that meets the State deadline. For those with wide screen Fillmore vision if the council had not approved the final 2% of the original planned work we could have violated the contract, placed the city and your tax dollars at risk of unnecessary legal costs and fines due to our work stoppage. Based upon facts and all relevant information the right decision was made to allow AECOM to complete the work they started over 6 years ago.”

“The Council did remove the sewer main repair work from the Boyle work because this was new work and could reasonably be put out for new competitive cost proposals.”
Bert [Rapp]

Here is another, among many, of Gayle Washburn’s suggestions for an alternative, cheaper, treatment plant. and the results [See LINK 7].

Even today Washburn explains her suggestion that the treatment plant construction plan could economize by eliminating non-reactive concrete. “It was just a suggestion” she recently said. The point here is that she is utterly ignorant of construction requirements, but recently selected herself to negotiate a new management plan with American Water, after rejecting Steve Conaway, who volunteered and who is more knowledgeable than any other council member. Though Washburn continues to fight American Water at every turn, and thanks to her impulsive activities, has effected several breaches of the contract she seeks to terminate (seeking to brake the contract without consulting American first), she must always have the last word. Conaway should have been the logical choice, but Gayle has been appointed mayor by her council friends, and it’s really all about her.

This is the sort of hair-brained idea Washburn continuously inflicted upon City Engineer Bert Rapp. Sometimes it was Vertreat, or MicroMedia. Then, her persistent pressure to drop American Water and switch to PERC, ad nauseam.

Stroh also dredges-up Councilman Conaway’s trip to D.C., long exposed as a false accusation, again propagated by Stroh (who knows the truth). After Steve Conaway’s trip to D.C. Stroh alleged shady, unethical conflicts of interest. It was an absurd allegation:
“Steve Conaway attended the Mayors conference because he knew Fillmore saved 15% on the Water Recycling Plant using the Design Build Operate process and wanted other Mayors around the country to know about the cost saving process. The Mayor’s conference paid for Steve Conaway to attend not American Water. American Water is only one of hundreds of members of the Mayor’s Conference.
Santa Paula was so impressed with Fillmore’s Design-Build-Operate process that they threw away about $3 Million in engineering plans to copy Fillmore. Similarly, the County threw away about $1 Million in plans for Piru to copy Fillmore. Mr. Conaway was trying to help other communities learn about the Design Build Operate process and not throw away money like Santa Paula and the County did.” [Roy Payne]

“Regarding bidding for professional services: Only licensed contractors can bid work for professional services for architects, engineers, attorneys etc the work is awarded on a qualifications basis with cost. This was done for the Boyle work at the beginning of the 6 year project. If the City changed the Engineering team for the last 6 months of a 6 year project it could cost the City millions of dollars, especially when the Boyle team is bringing in the project on schedule and under budget.” [Bert Rapp]

This is just another example of how Stroh attacks with provocative falsehoods. He’s a provocateur, like a union or Occupy leader

This is right up there with his telling people I have “a favorite abortion clinic.”
(Realities, December 16th, 2009). I’ve been a staunch Pro-Lifer my entire adult life.
Another provocative Stroh lie.

Stroh’s and Creagle’s support (together with Washburn, Brooks and Sipes) for former City Manager Yvonne Quiring proved to be utterly disastrous. Quiring left the city quickly and left us in complete disarray, without a manager and without a finance director, before finishing her term of office. She was rehired by an acquaintance (city manager) in the City of Davis. Come to think of it, Quiring had her contract bought out for more than $300,000 in her former city of Lathrup, after only 15 months on the job, where she left the city with nearly $500,000 in legal damages for mistreating an employee, and after a letter of no confidence as well. Does this sound familiar? This is who the Katzenjammers hired to be Fillmore’s city manager. How did they vet Ms. Quiring? They left Conaway out of the trip for that job he was scheduled for, with Patti Walker.

It’s time for fresh, honest faces and ideas, a positive attitude, and new ideas on the council - and in the clerk’s office. We need independent thinkers, not non-productive, agenda-bound diehard incompetents like Gayle Washburn. Jamey Brooks, and Clay Westling.

Gayle Washburn’s devious, destructive activity.
The tag-team of Creagle and Stroh support Washburn’s denial that she did not act unlawfully in contacting our former city attorney’s law firm’s senior partner and facilitating Ted Schneider’s removal from all future meetings. We know Washburn called the Meyers law firm senior partner and that Schneider was gone for good the next day. There is no other explanation than to conclude Washburn ‘fired’ our city attorney, for personal reasons, and without authority. She was, as they say, the proximate cause of Ted Schneider’s removal as city attorney. Her continued reference to a letter from that firm saying they can’t disclose the discussion does not change the facts. The city needs to hear Gayle Washburn state from the dais: “I did not call the senior partner of the Meyers law firm the day before attorney Schneider was removed from his job as Fillmore’s city attorney. I did nothing to facilitate the removal of Ted Schneider from his position as city attorney for the City of Fillmore, nor prejudice his tenure, either directly or indirectly, when that firm was bidding for the job of Fillmore’s legal counsel (Under oath). Until that time, I conclude that she’s a liar, and therefore untrustworthy. Washburn is afraid of making a public denial of her unprecedented action, or providing an explanation: she hides behind her disclosures in closed session so they can’t be made public. By the way, contrary to Creagle and/or Stroh’s statements (and, I think Brooks’ (the overlap gets confusing) Mr. Schneider is no longer with that firm where he was a partner. Typical of Creagle’s reckless disregard for propriety, he mentions a lawsuit by Schneider (none of his business).

All of this is Washburn’s fault, and her friends on the council prop her up. Why did she do it? She refuses to explain or admit. However, Gayle Washburn, our appointed mayor, seriously damaged Schneider’s business affairs and disrupted his professional life. Was she doing a favor for now-former city manager Quiring, as many believe? I repeat, if I were Schneider I would have sued Washburn, if discovery difficulties could be overcome. She acted as an individual, completely without authority, on a personal whim of her own. As in so many of her activities, she scurried into closed session, the perfect cover. Promises of open, honest government’? Phooey! Our city council majority is a nest of schemers and self-serving scofflaws, propped-up by a group of friends, family, and hangers-on.

Jamey Brooks’ petty “personal” vendettas and lack of common sense.
As for Jamey Brooks: The story of Brooks being forced to resign as a teacher after punishing a talkative student by taping his mouth shut (and other similar foolish actions) has been attacked by Stroh as a lie. I’m waiting for a response from Brooks, and/or Stroh, though I would just as soon drop the matter for other’s sake. The issue here is Brooks’ famous lack of prudence, lack of common sense. Bob Stroh, was this a lie, as you allege? You made the charge, prove it.

Brooks came onto the council having made the triumphal announcement: “I’ve not come to bring peace, but a sword”. In other words, he came to divide the council and town; and has done just that. Brooks stated from the dais that his decisions were “Personal, very personal”. That’s the only reason I can find for his arbitrary, out-of-the-blue decision to remove a great and long-time member of our Planning Commission, Diane McCall from that commission. We had a very cohesive and productive Planning Commission, and Diane was a highly valued part. It was a slap in the face to Diane after many years of service. We have no explanation other than it was “Personal, very personal” and he wanted his friend on that board. What kind of fair judgment is that? Jamey seems to have a Napoleon complex. In matters concerning the scary issue of an ethics code and code of conduct, he says it’s not needed because “I’m ethical!” He was finally persuaded to let the new council vote on it.

He has never explained his reason; just as Gayle Washburn has never explained why she had Ted Schneider removed as city legal counsel. With this group it’s always personal. Brooks has been a harsh critic of Councilman Steve Conaway, often insulting and confrontational. He has virtually no business experience and takes his advice from Gary Creagle, as does Clay Westling.

Washburn and the Planning Commission resignations.
Then we have Washburn’s behavior with the Planning Commission which caused four great, long-serving commissioners to resign. Those commissioners told the council in open session that Washburn’s unethical behavior caused the break-up. Ironically, she was narrowly saved from a Brown Act violation by none other than Ted Schneider, the attorney she back-stabbed. Again she denies any wrongdoing, but read the public statements of those commissioners who resigned to find the truth. Who are we to believe’? [See LINK 9]

Washburn and the Verizon Cell Tower
As for Washburn’s opposition to the cell tower, nothing but hearsay exists about a fear of microwaves. In any event, granting this rumor was false; her objection to the tower is fact. She objected to the height (necessary) location (preferred and well integrated with the railroad theme) and appearance. Gale Washburn challenged and disrupted the approval and construction process sufficiently to cause five Verizon attorneys to sit in the front row during the council meeting, in order to stop her shenanigans, which narrowly averted yet another lawsuit at the last minute. Washburn’s actions, once again, disrupted the Planning Commission, invited another lawsuit, and embarrassed the city. Washburn’s incompetence is hurting our town.

Many important facts remain to he revealed about this council majority, our city clerk Clay Westling, and their fellow travelers. I waited months for an answer from Clay concerning a serious issue with Councilman Gonzalez. After months of repeated (FOIAs and Requests for Public Records) I finally received the information October 5. I’m told now that the information was sent in May. But, on its face, it was incomplete without further explanation.

Re-read Westling’s attempt to keep candidate requirement notices from being adequately published. This was a blatant attempt to keep the fact that his position as city clerk was open this election. Clearly, Westling wanted to run unopposed so his victory would be guaranteed. He strongly resisted my attempts to notify potential candidates that they had only a short time to file with his office to qualify for the election. It took two orders, from the interim city manager (Rigo Lindaros) and the absent city manager Yvonne Quiring, before he would provide the Gazette with the official notice. This was an outrageous breach of his fiduciary duty to the citizens of Fillmore. Clay also hindered the candidate filings of two Fillmore residents by rejecting harmless sentences on their candidate statements, like “It’s time to get Fillmore back on track

The council majority of Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Brian Sipes, with City Clerk Westling holding up the rear, each constantly blame the Owens & Minor tax contract for the city’s financial woes. That’s far from true. [See LINK 10, LINK 11, LINK 12, and LINK 13

In short, Jamey Brooks and Gayle Washburn don’t want to reestablish the city’s Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. They claim it was abused by a former city council in censuring then Council Member Patti Walker, their friend and fellow Katzenjammer. My question to Jamey and Gayle: Why have stop signs when we know people often ignore them? This is a common way of establishing objective rules of conduct. Their objections are childish, and they didn’t have the courage to make a decision themselves, leaving it to others. Lack of leadership.

The City of Fillmore has fought for the residents of the El Dorado Mobile Home Park for years. It has cost more than $230,000 to date. After four years of litigation, and four months of arbitration they reached an agreement with the owners of the Park. For emotional reasons the council majority voted 3-2 to reject the settlement at the very last minute, guaranteeing several more years of litigation, about which our city attorney said: (paraphrase) “If you think $230,000 is a lot of money, compared to what you now face... it’s nothing.” We are told that we could easily spend another $500,000 on this case, which does nothing for the rest of Fillmore’s 14,000 residents. We simply don’t have that money, and we were advised by two of our attorneys that we will very likely lose the case at the end. I am truly sympathetic for the cause of the 300 residents of the Park, they have been treated terribly, but the council has a strong fiduciary duty to protect the city’s finances for all of the people. Rejecting the settlement, which would have ended the litigation, is a scandal of major proportions. Where is the money to come from? When will the suit ever end?

The Katzenjammer story needs the documentary treatment which I’ve promised Patti Walker I would work on. But it’s a long, dark story of the cabal’s abuse of power in the service of revenge, personal self-interest, and incredible incompetence which has destroyed so many jobs and reputations and disrupted good will at city hall.

It’s not possible to tell the entire story in such a short space. For those interested in more detail, especially on the 18-month delay, and numerous obstructions this group caused in the construction of the treatment plant, see There you will find more detailed answers City Engineer Bert Rapp supplied to all inquiries about the technology, location, cost, and bidding process relating to the water treatment plant. It clearly shows that we built the right plant, at the right location, for the best price, under the most reasonable financing plan. The opponents to the plant have never accepted (or read?) any of the expert explanations - and they never will. But it gives them a hard target to hammer. Our water sewer bill is outrageous - but don’t blame the new plant -- blame the near fascist federal, state, and county commissions and regulators, the unelected bureaucrats that forced this expensive plant upon this small community and on others as well.



[Email from Bert Rapp and attached document]
[Letter to the Editor by Linda Crockett on July 26, 2012]

To the Editor:
Re: Comments at July 10, 2012 council meeting made by Gary Creagle
I was watching the city council meeting of 7/10/12, on Channel 10, the other day, and some comments made by Gary Creagle, regarding sate of land for a potential future sewer plant, need to be clarified. He basically stated that he felt legal counsel for the city could have looked at the land purchase deal, but did not do so at the time. This was the "property known as Perry Ranch Company, who was Shorty Crockett, who lived in that little house out on highway 126, across from El Pescador or Los Serenos. Shorty Crockett was Perry Ranch, and he wanted to sell."
Yes, "Shorty" Crockett's given name happens to be Perry, but in no way was he Perry Ranch, or even affiliated with them. In fact, that little white house was owned by Wagner Ranch, and my late father-in-law RENTED from Mr. Wagner for many years. The Wagner’s later sold their ranch to someone from the Los Angeles general area, and Perry "Shorty" Crockett then RENTED from them for a number of years. Perry Ranch was located to the west of Wagner Ranch, closer to E Street.
i know my father-in-law would be setting Gary Creagle straight on the facts if only he could, but I'll speak in behalf of Perry "Shorty" Crockett, and hope that in future appearances before the council and all viewers of Channel 10, Mr. Creagle looks into the archives to see who owned what.
Sincerely yours,
Linda Crockett

[Editorial from Wednesday, August 5th, 2009]


A response to a letter from Dennis DeCuir
At last! A worthy liberal opponent enters the fray. Thank you Dennis for breaking the bonds of Stroh-like banality. I had no idea that all of this time you were lying in wait atop that hill for the perfect moment to strike. I can sense the satisfaction involved in composing your letter. You have loosed the puppies of petulance with flair, even literary promise, though I cringe at your use of a phrase from the greatest genius who ever lived. Your 29 years in law enforcement and my 25 years in publishing newspapers provide an interesting contrast of opinion. I’m wondering when you first discovered you were a liberal; unusual for a lawman. I think I’m a congenital conservative. Were you a closet liberal all of those years?
I was elated to receive your letter because it so perfectly exemplifies the quintessential liberal. Over the years I have received a number of these disparagements. Some, such as the one I received after my short eulogy for the late, great, William F. Buckley, Jr., are so carefully crafted that they have earned a place in my archive. They would make exciting material for a first year final exam in psychology. You’re not there yet, but I see promise.
I’m not exaggerating, Dennis. I still have volume one, issue five of “fact:” magazine- from (September-October) of 1964! The “Editor and Publisher” was Ralph Ginsburg. Why did I save it? I saved it because it (also) clearly illustrates a glaring problem with the liberal mindset. On the cover, in a one-point box, are the words: “1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater Is Psychologically Unfit To Be President!” The subtitle is “The Unconscious of a Conservative [a nifty take-off on Goldwater’s book]: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater”.
The most revealing thing about this magazine is that many M.D.s and Psychiatrists actually contributed damning psychological conclusions, and signed them. One example: Alan M. Levy, M.D. (New York) “I think Goldwater has a paranoid personality which shows itself by marked rigidity, a tendency to project blame, fear of internal impulses breaking out and inherent contradictions in almost all of his statements…” All this, and the doctor had never met Senator Goldwater. Ah, savor the fruit of liberal intellect. Incidentally, in my opinion Republicans are not much better due to weak leadership and murky fundamentals.
The 64 pages were replete with outrageous pen and ink cartoons. This treatment was consistent with Democrat Party campaign tactics, then and today. I guess lies work. Kennedy won – as did Obama.
Like you, Dennis, I have neither medical nor psychiatric letters, but I know enough not to practice without a license. And, I wouldn’t practice English literature without a license either. I think it follows that the sort of pseudo-professional criticism you practice here indicates you have a “projection” issue to deal with. You need to sort-out the Stroh-like conflict you appear to have in facing the world of facts, that thorny old reality thing.
Some facts: By any meaningful standard or definition, the U.S. is bankrupt. Printing more money out of thin air only makes matters worse, unless the science of mathematics and economics no longer applies. Or, maybe we’ve entered that state that liberals love to fantasize about, some sort of parallel reality? Typical of liberal letter-writers, you have only the vaguest criticisms to offer, and zero solutions. Most of your concerns could take a book to answer; and many books have already answered them.
Left wing conspiracy? It doesn’t take much to create a conspiracy, Dennis. Only criminal and unethical conspiracies are bad. I’m not even sure that Obama and his Chicago cabal rate that sort of label, without a deliberately hidden agenda. Maybe he just heads-up a group of really bad guys with really bad ideas and an energetic agenda. It all depends upon any intent to deceive. Among the issues here: his true intent regarding abortion, national defense, the economy, government growth, socialized medical care, increased taxation, religious influence in schools and government, free enterprise, constitutional integrity, political and judicial appointments (if there’s a difference), national sovereignty, etc. Liberals see it one way, conservatives another, but all CPAs with integrity agree. Characterizing Obama is less important than understanding the long-term, detrimental consequences of his actions. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a national disaster; he’s focusing a perfect storm.
My characterizing Sotomayor as a racist “a bit Shakespearian”? Dennis, you could have Googled a better line from the Bard. I will just say that no aspirant to this nation’s highest judicial post, since Reconstruction, could ever have dreamed of approval after making the repeated, blatant, sexist-racist statements this woman has made. Considering the unconscionable personal excoriation Democrats inflicted upon Judge Bork, and every Republican nominee for the high court in the past 40 years (each superbly qualified), the cakewalk this mediocre nominee participated in is a scandalous charade. Again, her appointment is to be expected because liberal Democrats operate in that emotionally irrational, intellectually barren other-reality, and they’re in control. And, Republican Senators are, for the most part, obsequious toadies. Republicans have no guts, Democrats no soul. There are a number of Latino judges who could better fill the bill – but we aren’t looking to appoint by ethnicity, are we?
Sotomayor’s Senate interview was a shameful farce. Her testimony was completely disingenuous, and her answers contradictory. She fully intends to make policy from the bench, as she has in the past. Her support for abortion is absolute under any and all circumstances. She wants tax money to pay for all abortions. She will use foreign law in her decisions. And, she could not answer this simple (paraphrased) question: “Does a person have the right to defend himself?” She will, as in the past, attempt to diminish the Second Amendment by finding it is not an individual constitutional right under the 14th Amendment. Her presence on the Supreme Court will be like storing a bottle of Ripple with eight bottles of 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam tucked into the world’s most exclusive wine cellar. She is an important part of Obama’s ethnic revenge.
Most of the esteemed justices of the court must be shuddering at the prospect of having to deal with such a flaming mediocrity, in for life. Our heritage, Christian or otherwise, “cannot be destroyed?” I don’t have the time to school you in world history, Dennis. You, and liberals like you, are causing our heritage to “morph” alright. You folks, through appointments like Sotomayor, are morphing our rights right out of our Constitution, and accelerating America’s moral degeneration. This is a continuation of that 1960s liberal mantra “If it feels good, do it.” You remember those days, don’t you? After 40 years of that, the hangover commeth. But, again, as you say, “…so be it.” In my best liberal Ebonics I say, it be.
What really concerns me, Dennis, are those radical liberals exercising government power who look down on tradition, especially conservative Christian tradition, with condescension at best, and rapacious officiousness at worst, while deliberating the fate of the citizen thought to be too religious, or too republican (small “r”), and just what should be done to impress conformity on them. In this setting, I’m sure the Founding Fathers would look pretty paranoid to you as well.
My sincere thanks for the concern you express over “…all that [I’ve] been through in the last year…” I hope the opportunity I have provided to air your grievances helps to ease your anxiety. Next time make an effort to bring some solutions along with your complaints.

[City Clerk Clay Westling's Public Comments at City Council Meeting April 27, 2010]

Clay Westling, 338 Condor Court I'm the elected City Clerk and ran on the platform of returning this position to that which is defined by the California Government Code for a General Law City.
I'm here to speak as a private citizen and comment on the statements made at the last City Council meeting by Roger Keller. We should sympathize with him for his dire financial straights.
However he should not come before the City Council and blame them for the things that happened before their election. It sounded like political disinformation. He said he was respondin'g to a letter in the Gazette that Measure I had no effect on North Fillmore. Such a letter, in the Gazette, making that statement does not exist. There was a letter in the Gazette from Councilmember Washburn that corrects an editorial by Martin Farrell regarding CFD #1.
Of course Measure I affects North Fillmore, it's about North Fillmore and the citizens effort to escape the dense development that was planned there. Mr. Keller spent a lot of time talking about problems his business has had since the federal government dropped quotas for imported goods from China. No one in Fillmore can be blamed for that disaster. No one on this City Council had anything to do with that. Everyone, then and now, would like for his business to flourish in Fillmore. He apparently hitched his star to the North Fillmore Specific Plan, perhaps thinking he could sell his property to a developer. However, the public and a very active citizens group vigorously opposed the North Fillmore Specific Plan, again because of the dense housing that the plan would put there. Mr. Keller complains about the unfair situation with the Steiger Property not being in the CFD. The boundaries of the CFD in question were created in the early 1990's, far earlier that this Council was seated. Another misstatement by Mr. Keller is that Measure I changed the zoning. It did not. Measure I reduced the density of homes from 700 to 350. Maybe he considers that a zoning change. Mr. Keller is under the impression that the members of the current City Council were leaders of the group "Citizens for Responsible Growth" and, are therefore responsible for the successful passage of Measure I. I am here to tell you that some members of our current City Council played a role in our group, but not necessarily a leadership role. Many of our meetings were called by me and were in my home on a biweekly basis. Many times I prepared the agenda for our meeting. Sometimes we met at other locations in Fillmore where there was a conference room. Our group, Citizens for Responsible Growth consists of approximately 50 people and regularly I would call the membership regarding meeting time and location. The following were accomplished by our group without help from the now Fillmore City Council members: we became good at developing easily readable relevant flyers and distributing to our supporters quickly; we had a campaign manager and following the State of California Regulations we were able to obtain considerable campaign contributions, all from Fillmore citizens; we had a quality control person to ensure that we followed all of the State Election Regulations; we were able to use a local man with a sign making capability and pay him from our campaign contributions. In total we had about 600 really good election signs, 200 of these were for Measures H & I; because of a mishap with the Deputy City Clerk and some other circumstances, we had to gather the necessary signatures to qualify our initiative for the ballot three different times. However, the public did not want North Fillmore Specific Plan and out support from the public was robust. I personally thought we would win with 80% of the vote. After the election the margin was 57 to 43%. In the course of politicking I met only 3 individuals opposed to Measure I. After we had gathered all of the necessary signatures (about 1500) to put the measure on the ballot, we offered to resolve the issued with the then City Council. This offer was rejected by the City Council multiple times. So the initiatives went on the ballot as Measures H & I and the Citizens of Fillmore got what they wanted through the ballot. Finally, the citizens group, "Citizens for Responsible Growth" and the voting public at large is responsible for the successful passage of Measures H & I. The now City Council members were involved only tangentially.

[City Manager Vote of No Confidence Letter]

September 27, 2010
Fillmore City Council 250 Central Avenue Fillmore, CA 93015

SUBJECT: Vote of No Confidence - City Manager Yvonne Quiring. Dear City Council,

The Management and Represented employees of the City of Fillmore are writing this letter to inform the Council of its displeasure with City Manager, Yvonne Quiring, that the employees have no confidence in Ms. Quiring's leadership, and our concern for the general welfare of the City under her direction.

Thirty-Two of the City's thirty-seven fulltime employees agree that they are being micromanaged, belittled, intimidated, given unclear direction, harassed, and fear retaliation for informing Council of the current status of their working environment. Management staff feels that Ms. Quiring has created a hostile work environment within which staffs ability to focus on and complete work has been stifled. Her contradictory management style consists of speaking kindly before a group of employees then holding closed door meetings wherein staff is unfairly berated bringing the morale of the entire City Hall to a now intolerable low.

Staff also wants the Council to know that the concerns expressed in this letter are not precedent setting. During Yvonne Quiring's previous position as City Manager for the City of Lathrop, the represented employees also presented a vote of no confidence of Ms. Quiring in February of 2008 to its Council for many of the same reasons that we present before you in this letter. City staff believes this management behavior is a characteristic that is engrained in Ms. Quiring and cannot be corrected.

Management staff is fully aware of the difficult decisions that stand before the City given the current economic conditions, however we cannot continue to work under the hostile conditions created by the City Manager. It is critical to the City's well being that we present our concerns to you, the City Council.

The City of Fillmore deserves visionary leadership that genuinely fosters professional growth and encourages staff in achieving that vision. Ms. Quiring's poor treatment of staff does nothing to build a healthy and successful team.

It is with great anxiety that staff brings these concerns to your attention. Most of the City's long-term employees have gone through the highs and lows of a career in public service, however none have experienced the work environment that currently exists in the City and no one should have to work in such a hostile work environment. The management and represented employees of the City of Fillmore respectfully request that the City Council take action on this issue.

Management and Represented Employees of the City of Fillmore, See Attached Signature Page, Exhibit A [signatures of 32 fulltime Fillmore city employees].

[Email correspondence regarding water treatment plant]
[Quotations From Gayle Washburn’s Blog]

Thursday, June 28, 2007
Micromedia Update

Do you remember Micromedia? They gave us a proposal last December for $10 million to bring our plant in to compliance for the next 10 years.

They have an interesting new process that may be able to revolutionize treatment. It's very promising.
Anyway, they've just been awarded the contract for Adelanto's plant and the City of Barstow is considering cancelling their MBR plant contract with HDR Engineering. You can read the article here. Excerpt...

"...“We offer a simpler process and could save the city $900,000 to $1 million a year and $5 to $10 million up front,” said MicroMedia CEO Sam Luxenburg. The company’s design uses less electricity and fewer workers and would incinerate the sewage sludge produced instead of having to pay to dispose of it, he said. "

It appears that some cities are taking a second look at real turn-key solutions rather than the overpriced, over-engineered, "customized" type of plant that we have contracted for.

Let's cancel that American Water contract - paying the $650,000 escape clause will save us millions. Millions in capital cost and millions in operating and maintenance costs.

Sewage setbacks could cost Adelanto $1 million
June 04, 2010 5:39 PM
Natasha Lindstrom

ADELANTO • The city could lose as much as $1 million due to setbacks that have delayed the completion of an innovative wastewater treatment process by more than a year.

In late 2007 the Adelanto City Council approved a $7 million contract with Lake Forest-based MicroMedia Filtration, Inc., as part of a $14 million expansion and upgrades to the city-owned wastewater plant. The move aimed to double the capacity to treat sewage at half the cost of more traditional methods by using less energy.

But due to a series of technical and communication issues between the city and MMF, the new treatment process is still not operational.

“We finished the plant last year, in July or August, and during the testing we found a lot of problems with the equipment,” Adelanto City Engineer Wilson So said. “But this is a brand-new process so we anticipated that. We are now going back to the drawing board. We are working with them to make sure that these problems get corrected.”

The expansion’s delay has now forced Adelanto to turn to the regional Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority for help.

Last month the city sent a request to the VVWRA asking to pump 800,000 gallons per day of raw sewage into VVWRA’s facility for up to 15 months, which will cost the city roughly $1 million. The city is permitted to treat only 1.5 million gallons of sewage per day, but lately had been receiving 2.2 million gallons per day, So said.

City and MMF officials offer slightly differing explanations behind the delay.

For the full story, read Saturday's Daily Press. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.

Natasha Lindstrom may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at

[Response To April 4th Letter Of Concerns About The Water Recycling Program]
[Response To April 4th Letter Of Concerns About The Water Recycling Program]
[Steve Conaway's statement at June 19, 2012 City Council Meeting]

[Editorial from Wednesday February 29th, 2012]


I missed last night’s council meeting. After reading the Star’s story, especially the comments from former failed Fillmore mayor (and non-resident) Gary “hothead” Creagle, appointed Mayor Gayle Washburn, and appointed Mayor Pro Tem Jamey “the preacher” Brooks, I thought all must be lost.

Au contraire! Justice may be glacially slow, but Fillmore seems to be sliding to a successful conclusion regarding the Owens & Minor tax case.

According to our outback political philosopher Creagle (didn’t know he was a “retired sheriff’s deputy”) the 2003 tax contracts with two consultants are “a scam”. That implies illegality. He finds the whole thing “...utterly disgusting”. He thanked the council for bringing this matter (which has been litigated since 2009) “to light, so the citizens of Fillmore know why we have no money.”

Oh – is that why we have no money?

And Washburn told the Ventura Star that “...the negatives [regarding this arrangement] have outweighed the positives”. Really?

And, as for preacher Brooks (who once informed a stunned audience that he “has come to bring not peace, but a sword” -- those words have a familiar ring) the contract with Owen & Minor was “not my idea of good ethics”.

All of this condemnation and criticism seems curious in light of the Superior Court’s finding in the matter. The contract was found to be completely valid in the law, and without taint of wrongdoing or bad intent of any kind. The city merely exercised its constitutional right to make a contract, which was hugely beneficial to the City of Fillmore. That contract remains valid and enforceable, and was determined to be so when the city’s demur was upheld in court.

According to City Attorney Ted Schneider, the city will not have to pay a penny for the Owens & Minor deal. It stands as agreed to. Mr. Schneider is also confident that the city will prevail in the O&M tax allocation dispute at the Board of Equalization. An agreement has been reached between the Board of Equalization staff and attorneys have agreed that from 2009 forward, sales tax generated by O&M belongs to Fillmore.

That decision is being appealed by the City of Livermore and the City of Industry administratively.

It is uncertain, however, that the city will be successful in the case of six other retailers (in addition to O&M) which are in reallocation proceedings with the Board of Equalization. Therefore, the city may lose some funds to reallocation, but the Board is escrowing sufficient money to cover any such reallocations in the event the city is unsuccessful in those six other cases.

The sanctimonious expression of outrage and disapproval from the Katzenjammers is just so much hypocrisy. On the one hand they strain to find fault with the former councils which approved the O&M contract. On the other, they crave that money to replace the millions they have squandered through waste and gross mismanagement, from the North Fillmore Specific Plan and Measures H and I, to the present. Include in that mismanagement the methodical deconstruction of staff, department heads, employees, and all of the foolish machinations of temporary and interim replacements.

This council, with the exception of Councilman Conaway, has been a total disaster.

[Story from Wednesday April 27th, 2011]

City Attorney "Appeals court ruling of minor importance"

Fillmore City Attorney Ted Schneider told the Gazette Wednesday that the recent appeals court ruling had little impact on the outcome of the Livermore-City of Industry lawsuit over sales tax revenue. Schneider stated that the court’s ruling was “very technical, procedural” and in his view did not effect Fillmore’s right to performance under the contract with Owens & Minor. The dispute arose over a 2007 contract permitting Fillmore to receive 15 percent of state sales taxes generated by Owens & Minor, a Fortune 500, Virginia based medical supply company. A sales office was opened in Fillmore but products are stored and distributed from the Cities of Industry and Livermore.

Fillmore collects about $1 million per year under the 20-year contract. Livermore and Industry claim the office and contract are a sham. Fillmore won its main case but, due to a technicality, must pay the other plaintiff’s receipts from October 2007 to December 2008. Following this dispute, then Governor Schwartzenegger signed a law prohibiting such agreements. However, Fillmore’s existing contract with Owens & Minor will stand, according to Schneider.

[Story from Wednesday, September 24th, 2008]

Sales Tax Revenue Sharing

“Sales Tax Revenue Sharing”, the phrase is becoming a common one as things progress concerning the City of Fillmore’s arrangements to split its share of the sales tax revenue rebate with three consultant firms contracted to bring new businesses into town. To recap, California cities are rebated 1% of all sales taxes collected in their cities. MTS Consulting LLC, Inspired Development LLC and Ryan and Co., retain agreements with the City of Fillmore to relocate retail businesses to our town in exchange for 85% of the 1% rebated dollars, generated by those businesses. The consulting firms then share their portion with the individual contracted businesses. Unanimously voted in by a previous City Council including Mayor Evaristo Barajas, Mayor Pro-tem Ernie Villegas, Cecilia Cuevas, Ken Smedley and Patti Walker, the City has benefited from this practice since 2003. It also has the endorsement of the present City Council and Administration officials. Nevertheless, Fillmore is the only city of record in the State to practice Sales Tax Revenue Sharing in this specific manner.

The issue was publicized this summer when the City of Livermore, after researching the cause for a substantial decrease in their sales tax rebates, filed complaints with the State Board of Equalization (BOE), against Fillmore. Livermore is home to one of four warehouse/sales offices in California; of Virginia based Fortune Five Hundred company Owens and Minor, a leading medical/surgical supplier. City of Industry, location of a second warehouse/sales office joined in the complaint. Both cities, declaring that business is going on as usual at their locations, take a position that the agreement between Fillmore, MTS Consulting and Owens and Minor is depriving their cities of their rightful taxes, by diverting sales through Owens and Minor’s office in the Gurolla Building on Sespe Avenue.

On September 8, 2008, the Cities of Livermore and Industry took the issue a step further by filing a claim against the City of Fillmore and all members past and present of the Fillmore City Council beginning in 2000. Various past and present City officials; City Manager Tom Ristau, Finance Director Barbara Smith, Administrative Services Manager Steve McClary, Roy Payne, and others yet to be identified are included as well. The claim accuses the three consultant services and several affiliated businesses registered in Fillmore, of establishing sham sales/purchasing offices in Fillmore with the intention of diverting sales tax revenues from other cities. It should be noted that a claim, though a legal instrument, might or might not be a precursor to a lawsuit.
From its’ inception in 2003 through 2007, the “Sales Tax Revenue Sharing” program alone has grossed $9,994,260 in rebated sales tax. The City’s 15% share of these rebates, nearly $1,500,000, was appropriated to the Reserve General Fund, and earmarked for additional law enforcement services. Additionally, a portion of these funds will offset some construction expenses of the new 22-acre community park.

To date, the BOE has frozen that portion of Fillmore’s 2008 sales tax rebate monies, reported and deposited by Owens and Minor, and six additional “consultant company contracted businesses”, many that operate from consultant company offices where they are provided with on site management, legal, financial and accounting services. They include Twin Med LLC, Southwest Jet Fuel, Walgreen National Corp. (Walgreen Co.), Cal Fuel Purchasing Group, Linen Supply Services, Inc. and Hawaiian Gifts LLC (Hawaiian Air). The City has requested from the BOE, an extension of their decision, for time to respond. At the State level, a second draft of legislation has been introduced in the form of SB 697, designed to prevent future agreements of this type in other cities.
Sales Tax Revenue Sharing programs are not new in other cities or in Fillmore, in an effort to lure additional business into an area, therefore increasing the tax base. However, those agreements have been accomplished directly, and with retail companies that are identifiable, with advertised locations and visible and undeniable local points of sale.

As recently quoted, City Attorney, Ted Schneider said these agreements are “absolutely a legal arrangement”. Ristau and Mayor Conaway as well, defend the legality of Fillmore’s business and cite the substantial benefits to the community. They pledge to continue to defend them vigorously if the need arises, and are confident that Fillmore will prevail. They do not anticipate any effects on city projects and services. To paraphrase Councilmember Scott Lee, it is not unusual for cities to enter into sales tax rebate agreements however, they are mostly done with companies with one location. Councilmember Patti Walker declined to make a statement at this time, and Councilmembers Cecilia Cuevas and Laurie Hernandez, and several Administrative officials failed to respond to statement requests.

Prior to Livermore and Industry’s accusations, Sales Tax Revenue Sharing has had a positive effect on Fillmore. But, some view it as overly innovative in the form it has taken in our town. The City will continue to discuss this issue and its’ direction in Executive Session. In the meantime, one can only wait and see what comes from new legislation if passed, the decisions of the State Board of Equalization and the determination of the Cities of Livermore and Industry.

Response to Trinka Reynolds October 11, 2012 Letter to Editor

Trinka Reynolds states that when Washburn and Brooks were elected in 2008 there was $2 million in reserves, but no one could find where it went. What she means is that Washburn, Brooks and Walker could not find where it went. You want to know why? In 2008 after Washburn and Brooks were elected the City Manager chose to work elsewhere, the Finance Director promptly retired and the City’s independent audit firm was axed. They then proceeded to hire an out of town interim City Manager (Larry Pennell), an out of town interim Finance Director (John Wooner), a new auditing firm and they completely revised the budget format. “The budget is too difficult to read” they said. Talk about a perfect storm! Based on this storm of mass confusion, on July 28, 2009 Pennell stated that in order to balance the General Fund budget he would need to cut $1.9 million. Pennell never produced the $1.9 million in cuts that he said were needed to balance the budget. In fact, the budget that Pennell presented to the City Council just a month later on August 25, 2009 and that Washburn, Brooks and Washburn adopted was $2.6 million greater than the General Fund budget of the prior year. So in less than a month the budget went from needing $1.9 million in cuts to an increase from the prior year’s budget of over $2.6 million.

The 2008/09 independent audit report prepared by the new auditing firm, hired by the council, reported the General Fund budget for FY2008/09 prepared by City Manager Tom Ristau and Finance Direct Barbara Smith was balanced and ended the year with a $2,282,374 INCREASE in General Fund Reserves resulting in a general fund ending balance of $5,505,113. Mayor Walker confirmed that the Ristau/Smith budget was in good shape when she stated in a January 4, 2009 article in the Ventura County Star: “Fillmore’s fiscal outlook in the face of the global economic downturn is a healthy one, city officials said. The city has been very conservative with its budgeting, and as a result it has healthy reserves it can tap into if need be, said Mayor Patti Walker. ‘We are flush,’ Walker said.” Fillmore Finance Director Barbara Smith said the city has $1.8 million in reserves, “and for a small town like Fillmore, that’s quite a bit of money.”

The news was not so good a year after Washburn and Brooks were elected. Based upon the 2009/10 independent audit report prepared by the same accounting firm reported the General Fund budget for FY2009/10 prepared by interim City Manager Larry Pennell and interim Finance Direct John Wooner, approved by Washburn, Brooks and Walker, was OUT of balance by $4,502,913$2 resulting in a $2,410,323 DECREASE in General Fund Reserves.

It is also interesting to note that in November, 2011 the Washburn, Brooks, Walker led City Council adopted a City Ordinance (Ordinance 11-831) stating that “the City Council has maintained balanced budgets with healthy general fund reserves for over 10 years despite losing millions of dollars in State budget takeaways over that same time period”.

The city has now looking for its 5th Finance Director in less than 4 years. Enough of the madness, we can’t afford to go down this road again. A stable city hall won’t be possible until we have a stable city council. It’s time for change and time to stop trying to rewrite history.
Steve Conaway


This is not a regular column. Several days have been spent preparing a large document in an attempt to answer many questions about my past editorials and the state of city hall. I have only 500 words here to introduce you to 5,000 words that will be posted here, in this Editorial section, on Friday October 19.

Our appointed Mayor Gayle Washburn and her political camp followers have criticized the Gazette and me personally for many years, claiming this small corner of the paper is responsible for a multitude of lies, distortions, and misrepresentations of fact.

At the center of the controversy are my opinions on the character and conduct of city council majority – Gayle Washburn, Jamey Brooks, and Brian Sipes. Washburn and Brooks (and Sandra Pella) are incumbent candidates in this November 6 election – together with their friend Clay Westling, city clerk. These four people, and former Mayor Patti Walker, compose the heart of the political group I call the Katzenjammers, a malevolent, energetically incompetent, agenda-driven cabal which has completely disrupted normal working conditions at city hall.

They have been aided in this activity by two loyal drama kings, Bob Stroh and (non-resident and former failed mayor) Gary Creagle for many years.

This group, beginning with Patti Walker, has been determined to stand city hall on its head and restructure everything [See Letter to Editor, page 9, Norma Amaro: “Four years ago, Gayle Washburn and Jamey Brooks were elected by ‘We the People’. Their code, “Take Back City Hall” has been accomplished.” (Ms. Amaro’s letter was sent to the Gazette via Patti Walker’s email account]. They will be remembered mostly for completely halting all residential construction in north Fillmore, by successfully promoting the passage of Measures H and I. This limited construction to no more than 350 units instead of the city-council and Planning Commission’s recommended 700 homes. Anything less than 700 is economically unfeasible. H and I caused several foreclosures and the destruction of businesses.

This group is also notorious for their incessant, disruptive opposition to the new, expensive, sewer-water treatment plant, and for the bonding method chosen to finance its construction. Everyone is suffering from record-high sewer-water bills, particularly local businesses.

What these people never explain, however, is the fact that the state and federal government mandated that discharge into the Santa Clara River be purified to unreasonable standards, which could not reasonably be met using the old sewer plant. Many other new regulations had to be met as well.

Extraordinary efforts over several years were undertaken by Fillmore’s then City Engineer, Bert Rapp to find the best solution. Much research was done to find the best technology, one that would last for years without subjecting the city to the draconian fines for any discharge not in compliance with the new, extremely high standards (which brought $10,000 per day mandated fines). The city still owes about $240,000 in fines, with interest, from the old plant’s failures. This mega document should tell the truth about the story of our plant and excessive water/sewer rates. Please look it over and decide who has been telling the lies.