Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Oct. 16

No to all-electric Ojai
I respectfully request that we exercise caution in moving ahead with the concept of changing the city’s building code to require all new buildings to be all-electric with no natural gas. Adding to the California electric grid presents problems of its own since the current capability of the grid is marginal at best if you recall the rolling blackouts earlier this year. Chances are petroleum-based, and perhaps coal-based energy generation will be used to make up any future shortages occurring in our grid. Solar and wind energy generation have their limitations and are a minor contributor to our current energy generation.
While it is a noble and appropriate effort to attempt to address climate change by reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from burning natural gas, the transition to electric energy is not as simple and justifiable as the local Ojai Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee would lead you to believe as depicted in their Oct. 9 letter in the Ojai Valley News.
Natural gas still has a place in our economy until intelligent heads can come together to devise an orderly transition from the burning of fossil fuels that the public can accept and afford. Simply quitting natural gas “cold turkey” is not the answer.

Great engagement
After I was elected to the school board in 2014 and had been serving about a year, a prominent and extremely smart person in our town complained to me that he had hoped I would do better. "You're too damned polite!" he said. And I knew there was some truth in that. 
I strongly believe that true critical thinking requires each side to clearly and without remorse articulate exactly what she believes to be true; knowing that and practicing that are different things and I frankly wish I followed this tenet more often in public life. 
I believe Measure K is worthwhile and that our schools will make good use of the money to support Ojai public education. I also respect the Ojai Valley News’ disagreement in its Oct. 9 editorial.
In fact, the OVN argument against Measure K has led to some great engagement (much of it on Facebook) — on both sides -— about the causes of declining enrollment, the importance of public education, the precise uses of the money that will be raised and the world of the future. This is what is called the “marketplace of ideas.”
— The writer is a trustee on the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education.

Role of the press 101
It’s time for a community teach-in on the role of the Fourth Estate, a nickname for the press, and its role in government oversight and accountability and the First Amendment.
First, all elected officials and government agencies serve at the pleasure of the people and must expect to be held accountable for their actions.
Second, local newspapers serve a vital watchdog role by reporting on local government with a critical lens. There exists no other entity that can perform this role. None. The First Amendment protects this role of the press.
Any person who thinks this is unfair should perhaps stay away from elected office.
Finally, newspapers take positions, they always have. The Opinion section and endorsements are a vehicle for community conversations about issues readers feel are important. If you don’t like a position the paper takes, write a letter to the editor. 
I, for one, want a local paper engaged in the community and willing to be part of the conversation by demonstrating the courage to take positions on issues, even if they are unpopular.
Read more newspapers! 

Starkweather for OUSD
There are many reasons to vote for Jeffrey Starkweather for school board to represent the Ojai Unified School District covering Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte: his deep roots in the community, his impressive professional experience as a former newspaper publisher, journalist and civil rights attorney, and his vast knowledge of and passion for the importance of public schools. 
I especially like the fact that all of his endorsements listed on his ad are from organizations and individuals from our local community: the Ojai Valley News, the Ojai Valley Democrats, an OUSD school board member, two Ojai City Council members, an Ojai planning commission member, a water district board member and a diverse swath of other community leaders, educators, parents, activists and long-term residents of Meiners Oaks, Mira Monte and the Ojai Valley.
His endorsements are a reflection pf the respect he has from people who know and love our community. 
By contrast, his opponent’s endorsements come largely from organizations and professionals in Ventura and Oxnard. I received a card from her that showed only one local endorsement, from Ojai. 
The choice is clear. Jeffrey Starkweather will be a strong voice for parents, students, teachers and residents of Meiners Oaks and Mira Monte and the Ojai Valley. We would be fortunate to have him be the first OUSD Area 2 trustee from Meiners Oaks/Mira Monte. 

Griffen for OUSD board
I have worked closely with Shelly Griffen for many years on the Ojai Valley Library Friends and Foundation Board of Directors and on many Ojai Unified School District and community projects. I know where she stands and I encourage District 4 voters to support her re-election to the OUSD board. Because of Shelly's dual work with the OVLFF and the OUSD board, we were able to install a Little Free Library at each OUSD school, accessible 24/7/365 for the community. They've been the crucial source for free books during the COVID shutdown. 
Shelly understands the value in partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits, volunteers, and the 360 degrees of student/parent/educator/taxpayer. Her ability to make those connections comes from her extensive experience as an OUSD parent, former student, and OUSD board president. Ojai cannot afford to lose her voice and experience at this crucial time for the OUSD.

Unfair criticism of board 
The Oct. 9 Ojai Valley News Opinion page endorsement for Jeffrey Starkweather and Chiany Dri for school board contained the following: “The current school board members are too often dismissive of the public,” using as an example a parent being denied an answer to a question about test scores at the board retreat. My understanding is that board retreats or meetings always begin with public comments, but that only items on the agenda can be discussed. Because the agenda items were “broad” does not mean that they could include something brought up in the public comment period. The board is bound by law to discuss only agenda items. 
The issued raised in the public comment can be on the agenda of the next meeting. It seems unfair to make this a reason to criticize the board. In addition, I know that this item of concern was addressed later with the parent.
The tone of the editorial was anti-school board and negative, implying that our current school board is somehow inadequate and disinterested in the public. The example used to support this is not fair to the board and the hard work they do.

Focus on fieldworkers
We are writing about the 2020 Summer Issue of the Ojai Valley Guide. We wanted to thank you very much for publishing the articles about agriculture in our valley. In particular, of course, we loved Ellen Sklar's article about Friends of Fieldworkers. It is a very fair, honest, yet sensitive approach to what we do and who fieldworkers are.
Since the article appeared in the magazine, we have had many calls, letters and other inquiries about the people we serve. Several of them have donated to further our work. Additionally, we have sent out many copies to our family, friends, donors and potential donors.
Thank you for your part in getting the word out about the needs of fieldworkers, their families and Friends of the Fieldworkers. We truly appreciate this. 
— The writers are on the board of Friends of Fieldworkers, Inc.

Vote safely
Voting has never been easier. Voting from home is safe, easy and convenient. You can return your ballot by the U.S. Postal Service mail — postage is prepaid. It must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 20 (in California) for your vote to be counted. 
We recommend you vote as early as possible after receiving your ballot. An alternative to mailing your ballot is using one of the 34 Ballot Drop Boxes that are located throughout the county and will be open funtil Election Day, Nov. 3 at 8 pm. 
Ballot Drop Box locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y45ol4mo. 
Finally, you can take your ballot to any of the 47 in-person Vote Centers to drop it off or request a replacement for a spoiled ballot. The Vote Centers will be open Saturday, Oct. 31, Sunday, Nov. 1, and Monday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Vote Center locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y5wd2ykv. 
Be sure to check your registration status (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and sign up to track your ballot (WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov). 
The League of Women Voters of Ventura County has recorded its virtual candidate forums, including for Ojai candidates and Measure K (lwvventuracounty.org). Be an informed voter and learn about the candidates and issues. 
— The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of Ventura County.


Weirick for mayor
As a member of Ojai’s City Council, Bill Weirick has been actively involved in our local water issues. He has taken the time to learn the complexities of managing our water resources. With that knowledge, he has actively support the Ojai Basin Groundwater Agency’s efforts to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan to the benefit of Ojai and all the basin water users. He supported OBGMA’s grant application to construct a new monitoring well to measure the impacts of water pumping on local stream flows. He has facilitated grant application for Ojai to develop methods of enhancing groundwater recharge and stream flow through better management of the city’s water channels.   
Bill worked hard in support of Ojai Flow’s successful replacement of the Golden State Water Company.  He was instrumental in securing formal assurances from the city of Ventura that protects the city’s residents from legal fees related to the adjudication lawsuit.  And he continues his attempts to facilitate discussion between Ventura and Casitas to end the current legal battle over water.  
Most importantly, Bill has developed a thorough understanding of the importance of water to everyone in Ojai. He understands better than most the important relationship between water supply and stream flows and how both contribute to our valley’s quality of life.  As mayor of Ojai, Bill will keep water issues at the top of the city’s agenda and be a voice for cooperation among local water agencies.
Please join me and support Bill Weirick for mayor of Ojai.
— The writer chairs the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency and is a member of Ojai Flow.


Stix for mayor
I endorse Betsy Stix as mayor of Ojai. Betsy wants to do what's good for Ojai!
I have some concerns if Bill Weirick were to be sworn in as mayor. Councilmember Weirick was elected to serve until 2022. He will be required to resign his council seat. This will create a vacancy and require either an expensive special election or a direct appointment by as few as three members of the City Council.
Special elections could cost us, the taxpayers, over $40,000, an expense we cannot afford during these difficult times. The alternative is for the council to bypass the voters and handpick someone via a vote of three councilmembers.
The direct appointment of one-fifth of the vote in any legislative body exposes the process to the risk of undue influence from special interests. We should avoid creating vacancies whenever there is a responsible alternative.
This is another great reason to vote Betsy Stix for mayor!


No on Measure G
I oppose Measure G in Ojai and if you or someone you know relies on cannabis as a medicine, you should, too.
Cannabis is a unique industry in that, despite creating jobs and economic benefit for the town, the city thinks it should be exploited further in order to make up for deficits in the city’s budget. Our industry brings jobs and sales taxes to the city already, and makes generous donations to many nonprofits in the Ojai Valley. We patronize dozens of other Ojai businesses. Cannabis businesses were not eligible for any federal COVID assistance whatsoever, but must provide all the same extra benefits to our employees. 
We pay twice as much to rent our space just because we are a cannabis business. Our state license costs around $40,000 annually and that’s before the cost of actually staying in compliance with cameras and security guards. We are subject to federal tax burdens due to IRS 280e that no other licensed businesses are. It’s a convenient argument to say: “Every other city in California has local taxes, so we should, too.” Since when has Ojai pinned its regulatory strategy to what everyone else is doing? 
As a dispensary owner, I can assure you that we would have no choice but to pass this business tax onto consumers in the form of higher prices. Higher cannabis prices for consumers have a documented history of shifting participation in a legal market back into the unlicensed and untaxed market. Is that really our goal? 
The city can find other ways to generate revenue that don’t penalize medical patients or discriminate against an already struggling industry. We've been through enough already. 
Vote No on Measure G.
— The writer is CEO of Sespe Creek Collective, Inc., a boutique dispensary in Ojai.


Why I vote!
I vote because our self-governing society needs me as it needs you to vote, to weigh in.     
A democracy asks us to know what we think is right, what is wrong, and to know why we 
think and feel as we do. Decisions made by our representatives locally or nationally  
affect our  lives  in  direct ways — ways that effect our ability to work, to earn, to maintain health, to care for our families.  
I vote because I have a dream, parts  MLK,  JFK,  FDR  and (look him up, Henry Wallace). To begin, I dream that voting will be encouraged and easily available for everyone, that voter suppression will fall away as those in one small group wanting to hang on to material wealth  find greater value and their own safety in sharing,  that  deadly poisons so effective and lethal as weapons of war no longer exist as mists clouding the food our still nonorganic 
farmers ask us to eat.  
I dream of a healthy world and a lively peace and a leadership that can admit mistakes, 
that’s not afraid of Truth, who trusts us, welcomes whistleblowers who periodically helps clean up our government gone astray, who supports and encourages us to be more of who we  are, more human. 
I vote because I look forward to Ojai Valley, to our country to a world more awake, vastly more alive in the years ahead.  
Think better, think brighter, think life as forever improving and VOTE.

Yes on Measure K: Support our schools
Ojai schools are central to our community, and we need to support them by voting yes on Measure K.  Measure J from 2014 addressed critical, no-nonsense infrastructure projects like the Nordhoff gym roof.  The Nordhoff roof replacement project was completed in August 2017, just months before the Thomas Fire.  Our school served as a disaster relief center! Ojai property owners sheltered the community during a historic natural disaster via Measure J funds. 
Measure K will continue funding imperative infrastructure repairs and replacements like electrical, plumbing and technology. Furthermore, Measure K will fund tangible spaces and places like the Nordhoff pool replacement and field upgrades.
Caretaking of our school grounds and buildings is critical to prevent further loss of enrollment to private schools and interdistrict transfers. Improved facilities are needed if we are to retain existing students and increase interest from families considering alternative schooling options. It is indisputable that better school facilities produce better school districts, which, in turn, drive enrollment. Most importantly, better classrooms and playgrounds improve student and staff performance.
Measure K is a school improvement measure that is designated for school grounds and buildings. It cannot be used to fund teacher salaries or general spending. However, teachers can teach and students can learn at their best in safe, clean, and up-to-date spaces. 
Our own property values are inextricably tied to the physical state of our public schools. Money for repairs and replacement affects our home values for the better by not letting our neighborhood schools further deteriorate. 
I am choosing to vote Yes on Measure K because I believe in the collective good of America’s public schools and in the improvement of learning environments for our future neighbors and Ojai citizens. Yes on K!


Yes on Measure K: Vote for our community
As Ojai Unified School District  board vice president, I am writing in response to Bob Daddi’s letter of Oct. 2.
Measure K is critical to both our students and our community, and I ask for your yes vote on Measure K.
While Mr. Daddi states that the district's declining enrollment is a reason to not vote for Measure K, he fails to share that nearly every district in Ventura County is seeing declines. Ojai’s quality of life is keeping older residents in their homes, and Ojai’s high cost of living prevents families from moving here — thus the reason for fewer students. In fact, fewer students in our schools contributes to lower funding from the state and prevents our ability to maintain facilities to the high standards we desire.
Just because there are fewer students doesn’t mean that outdated plumbing or electrical systems don’t need to be replaced. 
A growing body of research has found that school facilities can have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes. With respect to teachers, school facilities affect teacher recruitment, retention, commitment, and effort. With respect to students, school facilities affect health, behavior, engagement, learning, and growth in achievement. Thus, researchers generally conclude that, without adequate facilities and resources, it is extremely difficult to serve children with complex needs.
Mr. Daddi's claims that not a dime of Measure K will go for the kids’ education is false. Measure K dimes (and dollars) will go exactly where they need to be — to the students of Ojai. They will be spent on improving student access to computers and modern technology, health, safety and security projects for students, and on outdated infrastructure like plumbing, electrical, and sewer systems for students. Adding solar can cut our energy costs. Installing turf on our fields lowers our water consumption. By modernizing our classrooms, upgrading our infrastructure, and constructing green projects, we will free up dollars for programs and provide the best education possible to Ojai kids.
Finally, Measure K doesn’t just help our schools, it helps our community. Hiring local contractors from the Ojai Valley, the district spent nearly $5 million of Measure J funds locally and 50% of the $35 million bond has gone to Ventura County businesses. With Measure K funds, we will be able to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in history to replace our 60-year-old pool with an aquatics center available for community use. Our community fields, stadium, and public-use spaces will all be refreshed or expanded. 
A vote for Measure K is a vote for not only the future of our kids, but also of our community. Please join me and many other community leaders in voting yes on K.