Writers Wanted – New Community Website

I’ve been working for several months now on a web project for the community. It’s a social network of sorts, but the staple content revolves around blogs that focus on Simi Valley. I’m looking for interested writers for the following Simi Valley related blogs:

* Restaurant/Entertainment Blog – Rate, review and discuss Simi Valley’s dining options and entertainment venues
* Fitness Blog – How best to stay fit and in shape in Simi Valley
* Neighborhood Blog – Meet your Simi Valley neighbors, a blog about stars in the community
* Business Blog – The ins and outs of doing business in Simi Valley

Of course, we’ll defer to Brian Dennert for those interested in reading about local government!

This website will be free for everyone who joins, and ANYONE who joins is free to create and publish their own blog. Each member blog is hosted free and uses the powerful WordPress blogging engine, a professional level tool that is easy to customize. Members will be encouraged to create personal profiles, meet new Simi Valley friends online, join groups, discuss issues in the forums and promote their events and businesses free.

Technology is a terrific way to promote unity and to give all members of the Simi Valley Community a voice. For those interested in participating and helping me launch this online community, please contact me.

Greg Stratton Speaks!

Last week, I read an article describing Debbie Sandland as being “visibly perturbed” about being passed up for the nomination of school board president.  Evidently, there’s an unwritten rule among trustees that the previous year’s clerk be nominated as the current year’s board president.  Last year’s clerk was Sandland.

But protocol was broken last week when Eric Lundstrom, a first term trustee, received the majority vote.  Uh oh!  Protocol was broken?  Yikes!  And Sandland doesn’t like that at all according to last week’s article in the Acorn:

“I think it’s my turn,” she said. “It’s a natural progression.”

DiFatta agreed with her fellow board member.

“There shouldn’t be any debate,” DiFatta said. “The clerk of the board (Sandland) has done a great job, and unless she’s not interested in being president, we should move the clerk to president. I certainly hope this board doesn’t go toward the culture of previous boards that were divisive and mean-spirited.”

I love that!  Breaking away from tradition gets this old timer to utter the words “divisive” and “mean-spirited!”  Really Janice??

What really moved me was the response from former Simi Valley Mayor and former School Board Trustee Greg Stratton.  I like Mr. Stratton for several reasons that I’m not afraid to admit.  1) I bought a condo from him about 10 years ago, 2) he used to work with my father, 3) he’s a well respected member of the community and 4) he was never afraid to openly voice his concerns about the school district and our board of trustees.  He speaks openly in a letter to the Acorn this week:

Obviously their definition of “recent memory” does not go all the way back to 2004, when they broke protocol and denied me and Carla Kurachi our turns as board president and clerk. They taught Rob (Collins) well that the leadership decision is purely political. I’m sure he remembers back that far.

By the protocol, Eric (Lundstrom) should have been clerk last year. Apparently they forgot that part of it then, but now they conveniently remember the rules.

I don’t know how they each can make the statements they made without being afraid of being struck by lightning for twisting the truth.

Read his letter by clicking here.

Update: Brian Dennert discusses the issue here.

Saperstein Donates – Wants Commercial Rezoning

David Saperstein donated some dollars to the Miller and Sojka campaigns this election cycle. Of course, these were considered “bundled” donations, meaning they exceeded campaign donation limits but were donated under the names of multiple family members, each at the maximum donation rate. Dean Kunicki, consultant for Saperstein, also donated $500 each. For details, see this article on financial filings.

Both Miller and Sojka returned the funds after they were re-elected indicating that it would be inappropriate considering Saperstein has a project scheduled to come before the council. Project? What project?

Saperstein’s Hummingbird Nest Ranch, purchased and designed for his now ex-wife, may become a 5 star resort and spa… at least, that’s what Saperstein is hoping for. Dean Kunicki is the consultant who was hired to lead this project. Originally, after Saperstein and his wife divorced, he was hoping to sell the property. However, no offers have been made so the next move is to transform it into a profitable venture.

Yeah… I guess I can see how he’d want some friends in the city for this. And I’m sorry to those who might be against such a project, but it’s going to happen. The Sapersteins and their property are beloved by the Simi Valley highers-up. I can recall its opening several years ago when it became the venue for several of Simi’s long standing and newer events. I remember being bussed to the property to stand in a booth for my Rotary club a few years ago. People are delighted to have Hummingbird Nest Ranch in town and having it transform into a 5-star resort will be like a feather in the city’s cap. It’ll happen. Mark my words!

Kunicki said the resort would include a health spa with tennis complex, a sports facility and a corporate conference area. There would be individual “casitas” — private homes with courtyards, Kunicki said.
– Ventura County Star

You can read more about it here.

I just watched Fletch, the hit 80’s film starring Chevy Chase which includes a classic scene where Fletch enjoys an expensive afternoon at a 5-star resort by charging the account of the Underhill’s, the grumpy guests sitting at the table beside him. I really hope the Underhill’s rent a home at Hummingbird Nest Ranch. I propose we all meet up there, enjoy a late brunch and some champagne and charge it all to the Underhill’s account.

Daniel Jenkins Strikes Back!

Daniel Jenkins, former Simi Valley City Councilmember candidate, has plenty to say about Barbra Williamson’s desire to speak out as a citizen on future planning issues. He writes the following to the Simi Valley Acorn.

We have in this great country an amendment which gives us freedom of speech with limits; let me repeat, with limits. As a former and likely future candidate, I know one of the first things all candidates are told is we are limited on what we can say about other candidates.

The five who sit on the council (mayor and four council persons) have more power than any other citizen or official of Simi Valley. The one thing they can do that no other can is make law.

This amplifies their voices far beyond the rest of us. They were elected by the citizens to represent the citizens. They are supposed to listen to us before they decide an issue. But it is their decision and theirs alone which counts.

To hear any elected official say they are being punished because they cannot voice their concerns as a private citizen (I have to be careful of those pesky limits) is silly. One is an elected official 24/ 7, from the moment they are sworn in to when they leave office.

It is sad some just don’t get it.

For being “limited on what you can say about other candidates” I’d say Mr.Jenkin’s message is loud and clear. So, this issue now as well as his position on city guidelines on where to store your trash bins should make for a compelling platform on which to run again in 4 years. Good luck Daniel!

Here’s Barbra Williamson, who in this video seems comfortable saying whatever is on her mind…

Williamson’s Finance Proposal

Although I definitely had a hard time recovering what ultimately became VERY corrupted video files, I did manage to capture what I found to be a fascinating proposal by Barbra Williamson on campaign finance reform.

Barbra has an idea and I think it’s a good one. This is a democracy, after all. Is there any reason you can think of that would make this difficult, or any reason why this proposal should be denied?

Excuse the out of sync audio… It was the best I could do after recovering the files…

Campaign Finance Excitement

Just to be clear, here are my thoughts on the Simi Valley City Council Campaign Finance questions that have come to light recently.  When asked, I’ll usually quickly answer that the best way to bring any questions to a close regarding contributions is to return the money and be done with it.  That’s not happening in the case of Barbra Williamson, where both the Ventura County Star and now the Simi Valley Acorn have reported questions regarding her campaign disclosures.  Returning the money without a ruling on whether or not the contributions are acceptable might suggest a guilty conscience which I’m pretty sure Ms. Williamson does not have.  I know when this first came out, she was pretty adamant that she had done nothing wrong and disclosed quite clearly what she accepted.  In short, she shouldn’t really be expected to return the contributions unless it’s officially confirmed that she can’t.  She’s indicated that she believes they are on the up and up, so the ball is now in the city attorney’s court.

Having said all of that, take a look at the contributions yourself to get a better feel for what everyone is talking about.

Steve Sojka (ending 9/30/08)
Steve Sojka (ending 10/18/08)
Steve Sojka (after 10/19/08)
Steve Sojka (expenditures over $1000 after 10/19/08)

Barbra Williamson (ending 9/30/08)
Barbra Williamson (ending 10/18/08)
Barbra Williamson (after 10/19/08)
Barbra Williamson (expenditures over $1000 after 10/19/08)

Paul Miller (ending 9/30/08)
Paul Miller (ending 10/18/08)
Paul Miller (after 10/19/08)

Check back soon.  I’m compiling a couple of videos, one of which is directly related to this issue.  There are some interesting ideas out there on how best to handle the question of campaign finance reform.