Letters to the Editor

August 17, 2012


To the Editor:

After 80 years in business it is incredible that so many people we have done business with are still around and still participating. I guess the old adage is true: “What you put in is what you get out.”

The joint mixer of the Santa Paula and Fillmore Chambers of Commerce hosted by Harrison Industries on Aug. 9 was well attended and put some much needed money in the Santa Clara Valley Boys & Girls Club’s bank account. It’s a good reason why businesses should join their local Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you for all who attended, networked, donated money and just plain had fun. Thank you also for taking the time in this blazing hot weather to come out and be a part of it all.

Nan Drake

Director Government Affairs and Public Relations

Harrison Industries

City Council

To the Editor: 

Santa Paula is very lucky to have four members of our city council working together in these economically trying times. If it wasn’t for Bob Gonzales, Jim Tovias, Fred Robinson and Ralph Fernandez working as a team we could be in trouble like our neighbor to the east. I fully support our present city council team.

David Kaiser

Santa Paula

School unification for Santa Paula

To the Editor:

There are definitely two sides to this question. On one side there are those who see the big picture and look to the future, and on the other, are those who fear change and want to hang on to the present regardless of the cost to our children.

Today we are paying for two school boards, the Elementary and the High School. Each school board has a different events calendar and they are not coordinated, making it difficult for parents who have children in both elementary and high school.

Each District has a staff and organization to operate separately, and unnecessary duplication, which makes education unnecessarily expensive for a small town like Santa Paula. 

Those who fear change want to stay in business. Some camouflage their real motivation   to hang on to their jobs and power rather than to work with others to develop a less-expensive and more effective pre-K to Grade 12 program.

The money saved by having one school board and one administration is money that our schools desperately need, yet those who want to hang on to the status quo to protect their jobs do not want to reduce the payroll. They look for reasons not to change. They see problems, real and imaginary, not possibilities.

Our little school district has cut teachers, programs, and classroom supplies in recent years because of State Budget cuts, but has not reduced administrative costs. 

I am for cutting administrative positions and expenses rather than more teachers, class days and classroom supplies. Our children should come first! 

Unification provides new money every year - in spite of budget cuts - to change the way our schools do business and to improve the educational program. 

It’s time for change. Vote for Unification – Measure M.   

David Kaiser

Santa Paula

Measure M in Santa Paula

To the Editor:

Our youth are returning to school full of hope. Voters have a once in a lifetime opportunity to really help them by passing Measure M to unify our elementary and high schools.

Unification of our Santa Paula Elementary and Santa Paula High School districts should have been initiated years ago by district trustees. Their failure to act has resulted in a community effort led by parents, leading citizens, the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, and our entire Santa Paula City Council.

If every unification election in California required trustee approval, there would be very few unified districts. Unification is almost always opposed by previously elected trustees because they risk loss of political position, prestige, district-paid trustee health care, and other perks. So it’s not surprising that a majority of Santa Paula Elementary Board members “agreed by consensus” to oppose it. Their arguments against unification are self-serving and phony.

Let’s thank Elementary Trustee Tim Hicks for having the courage to support this community effort. Elementary Trustee Dan Robles and all high school trustees need to let us know where they stand. Trustees unwilling to support this grassroots effort should be thanked for their long service and allowed to retire with our blessing. But let’s not entrust control of a new unified district to persons too timid to take a position, or to those who have told us that it won’t work.

Our neighbors in Ventura have experienced the advantages a unified district for many years. Unification offers a far more efficient model than our current two-district arrangement. Reduction in total expenditures seems unlikely, but we can definitely expect to get more for our money. Unification offers staff recruitment appeal as well as managerial and financial advantages enabling us to pay more competitive salaries. Having one calendar for the entire community will help many families. But the greatest advantage is the ability of a unified district administration to coordinate a planned curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade. Anyone who has attained subject competence in middle school only to sit through the same material again in high school will understand.

Communities working to improve their schools become far more attractive to the kind of businesses that bring good jobs and a better tax base. Let’s get behind our own city council, business leaders, and parents leading this grassroots effort. Please vote YES on Measure M. And please remember to vote.

Delton Lee Johnson

Santa Paula

The rest of the story

To the Editor:

Marsha Rea’s column of last Friday was certainly thought provoking, but not the full story by any means. 

I have been closely involved in the Waste Water Treatment Plant’s design as it has evolved through the years in Santa Paula. 

On the east coast, I have been involved in building plants that were at the time “state of the art” (Reston, VA, and the “underground Pentagon” at Weather Mountain, Virginia). The Vertreat/Vertad system from the Canadian firm showed a lot of promise. 

The Council (both old and new) wanted a state of the art plant that would be “good” for the next 50 years. They wanted an economical plant, one that could be readily financed, and one that would not break the bank of the ratepayers. The “old” Council, Krause et al, settled on a membrane filter design. The “new” Council, beginning in 2004, decided to stick with membrane filtration but chose to go with a Design, Build, Finance and Operate funding mechanism to simplify the city’s involvement and cap the costs. The thought was to recapture as much effluent from the plant as possible for “re-cycling”. Re-cycling can include: 1.) returning processed water to the aquifer (the current operation), 2.) treating the effluent sufficiently for use on landscaping, playing fields, park areas (some further treatment still required beyond current operations), 3.) irrigation purposes on tree crops and/or row crops (quite a bit more processing required), 4.) blending effluent water into the potable water supply for the city on a nominal ratio, say 5% re-cycled to 95% fresh water (a very significant amount of further processing required, probably reverse osmosis and further disinfection). But there is a problem with doing even the least demanding of the above (number 1). That problem is the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) and chlorides in the “fresh” water as pumped from the ground and the further degradation of this water after it is processed by the plant. And, over the years, science has found out that there are real risks associated with recycled water unless you go all the way through reverse osmosis, which limits actual recapture to amount 10%, the other 90% having to be disposed through a brine line, most likely to the Pacific Ocean. Now that’s expensive water! Proof of this fact? The current plant has had to include in its maintenance system a small RO (reverse osmosis) filter just to achieve water clean enough to wash down the membrane filters as installed (I believe this was one of the change orders required during construction). So, when Marsha Rea says our “thrown away” water is worth $5,000-$8,000 per acre foot into perpetuity, she has assumed water good enough to at least go through recycled use numbers 2, maybe 3, above, and that is not going to happen without a lot more final processing, maybe all the way to RO (reverse osmosis). That’s the biggest problem in doing what she suggests and in collecting all that money. And by the way, the Council is fully involved in this process; they are not going about their merry way in ignorance. “Recycling” of some kind is coming to Santa Paula, but it won’t be “free” and it won’t yield water that’s marketable at $5000-$8000 per acre-foot into eternity. 

Ventura is currently charging its domestic customers approximately $119 per acre-foot for fully potable water as it is consumed, and that’s a long, long way from $5000-$8000 per acre-foot for “water rights”. Some things are easy, recycling aluminum cans for instance is one, other things are very difficult and expensive, recycling “black water” into potable water is one of those, probably the most difficult and expensive recycling process currently known to man. And yes, it actually is “rocket science”; check out the space shuttle’s use of recycled urine.

Richard Main

Santa Paula

Bike trail appreciated

To the Editor:

I am writing to tell the citizens of Santa Paula what a good bike trail we have.           

I use it all the time, and I see other people biking and walking on it too. It is flat, has no hills or bumps, so that it is easy and fun to ride on. The trail is well taken care of, and has trees and plants around the borders that make it look very appealing. Another nice thing about our trail is that it has working water fountains, and shade, so that you can cool off. You don’t have to pay to get in, or drive very far if you live in Santa Paula.

Thanks to the all people that helped make the Branch Line Trail.

I really like our bike trail. If you have not been on it, it I encourage you all to try the trail.        

Peter Appleby

(7th grade)

Being aware

To the Editor:

Dear Santa Paulans,  

I am sure a lot of us feel that once we elect our city council we can then let them handle the affairs of the city. That done, we sit back with the feeling that we have done our part. We’ll just let them deal with the hassles, that way we don’t have to closely monitor the council’s activities. I am sorry, but we can’t live like that anymore. We all need to sit up and take notice of what has been going on; what is being said, and not said. 

First of all, I agree that over the past year and ½, the council made some tough decisions in order to keep the city financially solvent. But that doesn’t excuse their ongoing refusal to look for additional revenue sources. There wasn’t even an effort to even begin the RFP process to explore potential revenue. Let’s look at some examples:

The city owns between $500,000 and $750,000 worth of water credits each year. These credits have gone unused for the last two years. Unused water credits can be sold. That means that between 1 and 1 1/2 million dollars of potential revenue has expired untapped. Remember, selling these credits would bring immediate income, without the need to lay pipes or do any additional infrastructure work. I have personally brought this issue up to council members several times and have been politely ignored.

The city owns property parcels that are currently unused. I know for a fact that there have been business entities out there that wanted to lease the property. This has been suggested to council members, and ignored.  

There was a proposal made at the end of 2011, that outlined a plan for the construction of a Police training facility. This facility not only would provide training for our own officers, it would generate $80,000 each year in revenue to the city. This project has also suffered an ignominious demise.

Let’s look at public safety for a moment. Why didn’t the council act immediately to find a replacement for the police chief? No councilmember even brought up the subject during the last meetings before the summer recess. Instead the city has been left without a police chief for over three months so far. Even if the recruitments process is begun this week, it will be several more months before we have someone hired and in place leading our department.

Were you aware that our police department is supposed to have 34 full time sworn officers available for duty? (There is some dispute whether it is 32 or 34.) We currently have 21 officers available for duty. Leaving our police department short staffed by almost 40% is inexcusable. These officers are being needlessly put at extreme risk by this shortage. What happens when we start losing more officers as they seek employment with other police departments that provide better pay, better working conditions, and a less hostile management? As citizens, we cannot allow this situation to continue. 

Recently a person noted in their letter to the editor that the state prison system has been releasing parolees, some of which have been located in our city. Doesn’t that make an even more compelling case to make sure our department is fully and properly staffed?

Public Safety and unrealized non-tax revenue; these are just two areas that every Santa Paulan needs to be concerned about. In the coming weeks I will describe some additional issues that need our attention. If left unchecked, the situation will become untenable and we will only have ourselves to blame. Remember, it’s our town, it’s our tomorrow.

Duane Ashby

Candidate for City Council

Santa Paula

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