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River Escapades

September 14, 1993

Following the escapades of the Ventura River and its self-appointed guardian, Mark Capelli ("New Project Returning Former Quarry Site to Nature," Sept. 6), raises some questions. The answers smack of hypocrisy and hidden zero-growth, regressive politics.

How does someone become God enough to decide what belongs in a certain place and what does not? How does one predict or presume to know what makes nature tick? What can possibly justify the trapping and "removing" (killing?) of one species to allow another to flourish? (If the cowbird should become endangered, Mr. Capelli, can we blame you?) Who has the right to destroy a relatively young ecosystem (that amongst the bamboo) in the name of an experiment that may or may not work?

Heaven help the deer who strays into this $150,000 experiment to nibble on some "endangered" weed or the coyote, or blue jay, or road runner that eats a vireo or one of its eggs.

Bruce Roland, Ojai

Airport Manager

I read with great dismay of the resignation of Marshall MacKinen as administrator of the County Department of Airports. Mac has been a most cordial and accommodating representative of our "landlord," as well as champion of the airport's best interest and a pleasure to work with.

A source close to Mac indicated that he resigned under duress, which leads me to wonder why there is such a turnover in airport managers and administrators (three, plus one acting manger in the last 12 years). Is is a failure to attract or hire competent candidates? Or is this a situation whereby the supervisors are unable to avoid politicizing what should be an apolitical public agency?

My experience indicates that for the best results you hire a qualified, capable administrator, outline his authority, duties and responsibilities and give him a budget adequate to accomplish his assignment. You then provide maximum support when requested, periodic review of his performance versus the budget and any other goals set, and let him do his job with a minimum of interference.

This would seem to be a novel approach where the Oxnard Airport is concerned (at least during my 12-plus years here), but just might work if given the chance.

Has Simm, Oxnard. Has Simm is managing partner of the Airport Travel Agency at Oxnard Airport.

Closed Gatherings

The complaints by Supervisor John K. Flynn and Thousand Oaks Councilwoman Elois Zeanah about their colleagues conducting the public's business behind closed doors at unannounced meetings among themselves with top county or city bureaucrats is nothing but a tempest in a teapot.

Most of the public (who don't vote in county or municipal elections anyway) acquiesce to this approach to governing because it is much more efficient. In fact, now that the former U.S.S.R. is turning toward democracy, they've learned they don't need to change some of their ways of governing to emulate our style of participatory democracy.

Having closed-door, public-not-invited meetings is just like limiting people's testimony at the occasional public hearings these public officials have to listen to. Restricting public testimony to three or five minutes each allows more time for the department bureaucrats to fill the public record with their rebuttals and shortens the hearings, mercifully.

Oh yes, that teapot, it's at the same party the Mad Hatter and the March Hare (and our elected and appointed officials) invited Alice (and the public) to.

Neil A. Moyer, Ventura

School Surplus

After all the cries of poverty, we find that the Moorpark Unified School District has a surplus rather than a deficit ("School Board Decries Officials for Underestimating Revenue," Sept. 2).

Call it whatever you wish, it is obvious that the staff concealed the fiscal condition of the district from the board members and, even worse, from the taxpayers.

The business services manager is quoted as saying she predicts the worst-case scenario. A budget is not supposed to be a scenario but an as accurate as possible plan for expenditures and revenue forecast. Scenarios are best left to playwrights.

This extraordinary budget technique is responsible for many of the decisions made by the board--decisions involving the purchase of textbooks, teachers pay, stadium funding and very likely the land negotiations with the city. Discussions on all of these issues were predicated on the perception of financial stress.

Most frightening is the realization that the superintendent and business manager sat through those discussions knowing that the money was there but failing to inform the board.

The worst-case scenario is that the same people are allowed to continue in the same manner and any board members failing to act, remain on the Board of Trustees.

Eloise Brown, Moorpark

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