THE END OF THE FIRST DECADE
It is the end of the first decade of the 21st century. This first ten years have been marred by war, scandal, fraud, economic failure and government malfeasance at all levels. Venturans will also be happy to turn the page and try to rebuild. The questions is whether local government can provide the insight and leadership to achieve prosperity, or will be mired in the failed policies and decisions of the past.
THE NOVEMBER 3RD ELECTION – BEFORE AND AFTER
[THOSE WITH INTEGRITY AND THOSE WITHOUT]
We start with glimpse of the events leading to the last election. It was not pretty and hopefully is not an indicator of how the politics of city government will perform in the next ten years.
Police Association Smears Candidate Andrews
Prior to the last election the Ventura Police Association commissioned a telephone poll (push poll) for the specific purpose of trying to eliminate Councilman Neil Andrews. A push pole is a seemingly unbiased telephone survey that is actually conducted by opponents of a particular candidate in order to smear or disseminate negative information about that candidate.
Then immediately prior to the election came the mother of all polished and salacious brochures. You know, the one about Neal Andrews taking public money to the tune of $20,000. None of it was true, but the policemen in charge didn’t care about that. They too have a right of free speech, even rotten speech and fraudulent utterances.
It didn’t work. The voters wisely returned Mr. Andrews to office. He was elected to his third term of office, and was the next highest vote getter [9,246] next to our newbie retired chief Mike Tracy [9,777].
Councilman Andrews. of course, was punished for his position when the majority of the Council at their December meeting. The Council refused to elect him as the mayor of this fine city or even the position of Deputy Mayor. Councilmen Andrews and Morehouse were in the minority. The Ventura County Star published an editorial castigating the members of the council who condoned this miserable spectacle.
THE UNFUNDED PENSION PROBLEM PLAGUES GOVERNMENT
The unfunded pension liability of this city is the biggest problem facing this community, and will be the focus of VREG in the first quarter of 2010.
Councilman Andrews is the only elected official who has not lost focus on this enormous issue. His public position, and one that he has espoused for years, is that the benefits of the members of the public unions, particularly police and fire, are excessive and must be changed from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. That of course is not to the benefit of the union members because they want all they can get — FROM YOU.
This is real. If you do not believe this City has a serious debt problem you are not paying attention. Attached is a letter which VREG published in April 2009, titled “THE SPECTRE OF BANKRUPTCY”. The unfunded liability for the City of Ventura, as of June, 2007, totaled $294,673,595. We believe the 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report will reveal that the debt picture has improved somewhat and will report on that analysis in our next issue. VREG will also sponsor a public forum and speaker on this issue in the first quarter of 2010. We will announce the time and place.
A MESSAGE FROM A CITIZEN
[WHAT OUR CITIZENS WANT FROM GOVERNMENT— PAY ATTENTION CITY COUNCIL]
Just before Christmas the Ventura County Star published a letter from one of our citizens. With his permission we publish that letter as a message to start the new year:
WHAT CITIZENS WANT
Re: Your Dec. 12 editorial, “Council’s Action a slight to voters”:
I concur with the editorial that called the selection of Mike Tracy as deputy mayor as a slight to voters. I have no problem with Tracy and feel he will do a great job, but as a brand-new, untested councilman he hardly deserves to be appointed deputy mayor.
Skipping the popular, at least with the public, not electing Neal Andrews [as Deputy Mayor] is truly an insult to the people who voted. What the City Council and city manger do not understand is that there’s a reason no new tax measures have been passed. The voters are unhappy with the way things are going.
I was particularly irked by Councilman Brian Brennan’s comments after Measure A failed. He basically said the public wants more city services, but doesn’t want to pay for them. I think he is wrong. I believe the public wants basic services and is willing to pay for them. Those services, in my opinion are:
- Well-maintained streets and storm drainage.
- Library services at the Helen Wright Library.
- Adequate police and fire protection.
- Safe neighborhood parks.
- Being able to move about the city without harassment by professional bums.
- A city that encourages a Walmart, which would provide tax revenue and jobs.
What I believe citizens do not want are:
- Large, expensive sports complexes.
- Expensive housing projects for “struggling artists”.
- Worthless and expensive bus-stop art at the mall.
- Exorbitant pensions.
- City leadership that seems to enjoy punishing the public for not going along with their agenda.
- And, finally, a city leadership that thinks residents who do not agree with them are just ignorant.
I feel better now.
Thank you Mr. Holzer. Could not have said it any better.
B. Alviani S. Doll J. Tingstrom
K. Corse B. McCord T. Cook
For more information like this, subscribe to our newsletter, Res Publica. Click here to enter your name and email address.