Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Oct. 23

Safe Halloween
RUTH COOPER, Ojai
Holidays are important for adults and kids alike, to gather, to celebrate, and to have fun. This Halloween I am encouraging everyone who lives in a neighborhood where trick-or-treating usually happens to sit outside and put  candy out on a table, single pieces spaced out, rather than in a bowl, and spend the evening greeting the kids and enjoying the costumes. We can do this while practicing social distancing. The kids need this, and I think the adults do, too!

Special doctor
CECILIA ORTIZ, Ojai
I am proud to be Dr. James Halverson's patient. I have guided myself through his weekly articles in your paper. 
He is doing a tremendous job to help many in this town with all the information on COVID-19. 
With his example, we are better. Gracias. 

Document cleanup of old oil wells
JUNE AND SHED BEHAR, Ojai
Re: the Ventura County Planning Commission Oct. 15 agenda item to consider an “order of the Planning Commission recommending that the Board of Supervisors consider directing the Resource Management Agency to investigate the status of abandoned and idle oil and gas wells and their regulation in Ventura County and report back”:
We support the proposed county directive that authorizes the assessment of abandoned and/or idle wells in Ventura County. There is a clear need for thorough cleanup of these oil and gas wells to minimize and, ideally, prevent future soil and groundwater contamination. This must be done in the cause of safety for present and future generations of Ventura County residents.
Evaluation and data are also needed to determine whether old “plugged” wells have been plugged adequately to prevent environmental damage and threats to people’s health. Older wells must not be dismissed “on paper,” rather than inspected in reality to assure the residents of Ventura County that our trusted officials are cognizant of potential dangers. Then they can prioritize the sites that are most at risk to us, the people who live in areas (like our Upper Ojai) where there are old wells in many locations. 
We support the documentation of these 2,000 or more idle and abandoned wells because we want cleanup plans to be based on critical need, and we want them to be logical and fundable — even in a tough economic time. This is really important for our future quality of life in Ventura County. 
— Editor’s note: Due to technical difficulties with the audio at the Oct. 15 Ventura County Planning Commission meeting, the Planning Commission decided to continue the agenda item to its Nov. 5 meeting.

Yes on Measure K: Aquatic center needed
MARC WHITMAN, Ojai
What kind of world are we leaving for our next generation? What are we doing for our children to help them be the best they can be? As Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us.”  This is especially true for our children. By shaping enlightened, inspiring and nurturing spaces that our children will spend a large proportion of their upbringing in will affect who they are as people and contributing members of our society. 
That is why Measure K is so important.
Measure K is prescribing a much-needed new aquatic center at Nordhoff High School. Many of us in the community have been promoting this cause for many years. The existing facility is 60 years old, built with a backyard pool design using volunteer labor. It is archaic and substandard in every respect. 
The swimmers and water polo players who train in the current facility cannot blossom to their full potential because of the limitations of their facility. They can only make the best of what they have they have to work with. 
In addition to the aquatic center being a great amenity for our children, the school district has pledged that it will partner with the city of Ojai Recreation Department and make this new aquatic center a community center for us all to be a part of. 
It will provide a center for us all to recreate, exercise and improve our health, no matter our economic situation. It can be an aquatic center that reflects our values as a caring community, one we are proud of and where we can be the best we can be.  
— The writer is from the Nordhoff High School Class of 1976.

Measure K is about safety, equity
MIKE ETCHART, Ojai
As the product of Ojai Unified schools, and the parent of children in our school system, I encourage everyone to vote “Yes” on Measure K to bring our facilities up to current standards to improve both safety and effectiveness for the deserving students in our valley.
I had the good fortune to have graduated from Nordhoff in 1978. In November of that year, Proposition 13 changed that in dramatic fashion. California went from having among the highest-funded school districts in the country to among the lowest-funded. Public education funding in our state has never recovered. 
As a homeowner and landowner, I have benefited greatly from the property tax changes from Proposition 13. But as a parent and educator, I have witnessed the continual decline and deterioration in our facilities. That’s not fair for the deserving students in the Ojai Valley, nor is it safe.
As I discuss this bond measure, I occasionally hear from people who want to change the subject and complain about test scores or programmatic decisions as justification not to support this measure. To be clear, this bond measure is about only two crucial things: safety and equity. We must upgrade our facilities to keep our children safe and provide for fair and equal infrastructure as any other district would do and does. The hard work and commitment of our teachers, staff and parents for our students warrant nothing less.
To put local bond spending (to support public schools) in perspective relative to other districts, Ojai is among the lowest in our county. We spend less than one-quarter compared with districts like Fillmore and Hueneme. Our students and everyone supporting them deserve better. Please join me in voting YES on Measure K.

 

Prepare to be patient on election night
BETSY PATTERSON, Ojai
For California, this election will be like no other election before.
Voters should not expect all election results to be called or announced on election night as in previous elections, and that’s okay.  
With more mailed-in ballots, a delayed result means the system is working as it should to ensure the integrity of our election process. Broadcast networks did not begin election night forecasts until the 1970s. And they are just that — “forecasts” —not results.
The vote is only final when all the votes are counted and certified by the secretary of state on Dec. 5.
A surge in mailed ballots requires our election officials to adapt their ballot counting practices, and it is important for voters to be patient. A complete and accurate ballot count is more important than a fast ballot count.
With the increase of absentee (mailed-in) voting, it is essential that every vote is counted and every voter’s voice is heard. Ballots will be accepted and counted until Nov. 20 as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. We should all prepare for many elections results to be announced several days to weeks after Election Day.
— The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of Ventura County.

Chiany Dri for school board
LAUREN SNYDER — Oak View
Our family is endorsing Chiany Dri for school board for many reasons, but one in particular stands out in my heart most deeply. I am an accessible yoga teacher who navigates this world with chronic autoimmune disease.
I have spent the last two years studying extensively with various organizations and individuals the ways in which yoga communities (even well-intentioned ones) exclude various bodies from a practice that is intended for all.
Even as an individual who knows and lives with some of these barriers, it was not until I began to engage and learn from those who lived with other barriers that I began to realize just how even my own teaching at times was unwelcoming or exclusive. The more I engage with various identities and learn from them directly, the more inclusive and whole my teaching becomes.
Our school board can make promises to serve everyone and it can even make large strides to do so for a majority of students, but until the makeup of our governing board represents and has seats at the table for those who actually have lived experience within the various demographics of our actual student community, we cannot fully comprehend the needs of all of our students.
We cannot even begin to comprehend the places in which our awareness is truly lacking if everyone at the table has similar background and lived experience.
The work Chiany has already done within our community serves as testimony to her skill, wisdom and ability to take on new challenges. I have full confidence that her appointment would serve to expand the awareness of the school board and that she would shed a much-needed light on those in the district most often forgotten.
Remember, something is not necessarily working just because it is working for you.

 

 

Chiany Dri a new voice
BRENNA FURNESS — Ojai
Ojai is filled with an incredible number of talented, artistic, intelligent and thoughtful people from all walks of life. Shouldn’t our school board reflect that kind of diversity? 
Last time I checked, there were no educational or gender requirements, or age limits for a person to run for school board. You see, diversity isn’t just about skin color; it’s about knowledge, expertise, raw talent, ideology, perspective and personal experience. 
Creating a diverse school board — one that reflects the community — is directly linked to the academic achievements of our students. A Florida State University study (search at phys.org) concludes that a more diverse school board reduces the likelihood of suspensions for Black, White and Hispanic students. 
When students are allowed to stay in school, the likelihood of their academic success increases. That same study suggests that school boards function more effectively when there is a range of experiences to draw from, helping the board predict new challenges and seek out new solutions. 
In other words, I’m pretty sure we’re good on attorneys, people with high-level degrees and upper-middle-class representatives on the school board who look like the majority of our students. With the utmost respect for our school board incumbents who have served our community for the last four years and longer, I invite you to cast a vote for Chiany Dri for Ojai Unified School Board District 4. Chiany brings a new and much-needed voice, skill set, perspective and experience to our school board, one that speaks to young parents, families with neuro-divergent students, people of color and a representation to our kids that sets them up for success.

Chiany Dri is best choice
VERONICA PEDRO — Ojai
Chiany Dri is an amazing person. I’ve known her for seven years. We met in a parenting class. She stands true to her word and is not in this race to prove an agenda. 
She wants to make the school system better for all students, particularly bringing more cultural awareness and understanding of children’s and families’ situations.
She is running for office out of love for her children and community. She only does what her heart tells her to do. She is the best person for this job. 

Chiany Dri promotes equity
TIM NAFZIGER — Oak View
I support Chiany Dri's candidacy for Ojai Unified School District Board (District 4) because she has a vision for OUSD that puts equity and cultural competency at the center of our children's education. Chiany invites us to make sure that all children are included in our community and raised with values of inclusion.
As a volunteer with Chiany Dri's campaign, I've seen the way she leads our team. Her approach is working shoulder to shoulder to get the job done, not top down. 
This is the kind of leadership we need from our elected officials. Chiany has spent many years working in our community with people of all ages as a grass-roots educator and her experience and her way of viewing the world will make an invaluable addition to the OUSD board.

 

Griffen is outstanding leader
KATHY SMITH — Mira Monte
Please join me in voting for Shelly Griffen as Ojai Unified School District, Trustee Area 4. I have known Shelly for more than 20 years and her dedication to the students of this valley has been constant. Shelly has been a parent volunteer and an active participant at each of the schools her four children have attended.  
She has firsthand knowledge of the needs of our students, parents, teachers and administrators. Board members must have a broad understanding of the daily and long-term goals of the district. As a board member, Shelly has been a strong advocate for equity, respect and inclusivity in our schools. She has approached every financial decision with an emphasis on fiscal responsibility and providing for the overall stability of our programs. 
As a 48-year Ojai resident, graduate of Nordhoff, and after 33 years working in Ojai public and private schools, I have had an excellent opportunity to have worked alongside our outstanding local educational leaders. Shelly Griffen is one of them! 
I proudly recommend the election of Shelly Griffen.

Valuing Shelly Griffen
JIM BAILEY — Ojai
Shelly Griffen has done important work in her tenure on the Ojai Unified School District board and she deserves to be re-elected. A lot gets decided at school board meetings and it is an important job in our community. It requires homework. It requires attention to detail over a wide range of school district business. Mostly, it requires a deep care for one’s community. Shelly’s service on the board these last four years has been admirable and we need her experience for whatever is coming next.
In various discussions with Shelly over the last few years, she has intimated to me that one should be prepared to spend at least 10 hours a week on board business. What inspires me to step up and support Shelly is that she doesn’t just stop there. 
Over the last few years, Shelly has been working on a master's degree in education. I’ve known this for a while because she sought out teachers and parents in her community as she formulated her thesis. Through all of our discussions, Shelly’s deep curiosity was evident as was her desire to ensure that the public schools in Ojai are inclusive spaces for families and that they meet the needs of all children.
A school board is not the Wild West, though at times board meetings may feel like it. Board members like Shelly hold themselves to a sense of order and decorum that is at times impressive given the topics and, let’s call it passion, in the room. I’ve always seen Shelly to be a kind and compassionate listener In these situations. Such skills are essential for an effective school board member. 
Time and again, Shelly has demonstrated a desire to get it right. In the past, we’ve had school boards and administrations in Ojai that kicked the ball down the road. This board has been different. They’ve worked with our educational leaders and made sound decisions for our children’s education. I trust her decisions and appreciate the common sense of her voting record. Now, more than ever, we’ll be needing her experience on the board.

Griffen for school board
DEBORA KIRKLAND — Ojai
I am writing this letter in support of Shelly Griffen for school board, the incumbent representing trustee Area 4.
I have known Shelly for a long time and have consistently relied on her for solid education advice and parenting support. She has always been honest, even when it is not the easy answer. 
Shelly has always been open to hearing other points of view and giving them thoughtful consideration in her decisions. I trust her advice and fiscal prowess. 
I voted for Shelly four years ago because I felt strongly that the school board needed a parent to authentically represent our family, who would fight for what was truly best for our kids.
Right now, it would not be the best move to bring in someone new to the dynamic school board environment in these uncertain times, when so much is already changing day to day. I am certain that right now, with the pandemic and a school budget crisis, what we really need is experience and stability on our school board. 
Please join me in fully supporting Shelly Griffen for the school board. She is definitely the mom you want on your side!

Sign stealing a bad sign
LEIGH DANICA — Ojai
I’m disheartened about the antics of this political year. Now it seems theft has become a part of our local political process. I live on a rural street, we know most of our neighbors, and we look out for each other. We differ, as do all neighborhoods, in political party identification. Yet, we respect and value each other, and we allow for our differences. This is what constitutes America, and American values. We are founded on being united as one people with differing values and opinions.   
Last week, someone took down/stole two large political signs from my neighbor’s property. The signs were attached to their fence. Now, I don’t support the candidate they advertised, but I am really upset that those signs are no longer there. I am upset that some Ojai residents have been reduced to using crime tactics that are rampant across our country. I thought we were above that as a beautiful town and a cohesive community. I have been told of other Ojai sign-stealing, by friends of mine. It is not a one-sided maneuver. 
I believe we must step up and remember what it is to be a community based on caring for each other, respecting personal property, and valuing each other regardless of differences. We can do better. 

Decrease lanes on highway
PAIGE ANDERSEN JOHNSON — Meiners Oaks
I would just like to share why I support changes to the highway in front of Nordhoff High School. There are three four-lane crosswalks within a block and a half in that section of the highway. As a driver, I am always nervous that I might not see a pedestrian there. Sometimes, pedestrians forget to press the button to activate the caution lights. I very much support changes to the road in that area. I think one fatality is one too many. I grew up in Ojai. 
I attended Meiners Oaks Elementary, Matilija Junior High, and I graduated from Nordhoff. Truly caring communities willingly make changes despite inconveniences in order to improve the welfare of its members, visitors, and youngsters. I want the changes to be made. 

 

Delay highway demonstration
TEE DOWNARD and MARILYN WAPLES — Ojai
This letter of concern addresses the proposed "Go Ojai Demonstration" to reduce traffic lanes from four to two for 4,000 feet on Maricopa Highway (33) from the five-way intersection of Cuyama Road/El Roblar to Ojai Avenue. While we applaud this project's aim to help beautify Ojai, the results of this demonstration and site survey will be deceptive, invalid, and impact public safety. 
In addition to increasing congestion on Highway 33, this project will adversely affect traffic in a residential neighborhood of 249 homes, and two condo complexes of 125 units, as well as access to Nordhoff High School, the Ojai Community Hospital, surrounding medical offices, churches, and businesses. Importantly, due to the lane reduction, more traffic will inevitably be diverted into the Arbolada area of Ojai and through downtown Meiners Oaks, both areas already affected by traffic diversions from 33. 
This proposed demonstration and survey, to be initiated this fall, will be premature and produce inaccurate results for the following reasons: 
Ventura County is in the midst of a pandemic, which will likely continue during the proposed demonstration. Nordhoff High School is closed, churches are closed, businesses are at least partially closed, and commuting traffic is abnormally light due to high pandemic-related unemployment. The impact of the lane reduction on Highway 33 traffic will be understated.
Also because of this pandemic-related light traffic, measurement of traffic flow diversions into neighborhoods that will feel the impact of the lane reduction will be understated. These areas include Cuyama Road, El Roblar in Meiners Oaks, Descanso, Carrillo Road, Vallerio Road, Pirie Road and Church Road. This includes neighborhoods where fatalities due to diverted traffic have occurred.
Therefore, we recommend that CalTrans intervene to delay the demonstration at least until normal traffic resumes, alternate routes are monitored, and school is back in session.