Letters to the Editor
Published: October 12, 2012
To the Editor:
It seemed a good idea to me. So over dinner, I asked my wife: “Why are you opposed to Measure M? Won’t it save money?” Since these were rhetorical questions, I didn’t expect a response. But when I heard her out — an unusual thing for me — I discovered that the issue is more complex than I thought.
I found out that the state of California determines the curriculum from kindergarten through high school, including the books to be used. If the K-12 curriculum needs to be unified and more coherent, it must come from the state. Will Measure M change the government’s present policies?
I found out that in several years the districts had agreed upon a common calendar only for it to be changed at the last minute. The needs of the elementary schools conflicted with those of the high school. Will Measure M resolve these conflicts, or will one or the other have to prevail?
I found out that SPESD and SPUHS own their office buildings mortgage free. Does Measure M propose selling these and building an office that can accommodate the larger, combined staffs? If so, the district would have to find come up with a down payment, take on a mortgage, hire an architect that has expertise in planning educational facilities, let bids for contracting services, spend to equip the new office building, and so on. Will “streamlining” offset these extra expenses?
I found out the money to finance the expensive transition — which includes renegotiating union contracts — is a government loan, which must be repaid. For years to come, the budget will have an expense that does not go towards the education of students. Is this long-term loss of funds worth it?
I found out that independent educational research find the 70% of the budget of unified districts goes to high schools. Elementary schools now receive two-thirds of available funds and has two-thirds of the students. How will the elementary schools make do with less funds? Reducing salaried positions (i.e. teachers) is the way to save the most money. Fewer teachers, larger class sizes. SPESD’s student ratio is now 25-1, one of the lowest in the county. If the district had to operate this year with a reduced percentage of funds, the ratio would have been 33-1. Is the amount Measure M promises to save worth such an increase?
I found out that in our own personal purchases are not based simply on what cost the least. No one owns the least expense house or car. Usually we spend more to get more. We weigh the benefits and costs. Imagine a proposal to unify all of Santa Paula’s health professionals. Money would be saved by combining office buildings thereby reducing rent, mortgage, and maintenance costs. Redundant medical equipment can be gotten rid of; inventories of medical supplies in stock reduced; bulk purchasing would mean better prices; administrative and staff costs would be streamlined; the dozens of people working on insurance claims could be drastically cut. There would also be better coordination between the GP’s and specialists, and patients would have more conveniently scheduled appointments. But who would buy this argument? Our local health professionals certainly don’t.
I found out that I have more to think about than just spending less money. I need to find out if the proposed benefits of Measure M are in fact illusory, because it cannot bring about what is claimed or it proposes to solve “problems” that are not there. Are there problems now with making the transition from middle to high school? If so, what are they? Is Measure M the best way to solve them?
Did my wife convince me? I was convinced that to make an informed judgment, I need to know the costs and benefits at issue. If the benefits lost outweigh the money saved, I vote No. If they do, Yes.
An important decision
To the Editor:
As I have mentioned in the past, Santa Paula is on the brink of being recognized as the great city it is, but there is a small contingent of people working to take the city backward. This is, in the main, the same group that gave Santa Paula the very worst governance that I had ever seen, or that I even thought was possible. We had special interest groups ruling the city, and many on the City Council at that time were beholden to special interest, for whatever reasons, and the local newspaper supported these groups to a fault, and I think, still do - the place was a mess. Santa Paula now has an excellent City Council, and a very competent and honest City Manager.
The group of people that governed so poorly in the past are now trying to regain power by replacing the good people currently on the Council with people that will support special interests such as Cabrillo (the affordable housing builder) - with the ultimate goal of replacing our current City Manager, possibly with former Police Chief Steve MacKinnon, who it should be remembered, left the city under a cloud of questionable conduct; that’s my opinion. The group’s major candidate is Martin Hernandez, not to be confused with Ralph Fernandez currently on the Council and not up for re-election this year. In my view Mr. Hernandez comes with “baggage”, and is creating alliances that will result in the same beholden conditions that Santa Paula experienced in the past. In my opinion, Hernandez is, or will become, the new “Cabrillo candidate”. Do you really want your city to go in reverse?
At the same time, in November you will be offered a choice between Hernandez and another questionable candidate, both opposed to the current Council members. On the other hand you have Fred Robinson and Jim Tovias, neither of whom have ties to special interests and have demonstrated superior performance in governing Santa Paula over the past 4 years. This was particularly evident during the recent and ongoing financial crisis. Santa Paula could have faced bankruptcy if the Council and City Manager did not step up to the plate and make the hard, and not always popular, decisions. Jim and Fred spearheaded correct actions that got the city moving in the right direction. I suggest you keep this good team in place: vote for Fred Robinson and Jim Tovias. Keep Santa Paula moving in the right direction.
Larry S. Sagely
A better choice
To the Editor:
The elections are rapidly coming up. Not only will we be voting for national but local candidates.
One of the local candidates seeking election is Duane Ashby. He will work to support the citizens of Santa Paula.
One important issue that needs to be addressed is making sure that honesty and dignity is returned to the city council and the employees. He will work to bring more economic development to the community.
One of the most important assets is that he will listen and work to be a leader. He is not a politician; he is a citizen who cares. He loves Santa Paula and will bring respect back to us all.
So make sure you listen and know what he stands for. Make sure we vote for Duane Ashby. It is important that we support him and listen to what he has to say about issues that need to be addressed. Of all the candidates running for the City Council, he is best for us all.
I know Duane well and will trust his judgment as he works to make Santa Paula a better place.
Support the status quo
To the Editor:
Since 2008 we have all lived through a terrible period of financial catastrophe, nationally and locally. Quite a few cities, far wealthier than Santa Paula, have declared bankruptcy. We have avoided that embarrassing fate, largely due to the good stewardship of our City Council and City Manager - this is plain, incontrovertible fact. Have there been any missteps or glitches, bumps in the road, of course there have been. But face the realities. We have an excellent waste water plant on line, the walking/bike trail has been built, the very well redesigned Cabrillo housing project on Santa Barbara Street has been completed, trash has been privatized, saving considerable monies, the new water tank at the west end of the city has been built, many streets have been repaved - and our budget is balanced. Frankly what more does the group of “disaffected ones” want in this city? Oh, yes, Steve MacKinnon restored as Chief or promoted to City Manager. Let’s just say there is a difference of opinion on that issue, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but shouldn’t what has been accomplished trump what is on someone’s wish list? Jim Tovias and Fred Robinson, along with the 3 other Council Members, Rick Cook, Bob Gonzales and Ralph Fernandez, and the City Manager, have done yeoman’s work for this city - they deserve to be re-elected, and that’s no criticism of the other two gentlemen who are running. Let’s be thankful we are not among the bankrupt.
Why the Bobbsey twins?
To the Editor:
Have you noticed anything odd so far about this particular election? To me it seems very odd indeed that I rarely see “a lawn sign for Robinson” without a “sign for Tovias” right next to him and vice versa. And then I see these big signs with the two of them together. It’s almost like these two are being joined at the hip!
Why is this so? Shouldn’t every politician make his or her own “personal position on issues” perfectly clear so that we voters know the “unique stance” of each individual we are voting for?
Reading between the lines of this weird phenomenon of our local Bobbsey twins, one might imagine that this “co-joined-at-the-hips maneuver” could be a strong armed attempt by “our local powers that be” to see to it that nobody “new” enters their arena – especially this time around.
Why so? Consider this! Our present “local powers that be” know they are still in a precarious position especially through the firing our highly respected Police Chief for “their apparently hidden reasons”. I’m sure they are aware of the fact that “if we were to vote back into office there own two council members” – well that would make “them look very good wouldn’t it?” Hence “The Bobbsey Twins”!
Because there’s obviously more to this election than meets the eye, please vote for what’s truly best for Santa Paula “by always keeping clearly in mind the unnecessary human tragedy” that has taken place here this year, and its source.
Join in supporting Measure M
To the Editor:
We support and appreciate our local schools. Recently, however, they have all been encumbered with tenuous funding. It appears only sensible that every cent in the system must be used as efficiently as possible. Therefore, any duplication must be eliminated. Money saved then can be directed to the classroom where it can do the most good. An efficient, well-managed, integrated school system will directly impact our students now and pay additional dividends to our community in the future. We support measure M, we hope you’ll join us.
Jo Ann and Al Guilin
Improving Council-Community communication
To the Editor:
I don’t know Marsha Rea, but her column in the Santa Paula Times is a real asset. I hope she will continue writing. Without rancor, she succinctly points out increasing lack of transparency in city government. She attacks no council member but delineates obvious reasons for concern.
Justice Anthony Kennedy has stated: “The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.” Speakers before the council need to avoid wasting time, but they should have their five minutes. Council members were aware of this procedure when they filed for office and they receive pay and benefits for their time. Just do it.
I have previously supported the two council members now running for re-election and plan to vote for one or both. I respect all members and all citizens. Many good things have been happening in Santa Paula, but there is need to encourage both more openness by council members and more effective/responsible public participation. Council members need to slow down and listen before selling additional public enterprises or property. All citizens need to understand that our representatives are human beings wrestling with difficult issues.
At the October 1 council meeting, the mayor announced a public “ad hoc committee meeting of the council to discuss matters relating to ongoing water issues at 10 o’clock tomorrow.” I like the mayor but his announcement makes the point. How many citizens could arrange to attend on such short notice? And how about being more specific about topics under consideration?
After the election, I hope that a council member will offer a motion to schedule another citywide visioning event similar to that held in June of 2002. It can utilize the same open format that worked well previously. In addition to discussion of ongoing financial and planning concerns, there is need to explicitly address activities that promote openness and real public participation. Afterwards, the council needs to discuss outcomes of the visioning event and openly consider its recommendations.
The June, 2002 document can be viewed at: http://www.ci.santa-paula.ca.us/vision/documents/Chapter2_vision-goals-actions_Jun2004_pg1-20.pdf
Delton Lee Johnson
To the Editor:
I submit this letter with hopes that if will help voters make an educated decision on the proposed unification of our schools. To date, no mention has been made publicly of this important information.
Measure M will provide nothing to help improve student achievement in our schools nor will it help improve teacher performance. So we should not expect quantifiable improvement in the classrooms if Measure M is approved. Apart from this information, it is not necessary to unify our schools in order to consolidate curriculums or school calendars.
Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see so much interest in our schools. If this continues, one way or another together we can help improve the education of our students for years to come.
The non-controversial measure
To the Editor:
I urge Santa Paula voters to vote yes on Measure U! This measure helps the Blanchard Community Library and grants permission to spend money already being received from our property taxes.
This is not a new tax, and no additional money will be levied against property owners. Measure U will raise the spending ceiling - set according to the Gann limit of 1979 - to account for any rise in income from property that previously incurred no property tax due to bankruptcy or other effects of our current recession.
With potential new building in Santa Paula’s future and with some economic recovery in real estate, the library is hopeful and prepared to be able to access any additional funds for the benefit of the public it serves.
Join me in voting yes on Measure U!