Letters to the Editor
February 1, 2012

To the Editor:
The students, staff, and families at Sespe School would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the Fillmore Lions Club for their generous $500 Gift Card donation to our school. In these tough times for education, we greatly appreciate when community members or organizations help us out. Thank you Fillmore Lions for your generosity!
The Students, Staff, and Families at Sespe School


To the Editor:
The current City Council has repeatedly stated that they are committed to openness and transparency in government. Do their actions square to their words?
1) 3 Planning Commissioners resigned due to the City Council’s disregard for due process and usurping their authority. Who doesn’t recall the Council zeal to appeal a Planning Commission’s decision before the decision had even been made?
2) Walker resigned from the council on Dec. 13 2011. The June 28 2011 council minutes were approved by council on Dec 13, almost 6 months late. Ever wonder why? Could there be a better way to avoid more fallout than to let Walker be the focus of the night and not the “zeal to appeal” council fiasco minutes?
3) After Walker’s resignation the council was determining how to appoint another council member. One council member suggested that the public be able to speak at the upcoming meeting on the applicants. Mr. Brooks stated that he was not in favor of letting the public have a say in the matter. So much for wanting public input?
4) When the council was discussing how Sipe’s suggested Town Hall meeting was going to be conducted, Mr. Brooks again didn’t want to give the public an opportunity to address the council. Transparency and public input does not seem to be at the forefront of his agenda.
5) The Fillmore Gazette has been scolded for taking pictures at meetings. The Gazette has performed this service at meetings for over 20 years. No other council in Fillmore’s history scolded a newspaper for doing the same job, until this council. Is it because this council doesn’t want the public to know how they conduct business?
6) Recently, one council member asked for a review of the City Manager Employment contract. If a review was not conducted the contract automatically renews for another two years. This “open and transparent” council blocked public review of the contract. They’d rather just let it automatically renew in the dark of night than to conduct a public review in the daylight.
This city council is about their agenda and seems to have little interest in real transparency and public input, but you be the judge?
Douglas Tucker


To the Editor:
Re: Last week's comments by Martin Farrell in "Realities" and Joan Archer at the City Council meeting regarding the Lap Swim Program at the Aquatic Center:
I am sorry that the City, School Board, and the Runners Club have not been able to resolve the issue of the access gate to the track. However, somehow the Lap Swim program, and even the entire Aquatic Center, is being blamed for this. Ms. Archer states that "Over the last three years the Aquatic Program has resulted in a deficiency of about $385,000." The article doesn't state the source of her figures, but I wonder how much of that amount, if correct, is due to the leak that was going on for over a year, as reported last April by the Gazette, resulting in the loss of thousands of gallons of water and additional chemicals needed to compensate for that loss?
Mr. Farrell states, "In terms of usage, it makes no sense to favor the pool over the track." The Aquatic Center is much more than just the Lap Swim program: There are swimming lessons in the summer, teaching an invaluable skill to those who might not be able to learn otherwise; the Swim Team holds practices there; it can be rented out for parties and special events, and there are summer evening "family nights" where the whole family can cool off and have fun together.
While it is true that there has been a relatively small core group of lap swimmers, we are a dedicated bunch who consider the program essential to our health and fitness. After waiting years for the Aquatic Center to be built, it is unthinkable to say that the solution to its financial issues is to just close the whole thing down. A detailed financial analysis of the entire Aquatic Center should be made, which will undoubtedly reveal areas where expenses can be cut and revenues increased. Maybe volunteers can help with tasks currently done by paid staff. An "Open House" might help to introduce the community to the Aquatic Center and explain what it has to offer. There may be grants that can be applied for to help with operating expenses.
The pool is scheduled to open next Monday, February 6. To help save on expenses, perhaps the opening of the pool should be delayed until it is closer to summer, say May 1. And when the pool does open, I invite everyone (including walkers and runners who can't use the track) to try the Lap Swim program, and to support the beautiful Aquatic Center which was meant for the whole Fillmore community to enjoy.
Marjie Bartels


Letters to the Editor
January 5, 2012

To the Editor:
At our first staff meeting of the year, the middle school staff had a depressing tongue-lashing from our new managers, whose first rule of inspiring and getting people energized to do a good job is … to berate and degrade them? These teachers have only been following the administrator's orders - orders of an endless stream of administrators whose failed ideas never succeed in raising our school's state test scores.
I tried asking these administrators right then the following, but they didn't want to answer any questions. They left it to me to ask others who might know, (our governor, state superintendent, representatives, newspapers, talk shows) why we are allowing our middle school students and teachers to be judged by faulty tests which are self-disqualifying in the following ways:
The tests are written at grade level - a level our kids can’t comprehend, so they can’t even understand the questions. Therefore we can't tell what they know subject-wise; we only can tell that they can't read, (which we already knew) while administrators get promoted and teachers get demeaned.
All three years of some subjects are tested only once, at the end of eighth grade. Could administrators pass this or any test on what they read three years ago? Three months ago? If not, how useful are these tests? No protest, no rally, not a letter on behalf of parents or students whom these administrators tell us “come first.” They evidently leave that to others.
For years I have asked administration why we don't just teach math and reading until the kids get caught up, (as they aren't able to access the rest until they do anyway) but have been told for years that “Sacramento wouldn't let us.” We are now told that “we don't care what Sacramento says anymore.” Then why are we still not focusing on math and reading, following the examples of districts like Santa Paula who are being continually thrown in our teacher's faces as examples of success?
The current policy of allowing students to be both sent to and sent out of the middle school while years behind in reading and math is not wise. Such policies are the result of faulty thinking, which not surprisingly also result in middle schools being designed with flat roofs with heavy air conditioners on top, so that roofs crack and leak every time it rains, causing saturated, (mold promoting?) tiles to crash down around the kids. Faulty structures, like faulty tests and policies are the result of faulty thinking. Blaming others, who just follow your orders, is much worse. The Bible promises wisdom to those who ask for it, and my parting prayer is that we renounce our pride and ask.
Richard Hood,
Retired teacher


Letters to the Editor
December 19, 2011

To the Editor
I was so outraged when I read the email below, forwarded to me by a friend, that I wanted the citizens of VC to be able to read it also. The citizens of VC should understand how their tax dollars are being "used" by the Camarillo Animal Shelter, (Ventura County Animal Services) in their treatment of homeless impounded dogs.
For additional information contact Linda Nelson directly at the email address at the very bottom of this article.
Joan Farber
Ventura (since 1993), CA.
(805) 659-5145

On November 4th, Tiny Loving Canines pulled a small demodex Chihuahua pup out of VCAS. I myself had not seen the dog in person, but I approved the pull sight unseen. The dog was transported from Camarillo by one of our volunteers and when I first saw the dog in person, I was beyond shocked --- the dog looked nothing like the impound photo and was now severely emaciated.
According to the medical records (attached), this dog weighed 3 pounds at impound on 10/24/11 - twelve days later when we got him, he weighed 2 pounds, 1 ounce. If you review the attached medical records, you will note that the respiratory distress was not notated until 11/4/11 - the day we pulled the dog out of VCAS. As serious as an URI or 'kennel cough', a bigger battle this dog had to overcome was severe malnutrition and loss of weight - not notated on the medical records.
Twelve days later, Rooney still could not stand up under his own power well, nor could he walk - please see the photos on a blog posting from November 16th here - http://tlc-doghouse.blogspot.com/2011/11/not-for-faint-of-heart.html
On November 22nd, Rooney stood up and walked on his own for the first time since we pulled him out of Camarillo - prior to that time he slept curled up in a ball in between the feedings every 3 hours, nebulizer treatments, skin treatments, etc. And on November 23rd, he walked to the kibble dish on his own for the first time and ate. Note the severe loss of muscle weight and tone in this dog still, despite all of the high quality nutrition and care given (he had gained 1/2 pound during the 19 days with TLC):
Unfortunately, in my opinion too much had happened to this pup's body - between being low in body weight and losing 1/3 of his body weight at VCAS during his 12 day stay there, the demodex, advanced upper respiratory illnesses - he passed away on Saturday, 11/26/11.
Why am I bringing Rooney's story to the Board of Supervisors?
Because I have LONG protested the low quality care that animals receive at VCAS. I could write a laundry's list of dogs we have pulled from there that receive minimal attention, no attention or attention detrimental to the health of the dog. This includes a dog we pulled about a month ago that was prescribed eye treatment by Dr. Koehner that was causing the dog's eye even more harm (and our vet described to us as a 'classic case of malpractice if the vet were in private practice!'). Our vet immediately switched medications - she may or may not lose her sight... we have yet to know if she will recover her sight from the misdiagnosis of Dr. Koehner.
On Friday we were called to take two dogs or they would be euthanized. We were told one dog had 'kennel cough' and we still agreed to take the dog. Looking at her records, she was given the DAPPL2 vaccine on 10/18, 11/1 and 11/17 (when she was spayed)... but NO vaccination for kennel cough.
Refusal to vaccinate for kennel cough at VCAS has LONG been a problem, especially in a facility that states it is always over its limit and is euthanizing for space. It has long been a misguided position of VCAS that they are limiting the amount of diseases by not allowing communal living.
Although many of us have complained about this policy of not vaccinating for kennel cough, we have also advocated for communal housing to lower the number of dogs being euthanzied. Now I understand the policy of pairing dogs died when Denise Callaway did, and so the numbers will once again continue to rise in euthanasia at VCAS.
In summary:
Rooney caught an URI in the VCAS medical ward - a place where there is no communal housing but should have extreme sterile conditions
Rooney also lost 1/3 of his weight in 12 days in the medical ward
Gracie, a dog in general population, is diagnosed with kennel cough, but has no signs of kennel cough after 3 days' observation
Gracie was going to be euthanized because of lack of space in a facility that once again is refusing to do communal housing because of a perceived kennel cough treat
Gracie received three vaccinations of DAPPL2 in less than a month, but NO bordetella vaccine at all - even the AVMA does not recommend re-vaccinating this close together
Someone, some where needs to address what goes on at VCAS and stop brushing this stuff under the carpet. If the county is going to pay for a full time veterinarian to be on staff, there needs to be one that abides by the code of "first do no harm".
When does the Ventura County Board of Supervisors step up and clean house at VCAS to stop this needless suffering and carnage, gross poor mismanagement and institute modern medical practices, efficient space management and improvement of the overall quality of this taxpayer funded facility????
Linda Nelson
Director -TLC


Letters to the Editor
December 15, 2011

To the Editor:
Dear Parents
I am retiring as Principal of San Cayetano at the end of December. It has been a pleasure working with the San Cayetano Staff, parents, students and community for the past six and a half years. Together we have achieved great success with our NASA Explorer School Program, The Reduced Gravity Project, Robotics Champions and our well received monthly Peacebuilder Assemblies using local role models to inspire our students to become good citizens. San Cayetano will always be very special to me. I have accepted a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the new CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Santa Clara Valley, which are the clubhouses in Santa Paula and Fillmore. I have appreciated the support for San Cayetano from the local service organizations and the community. While I will miss going to San Cayetano each day, I am excited to embrace this new opportunity that will benefit our local youth.
Thank you Fillmore and I look forward to working with you in this new capacity.
Jan Marholin, Principal
San Cayetano Elementary School


To the Editor:
Dear Parents and Supporters of FHS Athletics:
I am writing to you to inform you of a very serious funding challenge that we are facing at Fillmore High School. As you may be aware, we are no longer able to require our athletes to pay fees for participation in sports. As a result we have had to rely on donations to fund our athletic programs. We calculated that if each athlete donated $75.00 per sport we would be able to maintain our current athletic program as it has been in the past. Unfortunately, as the fall athletic season comes to a close, we are behind in our anticipated donations by approximately $10,000.00. Our biggest concern is that if we don’t do something immediately to generate funding, we may run out of funds in the middle of the year, forcing us to cancel away games and the possible elimination of lower level (Frosh/JV) teams. This is something we do not want to have to do.
In order to avoid eliminating athletic programs and travel, we have taken immediate action by freezing all athletic supply budgets, and we have asked the Athletic Booster Club to assist us with organizing three major athletics-wide fundraisers. Our goal is to provide our athletes with an opportunity to raise money each season if they are unable to make a donation. We will be asking for your full support to make each fundraiser a success.
Parents and community members wishing to make a donation may do so by mailing a check to Fillmore High School Athletics- Donation, P.O. Box 697, Fillmore, CA 93016. Your donation is 100% tax deductable. Any amount will be accepted. Please include the student name if you are making the donation to support a specific athlete.
With your help, we can raise the funds necessary to provide our students with a quality athletic program. Thank you in advance for your support.
John Wilber
Principal, Fillmore High School


To the Editor:
One of our greatest generation just passed away. No, not a World War II Veteran, but one of the compassionate, caring, and competent hospital nurses of the 1980's and l 990's. Bertha Romano was one of those exemplary caregivers at Santa Paula Memorial Hospital. Attending a memorial service included some members of that superb staff, including Jeanette Foy, Marlene Moniot, Donna Wills, Muriel Marks, and Chris Ortiz. I'll bet Marlene Bailey, Noreen Aberlee, and Irene Reardon were there in spirit.
It was a wonderful moment to remember those who were trained to provide nursing care and were able to excel in performing that skill. Alas, today's nurses may be just as motivated to provide care, but so many are chained to the computer screen. They must be jealous of that greatest generation.
Sincerely yours,
Richard J. Tushla, M.D.


Letters to the Editor
December 8, 2011

To the Editor:
Re: Report of Incident and Request for Committee Formation
I had intended to address the scheduled joint session of the Council and Board on November 29, 2011, a meeting which was canceled.
I am a runner with 40 years of experience, so I am careful and aware at all times when I am out running, but the risks of running on the streets and trails are considerable. There are rocks and debris to contend with, other people and animals, as well as vehicular users on the roadways. On Saturday evening, November 26, around 7:30 p.m., I was struck by a vehicle in the crosswalk of the trail on “A” Street near Old Telegraph Road. I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of VCMC for the head trauma I suffered, as well as the possibility of a broken hip, and a number of contusions and abrasions from top to bottom. The hip turned out to be a massive bruise, and the plastic surgeon closed up the six-inch skull-deep gash on my head. Scans and x-rays were taken.
In the over-three years of the runner/walker community relentlessly pushing this issue, progress has been glacial. Most of the members of the elected Council and Board have repeatedly and publicly indicated support for the proposal to make the track available to the public, but this public stance has not been supported by any significant, meaningful action. Fees have been collected, waivers from liability have been signed, committees have been formed but meetings are never scheduled, serial commitments have been made but little action has occurred. At the 3.5-year mark, all we have is a City website advertising the formation of a club. Meanwhile, a track that this community paid for is not available to us, at our peril. It is a wonder that serious injury has not occurred before this. It will likely happen again if this issue is not resolved, and soon.
This is an old, old issue, and many hours have already been devoted to it. I fully understand that the City and District have other pressing issues. In these difficult times, we all have pressing issues. The unavailability of the track is clearly a danger to the runners and walkers in the community. Everyone involved is supposed to be a competent professional or devoted community member. Resolution is long overdue and continued inaction on your part is gambling with the safety of a significant portion of this community.
John F. Scoles


To the Editor:
With respect to the need to decide on a replacement for the vacated City Council seat by Patty Walker, I would like to offer my views on this matter. Since there is almost a full term remaining, I feel that the citizens of Fillmore should be allowed to decide by Public Election on June 4th, 2012 who will represent them for the remainder of Ms. Walker’s term. It has been expressed at a previous council meeting by both the Mayor and the City Manager, that it is foreseen that there will be very little to place on the near future agendas. I believe this is due both to the state of the economy and the City budget deficit. I would like to see the remaining council members support this path, as it is in the best interest of everyone here in Fillmore.
We as a City need to come together in these tough times and not act hastily. I furthermore believe we need to strive for more transparency in Government, as many have professed that we do now. I would also like to know when the minutes from the City Council Meetings of June 28, 2011 and September 13, 2011 will be approved and available to the public for review. I feel that this information has been hidden for far too long. Let’s just stop all the politics and get down to business.
Alexander Mollkoy
Concerned Fillmore Voting Citizen


To the Editor:
There seems to be much speculation and falsification of information out and about Fillmore about conspiracies and the like concerning my resignation from the Fillmore City Council. It took me back to when former Council Member Mike McMahan resigned when he moved outside the City limits. He had his home on the market but there wasn’t any word about his submitting his resignation prior to the sale of his home. Nor was there outrage by the community when, without application or community input, Linda Brewster was appointed to complete his term.
But enough of going back in time. Let me discuss the current situation.
My husband and I determined in June to put our home on the market. We were selling our home as we needed to get into a one story home. From the comments made by some in the paper it is their opinion that I should have resigned at that time. Why? I was still a resident and was fulfilling my duties as an elected official. When we put our home on the market we didn’t have an offer on another home to purchase. When escrow closed on our home at the end of July we rented a home in the City of Fillmore limits. More importantly, it’s my understanding my resignation would have had to have been submitted in June in order for an election to occur in November as to my replacement.
The Council was dark from July 12 to August 23. I was absent from the September 13 and October 11 meetings. The meetings of September 20 and October 25 were cancelled. I submitted my resignation at the first opportunity. I conveyed my intentions to the Mayor and City Manager when I received word that the purchase of our current home was going to proceed, which had been questionable for a good period of time. Other than the Mayor, I never spoke to any council member or resident of the situation so therefore there was no conspiracy.
Until November 17, 2011, I was a resident of the City of Fillmore. This was the day we vacated our rental property.
Patti Walker


Letters to the Editor
December 1, 2011

To the Editor:
Here here ye, let it be known.... the young adults of the City of Fillmore are AWESOME!!!
Yes, Saturday, November 19th was the annual Soroptimist International of Fillmore Fashion Show. And yes, it was plentifully attended and a success. But more importantly, YES the youth of our community that stepped up to volunteer their time on a Saturday are AMAZING!!!
The Explorers from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department Santa Clara Valley Post did a wonderful job. Some greeted our guests and members with smiles and kindness at the entrance to the festivities, making sure all who entered had a ticket or were able to help in their purchasing of a ticket. Some monitored our doors to the dining room with professionalism until it was time to open the doors for dining. Others sold raffle tickets for the few items, separate of the silent auction room, to be raffled with cheerfulness.
The models for one of our sponsors were students from the Fillmore High School Drama classes (thanks Mr. Overton). The six young ladies were poised and mature, not to mention beautiful in their fashions. All of them could become professional models.
Our wonderful, responsible servers in the dining room were from the One Step a la Vez Center. All of them were respectful and prompt at our every need. They went above and beyond what was expected of them to help us with as servers.
I hope I was able to say "thank you" to each and every one of you in the course of the two days setting up and attending the fashion show. Your help did not go unnoticed. Our future in Fillmore looks bright with young adults such as yourselves. Your parents and advisors should be proud of how responsible and respectful all of you are...... I AM!
Jane David, Vice President
Soroptimist International of Fillmore


Letters to the Editor
November 24, 2011

To the Editor:
Re: Mayor Washburn’s desire to rush appointment of council vacancy
The now ill-fated ploy to hold a meeting to appoint a person to fill the remaining three years of Patti Walker’s term has been exposed. The whole tale, from the beginning to yet to be written last chapter, is playing out so clearly that Ray Charles could see it coming. The Gazette Editorial even reported that the heir-apparent was at the meeting waiting in the wings. Had Walker been intellectually and morally honest with Fillmore when the news first broke , the voters could have settled the issue earlier this month, but that isn’t the group’s plan. The plan was to pass the date which would allow citizens to vote on the matter, then spring the news of Walker’s pending exit stage left, then pick the next person, a person closely joined at the hip to current leadership. The voters should fill this appointment given the length of the term remaining. To the council you still have time to rewrite the final chapter of this tale. I suggest you do the right thing and stop playing games. Let the people speak and accept the outcome.
A Concerned and Vested Citizen,
M. Cecilia Cuevas


To the Editor:
In response to Gayle Washburn’s Letter to the Editor:
For the Benefit of the Public:
Expenses increased from 2009 and 2010 totaling almost $3 million, while it is true that expenses have increased, what you represent still does not cover the total increase to the $3 million. 2010 Expense increase = $1,300,000.00 based on your numbers; $1,000,000.00 was accounted for, for 2011 Expenses increased by $1,600,00.00 compared to 2009 (all number rounded to hundred thousand) again based on your numbers $1,000,000.00 accounted for (I believe but am not sure because you did not break it down by the year). Thus, there is still $900,000.00 (total for both years) still unaccounted for. Additionally, your numbers do not account for the 18% reduction in employee salaries, the 20% reduction in labor hour expense due to Furlough days, the reduction in expenses by a 25% reduction in workforce (25% reduction seems low due to open positions at city hall that have not been filled), and finally the reduction in employee benefits.
Since, as you say Salaries are one of the city’s biggest expenses the city has, than the actual expenses are significantly higher than what you are representing with your data. I would strongly suggest that you take another look at your expenses and determine how these reductions have affected the tax payers when expenses are apparently out of control. Since, you discuss pension and benefits, how much does the city manager pay to these accounts? My understanding is that the tax payers are paying all of her benefits and retirement.
Lastly, A mid-year budget review would indicate that the city manager and council made adjustments to the budget due to declining revenues, lawsuits and other increases in expenditures. When the city manager was asked about recommendations by Patti Walker and Steve Conway I believe her response was that she preferred to wait until the end of the budget cycle to make changes. Thus, your statement of a mid-year budget review was more of a "state of the city" address, in my opinion. I firmly believe that going forward the city council should request monthly financial statements and/or analysis be conducted, a true mid-year budget review should be conducted as well as a review of the cost of out of town consultants compared to the in town laid off employee should be conducted. I feel that these few steps could help to avert any additional budgetary gaps and will allow the city council to gain knowledge and data with regards to the effectiveness of its decisions.
Douglas Tucker, Fillmore Citizen

To the Editor:
Several years ago our then City Attorney, Roger Myers, gave me $50 to buy pies for needy families that could use the help with their Thanksgiving Dinner. Since then I have had donated “Pie Money” given by more people each year. These are people that aren’t going to be home for the Holiday or not able to take a pie on their trip.
Last year we changed the plan to give the pies to the Senior Center for their Thanksgiving Lunch and for The Meals on Wheels. It has worked very well.
So thanks to all that have given in the past and the ones that donated this year:
Marge Le Bard, Martha Gentry, Bev Gage-Haase, Kristy Dunst (San Cayetano teacher), Jim Herbert, Don Downey, Chris and Ernie Villegas, Helen and Doug Shaw, Kathy and Jim Le Bard, Jennifer Fitzpatrick (FHS teacher), Pam Garcia and Trinka Reynolds (Mortgage).
Raelene Chaney
Grad Nite Live

Letters to the Editor
November 16, 2011

To the Editor:
There Should be No Rush to Appointment of Replacement for Patti Walker
I want to get right to the fact that I do not live within the city limits of Fillmore, but I do live in the area influenced by the decisions of the Fillmore City Council! I shop and recreate inside of the Fillmore city limits and because of, like Patti said, my zip code and mailing address is the City of Fillmore I benefit from it's successes and I suffer the embarrassment of the CC Council's actions! I would also like to point out that Gary Creagle does not live inside the city limits of Fillmore, but I would add, he has a lot to say about the City's business and the Fillmore City Council seems to be influenced by what he has to say! I would also guarantee you that Patti Walker will also have an ear of one or more councilmembers and, in fact, Councilmember Sipes said publicly that he would be calling upon her for future advice! So with that behind us...
I did watch the regular meeting of the Fillmore City Council on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 on Channel 10. I was not surprised by Patti resigning from the CC since it appears she will soon be one of my neighbors, but I am surprised she did not resign long ago when she sold her house, rented another and entered into escrow on the home she will soon move into. Of course I don't have the time-line of her home selling and her entering into the purchase of the home in my neighborhood, but the rumors had been flying around for at least two months that she was the buyer and she has been seen often going up and down the driveway to the newly purchased home which was vacated at least two weeks ago by the sellers! I would assume since she intended to move outside of the city limits at least two months ago she should have mentioned that to her fellow CC members, City Manager and the City Attorney so that her vacant position could have been placed on the ballot for November 8, 2011. She must not have said anything for I am sure if she had the City Manager and City Attorney would have given Patti and the CC some different advice on how to fill the pending vacancy!
Well as they say that is all “water under the bridge” now to the purpose of my letter! I want to commend Councilmember Conaway for his awareness of the law and his courage to call the decision of Mayor Washburn to rush a meeting to discuss the appointment to replace Patti. I agree there is no rush for a replacement on such an important issue at such a critical time in the history of the City of Fillmore. My hope is that the CC sees the need for sincere thought on this topic and that those citizens who can vote on City matters speak out at the December CC Meeting where this will be discussed.
Richard A. Diaz

To the Editor:
Re: Letter from Doug Tucker on November 2, 2011
The statements made about fiscal irresponsibility are unfair and incorrect
I am familiar with our budgets and financial statements and have spent several years analyzing them. I serve on the Finance Committee and have prepared budgets and financial statements for several business and nonprofit entities As a citizen and taxpayer of Fillmore, my goal is to see that services are provided in an economically efficient manner. I believe that all on the Council have the same commitment.
I have contacted Doug Tucker to request clarification of his statements for the benefit of the public but have not yet received a response.
He stated that "…the CITY SPENT MORE IN 2010 and 2011 THAN IN 2009, this increase in spending was more than 3 million for both years…"
He also incorrectly stated "it would appear that they did not realize the country was in a recession and just kept spending our money recklessly", and, "the city doesn't do a mid – year budget audit to determine adjustments to the budget based on the city’s financial status", and, "the City Manager has the power to write her own contract". Facts: 1. Nobody is spending money recklessly. 2. We do a mid-year budget review every year. 3. The City Manager has no power to write her own contract.
As far as the 2009, 2010 and 2011 financials, here are the documented numbers. (There was nothing specific in the letter, so I am assuming he is referring to the General Fund)
2009-$5,621,522; 2010-$6,939,707; 2011-$7,213,216; 2012-$5,887,559.
Yes, spending increased in 2010 and 2011, but was not irresponsible. The total increase is $1.3 million. The increase in 2010 is due to $325,000 for insurance on the sewer plant, 2 Rivers Park and swimming pool. An additional $375,000 was for sales tax agreement and other litigation fees. The City also had to shift costs from the RDA to General Fund and fund paramedic stipends. As far as spending, most of our expenses go to salaries and benefits. We have cut those expenses in the last two years with layoffs and pay cuts. We have asked employees to pay part of their pensions and health care insurance that will generate savings now and in the future.
There is a lot of information presented at the budget workshops and we ensure that all budgets and financial statements are available to the public on the city website. If you would like to see a spreadsheet with those years of expenses please email me at gaylewashburn@sbcglobal.net for a copy. The Council welcomes input and analysis from all citizens and we and staff are available to provide clarification or answer any questions. We ask that you seek the facts from the city before writing incorrect and misleading letters and false accusations.
Gayle Washburn

Letters to the Editor
November 2, 2011

To the Editor:
Fiscally Irresponsible
The city council has placed on the November 8th ballot a measure to increase your sales tax by .75 cents per dollar. On its face this may seem like a necessary thing to bridge the gap in the city budget, however when one delves deeper into the situation you may be surprised to the how we ended up with the fiscal nightmare we currently face.
The city council urged voters to review the preliminary budget that was on the city’s website when they conducted the tax initiative meetings. When I review the budget I was surprised what I found. At first the information that was presented seemed to be accurate; the city was generating less revenue in both fiscal year 2010 and 2011. However, upon further investigation I found something perplexing, the CITY SPENT MORE IN 2010 and 2011 THEN IN 2009, this increase in spending was more than 3 million for both years. While Mr. Brooks has made a habit of stating that his predecessors mismanaged the city, how does he account for the spending of the money that his predecessors generated in reserve that the city has been tapping into for the past two years and will more than likely tap into this year? It would appear that the city council did not read the newspapers, listen to or watch the news. It would appear that they did not realize the country was in a recession and just kept spending our money recklessly.
The city budget for 2012 is based on projected numbers, not actual un-audited numbers; this makes it difficult to create a budget that is supposed to be based on past performance. Moreover, the city council does not request monthly un-audited actual financial analysis to help determine the state of the city. Additionally, the city council review the budget on an annual basis not, when it is very much indicated, to hold a mid – year budget audit to determine adjustments to the budget based on the city’s financial status. These simple steps could have helped to avoid our current financial situation.
Lastly, ever hear of the city of Bell fiasco? The city council placed too much power with the city manager who abused this power to the point of extreme corruption. You may ask what this has to with our current situation with Fillmore. For one Ms. Quiring has been given power to act in the interest of the city council to enter into and negotiate contracts, she has been given power to authorize check disbursements for the city’s check warrants. She was even given the power to write her own contract. To me the writing is on the wall. We are heading in the same direction as Bell. No system of checks and balances, unchecked power and authority given to the city manager, two letters of no confidence and city council that appears to be in way over their heads when it comes to understanding budgets, economics, and the like.
Please vote NO to the tax increase, please send this city council a message to end their plight to serve their own agenda and start serving the people of this town. They have been given our public [trust] and in turn we have bankruptcy, discourse and segregation. Let’s get this city moving back in the right direction. VOTE NO to the tax increase.
Douglas Tucker

Letters to the Editor
October 27, 2011

To the Editor:
Thank you for your contribution of $100 to the Fillmore High School Arts Show. Contributions like yours are what make this event possible, especially in a year of so many budget cuts.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Departments, I thank you once again for your support of the arts.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
Fillmore High School

Letters to the Editor
October 13, 2011

To the Editor:
THANK YOU FILLMORE CITY HALL! The Flag is up! God Bless Fillmore & The U.S.A.!
Joe Woods

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It’s time for “Trick or Treat So Others Can Eat”
Trick or Treat So Others Can Eat” is celebrating our 15th year in Ventura County. As one of the largest 4-H countywide events of the year, this community service project donates food to the many needy and hungry Ventura County residents through our beneficiary, FOOD Share.
FOOD Share is the only regional food bank that distributes collected food through a network of 240 certified charitable agencies. These agencies serve children, families in crisis, low-income seniors, the homeless, disabled and many others living within all the cities and communities of Ventura County.
4-H clubs in the City of Fillmore will be going door to door collecting canned goods and unopened packaged foods between the dates of October 15th to November 7th. We are unable to take any glass containers but do welcome fresh fruit such as oranges and lemons.
If everyone is able to give a little, it will add up to a lot!! Thank you for supporting Fillmore's 4-H clubs with your giving to this important community service.
Rachel Lucio, event chairman
Sespe 4-H

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To the Editor:
I am a local teacher at Sierra High School, looking to spread the word about an exciting project I have been working on with my students. The Sierra High School community has been working hard to plan and implement a “Schoolyard Habitat Project,” at our school, in Fillmore, California. On November 1, 2011 we will be planting our habitat on a large area surrounding our campus. At 11:00 AM we will hold an all school assembly to celebrate this event. Local leaders and politicians have been invited to join the event. As a story that bridges education and the environment, I thought that you might be interested in covering this project and our planting day celebration.
The Schoolyard Habitat project at Sierra is funded by a grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife services in collaboration with The California Department of Education, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). The grant provides support for planting native species on school grounds. Benefits of the project include water savings, runoff reduction and the creation of habitat for local and migratory species. Further, research has shown that using the environmental as a focal point of teaching improves student performance and helps students build the skills and attitudes necessary to become stewards of the environment. The Schoolyard Habitat project at Sierra High School represents a model of an innovative national program that is just beginning to be spread to schools throughout California.
Sierra High school is a continuation high school in Fillmore. The school serves approximately 80 students who have not been able to succeed in traditional high schools. The majority of Sierra High School students live below the poverty line, many are first generation immigrants and quite a few are the first in their family to attend high school. They must work to overcome myriad personal and academic obstacles on their journey to high school graduation.
Sierra students have been involved in all stages of the Schoolyard Habitat project. Participation in this project has offered students an opportunity to engage with academic curriculum in a meaningful way. Further, it has given them ownership and pride in their school. At Sierra High teachers strive to build students’ intrinsic motivation to succeed. This project represents these efforts.
On planting day the Sierra High School community will all take up shovels to put plants in the ground. At 11:00 AM the school and community members will gather for a school assembly in the courtyard. Staff, students and guests will give brief speeches to celebrate the students’ hard work. We would be honored if you would be interesting in covering this story and/or attending this event.
If you are interested in covering this story, or have any questions regarding this project please do not hesitate to contact me at the email address below.
Laura Todis
Laura Todis, Science Teacher
Sierra High School

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To the Editor:
Go Fillmore Flashes!
Dear Community Supporter,
2011-2012 School Year
Imagine.... you are sitting at a high school football game on a Friday night. You can hear the band playing from 3 blocks away. The stadium is packed with spectators when all of a sudden your name roars over the loud speaker in support of The Fillmore High School’s Marching Band and Color Guard!
Teamwork....is what it takes to have a successful band program. Our team consists of reliable students, committed parents, generous community sponsors and an extremely dedicated Band Director. When you were in high school do you remember that one class, sport or club that you lived for? Well, our Fillmore Elementary, Middle and High School band members have the same desire to be the best and show school pride! Beginning in Elementary school, they have the opportunity to show this through various concert events. When they reach High School, they are able to participate in Halftime Shows and Competitions!
The facts....We need you on our team! Our Band-related annual expenses are approximately $20,000 (or more). This money is used to provide instruments, music, equipment, travel expenses, uniforms, props, competition fees, and much more. We fundraise throughout the year (our Fireworks booth is our main fundraiser, but you may have also had a Krispy Kreme donut or two at the Football games this past year, or perhaps you’ve purchased some Pierpont Jam …) In addition to purchasing fundraising items, we are asking that you consider joining us in the form of a monetary or item donation (see attached Wish List). The great thing about donating money (or contributing to, or purchasing, a wish list item) is that 100% of it goes to the Band Program! And, this year, we have more students than ever – 250+ at the Elementary level, 245 in the Middle School, 50 in the High School and 20 Color Guard members!
As we all know....the funds for public school arts programs are constantly being cut. That means the students and parents must raise the additional funds required for a successful year. We want to assure you that it is not our intention to simply ask for a hand-out, but for an investment in our greatest asset ~ OUR YOUTH. We are not only preparing these students to play music. We are preparing them to become extraordinary musicians, students and citizens. We emphasize the importance of team work, problem solving and personal responsibility.
It's easy....to sponsor Fillmore Band students. Please complete the following form and indicate whether you’d like to simply make a donation, donate to a specific item (or items), or pay for an entire item, or donate to a particular level (elementary, middle or high school). It has been our experience that business leaders appreciate the opportunity to join in local activities that promote positive youth involvement.
Thank You....in advance for your support of our band program! We appreciate it!
Fillmore Flashes Regiment Booster Club Inc
PO Box 1013 Ÿ Fillmore, CA 93016
Questions? Contact Lisa Hammond, Treasurer, at (805) 524-1697 or (831) 801-2276
Thank You for supporting Fillmore Flashes Regiment Booster Club!
Lisa Hammond

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To the Editor:
Re: Martin Farrell’s last two Realities; the last first: Farrell warns us of a “storm of discontent” indicated by a couple of his regular phantom posters on his web site and a letter from Vance Johnson. Farrell then goes on to acknowledge the cutbacks that have taken place at city hall because of the economic downturn. At the need to hire a management assistant replacement he then asks a rhetorical, “Why can’t our new manager and [city] clerk handle the job?” Farrell knows everyone is working their butts off to keep the City working, from the city manager to the lowest paid employee. And the city clerk we elected, Clay Westling, as the Fillmore peoples elected City Clerk he is their for us. He goes to work every day, and we pay him $25 every month. As far as I’m concerned, Farrell and his false rhetoric can go to hell.
Secondly, Farrell wants us to believe that Mayor Gayle Washburn is “incapable of distinguishing between news and opinion” because she so succinctly exposed the unethical practices of the Fillmore Gazette. News flash, Farrell: B.S. stinks, yours is especially odorous.
Bob Stroh

Letters to the Editor
October 6, 2011

To the Editor:
Months ago Mayor Washburn was addressed about transparency and open government and her inability to produce Council Minutes. We heard half-baked excuses from the City Manager and Mayor of why minutes haven’t been produced since June which included “we laid off 28% of our employees”. Not producing minutes is not open government, Ms. Washburn; it’s bad government and bad leadership. You should not accept weak excuses from the City Manager for not taking care of business.
It’s now October and you haven’t produced minutes from June, July, August or September. Let me correct one untruth that you said, not everyone was laid off. Some employees walked away rather than continue to work in the environment you’ve built. Please stop making excuses and fix the problem.
The City Clerk spends a lot of time in City Hall. He’s even there on weekends and has been seen going through files with Council Member Brooks on weekends. Given his dedication, time doesn’t seem to be an issue, so why can’t minutes be completed? The City Manager, and you Mayor Washburn, do not seem to support the City Clerk or the work he said he’d do. If you did support him, you’d hire a temporary secretary. You seem well versed in outsourcing, so transcribing meetings to minutes by a temporary employee shouldn’t be an issue. How about getting city records up to date and keeping them up to date?
Any further delay in rectifying this complaint is a clear indication of the arrogance and insensitivity your management style offers Fillmore. Chop chop, Mayor…
Vance Johnson


To the Editor:
Mayor Washburn, you reap what you sow. What was written about the city council was in the "Opinion" section, not as a news article. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. You should not have ran for city council if you didn't know what you were doing or you didn't have thick enough skin. Politics is not an easy task to dip your toe in if you don't know how to swim when the tide rises. Think about resigning if you can't tough it out. Maybe your buddies aren't blunt enough to tell you the truth, wouldn't want to hurt your feelings and all that. By the way, if you do decide to resign, take Sipes with you.
Submitted to the Gazette Forums & Comments by Libertys Pen


To the Editor:
What's truly amazing about Washburn's crying is that it wasn't long ago that she and her minions were doing the VERY SAME THING that she and Brooks are crying about now!!! And if there's anything at all that is the hallmark of this administration, it's that...hypocrisy...'Oh, it's ok for us to go out and do thus and so, but now that we have the power, it's not ok for others to do what we did'! This is an example of their arrogance and lack of perception overall...and Sipes is the master of talking outta both sides of his mouth...
Submitted to the Gazette Forum & Comments by Pancone


To the Editor:
Folks have a short memory. Most people have forgotten or were not around when the hate speech started in the spring of 2000 in Fillmore. Here is a short history lesson; Spring of 2000 the present group,( in charge at City Hall), lead by Patti Walker put “For Sale” signs on city hall, in the cover of darkness. “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others.” (Mayor Washburn’s letter) started and continued up to the election in Nov. 2000. Secret meetings planning a SOAR initiative that intended to shrink Fillmore to below its city boundaries. It lost, but that did not stop “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others.” As another SOAR initiative was planned, again in secret and with no public input, just more of “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others.” The council at the time decided to try to smooth things out and after some negotiations agreed to adopt a modified SOAR, that Patti and her group agreed to, however the smoothing did not work the hate speech kept on coming. In the beginning of 2002 “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others” continued. They,(Walkers group), lost the election in Nov. 2002, 2004 and they got Patti back in office in 2006 but still did not have control. So, “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others” it just got worse. More Lies and half truths. “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others” reached a peak in 2008. Nov. 2008 they got control of City Hall so now everyone should just be nice and not criticize them because…well Mayor Washburn says.
Of course Fillmore had a large saving account (reserves) almost no contract employees and was open 5 days a week up to that election. Now, three short years later, almost no money in reserve, the largest number of contract employees Fillmore has ever seen and a city government that operates with no vision, no transparency and a City Hall only opened 4 days a week with the highest paid City Manager in Fillmore’s history. I wonder what happened to Washburn and Brooks promise to stop over paying employees and start hiring locals to work for the City of Fillmore. So far it seems all they are doing is firing locals and replacing them with out of town contractors.
Oops! Was that last paragraph “The bullying, smear campaign against council members, staff and others.” that Washburn spoke of in her letter?
Submitted to Gazette Forums & Comments by “Johnny Walker”


To the Editor:
No Old Glory?
What is going on here?! The last few week’s going to and coming home from work I drive by City Hall on Santa Clara St. I have noticed that the Clifornia. State flag is up. But where is the American Flag?!
Let me please make this clear. I am not Pro-Gazette, Anti-City Council. I am and always will be for my family, my country, and my town. First my family. My father, Marion C. Woods, was in the Navy at the time of the Korean War. My step-father Robert W. Spitler was a P-38 fighter Pilot in WWII. My mother, Shriley Spitler, STILL has Old Glory wave in front of her house 24/7, 365 days a year. My kids will always stand and place their hand over their hearts when the American flag is to be honored.
Second comes my country. I am proud to be an American. This is the greatest country of all time. Our own friends and family are still fighting this very minute to keep this a great country for us.
Now for our town. All you need to do is go to the Veterans Memorial Building to see all of our people who are from Fillmore who have served under our great flag since the Civil War until now. Go down the street on Central Ave. and see the names of the young men and women, OUR Fillmore people serving our country today.
It is a shame that we do not have the great American flag in front of our own City Hall! Are the budget cuts so bad we cannot do this anymore? I ask you Fillmore, do we always need to make the cuts from the bottom/up? Or should we start from the top/down? The City Manger makes more than any worker for the City of Fillmore. The City Council hired her. Maybe they could pitch in for a flag! We owe this to our family and friends of this great country and town of Fillmore, Ca. U.S.A. God Bless America and Fillmore.
Joe Woods

Letters to the Editor
September 28, 2011

To the Editor,
The Gazette editor needs to stop the bullying smear campaign against council members, staff and others. The hatred is absurd as well as demoralizing to the community. While Mr. Farrell is entitled to express his partisan political viewpoints, professional journalists would never abide this breach of ethics. Gazette readers cannot trust his objectivity. I invite Farrell to visit the Society of Professional Journalists Website at spj.org and read its code of ethics. Potshots, name calling, outright lies and gossip are bad journalism and against common decency. It's just not good for Fillmore. Here are a few lines of ethics code for journalists.
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.
Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
Gayle Washburn
[See a responce to Gayle Washburn's letter here: http://www.fillmoregazette.com/editorial/realities-151 ]


To the Editor:
I’d like to publicly thank Mark Austin, Tom Fennell, Vance Johnson and Douglas Tucker for their service to the city and citizens of Fillmore. Collectively we served on the Planning Commission for 24 years. It was a pleasure to serve on a commission that functioned professionally, was chaired with purpose, and where business was conducted openly and fairly for all parties.
My intent is not to dwell in the past, but to look forward, with hope that other citizens will have the positive and rewarding experiences I was fortunate enough to participate in. Institutional knowledge is valuable and the loss of that knowledge base will be missed. Council Member Brian Sipes said that some cities do not have separate Planning Commissions and that the City Council fills that role. From my recent observations and for the good of the City of Fillmore, I sincerely hope we do not go down that path.
Diane McCall

Letters to the Editor
September 8, 2011

To the Editor:
Re: Pole Creek Graffiti Problem 8/25/11 Letter to Editor
This note is to let Mr. Richardson and other concerned citizens of Fillmore know that the Boy Scouts of Troop 406 have volunteered to adopt the concrete walls of Pole Creek for a graffiti removal program as an ongoing community service project.
Many of the Scouts and their leaders have already received safety training from Ventura County Flood Control/Public Works officials so that the work can be done safely. The Scouts plan to begin working on the removal of graffiti from the lining of Pole Creek this fall, once all of the official paperwork and permits have been processed.
It is a big project and we are not sure how long it will take to complete. Please be patient as we work to cover the current marks on the walls and to stay ahead of new Tagging, which may be added during the process.
The Scouts of troop 406 be will be doing their best to improve the appearance of Fillmore and give back to the community which has supported them so well for many years.
Brett Chandler
Committee Chairman, Troop 406

Letters to the Editor
September 1, 2011

To the Editor, City Council, and Fillmore Residents:
My wife and I are new to the area, me "retired" from 30 years Teaching and Counseling in Northern California. We are enjoying our new community of Fillmore, finding most people friendly, welcoming, gracious, and helpful.
However, traffic can be maddening, with the speeds of cars/trucks quite disconcerting, even downright scary. But more puzzling and irritating is seeing the number of trucks/trailers parked on the highway and side streets (residential), sometimes for many days. Apparently, local ordinances are not enforced or just ignored altogether.
For me, this has created a visual blight on this lovely town. Can someone explain why Fillmore tolerates this? Perhaps truckers buy enough "Quarter Pounders" from McDonalds to keep this small community afloat? Have city officials considered having a truckers' park somewhere locally, charging a small fee for overnight parking?
Fillmore doesn't have to look like an industrial park. Neighboring Ventura has certainly taken a firm stance against this unsightly (scofflaw?) behavior. Any thoughts or comments?
Christopher Hoy

Letters to the Editor
August 25, 2011

To the Editor:
Congratulations to the Fillmore Gazette for 22 years of successful operation. To survive as a small-town newspaper in this day and age, especially considering the poor economy and so many competing sources for news, is truly a remarkable achievement.
I cannot help but reflect on a particular hot, dry August day some 20 years ago when a 21-year-old kid shuffled into the Gazette offices in the lower floor of the Masonic Lodge building at 400 Central Avenue, seeking his first job out of college. I knew almost nothing about Fillmore, other than the fact my grandfather had served as Chief of Police in the town in the late 1960s, before I was born. I did not think I would be able to get a job at a daily newspaper, so I tried first with the weeklies. I lacked confidence and experience but knew that I wanted to be a writer, a journalist, so I walked in the door and announced my intentions.
The man and woman behind the counter – publisher Martin Farrell and editor Julianne Smith – did not disappoint when I asked if they had a job available. I could start right away, I was told, and I did, at first primarily covering city council meetings. It seemed like fate then and still does –they needed me and I needed them. I will never forget the excitement of that day – it was the start of an adventure that would keep me in Fillmore for 17 years, six with the Gazette and 11 serving the City of Fillmore. It seems like yesterday when I first walked into that office, but how much the world has changed. And how much Fillmore has changed too. It seems now like an innocent age, but I guess at 21 years of age one’s naiveté shines through. Sometimes the more we know, the less we want to know.
Those early days in the Gazette were amazing. Martin and Julianne gave me the freedom to pursue stories I saw as compelling, and the discussion and conversations we had with each other and with members of the community were fascinating and thought-provoking. It was exciting for a young man to cover such events as the release of the Condors back into Sespe wilds, the fight over SP Milling (remember SMIRF, Stop Mining in Rural Fillmore?), Fillmore’s annual series of fires and/or floods, and far too many gory traffic accidents on Hwy 126, when it was still a real “blood alley.” Then came the Northridge earthquake in January 1994, less than a month into my tenure as Editor. The earthquake, which dominated the news in Fillmore until the city got “Back on Track” in 1996, resulted in the loss of the Gazette’s office in the historic Masonic Lodge building, which had to be demolished after the quake. The Gazette first worked out of a residence until we were provided space at the old Hurst concrete plant in north Fillmore at the end of “B” Street. (The plant was torn down to build homes in north Fillmore a few years later.) Through it all, Martin kept the paper going, despite desperate competition from the “other” weekly newspaper in town.
Fillmore had it pretty good in those days, even despite the setbacks of the earthquake, which caused the good people of Fillmore to rally together and make the best of the situation. The people of Fillmore were not about to let their town down, and the residents, businesses, city staff and council members all worked together on a common vision to advance the town. Sure, there were disagreements, but with a solid vision and solid leadership it got done. Fillmore rebounded less than two years after the quake, stunning experienced State and Federal disaster relief officials. Fillmore earned its motto as the “Last, Best Small Town in Southern California”. When I came to work for the City in 1997, this positive energy was translated into Vision 2020, Fillmore’s 20-year plan for the future. We don’t hear much about Vision 2020 nowadays, but it may be time to revisit the document and well as the positive energy behind it. I will never forget the first town hall meeting we held to gather community input on the Vision 2020 plan – we had so many incredible suggestions and goals for Fillmore – prompting one member of the audience to declare: “If we can only accomplish 25 percent of these goals, Fillmore will be great place to be in 2020.” And that’s what Vision 2020 is all about: inspiration, motivation and encouragement.
But I digress, so let’s get back to Gazette. Congratulations on 22 years in the business. Martin, don’t retire just yet. You never know what, or who, might next walk through your front door. Keep the faith.
Steve McClary
Editor of the Fillmore Gazette (1994-1997)

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To the Editor:
Mr. Farrell, and speaking of Graffiti as your 8/18/11 articles pointed out, allow me to expound on that subject and the lack of interest it seems, not to arouse in our community by our "civic leaders".
For months now, I pointed out to the county, city and ownership of Fillmore and Western, about the graffiti on the railroad span over Pole Creek. Also, the graffiti on the fence of the salvage yard adjacent to Pole Creek and the fact that the entire concrete structure lining Pole Creek has an enormous amount of graffiti lining its walls. All to no avail!
Supervisor Kathy Long says there is no money to remove the graffiti. I was told to send her a list of the various volunteer organizations in town and they'd be contacted. Still nothing happened.
I was told that the county would supply the materials but the "volunteers" would have to do the work. When I asked who'd pay the law suits, if say, a member of the Cub or Boy Scouts, or Boys and Girls Club fell in the channel while doing the work of removal? No response and that question was asked months ago.
I guess being way out here in Fillmore and being such a small town "we don't get any respect"! At least as far as graffiti is concerned. But they still want our votes!
Charles Richardson

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To the Editor:
Businesses with accounts at the Fillmore branch of Wells Fargo.
Does the Fillmore branch of Wells Fargo Bank value our business accounts?
Besides a personal account, A Street Storage has a business account at Wells Fargo. One significant reason was the Fillmore branch had a “Merchant's Window”. This obviously expedited making daily deposits by not having to wait in long lines of people doing personal banking often taking excessive amounts of time because of account issues.
Recently, the Wells Fargo Fillmore branch has arbitrarily eliminated the “Merchant Window”. This capricious act could easily be considered an indication that the Fillmore branch of Wells Fargo values personal account customers more than business accounts.
Perhaps a chorus of discontentment voiced by businesses with merchant accounts at the Wells Fargo Fillmore branch might change the status quo and bring back the 'Merchant Window'. If not, well, I'll have no problem taking my business elsewhere.
A Street Storage
Fillmore, CA

Letters to the Editor
August 18, 2011

To [the] Editor and Vance Johnson,
When I became aware of the pending cell tower item, around April, I contacted staff members. Cell towers can be quite controversial due to citizen concerns and I wanted to make sure the public would have an opportunity to express their concerns.
I personally agreed with the Community Development Director that a 65' structure in the middle of town, next to the bike path and property likely to be rezoned residential in the future, deserved some scrutiny.
I have to admit that I did not know the intricacies of the zoning ordinance that FORBIDS the cell tower from being presented to the City Council! So, thinking that after Planning Commission approval it would come to the Council, as do most projects, I waited for a staff report and more information.
As far as meeting with the property owner who sent out emails soliciting opinions from Council members, Mr. Johnson needs to understand that some council members make it a policy not to meet with developers or project proponents so that when the item comes up for a vote, there is no bias due to lobbying. Also, the Council wants to make sure that all discussion and deliberation occurs at the dais in full view of the public. That is the intent of the Brown Act and we follow it to the "T".
At the Council meeting of June 21st, I asked to make sure that the Council got to have a public hearing on the Cell Tower. I was told that the ONLY WAY IT COULD BE HEARD BY THE PUBLIC AT A COUNCIL MEETING WAS BY THE PROCESS OF APPEAL. My statement was, okay, if you are telling me that's what we need to do, let's do it. Then, I was told no, we can't appeal it because a decision hasn't been made yet. So, the bottom line is neither I, nor the Council, expressed opposition or support for the Cell Tower, but the Council did want to learn more about it and have the public learn more about it.
My concerns about public hearings were based on the fact that on June 16th, the EPA held a public hearing regarding the Texaco PCPL cleanup site. I made announcements for two months prior to ensure attendance. But, there were still complaints that people were unaware of the meeting. For that reason, I felt it important to have more notice of the cell tower. And, while there was a noticed hearing at the Planning Commission, I would venture to guess that most citizens would also expect Council review.
So, it is strange that Vance Johnson and others choose to attack the City Council simply for seeking more information and public review of the cell tower for the benefit of citizens.
And, yes, I stand by my statement of "theatrics", which is defined as "staging performances". When the Gazette is summoned in advance to film the resignation, that is indeed theatrics.
Gayle Washburn

To The Editor:
This is in regards to the comments by Mayor Washburn, Councilmen Brook in the Ventura County Star and Vance Johnson’s recent guest editorial in the Fillmore Gazette and the Sespe Sun.
Ms. Washburn, while I understand your desire for the city council to be treated with respect, decorum and professionalism, you need to understand that this is a two way street. First off, respect is earned not given, second decorum comes when respect is given by all involved, and lastly Professionalism is the desire of the entities involved to respect each other through decorum. In my opinion you have shown none of these traits or the desire to ascribe to these traits.
Let me be perfectly clear, the one and only reason that I resigned from the Planning Commission was because of what in, my opinion was, considered a complete and utter lack of respect for me and my fellow commissioners. Based on your actions and statements at the city council meeting prior to our planning commission meeting, after our meeting and continuing to this day, you appear to only expect respect to flow in one direction, towards you.
This is a very selfish act on your part, when in my opinion you should be selfless and acting in the public interest. As you alluded to in a previous statement you are an elected official, elected to act in the public’s interest and with the public trust. You make statements and decisions that potentially violate the Brown Act, violates due process, and potentially cause the city to spend money that it can not afford in order to defend your actions from litigation. You are violating the public trust. This would include offending individuals that take their own time, without compensation, to perform a job with due diligence to serve this community with pride only to have the city council lambaste them publically.
You speak of decorum, but again you missed a perfect opportunity to show decorum. In my opinion, proper decorum would have been to contact each commissioner and apologize for your actions and the action of the council, followed by a very public apology for the same.
My hope is that you make yourself accountable for your actions and that of the city council as Mayor and do the right thing by apologizing to the commission and public for disrespecting your constituents trust, interest and good faith.
Remember, beneficence can begin with one simple apology and holding yourself accountable for your actions.
One last question, what is the city council’s vision for Fillmore???? I do not believe that we have ever had this question answered.
Douglas Tucker

Letters to the Editor
August 11, 2011

To the Editor:
Seriously, Mayor?
Regarding the Fillmore City Council-Planning Commission interplay, I was struck by how the Ventura County Star article of July 30th entitled ‘Fillmore Seeking Planning Commissioners After Three Resign’ supports my opinion, and the opinion of others. It’s time for the Council to stop putting their collective feet in their mouths, and concentrate on pulling the city out of the hole they dug and pushed it into.
Mayor Washburn is correct; certain comments at the June 22nd Planning Commission’s meeting were disrespectful. Obviously, several former members of the Planning Commission no longer have respect for some individuals on the Council and their nonsensical actions. I respectfully addressed the city council for ten minutes to explain that to the Mayor during the July 12th Council meeting. Mayor, did you hear and understand what was being said? I doubt it, since following my comments you said “I don’t understand where all this animosity is coming from?” You seriously don’t believe it’s wrong to state that you want to appeal a decision which hasn’t been made? On June 22 the Planning Commission followed the law and the Zoning Ordinances of Fillmore. You however failed to understand the law, you put the city on the path for more litigation and you didn’t care one bit. You insulted business leaders, citizens and volunteers who serve on the Planning Commission from the very beginning of this latest fiasco.
And I am truly flabbergasted at Mayor Washburn’s comments that the “departed commissioners were appointed by the previous, old guard council”! Seriously, Mayor? I was appointed to my current term by your current Mayor Pro-Tem and fellow council member Jamie Brooks! That was just two short years ago. And therein lies the crux of the problem, you along with Jamie Brooks and new kid on the block Brian Sipes, AKA “the majority of the Council”, simply cannot remember what you have done, what you have said, and you have no idea what you are going to say or do because you just don’t know what you’re doing.
Mayor Washburn alludes to previous councils which she claims did not “work together in a professional manner with decorum and respect”. That statement is flatly false and self-serving, but we’re used to that. I’m certain that you can’t even see or recognize the chaos in Fillmore’s government which you and your buddies have instigated. The City Manager seems all too willing to take your lead and do your bidding but then again you control her pay and fellow council member Sipes owns the house she lives in. Mayor Washburn, was it proper decorum to show a bias on the cell tower project? Was it proper decorum to almost get three votes to appeal a decision which wasn’t on the agenda? Was it proper decorum to verbally state that you wanted to appeal a decision from a meeting which hadn’t even taken place? Is it proper decorum to call into the meeting and disrupt it from the comfort of your home? Is it proper decorum to ignore emails sent by Business Leaders who seek your input and questions?
This is the last thing I must comment on, because it’s really amusing, is your reference to our resignations at the Council meeting as “theatrics”. Seriously? I calmly read two letters to you, that was it. When Brooks addressed the council in June of 2008, crying that he brought his sword with him to divide and create chaos, now THAT was theatrics! When you and Brooks opined on the resignation of three Planning Commissioners, that was theatrics.
Clearly, the comments made by Washburn and Brooks simply support the opinions expressed by Mark Austin, Douglas Tucker, and myself, which are, that they, Mayor Washburn and Mayor Pro-Tem Brooks, don’t understand the relationship between the Council, staff, commissions. I’m sorry Mayor Pro-Tem Brooks, you’re not the boss of everybody, and no, we don’t report back to you or the council. It is high time the Fillmore City Council majority understands that it is merely one spoke in the wheel, and not the wheel itself. Based on the way you’ve conducted business as Mayor the game of politics clearly belong with the City Council.
Vance Johnson


To the Editor:
I have hesitated for many years writing about this subject and don’t expect to make too many friends by doing so. Just keep an open mind and give this letter some thought.
In the early 1700’s hot air balloons were discovered. By the late 1700’s the first flight across the English Channel was made. Hot air ballooning became more common as the years went by. In 1793 George Washington witnessed the first flight by a balloon in North America. Helium filled balloons were also being experimented with. Over the years and to the present many records have been made and broken crossing our oceans and continents by both types of balloons. Ballooning is a primitive invention now using the latest materials and equipment that has made it into a great sport that is fascinating to watch and to some to participate by taking rides. The young and old watch in awe as they take from the ground and float gently away.
I remember watching, in person, my first balloons lifting off the ground and moving ever so slowly with the air currents. I witnessed several events that took place from the Fillmore High school property. I can’t recall which one it was when my wife and I followed them in our car. Some balloons stayed quite low and the wind carried them easterly along the mountains by Pole Creek and then the path gently curved and took them more or less toward Highway 126. As we watched from our car we could see that one balloon was heading straight toward a high voltage line that runs through there. They were on the same level or maybe a little lower. Soon the pilot of the craft saw the danger and it sounded like he opened the propane valve wide open to gain some altitude; the roar was loud even though we were not so very close. In the car we were yelling and screaming our encouragement and thought it was too little too late; when every so slightly the balloon raised just enough to clear the lines, my guess by four feet. We followed them no further as they cleared the hill and went on to who knows where to land. I think there were four people in the basket. That picture and the thought of what could have happened is still in my mind. I swore then and told my family it would be over my dead body if any of them ever got in one of “those.”
I have other stories to tell: We have some friends, husband and wife, that took a ride; the pilot-light went out and they got bumped and dragged along San Cayetano Mountain. After a time they came to a stop and managed to get the fire lit. They said it was a chilling experience.
Another episode happened just outside the bedroom where my daughter was sleeping at a friend’s house. She heard excited voices and looked out the window. Here again they had lost their flame somehow and the basket was balanced precariously in the top of a tree. They got it going after a time and lifted off into the blue once again.
I’m sure these stories are an exception as it isn’t often one hears of someone getting hurt or killed. I figure that people can risk their lives for a little excitement if they like. The next story is why I am writing this letter. You can agree, disagree or say you don’t give a darn…..I just want people to have some more facts and something for you to think about the next time you see those beautiful balloons take to the sky.
The most spectacular balloon ascension took place one of those times from the High School and consisted of maybe twenty balloons taking of near the same time. I got out my trusty Canon camera and followed them, this time in a westerly direction. Near the Sespe River I took a picture with about fourteen balloons in one shot. I followed for a while longer, across the river and watched as about three of them opted to come down in a young citrus orchard. I watched as some dragged over trees; bending and breaking them as they went along. I was so mad I had to leave. I was afraid I would get in a big hassle with them and I would lose control. I have no idea if they made restitution to the farmer or not. Now I get to the reason I wrote this letter. This is a fact……… Before these “balloonists” ever get in the air they know they have very limited control over where they are going to land. They know they will have to land on private property somewhere and probably will not have time to ask for permission to land there. I don’t know of any property that is not owned by someone be it private or public. How dare they think they have the right to trespass?!
Recently I asked one of the “balloonists,” at the Santa Paula event, where they landed if they had mostly just up and down for control. With a grin on her face she replied, “We trespass a lot. We land in school yards or wherever.”
So, what do you think? Do they have the right to land anywhere? Remember that wherever they land their ground crew has to drive a truck or trailer or both to retrieve the balloon and all its hardware. If you would like to learn more about ballooning try asking Google on-line and you will read the good and the bad: crops torn up, animals frightened and more. There are videos of some really bad accidents on YouTube if you are not squeamish. Like I said, this is the exception not the rule, but it does happen.
John Heilman (76 year Fillmore native)

Letters to the Editor
August 4, 2011

To the Editor:
Enough is enough!
I am a 50 year old man that is proud to say I have grown up & lived most of my life in the great city of Fillmore. I went to school & worked in this town. I have lived through earthquakes, floods & death of family & friends in our place we call home.
Well I must say I have had ENOUGH of this so called city leadership called a City Council!
Ms. Washburn, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Sipes, & Ms. Walker the so called "New" guard council are killing our great town...Over & over again.
Maybe you need to look at history of our town & know that what we are the most proud of is that when the times are at there hardest or worst we all stick together! We do not point to the other person & say it is their fault. We say what can we do to help. We do not have a knife to stick it in someone’s back.
Mr. Conaway is the only City Council person left that is still the "old" guard council. He is the only one there who is still for the town of Fillmore instead of for the "New group".
The city workers, planning commissioners & the people of "Old" guard Fillmore are hurting because of the way you think & do things. Next time you might want to hear what we all are saying instead of what just you 4 are saying!
God Bless Fillmore & the U.S.A.
Joe M. Woods Sr.

To the Editor:
Some thoughts on Perception Management.
The method of creating untrue facts have been practiced throughout history. People have, for various reasons created a lie about a person, place or thing and repeated it over and over again which then others replicate said lies for others to believe. Let's now move forward to the present and the world of Perception Management (PM). Public Relations (PR's) firms offer Perception Management services at a high cost and have exceptional talent in creating lies of various magnitudes. They create facts, then publish them throughout the world. A major untruth can be created quickly and overwhelmingly, that no one digging into after the fact can trace the true source and prove otherwise, which makes it so dangerous.
These (PR) firms perpetrate these deceptions through various forms of the media i.e., radio, newspapers, magazines, newscasts, computers and hand held electronic devices. Any of these methods provide a massive and instant data release. This includes all forms of mis-information unseen by viewers. Countries, Government political groups, advertisers, businesses and yes (!) terrorists, use PM tactics to demean and lower the character status or reputation of persons, places or situations. In todays environment of massive mis-information it is nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction. We read/hear something about a person or situation and we immediately accept it as fact without positive knowledge of the facts. We then repeat and convince others of our position. These snap conclusions are based on our prejudices which we developed from childhood to our present life. We declare our true beliefs are based on the "United States Constitution", "The Bill of Rights" and religious teachings. (All men/women are created equal and have the same rights as we do). Yet we select our own selfish values over others at their expense thereby creating quick judgmental positions.
To better be prepared when deciding if the items we hear/read are factual or not, it would be wise to set them aside until it is a proven fact, if not, stay neutral until proven otherwise.
Ray Dressler

Letters to the Editor
July 28, 2011

To the Editor:
Dear City Manager,
The purpose of my correspondence is to inform you about the excellent job being done at the Fillmore Aquatic Center. Lori McDonnell and her team are amazing.
I am an avid swimmer. I started doing lap swim as soon as the pool reopened the 1st of February. I appreciate that the pool opens at 6:30 a.m. Doing my laps first thing in the morning really kick starts my day. If work or anything else prevents me from going in the morning, I have another opportunity to swim in the evening.
This weekend my four year old granddaughter was here from Oceanside and I took her to family swim. We had so much fun in the children's play area. The staff was wonderful, they never disappoint. Again, I commend Lori and her team at the Aquatic Center for doing such a great job!!
With best regards,
Kathy Meza

Dear Business Owner:
Believe it or not it’s that time again “FILLMORE FLASHES FOOTBALL AND FALL SPORTS”. This is the time of year when we start to look to our community to help us make this a successful year for the Sports Program at Fillmore High School. The Fillmore High School Athletic Boosters is an organization run completely by unpaid volunteers, which include board members, parents, coaches and many other adults who donate their time. Everyone is dedicated to the advancement of Fillmore High School Sports at all levels of play.
We are starting early this year on the Football Program and that is why we need your help. We are seeking local businesses that would be interested in placing an "AD" in this years "FILLMORE FLASHES FALL SPORTS PROGRAM".
Here's looking to another successful year at Fillmore High School.
Susan Golson, 216-4013
Program Coordinator