SPEAK UP ABOUT REPLACEMENT
FOR CITY MANAGER POSITION
By: J. B. Robinson
With Mark Watkins, Ventura City Manager, retiring at the end of the year 2017, the community has concerns about his replacement. Why? Because sources of this newspaper have indicated that Jeff Lambert, who now occupies the position of Ventura City Community Development Director, is rumored to be on the list of those who would take over the city manager's position.
After reading this column voice your opinion about the new city manager's replacement by calling: 805-654-7827.
Mr. Lambert's history of decision-making and economical development leaves many residents and entrepreneurs questioning his qualifications for such an important position within the city.
Why? First, Lambert failed to check out the financial records for Brooks Institute before dragging the city including the city council and its manager, a contractor/property owner with a huge investment, and dislocations of several businesses into the mix. What happened there is listed below with the republishing in part of that whole fiasco leaving many of the Downtown Ventura entrepreneurs disappointed while others were appalled at the lack of good business sense.
Who doesn't have to have their financials checked to move forward in any business or personal endeavors? Even though the present city manager took full responsibility, it was Jeff Lambert and his team that failed this city. THIS IS FAILED ECONOMIC/COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. BAH HUMBUG. Click Here For More
Furthermore, there is concern as to whether Jeff Lambert's policy of utilizing the concept of Eminent Domain to coerce or the appearance thereof of property owners to sell out or encourage potential property owners to purchase properties for special projects like he did with the Brooks Institution project. The paperwork for the latter floats in part behind the scenes throughout Ventura.
Then, there is the whole debacle with the facade on the Ventura Realty building on Oak Street. One, Ventura Code Enforcement, which is under Lambert's jurisdiction, is running interference by not allowing Ventura Realty to fix the building so it is safe for people to walk on the sidewalk and Ventura Realty is being fined to the tune of about $70,000 for not fixing it. Two, the city needs to get out of Ventura Realty's way and like property owners and let them pump money into the Ventura economy by letting them rebuild on properties that they own.
Jeff continued to move forward throughout the city with his presentations like that at the Ventura Midtown Community Council meeting earlier this fall - a presentation that was extremely well given. Obviously, he was trying to promote his part in the city and to recoup his professional loss and save face regarding the Brooks Institute failure.
Having worked the executive floor in purchasing/material control in the transportation industry for years, I would have to give him an A+ for that presentation. Unfortunately, he failed to realize that some of us are aware that no matter how well the sales pitch is spun for each of the construction projects, most of them have been caught up in the system for years and some for more than a decade. For that reason alone, I am not buying it.
So, here is Jeff Lambert, spinning the wonders of the development of construction projects in Ventura when all there are on those sites, for the most part, signs with each a listing of the date that the project went before the Ventura Planning Commission - again MOST DATED YEARS AGO WITH LITTLE OR NO MOVEMENT FORWARD.
As a result because the city is NOT BUSINESS FRIENDLY and I repeat NOT BUSINESS FRIENDLY, the investors have taken or are taking their money elsewhere to invest. These are tremendous losses for the City of Ventura. (The haunting questions here are: (1) do those who bought out Ventura's long-time property owners, or (2) will future purchasers have more investment money or will they be just buying out existing properties out?)
Also looking back, it appears like when there was such a thing as government redevelopment money available for city projects, those projects may have been slow in their development, however, no where as slow as the ones in the private sector where the city runs interference. This is FAILED ECONOMIC/COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. BAH HUMBUG.
Economic development in this publisher/editor's opinion is the ability to get a project off the drawing board, through the city's planning and code enforcement, then to completion.
If you question my thinking, just drive around town and check out the project proposal signs and look at dates those projects went before the Ventura Planning Commission.
There is more. When the discussion of pedestrian friendly came up at the MVCC regarding Midtown Ventura, Lambert's interpretation of pedestrian friendly was his ability to walk to and from work from midtown - a walk that in part (mostly) or in whole would be walking parallel with the traffic. The reality is that in order to be pedestrian friendly, one HAS TO ALSO BE ABLE TO CROSS THE STREETS PERPENDICULARILY (from one side of the street to the other), which in this case would require a lot more crosswalks and traffic lights. In addition, more crosswalks and traffic lights could mean the likelihood of fewer traffic accidents and injuries.
Why more pedestrian friendly? Easy - to increase foot traffic by those who would have easier access to surrounding midtown businesses. (A foot traffic created by the thousands who live in Midtown and those who drive through Midtown daily.) Easier foot traffic business means more revenue for the business community. In turn, the more sales each business makes, the more sales tax generated and the more money goes into the city coffers, which gives the city more money for its needed projects, and also, reduces the need to raise taxes. More than likely, that extra money into the city coffers could generate enough money to pay for the traffic lights and crosswalks themselves. The same would be true on the Westside. These traffic lights are decades overdue. As a result, the city has lost tens of millions of dollars or more through the years. THIS IS FAILED ECONOMIC/ COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. BAH HUMBUG.
Then, there is the fact that at Ventura City Council meetings, Mr. Lambert is on his cell phone doing whatever giving the allusion of being disinterested in the city council meetings, its agenda and what the members of the council, presenters and/or speakers have to say. Do we want a city manager who thinks being on the cell phone is more important than the issues of our city?
What does he not understand about the phrase, "Turn Your Cell Phones Off"? Those utilizing their cell phone at any level at meetings shows a lack of respect and for some, it is distractive. This includes going on the Internet, checking emails, texting, social calendars, flashing the light and the like, "Turn Your Cell Phone Off" means just that - "Turn Your Cell Phone Off" - all of it. Best put it into your pocket or purse and pay attention.
Of course in 2016, the Ventura Planning Department had an employee with a nine-month contract with the city - one who had a masters in planning and a PhD in environmental psychology that TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD THE CONCEPT OF THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT WORKING IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY. However, once the employee finished the city's designated project, Lambert and the planning director, Dave Ward did not see the importance of maintaining such a professional on staff. So, the employee has move on. THIS IS FAILED ECONOMIC/COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT. BAH HUMBUG
Therefore, BAH HUMBUG applies here. The City Council needs to look carefully outside the realm of Jeff Lambert or his staff for a City Manager - one who gets the whole concept of working with the city's people and its business community.
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FROM BAH HUMBUG TO
YES, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS OR AT LEAST THERE WAS
By: Richard Senate
Over a century ago a little girl wrote to an important newspaper asking the editor if Santa Claus was real? The answer he gave, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" has been reprinted almost every year since. Not examining the editorial, I can say that Santa Claus is based on a real person who lived long ago - so Santa Claus did exist.
What was this man like? Does he in any way resemble the man in the red suit who gave gifts to children? Remarkably, he does. He was born on March 15, 270 AD in what is today called Turkey, then part of the Roman Empire. His name was, as in our modern Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas.
In his time, he was elected Bishop and called Nicholas the wonderworker. He would become one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Today he is still extremely popular in Russia. He was the patron saint of: Merchants, Sailors, Archers, Repentant Thieves, Brewers, Students, Pawnbrokers and Children. He was known for his secret gift giving, putting gold coins in children's shoes. Once, to save three good Christian girls from a life of sin - young women who had no dowry to marry, he tossed three gold balls though the window (and one down the chimney where it rolled into the girls stocking) The three gold balls became his symbol (still used in pawnbrokers shops). He was, also, known to defend Jews and make sure they were treated well, and given justice in the law courts.
As a young man, he traveled to the holy lands and Egypt before returning home to take up the life of a Christian Official. This was a time of persecution and he was imprisoned for his faith. When Constantine became the first Christian Emperor, Saint Nicholas was released. He attended the Nicene Council to calm the many doctrinal problems in the church and signed the Nicene Creed still used today. He was buried at his church at what is today Demre, Turkey.
The large church is presently being restored by a grant from the Russian Government. In the plaza before the church, a Russian artist donated a large bronze statue of the saint in 2000. The body doesn't rest here. Long ago Italians took the body to two cities in Italy, Bari and Venice. Studies of the bones tell us he was five foot six, and had a broken nose. His feast day is December 6th. Turkey would like the bones of Saint Nicholas returned to his restored church. I believe that if the good saint could return, I don't believe he would object to his name and memory used in our present Santa Claus. He would only smile and wish us today a Merry Christmas.
THE OLD SPANISH MISSION
INCLUDING CHRISTMASES OF OLD
By: Richard Senate
Mission San Buenaventura was the magnet around which the City of Ventura grew. Without that venerable landmark there would be no "City By The Sea". But the old Mission is more than a landmark - it is a living link to the past and present. It is, in many ways, the spiritual heart of the community.
At this time of year, decked out for the magical Christmas Season, it is a special place and well worthy of a visit. Poinsettias fill the altar as they did when pious Franciscan monks first served here so long ago. The sacred flower of the Holy Season were part of the decorations of Spanish-America long before the Yankees brought the Christmas Tree (a German Protestant decoration introduced by Martin Luther).
This was a special time for the Posada celebration, where costumed people re-enacted the journey of Mary and Joseph to the stable and the birth of Jesus. Almost an opera, the Posada goes singing from Inn to Inn only to be rejected until at last they find space at a humble stable. This was held for several nights.
Then there was the strange play, presented in the church, called Los Pastoral. It is about the shepherds traveling to see the Christ Child and encountering angels and demons- and even El Diablo himself (The richest man in the town always played this part). There was a battle with wooden swords and the play always had two endings-depending on who won the battle! The play always had political comments and jokes; and, it was very popular.
Yes, Christmas was an important time for the old Mission and hard working people of old Ventura. The midnight Mass on Christmas Eve was important, with children permitted to attend. Called "The Mass of the Rooster" the kids would leave the church making the cry of the rooster, the first animal to greet the Christ Child at his birth.
Gifts were not given on Christmas day, for they had no Santa Claus. Gifts were given on January 6th at the Feast of the Epiphany and they were brought by the three kings. In California, they were always depicted as riding on fine horses, not smelly camels (they spit you know-what king would ride on such an ignoble beast?) Shoes were left out with straw for the king's horses; and, the next morning the straw was replaced with small toys. A strange cake was also served at this time with a silver coin baked into it-the one who found the coin in their slice would have good luck (and a silver coin, too). The Mission was most active at this season with all the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.
It has seen a great deal since its construction in; it is thought about it have been built 1805. What it looked like can only be conjectured with some saying it may well have had a flat roof. That was before the morning of December 21st, 1812 when an earthquake hit the mission community. The quake came in two parts, a small pre-quake that caused everyone to run from their homes, followed by a big one that knocked everything down. Fortunately, the warning shake caused no lives to be lost. But, after the quake there was a more serious danger - a tidal wave - one said to be fifty feel tall. The padre's were well read and saw the signs of the massive wave and led the Native Converts to the hills and safety. The wave hit Santa Barbara, too, and took several lives and even got as far north as San Francisco! (They say we should expect these earthquake-tsunamis every hundred years. There was none in 1912 and in 2012-so we are overdue for one).
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THE OLD SPANISH MISSION
INCLUDING CHRISTMASES OF OLD
By: Richard Senate
The mission church was rebuilt - now with massive buttresses to keep the building earthquake resistant. The cement and stone buttresses have done their job and the chapel has stood since it was re-done in its present shape in 1815. Perhaps the most destructive event that threatened the mission took place in March of 1838 when two rival Mexican Governors formed armies and fought a small battle in Ventura. One side hid in the mission, the other bombarded the church with cannons. Fortunately, the cannons were too small to do too much damage, just knocking pock marks into the adobe walls. In the 1870's, a few cannon balls were still found lodged in the walls.
The Mission was sold by the Last Mexican Governor, Pio Pico, to one Jose Arnaz. He kept it open as a church, however, turned the other adobe buildings into a hotel - The Mission Hotel. (The padre got a room rent free.)
It was in the gold rush that the fortunes of Ventura improved as the local ranchers grew rich selling cattle to the gold miners. A Chumash leader named Juan Pacifico (the first Chumash to learn to play a guitar) built a large adobe near the church. He used this building to open a country store. Why go to the far flung ranch houses when he knew all the rancheros would be in one place, at one day of the week - the Mission on Sunday!
He prospered, even with being open only three days a week (10 a.m. to midnight)! Yankees saw his success and built adobes on each side of what is today Main Street; and, that started what would become the City of Ventura.
In the dark days of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave the church back to the Catholic Church. He deemed that Governor Pio Pico didn't have the authority to sell the Mission. Lincoln was beloved by the Latino Californias for this action.
The old Spanish Mission was the magnet that caused the city to be formed. If Fray Junipero Serra looks down from heaven, he would be pleased, for it was his hope that the chain of missions he set up would become cities of the faithful, a rosary gracing the coast dedicated to the saints to bless his beloved California.
Pause at this holiday season and if you can find the time, look into the Mission San Buenaventura, maybe purchase a unique item from the gift shop and look over the artifacts displayed in the small museum, and, look at the ornate interior with its old paintings and ancient statues. Take the time and think back on that simple time when Spanish Grandees and Native Chumash worshiped, sang, and enjoyed this most joyous season. Feliz Navidad!