Developers own Oxnard Council

Go to a freeway, bumper to bumper cars. Go to a mall, few parking spaces

available. Thousands of bumps on many streets. Go to any store, wall to wall

people. Los Angeles? NO, NO, NO. OXNARD!!!

I gave a detailed “Issue Paper” to ALL members of the Oxnard City Council two or three times, in the past year, outlining the results of massive building projects. Too much traffic, too much wear and tear on roads, large crowds everywhere, more pollution, and so on; ALL caused by building dozens of GIANT condo and apartment complexes everywhere there is an empty space.

No response from anyone except for Councilman MacDonald!

The entire City Council recently voted to take 107 acres of open space on or near Rose Avenue (former Maulhardt property) and allow developers to build 1,000 units of housingThe vote to do so was unanimous; not one dissenting vote! My conclusion:  Developers own the Oxnard City Council.

Enough gigantic condos and apartment complexes have been built, or will be built, to double Oxnard’s population in 10 years or less. You CANNOT find one single neighborhood, anywhere in the city, without at least one new condo or apartment complex, or one that is going to be built soon.

For example, look at the gigantic Wagon Wheel complex across from The Collection in north Oxnard! A massive number of units of new housing covering a very large area!!

Again, to repeat myself, DEVELOPERS OWN THE OXNARD CITY

COUNCIL.

John Jay
Oxnard

e-Receipt mandate hurts local businesses

“Would you like your receipt?”

For retail shops like mine and for other small business owners in the Ventura region, this typical friendly courtesy at the end of your meal could turn into the start of a big problem for you, me and all my customers.

California State Assembly Bill 161 (AB 161) is not just a solution in search of a real problem, but it will create substantial new headaches for every small business owner in the state.

AB 161 mandates — which is the legal term for “requires whether or not it makes sense for your business” — that every small business in California provide digital e-receipts on all transactions. The traditional paper receipt would only be available if the customer specifically requests it, and any business not in complete compliance with the new law would be subject to penalties — or worse, endless lawsuits. All that on top of backbreaking new costs for every business owner in order to be compliant.

Here is the menu of ways AB 161 hurts small businesses and our customers:

For starters, the out-of-pocket costs for business owners are enormous. The new system would require nearly every small business to replace their point-of-sale technology to comply with a mandated e-receipt. The estimated cost is $30,000-$45,000 per restaurant or store. That doesn’t even include the time and money to train and retrain employees. All of that adds up to increased costs for the business owner, which either means reduced hours for current workers, limitations on hiring or higher prices passed on to customers.

Now, the main course: Privacy. In order for a business to complete a mandated e-receipt transaction with a customer, the customer would have to provide some personally identifiable information. Consumer data management isn’t the arena people like me want to be in, and the recent passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) means that every small business owner would be forced to take on massive and scary new liability regarding data security. Pushed into the data-privacy business by AB 161, too many small businesses will face this liability and not survive.

Finally, there is the negative impact on customer experience — a critical component for any customer-facing business. Requiring consumer information like an email address or phone number will lead to confusing and even hostile interactions; increase wait times for people in line; negatively impact people who rely on paper receipts; and, worst of all, highlight and exacerbate the digital divide between the connected of California and the ones who are too young, too old, too digitally inexperienced, too nervous about government intrusion or simply prefer the convenience of paying cash without the requirement to provide yet another digital footprint.

We are small business owners that faithfully serve our local communities. We are not billion-dollar technology start-ups. We are not data-privacy security firms.

E-receipts are a fair choice for businesses that can afford to offer them and for consumers who choose to seek them out, but forcing small businesses to provide them will make it so much harder to successfully run our businesses, serve our customers and contribute to our communities.

Jorge A Gutierrez
Thousand Oaks

Old software works fine

Re: “Full speed ahead,” City Manager, Alex Nguyen, April 10

I recently read your article in the VC Reporter. You made interesting points. One concerning the current financial software grabbed my attention, however, when you said: “… on the back end we can’t use it to crunch data. I am not used to not being able to get a simple analysis within an hour. It takes days or weeks.”

In the Treasurer’s Department we have been using the same software for many years, and staff has no problem downloading the H.T.E. data into Excel and doing our analytics. Reports that take up hundreds of pages can be condensed into summary data by the staff every day usually within hours.

If you look at the current software and realize the problem isn’t the software but the fact that the City has refused to provide staff access to continuing education on the upgrades of the software, plus the fact that over the years “non-accountants” have been authorized to add, change and adjust the city’s chart-of-accounts not knowing what they were doing are the real issues. 

If the city has millions of extra dollars it wouldn’t bother me that we decide to spend to buy new software costing millions, however, that is not the case, according to your budget estimates there might even need to be staffing cuts. Can I suggest you ask the current software provider to come and demonstrate to you and the public the capabilities of the software before we make such a large expenditure on a new off-the-shelf product?

Phillip S. Molina
Oxnard City Treasurer

 

Expendable pets

I absolutely love cats and I had attended Rescuecon. It was full of rescue animals to find forever homes, and I learned a lot, but if people handled their responsibilities the way they should, innocent animals wouldn’t have to suffer because of their dumb owners. It doesn’t get to the root of the problem, and that’s finding a way to hold people accountable for their negligent actions to cats.

Rescue is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but people will continue to think they are expendable and leave them behind when moving, or whatever, and assume someone will feel sorry and take care of them. I feed around 10-12 cats twice a day in my area. Sadly, most of them are owned by someone that just lets them roam around and doesn’t make any effort. And they are kittens! I shouldn’t have to remind them to wipe their butts after using the toilet. I shouldn’t need to do what they should be doing in the first place. The cats are trying to survive. It isn’t their fault they had stupid owners. They didn’t ask for that to happen and surely is not the cat’s fault for being dealt a crappy hand.

You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem. OWN UP TO YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITIES, PEOPLE! And for goodness sake, people, there is a big difference between feral cats and stray/abandoned cats. Show some intelligence.

Debbie C.
Oxnard

Your voice has been heard  

When I became involved in the city issues in November of 2015 the No. 1 complaint I heard from people was the lack of communication and transparency from the City Council and very slow city staff replies. At that time I started attending City Council meetings and it was apparent what the people said was true. Six to t 10 residents at each meeting would speak in “open forum” about issues that they had contacted the city about and had not heard back from anyone. The most serious one was by the Mar Vista senior citizens housing run by the city. They said the city had agreed to fix up many things that were falling apart at the five story building and at an a later “open forum” said it had been nine months and the city had done anything or got in touch with them. I had a similar situation when I contacted three departments about issues at my HOA that needed attention. After a month I had received no response from the departments.  

This led me to thinking a Citizens Advisory Committee would be very helpful for improving the communication between the City Council and residents of Port Hueneme (PH).  With the help of Laura Hernandez, now a City Councilmember, we found information of hundreds of cities in the U.S. had similar commissions. Laura also gathered info that showed what kind of commissions were being used by various size cities and what type of governing body they had. PH for example was a small city run by the City Council rather than a mayor. We put together an organizational plan for the city to use and presented it to the council and city manager. Tom Figg, who had just become mayor in December 2017, included the plan in his Strategic Action Plan for the city that was approved by the City Council. Due to numerous other important issues, starting a two-year budget, starting the cannabis business and changing assistant city managers the formation of the CAC has been delayed. I believe it is schedule to begin formation at the May 6 City Council meeting.

The Hueneme Pier renaming issue is exactly what the CAC is planned to do, let the residents have a voice in what happens and what changes are made. Previously, there had been closed meetings that should have been public among other means of not communication to the people the council members took an oath to serve and protect. The CAC will be made up of board members overseeing various committees (a few examples: recreation, education, seniors, traffic, neighborhoods, HOAs and others as needed) and residents of PH will be on the board and committees. The CAC will present ideas, suggestions-questions to the City Council and the City Council may ask for the residents for their input on various issues they are working on. Since the city ok’d the CAC they must address the issues presented to them and will expect the residents to respond to their request for information or opinions. The Hueneme Pier renaming issue is exactly how the CAC would work and the residents opinions would be included in the decision-making process. 

There is also going to be an Oversight Committee that will oversee how the tax money from Measure U is being spent by the city. Both the CAC and the Measure U Oversight Committee will need residents to step forward and volunteer to help make things open and transparent and do the right thing for the city and residents. Info will follow soon, if you don’t participate the city government could return to a closed and nontransparent political operation. Don’t let your stepping up to voice your opinion on the Hueneme Pier renaming go for naught. Be ready to volunteer and serve, the city needs your help to improve the quality of life for all of us.

THIS IS YOUR VOICE AT WORK, THIS IS CITY GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY – YOUR VOICE HAS BEEN HEARD!!!

Tom Dunn
Concerned Resident of “the friendly city by the sea”
Port Hueneme

Oil drilling and water supplies

Drought isn’t the only danger to our water supply, as we have discovered in the last few weeks. Deep under the ground, our life-saving aquifers have been filling up from the rain. But on the Oxnard Plain, oil drilling threatens what we’re working so hard to protect.

A recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report stated that gases associated with oil drilling activities have been found in two groundwater wells sited directly over new cyclic steam oil recovery operations, and possibly a third.  

What are the oil operators doing under the Fox Canyon aquifer, a vital source of water to agriculture and our residents? They’re trying to wring oil out of tar sands, and if that sounds bad, it is. Cyclic steam is an extreme method of extraction and has been known to damage underground well infrastructure and open fissures in the ground.

What has been found in our Oxnard water wells? They’ve detected methane in levels just under the explosive range, propane, ethane, isobutane and n-pentane. USGS scientists are not yet certain where these gases migrated from and have recommended more testing, but the working theory is they originated from the cyclic steam activity that lies directly underneath. More results are due this spring.

Now, in the midst of this uncertainty, the operator of this field is proposing 79 new tar sands wells near multiple water wells between Oxnard and Camarillo. Under current laws, the oil operator’s application to the county doesn’t even require a review of the potential hazards to our health.

It’s a risky experiment to continue cyclic steam activity beneath our water wells without allowing USGS scientists to complete their studies. Our group, Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas, applauds the work of Supervisor Steve Bennett in proposing a temporary moratorium of cyclic steam activity near aquifers until we know more.

The safety of our water supply is at risk. Let our scientists finish their work and let’s take a hard look at the blanket expansion of oil operations without up-to-date studies.

Marie Lakin
Executive Director
Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas

A democracy deficit

A majority of Americans support universal health care, sensible gun control, net neutrality and a host of other positions that continually fail to be enacted into law. These proposals are labeled controversial and even extreme, despite wide acceptance.

We are told our nation is “deeply divided.” Yet, it isn’t our citizenry but our government that is fissured. We suffer from a democracy deficit, the will of the majority constantly stymied. 

Many observers correctly identify voting manipulations, such as gerrymandering and arbitrary purging of voter rolls as factors in the deficit. Overbearing corporate influence is rightly cited as well. But the barriers to democracy inherent in the Constitution itself are seldom noticed.

When the Constitutional Convention sat in 1786-1787, little democracy existed anywhere. Heredity rulers sat on the thrones of Europe, and in America, where power was more widely shared, only propertied white males could vote. Aversion to majority rule was common among the convention’s representatives. Many equated democracy with mob rule.

Their mission was to replace the weak Articles of Confederation with a stronger federal union capable of a united defense and coherent foreign policy. The plan needed acceptance by all 13 “sovereign” states. 

Not an easy task. The states would need to give up some power, and no one ever wants to do that. In particular the South feared the more populated North would dominate and that it would threaten the South’s “peculiar institution,” i.e. slavery. 

Democracy was not on the table. 

Through heroic and often bloody struggle over the years, ordinary people achieved a greater share of power. Nevertheless, even today, there remain the ghosts of 1787, artifacts of another time impeding the public will. 

In our legislature, for example, the powerful upper house, the Senate, consists of two members for each state, regardless of population. Thus, the Dakotas, each with less than a million citizens have together twice the voting power of California with almost 40 million! Fair?

It would be mathematically feasible and certainly more democratic to multiply each senator’s vote by a population factor. But would those who now hold disproportionate power accede to this kind of change? People seldom cede power unless forced.

Another artifact of 1787 is the Electoral College. When Hillary Clinton’s 3 million plurality over her opponent did not give her the presidency, many foreigners were baffled. Most understood the result reflected our Electoral College anomaly, but what they couldn’t understand was why a purported Democracy continued to honor this creaky avoidance of popular government. 

The answer was simple. Those who have an advantage under a system use their advantage to keep it, fair or not. 

While perhaps most Americans revere our Constitution, what we most cherish are the changes we have made to it, beginning with the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights. Later amendments further enlarged the power of the common people and the inclusiveness of the electorate.

Recognizing unfairness and making changes is as much within our traditions as stubbornly defending unfair privilege because it bears the patina of age. One 2020 presidential candidate has called for the elimination of the Electoral College. This would be a reasonable place to start. 

Our country has inspired many nations toward democracy since our beginnings. How ironic that today we ourselves fall so far from the ideal of government by the consent of the governed. 

Margaret Morris
Ventura

Sake of commercial fishermen

I want to commend Chris O’Neal’s article (“Storage wars,” News, March 28) on the commercial fisheries’ equipment storage yard’s problem.  It is a well-written and factual article pertaining to a needed extended property lease for the boats’ equipment storage and net repair yard.  Chris interviewed all the user groups without placing any blame and pointed out that the lease has become an obstacle for the Ventura Port District to resolve for the sake of the commercial fishermen.  Again, thanks for publishing the article.

Lynn Mikelatos
Ventura

Love, the missing ingredient

Re: “Teenager aggression and provocation,” Editor’s note, March 28

What a superb article and refreshing viewpoint. 

Banning guns will never have any success against these crimes of “momentary insanity” often brought on by years of disinterest and inaction from those who should be paying attention. 

“Love” seems to be the missing ingredient in the lives of those who snap, but love is not available in every home. We have to find a way to connect troubled kids with gifted caretakers and therapists. 

One way is through inpatient facilities, but there is an enduring stigma attached to those who seek help. We have to make it attractive or heroic, to ask for help.

Each of these kids knew they were in trouble, and I think each would have at least tried out this type of solution if it was presented to them the right way. As it was, they saw no solution save the most hopeless option of all. 

We all suffer as we make our way through life, and it adds up. Inpatient mental facilities have a very powerful template focusing on group interaction. As one interacts with other folks in crisis, their pain and trauma is spread out among the listeners and is absorbed and diluted. When this magical thing happens, we suddenly realize that others are just like us and worthy of love and respect, as we are. A child can get their first sense of all of us “in this together” and acquire empathy. 

Later, when that kid grows up and is confronted with a troubled child they’II instinctively know when intervention is necessary. 

P W Robinson
Oxnard

A horror show

Re: “Teenager aggression and provocation,” Editor’s note, March 28

Lots of weight with this subject; the subject of our lost, confused, abandoned youth.

It’s pretty obvious to me (I’ve been around since 1964) that we all inhabit a world running on fear-based, selfish, self-will run riot, which young people are gravely affected by, quite obviously, not to mention the rest of us.

If we honestly look at things, or if I do, I see that the world is an out of control mess. The environment, the governments, the media, the species is so strained that we are in an epidemic of endless addictive practices. Frankly, it’s a horror show right now, so of course the youth is in crisis, a major crisis. They are the canaries in the coal mine, so to speak.

We are all to blame, but who will begin to stand up, admit their part and take that blame?

Great article, Michael, I affirm and validate your courage to begin a dialogue on the state of our future (our children). Someone has to be brave enough to. 

Keith Amato

 

Police protection myth                               

I would like to take this opportunity to point out to everyone out there who believes the police can protect us that they are having grand delusions!! There truly is no REAL police protection. Let me explain.

What happens when someone gets robbed, mugged, raped or murdered? Are the police there to stop the criminals from hurting the victims??? HELL NO! They come along AFTER you are lying there bleeding, or in the hospital, or in the morgue, and then they write their reports and question witnesses, IF any live ones can be found. I repeat myself for emphasis: The police will NOT be there while you are getting robbed, mugged, raped or killed. They will NOT show up until you are maimed, robbed, raped or dead and the perps are LONG GONE!!!

The foregoing is especially true for senior citizens. Any criminal over the age of 12 can EASILY overwhelm MOST seniors over the age of 70. The elderly have NO defense, and the police will NOT be there when they are attacked, or killed, or robbed.

Conclusion:  People MUST, MUST, MUST protect themselves by ANY means necessary, using guns, clubs, or pepper spray.  Especially true for the seniors over 70. Since MOST criminals carry weapons, and WE the law abiding VICTIMS are NOT allowed to do so, we MUST improvise, using clubs, canes, baseball bats or pepper spray. I STRONGLY advise EVERY senior citizen, especially those over 70 (like me) to buy pepper spray (two or three small canisters) and get trained on how to use it. Carry it with you EVERYWHERE you go and keep it handy so you can reach and activated it fast.

John Jay
“Voice of Truth”
Oxnard

Dek//Toilet to tap

Ventura is on a track to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convert sewage water into drinking water. Estimated project costs keep escalating. Proponents have not provided adequate information and disclosure. There are many examples of big projects that did not work out as expected. Consider the high speed rail project — or Oxnard’s GREAT (water recycling) project. When big projects go badly, millions of dollars are lost. The consequences ultimately fall on the poor. We citizens must pay more attention to large multi-million dollar project proposals.

At first, we were told that treated sewage water is processed to be 97 percent pure (prior to its release into the ocean). Recycling advocates insisted that the cost to remove the remaining 3 percent would be minimal. However, as it turns out, the project will be very expensive — many hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, Ventura will incur significant expenditures for annual operating costs.

Ventura has prepared a draft environmental impact report (EIR). If you would like to comment on the EIR, you must do so prior to April 22, 2019. For details and instructions, please direct your browser to the following web address:

https://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/1470/Ventura-Water-Pure

Opponents of the Ventura Water-Pure Project include Venturans for Responsible & Efficient Government aka VREG. A major concern is that there is no long-term track record for Direct Potable Reuse (DPR). DPR is a process to sanitize sewage water and then pipe it directly back to households for drinking purposes. Are Ventura residents being used as guinea pigs to enhance the resumes of Ventura’s elected officials and staff? You may review VREG’s critique at the following web address:

http://www.vregventura.org/are-you-really-content-to-drink-sewage-when-you-dont-have-to/

Should Ventura allow the project to proceed past the point of no-return OR wait until DPR has a proven track record? There are various possibilities for phasing in DPR and/or reducing wastewater going to the estuary. In all scenarios — involving either wastewater use or disposal —a pipeline into the ocean will be required. Thus, shouldn’t Ventura build this (outfall/brine) pipeline first?

It seems likely many residents will not drink the recycled water. Those that have the money will drink only bottled water — or they will install expensive equipment to filter the water before it enters their homes. Some may decide to boil the water before drinking it.

In addition to the health risk, “toilet to tap” will create a massive and lethal security risk. A terrorist will be able to use any toilet in the city to flush a toxic agent that could end up in our drinking water.

At this time, it is hard to see “economic and social” justice in Ventura’s Water-Pure Project. ¿Dónde está la justicia económica y social?

Charles Spraggins
Ventura