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LETTERS : GRAND JURY REPORT ANNOYS TAXPAYERS.

The Ventura County Alliance of Taxpayers is disappointed with the grand jury report on the Camarillo Health Care District; not for what it said, but for what it left unsaid. The grand jury members did not address several of the key elements in the alliance's report to them.

First, is it appropriate or logical that a district, once formed, shall live on in perpetuity? The basic issue is whether a tax-supported district can, upon the completion of its stated mission, totally change that mission without consent of the taxpayers. The Health Care District was formed in 1969 by 2,600 voters specifically to build a hospital. The hospital was built and sold, but the district continued to exist, fueled with nearly $1 million a year in property tax money. According to the grand jury report, the population of the district is now 68,500.

The grand jury report did not mention the benefits of putting this measure on the ballot. Nearly 30 years after the district was formed, many residents would now like to have a voice as to whether they should continue to be taxed for it. The city of Camarillo and surrounding areas have grown considerably since the district was founded and few know the history of the district or how it is funded.

The grand jury apparently did not look at other cities that provide many programs and services similar to the district's through nonprofit organizations, rather than the taxpayers. Nor did it look at the programs that are only marginally health-related.

The grand jury did comment on the fact that the district is awash in cash, with current assets totaling more than $2.3 million. The district has purchased six buildings, increasing its space from 1,200 square feet to nearly 8,000 square feet. The grand jury did not, however, comment on the district's executive director receiving a pay raise of $40,000 in a four-year period.

The grand jury report did not address the issue of one tax-supported agency (the Health Care District) receiving grants from another tax-supported agency (the county), then distributing their own grants to nonprofit organizations, including another tax-supported agency (the school district).

The Alliance of Taxpayers would pose a final question to the citizens of Camarillo: Would you prefer to see your tax dollars go to provide other community needs such as libraries, law enforcement, street maintenance, etc., rather than to this Health Care District?

H. Jere Robings

President, Ventura County Alliance of Taxpayers

City Council speaks with forked tongue

I would like to respond to a very disturbing article that appeared in the Daily News on Dec. 21, 1997, regarding the Woodridge Development Project.

It's time that the citizens of Thousand Oaks take a stand on what they moved to Thousand Oaks for. Did they do so to have the community of Thousand Oaks develop into another San Fernando Valley, or did they do so to stay away from that type of environment?

The American Indians had an expression for government agents that used to say one thing to their faces and would do otherwise behind their backs. This expression was ``he speaks with a forked tongue.''

Well, it's really amazing that this expression still holds true today. Not more than a year ago, letters were flying to the City Council regarding the concerns in the area of Sunset Hills Boulevard and the hill known as Heritage Hills. Citizens' concerns were of the environmental impact, city zoning, ridgeline ordinances, housing impacts, traffic impacts, etc.

It is on record that existing council members stated that there was nothing to be concerned about because open space would not be infringed upon, and any connection between T.O. and Simi Valley via Sunset Hills Blvd. was a moot issue and would not happen now or in the future.

My question to the council members (Fox, Lazar, Markey) is what happened to your promise? You speak with a forked tongue.

What happened to zoning laws? What happened to the ridgeline ordinances? What happened to housing and traffic impacts? What happened to the open land agreements that were established between the co-joining cities (Simi Valley, Thousand oaks, Moorpark, etc.)? What happened?

When is city government allowed to make agreements with developers to develop projects voted against or zoned for only certain concentrations? If we, the common citizens, tried this sort of end-run approach, there would be all sorts of reasons or legal actions saying this cannot be done. But here we are with the Woodridge Development Project and concentrations that the citizens had no input against.

What ever happened to the environmental impact reports regarding the hills' stability in this south-facing section? What ever happened to the impact report regarding Sunset Hills Boulevard? What ever happened to documents issued by the City Council members that promised nothing would happen in this area of the city?

If the citizens of Thousand Oaks are not concerned about what's happening around them, then they should not complain if a population explosion happens. If they are concerned about their reasons for moving to Thousand Oaks and open space, then they should start paying attention to the loss of open space, wildlife, greenbelts, parks, etc. and primarily why they moved to Thousand Oaks in the first place.

The Woodridge Project is just the tip of the iceberg, what's next for the citizens of Thousand Oaks? More promises? More City Council approvals without citizen input?

A.C. Angel

Thousand Oaks

Why can't we keep our forests wild?

Recently returning from a hike in the Los Padres National Forest I found a flier unstylishly decorating my windshield. It explained, simply, that manifest destiny is alive and well in our forests. Progress, I am told, is coming in a big way. Go along, I was subtly encouraged, it is all in your best interest.

Apparently the Forest Service has stated that everyone wants the same things: more restrooms, better, wider trails and of course, more inane signs explaining the ridiculous. But I do not. Neither do quite a few of my friends and most of the hikers I meet in the backcountry. But a new plan has arisen forcing us to support the creation of what we do not want: more civilization in the wilderness.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with the goals of the Forest Service. Some areas already under heavy use are in need of further care. But must they ``upgrade'' the entire forest? Should all visitors be required to pay for bathrooms that they never use? Must every place be machine-accessible with bathrooms at every trailhead and redundant signs declaring ``This sign was purchased with your money''? Why is it deemed necessary to reduce the wilderness experience to the lowest common factor in order that all may enjoy?

Now I hear that this Adventure Pass program is not quite bringing in the money that was expected. And what of the 80 percent of the revenue that was promised to return to our forest for maintenance? Only a trickle has been left after the bureaucracies have finished feeding.

No surprise there. Lately the government has worked very hard to perfect the circuitous scheme that self funds itself and the administrative caretakers to feed its unrelenting appetite. Again, the land and the people lose.

Some of us desire solitude instead of congestion. We want to feel as an integral part of a community, not just a paying tourist in our own land. We see not a commodity to be politically manipulated. We hear the crunch of stone beneath our traveling feet beckoning us toward a belonging, creating part of our humanness, to a sacred home. We cannot, we will not pay for something that exists within ourselves as much as beyond. And least of all do we want to pay for the further destruction of the besieged, yet still savage, heart of our forest. The Forest Service has missed the point.

Why not offer an alternative for those of us who use no facilities and do not require a maintained and cultivated wilderness? Couldn't we donate a day to the cleanup and repair of a local, fully civilized campground with all the amenities in exchange for our Adventure Pass fee? Or if the issue is really additional money, I would love to pay $30 a year to ensure that a substantial section of Los Padres would not receive any further development. Let me gouge my legs on poison oak encroaching the trail instead of walking along pathways wide enough for a governor's cavalcade. I prefer a view filled with animal signs, not one obscured with obscene Forest Service signs littering my path.

Many backcountry explorers intensely desire the occasional trail to be edged with the fear of a single misstep leading to a 10-second scenic plunge. As for bathrooms, none are needed in the remote part of the chaparral. We who hike for days to get here know how to properly deal with our own wastes. And, as many of your rangers would tell you if they were allowed to range more, many of us backpack out trash left by others anyway. Believe it or not, National Forest representatives, some of us prefer our land in a natural state or in the process of reverting to one.

Doug Stults

Simi Valley
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 28, 1997
Words:1554
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