Abolish the Electoral College

As Americans watched state after state move into Trump’s column on TV, it appeared he was receiving a “mandate” for his agenda. But as Trump gathered the necessary electoral votes to become our president-elect, Clinton won the popular vote. More Americans chose her than him.  

Historically, our indirect method of choosing the president was designed to obtain support for the Constitution from less populous, rural states, which feared domination by a federal government elected by a national vote. But as we achieved a national identity, the undemocratic quality of this system became apparent.

A discrepancy between popular and Electoral College votes usually sets off a clamor to end the College. This would require a Constitutional amendment. However, those who profit politically from the status quo now control all avenues to accomplish this.

Should Trump’s many opponents undertake what looks like a quixotic quest to abolish the College? 

Oddly enough, they should. It would be a constant reminder that Trump’s seeming mandate actually reflects only the depth of our national division.

Terry Defarge
Ventura

Kissing patootie

I just read your article “A Clearer Picture.” First of all “Clearer Picture?” All you have successfully done is to muddy up the waters even more.

You failed to ask how much money was spent on “staff time” working on this Brooks con job; and when it first was discovered that Brooks was on the way out, the city made mention that because of the mess Brooks left, it will cost the city over $200,000 to clean it up.

You mention Leigh A. Eisen and the Downtown merchants but you failed to state that two council members, Weir and Heitman, were the two main proponents of this money-losing scheme. They were personally guilty of painting a rosy picture to the rest of the council and advising that they move on at top speed.

All I can say is that your lips must be real chapped because of all the patootie you kiss at the City Hall. As far as I am concerned, you are without a doubt the worst “reporter” the Reporter has. However, you are the best reporter the City has ever bought.

Rellis Smith
Ventura

 

The new Amerika

As much as I understand why people wanted to vote for Trump, what astounds me is how little logic or critical thinking went into what his election would actually result in. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Not only are the Republicans the ones primarily to blame for the anger felt by these voters, including unanimous support for the trade deals that decimated so many jobs, they have also opposed all regulations that led to the housing meltdown and the banksters getting away with their crimes.That’s just for openers.

They want to cut every program that helps seniors.

Paul Ryan also wants to cut military pensions to help pay for more bombs and weapons.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/12/22/paul-ryan-doubles-down-on-move-to-cut-pensions-for-veterans/

He wants to roll back regulations against clean air, water and more: 

“There are so many more things that I am excited about. Think about the laid-off coal workers now who see relief coming. Think about the farmers here in Wisconsin who are being harassed by the EPA in the waters of the USA. Think about the ranchers in the West who are getting harassed by the Interior Department or the laid-off timber workers.”

Read: Now we can bring back coal, pollute the waters, and cut down more trees. (Oh, and have lots more food poisoning, too.)

These jackals also want to do away with a free and open Internet, including net neutrality, which they will now be able to accomplish.

Trump will take advice to stuff his administration with the most extreme and repugnant Republicans, who will unravel our civil liberties and human rights. He’ll fall right in line with them.

They’ll appoint Supreme Court judges who will make all of this law. You like Citizen’s United? Just wait to see how much more big money and corporate interests are going to get. You like free speech? Get ready to kiss it goodbye.

You like trade deals? Here comes the TPP and there goes the nation’s sovereignty. Multinational conglomerates will then be able to force our country to do their bidding or sue us for “lost profits,” will supplant this county’s regulatory abilities, and have complete impunity. Expect to pay more for everything, get worse service, and have no recourse for defects or injuries.

Trump is going to sell his supporters out. That big Fuck You that Trump’s voters cast is going to end up being pointed right back at all of us as his administration goes into full swing. 

Welcome to the new Amerika.

Mark Viergutz
Ventura

Death by stupidity

Climate change is an alien force ready to torture human beings over the next few decades before it kills whatever’s left of us. Whether it is faster or slower than your neighbor says, whether you say it exists or not, whoever you think is responsible or not, fact is, the climate is not getting healthier, more balanced; nor is it improving our human world lifestyle.

We are dancing on climate’s razor’s edge and it is in direct competition with corporate profit. Truth is, you can’t have both. It’s a choice — either you trust your instinct and admit that some heavy climate shit is hovering very close to the fan or you continue masturbating to the capitalist dream.

We are all moths heading into the flame because we are in denial of our own mortality and would rather deny climate change and incinerate ourselves than face the reality we are deeply fucked, and the inevitability of the end of all human life is spewing out of the exhaust pipes of our lives.

Let’ keep the furnace of our mass stupidity burning. Let us applaud the blithering idiots we call our leaders. Let’s keep fighting for the love of money. Let us turn ourselves into psychopathic killers of all things in the name of keeping up with the Joneses.

We deserve what we get and we are going to get it soon and big unless there is an uprising of immense proportions by concerned citizens against the religion of capitalism. That isn’t going to happen because we are all going to die of mass stupidity and denial of what we know to in our hearts to be true.

Christopher Judges
Ventura

Water supply: Who will pay?

In response to last week’s cover story (On the Brink, Southern California faces dire, drier brink Nov. 3):

After reviewing a recent article for a proposed seawater desalination plant off the coast of Santa Monica, I have some concerns about the underlying science and the politics of water in California.

Sea water contains about 3.5 percent salt. Present drinking water standards call for about 0.1 percent, or about 35 times less salt content.  Wastewater, also known as brine, usually contains 5-8 percent salt.  This is well known from many years of experience with most known separation methods. The article in question claimed that the wastewater returning to the sea contains 12 percent salt but didn’t specify how that number was determined, or by what method the potable water is extracted. Unless there is a new process that I haven’t heard of, this idea, crafted by an architect and his artist spouse, doesn’t pass the sniff test. Other than the basic science being questionable, I liked the concept!

Of greater interest is the lack of will of people in the arid West to take a proactive stance on providing water in an area with a history of drought. Seawater desalination, by various methods, is the best rational answer for coastal areas.  However, the cost of building and maintaining such systems is quite high, easily doubling the price of delivered water from $1,000 per acre-foot for lake and ground water to $2,000 per acre-foot for desalination water. The number and size of such projects in planning and construction right now is woefully inadequate to keep up with the immediate sustained demand. Desalination projects currently underway ignore the long-term problems of recharging depleted groundwater or replenishing depleted lakes.  

California’s Central Valley once had a water table that was only a few feet below the topsoil. By the 1980s, pumping water from 100 feet deep became necessary. The water table in much of the Central Valley is now 400 feet below the ground. Expensive submersible pumps are barely keeping up with demand, and the water coming out of these deep wells is often too salty to irrigate land or be used for livestock. People here have been betting that one wet winter will make the short-term drought problem go away.  

They may well be on to something. This fall has been very wet, from the Pacific Northwest down to Central California. The northern Sierras have reported rainfall 300 percent above normal for the region at this time of year. Many lakes in this part of the state are suddenly at or near capacity. Be advised though: Keep the rosary beads handy!

The problem of providing water to California coastal communities, up to a few hundred miles inland, can be solved. The solution would involve several more large desalination facilities similar to the recently built megaplant in Carlsbad, California. It would also require many miles of new pipe to expand the range of water delivery.  

Water in the Southwest is mainly a political problem. It’s also a sales problem. People here, as in a lot of places, complain bitterly when their water bill goes up $5 per month. Recall that California is the birthplace of Proposition 13, which started a national tidal wave of limiting property taxes. Since the bill’s inception over 35 years ago, cities, counties and states have been charged with providing an ever-expanding array of services to a growing population with ever-shrinking budgets. Across the nation, existing infrastructure is crumbling due to maintenance programs hobbled by lack of funding from legislative deficit hawks. Witness the water debacle in Flint, Michigan, a few months ago. Any new water infrastructure will be an even tougher sale than fixing the pipes, bridges, etc., that we already have and ignore!

Nevada, Arizona and the rest of the inland Southwest have it much worse. Desalination, as we currently understand it, won’t work there. Even if there was enough water in this region to desalinate, the considerable volume of salty wastewater is a huge disposal problem. There is simply no viable place in the desert to put it. Returning it to the sea would mean a wastewater pipe line, requiring exotic metals, which could stand up to corrosive salt water. Such a pipeline would need to be hundreds of miles long. The Southwest’s only other answer would seem to be a huge (30 foot in diameter?) pipeline to import fresh water from some wetter place such as Texas or even the Dakotas. A fresh water pipeline would be even longer than a wasteline to the sea, but could be made with cheaper materials.

I get a steady influx of ideas like this from friends.  

My reply is usually the same: Who will pay for it?  

I’m reminded of a line from the astronaut movie The Right Stuff

Gordon Cooper: You boys know what makes this bird go up? FUNDING makes this bird go up. 

Gus Grissom: He’s right. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

Paul Giuffrida
Oxnard

Don’t parents matter?

Apparently, in the Oxnard School District,parent questions and concerns are not a priority.    Although the district is now receiving an unprecedented increase of funds from the state of California to service particular students, including those learning English, the district ironically does not feel compelled to respond to its constituent clients.

At the last board meeting on Oct.  19, the Oxnard School District board passed an important document specifically related to the educational programs and services for English learner students. The Master Plan for English Learner Services was updated after over a 2-year controversial process that was supposed to include community parent input and collaboration with education stakeholders. While the process began well, it fizzled mid process and degenerated into a closed process of administrators, re-writing, instead of “updating” this very important guiding document.

In fairness, lone board member Denis O’Leary was the only dissenting vote. He was very concerned about the lack of opportunity for the public to scrutinize the document with only a 24-hour posting, the minimum time required by law. 

A parent representative from the District’s English Learner Advisory Committee expressed grave concerns that several questions posed at the information meeting were NEVER answered. In addition, changes were made that the parents found problematic.  This includes the complete elimination of a chapter on English Learner funding, that identified what funds were to be used for English Learner students with examples given of appropriate and inappropriate uses.  For parent advisers, this information is extremely important for monitoring the use of school funds and giving meaningful suggestions and input.

When serious and legitimate parent concerns are ignored and set aside, that is a big “red flag” that this public agency has lost touch with whom they are supposed to be serving.  

Wake-up, OSD! Parents DO matter! 

Cynthia Garcia-Doane
State President, Association of Mexican American Educators

My sexual assault

Back in 1960, I was a 20-year-old bride whose husband had just been drafted and had left for Baltimore. I was working as an office manager for a small record company in Hollywood.  Sitting at my desk, I was attempting to stifle my tears. I worked for the two owners/producers of the company. One boss was out of town and the other came into the office, saw me sniffling and then went into his office where he called out to me. I went in and he came over and put his arms around me as if to comfort me. I broke down sobbing in his arms. And then his arms became the appendages from hell! They were all over me, groping my breasts, pulling my dress up, forcing his lips on mine. I struggled until I could pull away and ran out of his office. Did I leave my job?  No. I could not afford to. My income was going to get me to Baltimore where my husband would be stationed. My income would move our belongings there. My income would pay my rent and buy my food and then pay our rent when I got to Baltimore. So I sat back down on my desk and did not go back into his office. Nor did I dare cry for the rest of the day. I saved that for when I got home. Did I tell anyone? No. Did I let my other boss know? Did I let any family members or close friends know? No. Never. Not about any of the assaults on my person.              

My life as a working woman commenced; other jobs, other bosses … and so did the groping. What’s my point? It’s obvious. There was a time (maybe it’s still happening, I am a woman of age now and retired, so I don’t know), when this was a regular occurrence in the workplace. And not just to me. I was attractive, but nothing to rave about. It happened to women in general. Women of all ages and ethnicities. Women from all walks of life. It was traumatizing and scarring. It made me distrustful of all male employers (and of course not all of them were leering, leaping pigs). It made me uncomfortable meeting new men.  I would (and still do, actually) startle easily. One might say that I developed a form of PTSD from those (and other similar) experiences. Do men realize that such uninvited behavior could be harmful in any way? We are not talking rape here. Mostly generalized ,unwanted, uninvited pawing and kissing. We didn’t tell until we grew older and some of us, not even then. It was too embarrassing. Too shameful. We felt at fault.

I hope that young women of today will realize that their jobs do not require them to accept this treatment. Donald Trump notwithstanding, nobody should be treated that way. Maybe that’s the good thing coming out of Trump’s candidacy; we are discovering that what we all want is decent, respectful, kind treatment. And hopefully, this will evolve into a more acceptable manner of behavior from everyone. Time marches on, but please … not on our bodies any longer.

Jan Richman Schulman
Oxnard

Put Americans first

There was a death on one recent Monday.

Don’t get upset.

He was nobody you knew or would even wanted to know. If you saw him on the street, you would cross just to avoid him. 

He was a homeless man in need of help, lots of help. I’ll call him E.

E sought help at a mental health facility. He was under psychiatric care but not listed as “high risk.”

Hindsight says he was extremely high risk. He was diagnosed with anxiety. I know what you’re thinking — everyone has anxiety. 

Please understand, there are degrees of anxiety. I know firsthand what that’s all about; it can be a horribly dark and scary place.

So dark that you want to get out, no matter how. E figured his only way out of this hellish place was to take his own life. 

E had a place to be during the day; it was a satellite of the facility he was being treated at. There, he could paint, draw and make his other creations that were amazing. 

I had met him at the mental health satellite while waiting to go to lunch with my daughter. He didn’t speak to or look at me, but as I sat there I was looking at the walls of the center, all I could do was admire the art, later I was told he had done them all! I liked him. I thought later on in the week, he needed his own pencils and accessories so I went and bought a set for him to keep for his own. He pushed them away and refused to make eye contact with me. I said OK, fine, we can trade … take this kit and draw a picture of a dragonfly for me and then you keep the kit as payment. He drew the most beautiful dragonfly for me. That will be a treasure for me always.

At night he was on his own and alone.

Many people cared about him but their hands were bound by the mental health facility’s bottom-line profits, budgets, regulations and other bureaucratic nonsense.

He had been married and had two young sons and a daughter.

He had worked as a janitor in a school district for 12 years. 

Yet, in view of E’s death and many thousands more like him, we are more concerned about inviting refugees into our country.

Our veterans go without aid, food or shelter; our homeless go without aid, food and shelter. Yet we continue to help anyone in need except for our own. 

I’m talking about priorities!

Human lives that are at risk in this country every minute of every day!

More of Americans need to believe this is a gross injustice.

Build a few less bombers, a few less bombs.

Stop giving money to other countries and refugees.

Put the money where it belongs … here at home! Help our vets, help our homeless and mentally-ill population. 

What’s wrong with putting Americans first? 

Patricia Collins
Ventura
(incident happened outside Ventura)

Phony hierarchy of human worth

A sweeping trend is rebounding in America; it’s the idea that some people are just more valuable than others based on bogus criteria. It’s nothing less than a phony hierarchy of human worth.   

The hierarchy reflects blanket judgments about people: Men are better than women; straight people are better than gay people; owners are better than workers; people born in America are better than those born outside America; English speakers are better than non-English speakers; white people are better than people of color; and, of course, rich people are better than poor people.

The latter premise reflects an economic arrogance that assumes “Good people just don’t become poor.” 

America fought the Civil War over these kinds of assumptions. We championed Civil Rights to put down these ideas. We challenged these notions in support of women’s rights and gay rights, but they are returning with a vengeance.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously remarked, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr. King was right; character is the proper measure of good or bad.

Being gay or straight, or white or black, or rich or poor doesn’t make us good or bad. Being a person of character, who is trustworthy, respectful, kind, responsible, fair and a good citizen — that is what makes us good.

Don’t be fooled into using phony criteria to judge people, criteria over which people have little or no control — like the color of their skin, or their gender, or where they were born. We all know good people of all races, nations, religions and circumstances. Stand up against prejudice and bigotry.

Tim Hockett
Retired director of Community Action of Ventura County

 

Paying criminals

Re: Ships slowing to save whales, In Brief, Oct. 6

While it is certainly good news to learn of the six-month incentive program whereby shipping companies are compensated for slowing down in the channel to, hopefully, reduce the number of whale strikes (and kills) by their large container ships, and while I certainly hope that slowing down their ships when they enter the Santa Barbara Channel does indeed result in fewer whale fatalities, the fact that they are being paid to do so is ridiculous.

Where is the Coast Guard to enforce a Marine Protected Area (MPA) shipping law, where they hand citations out to ships going over the allowable speed limit? We don’t have such a law on the books? Then WHY don’t we have such a law? And why are we not ENFORCING such a law to protect these great creatures (and other marine life)?

Is the fascism (corporate control of government) so bad in this country that corporations who break our laws get PAID NOT TO BREAK THEM? Or are they just so powerful (over our politicians) that badly needed laws never get written in the first place? Are they just seeing what we’ll put up with, before full passage of the TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that gives away our ability to protect our jobs and our environment, and gives it to a monkey court comprising international judges appointed by the members of the TPP, so multinational corporations can sue each and every country where they feel their environmental or labor laws are impacting their “bottom line”)?

To give thousands of dollars (per passage) to what amounts to a criminal enterprise, just because they have decided not to commit a crime (against the whales and other marine creatures in this case) would be like giving monthly subsistence checks to burglars, if they can just prove (I mean if the government can just prove) that they haven’t robbed anyone that month! Or to some street thugs, if we’re unable to prove that they haven’t beaten anyone up (before robbing them).

There comes a point where laws become meaningless. And paying a gross polluter or repeated mutilator of our marine mammals for slowing down vessels in the channel to a speed where the whales and other sea creatures can safely get out of the way (or for dumping toxic waste in the channel) is a perfect example of total nonenforcement of environmental protection laws as they apply to safeguarding our marine environment. But much worse than mere nonenforcement is where the (criminal) offenders are not only not given citations and fines (for speeding in the channel in this case), they are being PAID NOT TO SPEED!

It’s asinine policies like this one that make America the laughingstock of the developed nations on this planet. You don’t suppose it has anything to do with the American Fascists known as Republicans, do ya? You know, the politicians who love China and Indonesian businessmen (and their political donations) much more than they love America or Americans? 

R. Barrett
Ventura

 

Use caution at Emma Wood

I’m writing to caution readers against using the Emma Wood State Beach campground, but people of Ventura likely already know this. I’m from Carpinteria and biked there with my 4-year-old son hoping to have a father/son campout. The idealist in me was excited about the sweet memory-making. Camping comes with its pains and the grime of the great outdoors, but what I experienced at Emma Wood dwarfs the voluntary inconveniences of bike camping. In my opinion, the park needs to be closed immediately until the state of California can secure it and retake it for family recreation.

I’ve had great experiences at hike/bike camping spots throughout the state. I’m a great hiking, biking and camping enthusiast. Granted, a wanderer on a bicycle accepts some vulnerability to risk from the freewheeling style of rolling around and sleeping outside.

I understood straight away at EW that it was a desolate destination, barren and empty and unkempt, a different animal than all the other hike/bike spots I’d frequented. Forever an optimist, I rationalized that it just looks bad, and after lugging a child and too much gear 15 miles down the coast, I decided to set up shop.

Then me and the boy went out exploring and to the grocery store to get wood for the fire and dinner. Before then, I ran into the host of the campground, who advised that I should move my tent to a picnic area closer to the tracks and to some RVs, a more protected place. There was an element at the hike/bike zone, he cautioned. I thought, OK. We’re burning daylight. I’ll move when I get back.

Upon return, my crate of food had been raided and flipped, my lantern looted. I went into troubleshooting mode, readying to uproot my tent and flee to safety. Then I noticed that the criminals had slashed my tent and cover, rendering it unusable. It was clear to me that it wasn’t a simple act of people in need stealing items like food and light that they had no other means of attaining. It was territorial; the tent slashing sent a clear message to stay away from this area of a campground that the state of California has ceded to a criminal element. It’s a shame.

Of course I feel badly as a father, having subjected my son to a horrifying experience and bringing him to an area that is unsafe. The state should immediately shut it down or mark it as a crime zone.

In a follow-up conversation days later, I suggested closure of posting the area to a ranger. He told me this: “As law enforcement, we can’t do that. Officers in Compton can’t stop you on the street and tell you you’re entering a high crime zone.”

I think the argument is ridiculous, and the circumstances are completely different. This is a state park for public recreation, not a bad neighborhood. Apples and Oranges.

Beware.

Peter Dugre
Carpinteria

Persuading readers

The first portion of the article (Election issue, Endorsements, 10/13) talking about the presidential candidates has it stating vote for Hilary Clinton. This is wrong and a way of persuasion on the American people. Thanks for your time.

Andrew Howarth
Oxnard