Media partially to blame

It’s a sad occurrence whenever we have one of these massive shootings, whether in Las Vegas, at a church, at a school or anywhere else. Of course, all of the decent-minded citizens of the United States are upset, and rightly so.

However, anytime one of these horrible acts is perpetrated on the unsuspecting public, the media, mostly TV and Internet, think it is their duty to publish or post the incident on all of their programs whatever they may be.

The problem, as I see it, is that they continue to “harp” on each incident over and over for five to 10 days every hour and all day long (unless something more gross comes along). It’s fine to relate the news once, or possibly twice, but all they are succeeding in doing with their relentless harping on the subject is instill into the minds of the people out there who are already on the mental breaking point another good idea to become famous and get their 15 minutes of fame.

To make my point, just think of how often these incidents occur now. In the past we were subjected to an occasional shooting of maybe two or three people at a time, and these occurrences were fairly well spread out. Then the media would mention it almost as an afterthought.

It seems now that the media turns each occurrence into a circus sideshow, stressing how many people were killed or injured and going so far as to mention that a particular occurrence was a record. Each subsequent nut case now has something to set his or her sights on.

I don’t know about other people but I feel the media is partially to blame for some of these acts.

Rellis Smith
Ventura

Public safety hazard

There is a math error in California law for traffic signal calibration. 

Line 1 of the calculation indicates cars move at constant speed while slowing down when the yellow traffic light is illuminated.

It does not work like that. Cars do not move at constant speed while slowing down.

This makes the yellow light duration about half of the correct value. That is short enough that it is barely possible to stop on dry pavement and impossible in the rain. 

Traffic signals seem to be adjusted to this short value mostly in and around low income neighborhoods and freeway offramps. This public safety hazard and the resulting red light traffic camera tickets do not appear to be evenly distributed.

About 800 people a year are killed at controlled intersections in the U.S. I believe this is a contributing factor. 

The document can be found here:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/trafficops/camutcd/

Greg Wilson
Oxnard

In memoriam Cory Iverson

As your fire chief, I must offer that these are the times that try men’s and women’s souls. Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE) Cory Iverson worked in the Riverside Unit before he promoted to the San Diego Unit. He worked at the Hemet-Ryan AAB. We lost a real firefighter and a real friend to all. This is a terrible loss. We all feel it.

Cory was loved and highly respected by his fellow firefighters and superiors. When you think of it, the public never knew Cory so they couldn’t love him the way we loved him. With that thought, the public would have loved Cory as he gave his life doing what he loved — fighting fire.

CAL FIRE San Diego Unit Chief Tony Mecham just phoned me. He is with Cory’s wife this very moment. This tragic loss left Mrs. Iverson with a 3-year old daughter and a soon-to-be-born (five-months pregnant) little one. HRAAB Battalion Chief Justin McGough has reached out to the family to assist where possible. CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Chief Glenn Barley and Division Chief Jeff Veik are with Cory’s mother at Big Bear.

Please, please keep the Iverson family in your thoughts and prayers. They will need emotional support as well, as will our firefighters and their families who knew Fire Apparatus Engineer Cory Iverson. We must always support the real family, our fire family and everyone else during this most difficult of grieving times.  

John R. Hawkins, Unit & Fire Chief
CAL FIRE & Riverside County Fire Department
December 15

LOCAL BEEKEEPERS RECOVERING FROM FIRE

Mission Beekeeping, a beekeeping business that started in 2015 in Ventura County, lost half of its bee hives in the Thomas Fire. Its mission is to find homes for hives by removing swarms from unwanted areas and then keeping them healthy enough to pollinate and produce honey.

Husband and wife owners, Steve and Kelly Nimmer, were awakened from their sleep at midnight last Tuesday, Dec. 5, with news of the fire. They immediately rushed to the bee yard housing their 150 hives, where they confronted the flames on the ridge. Over the next six hours, they were able to rescue and move half of their hives as the fire got closer and closer, but on the third trip, the flames had reached the rest of the hives. Video of the scene, taken by Kelly Nimmer, can be seen on YouTube.

The couple are now making plans to rebuild, and friends of theirs have launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds to grow their bee hives and get the business back on track. The link for the Go Fund Me campaign is: www.gofundme.com/thomas-fire-beekeeping-recovery. They plan to use these funds to purchase seeds that can provide plant diversity in the bee yards that have been burned, queen bees for new colonies that will be split from the colonies that survived and hives from migration beekeepers to keep locally after almond pollination season. 

The surviving hives are currently located in Carpinteria. While the hives have been moved three times out of the fire’s path, the hope is that they will remain safe at this location for the time being. The Nimmers are seeking coastal properties to permanently host their bee hives. Please contact them at info@missionbeekeeping.com

Steve & Kelly Nimmer
(805) 636-4426
info@missionbeekeeping.com
www.missionbeekeeping.com

Pretty surreal

Driving through Ventura was pretty surreal, lots of smoke and multiple fires visible from the street. Driving up to the actual tower was disheartening at first, just because of how much was burned; one of the posts holding up the gate was completely destroyed, leaving the gate lying on the ground. It was there where we first noticed a fence post smoking … but we continued on.

The view on the drive up was hindered by smoke. We couldn’t see the ocean, or even the Crown Plaza. That’s when everything really hit me … to know we were celebrating and having fun on Saturday at GeoLinks’ holiday party just a couple miles away, and now we were dealing with the horrible fallout of this natural disaster. It was a wild juxtaposition of mindsets to comprehend just over the span of a few days… 

From the top of the mountain, the view was incredible, in a very somber way. Smoke spread in every direction, winds whipping sand and ash all around us. Although we knew what we were doing was important, so we got to work and had the completely destroyed site back up and running in just a couple of hours. We then started our trek back down the mountain when we noticed that same smoking fence had grown to multiple enflamed posts threatening the surrounding area. We immediately turned around, went back to the tower site where we had stored a fire extinguisher, and returned to put out the fires. It was a real-life example of how quickly these fires can spread…

Name withheld upon request
Local Infrastructure Technician
GeoLinks
Camarillo

Speaking about loss

If you want to help someone who lost a home in a fire, here’s what I learned when it happened to me in 2008:

1) DO NOT ASK THEM TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT. While that may seem like being friendly, it is hell incarnate for them. It forces the person who lost everything to retell the worst story of their life, over and over and over. Cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Was the very worst part of everything I went through: the pain caused by loving, well-intending friends whenever they asked me, “What happened?” Do NOT ask them to tell you about it. Do not talk about it. Focus on the blessing of everyone who survived. Focus on tomorrow, not yesterday.
2) Do not ask them what they need. Just tell them you love them, give money, and call again one week later. When I had PTSD, the worst thing was not being able to think straight. Everyone asked what I needed, but I couldn’t answer. If I had answered, “$20, please,” to each person, that would have made a huge difference. But when you are going through it, you CANNOT think straight. Do not ask. Just give love, money and be patient. Follow up. Call them back. Don’t expect they will be thinking clearly enough to ask for what they need. Do not expect them to call or say normal things like Thank You.
3) Give money. Any amount helps. Do not feel like you need to fix it, and that your gift is not significant enough. Every dollar helps. When you’ve lost all you owned, you will need to buy everything again. Every donation helps. And when you give, do not expect a Thank You. Give them your understanding as well as cash. No strings attached. Just give.
4) Never say anything like, “I totally understand what you’re going through.” Do not tell stories of other people who lost everything. It does not help. Anything that makes them think about the problem is painful. If they say strange things, be patient. If they do not call you back, be patient. Your brain is functioning just fine; theirs is not. Do not attempt to relate by saying you understand. Be there for them. Help them make one or two decisions about things they need to do today. But do not try to say you know what they are experiencing, because you do not, and your words may trigger more of the pain you are trying to alleviate.
5) Follow up. Do not wait for them to call you. They may be fluctuating between feeling normal and being out of their mind. Have zero expectations. Love them. Be patient. Wait a week, or a month, and then call again. Never ask them to tell you the story. Just show them you care, and listen for what is hurting the worst. Then call again a month later. The process takes years. Most media and social butterflies will forget about it within a few months, but for them, the hell has just gotten started. Follow up. And then follow up again, later. And then follow up again. Mark your calendar. Be the friend who did not forget.
My most painful memories from my home burning down are of dearly beloved friends who unintentionally did things that hurt. And my favorite memories are of the people who gave unconditionally, were patient, and showed their love by not having expectations.
If you know someone who just lost a home, be sensitive with your words, give, be patient, and follow up.

Cameron Tummel MFA
Ventura

Problem solved

The extremely antisocial behavior of the ruling class is getting worse. They destroy lives and bring poverty, fear and misery to the American people because their sole motivation is to attain their own desires at the expense of any and all regular people. They make the laws to keep us controlled and in step with their agenda, not ours. They are sold to us as beyond reproach, as capitalist gods incarnate who know the truth and are the truth even when they’re corrupt, psychopathic and criminal.

Psychopaths do not support human life because they are not human. We allow them to rule over us because we mistakenly identify them as regular human beings with real human feelings, when in fact they are predatory, merciless, cold-blooded and have no feeling.

Sadly, as wealth grows, feeling goes, and its exponents become increasingly psychopathic, stealing the rights, freedom and equality of their employees through fear and manufactured subservience in order to make the most profit. Throughout history psychopathic rulers have forced their will and cruelty onto the public without caring for their feelings, just to get more money for themselves. They create laws embodying only intellect, thought and logic, without feeling.

The American people’s apathy has solidified; they have been educated to trust and believe in intellect, thought and logic to solve every problem in life. We have been socially engineered to distrust what we feel and what our intuition tells us through the voice in our own heart. We have knowingly handed over the solving of our problems to the ruling class and the purveyors of intellect, thought and logic: politicians, experts, the privileged and the wealthy.

We have denied our feelings, our outrage and our natural inclinations, selling out what our conscience knows to be true, out of fear of our psychopathic rulers. We have given away half of our ability to solve our problems in denying and discrediting our feelings, emotions and the “common-sense” voices in our own heart. In our ignorance, we have condoned the actions of the stupid, war-loving politicians who created our terrifying global problems and denounced our true feelings to intellect, thought and logic.

The genius voice of your own independent heart manifests itself in your intuition, your gut feelings, your cell intelligence, your creativity and your imagination. When you listen to your heart and use its intuitive knowledge to temper and balance your intellect, thought and logic, you realize you are powerful beyond measure. The voice of your heart can answer your questions, solve America’s problems, and bring the psychopaths to heel.

Christopher Judges
Ventura

Outstanding demand for housing

RE: Ventura County’s housing shortage worsened by Thomas Fire

The Thomas Fire is among California’s worst wildfires and the impact on Ventura County’s residents has been overwhelming. Please find the time and resources to support your neighbors as much as possible.

Although less important than life safety, the property damage caused by the Thomas Fire will impact the community’s collective lifestyle beyond the extinguishing of the final flame.

The Thomas Fire has charred hundreds of square miles, destroyed over 700 buildings and damaged over a hundred others. Many of the lost buildings were homes whose residents are displaced for the foreseeable future. The displaced residents face two immediate options: relocate to another home in the community or move to another community. The residents who remain in the community will not easily find affordable accommodations.

The loss of homes could not come at a worse time since Ventura County had already been facing a severe housing shortage when the first flame flickered. Supply of affordable homes (for sale and for rent) was lacking despite the county’s 270,000 housing units [Source: Census’s 2016 American Community Survey]. Replacing the hundreds of lost homes and meeting the outstanding demand for housing is difficult in anti-growth communities. It is imperative that community members and civic leaders promote prompt redevelopment rather than impair the rebuilding process.

Emmanuel Lopez
Apartment investor and developer
Moorpark

We love you, Ventura!

A heartfelt thank-you to all who are stepping forward and without hesitation, asking, “What can we do to help?”

We have an entire community of givers. Donation stations are overflowing and wondering why people aren’t taking any items. We are not takers!

Those of us who left our homes in the middle of the night, simply fled. At 9:42 p.m. the clouds of smoke were much closer than Santa Paula. I asked my housemate to find a place to stay if we were evacuated. Without electricity and with no information, he went to bed; and 45 minutes later our entire hillside had to leave. He was taken care of and, at 10:35 p.m., my friend from Santa Barbara Police Department texted: “You can come to our house with Gisele.” I tried to pack for the drive to Oxnard and people were banging on my front door telling me to get out. So I took a flashlight into the garage, popped open the door release, and with a battery-powered candle lighting the path ran back inside to get the German shepherd. Threw some clothes into an overnight bag and headed out. Yes, I left two cats in the house. But I knew they had a better chance of surviving than I would have by trying to catch and load them into carriers with the glowing red darkness now engulfing the sky.

When I left my house, there were many items, irreplaceable treasures I would have mourned losing. Nothing compares to the loss of what this fire has done to the beauty of My Ventura. While every cloud of smoke has a silver lining, the outpour of love from so many people has been unbelievable. Without hesitation, so many have willingly stepped up to offer guest rooms to stay for me and my dog. From Australia, New Zealand, Atlanta, Texas, Michigan, Colorado, Burbank, Forest Falls, Ridgecrest: Everyone has one question, “What can I do to help?”

Watching the news, I prepared myself. What if you never see the house again? That house has been in my family for 30 years. It is filled with my father’s artwork. If I had to see the chimney tombstone remaining, marking the hillside with the other fallen warriors in the Ondulando cemetery; I would also see the love of our community shining through the smoke and ash. That has been enough.  We are safe. Two people have perished, but we all died a little bit and our hearts are smoldering.

In being prepared to lose everything, my friends and family have gained so much for being able to show their love and support. We are all so sorry for this loss to our community. And I am so sorry I need nothing while all my people want to give. I survived and I want us all to find a way to give back too. Honestly, we don’t know what that is yet.

For now let’s express our gratitude to unsung heroes of our firefighters, and a special thanks to the Ventura Police Department, the National Guard and the countless others who keep singing the song, my new favorite song: “What can we do to help?”

Debra Walters
Ventura

No new housing

Our hearts go out to those who lost so much. Let’s make “rebuilding” and “fire prevention” city priorities. Many things can be done to mitigate potential fire damage.

In the city of Ventura the Thomas Fire destroyed about 525 structures (representing maybe $1 billion in property damage?). Many of the destroyed structures were on the Ventura hillsides. The Thomas Fire is going to be costly for Ventura city taxpayers and fire insurance is likely to be much more expensive.  All Ventura residents are going to pay for this fire.

Had Ventura constructed additional housing on its hillsides in the past, it is likely today’s fire damages would be much greater. How did Ventura escape from many billions MORE in hillside property damages?

Give thanks to Ventura Citizens for Hillside Protection (www.vchp.org ). (Read the history section on the VCHP website.

This organization has made positive contributions to the city for more than 15 years. You should join the organization and make a financial contribution. They have saved residents a lot of money.)

In 2002 VCHP led the political campaign to defeat Measure A, which would have allowed construction of 1,390 homes in the Ventura hills. At that time VCHP warned voters about the fire danger. The Ventura Chamber of Commerce and the Ventura County Star ignored the warnings and were in favor of building those homes. Fortunately, voters agreed with VCHP.

Protecting open spaces is not only good for the environment but is also good for our pocketbooks. Let’s hope that the Chamber and the Star abandon their foolish expansionist policies, which are driving their customers to bankruptcy.

During the next year, Ventura residents displaced by the fire deserve city staff priority in expediting rebuilding their homes. Considering the fire — and Ventura’s ongoing water shortage emergency — the Ventura City Council should put a hold on approving any new housing developments. This step would free planning staff time to expedite rebuilding. (Also, we are certain our city residents do not want to pay for additional staff and/or consultants “to placate developers of new housing projects” during times of multiple emergencies.)

#ThomasFire

Charles Spraggins
Ventura