Fighting a disease like cancer, especially childhood cancer, is a noble humanitarian pursuit. This is not intended as criticism of that quest. I absolutely appreciate the heartfelt efforts of people like John S. Jones, in his letter regarding the St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser on March 20 (Letters, 3/4).

Jones is correct that childhood cancer kills more children than any other disease in the United States. What is stunningly ignorant about cancer fundraising efforts in Ventura County is that they are usually held near agricultural fields, or include walks or bike rides through agricultural fields that use some of the most carcinogenic man-made chemicals known to man. Millions of pounds of them!

Ventura County pesticide usage and the health consequences are legendary. Los Angeles cancer doctors treat so many Ventura County patients that they assume we know our risks. A few years ago, it was reported that around 60 percent of children with cancer in Children’s Hospital were from Ventura County. And childhood cancer rates are going up as this generation of babies is born pre-polluted in the womb.

It seems to me that cancer fundraisers are looking for money for a magic healing pill that allows pollution without cancer consequence, or they wouldn’t hold fundraisers that expose their benefactors to cancer-causing chemicals.

I’d prefer to invest money, time and energy into preventing cancer and not making children undergo surgery and chemo in the hope of adding a few more years to their innocent lives.

Currently, strawberry growers and agricultural interests, like the farm bureau, are lobbying the governor to register the fumigant pesticide methyl iodide, a toxic chemical that researchers use in labs in small amounts to create cancer. If we don’t stop it, cancer rates could skyrocket where homes and schools border strawberry fields. Fight cancer — call the governor’s office and ask that methyl iodide not be used in California! Save lots of children with one call.

Instead of attending cancer fundraisers near strawberry fields, send your money to PAN – Pesticide Action Network,; the Environmental Working Group,; or a similar organization that’s fighting to prevent our exposure to carcinogens.

Ironically, the Reporter’s editorial on the cease and desist order on the free coffee and doughnuts at B & B Do It Center in Camarillo was on the same page. Good golly … free doughnuts? The toxic cloud that greets you at the door should make you hold your breath, not inspire leisurely snacking! (Upholstery and stuffed animals absorb pesticides.

Do doughnuts?) The Health Department should bring the Air Pollution Control District and haz mat with them if they return to B & B.

The Ventura County Health Dept. is OK with toxic chemical fumes but not free doughnuts?


Deborah Bechtel, Camarillo

Any response is better than no response
I truly want to thank Mr. Andretti for responding to my letter (Letters, 3/4). I write my little heart out for truth, justice and the American way, and seldom do people reply. His letter makes no great sense, but I’m grateful for any indication that I’m being read.

Mr. Andretti seemed to misconstrue some of my remarks, so let me help him out. I pointed out that, circa 2006, I watched a massive demonstration against Chavez in the streets of Caracas on a Truthout podcast at almost the same moment that Condoleezza Rice claimed Chavez suppressed dissent. Either he did a peculiarly poor job of it or she lied.

Her track record suggests she lied, e.g., “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.”  

Mr. Andretti’s remark about President Chavez’s odd notion that the Haiti earthquake was caused by a U.S. experiment is irrelevant. Telling the truth about Chavez does not mean a wholesale endorsement of all his statements or actions, which I certainly do not intend. What isn’t irrelevant is that Chavez doesn’t suppress dissent and that Rice lied.   

As for a corporate “conspiracy” to suppress news, I’m reminded of Bill’s remark to Hillary that it isn’t a conspiracy if folks do it right out in the open. Corporate American media are careful to protect interests by not annoying readers, advertisers or owners. Fox has the worst reputation for straying from fact; indeed, even won a Florida court case on the odd defense that it had no legal obligation to tell the truth. But all mass media are selective with the truth because it serves their interest to do so. They don’t have to conspire, and I never claimed they did.

I also don’t imagine the Brits would be happy with Mr. Andretti’s characterizing the Chilcot inquiry as “crackpot,” but in his defense, Mr. Andretti probably hasn’t the vaguest notion of what it was and what it revealed about the labor government’s false claims in the runup to the Iraq War. This is because he prefers substandard journalism, from which it was omitted. I learned of the inquiry on BBC World News on PBS.

As to media “trashing” America, one could hardly find a more virulent example than Fox. Its commentators and guests continually hurl meritless criticism at our president, some of it bizarrely trivial, some bordering on racist, some of it libelous. As for objective, one Fox newsie was caught on video orchestrating a Tea Party gathering! That Fox is popular is a nonstarter. Hitler was popular, too. He also told his audience what they wanted to hear instead of the truth.

I prefer to take in news that covers it all, not just what is safe and serves the corporate interests. More than that, as a conscientious citizen, I need to know more than I am served in the mass media. Only the independent media can afford to tell the dark side of the news that we desperately need to know before it’s too late.

Finally, I do not call people liars because they disagree with me; I call people liars because they lie.

Margaret Morris, Ventura

The “Poster Child of Injustice” speaks out
Undoubtedly, you may have been surprised to hear me speaking at the City Council meeting on March 8, possibly believing that the last page of “The Saga of the Slipping  Slope” had been written. The disturbing reality is that a final chapter is yet to be added to the 12-year history of suffering that I have endured as an innocent victim of misplaced bureaucratic power. 

The city continues to ignore the fact that the new buyer, in December 2009, assumed all the conditions and terms of the first sales contract, executed in February 2005. This contract required development with concurrent stabilization of city lot 7 within three years, or by 2008. The first buyer defaulted on all counts, and in 2009, the city granted his request to extend his contract to give him time to find a new buyer, recoup his investment in the failed project, and get himself off the liability hook, which he did. This allowed him not only to dump the lot on a new buyer, but also to rid himself of all liability. He then promptly left town on the first stagecoach and is now enjoying renewed “peace of mind” such as I have been denied for the past 12 years.

But wait, hear this! Sadly, after the Feb. 3, 1998, massive landslide, the city, instead of addressing the problem of stabilization at the outset, failed to apply for available FEMA funds. It chose instead to spend well over $500,000 of the taxpayers’ money to remove itself from the responsibility of upgrading its own substandard property.  

The city then dumped the problem on me, making it necessary for me to purchase and install the needed plastic slope protection to prevent further erosion and damage to my property. Unbelievably, I was even forced to buy encroachment permits to enter upon city property to do the city’s job in order to save my home. 

I include this information to make you aware of the city’s cunning and vicious methodology to discourage citizens, like myself, from pursuing justice and seeking fair play. Throughout these past 12 years of hell, the city accomplished its true intent and purpose — to dodge its responsibility to fix its substandard lot, and then dump its problem on me.

Most importantly, I need to warn citizens not to naively trust the city to do the right thing, as I mistakenly did.

What is my position today? I am 88 years old, suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of this ordeal, with ongoing stress and depression and no peace of mind such as the city and the first buyer enjoy. I am still wallowing in a cesspool of uncertainty, possibly for years to come. If the present buyer fails after three years, then what? What is the city doing to avoid this catastrophe? I have had no communication from the city since the resale.  Not even an inquiry as to how I have fared during the heavy rains. Oh, I forgot! The City thinks it no longer has any responsibility or reason to care about what happens to me.

It is no wonder our citizens have evidenced their distrust in the city by rejecting the sales tax. It is no wonder that our citizens are disenchanted and angry over the city’s ongoing disregard of citizens’ rights and needs. It is no wonder that the citizens, in ever increasing numbers, are recognizing the fact that the Council has forgotten that our government is founded on the principle “Of the people, by the people and for the people,” and not for politicians to enhance personal agendas and self-serving programs. 

Can any one of the Council members explain to me why I have been singled out and so persecuted over the past 12 years? Can they explain how my constitutional rights have been stolen, and stolen with impunity? And finally, what efforts will our Council make to prevent such miscarriages of justice in the future?

I am awaiting answers to these questions.

Helen Yunker, Ventura