Keith Mashburn’s Salary

Candidate for Simi Valley City Council Keith Mashburn believes in transparency. He’s mentioned it several times in person, and has indicated as much in his speech at a recent fundraiser. Now he wants to prove his point.

In response to comments on this blog, Keith Mashburn is sharing his salary details with you. Here are Keith’s unedited remarks about his pay as a Planning Commissioner:

Hi Mike, someone on the blog said I was making about $500 per month on the planning commission.  Here are the numbers directly off my check.  For some reason my scanner is not working or I would send a copy of the check stub.  If that is wanted I will arrange to post the actual stub.

Pay Period 08/30/2010—-09/12/2010

Total Earnings              $250.83

Disability tax                     2.76

Medicare Tax EE              3.64

Social Security Tax EE    15.55

Net pay                      228.88

There are no benefits for planning commission members.

Feel free to post this and again if anyone wishes to see the pay stub I have no problem sharing that with the group.  They pay the bills so they have every right to see it.

Thanks Keith. I don’t think anyone expects you to be obligated to share your pay details in a public forum and I appreciate you volunteering to do so anyway.

Emotionless Thoughts on Farmers Exit

Now that I’ve had a few moments to think about the news of Farmers Insurance leaving, I have some more rational thoughts to share and I’m hoping to get your feedback.

For years, we’ve been at risk for losing Farmers Insurance. When the Training Center moved out of Simi Valley, it only fragmented the Corporate presence even more. Consolidating by moving employees from Simi Valley into the Woodland Hills building with the other employees made sense from a logistical standpoint. It was bound to happen. 21st Century occupied most of the space in that building, and by vacating they presented Farmers with a simply logistical solution. I get that.

I do know that the Farmers Training Center moved out of Simi due to challenges with the City when they attempted to enlarge their facility. Though I don’t have first hand knowledge or quotes I can provide, this is what I’ve heard. I know the previous owners of a children’s gymnastics center in Simi Valley ran into roadblocks when they tried to expand and the problems they encountered likely weighed in on their decision to sell and move out of state. I also know that businesses face difficulty getting construction plans approved and face significant infrastructure costs that either delay the process, cost unforeseen thousands of dollars or both.

I don’t think the City could have prevented this move and I’m certain that it has been in motion for close to a year or more. But I think our City Officials have to focus on how to attract businesses like Farmers Insurance BACK into Simi Valley, and they definitely need to overhaul how they work with businesses. Perhaps our City Council Members can help facilitate that. Regardless, I think voters will be expecting them to.

Hopefully this comes off as a little more sound and reasonable than my previous post on the topic!

Business Challenges in Simi Valley

It’s been referred to in letters to the editor, comments on this blog and Brian Dennert’s, as well as comments on the Ventura County Star. Depending on the nature of your business, moving shop to Simi Valley can be a difficult and expensive task. It is one of the issues that should be addressed by all candidates for City Council and Mayor.

When I consider my own business endeavors in Simi Valley, setting up shop was a relatively simple and inexpensive task. I leased space in a small office, registered for my business name and opened my accounts, paid my Simi Valley business tax, and that was that. But if your business requires construction, zoning changes, or anything else that may modify existing infrastructure, you’ve got quite a task ahead of you, not to mention tens of thousands of assumed costs.

For the next several months, I’ll be following a specific case of a business owner setting up shop in Simi Valley. His business exists currently in another city, but he wants to bring it in Simi Valley where he lives. He has faced several obstacles and has had to dig deep to pay for thousands of dollars worth of unexpected costs. His desire to press on and bring his business home is motivating him to continue, but his frustrations are building and his concern that his dream won’t pan out are starting to feel more real.

As these milestones are reached, I’ll share his progress and hope that our candidates are prepared to address these issues and propose their solutions.

New Simi Target Store Too Expensive

The cost of doing business in Simi Valley might be a bit too expensive if you’re a big box store like Target.  Of course, the need for a new Target store at Madera and Los Angeles may be open for debate (a Target exists at Sycamore and Cochran and nearby the proposed new location in Moorpark).  Nevertheless, Target has been trying now for a while to get the new store rolling and it’s been slow going.

According to an article in The Ventura County Star, Target is going back to the city and asking for new terms in an effort to reduce construction costs.  So far, the requirements have included a million dollar plus storm drain system overhaul, two bus turnout lanes, and landscaping requirements that will make the new Target store look like every other new building and shopping center constructed in Simi Valley in the past 5 years, with faux towers and faux stone facades.

New Target Store

New Target Store

From The Star:
If at least $2 million can’t be shaved from Target’s plan to build in the west end of Simi Valley, store officials say they might have to scrap the project.

The company hopes to renegotiate the terms of its contract to remove some of the city requirements that make the project “financially unfeasible,” said one Target official.

“Target is not exempt from current economic conditions,” said Anna Anderson, a Target spokeswoman.

But she added Target is working with city officials to find something “mutually acceptable.”

So in this economy, the current plan is too expensive.  Will the City of Simi Valley be flexible?  They should be.  Despite the argument that another Target isn’t necessary, they’ll be successful in that space, resulting in sales tax revenue and new jobs in Simi Valley.  The city can also stand firm and keep the plan as-is, which may very well result in Target walking away from the deal.

Interestingly, the most expensive portions of the proposed development include infrastructure enhancements, like the storm drainage improvement.  However, with the newly developed Target store comes a new assessment of the property’s value which will undoubtedly result in an increase in property tax for the shopping center.  It seems reasonable, in an effort to keep the project moving forward, that the city might consider contributing to infrastructure costs to keep this rolling and bring these new jobs into town.  Time will tell…

In the meantime, enjoy this amateur video of mine from about 7 months ago while we geared up for local elections, and hear my borderline obnoxious view on government influence on local construction.

Simi Valley Headlines – December 5, 2008

Simi Valley Police Get a Pay Raise

Simi residents Al and Nan Kay believe that Simi police work hard for their money and the couple has no problem with the community’s cops getting a raise.

“I think it’s great,” Al Kay, 42, said. “They deserve all the money. They do a good job.”

Denise Rusiecki, 62, had mixed feelings though.

“I realize we need them but these are tight times,” said Rusiecki, who has lived in Simi for 35 years. “It’s tough justifying them getting raises when there are people that can’t afford to buy food and are losing their homes. It’s a tough call.”

Read more here…

School District Employees Lose Their Jobs

Simi Valley Unified School District, which has already shed $187,577 from this year’s budget, notified 16 classified employees this week they will be fired.

The 16 employees—including 11 custodians, four clerical workers and one information technology staff member—were given 45-day notices that their jobs have been terminated.

And more cuts may be on the way soon.

This is awful. While this opinion may not be well received, I think it’s hard to justify pay increases for (already well-paid) police officers while school employees get terminated.

Read more here…

City Council says ‘Wait a minute’ to Simi Couple’s farm animals

Miller explained that the Bridle Path HOA has covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that prohibit homeowners from keeping certain animals and that just because the planning commission approved a conditional-use permit does not make it OK.

“The CUP doesn’t trump the CC&Rs,” he said.

Williamson, who serves as treasurer for her own HOA, agreed.

If I can possibly get away with it, I will never again live in a community that is governed by an HOA. Then again, I wouldn’t have 8 cows and 2 pigs living in my backyard either.

Read more here…

Barbra Williamson Campaign Finances Challenged by The Star

Glen Gerson donated $3,000 under the names of three separate corporations, including The Vineyards, in this year’s council race. He said he gave money to Williamson after she asked him for support in her bid for a fifth term.

“When a local politician comes up and says ‘Donate to my campaign,’ I’m going to do it,” Gerson said. “We make donations to have people leave us alone.”

I’m fascinated that the Simi Valley Acorn doesn’t touch this story. It makes me wonder if they think it’s a wild goose chase.

Read more here…

If you have some SImi Valley government news that you’d like to share with my or publish for my readers, please contact me.