Thursday, November 1, 2012

TO Acorn Nov 1st12 CVUSD ltrs Edtor/TOCC $217k Haul SCE Smart Meters uproar

City Attorney/ Chief Code Enforcement/ Mayor Jaqui THOUSAND Oaks Via Email/ Fax Oct 31st 2012 I have written about the FLAGRANT campaign donation violations and got a frivolous letter from an assistant that I should take my complaint to the DA; A DA who has endorsed Jacqui , a Sherriff who I support yet has thrown his prestige in this race. Like I have written the 1998 Ord. as you know asks you to be the watch dog and audit and investigate and forward to the DA. 1. Excess FREE food by Ciscos/Holdren or numbers FUDGED!! 2. Bundling of money by city franchisee EJ Harrison (resulting in HIGHER trash rates for all) 3. Thousand Oaks candidates continue to pull in campaign cash Published 10/31/2012 at 8:24 p.m. 1 comment 4. More than $243,000 has been raised in the race for two seats on the Thousand Oaks City Council, according to the latest campaign finance Read more: - I have written about the discovery of the 2 strange BIG signs on the corner of Lawrence Dr & Hillcrest; You have ALL remained silent (Mr. Hare excluded) about these unauthorized? Signs; Now they have been vandalized. 4 pics I request that these signs be REMOVED by code enforcement as were 2 signs removed from my own front yard in 1998 and the Daily News called to write a story about sign violations by your staff. May be a small investigation could be made, but due to due, drizzle Thurs no fingerprints will remain? I had brought up the special favor that Jacqui FREE food contributor Holdren was enjoying with an OVER Sized / past 30 day deadline banner; in fact building as another over sized and a small sign all there for all of 2012? There is a very ugly banner on the other side of Newbury Rd for a cabinet shop (On building for 4 months??) next to my favorite Psychic. The Wendy’s near Wendy Dr off ramp continues to denigrate our city with 2 ON ROOF signs; mentioned several times with pic during the IGNORED public comments at council meetings!! Can we get an investigation QUICKLY!! County is harassing a fine Christian man for a sign which is like a small Xmas tree!! Why?? Newbury Park man charged for flashing anti-Romney sign Updated 10/31/2012 at 5:00 p.m. 11 comments A Newbury Park man has been charged with code violations in connection with a 10-foot-tall flashing neon anti-Mitt Romney sign in his front yard.Read more: - NICK I. Quidwai 805-390-2857 Exe Director since 1993 Concerned Citizens Thousand Oaks 4 Pics Bogus Mayor signs VANDALIZED by Halloween Goblins @ nite?? ELECTION ADS on web?? see in pring pg 2 color as al adam RED pg full pg Ed Jones pg 7 FP Mic Farris pg 9 FP Zink Senate (Pavley NO ad) pg 11 CVUSD BD Buckles/Connoly 1/2 pg pg 20 1/4 pg Proposition 37 YES NO ad by Jacqui; also Tony Dolz, Clint Matkovich (CRPD) Critical ad against Jacqui ran last week / 1/6 th pg also Ray Sobrino last week 1/6 th pg 2012-11-01 / Letters Print >School board budgeted wisely Last week, the editor of this paper found “plenty of intrigue” in the Conejo Valley school board race and, while finding the challenger an unacceptable replacement, accused the current board of “poor budgeting” for having spent federal stimulus money hastily and unwisely. Nothing could be further from the truth. The American Recovery Act money came with two mandates: Use it to create and preserve jobs, and spend it, don’t hoard it. This ARA money played a significant role in keeping cuts away from the classroom during the first few years of the budget crisis. As welcome as this money was, additional cuts had to be made to close the gap. A budget committee that included parent leaders, administrators, board members, teachers and classified staff examined all options and made budget-cutting recommendations to the board. CVUSD employees worked together as a team to stretch every dollar and pinch every penny. Our employees accepted substantial reductions in compensation and began paying a larger share of health insurance costs. We instituted a hiring freeze and restructured departments, asking those who remained to do more with less. Still, the editor seems to think that “getting tough” with the teachers union could have prevented the multimillion-dollar deficit looming in our future. The truth is we negotiated substantial reductions in compensation earlier, and hung on to reserves longer, than the majority of districts in Ventura County. We narrowed the budget gap more effectively with our shared efforts than blustering and bullying could ever have accomplished. If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass, there are some tough, scary times on the way for public education. But let me be clear, this isn’t happening because of “questionable decision making” on the part of the school board. This is about the housing bubble, bad loans and a stock market crash. It’s about a flawed funding formula for public education statewide. Here in the Conejo, the board has taken its fiscal oversight responsibilities very seriously. That our teachers have become this paper’s budget crisis scapegoat is the only “intrigue” I can find in the campaign for Conejo Valley school board. Betsy Connolly Thousand Oaks ============================================================================= Candidate will protect children In response to the editorial, I believe the incumbents are not adequately protecting our children. I believe the school board should select books that protect the innocence of our children and that do not degrade women. I am the only candidate with children in our public schools. I will protect all children with the same love and concern that I have for my own children. The incumbents and the superintendent have endorsed liberal Democrats Julia Brownley and Fran Pavley. My election brings balance to the school board. I will represent the community, not dictate to it. I respect the fact that it is the taxpayers who pay for the public schools. I will be a voice for the whole community, including those that do not have children in the public schools. Our school district is in fiscal trouble. The school board majority wants to build a new high school by diverting money that could be used to prevent the possible layoff of 40 teachers. I believe we should use the $3.8 million from the surplus land sale to balance the education budget. Then in March 2014 I support a public vote on a school bond to build a new high school. The California Department of Education has placed our school district in program improvement for lack of adequate yearly progress. That affects the local economy and real estate prices. By encouraging parent involvement, we can solve this problem. I trust that you sense the theme of my election. More parent rights and involvement plus increased local control combined with smaller education budget cuts equals improved public schools. Tony Dolz Thousand Oaks ============================================================================= On term limits Proponents of local Measure L, the Thousand Oaks Citizens for Term Limits Initiative, have held strongly to two arguments since launching their campaign more than two years ago: 1) incumbents have an unfair advantage in Thousand Oaks, preventing the flow of new ideas and fresh outlooks into the City Council, and 2) those who stay in office too long become out-of-touch and beholden to special interests, reducing their ability to properly govern. Argument No. 1 is not up for debate. Being an incumbent, in any race, is a clear-cut advantage. The T.O. City Council race is no different. Since the city’s first election in 1966, T.O. council incumbents who’ve run for reelection have won 78 percent of the time. The gap between challenger and incumbent has widened further in recent years thanks to the impact of campaign fundraising, with incumbents proving election after election that they can outraise—and outspend—their opponents, sometimes more than 3 to 1. But don’t think the challengers haven’t adjusted. They’ve used tough-talking campaigns and a bit of truth-stretching to try to turn the public against those in power. This campaign, two challengers, Mic Farris and Al Adam, used the local initiative process to help gain popularity and name recognition, another strategy in trying to loosen the steel grip of the incumbents. Just as we don’t fault seated council members for using their positions of power to get reelected, neither do we fault the council hopefuls for seeking an edge. But when it comes to the second argument made in favor of Measure L—that long-serving council members become less effective public servants—history doesn’t support that assertion. As opponents of the measure have repeatedly voiced, our city has a long history of popular council members who’ve served more than three terms. Call it the Alex Fiore Argument. Referred to by some as the Father of Thousand Oaks, Fiore served for an incredible 30 years and helped make the city what it is today. The reality is that sometimes folks come along who are a perfect fit for city government. They’re smart, well-spoken and know how to get what they want—and they don’t bail at the first chance to seek higher office. The same influence that the challengers complain about is utilized by those long-serving council members to ensure that the voice of Thousand Oaks is heard on regional boards, at the state level and in Washington, D.C. Regardless of what opponents of current Councilmember Andy Fox (five terms) and former Councilmember Dennis Gillette (four terms) insist, their effectiveness has been well-documented. The success or failure of Measure L on Tuesday depends solely upon how voters view these two arguments. Please vote on Nov. 6. ================================================================================ Spotlighting slate mailers COUNCIL RACE By Anna Bitong With a combined $215,000 spent on this year’s race for Thousand Oaks City Council, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures, the nine candidates have been employing a host of methods to get their names out. From traditional signs and mailings to modern websites and social media, council hopefuls have been willing to try just about any avenue to attract voters. The 2012 race has seen a high number of slate mailers—mass mailings that support or oppose four or more candidates or ballot measures. Candidates pay to have their name and sometimes their photo and customized text appear on the cards, which are produced by for-profit businesses. Together, incumbent Jacqui Irwin and challenger Jim Bruno have spent $50,000 for campaign mailings, with most of those dollars going to slate mailings. According to Irwin’s campaign finance disclosure, half of her campaign coffers—around $25,000— have gone to mailing houses that send out political material, including newsletters and slate cards. Irwin paid conservative-leaning Landslide $5,964 for its services in the last three months, according to her filing. Landslide produces slate mailers with titles such as Save Proposition 13, California Public Safety Voter Guide and Woman’s Voice. Herbert Gooch, a political commentator and professor of political science at Cal Lutheran University, said that the mailers may imply a nonexistent affiliation or endorsement of a candidate. “Slate mailers can give a false front, (suggesting) all cops or firefighters endorse this candidate. You don’t know what to count on,” said Gooch, who added that voters can identify legitimate endorsements online. “You can look them up on the Web and see, who is this group? Is it a group that only exists for the election? It’s really ‘voter beware,’” Gooch said. The professor said slate mailers are often favored by challengers as a way of getting their names to the public. “It’s a great way for some candidates to get their name out cheaply in lieu of their own mailer. Your campaign is only getting heard if it can be amplified,” said Gooch, who noted that a slate mailer may cost about 4 cents each, compared to 20 cents for a personal postcard. Candidates typically spend anywhere between $1,500 and $50,000 to appear on local slates, he said. The strategy has a downside, he said. “It’s your name and a bunch of other people’s names, so it’s not the most effective way to (campaign),” Gooch said. “You don’t have a chance to say distinctly what you stand for. A targeted mailer is more effective. You get what you pay for.” Bruno has spent $29,803 on the race, and nearly all of that money, $25,878, has gone to mailings, according to campaign finance documents. Several of the mailing companies paid by the Irwin campaign were also used by Bruno. Gooch said he’s tracked voter responses to slate mailers in Ventura County. “I wasn’t very impressed,” he said. “Slate mailers weren’t terribly effective . . . but they reinforce your memory.” A familiar name could serve a candidate well on Election Day, he said. “People can be confused by ballots,” he said. “They tend to vote for candidates they recognize. A candidate looks more serious the more times you see their name. People are more comfortable with what they’re familiar with (and if) they carry the sense that somehow, on some level, they know who you are.” ================================================================================ This is current as of 10/31 with the ADDITIONAL reports included; Misses Measure L donations of about $10k! Nick Q Spending hits $215K in City Council race Incumbent is biggest spender By Anna Bitong With less than a week to go before the Nov. 6 election, spending among the nine candidates running for two open seats on the Thousand Oaks City Council has topped $200,000, according to campaign finance disclosures released this week. The most current disclosure statement—which was due Tuesday—covers Oct. 21 through Oct. 27 and is available to the public via the city’s website. Three candidates filed late contribution disclosures on Oct. 31. Total spending is now at $215,841, according to disclosures, with the highest expenditures—$ 70,192 since Jan. 1—from incumbent Jacqui Irwin, who also has the most money in donations. The candidate was the biggest spender between Oct. 21 and 27, with $14,781 in expenses listed. Al Adam reported the nexthighest expenses during the third reporting period with $10,974, followed by Mic Farris with $8,316, Ed Jones with $6,891 and Debbie Birenbaum with $808. Jim Bruno, Raymond Sobrino Jr., Vern Williams and Marlon Delano Williams (not related) did not report expenses this week because they spent less than $500 during the period. Following Irwin in total election expenditures are Bruno, with $50,339; Farris, $33,457; Adam, $32,327; Jones, $24,583; Birenbaum, $3,725; and Sobrino, $1,218. Three candidates listed additional loans this period: Irwin, who listed $15,000 ($16,000 total loans); Bruno, $12,500 ($46,000 total); Jones, $4,000 ($22,000 total); and Farris, who listed a $3,500 loan on a late contribution form on Oct. 31 ($24,500 total). The other candidates who have listed loans are Birenbaum ($2,000) and Adam ($1,000). Contributions Irwin has maintained her fundraising lead with $58,536 in individual contributions. About $2,500 of the total was raised during the disclosure period that ended Oct. 27, and $810 in donations was listed on Oct. 31. Rounding out the top three fundraisers are financial planners Adam and Bruno, with $32,143 and $21,216 respectively. Adam’s total includes $580 in donations listed on Oct. 31. Adam, on his third run for a council seat, received the most money between Oct. 21 and 27, $3,695, followed by Irwin. Among Irwin’s notable contributors are City of Westlake Village finance officer Robert Biery and his wife, Patty ($760, $380 each); Harry Selvin, local arts supporter and commercial real estate owner ($380); Rorie Skei, chief deputy director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy ($200); James Harrison, owner of Harrison Industries, a local trash hauling business ($380); and Ralph, Sharon and Myron Harrison, owners of E.J. Harrison & Sons, part of Harrison Industries ($250 each). Businesses RCI Builders, a licensed general contractor based in Thousand Oaks, gave Irwin’s campaign $380, and Motional Media, a multimedia company based in Kansas City, Mo., donated $350. Also listed as contributors are Rosemead-based Southern California Edison Company ($380), Westlake Village-based law firm Hoefflin Burrows ($250) and Crown Disposal Company of Sun Valley ($380). Contributors to Adam’s campaign include Jes Ruf, Do-it Center owner ($380); Bob Brunner, vice president of Dole Food Company ($380); and Richard Hus, who served on the City Council from 1966 to 1970 ($150). Adam also received a donation from retired electrical engineer Donald Hunn ($250). It was Hunn who last year paid $1,130 to appeal city staff’s approval of Hooters’ liquor license to the planning commission. Hooters eventually gave up their efforts to sell hard liquor, and Hunn was refunded his money. Businesses donating to Adam’s campaign include: Oxnard-based law firm Francis & Associates ($200), GoBeDo Productions of Westlake Village ($200); Buster Lighting Design of Newbury Park ($200), which is owned by Frank Akrey, current president of Conejo Valley Days; Vallecito Mobile Home Estates Ltd. of Agoura Hills; and Mesa Design Architects of Thousand Oaks. Among Bruno’s notable contributors: Cal Johnston, founder and president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Conejo & Las Virgenes ($100); Karen Glancy, wife of late council member Tom Glancy ($100); Susan Holt, Conejo Recreation and Park District board member ($100); and Jon Irwin, Jacqui Irwin’s husband and the president of online music company Rhapsody ($380). Bruno also received $380 each from Harry and Maureen Selvin and Robert and Patty Biery, and $100 from Dolores Didio, former Conejo Valley school board member. Businesses that donated to Bruno include custom-wheel maker Forgiato Inc. of Sun Valley ($200) and Silver Star Auto of Thousand Oaks. Trailing Irwin, Adam and Bruno in donations are Farris, $13,678; Jones, $5,155; Sobrino, $1,900; and Birenbaum, $1,838. Farris received donations from Richard Francis, attorney at Francis & Associates ($200); Donna Pagano, president of Family Love Letter ($100); and Nayeemudin Ahmed, area manager for Jack in the Box ($380). Farris did not list any contributions from businesses. Jones received $100 from former Thousand Oaks City Councilman Charles Cohen (1967-72), $380 from Westlake Commercial Real Estate Company, $200 from Camarillo-based Western Gage Corp., a supplier of inspection gaging systems and accessories, and $380 from Wickmans Furniture of Agoura Hills. Sobrino received $380 from Grow Elect, a 527 political action committee that recruits, endorses, trains and funds Latino Republican candidates for public office. Donations returned On Oct. 19, Bruno returned campaign donations from Thousand Oaks Auto Mall dealerships after discovering the donations violated the city’s campaign cap on contributions from a single source. Like Irwin, Bruno’s campaign took donations totaling $2,280 from six Thousand Oaks Auto Mall dealerships under Silver Star Automotive Group, according to campaign finance disclosures. Bruno’s donations were received in October, Irwin’s in September. The total donations exceeded the city’s $380 cap for money allowed from one source because the affiliated dealerships are counted as one entity. Bruno said he learned of the error Oct. 19 during his weekly review of campaign contributions. “Typically I review the checks that come in,” Bruno said. “I like to know who they’re from and keep abreast of cash flow. . . . At first I couldn’t tell there was commonality of ownership. As I reviewed (the checks), it became apparent there may have been common ownership.” All but one of the donations were returned the same day, Oct. 19, Bruno said. The candidate kept one $380 donation from Silver Star Auto, according to recent disclosures. ================================================================================= Smart meter fallout continues By Sylvie Belmond Southern California Edison says its new smart meters are delivering accurate readings despite a rash of claims from customers who insist the new technology has caused their bills to increase inordinately. The Acorn Newspapers received more than a dozen letters from readers who said they received excessively high electric bills after the installation of automated meters at their homes. Southern California Edison began to replace the analog meters used to measure a household’s electricity consumption with new, wireless meters four years ago. The transition made its way through the Las Virgenes and Conejo valleys this summer. “I think they’re ripping us off,” said Thousand Oaks resident Chuck Kane. He said the electric bills for his two homes both spiked after Edison’s meter switch. The bill for Kane’s home in Thousand Oaks increased by 20 percent and charges for his separate beachfront home also went up even though the beach property is seldom used, he said. “That’s not just a coincidence.” But Southern California Edison representative Rudy Gonzales said the meters are accurate. “We’re getting more calls than we normally get, but we’re finding that the meters are testing fine, and we’re attributing the higher bills to increased usage,” Gonzales said. Electricity bills are based on a tiered structure, and Gonzales reminded customers that the kilowatt pricing goes up as their households use more power. But with cooler weather arriving and a change from summer to winter rates that began Oct. 1, the bills should go down, Gonzales said. “While not the intent, a heat wave and resulting bills help raise awareness dramatically,” he said. Customers who complained about the price increase are skeptical of Edison. “The smoking gun is hard to come up with, but the anecdotal evidence is out there en masse it seems. But they just come up with excuses,” said Kane, who began to question his bill after reading an Oct. 11 Acorn article about the matter. Agoura Hills resident Joyce Watkins, whose bill doubled from $200 to $400 in September, says she’s disappointed with the way Edison is handling the meter concerns. Responding to a complaint by Watkins, the utility decreased her September bill by $63, but it also increased her August bill by $59. Agoura resident Al Federici, whose power bill increased from $235 in July to $480 for September, believes the smart meters give Edison too much control. Because the new meters measure hour by hour, the utility company can charge more for electricity when demand peaks, Federici said. But Gonzales said Edison doesn’t have separate fees for peak-hour usage—yet. “Right now there is no timeof use rate. Customers have to call in and sign up for that. Edison has not gotten to that point, but it may occur in the future,” he said. If customers have concerns about billing they should call Edison to request an inquiry. “If they are unhappy with the results of the billing inquiry, they can dispute bills through the CPUC,” Gonzales said. Terrie Prosper, spokesperson for the California Public Utilities Commission, said that since April 23 the commission has logged 48 complaints regarding high bills associated with Southern California Edison’s smart meters. CPUC attempts to provide an impartial assessment of the dispute between the customer and their utility in order to make a determination. Customers can file a complaint online or call the CPUC. Information is available at According to Gonzales, smart meters will help customers save both energy and expenses. He added that a summer rebate program allows customers to save $200 if they allow Edison to shut off their air conditioner during peak periods. “It’s a minimal inconvenience for a significant credit on your electric bill,” he said. Although the new meters are already in place, customers can still opt out for an initial $75 fee and a $10 monthly charge. Gonzales said Edison notified all customers about their right to continue using analog meters if they desire. Have a complaint? To file a complaint with Edison call (800) 655-4555 or visit To request a meter reading verification, go to ====================================================================================

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