SVPD Officer Bill Daniels to run for School Board

Bill Daniels announced his intent to run for School Board on Facebook this past weekend. Long time Simi Valley resident, Simi Valley Police Officer, and father of a Simi Valley High School, Daniels brings a valuable perspective to the race. His announcement is below:

It is with great pleasure that I announce I am officially entering the race for a position as a School Board Trustee with the Simi Valley Unified School District.

I have been a resident of Simi Valley since 1975 and had the privilege of attending Justin Elementary School, Sequoia Junior High, and Simi Valley High School. For the past 26 years, I have been employed as a Police Officer for the City of Simi Valley. I have been married to my wife, Linda for the past 17 years and we are the proud parents of our son, Michael, who will begin his freshman year at Simi Valley High School in a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, it appears that the Simi Valley Unified School District has been spiraling in a downward direction with no plan or vision to correct the fiscal imbalances and the drastically declining enrollment that were created by the current leadership.

It was not long ago when the Teachers voted “no confidence” in the Superintendent. What was the outcome? To the surprise of many, the majority of current school board elected to ignore the concerns of the teachers and left the Superintendent in place. Recently, the school board allowed the Superintendent to retire and collect over $100,000 in a retirement incentive and then re-hired her back on an interim basis until a new Superintendent is found and hired.

I believe the Simi Valley Unified School District has been stuck in a culture that has not been willing to keep up with the times. Until such time when the school board is willing to hire a new Superintendent that can bring fresh, new ideas on how to run a school district, they will remain frozen in a culture that can’t compete with other educational institutions. 

Three key points that I want to focus on are:

  • School Safety
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Transparency / Trust

If provided the opportunity to serve as a School Board Trustee with the Simi Valley Unified School District, I will do everything possible to make the necessary changes to return the Simi Valley Unified School District back to its potential as a premier school district within Ventura County. I look forward to further sharing my thoughts and ideas.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Bill Daniels

Tom Foolery or Public Service? You Decide

DUI

Hello Simi Valley!

It looks like the current election season began on July 14, 2014, at least for the Simi Valley City Council race, and already the muck is flying about! And who would expect anything less than dirt and skulduggery from our fine citizenry? And to think, those who love to heap the dirt the farthest and highest somehow think they can keep credit for their mischievous glee hidden from the rest of us. As if being a scum raking bottom feeder might interfere with their claims to “pillar of community” standing?

Now, we here at Vote Simi Valley understand that during a hard fought campaign the stuff can hit the fan and the fan can cause some unintended splatter, but if you’re going to throw the muck at the fan to begin with, you should get credit for your wonderful deeds. No need to hide under rocks! Come out from the shadows!

An example of the first round of muckery is the anonymously sourced posting of the Sojka dui video on the afternoon of July 15, 2014 by Hews Media Group, begging the question, just where did they get the video? Hews Media Group’s principle, Brian Hews, has stated, “We will not reveal our sources.”

Fair enough.

The El Segundo City Clerk’s Office, on the other hand, has no problem informing who requested the video and when they sent out the video. In fact, as a governmental agency, they are required by law to disclose who requested the video.

It turns out that on March 26, 2014, the City of El Segundo received its very first request for all information regarding the Sojka arrest from none other than Simi Valley resident Tom Mackel.

Fight On Tom!

Mr. Mackel presented a second request to the City of El Segundo for information on Sojka on June 18, 2014, again on July 2, 2014 and again on July 9, 2014. It would appear that Mr. Mackel hit the jackpot when the City of El Segundo released to him a copy of the dui video on July 15, 2014. And of course, that would be the same date that the dui video was splashed far and wide throughout the electronic frontier.

Now, it may only be a coincidence that Mr. Mackel had the only copy of the dui video legitimately released by the City of El Segundo as of July 15. And it may only be a coincidence that the dui video hit the street running on July 15. That is not to say that Tom Mackel is responsible for releasing the video to media and others for posting on Face Book. No, why Mr. Mackel’s computer could have been hacked or his wifi could have been tapped. In fact, Mr. Mackel may merely have been obsessively intent on obtaining copies of the Sojka material just to fill out his own personal archive of responses to public record act requests.

Nonetheless, Tom Mackel clearly deserves the credit for doggedly digging for that video and being the first to be rewarded with its receipt from the City of El Segundo on July 15, 2014.

Hurray Tom! You were the first!

And I’m sure its only a coincidence that the very same video was splashed far and wide later that day with the source kept anonymous.

[Editor’s Disclosure:  Mitch represents a lot of people through his law practice in Simi Valley, to include Steve Sojka and Glen Becerra on matters not related to the dui video]

Robocall Story Moves Forward

The robocall story continues to progress, believe it or not. Of course, I’m not allowed to talk about what I know. There’s no legal obligation preventing me from talking about these discoveries, but in order to get updates I’ve been asked to keep these findings confidential which drives me a little crazy. These are important facts that people need to know. People will learn them in time, but my patience is wearing thin.

As milestones have been reached and new information has come to light, I’ve found the whole situation to be more and more troubling. Those behind the robocall are firm in their belief that what they did was right. They are certain that what they did was for the benefit of Simi Valley. Yet they continue very desperately to hide their identities and steadfastly refuse to admit the robocall script contained misleading statements and falsehoods. The time between the date of the robocall to now, with all of the discoveries, has completely shaken my belief system. THESE are the people behind it?? Despite disagreements, I always assumed these were people who were just exceedingly passionate. But they’re really just sneaky liars.

This fight will carry on beyond the June court date for the robocall lawsuit. People will celebrate the upcoming news, but I won’t. I’m sad. This will distract from the elections and shake things up even more. Every election, I think I’m going to rekindle my own passion and cover this stuff more in depth, but I know now that I won’t. Instead, I’ll be immersed in stories about sneaky liars who despite their best efforts and lots of money to stay hidden, are now genuinely fucked, and I’ll hope things settle and get better for our community in the next two years.

Simi Valley still deserves better.

Unauthorized Grade Changes at Grace Brethren High School

The following article was published by the Ventura County Star on September 11, 2013:

Sept. 11–A private Christian school in Simi Valley is standing by its principal after admitting he wrongfully changed a student’s grade in a class.

Leaders of Grace Brethren High School and its affiliated church say John Hynes will remain as principal despite the grade change because he admitted it and asked for forgiveness.

“It was a one-time event. It’ll never happen again,” Hynes said Wednesday. “I made a human mistake. Thank God the school didn’t fire me like another organization would have.” Hynes said the grade change was not intentional. A former Spanish teacher at the school, however, claims Hynes also changed test grades of four students in her class, including his own daughter. All four were members of the swim team.

Pastor Jordan Bakker of Grace Brethren Church said leaders investigated the Spanish teacher’s allegations and found a problem only with the grade of an unidentified student in a different class. That grade has been changed back, and the school has taken measures to make sure something like this does not happen again, Bakker said.

“There was an academic breach of integrity with our principal. There was a changing of a grade for one student in one class,” Bakker said. “He admitted it and owned up to that, which brought about swift and substantial disciplinary action.” Bakker would not disclose how Hynes was disciplined but said the action is “still ongoing.” The misconduct took place before summer break, in the last academic year. Hynes has worked since 2005 at Grace Brethren, where annual high school tuition for one student is $9,300, according to its website.

Ray Blackwell, executive director of the school, sent emails to parents Tuesday night informing them about the incident. Hynes sent a similar email to parents Wednesday.

Honesty and integrity?

Anke Saldarriaga, a Spanish teacher at Grace Brethren last year, said Hynes deleted and altered test scores in her class without informing her. The changes led to Hynes’s daughter receiving a B instead of a C in the class and another student receiving a C instead of a D, said Saldarriaga.

“Schools stand for honesty and integrity, and this is not it,” said Saldarriaga, who has since resigned from the school. The resignation was unrelated to the grade change incident, she said.

Saldarriaga said that earlier in the school year, Hynes expressed concerns to her about his daughter being on track to get only a C in Spanish.

Hynes, however, gave a different version of what happened. The principal said he deleted the test scores of his daughter and three other students because they were not in class when the date of the test was announced.

Bakker and Saldarriaga said the four were at an athletic event the day the test date was announced.

Hynes also said the test violated school policy because Saldarriaga assigned too much weight to it.

Saldarriaga said that when she found out, she confronted Hynes to argue it was unfair to delete the test grades of only four students.

Hynes said he agreed and deleted the test scores of the entire class.

School leaders said they investigated Saldarriaga’s accusations and concluded Hynes did not do anything wrong in her class.

Bakker said principals almost always support teachers, but on rare occasions, such as this one, they disagree.

“Administrators and teachers are free to discuss policies and grades and they’re not always going to see eye to eye,” Bakker said.

Other teachers contacted by The Star failed to return calls or declined to comment, referring all questions to administrators.

Different in public schools

According to school records, Hynes deleted test grades of four students, including his own daughter, on June 9-10 in Saldarriaga’s class. The records also show he made modifications June 9-10 to his daughter’s history grades.

Hynes said the school records do not show anything unusual. He said teachers and administrators routinely make modifications to the grade book to see how a final grade would be affected if a student received a different grade on a particular test.

Asked if he had altered his daughter’s grades, Hynes said he could not comment because she is a minor.

Saldarriaga said the school’s explanation of what happened is a “half-truth.” “That would mean there’s a half-lie. Where is the honesty? If you want to be honest, be completely honest,” she said. “They’re teaching something that’s contrary to the Bible and it’s a shame.” Private schools like Grace Brethren have their own regulations when it comes to the authority of administrators. Public schools must abide by the state education code, which prohibits administrators from changing a grade given by a teacher.

Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Stan Mantooth said that in public schools, there are exceptions in the event of a clerical mistake, fraud or incompetency.

“Other than that, the governing board, superintendent, principals do not change grades,” Mantooth said.

If a principal at a public school insists on changing a grade, the matter must be reviewed by the school district and the teacher must have an opportunity to defend the grade.

“It’s part of checks and balances,” Mantooth said. “You don’t want things changed at the higher level because of political pressure.” sin and redemption As a Christian organization, Grace Brethren believes in redemption and feels Hynes truly repented for changing the grade of one student, said Pastor Bakker.

“We hold integrity in a very high regard. Every leader needs to maintain their integrity, and yet we are all fallible people. We’re all sinful people,” Bakker said. “We also believe there’s a process of redemption. We try to be consistent that way with students. If they mess up one time, it’s not, ‘You’re outta here.’ ” Bakker said the school’s information technology department has taken steps since the incident to ensure that grades given by a teacher cannot be altered by one person.

“We believe he can continue to lead the campus academically and spiritually,” Bakker said of Hynes. “We will stand with him 100 percent.” Hynes said he is more proud of Grace Brethren after seeing the school’s ability to forgive.

“We’re better now than we were before,” Hynes said. “We’ve grown and learned from this.” ___ (c)2013 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at http://www.vcstar.com

A Column About Nuthin in Particular . . .

556920_497264096977712_385366256_nOriginally posted on March 29, 2013 by Mitch Green

Fridays come up so quickly sometimes that just when you think its safe, bada boom . . ., Fridays are here again. And with Friday evenings now comes this deadline thingy that means I have to put out content, whether I’m prepared or not . . . not that I usually find myself at loss for words.

But, this being the last Friday of the month, and as a businessman navigating in the uncharted waters of the emperor’s new recession trying to figure out why it takes longer to collect on invoices and why vendors are raising their rates and why our overhead has gone up 40% from this time last year, yet our revenue has dropped 40% and we are working twice as hard just to stay twice as far behind . . . dang. And from what I hear, we’re doing good.

So, between getting my teeth kicked in at trial and then on the 15th of the month checking revenue and finding the first half of the month equated to what should usually be a good day . . ., we’ ve been hustling rocket docket for the last two weeks just to pull in up with a mediocre month, revenue wise.

And everyone I’m talking to is feeling the pinch, some more severe than others.

But the Dow hit an all time high this week, from what I hear. Why isn’t everyone jumping for joy? Frankly, I see these highs as a harbinger of hyperinflation. But what do I know? This life I’m hanging out in an Airstream at a trailer park, not a mega yacht on the Mexican Rivera.

So then, what has been happening this last week that’s worthy of passing along?

There have been no meteors scaring small children and the terminally paranoid this week, which should be a good thing, right? BUT WHAT IS THE MEDIA HIDING?!?

[[Er, .. ., ok. [Checks meds]]]

Looking over the headlines the last week has been somewhat dull. There was a homeless camp that went up in smoke near the railroad tracks over by Easy and Cochran. . ., some poor guy got nailed on his motorcycle over on Madera by a left turning lady (dang, I think about that often when putting around town on my Harley Softail), Camarillo places a moratorium on porn production (now, doesn’t that get all? I mean, do you think “family values” just come in a vacuum? Or maybe get dropped off by the stork? Maybe some folks need training material – after all, we can’t all be lucky enough to get to hang out in a trailer park) . . .

(oh, and by the way, if you read about the Camarillo porn production ban, you’ll find out that Simi passed an ordinance last April requiring “dental dams” on all “oral sex” production . . . huh? Wahwahwhat? Now, if you dare, just go with me for a minute and try to think about that whole . . . dental dam . . . , oral sex . . . kind of thing . . ., and now think about our council members proposing this sort of legislation . . ., and, ya know, my mind just can’t get wrapped around that whole thing . . ., let alone imagine that we paid for this find example of “We’re here from the Government and We’re here to help!”)

And then, I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Council Member Glen Becerra’s little brush up with the District Attorney’s Office this week.

In case you hadn’t heard about it, at the City Council meeting held on February 25, 2013, Council Member Becerra, or Glen as many of us know him, burst out for about three and a half minutes during comments about something that he felt was of grave concern to him and which he seemed to feel was being swept under the rug, which was the issue of the City Attorney and Mayor signing a memorandum of understanding with a local developer in December without council authority, and then conducting a cover up of what in actuality was a minor matter rather than just admit “my bad” and move on. And now the cover up of the cover up of the minor boo boo may be compounding out of control to take us places no one ever imagined, just because the players just don’t know when to quit digging their holes.

But, when Glen blurted out his comments on February 25, 2013, they weren’t on the agenda. Mayor Huber out right stated that the issue would be on the agenda soon, but a month later, nothing has happened. And in the mean time, the City has altered documents in the face of public record act requests, issued documents in response to public record act requests that were specifically prepared for those requests and specifically prepared to throw off time lines, and high level City officials have gone to the press and locked themselves in to an airy fairy version of events that might not reconcile with actual records.

But then again, the issue that Glen wanted to talk about was not on the agenda, and so for Glen’s three and a half minutes or so of attempt to get out a message that desperately needed to be heard, Glen might have committed a very minor, technical, violation of the Brown Act. The very act that was designed to bring transparency to government, not to hide information from the public.

So, “you bad,” Glen. But “you bad,” on another level too in my book. You spoke about a matter . . ., what was that? Maybe local high level officials lying, pulling off sneaky, maybe even unethical stuff . . , that maybe most don’t even care about because it’s not on “Dancing with the Stars,” or “Fox News,” so it can’t possibly be important. . . And it can’t possibly happen in small town governments . . . And, No, honest local officials really aren’t that big a deal, right?

Then again, this week’s news also included the criminal convictions of five . . ., count them, five (5) City of Bell elected officials who kept quiet and went along with a pattern of corruption.

When you find yourself digging a little too deep into that hole, just quit digging. Or maybe ask yourself, “how might I look in an orange jumpsuit . . .”

From the trailer park,

Night Simi Valley!

(Next week: Show and tell or lawsuits for fun and profit)

Bogus Social Media Profiles

One of the things that’s so unique about modern social media is the requirement that you use your real name.  Back in the early days of online communities, you were expected to come up with a unique “handle” that reflected your personality.  In the early computer bulletin board days were you communicated in online forums using slow paced modems and ancient software, you would see various user names such as “Pacman,” “FunnyGuy,” “Biker,” or darker, slightly silly ones like “CreepingDeath” and “WildProwler.”  It was a different time back then and it could take you months before you learn someone’s name.

These days, it’s different.  You sign up on a service like Facebook and you use your first and last name.  The first order of business is to upload your avatar, or picture, so people know what you look like.  From that point on, you’re interacting with others and using your real identity. Your behavior online is a direct and immediate reflection on you. Years ago, I had a big problem on this site where people hid behind pseudonyms and trashed elected officials, candidates trying to get elected, or each other. I switched the commenting system to Facebook to avoid that going forward. Now, when commenting, you’re using your real name, your real face, and you’re authenticating with the Facebook user authentication system.

Sadly, people are still gaming the system. Cruise the Simi Valley forums, and you’ll find questionable account profiles. It’s not hard to create a fake Facebook profile and it seems people are doing it somewhat regularly. These people often have profiles with a limited history (i.e. they were created a month or two ago) but regardless, they’re up on the discussion threads that have taken place over the past many months. Their knowledge rarely (oddly) raises any suspicion.

Simi Valley benefits hugely from people who are willing to say what’s on their mind and stand behind it, using their real names.  Otherwise decent conversations go right in the toilet once they are graced by the presence of a phony profile. If you have something to say about Simi Valley but you don’t feel comfortable saying it using your real name, it’s probably not worth saying. You may take heat sharing your opinions using your real name (I have), but you’ll earn a good deal of respect as well.

Do you love Simi Valley?  Do you want to share that passion in a respectable way? Then ditch the bogus social media profiles and use your real names. Have a great rest of the week.

7th Annual Gator Run

Did you know it’s possible to support the Special Olympics right here in Simi Valley? You can do so by participating in the 7th Annual Gator Run coordinated by the Rotary Club of Simi Sunset. From the Gator Run website:

The length of time an athlete was involved with Special Olympics was the most powerful predictor of social competence. By instilling lifelong habits of physical fitness and influencing each athlete’s willingness to accept new challenges, Special Olympics provides individuals with intellectual disabilities with “Training for Life.”

I like the idea of supporting a good cause while doing something good and healthy for myself.  For the past several years, I’ve wanted to participate in the Gator Run, but I’ve always been way too out of shape to consider it. This year, I’ve been training since December. That may seem overkill considering I just plan to run a 5K, but I have never been a distance runner. In high school, running a single mile was a difficult and exhausting thing for me that required weeks of preparation. My training has paid off and I am more than ready.

Join me in supporting the Special Olympics by participating in the Gator Run on April 21. You can read more about it and register online by clicking here.