It’s Opinion, Baby; The Lineup; Lieutenant Gordon Tells It The Way It Was; And A Hot Time In Wine Country

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As the election cycle ramps up, Vote Simi Valley comes back into its stride. And hopefully soon, full stride. While we do try our best to be factually correct and informative, always remember that this site offers up opinion, commentary and analysis. We do not try to be a “news” site. There are plenty of other places you can go to find what passes for “news” these days.

What does “opinion, commentary and analysis” mean? Just that. What you read is the opinion of the site founder and editor, Mike Chandler, and myself Mitch Green as permanent guest blogger and legal adviser. We try our hardest to be informative and we certainly want to be accurate in what we state. Myself, I pull my facts from legal documents, reputable news outlets and trusted sources. We try our hardest to be accurate and if we are wrong (what??), well sometimes we even admit we were wrong. For those of you who have threatened us with lawsuits in past election cycles (and you know who you are), just remember that this is an “opinion, commentary and analysis” site which enjoys broad First Amendment rights for opinion based statements. Not to mention that I’ve had an outstanding tutorial in anti-SLAPP motions in the past three months or so with which to “SLAPP” down any frivolous threats which hopefully will not come to our humble little outpost during this election cycle. (“SLAPP” stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” and generally refers to lawsuits which try to suppress First Amendment protected expression).

I’ll give you more background on the whole “SLAPP” lawsuit concept, was well as abuses concerning the SLAPP concept at a later time. For now just know that its good to be back in the saddle bringing you, Simi Valley, the latest in opinion, commentary and analysis in Simi Valley politics.

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And with that behind us . . .

Hello Simi Valley! The election season is well underway and candidates are stepping forward to pull papers to run for local office.

For City Mayor, Robert O. “Bob” Huber looks to be running unopposed. Mayor Huber has held office for two terms now and he will be tough to beat. Regardless if anyone else pulls papers, Mayor Huber remains the odds on favorite to win re-election.

For City Council, we have a packed race. Incumbents Glen Becerra and Mike Judge, each with large fan bases, are running for re-election. Former City Council member Barbra Williamson, herself with many supporters, has thrown her hat into the ring to seek the office she once held for twenty years. Veteran candidates Eric Halub and Randy Nemecek have both stepped up to run again and will no doubt provide many a colorful commentary and alternative viewpoints. New to the process are candidates Mary Mikesell and Rene F. Sanchez-Chew. My thinking is that Mr. Becerra and Mr. Judge will both be very tough to beat but one never knows what will happen as the race progresses. [Disclaimer – I represent Glen Becerra in an unrelated legal matter and I have given Mike Judge a modest campaign contribution].

For Simi Valley Unified School District Trustee, we have veteran campaigner Josie Hirsch who narrowly lost in 2010 and 2012. Josie will be a tough candidate to beat this year as the most experienced “candidate” in the group. Scott Blough, former president of the Simi Valley Police Foundation and Simi Sunrise Rotary member is running as is Elaine Stitster. While I do not know Elaine Stitser I do look forward to hearing about what she would like to do for the school board. I do know Scott Blough from Simi Sunrise Rotary and I know he has been investing much time learning about the issues that the district faces. And just today (Sunday, July 27, 2014) veteran Simi Valley Police Officer and former Police Officer Association president Bill Daniels has announced his intention to run for the school board. With the serious financial issues facing the school board and the tough challenges for any successful candidate, I commend such an outstanding group of candidates willing to step forward and make a change for the better.

And as to each candidate in each office, best of luck to you. Lets have a clean race and may the best candidate win.

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I had the good fortune of having brunch today at the Moonstone Beach Café in Cambria with my wife, her mother, and as our guest her good friend Gordon. Gordon, it turns out, was a captivating speaker who held our attention, and the attention of those around us, for a good two hours over a Bloody Mary, ample portions of food, followed by delicious coffee. Gordon enthralled us with his experience as an Air Force officer registered nurse working in air base trauma centers during the Tet Offensive at Da Nang, Vietnam. Gordon’s personal opinion regarding the Tet Offensive is that the Viet Cong took advantage of the Marine Corp being shifted out of Da Nang into the Delta with inexperienced Army troops rotating in to protect Da Nang. For those who remember, the Viet Cong were smart and tough fighters who used the Tet Offensive to infiltrated throughout South Vietnam, with more than 80,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnam regulars striking over 100 towns in a coordinated surprise attack that turned out to be the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war. Gordon tells of the trauma centers being overrun with casualties and only those few men R.N.’s being allowed in Da Nang as the Pentagon was leery of female R.N.’s becoming casualties. Gordon, then a First Lieutenant in the Air Force, used his contacts in Saigon to plead for help as the casualties were coming in wave after wave and his corpsmen were running on empty for days without sleep and fatal errors were creeping into the equation. Gordon told how he suggested to a full colonel in charge of Air Force nursing in Viet Nam to plead with the Pentagon to at least allow female nurses to volunteer for duty in the battle zones and after a few days the Pentagon relented. Of the 700 female nurses in Saigon, 701, including the full colonel, promptly volunteered for battle zone duty and those selected were immediately air lifted into Da Nang and the evacuation hospital at nearby China Beach.

Talk about being spell bound. Gordon had further stories about his time as a Director at Eisenhower Memorial Hospital, his friendships with hospital CEO Dolores Hope, wife of Bob Hope, the day he met and became friends with Betty Ford, teaching John John Kennedy how to ski (per Gordon, young John was a natural), and the day he got to sit with Frank Sinatra in the rail road caboose at the Chairman of the Board’s private Palm Springs estate, Whispering Palms, where Mr. Sinatra housed his extensive private model rail road collection.

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After two of the most enjoyable hours I’ve had in some time, it was time for my little group to part ways with our guest and leave the 65 degree comfort of Cambria and head out for Paso Robles wine country. Our intended destination was the Robert Hall Winery which was some 45 minutes up and over Highway 46 into Paso Robles where we traded overcast coolness for a bright and HOT 103 degrees. Such a temperature change going over the coastal range. When I first came to California I was a helicopter pilot with the California National Guard. We would do training exercises at Camp Roberts outside of Paso Robles, which in the mid eighties was just a dusty cowboy town yet to be discovered by the chi chi wine country set. Due to flight limitations we would station our helicopter units in Camp San Luis Obispo near the cool coast and then every morning take a 20 minute flight over the range into Camp Roberts. We were usually hauling supplies and troops in the morning and an empty helicopter back at night and inevitably we would find the Paso side of the mountain 30 degrees or so hotter than San Luis Obispo. And because of flight limitations, if we attempted to fly out of Camp Roberts to the field units with full loads of troops and supplies, we wouldn’t have been able to get our birds off the ground. The fact that it was that much cooler at night when sleeping was just frosting. (OK, so this was admittedly nothing like Da Nang during the Tet Offensive, but still serving nonetheless).

At Robert Hall it was our intention to try a few samples and then head back to COL Jack’s Ranch. Lucky us though, we were asked if we would like to be included on a tour of the “caverns” where the aging wine is stored. Would I ever! And for the next 25 minutes or so we enjoyed a tutorial on the winery’s background (Robert Hall started out with one gas station back in the mid west that he built into a chain and then empire and then started the winery in Paso Robles in 1996). We got to observe the various cooled caverns stacked to the ceiling with custom made European oak barrels (at $1200 to $2000 each, depending on the exchange rate, and over 3500 barrels in just the white wine cavern, plus three times or more then that in the red wine caverns). We were given a tour of the grape crushing equipment, the fermenting tanks, the laboratory, the private tasting room which included the last known bottle of the 1997 vintage, the first for the winery and the banquet room. Of course, we got to sample small sips of various varietals along the way. Such a treat.

And then it was time to head back to COL Jack’s Ranch, my mother in law’s homestead. It was still 103 degrees out and not many people were on the road, perhaps hiding from the oppressive heat. Yet a good time to crank out this week’s blog to keep our loyal readers up to date on the local political scene.

And with that its time to call it a week. The Kubota tractor is waiting and there are 5 acres to mow before sundown. Time to pay for my stay.

See Ya Simi!

Mitch Green

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