Simi Valley Headlines and Issues

In the Simi Valley Acorn this morning:

In response to the idea of a $100 donation from every household for the schools, I think it is a start, but not enough.

Meanwhile, we all wonder how the C4 Bond Funds are being spent and people like me wonder if they’ll have the chance to sit on the oversight committee.  Learn more about that by clicking here.

Also in the Acorn: City will hear latest findings on Runkle Canyon

According to a letter sent to the city in October, the agency has concluded that “additional work is necessary to better define environmental conditions at the site and to address one or more potential threats to public health and the environment.”

From what I’ve read so far, the so-called Radiation Rangers that are protesting the development of Runkle Canyon strike me as hysterical people attempting to sell fear.  I’ve seen no solid evidence to support either claim of clean or contaminated.

I had originally planned to be there with my camera on documenting the happenings on Monday night.  Unfortunately, I’ll be flying out to Cincinnati on business that day.  I’ll have to catch the “re-run” on the city’s website.

Oaks Mall Expansion Opens Tomorrow

Holiday shoppers will want to load up their wallets and put on their comfortable walking shoes because the two-level, open-air expansion at The Oaks mall will be awaiting them tomorrow, Nov. 15

This is bad news for those who are heavily invested in the Shop Simi Valley First campaign.  I’ve heard the new mall is gorgeous.  I’m curious to know how the city’s $100,000 Shop Simi budget is going to keep holiday shoppers in Simi Valley Town Center this holiday season.

Landfill Expansion Tour

I’ve been in contact with the Simi Valley Landfill and I’m pleased to say that I have a tour scheduled for November 24th.  I’m excited and that’s no joke.  Unlike most people, I like landfills.  The reason is because I produce trash and I’m pleased that as a producer of trash there’s a place for me to put it when my trash cans are full.  Plus, I’m well aware of the benefits of a landfill.  There are some… I swear.

However, quite a few around town are pretty discouraged by the idea of a landfill expansion which has been proposed by Waste Management.  I’m hoping this tour gives me a clear sense of what it’s all about, what the environmental impact might be, and how it will benefit our city and surrounding neighbors.

Again, if you have any thoughts or comments about the landfill expansion project, I’d be delighted to hear about them before my tour on the 24th.  Feel free to email me or leave me a comment here.

Simi Landfill – Should they Expand?

A couple months ago, I published a video indicating that I was not necessarily against any efforts to expand the landfill. If Waste Management owns the land, and the EPA regulates how waste is processed and stored, ensuring public safety, then why can’t they do what they want to do?

Of course, several individuals, including members of City Council, saw the video and commented that I was uninformed. To clarify, here was my position:

  1. It’s safe – though decomposing trash does produce methane which is considered a greenhouse gas, it’s an energy gas and the EPA requires that it be captured and used to produce electrical energy.
  2. WM owns the land, so who are we to tell them what they can and cannot do?
  3. WM operates the landfill in Simi Valley, so any increase in revenue must benefit the city in some way.

To my surprise, Barbra Williamson put out a mailer shortly before the election stating her strong position AGAINST the expansion of the Simi Valley landfill (a screen capture of the mailer is below). My initial thoughts: “Really? What am I missing?”

Lately, I’ve been wondering if I’m over-simplifying the whole thing. To my delight, however, I received a voice mail from Waste Management this morning offering to talk to me about the expansion program and allow me to tour the facility. I haven’t returned the call yet, but I intend to take them up on the offer. I can’t imagine they have much to hide if they’re calling me directly to check it out for myself. Plus, I find the whole industry fascinating, so I’m very eager to check it out.

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I hope you’ll share your thoughts on the matter.

UPDATE: I have a landfill tour scheduled this month.

Williamson Anti Expansion Brochure

Williamson Anti Expansion Brochure

Can They Get Their Name Out?

Now that the incumbents have secured their positions on the Simi Valley City Council, how will the challengers strengthen their positions the next time they run?  Bruce Witkin, challenger for Mayor (who received my support and my vote this election) took on the challenging and seemingly impossible task of taking on the super popular and heavily supported Paul Miller.  Mike Judge took on Barbra Williamson and Steve Sojka, long time council members with lots of support and lots of campaign dollars.  So how does a challenger build up their reputation in the community to earn that same level of support?

Richard Paul Carter opted NOT to print and post campaign signs citing his desire to prevent cluttering the Simi Valley landscape.  Gerald Smith (challenger for council) and Ed Lang (challenger for Mayor) didn’t have signs, no reason stated that I could find.  Mike Judge and Bruce Witkin, on the other hand, did have signs printed, and they were also nearer to victory than their other challengers.  Signs and ads help, but clearly it’s not enough to oust popular incumbents.

Business owners who are running for office should join the Chamber of Commerce.  It may seem like a conforming move, but it’s a move that is effective.  Before I joined the Chamber (and after, for that matter) it was described to me as a good ol’ boys club, where the elite members enjoy attention, rewards and honors, and lots of referrals from influential figures, while the new members have to claw their way to the top, proving themselves as worthy.  My advice would be to disregard those warnings and join.  The Chamber consists of your peers in business.  The same things that concern you concern them as well.  There are hundreds of newer or non-elite members, more so than the elite top-dogs, and they are registered voters.  And don’t join when your campaign starts.  Join now!

As a candidate, you obviously have a passion for your community.  Prove it now, to yourself and to voters, and join the Rotary Club.  The Rotary Clubs in Simi Valley are responsible for many high profile annual events that raise a significant amount of money for charitable organizations.  Be ready, because joining the Rotary Club requires true dedication.  I was a member of a Simi Valley Rotary Club for nearly a year, but dropped out of the club when my divorce kicked into high gear.  If you have a high demand career or personal issues that will prevent you from participating right away, then take it slowly and strategize before you join.  But without a doubt, Rotary is a rewarding organization in which to participate… you’ll feel good about your efforts, and so will those who support you and vote for you.

I’m curious to know how folks like Mike Judge and Bruce Witkin plan to spend the next few years before they run again.  I’m hoping to catch up to both of them soon to find out.  When I do, I’ll post that info here.

School Board Disappointment

I have to admit some level of disappointment with the election results, specifically related to the School Board. From the teachers’ standpoint, apparently status quo is preferred. However, from the standpoint of a parent with school age kids, I’m not satisfied.

I can’t pretend to know all the details, but my understanding is that housing developers are required to contribute funding to the school district when large housing developments are built out. The school district can then decide whether to put that toward building another school or increasing an existing school’s capacity. Judging by all the temporary classrooms assembled on the basketball court at Atherwood Elementary, our school district opts to take the money over building another school.

I found Brad Jashinsky’s comments about the C4 Bond spending compelling. Evidently, I was the only one. I firmly believe the results of the election, specifically regarding the school board, were because of the voting public’s lack of knowledge on the issues.

Am I the only one who’s disappointed?

Incumbents Take It

With numbers leaving little doubt, the incumbents in the major Simi Valley elections score a victory, but not without first proving that some candidates made a very worthy first shot and what will no doubt become a political future for some.

Simi Valley Mayor

Paul Miller is our mayor again, with 78.66% of the vote.  Bruce Witkin comes second with 13.29%, with Ed Lang bringing in just over 7%.

Simi Valley City Council

Barbra Williamson and Steve Sojka get to keep their jobs as City Councilmembers, earning 29.02% and 35.77% of the votes respectively.  Mike Judge pulled in impressive numbers with 17.21%.  Something tells me we’ll be seeing more of him…

Simi Valley School Board

Debbie Sandland earned 22.92%, Janice DiFatta took 18.21% and Rob Collins took 23.95% of the vote for Simi Valley Board of Education, making the incuments the victors in this election as well.  Ray Cruz came close with over 15%, rounding out the totals with over 10% to Eric Smith and just over 8% to Brad Jashinsky.  I firmly believed both would make good candidates, but I don’t think enough people got a chance to see or hear more of them.

Congratulations to all!

The Simi Show

If you’ve seen any of my videos, you may think of me as overly sarcastic.  The fact is, I am truly passionate about the City of Simi Valley and related matters.  I’ve been critical of city programs like Shop Simi Valley First, a fact that City Councilmember Steve Sojka approached me on, challenged my position, and agreed to sit down and discuss the program in greater detail.  I plan to take him up on that, but back to the point… Despite some moderate criticisms, I truly love living in Simi Valley.

Just due to the satisfaction and joy of participating in the community related videos for the purposes of VoteSimiValley.com, I’ve decided to carry on that process in a broader format.  I want to continue talking to the people of Simi Valley, while promoting the city and the businesses and organizations within.  I’m pleased with the terrific response I’ve received and I think we’d all benefit from more.

I’m pleased to introduce the production of an internet based video show called The Simi Show.  Known as a “podcast,” the show will be distributed online, allowing you to subscribe to the show via Apple iTunes and watch on your portable video device (like an iPod, iPhone or Zune) or on a set top television box such as Apple TV.  I know, pretty geeky, techy stuff… Fortunately, you’ll also be able to watch the program in the very same browser you’re using to read this page, much like YouTube, making the show easily accessible to people of all technical skill levels.  I’m open to any additional distribution methods should anyone have any they would like to recommend.

Check back often for more information about The Simi Show, or click here to see a summary description and some preliminary ad artwork.

And thanks so much for your participation and for inspiring this new project!

Vote Simi Valley – What Now?

With the election being only hours away from complete, one might wonder what’s to come of VoteSimiValley.com.  My desire is to keep the site going strong!  No matter who ends up representing the City of Simi Valley, it’s absolutely critical that we continue to understand what’s happening and stay involved.

You’d be surprised and delighted to know how responsive the community has been to our efforts here.  We’ve spoken to most of the members of city council, nearly all of the council challengers and school board challengers, and we’ve received kind emails and kind words from people we’ve met at City Council.  We’ve come to know new friends like Brian Dennert and interview good people and their families.  Having said that, we’d like to keep playing.

My sincere hope is that some of you might also express an interest in participating.  The more voices, the better!  And if you have the same passion about your community as I do, I can offer you a soap box with a pretty fair amount of traffic.  Join me!

Election Results Soon!

As I sit here and watch Senator John McCain’s concession speech, I can’t help but to wonder what some of the local candidates are thinking about right now. Is it excitement? Anxiety? My wife and I were discussing it briefly and it occurred to us that we haven’t experienced anything like the anticipation they must be feeling now.

I’m scouring the internet and listening to and reading every bit of local election news I can find. As soon as I hear any results on the local elections, they’ll be online here. In the meantime, I encourage you to browse this site and find out what’s to come in the coming months.

Continued best wishes to all the candidates!

Election Day in Simi Valley

Today is election day in Simi Valley. I have never been more excited to cast my vote. I encourage my visitors to post their predictions here and let me know what they think the results will be.

Plus, for any candidates that may be reading, please feel free to post a comment or send me an email and I’ll gladly publish any of your statements. As of this week, my traffic is sky-rocketing!

Good luck!