A recent letter made a bunch of poorly informed statements about everything from global warming to care for the elderly as being somehow based on fear and greed (See “Questionable lessons,” Letters, 3/27/08). The United States government was founded by a disparate group of very courageous men with a profound world view. That view was the culmination of liberal thought in the 18th century, that an informed public could govern itself without divine intervention through anointed rulers. They summarized this thought in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. I quote it in its entirety: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Nowhere does it say anything about a basis in natural law, property rights or any other. The sole basis is in “We, the People.” That’s it. And nowhere does it restrict government’s role to purely military, prohibit taxation or any other imagined constraint. And it specifically provides that the government shall be formed to “promote the general Welfare.” It is up to us, We the People, to decide. And if We, the People, decide that the general welfare is best served by providing for some level of universal health care, then that is our right to do so. And if We, the People, decide that the general welfare is best served by providing for an assured level of support for the elderly, then it is our right to do so. And if We, the People, decide that the general welfare is best served by providing protections for the commons, which includes the air we breath, the water we drink, and the soil we farm, then it is our right to do so. And if We, the People, decide domestic tranquility is best served by providing social justice though assuring equal participation in society for all regardless of race, sex, creed, or any other arbitrary criteria, it is our right to do so.

Norman Rodewald,

Love still a drag

As President of Bears Ventura, I would like to begin by saying thank you for your article on our event Love is a Drag IV:  Love Stinks! (See “Drag strip,” Art and Culture, 2/21/08). You helped make this our most successful and rewarding show in its four-year history.

I’d like to thank Frank and Wayde of Paddy’s, DJ Oscar, our host, our crew and, of course, all the performers. I’m proud to say that we raised $1,000 for Let California Ring to help their groundbreaking efforts to open hearts and minds about the freedom to marry. I’m certain you and your readers have seen their television ad airing on local stations. You can also see it at their Web site:  www.letcaliforniaring.org.

It seems that all too often we are often forced to celebrate in the shadow of sorrow. The tragic shooting of Lawrence King (See “Where do we go from here,” Feature, 2/21/08) reminds us all that there are still those Americans who are denied the right to free expression, the pursuit of happiness, liberty and, yes, even life.

I can’t fathom the pain the King family has endured in this tragedy. I’m certain that I speak for all of my membership and our community when I say how sorry I am for their loss. Not only as a member of the GLBT community, but as a citizen of the United States, when I see that are schools are not safe, our children are not protected and our friends and neighbors are threatened or attacked, I know that we all suffer.

Our organization responded to this tragedy by attending the vigil and by holding a special fundraising raffle to support the Lawrence King Memorial Fund organized by his brother and sponsored by Bears Ventura, Big Dogs and Riviera Adult SuperStore of Santa Barbara. I’m proud to say that we raised $150 for the family fund.

Last year Bears Ventura raised over $7,500 for the Ventura County AIDS Walk. We contributed over $1,000 to other charities and community events. We participated in the Pride festivals in Santa Barbara and Ventura raising money for Pacific Pride’s Youth Services and GLCC Youth.

I never imagined that my first photo in mainstream media identifying me as president of Bears Ventura would be wearing bad make-up, a plaid bustier and a pink wig … it’s made me reflect on why I am president of Bears Ventura. I’m proud to be a part of this community and proud to support it through our organization’s social events, camping trips and, most importantly, our fundraising.

I’m proud of how our community has come together and look forward to continued progress in obtaining our full rights as Americans.

Thom Finni,
President, Bears Ventura,

Charter switch a mess

I asked Charter Communications for weeks and weeks about whether the deals set up with Wave would be honored (See “Cable Snaps in Ventura,” News, 3/27/08). They kept saying they didn’t know as “my account had not been set up.” They seem almost as if they were taken by surprise.  

I fix PCs for my job, and a customer today was telling me he had the same problems as me.

The whole situation is absolutely crazy for such a major part of the local economy — If Taco Bell bid for the contract to repair Ventura’s traffic signals you would expect them to present a plan and the proof they could do it before they were let loose. This seems like a shambles.

Robert Burns,

Orchestral omissions

I am writing in regard to the article, “Tale of two orchestras” (See Feature, 3/20/08).  There were several mistakes that I would like to mention.

The title suggests there are two orchestras in the Thousand Oaks area, when in reality there are three orchestral organizations. The third one is the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras (CVYO). They have three orchestras filled with young, very talented musicians in the Conejo Valley. The lead picture in the article is one of the CVYO orchestra in concert at the Fred Kavli Theater, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The boy whose picture was printed, Matthew Chen, is a member of CVYO.

I regret that you refer to the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic as a “nonprofit.”  That implies many things not completely related to an orchestra.  The public needs to know that all three of these orchestral organizations are nonprofits and all three are equally enriching the cultural scene in the Conejo Valley.

There was an important omission at the end of the article.  The CVYO concert information was missing and is as follows: Gala Concert, June 1, 2008,  3 p.m., Fred Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Tickets: General admission $19, students and seniors $16.

I hope these corrections will be made in your paper so that the students, staff, board members and director Bill Benson of the CVYO will be given due credit for the work they do in providing music training to young people, and music pleasure for the people of the Thousand Oaks area.

Many thanks for bringing this music information to your readers.

Joyce Osborn,
Thousand Oaks

Orchestra deserves mention

I am writing in response to an article you wrote on March 20. The pictures on the front page and at the heading of the article did not match the information in the article. The pictures were of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra and were given to you by the conductor of that group, Bill Benson. How did the article develop around these pictures? The article you wrote does not even mention the Youth Orchestra which is the most important group in the entire Conejo, because it is comprised of young people.

The New West Symphony (of which I am a member) is an outstanding orchestra of professional musicians, and the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic (of which I am the concertmaster) is likewise a group of professional musicians. Both entities provide opportunities for young people to hear music and to perform as soloists with the accompaniment of professional musicians.

The Conejo Youth Orchestra on the other hand is a group of 275 young people in three different orchestras from ages 7 to 18 who play music themselves under the incredible leadership/baton of Bill Benson. The picture on the front page of the magazine was of Matthew Chen, a cellist, who will be the soloist with the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra in their June 1 concert. His name was regrettably not even mentioned.

The picture at the heading of your article is of the youth orchestra, not the New West Symphony or the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic.

It would be really great and the proper thing to do, I think, to ratify this mistake, to do an in-depth article about the Conejo Youth Orchestra and also some publicity concerning their upcoming concert.

Dianne Rammon,
Thousand Oaks

More orchestra concern

As an avid supporter of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras, I was thrilled to see their young and brilliant cellist Mathew Chen on the cover of your March 20 issue, and I was happy to see a photo of one of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras on page 15. However, it appears you have made a terrible error.

The headline on the cover, “Opportunities for young musicians blossom in Thousand Oaks Philharmonic and the New West Symphony’s Discovery Artists program” is placed in a way that suggests it corresponds to the photo on the cover, but this photo of Matthew is of him playing with the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra, a completely different program. Then, inside, it’s the same thing. The kicker, stating “Ventura County is alive with the sound of classical music, thanks to the New West Symphony and Thousand Oaks Philharmonic,” is placed directly on top of a photo of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra!

Not only is this headline and this kicker completely misrepresenting the images, I was appalled that there wasn’t even a mention of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras in the text of the article, which is about music education programs in the Conejo Valley. The Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras are the only way that many children in this area have the opportunity to play in an orchestra at all.

I hope you not only print a correction in your following issue but write an article about them in the near future. I look forward to seeing how you resolve this. Considering the newsworthy successes of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestras and their excellent photos, I’m sure it will not be difficult.

Moriah Harris-Rodger
Thousand Oaks