Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

Liberty and Independence Day

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Chapter 4 in the series on California

Liberty is an interesting Philosophy. Wiki explains it here.

What separates the US from many other nations that have existed, is a history which hasÔĽŅ repeatedly illustrated that freedoms and liberties can never perpetually exist under rule of mortal men, as they are endowed by our Creator. What is right, wrong, and moral comes from the teachings of God. Not from sinful creatures that gain Govt power and force others to accept their twisted perversions of rule. Liberty is a Godly principle.

The Path of Liberty

The Path of Liberty

I live in a State that perhaps has done more in recent years to curtail individual choice and liberty, than any of the places to which I travel, here in the US and abroad. There is an implied benefit to that loss of liberty. But I have my doubts that the cost-expense involved is prudent, necessary, or of sufficient benefit, that it could be deemed equitable, should a cost to benefit assessment be made.

That is one of the real and primary issues which will keep California in the economic and environmental gutter. We not only exalt our sacred cows here, but we feed and water them at the expense of the blood sweat and tears of our State’s citizens-families.

Recently a woman¬† named Carla Bonney, took exception to the City of Ventura¬† forcing paid parking on the Community for the third time in that Old City’s history, without benefit of a vote by the populace. Prop 218 states this. People get to vote on fees- taxes being imposed. That is the law.

Carla took time away from work and family, to  acquire over 10,000 signatures, in order to place the existence of the metered parking on the ballot. I saw her abused for this by many people in City Governance and their supporters.

In fact, one of the more typical reactions recently penned into a local newspaper as part of an expression of outrage against her, spoke of how we all should be willing to pay our fair share, and that includes paying for use of our streets and beaches. “Everyone should pay.”

(Sounds quite reasonable, until you peel back the veneer of false equitability)

The problem with this reasoning, is that those people who railed against Carla, never took the time to examine both the how and why of her actions. They were not able to. Those same people cannot see nor realize that all of us are being sold down river.

The reason for that, is because Californians long ago lost sight of the meaning of Independence and Liberty. We abdicated that, to a State Govt which ran amok with the trust we invested in them, and turned around to destroy the very people who by vote and tax, empowered them. That choice resulted in fiscal and political benefit for certain elected officials and frequently, not for many others.

Carla simply had said: no, we have the right to choose. Those others who rail against her publicly and privately?  They are not much different than the repressive British Govt which the Colonists fled England to gain respite from. Ultimately, the states collectively determined that the British monarchy, by acts of tyranny, could no longer legitimately claim their allegiance (1).

I cringe at seeing people agree to pay fees for things which were already bought and paid for with Property and State income taxes, as well as District Sales Taxes. I mean REALLY? You think it is  a good idea to implement and perpetuate a fee for parking, why? A fee for using a National resource like the beach-ocean, why? So a City Manager can receive a pay compensation package in excess of 200k per year? Really? You would sell out your liberty and that of your children and grandchildren, and forever alter the feel and appearance of your town for that? The livelihood of bureaucrats?

As citizens, we need to implement a cost to benefit look at EVERYTHING in order to exist in California,whether we are Independent Small business owners, or simply heavily taxed heads of households, working multiple jobs to stay afloat in this awful economy. Should our Cities not be held accountable to employ  the same self examination as the people who they were appointed, elected, or hired to serve?

I have long felt that fewer today “get” the concept of service, who are used to being paid a regular and generous salary applied by virtue of office. That is because the nature of their job description creates a disconnect from the reality of those they Govern. So the decision making process they utilize, averts any motivation to examine cost to benefit. This only serves to exacerbate the suffering of the community they ought to be serving, by systematic removal of unencumbered access to resources traditionally included by the City, State, Federal Govt, and yes, in turn, founding fathers of the Republic which is a right, by virtue of your Citizenship.

This is a great crime.

So make this “Liberty Day” for your Community, as we celebrate our Nation’s Independence. Pasted below at the end of this blog, is our Declaration of Independence. Think about what those words mean. Everyone should cherish this. It is the lifeline to restoration and preservation of the Republic, and direction of the future safety and health of successive generations in our towns.

Thank you Carla, for voting to restore my liberty in this one small area, with your service.

This is how freedom looks. This is it’s face. Ventura needs to take a look. So does California. Time to reconnect.

A Ventura Merchant and Daughter of the American Revolution.

A Ventura Merchant and Daughter of the American Revolution.

Below in this Gallery, are some  people who exemplify independence and liberty in my town, this State, and Country. Cherish them, as well as those who passed before we got here. Who are they? Americans, Californians, my friends, your servants. They will be taking the Community, State and Nation back now, one law and liberty at a time. Quite a tribe.

The cost of freedom: Eternal Vigilance.


In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united Sates of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.‚ÄďThat to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ‚ÄďThat whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.‚ÄďSuch has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sources:

(1) Wikipedia

Ethics in Environmentalism, Citizenship and Stewardship

Monday, October 25th, 2010
A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A New Wave to Wipe You Out

A new wave is breaking.

There has been a lot of change afoot for me, and there were a few things I had been avoiding acting on.  Those subjects called for much research and thought. They have been on my plate repeatedly lately.

In one circumstance, I had to take a close look at an environmental group which some friends had created many years ago, for the purpose of preserving beach and ocean access. The group, Surfrider Foundation, has done an amazing amount of good work, and I have assisted it by various means, since its inception in the mid 80s.

The past several years have seen me sort of look the other way, (after I was politely ignored) in pointing out what I thought to be some rather serious misdeeds. I won’t get into those, because that is unfair.¬† I simply disagreed with the circumstances and events, which I was cognizant of having occurred.

After much consideration (months) I penned a manifesto of sorts and circulated it amongst my friends and colleagues, which may make me “the enemy” in their eyes. I dislike hurting people. So I tend to be very slow to act on some things. But that tenet (distaste for inflicting harm) just came back and forced me to do and say something. Many of these people are life long friends and confidants. I wanted, no, needed, to be clear.

Surfrider has joined with a Govt agency (NOAA)  and implemented actions which I see as completely opposite of those it started out with.

Here are two separate links from SR’s websites. They explain in the organization’s own words, a bit more regarding a current trend they are engaged in.

In fact, this is being endorsed by the President. Here is the link.

It reads as something good. It is not. If you believe it is, then you may want to consider that both the MMS and EPA (Govt agencies) were in charge of regulating the drilling projects on the Gulf Coast. I am assuming you now know the part they played in contributing to the disaster, and assisting in it, with the implementation of massive usage of Corexit. Some call it the “crime of the century”.

I disagree with assisting in this. On every level. Hence this blog. The ocean is something I take very personally, as I do regarding my obligations to my friends.

Keep in mind that I was right there when this group started, and have supported them in various ways throughout the years. That is a lot of support, and a lot of years.

I realized,  what has been quietly eating at my insides, is that what I do requires me to listen to everybody. When, as a result of listening, a situation arises that forces me to actually DO something, I am no longer a Photographer or Journalist. I have become something else. It is very uncomfortable for me, and I hate how it makes me feel. But to say and do nothing instead, is amoral when one believes a wrong is being committed against innocents. What is being acted on now by our Government, and being promoted by the Environmental Community, will alter the rights and freedoms of all future generations of ocean users.

Often, change and ethics shifts occur in the merest of increments, and one does not realize the ship has actually turned around and is heading the wrong way.

After many years of  informal efforts to input the process, I have found that the group is determined to keep people out of the ocean. Something I want no part of, in any way.

They believe it is for the good of the ocean. It may be.

Below is an excerpt from the manifesto which I sent to my editors, close friends and colleagues in August of 2010.

“My position basically, is that I want no Government regulation of my access to the Ocean or any of my activities in it, when those activities are already thoughtful, informed and benign, long term.

I believe that if you think Government is here to help the environment, that you are seriously misinformed. If you look closely at the recent episode in the Gulf, it points at exactly what one needs to realize: The system is not working. When something is broken, you do not give it more responsibility, weight and money. You stop.

As someone who has worked with the regulatory control system in the development of laws and regulations for industry in California, I think that this entire movement, to place a relatively healthy ocean under increased lockdown to the public, is a sham. It is regulating and controlling the wrong thing: YOU.

When organizations such as Surfrider were formed, it was written into the charter that they existed to preserve beach and ocean access. Someone may have rewritten the charter, as SR is now not only endorsing the MLPA, but has worked with NOAA to implement public access sanctions behind the scenes. One need only look as far as the banning of PWC’s in the Monterey Bay Santuary.

Here is another revealing link to a piece published by the San Luis Chapter of Surfrider. I am going to point out here, that they agree with surf rescue usage of PWC’s , but as this rule is applied in real life, the rescue community is NOT allowed to train or practice anywhere in the Santuary nor will be.¬† So the liability for the people behind the legislation should someone die as a result, is rather high. I will not bother to point out every one of a huge number of inaccuracies in the document as arguing is pointless at this time. I am done trying to push the square peg of reason into the round hole of prejudice and prurient interest

Modern Day OutlawModern Day Outlaw

It is my position that the current path in implementation of the MPLA and other future acts, are going to violate all of our Constitutional Rights, and in the long run take away the freedoms many of you have enjoyed as an ocean going clan.

As a native, and as an American, I urge you, fellow leaders of your own groups and tribes, to do your own research and make up your own minds on the correct course of action for your groups and your families. That you study and not blindly follow, is the only way any of this will ever change.”

What Aloha Actually Says

What Aloha Actually Says

The Kumulipo. The reason this Hawaiian will not surrender his Ocean.

Here is the historic background to the Kumilipo.

If you think Government agencies like the MMS and EPA are efficient and good representatives of your group,  great,  fall in. I do not see it that way, based on my experiences in industry, as a waterman, a member of the Rescue Community, and a conscientious, sentient human being.

I cannot, in good conscience, endorse something I believe to be wrong on so many levels.

I believe we are at the edge of the dawn of a new era, and that it looks like more low benefit to high cost modus, which may cost future generations access to the beaches and oceans. Benefits? Yes there are some. Just not for you.

My answer is a simple “no”.

Below is a gallery of every day ocean activities. I endeavored to inject some History in the edit.¬† Some of these may become “illegal” soon. Some already are, in places where the MLPA has been implemented.

I anticipate Civil Rights violation lawsuits to arise. Dawn of a new age, where you will need legal representation to enforce your “inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Do those words sound familiar?

Every Ocean user and American needs to read this carefully. You will be stunned. I was. This is in it and is a reference to what tyranny our forefathers fled in coming to America. I was stunned.  There it was. History repeating.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Does that describe something familiar?

Agenda 21. What we see is possibly attributable to this.

The Story of STUFF. Informative enlightenment, in an entertaining albeit alarming story.

This is how we fix things. A related blog post by Seth Godin



The Big Nevermind

Sunday, September 19th, 2010
Pay Up

Pay Up

The City of Ventura is my home. I have owned a house and various other properties and leases here for 30 years.

Communities are pretty simple really. Generally they are composed of diverse components, all assembled in a willingness to live and work in a place that they find desirable. The willingness to contribute, is directly proportional to establishing a  sense of forward motion. Effect must equal cause. Benefit is weighed against cost.

So onward the ship sails with all of us aboard, planning, building, laughing, crying, fighting, healing, birthing, living, dying: together.

For any of this to occur, the members of the community must feel that they each, by their contribution, have a positive affect.  They must believe in the product. Otherwise it all just stops.

That is why everybody matters.

Seth Godin, a marketing genius, and the brain behind the Global network called Triiibes of which I am a member, has this to say regarding products we put ourselves behind.

Being someone who must establish benefit in my product and taking my relationship with the people who I serve very personally, I spent a few days looking around at the latest thing the City of Ventura has implemented in it’s little Downtown:¬† Big Blue Parking Pay Stations. Police are swarming the streets. That is new as well.¬† A somewhat beleaguered group of downtown merchants, and what appears to be an oppressive choice by the City of Ventura, done in a manner that is confusing, insulting, and restrictionist, no matter how one looks at it, was a high profile tone where ever I walked, listened and shot.

With the exception of a few abject apologies and explanations to six distraught visitors, I said NOTHING. I just watched, and listened.

I have never seen a population so ticked off by what, in a couple months, as the affect settles in as a fact of daily life, is really a small thing: pay parking downtown. But if I am silent, or put money in the meter, or place myself in an environment swirling with Law enforcement, I am endorsing what City leaders have done. I do not agree,  nor will I accept the aggravation and thereby let it change who or what I am.

I know how retail works. (I was in it for almost twenty years. Think about what one can learn by opening a door to the public for twenty years) This could possibly kill Downtown Ventura again (This is the third endeavor to meter downtown and by far the most onerous and expensive).

I suspect that City Hall has engaged in an attack on the citizenry of Ventura that will eventually see Federal investigation.(Parking meters are only one of multiple things which the City is doing to-for the people of Ventura)  I do not need the headache, nightmare or further association with the City of Ventura. No one does. Not really. Not at this cost.

So rather than bitch, rant and moan about the meters, engage continually on Facebook, or in Community meetings, I am simply going to share what I witnessed this week and list several avenues available as a means of remediation, then move on to more productive endeavors.

This is bigger than what one would suspect. The proverbial tip of the iceberg, it just lets you know how city leadership is, and what they are.¬† Entitlement does this. Disconnectedness and disrespect are it’s fruits. Most of our City management are not from here, so they are applying rules and methods learned somewhere else, to a community that in the past five years seemed to be reaching an appropriate stride.

But our capitally leveraged economy has collapsed in the past five years. Big change. Everyone has been left in the lurch. Including the City. It is tough out there.

The Ventura Star. Our local newspaper, explains the meters here.

A Pasadena blogger explains our City Manager, Rick Cole, here. They are from one of his prior projects-towns. I was stunned by what I read, but seeing what has been going on here, it made sense. Read it and decide for yourself.

The Ventura Star looks at Mr. Cole and other City leaders here.

A look at a recent recall effort (and it’s failure) of our appointed Mayor, Bill Fulton, here.

What the Federal Government seems to be discovering, as it continues in it’s investigations of corruption in California City Governance, is that frequently, common threads link issues and people across county and city limits. It is true about birds of a feather.

YOU can report corruption and your personal experiences right here at the FBI website. If you feel your Civil Rights have been or are being violated, you can try there. More information here.

If you have an issue with City Governance, you can also try to file a complaint at the county level, which is an overseer of the City. The DA’s office website link is here.

The Brown Act, a State Statute which among other things, gives you a right to be in on every City meeting and input the process, is defined here. Cities need to know about this act, especially if a citizen suspects  that backroom deals are being cut, to facilitate the existence of onerous local code. The law is pretty clear. But you need to know that it exists.

The County Sheriff’s office which maintains legal authority and control¬† has an excellent list of resources where you can speak with a higher elected official. Do not mistake the local Police Department with the Sheriff’s office. PD is under City authority. The Sheriff is County. Just like in the Wild West, the Sheriff will ultimately uphold your Constitutional rights. They are tutored in them. In fact my film partner, Rob Dafoe’s dad, was a career Deputy Sheriff in Santa Barbara. Those guys know a lot.

I will not be a part of this. There is an entire world and life outside of where my house is, that I continue to explore and share. Being downtown and seeing the affect of all of this, just saddens and angers me. I do not need that.  Being responsible for my own life, tone and family, the act of being awash in dirty negatives, will shortly devalue my soul,  Art and Craft. We become who and what we are in bed with. I want no part of an entity that hurts people or environment to survive. It is the ultimate in destructive unsustainability.

I must believe and have trust in the place I market, and expose to the world. Because by endorsing it, I am putting my own self behind the invitation to experience this place.

This is an image of a trash and recycle station. The former head of the Downtown Ventura Organization Rob Edwards’ brainchild, which serves as a billboard and refuse collection device. When these went in, Rob asked me if he could get usage of some of my Ventura imagery to be placed on the bins so that they would encourage, inspire, and market the strong points of this town. The City had no money to license the images. So I loaned them free of charge, a large collection, roughly equating in usage value to about 10,000 dollars. Rob was on point. The message was flawless.”Look at our town and ocean: preserve and protect it.

The City fired Rob Edwards shortly after that. Rob now heads the San Mateo DVO. Rob is one talented and smart man. A former cop, he understands cities, and community. This is what is on the bins today.

Recycling a Town's Dreams

Recycling a Town's Dreams

In the course of a year, hundreds of magazines and commercial entities use my work. I even lend usage to financially beleaguered City Departments for nominal or no charge promotion of this place. I engage a Global community of media professionals in Film, Editorial and Commercial work with Ventura as my home base. I believe in the people of this place enough to have somewhat recently, branded myself as a Ventura Photographer and Film Maker rather than a Santa Barbara one, in spite of my roots in and library of, SB related work and community.

What that does basically, via metadata embedding, captioning and basic marketing tools, is create a small fortune in high credibility marketing for the City of Ventura. At no expense to the City, beyond offering an inviting, ethically run, safe place for the world to visit. I put myself on the line in doing this. My colleagues trust me to be ethical and true in what I portray.

Below is an image which I shot yesterday. It is of Kathleen Fitzgerald, the former Director of Sales for the City of Ventura Tourism Department. She is moving back to the City of Longbeach after being let go of here. Like Rob Edwards, she believed in this place and marketed it Nationally and beyond for almost 5 years. She was a huge service benefit to Ventura. No one will probably ever know the number of hats she wore and the massive victories she accomplished while an employee of the City of Ventura. A few of us helped her sell off and pack her belongings. Venturans do  stuff like that. We tend to stick up for those who stick their necks out for us.

I Tried: Kathleen Fitzgerald

I Tried: Kathleen Fitzgerald

So after seeing (actions are everything) what the City really thinks of this beautiful place and its wonderful people, by my own sense of  ethics I must make a choice, as I am eminently responsible for what I market and will not be a party to what I perceive as being harmful, degrading or  illegal and in violation of Civil Rights.

I have one ethical choice, as our actions, define our self and community.

So: nevermind.

“If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful.” Theodore Roosevelt

Below is a gallery of images and how Ventura looks to me right now. If you come here. the people of this place will appreciate you, endeavor to help you, show you beautiful things, and our City may screw with, and threaten and charge you for things which you may be able to acquire for free in other communities.  Being warned, I hope that you still come. (Forewarned is forearmed.) Our town is truly the Real California. Though that can be a scary thing these days.

Ventura’s Zuri Allen Star, wrote a song called Walk With Me. It says a lot.

Speaking of nevermind, Saturday Night Live often develops cultural commentary that transcends generations. They did it again here. A conversation between City and Citizen. I doubt that Nevermind is now an option for them, but it is for us.

Ventura is what it is: a pretty, and remarkable patch of historic land and ocean with a culturally engaging populace. We just seem to have a lot of vultures here at the moment. Must be the dead bodies.

Ventura Groans

Friday, September 10th, 2010
Ventura

Ventura

The following was written to me by Dr Ed Brenegar, who heads up the Community of Leaders

It was written in reference to a close look I am taking at the Ventura City Council’s decision to implement pay parking in my town. What at first glance, was described to be a rather benign plan to regulate business traffic in downtown, quickly became rather apparent, to instead be a near Draconian attempt, based on poor business decisions and supposition, to change my town forever.

I have people I am accountable to, and advised by. Ed is one of those advisors. This is what he said to me regarding my town.

We are at a point in time that is historic. So much of what comes across my screen are attempts to understand, and to promote a particular view that is intended to be the final answer or resolution to the complexity of life. What I see in a lot of this is the attempt to simplify the issues to one thing. I don’t think things are simple at all, and attempts to make them so end up trivializing the issues and some really good ideas. People are searching for meaning and fulfillment, and all the traditional forms, but ideological and institutional are at best inadequate, if not failing to provide a way forward. If there ever was a time where faith mattered, it is now. Not a blind faith of hoping against hope in the dark, but a faith that searches and creates a path of living that is able to manage the ambiguities of life. It isn’t simplistic, or sentimental, or ideological or divisive. It is clear, focused and action oriented. From my perspective, the issues aren’t ideas and relationships, but systems, structures, infrastructures and the mechanism for how we will work together in the future. Power based systems, like our current system of government, are failing because they are providing no check on individual greed, because there is no real accountability. I don’t have the answers to these big questions, but I do know that we are on an unsustainable course.

I learned a little while ago that it appears the pay parking plan starts in Downtown Ventura on Sept 14th, and will eventually be implemented elsewhere here as well. So what is the big deal, you may ask, doesn’t somebody have to pay?

You already do, with taxes on basic commodities and in your property taxes, if you own a home. Your local merchants pay as well.

Where is the projected income from the pay parking supposed to go? Two thirds goes to support the meter system which is based on a three year contract. The remaining third is slated to go for maintenance of downtown City bathrooms etc. Downtown has a city bathroom. Yep. Two that I know of. If you want to be robbed, stabbed or otherwise accosted, one is located right behind our new Ventura County Museum.

In other words, the meters are potentially fiscally pointless. In fact, if they follow some of the other poor choices, like our City traffic light camera program, they could potentially cost the taxpayer a fortune. Then there is also the reality of the infringement on personal freedoms the enforcement of paid parking will place on the public. Also the unfair strain and ill will it will bestow on an already over burdened enforcement and legal structure. I won’t go into the affect regulation has on free market economies. Suffice it to say, retail traffic goes on the path of least resistance and cost.

Seth Godin speaks on the affects of something being broken here.

So now civic responsibility and obligation to future generations, requires me to question those that govern me. I do not take this lightly. I am not happy about it either. With business and personal pressures, and creative projects, demanding more of my life’s remaining moments than ever before, this was not something I needed, asked for, or wanted. I did not run for City Govt. I voted for it.

When someone holds political office they engage a sworn duty to protect the public trust and interest. It is so important, this tenet, that we actually have laws regarding conduct of elected officials. Here is a look at one aspect of violation of the public trust.

Ventura and many California towns have an unpublished history of passing into law (Municipal Code) things that are sometimes possibly in violation of State and Federal laws. They do this,( in the same manner that PRIVATE business entities do), to satisfy basic income needs, in order to provide for the continued existence of City infrastructure. Typically, these local ordinances stay in place till someone mounts a legal challenge. The fait acomplis in this, is that the City is in service to it’s Citizens. So if they do something to hurt that legal relationship, there are severe consequences.

When a challenge occurs, the City has several courses of action that it may take. Here are some:

Ignore the entity which will either go away, possibly having been marginalized, and convinced the action is imprudent.

Change the law.

Settle the claim out of court and file on the City liability insurance coverage, which may require the claimant to agree to not speak about the settlement (law stays in place generally, as the legal claim disappears).

Take the claim to trial in court where it will be examined for compliance with State law first and ultimately Federal. If the city is found to have violated those laws, defense is very difficult, as the City has in it’s employ, litigators, also known as City Attorneys. So if found to be in violation of the law, the blame game comes to a halt pretty quickly, as you see exactly where the buck stops.

The last choice, is what Cities do not want to ever occur. Here is why. If a City Government, which is an incorporated entity, has been found guilty of violation of State or Federal law in the writing of and enforcement of it’s municipal codes, and on examination, it turns out that they have been making claims on their insurance for errors and omissions, the Insurance provider will generally be required to cancel that Corporation’s policy, as legally as you cannot insure crime. Why was it a crime? Because the City has in house legal counsel. They know the law. This demonstrates intent.

Then, as the corporate structure evaporates, the officers of that city which wrote the municipal code, become potentially individually liable for crime, and in turn are open to civil litigation for the damage wrought by that code.

What can occur, as now the City has in effect, killed its ability to govern, is that the duty of Governance may be turned over to the county. What this does is completely eliminate a layer of government (and expense to taxpayers). This is not as implausible or positive, as it appears to be at first.

Fiscal viability of an entity is based on the simple law of cause and effect. Public inability to pay for Government creates pressure on Government to survive. If that Government collapses, the obligation to Govern goes to the next highest authority. With a City collapsing, the burden of governance can fall on the County. This has been seen lately. So the fiscal system is intertwined. The public must thrive for Government to exist. If it falters, and the cost of Governance stays rigid, it all collapses in on itself eventually.

Ventura is in trouble financially, because California is in trouble, and State budget funded income streams are fast disappearing. What the disappearance of State and in some cases Federal funds does, is place extreme pressure on the City to survive. So the City makes fiscal choices based on increasing income. And Ventura has made some possibly poor legal and business choices as Government typically does not run their business according to benefit being equal to or in excess of cost. This is due to the historic existence of external capitalization via State and Federal funding and tax revenues etc.  Need I elaborate?

Time for my town to do something. It starts with me. I hate battle. Someone always has to die. But I have little choice in this one. That makes me angry. It may do the same to you as well if you take a CLOSE look at what has been happening to the people and your town itself.

A parable. Author unknown.

TWO WOLVES~

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people….
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

On Saturday, Sept 11 (YEP) at 11 am at Cabrillo Middle School at 1426 East Santa Clara St.  Camille Harris and a group of deeply invested Venturans, will meet with the City of Ventura over what are purported to be onerous violations of Civil Rights and breech of law by various Ventura City department employees and contractors in the area of Code and Permit enforcement.

Her website is Grandfather Ventura.

Over the past year I have watched Camille and other concerned citizens stand before City Council (You can watch it on local Cable access television) and be marginalized, talked down to, and ignored by some people in City Govt. If you own property, a business, have family history or intend to raise a family in the City of Ventura in the future, it would be in your and this town’s best interest to show up.

If you do, marginalizing your concerns and sweeping municipal code under the carpet as being legal, because the City says it is, may become a rather imprudent choice for your City Government.

I believe in this town. I know many of the folks in and from here, from the streets, on up to high ranking levels of Government and finance. It is one of the reasons I live in, work, and promote Ventura globally through my work and network of colleagues. I have a vested interest in protecting this place, because of those close personal relationships. I am accountable for what I do, or neglect to do, that goes beyond a salary. I think that we all do.

It is not ABOUT parking meters. It is about how Ventura wants the future to appear after current City management and leadership have moved on, and we are all just a memory. What will remain is what we did.

So do it. Input and affect YOUR Government. You voted your Government in to office. They get paid, by you. Better make sure that it is YOUR interests being protected, and the laws of your Country being abided by. You can either do it together and stand as a community where everyone will benefit, or fall, one by one. This is it for our country today. Just as it was when our Ancestors came here. Time to choose.

Time to help Camille and your neighbors

Time to support our teetering Country.

It starts at home. Pretty song, by Carina. It says a lot.

On a lighter, but still serious note: Bill Mahr in an American commentary.

Your home.


© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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