You may remember me as the woman who contacted you when I was evicted from the Beachfronter Apartments in 2008. You contacted the management and printed my letter to you regarding the episode, for which I was and am still grateful.

However, today I am writing to comment on the Blood money jobs bill (Power to Speak, 12/31) piece by Justin Markman. What a comprehensive analysis of the “American war industry.” Blood money indeed. If there were more acknowledgements of this bitter truth, perhaps some changes would be made. Perhaps.

Meantime, I hope you will include Mr. Markman on your staff. He is a splendid writer and would add to the already fine quality of your Reporter.

Virginia Donohue, Ventura

The other side of the story
Thank you for writing this excellent piece (Suicide by cop, cover, 12/17) for our community. It is forgotten too often that enforcement officers are also victims in many life-threatening situations.

Everyone expects way more from our police officers and far less of their own responsibility to help maintain a protected community.

Stephanie Midgett, Ojai

Up, up and away
Enjoyed reading your article (online) on the Ventura County UFO Festival (Arts and Culture, 11/19).  I’m writing to let you know about my own “take” on UFOs, should you again write on the subject and need an expert to talk with about it.

I’m professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My specialty is Judaic studies; particular specialty, religious traditions (not just Jewish) of heavenly ascent. UFO abductions are right in my ballpark.  I’ve taught a university course on them, have prepared a lecture/workshop on “UFOs — Visitors from Inner Space.”  My novel Journal of a UFO Investigator will be published in a little more than a year by Viking Press.

UFOs are not about other planets.  They’re about us — our longings and fears, particularly our confrontation with the end of our existence. They’re a “modern myth,” as the great psychologist Carl Jung called them, and that’s why they’re so important to Jung. And to me.

If you’d ever like to incorporate a religious-studies scholar’s view of UFOs into one of your articles, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

David J. Halperin
Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill

Support for Gaza
In this season of new beginnings, would people please take a moment to consider giving 750,000 children (and 700,000 adults) a new beginning in Gaza? They have not been allowed the basic necessities of life for more than two years in an illegal blockade that is partially funded and armed by U.S. taxpayers. Many have seen their homes and loved ones blown to pieces. The Fourth Geneva Convention outlaws the collective punishment of civilians, so this is a war crime and a moral outrage.

Please join in solidarity with the children this week, much as we did at the Berlin wall and against apartheid in South Africa. Please boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) any person, country or business that profits from illegal occupations.

John Azevedo, Ventura

Ventura Democrats — not dysfunctional but evolutionary
The recent commentary about Ventura County Democratic politics (News, 12/31) was a fair approach to the symptoms, but hardly a fair appraisal of the causes, of the present changes in the Central Committee. Democrats in a large part of Ventura County are frustrated by the continued presence in power of the Republican Stricklands and Congressman Elton Gallegly.

Election cycle after election cycle, we have fielded underfunded novice candidates, who fail to overcome the large gerrymandered Republican advantages in the Assembly and Congressional districts. Every election failure brings its recriminations and petty conflicts, which should be better directed outward against the real adversaries instead of within party activist circles. And every election failure brings yet another affirmation that the political strategists are correct — only a candidate with an established county profile and a treasury of around a million dollars can hope to make a meaningful run for office in the 37th Assembly District or the 24th Congressional District.

The figures prove incontrovertible — the total of registered voting Republicans outnumbers registered voting Democrats, and the growing number of decline-to-states creates a playing field for those who like to project outcomes based on hope rather than reality. In spite of successful efforts by Vote Blue to lift the Democratic registration numbers in 2007 and 2008, so that Democrats now prevail countywide, the actual Districts remain lopsided. The boundaries will be redrawn after the 2010 census and will, we can hope, contain a fairer distribution.

In the meantime, Ventura County Democrats have been attempting to move into the 21st century by adopting new and better technology and communications and by learning from the community-building strategies of the Obama campaign. Unfortunately and understandably, change has met with resistance.

As in all organizations, the old guard suspects the new, and tends to mistake longevity for wisdom, and experience for leadership. Long experience of failed elections, however, is not necessarily a qualification for future success. The emerging leadership of Ventura County Democrats recognizes that 2010 represents a sea change in local politics. With a Democratic president in Washington, who won in Ventura County with 55.3 percent, we feel we can translate this into more local Democratic wins.

To do this, the Central Committee deserves professional, efficient and effective management. We need to fundraise in a more focused and professional manner. As we no longer need volunteers to put stamps on envelopes, we need to attract, train and retain competent volunteers who are technically proficient, used to Facebook, Twitter and other sophisticated technologies, and competent at accessing voter lists and messaging. A huge and growing number of supporters need to be engaged electronically as well as kept involved with meetings and forums and new opportunities for political engagement.

And this is the crux of the matter — the Ventura Democratic Party has reached a stage where it needs proficient and professional leadership as we move forward at a new level of activism. The job is simply too big for busy working professionals and too specialized for well-meaning amateurs. There is bound to be unease at this time of transition, but it gives us an opportunity to become a more effective machine, and one that will help produce winning Democratic candidates.

Sue Broidy
CDP Region 10 Director
Ojai

Osteria appreciation
Tammy and I were moved when we read this article (In Good Taste, 12/31). Osteria Monte Grappa has been our “little dream” for years now, and this article confirms that we are headed in the right direction. It captures the essence of what was intended with the Osteria. Since moving to Ojai a few months ago, we have been welcomed with open arms. We look forward to raising our children in this wonderful community.

I would like to give a special thanks to our chef, partner and friend Cesar Bello, who also shared this dream with us and, after 16 years working with me at my family’s restaurants Pane e Vino and ViaVai, has relocated his family from Santa Barbara to Ojai. Cesar has been so important to our success; he takes all these ingredients we bring to him, and he puts them together to simple perfection. He is our unsung hero.

Thanks again, Lisa and VCReporter staff. Come see us again soon. Cesar, Tammy and I have lots of great things to come!

Stefano Bernardi & Osteria Monte Grappa Family
Ojai

Rumors de rumors
Word has it that the Ojai-Ventura International Film Festival, with much of its leadership, including Shor, will return bigger and better than ever but that the Ojai Film Festival with Grumette and a few others is kaput and bankrupt.

— Donnie