Saving peoples’ lives

Blame game, March 1. Regarding Paul Moomjean’s dismissal of “quick-fixes” and his search for a perfect solution to gun violence, it turns out that implementing effective gun control is not that complicated.

Most other developed countries have figured out how to better protect all citizens from gun violence. Why not learn from their experiences?

For starters, choosing between saving peoples’ lives or the inconvenience of not being able to own assault weapons is easy to get right.

Andy Welcher
Ventura

Not a solution

“Japan is a country of more than 127 million people, but it rarely sees more than 10 gun deaths a year.” — Chris Weller, Feb. 15, 2018, Business Insider

“According to the CDC, there were 33,636 deaths due to firearms in 2013.” (IN THE UNITED STATES)

Paul Moomjean apparently agrees with what many Second Amendment supporters have repeatedly asserted, that it is sacrosanct, obviously more important than “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and who seem oblivious to the egregious killing of innocents of any age as long as we all support  “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

His solution to the outrageous numbers of shooting deaths in America:

“At this point in our society, we must fund police officers and security guards at schools just as we do at airports, malls and other places where terrorist attacks could occur.”

Furthermore, I fail to understand what millions of guns in the hands of the population, no matter their age, mental health or misguided intentions, have to do with “a well regulated militia.” The solution to random gun violence is clearly demonstrated by Japan, which radically limits gun ownership, resulting in almost no gun deaths in that country. More guns ALWAYS lead to more deaths whether they be accidental or intentional. A child’s or adult’s right to live life is profoundly more important that any person’s right to own deadly weapons. More “good guys with guns” is not a solution.  

Lawrence Berk
Ventura

Thoughts and prayers

Following the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School there was another backlash to expressions that included “thoughts and prayers.” I think Henri Nouwen spoke most eloquently on prayers.

Nouwen said, “Prayer and action can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.”
So our prayers should not be absent action – and our action should not be absent prayers. One of the questions therefore is “what action?”

I am mostly at a loss to offer suggestions — yet I know that we MUST respond, and that our response MUST change from our previous responses, for we have witnessed the result from those responses and we weep yet again.
I am certain our response must involve love, and must reflect our recognition of the sacredness of all human life, without exception or precondition.

When it comes to gun regulations — while by no means the only area we need to focus on, while we may need to move with caution — we must absolutely not allow that caution to paralyze us.

I am certain our response need not include arming our teachers or further stigmatizing mental health issues or limiting our assignment of the blame to the NRA or any other group or organization.
What we are encountering did not materialize overnight, and we would be faulty to expect a singular action to remove the possibility that we will again witness the loss of sacred life. Therefore, we must be prepared for our response to require additional action.
Perhaps most importantly, we must not let our previous failures on this issue to allow us to view this as an unsolvable issue. Rather our deeply divided nation must address this by first looking inward, hold back from finger pointing; and as individuals and as a nation, move forward with action that reflects our shared recognition of the sacredness of all human life.

John Sanders Jones
Ventura

 Depression in our schools

After the tragic shootings at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School it was reported that the shooter was depressed. According to the reports, he had suffered from depression and other mental health issues for some time. Some of the adults who were being interviewed seemed to think that although he was depressed there were no red flags.

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) depression is best looked at as a “spectrum of illness.” Some amount of sadness and depression in our lives is to be expected. Often these feelings get resolved and go away without disrupting our normal activities. But when the symptoms of major depressive disorder kick in, things can get serious quickly. If you want more details on these symptoms you can read DSM-5 Insanely Simplified by Steven Buser, MD.

I am a mental health professional and a parent of a current high school student. I listened to these reports from Parkland with both concern and empathy. Each student interviewed broke my heart. After listening to these conversations I thought it would be helpful to have a discussion about teenage depression in our schools. Teenage depression is a real problem. Every day, far too many students across America sit quietly in their classrooms suffering from mental illnesses like depression. Yes, we need to improve gun control but depression walks into our schools undetected every day.

It is important to understand that depression is a red flag. It’s a wake-up call. It means that things are going wrong and something needs to be done. A depressed teenager is a child crying out for help. And they are hoping someone is listening. Are we? It is true that clinical depression can be treated with medication and psychotherapy, but in some cases it still leads to harmful behavior like suicide. The research suggests that adolescent depression is under diagnosed. If left untreated children can carry these feelings of helplessness and despair into adulthood. This is a journey we don’t want our children to take. What can schools and colleges do?

It’s OK to talk about depression. Don’t be shy. Students should talk about it. Parents should talk about it. Teachers and administrators should talk about it. The last thing we want is for depression and other mental health issues to be left hiding in the shadows. We want depression out in the light of day so we can identify it and start treating it. It is nothing to be ashamed of because we all experience psychological stress. It is part of life. Life stressors can hit adolescents particularly hard, causing sadness, depression, anxiety or anger. When this happens they need our help. 

It is important that teachers and parents are on the lookout for depression because we want to keep it from getting worse. Be proactive. Raising emotionally healthy children is a team effort and it needs to become part of the school culture. When we give teenagers the emotional support they need early on, they are less likely to engage in harmful behavior. The support needs to be ongoing and consistent.

If you feel one of your students is sad or depressed, reach out to them. Start a conversation. Find out what’s going on. Talk with their parents. Just a little emotional support from a teacher or a staff member goes a long way. Make a referral to a clinician. Hopefully there are mental health counselors available on campus.

The recent mass shooting in Parkland has taught us that we need to take teenage mental health and gun control seriously. Let’s start now!

Richard Durborow, M.A., LMFT
Camarillo

Bike lanes and trails

Please urge congress to include bike trails in the upcoming $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. Bicycle lanes and trails add so much value to our community and need to be remembered when funding comes up for transportation projects.

Jesse Thirey
Ventura

Students first!

The president of the school board has the power to make the agenda. Unfortunately, the same power can also ignore a fellow elected yrustee or even the majority of the board. Blocking a vote can dictate over a majority of elected officials and leave the wishes of the community ill -served.

I have served as a trustee of the Oxnard School District for 14 years. Over time, I have grown concerned that the school district needs public scrutiny. 

A public school district is in the business of education. We are a not-for-profit agency. Yet the OSD reported a line item in September that showed that only $7 million of an allocated $16 million for books and school materials had been spent. The “savings” were to be placed in the general fund. 

Had student academic test scores been high or even going up, the action could be of lesser importance than it is for a district that is underachieving like ours. 

Oxnard voters approved of a $90 million bond for school construction in 2012 that spoke of “class size reduction” and new construction of schools on existing sites that were in some cases 60-plus years old. To continue matching the needs of our community, the district asked for an additional $142.5 million bond in 2016. 

Having $232.5 million provided by our community’s vote is daunting, yet schools have been built with the same amount of classrooms as the old buildings that had been serving Oxnard’s population in the 1950s. Class size reduction was a great war cry but continuously rebuffed by the two board presidents at school board meetings.

I have already called for action on the items mentioned above, as well as on project labor agreements to keep construction projects staffed with local workers, a parent education project with the Mexican Consulate, and programs to improve academic results.

Those requests have all been ignored, not over months but over years, without consideration or a vote. In contrast, friendships and even nepotism have shadowed our president-approved agenda items.

I am proud to say that the Oxnard School District has already been divided into voting districts. This too has taken several years. Fairness and equal representation won out. 

I now call for better representation of our community with a rotation of board president among all the elected trustees. All constituents should have a voice. The practice of the past eight years has seen two trustees holding this position seven times. The trustees of the Oxnard School District should represent the community to the school district, not the district to the community. 

The positions of board president and clerk should be rotated among all. Items from any elected trustee should appear on an agenda for a vote. Improving education should become a goal. Promises made about construction bonds should be kept.

District elections are an important step in empowering a disenfranchised population in our academic governing body. Sections of our community that never had a neighbor in elected office can now be represented. The representation of board president should also follow.

A new election will soon be upon us. Mailers from incumbents will decry, “Students first!” Let’s make it so. All students, their parents and the community should not be hijacked by two elected egos.

Denis O’Leary 
Oxnard School District board member.  
District 1

So done with Dunn

Just want to personally thank Steve Greenberg for his super cartoon this morning showing how much we, in the Thousand Oaks area, are so “Done With Dunn”! His presence on our school board has created a disaster for our community for far too long, and hopefully he can be removed in November. We are working hard to make that happen, and it’s thanks to artists like you, which helps our efforts.

I really like Steve’s work and I noticed he saw the final showing of Paul Conrad’s work at College of the Canyons several years ago. My husband teaches political science at that school and we also saw that same Conrad exhibit. Steve’s style reminds me of Paul’s work, which I miss every day … I’m old enough to remember all his King Richard pieces! However, I do enjoy the work of Lalo Alcaraz now.

Sally Hibbitts
Westlake Village

Forced growth

Believe it or not, folks, cities in most parts of California, including Ventura and Oxnard, are under MANDATORY orders from a state agency to INCREASE their construction of apartments and condos to support the MANDATORY population growth.

State housing officials are using the “Regional Housing Needs Assessment” (RHNA) regulations, and a NEW law, just foolishly signed into law by our PRO GROWTH governor, SB 35, to force cities to build more housing and grow their populations (without any limits)!! UNLIMITED POPULATION GROWTH IS INSANE!!!

In Oxnard, for example, there are 10 THOUSAND family units (condos and apartments) that are under construction now, and another 10 THOUSAND planned for the next five years. This is INSANE to the Nth degree folks!!! 

EVERYONE should be mad as hell about the foregoing, as I am. I wrote a VERY hot letter about this FORCED population and housing growth to my own state representatives, Hannah Beth Jackson and Jacqui Irwin. Both of them voted against the OUTRAGEOUS state

bill (SB35). GOD BLESS BOTH OF THEM FOR SUPPORTING THE VOTERS AND NOT THE DAMNED CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY, AND REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS, which are getting BILLIONS  of tax dollars from all of the MASSIVE, MANDATORY construction.

They are both trying to preserve the environment rather than destroy it with massive population growth and associated pollution. 

John Jay
Oxnard

Beware

“Christian” conservative politicians have no empathy or emotion. They do not know love. They are psychopaths hidden behind a “mask of sanity” that presents them as Christians, but they are not Christians. They are “Caricatures of Christians.” Their actions are not Christ-like. They take everything from their fellow man. They are fascists who create misery, pain, civil oppression, economic failure and endless war. They don’t care about us; they have no guilt, conscience or remorse.

Our thinking is atomized. Whatever we concern ourselves with grows. Emphasize democracy, not fascism. All we do is discuss possibilities of what was bad, what is bad, and what may be bad. We see, hear and know what is right but we are too cowardly to take on the injustice we see festering everywhere. We have all the information we need to unite and break free. We deny what we know because our awareness demands that we unite in every different fight. Think only  how to unite. Unite your intelligence and intuition into one thinking unit for change. Think only on how to change America for the better.

Christopher Judges
Eugene, Oregon (former Ventura resident)