Commentary by Bill Buchanan
One of my favorite quotes, and one that I use frequently, comes from Lily Tomlin: she said, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” There is no use denying that I am a cynic. In theory, I would like to be one of those people who is eternally optimistic, who is innocent and childlike in their view of the world. But my reality is something much different.
This does not mean that I am devoid of joy or enthusiasm. I consider myself a pretty upbeat person. I enjoy a good joke or a good story, and I love to laugh.
But I take a pretty dim view of some things. Politics and most professional politicians, for instance, never fail to disgust and disappoint me. Those on both sides of the political spectrum tend to speak one way, act another.
My current favorite Political Pomposity Award would go to Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who lectured the president on the nation’s finances by stating, “I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!” According to documents filed by his ex-wife in their divorce case, Walsh owes about $100,000 in child support to her and their three children. Clearly, they don’t need anything else heaped on their backs — they have enough to endure with dear old dad.
While it is easy to maintain cynicism about Congress, it pains me to be cynical about Christmas. There have always been claims that Christmas is too commercial. It is hard to argue with that. However, recent events have taken take this to a completely new and very disturbing level.
In particular, I am talking about the Black Friday incident where one Wal-Mart shopper, in order to discourage competition for a discounted Xbox video game player, apparently whipped out the pepper spray and tagged other shoppers in order to gain an advantage. The incident allegedly caused minor injuries to about 20 shoppers, among them, several children.
This is hard to fathom. Was this a spur of the moment decision, or did the woman make a mental checklist before heading out the door: keys, check; shopping list, check; giant aerosol can of pepper spray, check?
Apparently Black Friday brings out the beast rather than the best in some people. A guy told me a story a few years ago about his wife and mother-in-law going to a Wal-Mart about 6 a.m. where a fight broke out between two women wanting the same item. He said his wife and mother-in-law looked on in horror as the two women, one of whom was pregnant, wrestled each other to the floor and rolled around until an assistant manager came and broke up the scuffle.
I don’t know which is worse — rolling around on a skanky Wal-Mart floor at 6 a.m. while wrestling with a pregnant woman over a Tickle Me Elmo doll or pepper spraying children while they shop with their mother. Somehow neither of these incidents quite conveys the true meaning of the Christmas season to me.
But maybe I’m just being cynical.
Would you explain the reason(s) why this may occur during a vehicle
stop? Thanks!! PS Keep up the good work of informing the public.
By Misty Volaski
Senior volunteers across the valley got a letter from Help of Ojai dated Nov. 15, announcing the end of the long-running Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) as of Dec. 31. Help’s executive director Terri Wolfe explained that this was due to lack of — and the potential elimination of — funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service. CNCS has supplied grant money to operate Ojai’s “clearing house” for senior volunteer opportunities for close to 20 years, and has a national budget of about $1 billion, making it a target for possible elimination by Congress. It also runs the SeniorCorps and AmeriCorps organizations.
Wolfe said the ending of the RSVP program is certainly not something Help of Ojai would have chosen to do if these were ideal financial times, but that to keep it running would have required thousands of dollars that Help just doesn’t have.
“In this time of change for all agencies receiving federal funding, we have to adapt to those changes,” she said. “And our objective in adapting is to have a minimum impact on our direct services to our clients — seniors, low income, the homeless.”
“We’re not ‘cutting’ RSVP,” Wolfe emphasized, “we’re just not able to increases our expenses” to cover the costs of the program which are no longer covered by CNCS. In the letter to local volunteers, Wolfe says, “This change should not adversely impact your work within your particular program.”
Wolfe said that when Help of Ojai’s board first caught wind of the federal budget reductions CNCS had to undergo earlier this year, they began to ask the various organizations that work with RSVP volunteers — like the Ojai Valley Community Hospital and about 14 others around the valley — whether they felt that the closing of RSVP would affect them negatively. “We asked for their input on reduction or elimination of the program,” Wolfe said, “and they said it wouldn’t impact them because they knew their volunteers were committed to their organizations, and they felt confident that they would continue to volunteer” whether or not RSVP existed.
“I think RSVP sort of legitimized what they (the volunteers) did, but it’s not why they volunteered,” said Chris Rock, executive director of the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation, which has about 25 to 30 volunteers, most of whom are seniors. “Many of our volunteers are longtime volunteers, and I don’t think the program (RSVP) going away is going to change that.”
RSVP helps coordinate the organizations needing volunteers and tracks the hours of volunteers, which it then submits to the federal government to keep the grant going. “When it first started, the program was to encourage seniors to go out and volunteer in the community,” Wolfe explained. “RSVP was, decades ago, a catalyst for the (volunteer) movement. The good news is, it’s really taken on a life of its own. Volunteering is alive and well and thriving in the Ojai Valley. We’re confident that they’ll still volunteer.”
“That’s what Ojai runs on, that volunteer spirit,” said RSVP volunteer and OVN columnist Mel Bloom. “Many things would close down if it weren’t for volunteers.”
Despite the confidence voiced about the continuation of volunteerism in Ojai, Help of Ojai still looked at several other options to keep RSVP, said Wolfe. CNCS changed the way it looked at the grant period, which increased from 12 months to 15 months. That meant that sponsoring organizations, like Help of Ojai, would have been required to fill in the three-month funding gap with their own funds, something Wolfe said wasn’t possible. “That would be $15,000 for us, on the tails of our busiest time of year, and the end of the year — it would be a huge burden.” Help investigated the option of simply putting the program “on hold” for those three months, but CNCS doesn’t allow this option.
Further, even if Help of Ojai had the $15,000 to fund that three-month gap, “There’s no guarantee that there would be grant money come March or April,” Wolfe said. “Is there even going to be a program? We don’t know. We could end up continuing a program that might end up being eliminated anyway.”
The biggest regret to the ending of the RSVP program, Wolfe said, was that there was no longer funding to keep the RSVP director, Kathleen Tarrats. “That’s a great loss to us,” Wolfe said. “She’s a great champion of seniors. She’s done a really remarkable job of connecting with seniors. We’ve offered her a part-time job with Help and we hope she accepts the position.”
Bloom echoed her enthusiasm. “Kathleen has been very effective there for years,” he said. “And she’s a very neat human being.”
Volunteer opportunities still abound in Ojai. Contact Help of Ojai at 646-5122 for more information.
Report and photo
by Logan Hall
The city of Ojai is working with valley residents, many of whom depend on public transportation, to minimize negative effects of proposed changes to the city’s public transit system. If the City Council votes yes on recommendations that would significantly alter Ojai Trolley operations and Gold Coast Transit bus routes, changes could be implemented in July 2012.
An ad-hoc Transit Committee was formed by the city in July that consisted of various officials and members of the community. The committee has been gathering information on Ojai’s public transportation, and has decided what to recommend to City Council members regarding changes to the transit system. The changes would hopefully reduce the city’s transit costs by $150,000 a year, easing the strain on the city’s already-stressed general fund.
“Right now we have a limited reserve fund,” said Greg Grant, Ojai’s city engineer about the city’s budget. “Close to half a million dollars of the transit budget came from the general fund in the last three years. The goal is to have the transit fund be self-sustainable and take the pressure off of the general fund.”
According to a press release from Ojai’s Public Works Department, the committee will recommend that the city eliminate Gold Coast’s fixed route within the city of Ojai, raise the general trolley fare from 50 cents to $1, and that Saturday and Sunday trolley stop times will be decreased from once every half hour to once every hour. The elimination of the Ojai Gold Coast route would mean that buses would go no farther than the current bus stop in Mira Monte, but city officials say those routes would be covered by the Ojai Trolley.
Ojai resident Juan Torres says although he doesn’t usually use public transportation, he believes the recommendations could make things tougher, but might be necessary. “It sounds like it’s going to take more time to get everybody where they’re going,” said Torres as his bus approached the stop in front of the Vons shopping center. “It’s probably going to be harder for everyone, but I know they don’t have enough people and money and stuff so I hope they figure it out.”
To help appease local trolley and bus riders, the Transit Committee is also recommending to the City Council that trolley hours be increased to cover the ground of the absent Gold Coast buses. While adding more costs, Grant says those costs would be offset by saving $100,000 annually, which is what Gold Coast currently charges the city for the bus route. An added benefit would be an increase in trolley coverage during hours that Gold Coast buses operate. Currently, according to the respective websites, Gold Coast’s hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. while Ojai Trolley hours are 6:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Right now the Gold Coast bus comes early in the morning and late in the evening,” said Grant. “A lot of people get stranded and have to walk into town if they get off the bus when the trolley isn’t operating. It will be a huge improvement for everybody.”
Grant also says that although trolley fares could effectively double, Ojai’s rates would still be similar to neighboring communities. “We’d still be below the other rates in the county as far as our fares would go,” he said. “So far the public that we’ve surveyed has been OK with the proposed rate increases.”
Public meetings will be held at Ojai City Hall on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. to help the city get the citizens’ outlook on the issue. “We really want to get the public’s input on this,” said Grant. Check future issues of the Ojai Valley News for a full report on public transportation in the Ojai Valley.
By Chris T. Wilson
For nearly two decades, families and individuals in need have been offered a warm bed and hot meal when the winter season arrives in the Ojai Valley.
Starting this Thursday, the hundreds of volunteers who comprise Ojai Valley Family Shelter, will each do their part to make life as comfortable as possible for local people struggling to survive.
At the heart of the organization is shelter administrator Rick Raine, a local graphic designer for Behavioral Science Technology and member of the Ojai Valley Community Church. Raine started volunteering with OVFS 15 years ago.
“I got involved by volunteering with my church as an overnight host,” Raine recalls. “The next year I became site coordinator and then the board approached me and asked me if I was interested in running the whole program. It wasn’t exactly the thing I thought I’d be doing with my life, but it has been incredibly rewarding.”
Working closely with several local churches, the Ojai Valley Grange on Cruzero Street and Help of Ojai’s Community Assistance Program, OVFS serves between 20 and 30 individuals nightly from Dec. 1 though March 31 each season.
According to Raine, each site for the rotating shelter operates as its own outreach ministry. As the administrator Raine works closely with each site to make sure it is well staffed and supplied with food and bedding. The sites for the shelter are Sunday at the Ojai Wesleyan Church, Monday at Ojai Valley Grange Hall, Tuesday at St. Thomas Aquinas, Wednesday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Thursday at Ojai Presbyterian, Friday at Ojai Valley Community Church and Saturday at First Baptist Church of Ojai. About 400 to 500 volunteers take part in the program during its four-month season, Raine says.
For the past several years, Raine says, the program has instituted a locals-only policy. Many of the individuals or families who stay in the shelters are referred through the Help of Ojai Community Assistance Program run by Jessica Murray.
The C.A.P. provides free tuberculosis screenings for shelter participants, provides lunches during the shelter off-season and laundry services for area homeless.
Murray said C.A.P. has also offered a rainy day shelter in November and April to bookend the few days in late autumn and early spring when rain or cold make life particular challenging for area homeless. A week of rainy weather in November and a few late frosts in April made the program viable for those who need it, but more volunteers are needed to see it continue, Murray says.
“This year we have served 140 people in the first three months,” Murray says. “That averages to 47 individuals per month which is up from 40 per month last year.”
The C.A.P. provides lunch, a phone, laundry services once per week and a place to get mail, Murray says.
Raine says OVFS has a good supply of volunteers, but can always use money donations and blankets. Work to repair and maintain a mobile shower unit is costly Raine says.
To volunteer or donate to the Family Shelter, visit ovfs.org or call Raine at 804-7094. To volunteer or donate to the C..A.P., contact Murray by phone at 640-3320.
I live near a biz on Ojai Avenue and folks are always parking in front of my mailbox. Makes me crazy. Anything I can do about it? Karen Banfield
If these vehicles are legally parked on a street then there is nothing you can do to prevent the drivers from parking there. When I say legally parked I refer to the vehicles being parked within 18 inches of the curb / edge of the roadway and the vehicles must be moved withing 72 hours.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
Ojai Police Department
402 South Ventura St.
Ojai, CA 93023
By Mike Miller
The Nordhoff Rangers suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the final seconds of tonight’s CIF-SS second round playoff game. After a back-and-forth game, the Rangers took a 33-28 lead with less than a minute to play. The Torrance Tartars came back to win after they threw a desperation pass for a touchdown with 16 seconds to play in the game.
By Logan Hall
Ojai residents see their share of world-class musicians perform all around the valley. Acoustic guitar master and former Ojai resident Raj Rathor is one of those musicians and after an almost 20-year absence from Ojai’s music scene, Rathor is heading back into town to perform for the citizens of the valley on Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. at the Ojai Playhouse.
Rathor’s style can best be described by calling him a one-man band. He doesn’t have a harmonica around his neck or a drum and cymbals attached to his feet, and he doesn’t play over recorded background music. When listening to some of the tracks on his new CD, “Tales of time and Eternity,” one might be fooled into believing that Rathor, who now lives and performs in Las Vegas, is accompanied by a percussionist and a bass player. At the very least, it sounds as though there are two separate guitar players.
That, however, is an illusion created by Rathor and his fret board wizardry.
The album features songs comprised entirely of one man playing one guitar. While laying down a bass line with the thumb on his right hand, he proceeds to play rhythm, and even lead guitar with the rest of his fingers —- all at the same time. Rathor’s genre of music, aptly called fingerstyle guitar, combines melodic phrasing with driving beats and often-intricate bass lines. When it comes to the composition of his songs on the guitar, he has, as he puts it, “learned to approach it as an orchestra rather than one single instrument.”
The acoustic guitar was not the first instrument that he picked up. “My parents brought me back a ukulele from Hawaii,” he said.
He said that it was while plucking away on his ukulele that he heard what a guitar could do. “When I was 9 I was up in the Sequoias in the summer,” he said. “Suddenly I heard someone playing a Martin guitar under those big beautiful trees. It changed my life and set my course from that moment on.”
With influences like guitar legends Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Bert Jansch, and John Fayhey, Rathor began tailoring his style after his heroes. “He says one musician in particular really made a mark on him. “Lenny Breau was the biggest influence on me,” he said. “There was a whole new direction to go in with Lenny.”
Rathor says that the highlight of his career was a local performance with Breau in the ‘80s back when Wheeler’s Hot Springs was called Bowman’s at Wheeler Hot Springs. “He spent some time with me in Ojai,” said Rathor. “I used to play at Bowman’s and Lenny came and sat in one night. That was the most memorable thing for me.”
Rather says he has quite a show planned for his hometown when he returns in December. With four guitars, including a 12-string guitar custom made to go along with the bottleneck he uses for a slide, and two albums of solo acoustic guitar tunes released, he says there will be plenty of guitar pickin’ and foot tappin’. “The 12-string bottleneck guitar is just a great-sounding instrument.”
Local fingerstyle guitar master Alan Thornhill has played gigs with Rathor and urges people to check out his upcoming show. “It’s just unbelievable that it’s all solo acoustic guitar,” said Thornhill of Rathor’s music. “We’re lucky to have him play here in town.”
Rathor says he will also hold a guitar workshop for aspiring musicians the day after his performance. “I’ll be there to answer questions and to help people along with their playing,” he said, adding that players who take the workshop should bring their guitars for hands-on instruction.
For more information about Rathor’s music log on to jazzcatrecords.com and call (702) 812-7957 to sign up for his guitar workshop.
This is the google site link
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Ava and I always have our “strays and orphans” gathering, which is Thanksgiving dinner with friends who either have no family, no family close enough to easily visit, or who would just rather spend the day in the company of friends. It is a great day of wonderful food, games (charades and football), laughter, and lively conversation.
But for many in our community, that is not the case. While economic times are very hard, most of us are blessed to have a warm home and enough food on the table. But there are many who do not.
I will always remember a particular Thanksgiving in 1989. When Ava and I lived in north Alabama, we volunteered at a citywide Thanksgiving dinner. The dinner started out as just that; people prepared a Thanksgiving luncheon for those who might otherwise have none. The event grew each year, and each year, more offerings were added. One year, winter coats were donated. They were hung on a rack and folks could try them on, and select one to take with them after they ate. Another year, a local band came in and played Christmas music. We brought in Santa Claus, and raised enough money to buy a toy for each child who came. The crowd grew to more than 300 people.
But I will always remember one particular woman. Each child got to choose a toy, then sit in Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. While sitting with Santa, a volunteer took a Polaroid photo, which they gave to the child’s parent. The woman thanked the photographer profusely for the instant photo. She said, “Oh, thank you so much. My little girl is 5, and this is the only picture I have of her.” Her comment hit me like a slap across the face, and gave me a glimpse of the harsh reality many people confront every day.
Ojai is blessed with several organizations, including Help of Ojai, which do a wonderful job assisting those in need. Local banks are currently in the middle of their holiday food drive. All of the food collected stays here to help individuals and families in the Ojai Valley. If you want to help, you may drop off food or gift certificates from local grocery stores at Bank of America, Pacific Western Bank, Ojai Community Bank, Rabobank, and Wells Fargo Bank. During this holiday season, please consider helping by donating your time, money or food items to these or other worthy causes.
Even a small gift can make a big difference to someone in need.
By Misty Volaski
Last week, members of various Ojai Valley community organizations donated dozens of turkeys to Help of Ojai’s food bank. The Rotary Club of Ojai-West, teaming up with Ojai Community Bank, donated 100, Golden State Water Company gave 52, and Troop Realty provided another 50. The Ojai Presbyterian Church, meanwhile, provided the full meal boxes for 150 families. “Any additional turkeys are now in the freezer waiting for Christmas distribution,” said Help of Ojai executive director Terri Wolfe.
“The partnership shown by the local banks — Ojai Valley Community Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Rabobank, and Pacific Mutual — the local merchants and restaurants, the Ojai schools, Rotary West, Starr Market, Troop Realty, Ojai Presbyterian Church and scores of individual donors and volunteers is invaluable as we work to brighten the holiday for over 250 Ojai Valley families.Without their partnership and generosity, we would not be able to provide for hundreds during the Thanksgiving holiday,” added a grateful Wolfe. “Their hard work does not end with Thanksgiving, as they are committed to helping all the way through Christmas with our Adopt-a-Family project.”
Ojai Community Bank is spearheading its second annual One Ton Challenge, which it is organizing with the help of area banks Rabobank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Pacific Western. OCB is challenging the community to outdo its 2010 donation of 4 tons of food to Help of Ojai. Donations of nonperishable food items can be made at any of the banks mentioned.
The Nordhoff High School girls’ softball team is getting into the giving spirit again this year as well, hoping to surpass its 2010 donation of 1 ton of food for the challenge. They will be standing outside of Vons and Starr markets in December and will be going door-to-door in their neighborhoods looking for donations.
The Ojai Valley News has donated $100 in Starr Market gift certificates, and an OCB customer donated another $100 for Vons gift certificates Judy Gabriel, OCB director of marketing and community relations. “Ojai Community Bank is also offering a raffle,” said Judy Gabriel, OCB director of marketing and community relations. “Anyone who contributes a food item receives a raffle ticket. Prizes include ‘I Love Ojai’ T-shirts and $100.”
By Logan Hall
Ventura County Fire Department Fire Chief Bob Roper, an Ojai resident, announced his bid for county District 1 supervisor at a press conference on Monday. Roper made his announcement just days after current Supervisor Steve Bennett announced his campaign for the 26th seat on the U.S. Congress.
Roper says that he has had his eye on local politics for several years, but had to focus on his position with the VCFD, forcing him to abandon his pursuit. “I contemplated a possible run for the Ojai City Council a few years ago,” he said. “It just didn’t work out with my current job.”
He says that now he’s ready to make the move to run for supervisor. “I really feel that if I get elected,” he said, “I can keep contributing to the community and I think that position would really fit my skill sets.”
Although he has spent 32 years with the VCFD, Roper says that he isn’t retiring, but looking for a new direction to take. “It’s one of those things where you start asking if you’re still fresh in the job,” he said. “It’s just time for me to find something different. What challenges are out there that I haven’t taken on? Well — this is it.”
Roper says that he is familiar with the position of county supervisor and believes that his experience in the Fire Department will carry over if he’s elected. “I currently take policy direction from the (county) Board of Supervisors,” he said. “Oftentimes they’ll ask for input from me. We’re all in the same county family as far as rules and procedures go. I really think it will transition nicely.”
After his initial announcement, Roper’s next step will be to organize his campaign and start reaching out to the community. “First I’ll start meeting with people to figure out the priorities for District 1,” he said. “My No. 1 obligation right now is still this organization (VCFD), so I know it’s going to mean much longer hours. I realize that it will take time and dedication. This is something that you really have to work at.”
By Misty Volaski
The Ojai Valley Lions Club is returning to the “old-old Ojai Ford lot,” 821 W. Ojai Ave., again this year for its fourth annual Christmas tree sale. The lot officially opens this Saturday and runs every day until Dec. 20.
The Lions have a special three-member committee which travels to Oregon each year to hand-pick the trees. “The trees this year will be coming from Chris Eads” in Estacada, Ore., said Lions Club member Dave Hunt. “We will have top-quality noble, Douglas and grand firs from 2 to 11 feet.” The Lions will also be selling wreaths and tree stands, and will recycle old stands.
“It’s a really nice connection to the community,” said Hunt. “It’s a good opportunity for the Lions to get out there and be seen, and people like that all the money goes back into the community and that they can get their trees right here in town.”
It takes countless hours of work to get the lot ready for operation, and about 50 volunteers to man it through Dec. 20. “We set up the lot on Thanksgiving Day, build stands and, of course, purchase the supplies,” said Hunt. “It really is like running a small business!” Volunteers come from the Ojai Valley Lions Club — almost every member puts in at least one shift, said Hunt — as well as from other area clubs and the community. “Anyone who wants to help, tell them to come out and we’ll put them to work,” said Hunt with a laugh.
All of the proceeds will be donated back to the community, Hunt said. “Last year we donated $4,300 directly back to the schools’ PTOs for their participation in our presale program.” In addition, the Lions donate youth sports scholarships — 100 locals were able to play AYSO soccer this year thanks to the Lions — and college scholarships. They also participate in community projects like the construction of both the new ticket booth at Ojai Valley Community Stadium and the paddle tennis courts at Soule Park, which were built by Lions Club members. Hunt said the club also gives “Eye exams and glasses for those in need, adopts families at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and donates to several organizations throughout the valley.”
Hours of operation for the holiday tree lot are 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, beginning Saturday and running through Dec. 20.
The Ojai Valley Lions Club meets the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at the Oak View Community Center. For more information or to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
POSTS ARE NO LONGER BEING ACCEPTED FOR THIS REPORT.
By Chris T Wilson
Plans are approved and under way to transform a shuttered and abandoned gas station into a hub of cycling and green community transportation.
If all proceeds according to schedule, The MOB Shop, a bicycle sales and repair shop in Meiners Oaks, will relocate to the presently fenced property at the corner of West Ojai Avenue and North Ventura Street.
This past Wednesday the Ojai Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve plans that will see the dilapidated property improved, redesigned and opened for business by as early as February 2012, MOB Shop co-owner Kelly Pasco said.
Among the offerings planned for the building that has been vacant for about 16 years, will be retail sales, bicycle repairs, an electric car charging station and an extensive rental fleet of conventional and electric cycles.
Pasco, a former physical education teacher at Oak Grove School, is an avid cyclist with a bent for activism and alternative transportation. Along with visionary business partners, Greg Prinz and Tim Rhone, The MOB Shop plans to revolutionize how tourists and commuters move in and around the Ojai Valley.
Pasco says he sees this as a perfect opportunity to promote Ojai as a green tourist destination that will likely help local business in the process.
“The beauty of it is that we take this old defunct gas station and turn into a green transportation store,” Pasco said. “We want to really promote people getting around Ojai by bike and not by car. We’re adding a lot of cool bikes to our rental and electric fleet. So you can cruise up here from L.A. in your electric car, get around town on a bike while your car charges and then drive back.”
Planning Commissioner Kathleen Nolan said she likes how The MOB Shop plans coincide with the Complete Streets program being created for Ojai. Complete Streets will reconsider the bike and pedestrian master plan and circulation element to comply with state and federal regulations that require streets be designed for safer use by walkers, cyclists and vehicles, she said. Nolan praised Pasco’s input on the Complete Streets and the sustainable elements of the business plans.
“I love the fact that they are planning to install solar, capture rainwater on-site and have charging stations for electric cars,” Nolan said. “That site has a been a blight for years.”
Fellow Planning Commissioner John Mirk, who commutes twice a week by bicycle to work at Patagonia in Ventura, agreed.
“I’m really excited to see this happen,” Mirk said. “This will be a wonderful gathering place for people. The shop in Meiners Oaks has become that way and the new shop will be like that but even more so.”
Mirk and Nolan both quoted Commissioner Paul Crabtree who referred to the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of The MOB Shop plans as a “love fest,” at the Wednesday evening meeting.
Behind-the-scenes landscape architect and contractor John Lamar has worked closely with the MOB Shop partners in creating and revising the plans to meet with city approval. He said a lot of the credit goes to the city officials who green-lighted the plans and helped it move through easily.
Lamar also said that the building, which has been closed since the mid-1990s from a leaking fuel tank, has been fully remediated and signed off for new business use.
“The county’s Department of Environmental Health has said that the building is ready for commercial use,” Lamar said. “We will continue to work closely with Environmental Health to monitor the situation.”
Lamar and Pasco both said that as the plans come together in the coming months that Lamar will become a partner in The MOB Shop as well.
MOB Shop co-owners Prinz and Rhone both said they’re pleased to see this big move coming together. Prinz has a vision to redefine how people see cycling.
“Our ultimate goal is get people out of cars onto bikes,” Prinz said. “It’s easy to accomplish everything in Ojai on a bike. For the most part the valley is flat. Our goal is to become known in the world of commuter cycling; to be the authority on commuter bicycles.”
Rhone brings years of retail sales experience to the team and an equal measure of vision and enthusiasm.
“This is a perfect spot for us to stage the revolution here and make this a real cycling town,” Rhone said. “If you compare to someplace like Portland, which grew its cycling community by 31 percent in the last five years, we’re pretty far away. But, I think given the availability of safe bike lanes and we’re about one-third of the way there.”
For now the MOB Shop team is seeking funds from community support, local banking and investors to help move the project forward. The new space in downtown Ojai will more than double retail, repair and rental space.
Currently located at 445 W. El Roblar Drive, The MOB Shop also maintains rental fleets of bicycles at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, Casa Ojai and Su Nido Inn.
Report and photo
by Logan Hall
A major eyesore and safety hazard was removed from the side of Highway 33 Monday after a crew from Greg Rents in Oak View decided to step up and take care of business.
A small recreational vehicle shell had been dumped on the side of the highway near Nye Road in Casitas Springs recently, and had been attracting the attention of local citizens, law enforcement and trespassers. The California Highway Patrol had received calls to the public about transients using the abandoned camper as a home. “We know there was at least one person living in it,” said CHP Officer Dave Webb as he pointed toward the battered camper. “We also know whoever it was had started fires in the sink. We were just coming up here to haul it away.”
Webb says that the CHP had gotten calls about the camper and were going to have it hauled away before conducting an investigation as to who may have left it. The cost of the operation would have fallen on the taxpayers if no one was arrested and convicted for the illegal dumping of the camper. “We’re hauling this thing down to the dump,” said Greg Rents owner Greg Webster. “The people shouldn’t have to pay for this.”
Webster and his team, Chris Wieser, Robin Daniels and Gerado Estrada, arrived on scene Monday morning to begin hauling the dilapidated camper onto Webster’s flatbed truck using chains and a winch. The four citizens also shoveled piles of garbage into bags to haul off with the camper.
“It’s just hard to believe someone would just leave this thing here,” said Webster, who is footing the bill for the camper’s removal. “We’re just doing what we’ve got to do, you know? Somebody’s gotta do it.”
Shortly after loading the cumbersome camper onto the truck, Webster and his crew were busy mopping up as Webb pulled up in his patrol car. Webb told Webster that the CHP was planning on hauling out the camper later that day, but that now they would be spared the time and expense thanks to Webster’s help. “This is a good deed by the public,” said Webb. “It’s great to see members of the community willing to pitch in. I gotta give him an A-plus rating.”
Webb said that, aside from the obvious blight to the area’s aesthetic quality, the camper presented a health and safety issue. He added that the CHP would be conducting an investigation by running serial numbers of the camper, but weren’t holding out too much hope in catching whoever abandoned it. “Trailers can be tough,” he said. “There’s not much to go on as far as identification goes. That would be a nice little misdemeanor if we get him though.”
Webb provided a brief police escort for Webster as he drove the flatbed up the Arnaz Grade to his shop where he could prepare the load for the trip down to the dump.
By Tracy Wilson
Ojai Valley School recognized alumnus and former school President Michael D. Hermes last week by dedicating the central quad at the lower campus in his memory and by creating two new $10,000 scholarships for high school students who exemplify his commitment to character, community, scholarship, athleticism, and leadership.
Members of the board of trustees joined faculty and members of the Hermes family for a formal dedication honoring Hermes, who died earlier this year. He spent 65 years with the school, starting as a second-grader in 1946. His varied roles included dorm parent and coach at the upper campus in the 1960s, board trustee, and later president and chief executive officer. He served in that capacity for 34 years.
“What an honor it was to serve with such a extraordinary man,” said William H. Hair, member and former chairman of the board of trustees, during the dedication ceremony. He praised Hermes for making a difference in students’ lives for nearly 50 years through his leadership, courage and devotion to the school.
“It is mind-boggling to think of the number of problems solved and opportunities grasped in all phases of school life during the three-plus decades we worked together,” Hair said. “And, not only is OVS still here, but it is thriving as it enters its next century.”
In appreciation, Board Chairman Jack B. De Nault III announced that Hermes will join founding President Edward Yeomans as a president emeritus of Ojai Valley School, and the original quadrangle at the lower campus will be known in perpetuity as the Hermes Quad — now marked by large boulder surrounded by native plants and a plaque bearing his name.
“The quad is the ceremonial heart of campus, hosting graduation each year,” said OVS President and CEO Michael Hall-Mounsey. “And, maybe most fittingly, the quad is boisterously enjoyed by OVS students every day. The students on campus, the alumni out in the world, and all of us here today, are the beneficiaries of Mike’s courageous leadership.”
Hall-Mounsey also announced the creation of the Michael D. Hermes Memorial Scholarships. Generously supported by the OVS Annual Fund, the scholarships offer two $10,000 awards to well-rounded day or resident applicants or current students at the upper campus who exemplify Hermes’ commitment to character, community, scholarship, athleticism, and leadership.
Applicants for these scholarships must be currently enrolled or applied to OVS upper campus for the 2012-2013 academic year. Applicants will be selected on merits, including grades, community involvement, leadership potential, extracurricular activities, and a written essay. The application deadline is Feb. 1.
By Misty Volaski
Since the standardized testing results were released for Ojai’s public schools last month, administrators have been working to remedy their problem areas and find ways to meet state and federal goals on ever-tightening budgets.
At Tuesday night’s Ojai Unified School District board meeting, two schools — Meiners Oaks Elementary School and Chaparral Continuing High School — gave presentations on their plans for student achievement. The other Ojai schools will present their plans in upcoming meetings.
Meiners Oaks principal Dawn Damianos discussed the many programs her school has created and improved upon for the 2011-2012 school year. Standardized testing results for last year revealed that not enough M.O. students reached the level of “proficient” or “advanced” on the tests, putting Meiners Oaks into the classification of “program improvement year three,” (on a scale that goes up to year eight and higher).
This means that the school must set aside 20 percent of its Title 1 funds — federal funds given to schools with high percentages of low-income students — to pay for private tutoring for any Meiners Oaks family that requests it. Parents can choose from a number of state-approved tutoring service providers at no cost to the family. Damianos said last year about 40 families took them up on the offer, and that parents still have time to sign up their students for the 2011-2012 year.
Damianos echoed several OUSD administrators in saying that budget limitations will continue to create difficulties in reaching the state and federal goals. Almost half of the 11 classes at Meiners Oaks Elementary are combination classes, and “bigger class sizes present a huge challenge. But,” Damianos said, “the thing about teachers is, they’re making the best of it no matter what.”
She noted on Tuesday night that one-on-one private tutoring option is only a small portion of what Meiners Oaks Elementary is doing to reach out to students in need of academic intervention. Damianos told board members she is proud of the efforts being made in the after-school homework program, something she started after several parents of English learners approached her for help. “Some of my E.L. parents requested homework help with their students because they’re feeling that they can’t help as much at home” as subject matter becomes more complicated. Meiners Oaks offers the optional service three days a week after school for an hour and a half. Both certificated staff and an E.L. aide run the program, which has rapidly swelled to require two classrooms for the 40-plus students who regularly show up. After the holiday break, Nordhoff’s Future Leaders of America Master Achievers Club has volunteered to come provide additional assistance. “It’s a beautiful fit!” enthused Damianos. “We definitely need more people to help the kids.”
During classroom time, all Meiners Oaks students are also part of the Positive Attitude Will Succeed (P.A.W.S.) program, which provides small group instruction in math and language arts on a daily basis. P.A.W.S. allows students to move at their own pace based on their individual level of mastery in a particular subject. “It’s the same lesson at different speeds,” Damianos explained. The Ojai Education Foundation-funded enVision Math Program is also helping students make strides in math, and the overhead projectors OEF has provided have allowed teachers to provide more multimedia-rich lesson plans.
M.O. is also piloting the Reading Plus computer program, which, like P.A.W.S., allows students to move at their own pace. However, Reading Plus takes P.A.W.S. a step further, allowing students to work on the computers themselves. It also feeds instructors information on the students’ progress, allowing for more detailed interventions where needed.
“I just think that we’re always trying to be positive,” Damianos said, “to look at the data and programs and modify things, and if something isn’t working, out it goes — we’re always trying to hit that state bar and continue to work toward it.”
Chaparral Continuation High School, conversely, doesn’t have to go by the same state and federal standards as the rest of OUSD. Principal Marilyn Smith said, “Because of the alternative education environment, we really look at three indicators: attendance, exit exam pass rate, and the graduation rate.” Students do take the standardized tests that the other OUSD students take (excluding seniors, who legally aren’t required take standardized tests), but they do not have the same significance for Chaparral.
“We do really well in attendance for a continuation high school,” Smith said. “We run in the 80 percent attendance range. Many times, continuation schools run in the 70s.” Since 2004, she added, the Chaparral graduation rate has held steady at 90 percent or above, with a small dip in 2007. From 2004 to 2007, graduation rate was 100 percent, and in 2011, it was 97 percent. Almost all students passed the exit exam; only one student of the 29 graduates in June 2011 received a certificate of completion rather than a diploma.
“Our main goal — because these are students who would’ve otherwise dropped out of the comprehensive high school — is to help them earn their high school diploma, to have good attendance, and to pass the exit exam,” Smith said.
Although Chaparral doesn’t have to meet those benchmark levels that other non-continuation schools must, they must still set goals, which Smith detailed in Tuesday’s meeting: meeting state and federal requirements; improving student achievement in both English and math; improving attendance and graduation rates; and determining the best strategies in both the cognitive and affective domain for student success. “We try to capitalize on the students’ strengths,” Smith said after the meeting. “A lot of it is that effective domain that we need to build up. These kids need consistency in their lives. So we communicate about moving forward, because a lot of times, their families are under-resourced.” Among the steps being taken are continuing to implement rewards programs, having speakers, and special classes such as knitting and fly fishing. In addition, for the last three years, all students must now take a communication class, led by teacher Carole Paddock. “It teaches them … to be able to communicate with other people in a satisfactory manner. That’s been really helpful class for students.”
The next OUSD school board meeting has been set for Dec. 6 in the OUSD board room, 414 E. Ojai Ave. The public is welcome to attend.
Chris T. Wilson
The Ojai Valley Garden Club is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year.
In 1926, Mrs. Osgood — who had been asking questions about gardening and preserving local plants for a couple of years — took her curiosity to new level and initiated a campaign to protect native oaks and plant a World War I memorial for local veterans.
“Fifty-four women and one man established the original Ojai Valley Garden Club,” notes local historian Patricia L. Fry in “The Ojai Valley and Illustrated History.” Their objective? “Ojai is beautiful and we are going to work to make it still more beautiful.”
For starters, they hung a bulletin board at the post office and pinned notices and information of interest to local gardeners. And they began a tradition that has carried forward to this day — bringing a fresh bouquet of flowers to the post office.
Recently, three longtime members, Marilyn Essick, Cecily Blake and Shirley LaBarre, who all live in The Gables of Ojai retirement community, sat together and talked about their memories of years of active involvement with the Garden Club.
One long-gone tradition they recalled going out of fashion as they were joining was the exclusive, formal, highbrow nature of the club. Hats and white gloves were required attire, they recalled. And to be considered for membership into the invitation-only club, “a person had to have lived in Ojai for at least a year,” Blake said. “And you had to have two letters of recommendation to get in.” It was a pretty exclusive group.
“When we joined we had been at an exercise class for two hours, (and) most of us showed up in slacks and they frowned on us,” Blake recalled. “We had one gal show up in her work outfit and she was doing a slide presentation and nobody could see it. So she kept raising it up and up and up and by the end of it we were all leaning way back and staring at the slides on the ceiling.”
Marilyn Essick, now 92 and living in the assisted living facility at The Gables, brought in changes not long after joining the club in the 1970s.
“When I came in one of the first things I didn’t like about it was that it was handled like a sorority,” Essick recalls. “You had to be approved and you had to have two people that approved of you. That’s not gardening. I got on the board somehow and just got that wiped right off. And we made it public in the paper that you didn’t have to be approved to be a member. Anybody interested in gardening could join.”
Blake added, “When I became president in 1996, I said, ‘Why don’t we try instead of afternoon tea, why don’t we have a morning coffee that’s more informal?’ So the old-timers said, ‘You’re going to’ wreck the Garden Club,’ but it started growing.”
Nowadays, the Garden Club is going strong with about 35 members. They meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. at Fisher Hall at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 409 Topa Topa Drive in Ojai, for discussion and a special presentation from local or regional gardening experts. The public is welcome to attend.
“Many of us don’t work and we need people who can dig, who don’t mind getting dirty,” LaBarre said. “We need some young people who know one end of a spade from the other.”
To its credit the Garden Club has been instrumental in saving a multitude of the valley’s ancient oak trees. “In 1938 they fought to save trees at the corners of Signal and Oak streets and at Ventura and Eucalyptus streets. This was not their first, nor their last battle on behalf of native trees,” according to Fry’s illustrated history.
The club was also active in preventing a lot of billboards and advertising signs in Ojai. In addition they have built and planted flower gardens and trees around town. Their work can be seen at Rotary Park at the “Y,” the planter in front of the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club, trees and flowers at public schools, and many other projects.
All of the club’s money comes from members’ $25 annual dues and the one required day of work. That comes at the end of November each year, when in one day all the women and men who belong to the club spend one day at the Chaparral Auditorium decorating holiday wreaths. This sale of the wreaths provides funding for future beautification projects.
Other activities of the service club members include: tea tent floral arrangements at the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, table setting entries at the Ventura County Fair, and decorating a home for the Holiday Home Look In, which is this weekend.
By Logan Hall
Ventura County District 1 Supervisor Steve Bennett announced his plan to run for the 26th Congressional District seat in 2012. After serving the county for more than 10 years as supervisor, Bennett has set his sights on Congress.
A former educator who taught at Nordhoff High School for 20 years, Bennett says he wants to see the country start moving in the right direction. “We really need to avoid this gridlock that’s happening in the government right now,” he said. “We need to be focusing on actually getting proposals that make common sense and start moving this country forward.”
The focus of his campaign, so far, seems to gravitate around setting solid, tangible goals that can be implemented with as little red tape as possible. “We really need common-sense leadership that can take on things like job availability,” he said. “The current ideology is paralyzing so much action.”
In a press release from the county, Bennett says the economy will be one of his main focuses if elected. “Getting our economy back on track should be the No. 1 priority of all national leaders,” he said. “Politicians who block job creation policies in order to advance a narrow electoral agenda are not the kind of leaders that Ventura County needs.”
Bennett believes that he has the political background necessary to take on the congressional position. “We have made major improvements in the fiscal health of Ventura County,” he said, “When I took office 10 years ago our reserves stood at zero and today they are 10.2 percent of our budget.”
One of the better-known projects that Bennett was involved in was the Ventura County Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources initiative, which according to Bennett’s press release, he co-authored with other county officials. The plan was put in place to try to help limit the county’s “urban sprawl” throughout the area. “We had the courage to make some tough votes that were not politically popular then, but are paying off now,” he said.
Bennett has an honors degree in economics from Brown University and a master’s degree in education from Butler University. He served on the Ventura City Council from 1993 to 1997 and taught U.S. history and economics at NHS from 1980 to 2000.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
I am angry and disgusted. I didn’t realize just how angry and disgusted until last week when Jodie Miller casually asked me, “So, what do you think about this Penn State deal?”
At first, I talked about my respect for Joe Paterno and the Penn State football program. I talked about the great rivalry between Alabama and Penn State —- the classic games we had played. I went on about how nice the Penn State fans were, and how well they treated our fans when we played at their stadium.
And then I caught myself.
The sex scandal at Penn State is not about a great institution, winning coaches, classic football contests, or anything of the sort. It is about how a group of people sought to sweep a heinous crime under the rug to protect reputations and institutions. If the allegations are true, they have allowed a sexual predator to remain free to prey upon innocent children for years.
When that sunk in, my sympathy, respect and admiration for Joe Paterno and Penn State went out the window. Now that the scandal is out in the open, everyone is either running for cover, covering their own butt, or both. I am sick of hearing how people “reported the incident to their superiors” and “didn’t really know the details of what transpired.” One coach, who was a graduate assistant at the time, reported that he actually witnessed the rape of a 10-year old boy. He didn’t even tell anyone until the next day, and then he reported to coach Paterno, instead of calling the police. What was he thinking?
Incredibly, this assistant was not only retained, he was scheduled to coach last weekend until the university received threats and it was decided to pull him for his own safety. What was the university thinking?
Lying and cover-ups to protect prominent people and institutions are nothing new. History has borne out over and over again that no matter how bad the initial crime may be, the cover-up is almost always worse. Ask G. Gordon Liddy. Ask Bill Clinton. Ask the boys from Enron.
Some people have tried to justify the acts of coach Paterno, other Penn State coaches and school administrators, saying they acted in a legally correct manner in the way they reported the situation. Well, it may have been technically legal, but it was morally abhorrent. They can try to spin it and try to cover their backs and their paychecks, but the bottom line is this: These men had evidence that a sexual predator was molesting children and they did nothing to stop it.
You can justify almost anything if you want to. But it makes you want to ask these people, what if this had been your child? Would you offer up the same feeble excuses?
And how would they respond if one of the young victims asked, “Why didn’t you protect me?”
By Tiobe Baron
On Nov. 7, Ojai City Council members met to interview three more applicants for the position of city attorney. The candidates interviewed were Dave Aleshire of Aleshire and Wynder, LLP; Andre de Bortnowsky of Green, de Bortnowsky and Quintanilla, LLP; and Julie Biggs of Burke, Williams and Sorenson, LLP.
Biggs is currently serving the city of Wildomar as its city attorney. She has advised the communities of Laguna Woods, Claremont, Goleta, and others. She has worked with Ojai’s City Council in the past, on the state HUD housing element.
When asked about the contentious issue regarding Ojai trying to petition the California Public Utilities Commission for lower rates from Golden State Water Company, Biggs said, “Well, you certainly need to be heard by the CPUC, and need to have someone representing you who can, in fact, open those doors, because the CPUC kind of operates in the shadows. Good representation can at least make sure everyone’s aware of what needs to be done.”
De Bortnowsky, meanwhile, works with a firm that is strictly a public sector law firm; they don’t take private sector clients to avoid any possible conflict of interest. The firm has two offices, the main one in Calabasas, and a satellite office in Studio City. They tout themselves as being a “cost-effective law firm.” De Bortnowsky, who worked as the city attorney for Cathedral City for 16 years, Rancho Mirage for eight years, and Victorville for at least four years.
Blatz asked if the firm has any experience with quasi-public utility action, specifically condemnation, to which de Bortnowsky replied, “Actually, we have too much experience with that!”
In Victorville the firm helped the city convert an old military building into an electric utility company, and simultaneously took over the water company. “The process can be quite lengthy and somewhat contentious,” he said, “but if you do it right, certainly it can be done. You have the power and ability (to take that action) and sometimes when you do, you get a more reasonable voice at the table …”
Mayor Carol Smith wanted to know what advice he would offer when dealing with the CPUC. De Bortnowsky responded that “It’s a huge frustration for municipalities, it’s political, depends on what their affiliations are, many people (on the CPUC) have worked for water companies. It can be an expensive and consuming process.”
Aleshire is currently serving as city attorney for Banning, Signal Hill, and Bell. He says he is committed to public service, which is why he undertook, without charge, the case of Bell citizens to recall their city council. Because of the size of the case, and the time it took Ojai City Council to begin the interview process for the city attorney position, it would be Joe Pannone, another member of his firm, who would serve as primary counsel to Ojai City Council members.
Pannone, also city attorney to the city of Bell, started in municipal law in Culver City, and has been practicing public law for 18 years. He says, “I see myself as part of the city team, I do what you want to have done, but also have the ability to communicate limitations and options.”
Smith asked the firm about their experience with condemnation and eminent domain. Pannone said, “When I was with Culver City, we helped write two new franchise agreements: one with cable television, and one with what is now Golden State Water Company. We negotiated the purchase of the private water company through eminent domain, sold bonds to help fund it. The goal is to have the city eventually turn it over to another private company.”
He continued, “The fees are completely over the top, the only thing you can try to do is take it over until you get it into the hands of another entity.” He re-iterated that the firm has been involved with creative, unusual approaches, specifically with condemnation actions.
According to Steve McClary, assistant to the city manager, the City Council has decided to invite the firm of Aleshire and Wynder, LLP, as well as Joseph Fletcher, for a second round of interviews the week of Dec. 5. McClary said that this does not exclude the other applicants from consideration, but council members wished to have more information and time with these particular two.
By Misty Volaski
For those who have been in Ojai a while, it may come as no surprise to hear that Los Caporales won the “Best Margarita” and “Best Mexican Food” categories in this year’s Ojai Valley News “Best of Ojai” contest. Their original recipes and homey atmosphere — not to mention their massive collection of high-end tequilas —- answer that common Southern California craving for authentic Mexican dining.
This week, the Salinas family celebrates 20 years of sharing that experience with the Ojai Valley. A special lunchtime menu offers four of the family’s earliest dishes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the prices they charged 20 years ago. On Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. comes the big party, featuring a three-course dinner and dessert, tequila tastings, live bands and raffles.
Owners Lettie and Ruben Salinas began their culinary adventure in the East End with their Hacienda Market in the early 1990s. One Thanksgiving day, Lettie says, a family stopped at the market and asked if they offered food. “In those days everything was closed on Thanksgiving,” she says, “even McDonald’s!” So the Salinases got the idea to start a little kitchen offering food to go. Eventually, the opportunity arose to open a restaurant in the downtown area. With their family’s tried-and-true recipes gracing the menu, Los Caporales began to gain a reputation.
The Salinas crew takes pride in using only fresh ingredients. “We don’t use anything from a can or frozen foods,” said Lettie. “We make everything from scratch.” That’s the way their grandmothers — their “abuelitas” — made everything, and the tradition continues. Recipes used have been passed down from Ruben’s and Lettie’s families, some of which are more than 100 years old, like the carnitas, or the carne de abuelita, which Lettie’s family made for lunch during vacations. Other recipes are a fusion of old and new, like nectar of the gods, which includes their family’s recipe for beans, onion, cheese, cilantro, choice of meat, and a dash of hot sauce.
And then there are those margaritas. Lettie shares the Salinas family secret: Mexican limes, Ojai oranges, and good tequila. “We only serve 100 percent agave tequila,” Lettie says. Their tequila bar, located next door to the restaurant, offers 150 tequilas from which to choose. “I think we are second or third place in the number of tequilas we have,” Lettie says, adding that the restaurant also has a big selection of other alcoholic beverages.
Ruben Junior, Los Caporales’ bartender, came up with a few margaritas of his own, including the all-organic margarita and the cucumber margarita. Along with his sisters, Liz and Laura, Ruben grew up working at Los Caporales. Laura is currently the floor manager, while Liz occasionally comes up from her job in the Los Angeles area to help on especially busy weekends and holidays. Even the grandkids pitch in, Lettie says. “Sophia already has an apron and sometimes brings the menus to the tables,” she laughs. “She is our little waitress.”
The whole family will be on-hand at this Saturday’s celebration. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., attendees will be treated to appetizers and tasting of 30-plus tequilas as a mariachi band plays. Then, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Ruben Jr. and his friend will perform during the three-course dinner. From 8:30 on, a dessert buffet and dancing will be offered, as well as raffles of bottles of tequila and gift certificates. Tickets are $45 presale, $50 at the door. For reservations, call 646-5452 or e-mail email@example.com.
By Denise Picard
What make the Ojai Holiday Home Look In unique is that the four houses selected for the tour are decked out to welcome the holiday season. This year, four inspired local designers will drive their talent over the top.
When you think of flowers and plants decoration, the Ojai Valley Garden Club comes to mind. From their membership comes a number of eclectic designers who will work as a team on the home, Arte et Labore. “Because the home has so many beautiful pieces, art and tile, the most stunning arrangements will be outside,” says Rena Randall, club president.“First of all, visitors will be greeted by Santa’s car loaded with gifts — a restored 1953 Curtis Roadster!”
Copper, greens and natural colors will be used inside the house. The outdoor dining table will be set for Christmas dinner with old silver and cream colors — white lights and silver balls above in the tree.
Darwin McCredie attended Architecture School at UC Berkeley, followed by 28 years split between two large architecture and interiors firms in San Francisco. This professional experience informed McCredie’s approach to architecture and interior design as totally integrated disciplines.
Before a single sketch for the redesign of El Guardian was done, McCredie posed a question to the owner. “What is it you want from this remodel? What is the story behind it all?”
“To bring in a basket full from the garden, plop it down anywhere and have it look like it belongs,” the owner said.
And so, decorating in a harvest theme for El Guardian is as organic as the fruits and vegetables grown on the property. Pumpkins, gourds, squash, fruits and flowers (many from the garden) will fill this home with color and a welcoming feel of bounty.
Cindy Vadnais Kemp’s family has lived in the Ojai Valley since the 1940s. They established the Ben Franklin store which reflects Kemp’s passion for crafts and fabrics. As a co-host for TNN’s show “Creative Living” and serving on the board of Herr’s Crafts-Promotion’s Unlimited for three years, her specialty has been Christmas, creating more than 100 trees and themes over the years.
For her Christmas decor at Villa Ravina, there will be ravens throughout the house to carry through the theme set with the RTK entryway tiles. “The Christmas tree will be themed for a Tuscan vineyard holiday. All the ornaments will depict aspects of Tuscany from the angels to the grapes and lush fruits,” says Kemp.
After 23 years in the film business working as a set decorator and production designer, Erin Ellwood moved to the Ojai Valley in 2007. Daughter of influential modernist architect Craig Ellwood and actress Gloria Henry, design, art and beauty have always been a part of the fabric of Ellwood’s life.
Always excited by a good challenge, Ellwood chose to decorate Casa Montana this year in a holiday theme that neither she nor the Holiday Home Look In tours have ever celebrated, Hanukkah. Her vision is to fabricate and create original one-of-a-kind pieces and artfully organic decor by repurposing found and reclaimed objects from the Ojai Valley. She will be using recycled olive oil bottles, reclaimed steel, pine cones, local bamboo poles, Ojai Valley olive branches, local tumbleweed, wine bottle corks, calling her installation “Organukah.”
“I have always strived to affect all the senses in my work,” says Ellwood, who adds, “I hope that the Holiday Home Look In visitors will experience Hanukkah at Casa Montana with their ears, noses, eyes and hearts.”
The Holiday Home Look In will be presented this year on Nov. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Advance tickets are $30 per person; group discounts are available for eight or more people. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Ojai Music Festival at 646-2094 or online at OjaiFestival.org. Day-of-event tickets will be $35 per person.
By Chris T. Wilson
An Ojai native son seeking a way to do something positive in the world decided to join the Peace Corps and is currently in Senegal, Africa helping to bring clean water to villagers there.
For the whole story about Garrison Harward’s quest to install 52 water pumps in 52 weeks, you can visit his Internet blog 52pumps52weeks.wordpress.com/ or for the synopsis: read on.
Through a couple of e-mails and a brief Skype conversation, Harward relayed the basic details of his journey to Africa and the evolution of his volunteer projects there. Working alongside his Peace Corps partner, Marcie Todd, and with the help of natives and the organization, Water Charity, Harward is busy installing one pump per week in the Fatick Region of Senegal.
“Marcie and I both attended a rope pump training put on by Peace Corps volunteer David Campbell in February,” Harward said. “It was there that we first came up with the idea for the project and started looking for funding. We contacted Water Charity and they were immediately interested, based on their previous work with PCVs in Senegal. We spent about three months setting everything up and actually reworking a good portion of the rope pump system to make it more viable in a rural setting before we actually launched the project in late May. From then it’s been a constant learning process. We have had our fair share of trials and tribulations, spent multiple days reworking pumps, replacing broken materials, retraining our welders until now we finally seem to have a system that is both effective and sustainable. Luckily, we learned pretty quickly so it hasn’t been too difficult to backtrack and apply our newly learned lessons to older pumps to make sure that each one works as effectively as possible. Going forward we’re still improving the system and are working with USAID to possibly receive some additional support for training.”
Harward also notes that he is enjoying putting his youthful energy into a project that makes a difference.
“Part of me wants to explore a new culture, and test my limits,” he said. “Part of me just wants the adventure.”
Born and raised locally, Harward grew up in Meiners Oaks and attended elementary school there. He also studied at Matilija Junior High. At Nordhoff High School, he was the marching band drum major, and had theatrical performances in “Into the Woods” and “Oklahoma,” where he played the roles of Jack and Will Parker, respectively.
“Being away, truly away, from home has made me appreciate our small town more than ever,” Harward states. “It truly is an incredible place filled with wonderful, caring, giving people and I know that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for my upbringing and my love for community. The saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. That’s not a saying here (Ojai), it’s fact, and I see now how lucky I was to grow up in a place that respected that fact and gave me so many opportunities to learn and grow. I am truly grateful.”
Harward arrived in Senegal in August 2010 and will complete his volunteer tour in October 2012.
“Two years seemed so daunting at first, but now that I’m over halfway done I see that it really isn’t enough time,” he notes. “I’m scrambling to start all my projects before it’s too late.”
Harward said that each pump he and his co-volunteers are installing in Senegal costs $100 and encouraged anyone who wants to donate to the project to do so. The project is fully funded by non-profit Appropriate Projects; to contribute, visit 52pumps52weeks.wordpress.com/contribute and click on the yellow button.
Report and photo by Logan Hall
A local man sustained serious injuries Friday evening after his vehicle went over the side of Maricopa Highway near Matilija Canyon Road before hitting two trees and bringing it to a stop at the edge of an embankment. According to the California Highway Patrol, Tim Diener, of Ojai, was traveling northbound on Highway 33 when he lost control of his truck. “He failed to negotiate the curve,” said CHP officer Micah Weilbacher, who responded to the scene. “He traveled across the southbound lane and into the left shoulder where he impacted the two trees. He was transported to Ventura County Medical Center for serious injuries including a broken leg and a major head laceration.”
Weilbacher said that alcohol might have been a factor in the crash. “He was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence,” he said.
No information has been released on Diener’s current condition and a cause of the crash is under investigation.
By Tiobe Barron
Ojai City Council members briefly discussed Tuesday night the decision made at a closed-session Nov. 7 when the council met to review the language of the contract with Jeffery Oderman, of Rutan and Tucker. Across the board, council members seemed pleased with the language clarifications in the contract for the legal services, which were revised in that closed-session meeting. Council members have drafted the document to retain Oderman’s consultation in regards to Casitas Municipal Water District’s possible acquisition of Golden State Water Company, which Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water is working toward. Clark took the opportunity to further clarify a few points:
That the city as a rights holder would have the standing to protest the acquisition by Golden State Water Company; that because the city has a financial stake in the franchise, it could make a claim for the loss of revenue; and no attorney can represent both the city and Casitas Water; and this would waive the city’s right to compensation. Councilman Paul Blatz, an attorney himself, pointed out that the contract is between the city and the attorney, Oderman, not between the city and Casitas; and if Oderman declines to represent Casitas, these last points become moot.
Strobel asked acting city attorney Steve Lee if he had read the proposed contract. He affirmed that he had, and found the language much clearer than before. Mayor Smith agreed, stating, “I am much more comfortable tonight than two weeks ago as to the implications (of the document).”
Jon Lambert of the Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation came before council members to test the waters for funds to cover the operating expenses of a proposed community reading room. The reading room would be an approximately 600-square-foot structure separate from the library itself, which would serve as a meeting space for some 28 groups that currently meet in the Ojai Library, as well as the public. Because the library is linked with the used bookstore, Twice Sold Tales, there is a growing surplus of funds that should cover the construction expenses of the free-standing structure, but for the custodial upkeep, the energy and lighting it would cost about $1,950 per year to operate. City manager Robert Clark was quick to point out that though the council could decide to use funds to support the endeavor, the funding would have to be approved with each budget. Mayor Carol Smith observed that another option was to let the space be used by groups and the general public during the day, then at night it could be rented out to offset the operating costs.
Resident Pat McPherson had some reservations about the discussions. “This is the first I’ve heard of the details,” he said during the time allotted for public comments on the matter. “I’d like us to reflect back to the time when there was panic when the city couldn’t afford to keep our libraries open, and that resulted in the parcel tax. My suggestion in these times is to not spend any money. I could care less about square footage in these times.”
Mayor Smith said, “I don’t know how often you are in our library, but I’m in there quite often, and crowding is a huge problem. It would do tremendous good for the library patrons. I’d like to ask Mr. McPherson, How often are you in our library?” to which he replied he didn’t think it mattered.
Councilwoman Carlon Strobel allowed that the effort to create more space for patrons is a noble one, but “I would prefer to see the building generate its own revenue to cover operating costs. Just because we have a current surplus (in library funds), we don’t know that we will have a surplus next year or the year after.”
Chain issue revisited
Also at the meeting, council moved to send back to the city Planning Commission an ordinance regarding chain businesses within the city, in order that the commission might include a mechanism for public input in determining whether a business is in fact a “formula business establishment,” or a mass retail chain. Council members also briefly discussed the notice to the Ojai Quarry regarding numerous safety violations, and the impending Ventura County Planning Commission hearing to revoke the operation permit. Although Mayor Smith will not be able to attend the revocation hearing for Ojai Quarry, which has been moved from Nov. 17 to Dec. 15, council members seemed in agreement they are moving in the right direction on this issue.
During the public communications portion of the meeting, Dick Thompson, Ventura County resident and president of Ventura County Taxpayers Association, took council members to task for their decision on Oct. 1 to not change the policy of extending health care benefits to former council members. Said Thompson, “Every dollar spent (on former members’ health care) is a dollar not available for public service. When you are done, you should be done. Lifetime health care is not appropriate, it is an abuse of taxpayer goodwill.” Mayor Smith moved to address the issue at a future council meeting.
By Tiobe Barron
The Ojai City Council began its process of selecting a new city attorney last week with two meetings to interview six of the 14 applicants for the position. According to city manager Robert Clark, the city attorney is a position appointed by City Council to serve as the council’s direct lawyer, to offer the council legal advice in city matters, at the council’s discretion.
“Some people think the city attorney is there to advise citizens, but that is not their function,” Clark said in a phone interview. Of the 14 firms and individuals who applied, council members whittled down the possibilities to six based on: experience and ability in municipal law; accessibility to attend meetings and consultations; references from other city councils; and the cost of services, which was a large concern (the OVN reported in the May 27 edition that the city had “a contract with Widders’ firm for a $2,750 monthly retainer and an hourly rate of $175 for services provided beyond the retainer.”).
The six candidates to be interviewed included Dave Aleshire of Aleshire and Wynder, LLP; Andre de Bortnowsky of Green, de Bortnowsky and Quintanilla, LLP; Julie Biggs of Burke, Williams, and Sorenson, LLP; Joseph Fletcher of Law Offices of Joseph W. Fletcher; Steve Lee of Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones and Schneider, LLP (acting city attorney); and Martin Koczanowicz of Law Office of Martin D. Koczanowicz. Two meetings were scheduled to interview the candidates — the first on Nov. 3, and the second on Nov. 7. Each candidate was allotted 45 minutes to offer a quick biography, answer council members’ questions, and offer any additional information they wanted to share with the council.
At the Nov. 3 meeting, Ojai City Council members interviewed three of the six candidates: Fletcher, Koczanowicz and Lee. Council members asked all the interviewees similar questions regarding planning, land use, conflict of interest, and more. Of particular interest to the council members was if any of the candidates possess a familiarity and knowledge of our unique community, and whether any of the lawyers had any experience with eminent domain, pertinent now because of the grassroots effort to remove Golden State Water Company from the city.
Of these three applicants, Fletcher was the only lawyer with significant direct experience with eminent domain. Fletcher claimed he is very familiar with the process, and has the added background of operating water departments. Fletcher, who hails from Orange, Calif., worked as Burbank’s city attorney, then was the municipal attorney for Santa Ana for 27 years. When asked his opinion of complaint-based enforcement of illegal transient rentals, Fletcher said, “If you’re aware of other violations, that’s problematic. Why would you have only select enforcement? I would have to know more from staff … Maybe that concern can be addressed using tools other than criminal action.” Mayor Carol Smith reminded him that these violators “hurt our pocketbooks,” and he stated, “It’s a very interesting code enforcement issue … ripe for creative enforcement methods, there are other ways to get compliance with the law other than criminal action; you can create a culture of compliance.”
Mayor Pro Tem Betsy Clapp said, “Ojai tends to be a little xenophobic. Your distance is an issue. How could you possibly be a part of Ojai?”
Fletcher responded, “I would expect myself to engage in the community, I’d love to live in Ojai, but I have the issue of equity of my house in Orange. But in the end it’s knowing the values of the community, and getting to know council members individually.”
The law office of Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones and Schneider, LLP, has many years of experience working in this area. Monte Widders served as Ojai city attorney for 31 years until retiring in May.
Councilman Paul Blatz turned the questioning from Lee to Widders, asking, “Where could you have done a better job for the city over the last 20 years?”
Widders replied, “In the prosecution of misdemeanor complaints, we could have been more proactive in going to the courts themselves. You only have to show up one day a week now, the cost to the city is significantly less. We really love this town (and) understand its values. It was more than just a job, and we’ve certainly tried.”
Blatz and Councilwoman Carlon Strobel voiced concerns over Lee’s advice that the council members take no action regarding the franchise fees (from Golden State Water Company). Lee replied that there seemed to be some inconsistencies and confusion in council’s approach to waiving the fees. Clapp asked Lee, “Does your lack of experience in municipal law affect your ability to have answers for the council?” Lee replied that there was not a lack of experience, and it does not affect his ability to advise council members. “If I don’t know the answer I’m not going to give an answer just to give an answer, my ego’s not that big.”
Councilwoman Sue Horgan asked the firm, “Many of you live in the community, you know the council, you know the staff, you know the job. What should we be looking for?”
Lee replied, “It is important to look at an attorney and see what commitment they have to the city, to find a firm that is committed to the local organizations and charities. I don’t live here, but in the last 12 years when I joined Monte’s firm, and especially in the last six months, I have come to really care about Ojai … I don’t think you’re going to find a firm that cares about Ojai the way we do.”
The third candidate interviewed, Koczanowicz, has been practicing law for 27 years, and has municipal experience from Grover Beach, Fresno, and Madera. When the council brought up the issue of complaint-based enforcement of illegal vacation rentals, he suggested, “Necessity is the mother of invention, so if you lack the funds and staff to enforce unilaterally, then complaint-based is what you need to use … But the problem with complaint-based code enforcement is that residents may look to the city to handle their problems, whether tenant-landlord problems, or neighbor-neighbor problems.”
When asked his advice on conflict of interest issues for council, Koczanowicz cautioned, “Appearance can be far more damaging than the reality. If anything you’re doing doesn’t look good on the front page of the newspaper, don’t do it.”
After Thursday’s and Monday’s meetings, the City Council has narrowed the focus to two firms for second interviews, which should take place the week of Dec. 5.
“This does not exclude the others from consideration by any means,” said Clark. “Council had a strong field of applicants, with great candidates to choose from. It’s a win-win situation.”
Public Utilities Commission
refuses to answer why
By Logan Hall
Ojai citizens are fed up with the California Public Utilities Commission. At their water meeting Wednesday night, Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water, a non-profit organization comprised of Ojai citizens, was clear in its message to the public agency that approves utility company rate increases.
“We want out of the PUC system,” said F.L.O.W. representative Ryan Blatz to the crowd of about 200 citizens and government officials who had gathered at the Nordhoff High School gym. “They are the real problem here.”
Blatz’s declaration came after F.L.O.W. found that Ojai was not included in the PUC’s public participation hearings that will be held in eight other cities in California later this month, with the closest to Ojai being in Carson. The meetings are designed by the PUC to hear the citizens’ concerns about water rate increases applied for by Golden State Water Company.
A recent series of conversations via phone and e-mail between the Ojai Valley News and PUC representatives gives some insight into the agency’s operation. Repeated attempts by the OVN beginning Nov. 3 to get a reason for Ojai’s public hearing rejection were met with resistance and hostility by PUC staff. When asked point-blank what the specific reason was for Ojai’s rejection, PUC spokesman Andrew Kotch gave a generic, confusing response that listed vague and non-specific “criteria” that the PUC looks at when deciding on where to hold hearings.
“Factors considered included: 1) letters and complaints from customers, 2) communities that represent various Golden State service areas (i.e., urban-rural, coastal-desert, northern or Southern California, etc.), and 3) proximity to other Golden State service areas,” read Kotch’s statement.
When it was pointed out to Kotch that his response did not answer the question regarding specific circumstances regarding Ojai’s rejection, he claimed that he had not been asked that question. He was then asked for the second time — along with several other questions —- why, specifically, Ojai was rejected after Ojai’s assistant city manager Steve McClary filed a formal protest with the PUC against Golden State’s rate increase application and directly requested a public hearing in Ojai. In order to clarify that he had the correct questions, Kotch was then asked to read back the questions after he claimed he would find answers. “I don’t have them written down,” he replied sharply after a brief silence.
The OVN sent the questions to Kotch’s supervisor, Terrie Prosper, the PUC’s communications director, along with a request for an explanation of Kotch’s behavior. For the third time, the PUC was asked why, specifically, Ojai’s request for a hearing was rejected. Prosper replied by giving an identical response to Kotch’s attempt. After it was brought to her attention that the question, along with others that were asked, was not answered, she was asked a fourth time about Ojai’s rejection.
This time Prosper responded by defending the PUC’s position, still neglecting to answer the specific questions asked by the OVN. “It’s not that cities were ‘rejected,’” read her response, “but rather the other cities were chosen given the criteria I outlined in my original message.”
The OVN then sent her a simple question on Tuesday afternoon: “Why is the California PUC, a public agency, refusing to give direct answers to questions that are directly regarding public concerns?” As of print time Thursday, the OVN had not received a response from the PUC.
One of the excuses given for rejecting Ojai’s request was that “many other cities” had also requested hearings and that the PUC could not hold hearings for them all. PUC documents relating to the case, however, show that Ojai is one of only four cities to formally protest and request a hearing, although eight cities were chosen for public hearings.
Members of F.L.O.W. and Ojai city officials are also quick to point out that the PUC is holding hearings at both Apple Valley and Barstow, which are about 30 miles apart. The closest meeting to Ojai, is being held in Carson, which is about 100 miles from Ojai with an estimated two-hour drive. F.L.O.W. members and city officials are also concerned that, while Apple Valley has filed a formal protest and request for a hearing, Barstow hasn’t done either. The PUC has refused to answer questions regarding these concerns.
However, there is still hope for Ojai’s bid to have a PUC public hearing.
The Department of Ratepayer Advocates, an agency that helps regulate the PUC’s decisions, regarding Ojai’s concerns sent a recent e-mail to the PUC. Salina Shek, the DRA’s co-counsel, wrote to the PUC regarding Ojai. “DRA conducted a site visit to Ojai on October 5, 2011 and observed signs on many customers’ front lawns stating their unhappiness with Golden State’s rates,” read the e-mail. “Also, while in Ojai, DRA noticed two articles in the local newspaper and magazines regarding Golden State Water Company’s proposed rate increases. DRA asks that you add the City of Ojai to the PPH (public participation hearing) list given the amount of concerns/interests regarding the GRC (general rate case).”
-McClary said that city officials are not happy with the PUC’s decision either. “We wanted a hearing here,” he said. “We asked for a hearing here. We’re very disappointed that the PUC won’t even hold a meeting anywhere close to Ojai.”
F.L.O.W. representatives told the crowd at Wednesday’s meeting that citizen participation is crucial when dealing the PUC and other government agencies. Blatz, in no subtle terms, emphasizes that people need to be sending letters to the government, to express their concerns and show officials how serious the issue is.
“Everyone needs to write those letters,” said Blatz. “Send them to the PUC. Send them to your senators and assemblymen. Tell them that we are here and we’re not going away.”
To contact the PUC, send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the Commission’s Docket Office, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.
SUBMITTED: It bugs me that cops, including ours, don’t often signal when turning or changing lanes. Is there a reason for that?
REPLY: ”To be effective as a patrol officer you need to constantly be shifting your focus to take in all of your surroundings. Many times I have made a last minute decision to make a turn in order to follow a suspicions vehicle, to check out something I just observed or have been dispatched to an emergency call. Unfortunately last minute turns do not always allow enough time to signal the turn. This is the exception and not the rule. I appreciate your comment and while bring this up as a reminder to our deputies at our shift briefings”.
Steve Arthur, Sergeant
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
Ojai Police Department
402 South Ventura Street
Ojai, CA 9302805-646-1414
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Sadly, it looks like my Alabama Crimson Tide has probably lost its chance to play for and to win another college football national championship. I was at the game last Saturday night when they lost a heartbreakingly close game to LSU, the No. 1 team in the nation. For many Alabama football fans, losing a game is akin to the death of a family member. In some cases, depending upon the family member, it can be even worse.
That may be an exaggeration, but football is a huge deal in the South. At Alabama, losses take a terrible toll. Some people cancel social plans, or plan weddings around game days. A Southern bride knows better than to schedule her big day in direct competition with an Alabama game. Fans have been known to skip school and church in order to avoid ribbing from a rival team’s fans after a big defeat. Losses can cause our young men to cry, our grown men to curse and our women to rethink why they were ever attracted to us in the first place.
The LSU game was a national event, and television ratings were very high. It is estimated that almost 15 million people watched at least a portion of the game. I believe it — it felt like I bumped into at least that many people just walking around campus before the game. If you could have had a bird’s-eye view, it must have looked like an ant colony after someone had stirred it with a stick. If you can imagine an ant colony wearing school colors and drinking beer.
We tried to find a friend who was tailgating from a tent, but there were more than 1,800 such tents set up on that day. It would have been easier to find an honest politician in Washington. In fact, an estimated 60,000 people came to the game just to experience the atmosphere, unable to join the 101,000-plus who were in the stadium. Those who came were there to make noise. The decibel level in the stadium was measured at over 120 — up there with sandblasting and rock concerts.
Pre-game tailgating (read: eating and drinking) has certainly evolved over the years. From my college days of a tub of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a bottle of cheap bourbon (which was later concealed in your date’s purse and smuggled into the stadium), it has grown into a full-scale event. Now people set up elaborate tents, some seating 20 to 30 people. There are grills cooking hamburgers, sausages and hot dogs, and coolers the size of small cattle filled with cold beer. Many tents also house wide-screen televisions that seem larger than some of the apartments I have rented.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the intoxication level of some of those attending. We spotted one young coed in particular who had clearly started celebrating early. She was already weaving badly at 4:30 p.m. for a game that didn’t end until midnight. I couldn’t help but wonder what the next day would hold for her. When I was in college, I had a fraternity brother who was famous for being “over-served” at games and parties. He was a decent enough guy when he was sober, but he was a truly obnoxious drunk. One night after a game, he left the fraternity house on foot and passed out on the lawn of a rival fraternity next door. They simply carried him to the back of the house and deposited him in the dumpster, where he awoke the next morning disoriented and reeking of rotting food. He took the term “stinking drunk” to a new level.
I would think that waking up on Sunday morning after a night in the dumpster might prompt you to reassess your life choices. I think Leon just took a hot shower and started all over again.
The game was disappointing, but very exciting, despite the loss. I realize that in the great cosmic scheme of things, a football game registers pretty far down on the scale of things that are truly important. But sheer passion, even for something as relatively meaningless as a sporting event, is still a wondrous thing to behold.
By Mike Miller
Having two youth baseball organizations in the Ojai Valley no longer seems feasible. Recent discussions between leaders of P.O.N.Y. baseball and the Ojai Valley Little League indicate that the two leagues appear to be headed toward a possible merger.
“There is still a lot that would need to be decided on both sides, but I think it is going to happen soon. We got a little too close to the start of the 2012 season so it would likely be 2013,” said P.O.N.Y. Board President Robert Roddick. Both sides are looking at what organization would work best for the two existing leagues. Roddick said, “The Cal Ripken baseball league is one we are exploring, but we are also looking at both P.O.N.Y. and Little League as options. As I said, there are a lot of details to work out.”
The local economy, cost of maintaining facilities, and player numbers are all contributing factors to the likely merger of youth baseball leagues. “The cost of the fields through the city is just so expensive and with the economy we are giving more scholarships to players than we ever have before. The goal is for every kid to be able to play. We simply will not leave anyone out just because their family cannot afford to pay. For all those reasons, a merger of the two leagues just makes sense looking ahead.”
Outgoing Ojai Valley Little League President Mike Burke was cautiously optimistic of a merger. “There are clear advantages and disadvantages to a merger and changing leagues. However, I really can’t say for certain what will happen in the future.” Burke did agree with Roddick that player participation is becoming an issue for both leagues. “Numbers in both leagues are dwindling, so rather than letting that happen, we have to look at creating strength in numbers.”
Burke did indicate that his time as board president was coming to an end soon, but that the OVLL would name a new president in the near future.
According to Roddick, should the merger become final, the new league would likely use fields in both Ojai and Oak View. They would also look to continue the inter-league play they have started with leagues in Ventura. “They (Ventura leagues) have been great to work with and I only see our relationship with them growing in terms of the number of games we play against them.”
In the short term, both leagues will continue to function for the 2012 season, but they both continue to need community support. “Donations, whether it is time, materials or financial contributions, are always needed and welcomed,” added Roddick.
By Misty Volaski
After five years in the Ojai Music Festival building, the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce has moved its offices to El Paseo Plaza, 206 N. Signal St., Suite P, across from Osteria Monte Grappa restaurant and The Angelic Touch day spa. The entrance faces Aliso Street. The move was officially completed on Oct. 17.
Chamber CEO Scott Eicher said he and the staff are happy with their new digs. “It’s a nice space, the location is good, and it’s easier for visitors and members to find us.”
The space is quieter, Eicher added, and there are several other chamber members in the plaza, such as Topa Topa Travel, The Oaks at Ojai business office, A Secret Beauty, Blatz Law Firm and Arroyo Interior Design.
While only moving up the street, “We were amazed at how many boxes we had!” Eicher said. “It took us about two days to move.” In a press release, the staff thanked several people and businesses who helped them in their search for a new place: Ron McCrea and Dale Hanson at Ojai Valley Real Estate, Terri Wolfe at Help of Ojai, The Becker Group, Marc Whitman, Kathy Hartley of The Lavender Inn, Allan Jacobs, “and certainly Shari Gibson at Topa Topa Travel who gave us the heads-up about 206 N. Signal.”
The move comes as a result of the Ojai Music Festival needing extra space in their building at 201 S. Signal St. “During the last festival, we realized that the festival has really grown in complexity,” said OMF executive director Jeff Haydon, adding that the number of people who are involved in OMF both in June and year-round keeps growing as well. “We’re climbing all over each other during the festival! It makes more sense to move all the business operations downstairs (where the Chamber of Commerce used to be).”
The South Signal Street building, which was gifted to the OMF “by an early donor,” said Haydon, has seen several local nonprofit organizations as tenants over the years, including the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, the Ojai Film Festival, and the Ojai Tennis Tournament, which still rents space in the building. Haydon said the time that the Chamber of Commerce spent in the OMF building was instrumental in each organization’s efforts to spread the word about Ojai. “We got more into the idea of, how do we introduce people to the community of Ojai?” Haydon said. “And the chamber was moving in that direction too, with the Visitors Bureau. So we kind of informed each other over the years. It’s been great.”
Prior to being in the South Signal Street location, Ojai’s Chamber of Commerce was located at the Ojai Valley Museum, Eicher said, and before that, at the Ojai Valley Board of Realtors office next to Chevron Gas Station.
Eicher said that the chamber will host its monthly cocktail mixer at its new location on Dec. 15. They will be co-hosting with Heritage Financial. The mixers typically move locations each month to highlight different members; the November meeting will be hosted by Keller Williams Realty on Nov. 17 at 109 N. Blanche St., Suite 102. See ojaichamber.org for more information.
In recognition of America’s military veterans, Los Padres National Forest officials have announced that Friday through Sunday will be a “Fee Free” weekend in honor of Veterans’ Day. A National Forest Adventure Pass will not be required for visitors recreating this weekend in all areas of Los Padres except for the Santa Barbara Ranger District’s Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area, where an Adventure Pass will still be required.
“Each year on Veterans’ Day, the Los Padres and all national forests acknowledge the heroism of the veterans of our Armed Forces,” said Los Padres National Forest supervisor Peggy Hernandez. “This year we are pleased to offer fee-free throughout the weekend. This gives the public the chance to enjoy the natural treasures of our forest, and take time to reflect on the sacrifices of our past and present service members.”
“Fee Free” days are offered each year on National Trails Day, Back to School season, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans’ Day. The “Fee Free” days are observed throughout Southern California on Los Padres, San Bernardino, Angeles, and Cleveland national forests.
Visitors who inadvertently commit a Daily Adventure Pass this weekend can have it replaced free of charge. Visitors are reminded that even though the Adventure Pass fee will be waived this weekend, other fees such as campground, reservation and group site fees may still be applicable.
For more information call the Ojai Ranger District at 646-4348
For years, Cherry Creek Canyon in the Ventura County backcountry has been littered with shotgun shells, bullet casings, shot-up televisions, furniture, and other trash. It’s the result of unmanaged, unauthorized target shooting that has turned the area into one of the most trashed sites in Los Padres National Forest.
On Oct. 29, 80 volunteers removed over 2.5 tons of trash — the area’s largest cleanup effort to date. Los Padres ForestWatch — in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and local sponsors Patagonia, Matilija Pure Water, Ace Hardware of Meiners Oaks, and Lowe’s — led the cleanup effort, which took place on a fall morning 30 minutes outside of Ojai.
The entire Cherry Creek watershed has been closed to target shooting since July, when a federal judge ordered the Forest Service to close the area. The closure is the result of a lawsuit brought by ForestWatch and other conservation organizations concerned about the trash and toxic heavy metals finding their way into the nearby creek, poisoning fish and other wildlife. Unlike the three other national forests in Southern California, the Los Padres National Forest is generally open to target shooting. Specific isolated areas of the forest have been closed over the years for public safety or environmental reasons, but across the vast majority of Los Padres, uncontrolled target shooting occurs. The problem arises when shooters leave these areas littered with targets and trash.
With the Cherry Creek area now closed, volunteers had the opportunity to clean up the area before winter rains washed it all downstream into Sespe Creek — habitat for the federally endangered steelhead trout. The Forest Service also installed new signage along Cherry Creek Road to ensure that visitors to the area know that target shooting is no longer permitted, and has increased law enforcement efforts in the area. “The Forest Service did the right thing by closing this dumping ground,” said Suzanne Feldman, conservation coordinator for ForestWatch. “Now we can start to bring the Cherry Creek watershed back to its natural splendor. It really is such a beautiful area; it’s a shame that irresponsible use trashed it so badly.”
Ultimately, any long-term solution to the shooting problem at Cherry Creek will require that the gate at the mouth of the canyon be closed year-round, preventing vehicles from hauling large amounts of trash into the area.
ForestWatch urges the Forest Service to institute a forest-wide ban on target shooting, similar to what the other three national forests in Southern California have implemented. Forest officials should implement such a closure immediately so that the problem doesn’t move to some other area of the forest. Target shooters are reminded to pack out what you pack in — including all bullet casings, shotgun shells, and targets. Do not shoot at trees or wildlife. And consider shooting at the well-managed formal shooting range down the road — the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Rose Valley.
By Melody Badgett
The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is a new nonprofit partner of 1% for the Planet, an alliance of more than 1,380 member companies in 43 countries that give 1 percent of revenues to environmental causes.
OVLC is now eligible to receive donations from 1% member companies, placing them among a diverse, global network of environmental organizations; 1% member businesses fuel this nonprofit network through their annual contributions, which totaled over $22 million in 2010. Partnership with 1% greatly expands the potential pool of funding to which OVLC can seek support.
The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy contributes to a healthier planet by protecting the views, trails, water and wildlife of the Ojai Valley and the Ventura River basin. OVLC recently acquired one mile of the Ventura River, bringing to six the total numbers of miles of the 16-mile-long river in protected status. In addition, the OVLC is hosting the regional Ventura River watershed coordinator who is playing a key role in development of a watershed management plan. Wetland restoration projects have been ongoing since 2000 and OVLC recently began planting more than 7,000 native plants near the Ventura River. For more information about the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, see ovlc.org.
More than 2,300 nonprofit groups worldwide are included in the 1% network, and over $70 million has been funneled to its nonprofit partners to date. Ventura-based Patagonia, Inc. was the first 1% for the Planet member corporation. As a network, the 1% community has become a front runner in funding the work of environmental groups around the world.
“The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is proud to be associated with the 1% for the Planet movement — a partnership which will result in the permanent protection of nature, open space, and trails in the Ventura River basin,” said Greg Gamble, OVLC’s executive director.
About 1% for the Planet
Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, owner of Blue Ribbon Flies, 1% for the Planet is a growing global movement of more than 1,380 member companies in 43 countries that donate 1 percent of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Each day, more than one new business joins the 1% for the Planet movement. To learn more about 1% go to onepercentfortheplanet.org.
OVN: Are rookie deputies automatically assigned to the Ojai station?
REPLY: The Ojai Police station gets the same number / percentage of “rookies” as any of our other stations. Due to retirements, transfers, and or normal attrition we periodically get deputies assigned to the Ojai station that have not previously worked in patrol and need to go through the field training process. Keep in mind that Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputies work in our custody division for several years prior to being transferred to a patrol station. Our current “rookies” have been sworn peace officers for more then five years and have already experienced challenging situations before their first day on the streets of Ojai.
Steve Arthur, Sergeant
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
Ojai Police Department
402 South Ventura Street
Ojai, CA 93023
By Chris T. Wilson
A new blog has gone live on the Internet recently with the intent of bringing an open dialogue between citizens of the Ojai Valley and the Ojai Police.
Ojai Valley News senior editor Lenny Roberts said he was inspired to set up the blog following comments made by Administrative Sgt. Steve Arthur during an OVN in-depth interview conducted by managing editor Misty Volaski on Sept. 9.
The blog address, ovncops.blogspot.com/, allows readers to e-mail “legitimate questions regarding police issues,” to email@example.com, which Roberts will then post on the blog to be answered by Sgt. Arthur.
“We often hear grumblings about the police, and maybe this will be a way to give the public the opportunity to ask intelligent questions and get them answered,” Roberts said.
Arthur said that when he was stationed in Camarillo before being transferred to the Ojai Substation recently, that he would answer questions from the public on a local television station.
“I think we can do a better job about letting the public know what we can do for the community and what the community can do to help us do a better job of policing,” Arthur said. “I want people to know that the station number, 646-1414, is a place to call in tips and that they can remain confidential.”
Capt. Chris Dunn said he’s happy to have the blog as a way to offer a greater layer of transparency for the department with the public.
“I thought this would be a nice way to have a two-way communication with the community that we serve,” Dunn said. “This is a way that we can address issues and inform people about how we operate and help them understand what we do that they may not know about.”
A link to this blog, and other informative pages — including restaurant closures, Ojai’s Wanted, CHP and Fire Department updates — is located under the “Our Community” banner on the right side of the Ojai Valley News website home page, ojaivalleynews.com.
“I think the more information we can put up for the public and let them decide what to do with it, the better,” Roberts said.
By Logan Hall
Ojai Fire Station 21 is setting an example for the community. The Ventura County Fire Department crew at 21 has steadily been transforming the station into a “green” facility by installing specialized equipment, like solar panels, new energy-efficient lighting and, most recently, by revamping the station’s landscaping that will include plants which need little or no watering.
The transformation hasn’t happened overnight though.
“We’ve been working at the landscaping for about a year,” said VCFD Station 21 Capt. John McNeil at a special barbecue celebrating the unveiling of the station’s new front yard. “It’s been a really great project.”
McNeil says that he and his crew could not have accomplished their goals without help from the community. “We owe so much to Jessica,” he said referring to Jessica Thompson, owner of Green Goddess Gardens landscaping. “She really spent a lot of time helping us and she never asked for anything in return.”
According to McNeil, Thompson had driven by the station last year and had seen firefighters working in the yard out front when she stopped and asked if they needed a hand. Thompson and the crew at 21 quickly developed a chemistry that helped set in motion a new design and look for the station.
“I had been looking for a good project that would help me give back to the community,” said Thompson. “When I drove by the station, I just thought it was a perfect place to start. I’m really glad these guys wanted to work with me.”
Thompson says she wanted to use vegetation that would thrive in Ojai’s arid climate, but that would also look good year-round. “If we used strictly native plants,” she said, “the garden would look like our hillsides. Instead I brought in mostly Mediterranean plants that will do well here. They really look great too.”
The VCFD’s Deputy Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen was on hand at Wednesday’s barbecue and gave his thoughts on the project. “I didn’t even know this was going on here,” he told those who had gathered. “I really want to thank these guys for going above and beyond the status quo. This is a really great thing they’re doing.”
By Misty Volaski
After five years, the Ojai Unified School District board members are evaluating the seven district vision statements they created in 2006 (see below for list). A Nov. 1 special meeting included all the principals in the district as well as other key administrators in a roundtable discussion on what the OUSD priorities should be and what issues need to be addressed heading into the future. Included in the current list are mentions of “student connections to school,” maximizing resources with declining enrollment, developing financial plans, expanding technology, reaching out to the community, and emphasizing a “healthy lifestyle.” The meeting was facilitated by Bronte Reynolds, former Montecito Union School District superintendent and associate professor at CSU-Northridge, who is also a 14-year resident of Oak View.
The evaluation of the vision statements will continue over the next few months, said OUSD superintendent Hank Bangser. “All constituents should have an opportunity to comment” on the list, he said, including the entire OUSD staff, parents and community members.
Those at Tuesday night’s meeting discussed the issues on the list as well as others not currently included.
Nordhoff assistant principal Greg Bayless addressed the issue of continuing to improve technology at school sites. “Nordhoff is excited about (it),” he said. “With these limited resources … we’ve done a lot. Public education is under siege, so to hold the line is good — but moving forward like this is really encouraging.”
Theresa Dutter, principal of Summit and San Antonio elementary schools, said she wanted to see the increase in technology continue. She worried that if the “paper and pencil” way of learning continues, “we’ll lose some of them.”
That brought up the discussion of connecting students to their schools. Board member Linda Taylor pointed to programs such as drama, sports, art and after-school programs as being big factors in keeping students in school. She wondered whether OUSD could use more vocational programs similar to those already in place.
Also discussed was the issue of whether blanket standards of success could be implemented for students, such as dress code, coming to class on time, etc.
“We want to send them into adulthood with the basic skills (of adults),” said Board Member Kathy Smith.
“School is their job,” said Board President Rikki Horne. “If you go to a job, you get there on time, dress well, don’t swear —- (this is) training them in the real world.”
Matilija Junior High School assistant Javier Ramirez said that he and principal Emily Mostovoy strive toward consistency with all policies. Mostovoy added that the goal of MJHS is to nurture and support the students academically and socially. “Being prepared, using their agenda — having a flash drive — these are the tools to be an academic student and successful in life.”
Thayne Whipple, OUSD’s newest board member, asked, ‘What does ‘success’ mean though? If a kid is smart, gets 100 percent on tests, but has a problem with tardies are you going to say to that kid, ‘Oh, you get a C because you’re tardy?’”
Mostovoy noted that the size of the district allows the teachers to discuss individual students more often and be ready to address their individual issues. Whipple wondered whether students could be rewarded for the things they do well individually — “instead of penalizing them.” Horne replied, “It sounds like that’s what they’re doing.” Topa Topa principal John LeSuer said, “Teachers reward students for their differences.”
Facilitator Reynolds then asked attendees which things on the vision list aren’t being done so well. Director of elementary services and Chaparral High School principal Marilyn Smith said she felt that the Latino population wasn’t being reached as well as it could be. Ramirez suggested that the OUSD reach out to churches like St. Thomas Aquinas, where the Spanish catechism classes are full. “We can use those existing channels to reach out,” he said. Also discussed was the need to speak in person to Spanish-speaking families as opposed to sending home fliers, as well as investigating the possibility of utilizing public access TV and offering potluck dinners with child care.
Horne said she felt the OUSD could do a better job of reaching out to the non-parent population; Smith pointed out that superintendent Bangser is a member of the Rotary Club of Ojai and on the board for the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, and that both Bangser and Whipple have been involved with the Ojai Education Foundation.
Getting them into the schools to participate and volunteer is also important, said LeSuer. The Rotary Club brought in readers to elementary schools he said; why not reach out to the other groups in town “like the Optimists? We just have to ask.”
Whipple also asked the board and administration members whether they thought it would be valuable to simply ask the community for funds to help bridge funding gaps. It was determined that it would be possible and beneficial for OUSD to create a picture of what the “ideal” district would look like, what services would be offered etc., then find out the financial gap between the funding that would require and the funding currently available.
The Vision Statement issue will be an agenda item at the next school board meeting, slated for Nov. 15 at the OUSD offices.
Ojai Unified School District Vision:
1. Key descriptors of the district include innovation, choice, high quality, and high performance. These attributes must be apparent in our plans, actions, and budgets.
2. Student connections to school are critical. The district needs to expand access to high quality vocational instruction, the arts, athletics, and other curricular programs that create connections among students, adults, and learning.
3. Our district must be prepared to strategically deal with being a smaller school district (2,500 to 2,700 students). Determining the best configuration of schools for student success and maximizing the use of resources and facilities will be part of this strategic planning.
4. The district must develop a long-term financial plan that ensures continuing financial solvency.
5. The use of technology to support teaching and learning and to do the business of the district must be improved and expanded.
6. The district needs to expand outreach to the community. Outreach includes public relations and a greater utilization of community resources to support our schools.
7. Students and staff need to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle, passion for learning, and high standards for character. The district will need to institutionalize these beliefs into policy and action.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Last week, Jodie Miller in our office asked me if I had heard the news about the new “Tattooed Barbie.” At first I thought it might be a joke, but sure enough, it turned out to be true. In fact, this is not the first time Barbie has sported tattoos. A few years ago, a collaboration between Mattel and Harley-Davidson produced a “biker chick Barbie” with pink leather chaps and a giant Phoenix tattoo covering her back.
Barbie has undergone many transformations since her introduction in the ‘’50s. There is a Bob Mackie “Cher” doll with an American Indian-inspired headdress and outfit; a “Beverly Hillbillies Elly May Clampett” doll, complete with rope belt and slingshot. There is a Jason Wu avant-garde “Androgyny” and “Aphrodisiac” Barbie pair, which look like rejects from an old Andy Warhol film. Priced for sale at $439, they are for those with a lot of disposable income.
A few years ago, Ava bought a Barbie on a whim. The doll looked very retro, with a skintight sequined dress that flared at the hem in a mass of tulle as she clutched a sliver microphone. This Barbie was a throwback to the nightclub singers of the ‘’50s and ‘60s. She reminded me of Mary Louise Parker’s character in the film “Sugartime,” based on the allegedly true-life love affair between mafia boss Sam Giancana and chanteuse Phyllis McGuire. So we nicknamed the doll accordingly. When my niece came for a visit, she always begged us to let her play with “Mob Girlfriend Barbie.” My sister was not amused.
Obviously this stuff sells. But I can’t help but think of what a far cry it is from the simple Barbie my sister owned as a young girl. No bells and whistles, just a simple girl in a striped swimsuit with an impossible figure and hair that looked like a football helmet. My sister also collected Ken, and Barbie’s friend, Midge. I was never very interested in Midge, but Ken served a useful purpose as he made a great punching bag for my G.I. Joe action figure when my sister was not around. I say “action figure” because in my day no self-respecting boy would ever be caught dead playing with a doll. But my friends and I sure had a lot of fun with our action figures.
Maybe I just need to get on board with the new wave. At least if kids are playing with dolls, they aren’t immersed in the inert world of computer games and are exercising their creativity. I think it is safe to say that even though the dolls have changed to reflect the times, little girls still play with them much as they always did.
I just hope they draw the line at rehab Barbie.
By Logan Hall
Larry Mosler’s rock quarry north of Ojai may have been dealt a fatal blow this month as county and Mosler representatives are gearing up for a public hearing on Nov. 17 regarding his mining operation. Decisions made during the hearing could potentially shut down the mine, located up Maricopa Highway, if county officials implement their staff’s recommendations.
According to Brian Baca, the county’s manager of commercial and industrial permits, Mosler has had many chances to fix problems that the county and the California State Mining and Geology Board mandated that Mosler fix in order to continue to run the mine.
“You have to have three things to operate a mine in California,” said Baca, who is also a certified engineering geologist. “You need a permit issued by the lead agency, which is the county in this case. You also have to have an approved reclamation plan, and financial assurance that a reclamation plan could be implemented. Mosler has none of those things.”
Baca says that Mosler and his attorney have refused to post financial assurance. Reclamation plans detail the way a mine owner will restore a mining site and are provided by the owner and are approved by governing agencies. A certain amount of money must be set aside to cover the reclamation in the event that a miner decides to shut down his business and leave the area.
“Financial assurance is required to keep the taxpayers safe,” said Baca. “If Mosler decided to leave town tomorrow, we would need the money he has set aside in order to reclaim the land. Mosler and his attorney have refused to post financial assurance mandated by the State Mining and Reclamation act.”
Mosler’s attorney, Derek Cole, claims the county is being unreasonable and is asking Mosler to set aside too much money.
The county has stipulated that Mosler’s mine will require 285,000 cubic yards of fill material to restore the site, in the event that the mine is closed, said Baca. In order to financially cover a potential reclamation process, the fill material would need to be included in the cost of a financial assurance. Cole says this creates a major issue for Mosler.
“The county is saying that Mosler will have to account for the fill material,” said Cole. “Mosler has to come up with $3 million to put into an irrevocable account. That’s not the kind of money that a small miner has lying around. If successful, what county staff is trying to do will bankrupt the Moslers. If the miner goes bankrupt, then they can’t pay for the reclamation. That’s the reality of it.”
Cole says that he has submitted a proposal from Mosler that will address the county’s concerns without the potential need to truck in 285,000 cubic yards of material mandated by the state and county, should the mine be closed. Cole and Mosler’s proposal outlines how the grooming of the upper portion of the mined area and a plan to vegetate the entire site will improve stability of the site to a safe level.
Mosler hired geological firm Advanced Geotechnical Services to put his proposal together. AGS reports that Mosler’s proposal would greatly improve the safety of the mine. “… if the recommendations presented are integrated into the financial assurance cost estimate restoration plan, the safety factor of the quarry will be improved.”
Baca, however, says that the proposal doesn’t cut it when it comes to the state’s reclamation requirements. “What Mosler’s attorney has proposed doesn’t address the reclamation plan,” he said.
The entire issue is set to be reviewed by the county’s Planning Commission Nov. 17, which will then make a decision to be approved by the county Board of Supervisors. “Any decision made requires a final action by the Board of Supervisors,” said Baca. He also said that Mosler would have the opportunity to appeal to the board if the Planning Commission decides to revoke Mosler’s permit. Mosler would be required to cease operations if the Board of Supervisors decides to revoke the permit.
In a Ventura County Star report, Mosler placed the blame on County Supervisor Steve Bennett, saying that the local Stop the Trucks! Coalition is pressuring Bennett, who is in turn pressuring the Planning Commission.
Bennett is quick to point out that he has no personal opinion on the matter. “I can’t express an opinion or take a position publicly and still represent the citizens,” said Bennett. “If I want to be there to represent the citizens of Ojai when the decision comes to the board, I can’t express any opinion about the Mosler mine at this time.”
Baca says that despite the issue’s complexity, the bottom line is simple. “If a mine can’t operate in accordance with the law,” he said, “the mine can’t operate.”
The Nov. 17 planning meeting is slated for 8:30 a.m. at the Ventura County Government Center, on the first floor of the Hall of Administration building.