I’ve found Ventura politics to be fairly unique. Maybe it’s just the crowd I hang with, but I’ve heard repeatedly that part of Ventura’s charm and appeal is a feeling that you can make a difference here. I have never lived in a place where town hall meetings, design charettes and stakeholder discussions with staff and council are called with such regularity. Sure, there is not always agreement, but there is real dialogue and it shows.

When the city called a meeting to discuss budget cuts this year, more than 200 people showed up, requiring use of a second hall. Public transit discussions, meetings about homeless citizens, and Westside charettes — all were heavily attended.

In this culture of public involvement, personal-attack politics is detrimental and unwelcome. Rather than being about solutions, personal attacks sap the energy out of the political arena. People tend to either stay quiet to avoid the fray, or go on the defensive in a negative tug of war with little to no dialogue, and no real winner.

I’ve seen this destructive approach cropping up in Ventura, and I find it disturbing. For example, I contributed to the Wright Library effort and was sad to hear of its closing. But I certainly don’t want a recall effort launched against Mayor Bill Fulton. All that would foster is a culture of unhealthy, fear-based decision making. And in these tough times, the result would be weak policy, posturing and buck-passing. Just what we don’t need.

The good news is that, to date, Ventura voters want no part of this personal politics. We have a history of these types of efforts backfiring badly. I’m reminded of the intense letter campaign attempting to discredit councilmember Neal Andrews over a travel-spending issue that had been approved by the other council members. Neal became the underdog. Incidentally, he got a substantial number of votes in that election. Character assassination is just not the way it’s done here in Ventura; people don’t like it.

Not to mention, in a city this size we all still have to live together after the campaign. It’s not worth the hard feelings and burned bridges, even if it was effective. In all my years of activism, I’ve never seen a reason to go after a person in order to get the job done.

I treasure the active community paul@vcreporter.com

Whiskey Glass Eye will celebrate the official release of its CD at Buffalo Exchange in Ventura (the first of many in-stores there) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 22 and they will open for Nashville Pussy along with local favorites Jackass on Wednesday, May 26. Ventura. I’m not saying it’s easy — but if we want to keep that culture alive, I think we need to keep the dialogue open, and keep our eyes on the prize.

Rachel Morris, Ventura

Progressive solution to graffiti abatement
Letter to Editor, VC Reporter re: “Debate continues over Oxnard graffiti abatement” (News, 5/6)
Graffiti is not going to go away by assessing exorbitant fines that are beyond the ability of youth offenders or their families to pay. Arts for Action provides tagging offenders with the opportunity to channel their frustrations and artistic talents in a positive direction. Its supportive environment, with arts and leadership instruction using mentors, guides graffiti offenders in the right direction. Given the opportunity to work off reasonable fines with “sweat equity” through Arts for Action’s program Paint Not Prisons, youth can help beautify the city and make Oxnard a better place to live.

Graffiti artists become part of the solution, not the problem. Arts for Action programs engender a sense of belonging while the youth members are performing something constructive.

When a mural or any other work of art is complete, young people can say, “Look at what I have created.” They receive recognition and positive feedback from the community. In the programs of Arts for Action, youth make new friends, improve their self esteem, develop trust in community leaders, become part of a team, and create a sense of belonging to a group that is doing something positive for their community.

We encourage the City of Oxnard to reconsider their options and use viable positive programs, such as Art for Action, as a means of reducing graffiti in our communities.

Arts for Action is supported in part by a grant from the Social Justice Fund for Ventura County. The Social Justice Fund extends an invitation to readers to attend our annual party. With this event and other fundraising projects, the fund aims to create a permanent legacy in Ventura County for creating change, not charity, to build a safer, healthier and more equitable community.

Creating a New Canvas for Social Justice Fundraising Party

Sunday, May 23
2-5 p.m.

Larry Janss’ Four Friends Gallery
1408 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Thousand Oaks

A donation of $50 per person is requested.

You may pay online at www.vccf.org/funds/social_justice/ or send a check — made payable to Social Justice Fund — to 1317 Del Norte Road, Suite 150, Camarillo, CA 93010.

For more information or to R.S.V.P., call 988-0196, ext. 133, or e-mail socialjusticefund@vccf.org.

Larry Markworth, Ventura County

Maybe we should boycott ourselves
I would like to offer my comments in regard to Arizona Senate Bill 1070 — that state’s immigration legislation.
I will start with quoting from The Arizona Republic in its recent front page editorial, which expresses the issue in a fairly concise manner.

“The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear. The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration. This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos.”

I agree. I view this legislation as a mistake. And the mistake is tied to this — the underlying issue is immigration, which is a federal matter. While state governments are allowed to get involved in immigration, the federal government is the primary authority.

Implementing this legislation without the collaboration of our federal government would continue to offer a simple answer to a complex equation. This will almost certainly result in the true concerns of Arizona’s residents not being addressed.

I can agree that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary, as are secure national borders. Where I disagree is with the course of action selected. From Gov. Jan Brewer, I hear this was necessary due to the failure of officials in Washington to act on immigration. Where I can’t make the leap is from “This is the situation we have before us” to “Therefore, we have no other option but to sign this immigration law.” I cannot follow the logic of “We have a problem because some people are illegal — therefore, let’s make them more illegal.”

I don’t view Senate Bill 1070 as a sign of racism as much as I view it as a sign of frustration. Could this mistake be the stimulus that pushes our federal government to finally address the need for comprehensive immigration reform? I am not about to get my hopes up — I think we will see that reform when our elected officials are willing to place the good of the country first, instead of the good of their political parties. I think we will see that reform when we, the citizens and voters, send a clear message to our federal government that we want to see this reform.

There is talk of protests, boycotts, lawsuits, calls for federal intervention and such. Perhaps it’s our federal government that should be boycotted. And since we the voters have elected our government, perhaps we should just boycott ourselves.

Watching news reports reflecting the lack of true national dialogue on various issues — this includes comprehensive immigration reform — it seems clear our nation would benefit by taking a giant chill pill. How can we possibly build up our nation if we use so much energy to tear one another down? How can we possibly build up our nation if we are willing to strip people of their human dignity and pretend it’s OK to do so because they have violated the law?

John S. Jones, Ventura