Vol. V, No. 17 October 2019
Port Hueneme's iconic lighthouse glistens in the October sun.
Museums at the Mullin
Not just cars, the Mullin Museum captures the elegance of the Art Deco era.
Melissa Russo brought her vision to the Museums of Ventura County.
The Museums of Ventura County held their Fall meeting at the Mullin Automotive Museum. The Mullin focuses on the Inter-War period featuring a spectacular collection of unique and rare French automobiles.
Melissa Russo, Director the San Bernadino Museums, told the story of how she converted a “boring collection” into “a very valuable place in the community.”
Ms. Russo was a young girl when her mother won a color TV in a Hickory Farms recipe contest. The elder Ms. Russo made a point of using as many Hickory Farms products as possible. “Whatever her audience, she was speaking their language,” Melissa Russo said.
When she arrived at the museum, she found a collection of 3 million objects, including the 5th largest bird egg collection in the world. “We got so focused on collecting, we forgot about our audience,” Ms. Russo said.
With the younger generation focused on social media and gaming, Ms. Russo realized that things would have to change. “This used to be our target audience,” she said. “Hands-on, participatory, inclusive storytelling” brought life to the museum and helped create a “third space”, “a place where people go” between home and work.
The efforts have paid off. Attendance has doubled in the past four years. Nonetheless, Ms. Russo doesn’t take anything for granted. “How are we going to stay viable in an environment where museums are closing?,” she asked. “If we don’t, we won’t be around for our audience.” A lesson learned at her mother's knee.
A globally renowned collection awaits the automobiliste.
More Mullin photos will be available at huenemepilot.org
Budget Under Fire
Consultant Steve Kinney addresses the Oversight Board.
The City of Port Hueneme was handed a setback by the Ventura County Consolidated Oversight Board (VCCOB) at the Board’s October meeting. The VCCOB consists of representatives of the “taxing agencies” affected by the elimination of Redevelopment. Each city must report to the Board on its progress and expenses involved in the disposal of Redevelopment properties. Any proceeds from property sales are divided among the various agencies.
The normally routine approval of the cities’ administrative cost budgets was brought up short when the Board questioned the expenditures proposed by Moorpark and Port Hueneme. State law allows expenditures of $250,000. Port Hueneme has claimed the full amount throughout the course of the “unwinding” process. Moorpark had escrow problems with several properties.
Boardmember Mike Mishler representing the Independent Special Districts asserted, “Over time your costs should be going down.”
City consultant Dominique Clark of the Rosenow Spivacek Group explained that due to changing requirements from the California Department of Finance and the County of Ventura, the process has become unnecessarily complicated. “We’re having to do the same process twice,” she said.
City Finance Director Ken McDonald stated “Our costs have gone up.” When questioned why Port Hueneme has consistently reported exactly $250,000 in expenditures, Mr. McDonald explained that $250,000 was the amount allowed by law. “Actually, we’ve spent more,” he said.
A motion to approve the budgets for all the cities died for lack of a second. Vice Chair Scott Powers representing the County of Ventura said, “I’m not convinced that we’ve been provided information that makes me comfortable.” The Board held off action on the Moorpark and Port Hueneme budgets while approving those of the other cities.
All budgets must be approved by January. The Board requested additional information from the City before making a final decision. The Agency Attorney advised that the Board on its own could modify the City’s budget on the basis of sufficient evidence.
"We've been in Negotiations Already."
The Oxnard Harbor District is looking for more parking.
The City of Port Hueneme made a regular presentation to the Ventura County Consolidated Oversight Board (VCCOB) describing efforts to dispose of the sole remaining Redevelopment property in Port Hueneme.
Market Street Landing is the last developable property in the City. As the remnant of a failed redevelopment effort, it has remained vacant despite several proposals for residential and commercial revitalization. The Oxnard Harbor District (OHD) has long sought the property for an industrial parking lot.
Under recent legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, remaining Redevelopment properties would be reserved for residential development as part of the statewide effort to build new housing. Port Hueneme’s share of additional new homes is projected to be 125. It is unclear how the City can meet this target without including the Market Street property.
The most recent appraisal values the property at $1.9 million, an increase of $500,000 over the past two years. According to city staff, property eligible for cannabis development carries a 35% premium on assessed value. Market Street Landing meets the geographic requirements for the cannabis industry.
In response to a Board question about OHD, City consultant Steve Kinney admitted, “We’ve been in negotiations already.”
Donna Lacayo, the Public Affairs Director of OHD told the Board, “The Port is very interested in acquiring this property.”
“The City is mutually interested,” responded Mr. Kinney.
Over the years, Port Hueneme has ceded much of its historic downtown to the Harbor District. The Market St. area is the last remaining area not owned by OHD. According to City staff there are two options available, sale to a third party or acquisition by the City itself.
Under Redevelopment law, if the City sold the property to a third party, the proceeds would be distributed among all the “taxing entities” — schools, special districts, the County. The City would receive 18% of the total. Should the City decide to purchase the property, it would pay fair market value and retain ownership and control.
The City Council will be discussing the matter in closed session at the next Council meeting, November 4. “If it were up to the Port, it would be tomorrow,” said Mr. Kinney.
Market Street Landing could be converted to industrial use.
"There is Urgency"
Jess Herrera presents the "State of the Port"
Delving into the history of the Harbor District, President Herrera recounted the initial opposition to the construction of the Port. Roy Pinkerton, the editor of the Ventura Star-Free Press waged a campaign against the Hueneme site in an effort to locate the port at the county seat.
The Federal government refused to provide any financing. In 1937 the local folks floated a $1.7 million bond issue to begin construction. “The Port was built without one cent of Federal money, President Herrera said. “Without local support this asset would have been lost.”
Today, President Herrera describes the Harbor as a “port of opportunity”, pointing out the $1.9 million in revenue sharing provided to the City of Port Hueneme. “Our relationship with the City is positive,” he said.
Nonetheless, President Herrera expressed concern for the Harbor District’s future in a competitive environment. “Opportunities are not lost, they’re taken,” he said. “Much is possible, but is our local political climate in support of growth?” he asked.
President Herrera cited two items desired by the Harbor District, an open parking lot on Hueneme Road, and a covered parking structure .
The Harbor District is engaged in discussions with Port Hueneme about Market Street Landing, the last developable property in the City. When asked if the Harbor District would consider a joint project that would contribute to Port Hueneme’s housing requirement, President Herrera said he thought the idea was “interesting”.
Ironically, as President Herrera was addressing the Chamber, members of Central Coast United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) were protesting at the Hueneme Road site on the grounds of “social equity”.
Citing the flat local economy, President Herrera said “We need to do something for economic development. Without jobs, you don’t have consumers.”
The Oxnard Harbor District is in the midst of an eight month environmental permitting process on the Hueneme Road site. “We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure that we’re safe,” President Herrera said. “We’re being transparent.” His frustration with the City of Oxnard was apparent. “We’re ignored by the City of Oxnard. They act like we don’t exist.”
Pointing out that one in five jobs nationally involves trade, President Herrera flatly stated, “Trade works, tariffs don’t.” “To grow together we must continue to grow together,” he said. “There is urgency.”
At City Hall
New Contract for Police Chief
The City Council has agreed to a new contract with Police Chief Andrew Salinas. Presently, the Chief’s salary is below average for Ventura County chiefs. “I think he’s well above average,” said Mayor Will Berg. The new contract will grant a 4% raise for the first year, followed by 3% raises in each of the next two years.
The Council expressed a desire to increase the Chief’s compensation level, citing his performance and community activism, but City Manager Rod Butler pointed out that “The Chief is maxed out at the top of his range. If you want to increase the range, we’ll have to take action to raise the range.”
City Attorney Charlie Green cautioned that “We want to avoid a situation where the City council gets into evaluating individual employees.” The only employees who report directly to the City Council are the City Manager, City Attorney, and the auditors.
Several citizens rose to praise Chief Salinas. Recognizing his groundbreaking efforts in establishing the legal cannabis industry, Bob Tatum, proprietor the Skunkmasters dispensary stated, “I never thought I would be here talking about the Chief of Police in a positive way.”
The City Council plans to conduct a structural salary review that could adjust salary ranges for all employees.
“I look at the contract and I say he’s a bargain,” concluded Mayor Berg.
Council Considers Leasing Agreement
The City Council has agreed to consider a proposal from Enterprise Fleet Management to enter into a lease arrangement for city vehicles.
“This is not contracting out,” said City Manager Rod Butler, “It’s about supplementing our fleet management program.”
Enterprise anticipates a more rapid turnover of city vehicles, taking advantage of their ability to resell used vehicles. Anticipated savings were estimated to be $326,000 over ten years.
Skunkmasters Passes Review
Community Development Director Tony Stewart reported that Freedom First, doing business as Skunkmasters, has passed their annual review. Cannabis dispensaries in Port Hueneme must comply with three standards: 1.) Providing long term local employment, 2.) Maintaining accurate financial accounts, and 3.) Contributing benefits to the community.
Freedom First has met all their requirements, supporting the Boys and Girls Club, the Police Explorers, and the Oxnard Homeless Shelter, among other efforts.
Mr. Stewart announced that Skunkmasters would be relocating to new a location in the City. Mayor Berg said, “You [Skunkmasters] were the first, and I’m excited that you decided to stay in Port Hueneme on the Green Mile.”
Upgrading the Wells
Public Works Director Don Villafana announced that Port Hueneme would be upgrading its two stand-by water wells. Although the wells are maintained in operating condition, they are not up to modern standards. “We’re going to make sure they’re available in an emergency,” Mr. Villafana said.
#Me Too Then and Now
Dr. Joan K. Peters discusses gender and politics at the Museum.
“Is there any woman here who’s never been violated by attention she did not want?” No hands rose in answer to the provocative question posed by Dr. Joan K. Peters, Professor Emerita at California State University at Channel Islands.
During her presentation at the Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum, Dr. Peters discussed #Me Too, Then and Now, examining the fraught issues surrounding sexual power and politics.
Dr. Peters told the story of her mother who worked as a showroom model in the New York Garment District. After literally being chased around a table by her boss, she opted for a more traditional pink collar job, or “pink ghetto” as Dr. Peters put it.
Dr. Peters’ own career began at Middlebury College where she was the only female professor. “These were men who didn’t want women to teach in their college,” she said. Middlebury in 1971 was the sort of place where male faculty would regularly call womens’ room numbers.
After her department chair attempted to assault her, she found the situation “an humiliating mess. I was a tough young woman, but I was shaken. There was nobody I could talk to about it.”
The student newspaper gave that department chair a special award for “Male Chauvanism”. “This is the first time I ever saw anything in print about what was happening,” Dr. Peters said.
After organizing a large womens’ conference, Dr. Peters thought, “Now they will understand. I thought that it would change but it didn’t.” After driving Gloria Steinem to the airport, she returned to the message, “Congratulations on your big crowd but you’re terminated.”
Dr. Peters brought a lawsuit against Middlebury. Her lawyer advised her, “You’ll lose this, but this is how you educate the courts.”
Drawing the link from harassment to power, Dr. Peters pointed out “The guy who attacked me and the guy who attacked you were bosses.” Regarding the recent accusations about some famous men, she said “These are men who could get all the sex they want. It’s not about sex, it’s about power.”
“My husband, my colleagues, wonder what’s wrong with these men,” Dr. Peters said. “Our culture gives certain kinds of outlets for their problems. A certain kind of male script. Sexual domination is how many men are taught to express their manhood.”
Dr. Peters finds that domination extending to the economic realm. Because her mother wouldn’t submit, she lost her good paying job and had to struggle to support her family. The issues are “not separate, but inextricably linked.”
Dr. Peters makes her point with statistics: women make $.79 for every dollar made by a man; only one quarter of state legislators are female; there are only 9 women governors; only 6% of CEO’s are women; 40% of women work in “pink collar” jobs.
Addressing the current #MeToo movement, Dr. Peters said “It’s messy, it’s not always fair, but if we don’t address the madness that is going on it’s not going to release men as well as women from this crazy script. This is the education phase of the change.”
“This is messy,” she concluded.
History by the Minute
Beverly Merrill Kelley
Let’s face it, we’re all busy people. We’d love to learn more about our hometown but who has the time? This column will feature highlights that can be read in a minute or two. And rest assured, the information comes from the considerable resources of the Port Hueneme Historical Society. If your interest is piqued to learn more, visit the museum on Market Street or send your questions via email to Kelley@callutheran.edu. We will be exploring the Fabulous Fifties in Port Hueneme during this segment of History by the Minute.
City Manager Walter Moranda argued there were two good reasons to build a fishing pier in 1955. First, constructing the outfall and pier at the same time could provide savings on duplicative costs, and second, the pilings supporting the pier might serve as a check on beach erosion.
The sad fact was that the $2 million dredging project paid for by the Navy had failed to keep sand on Hueneme Beach. In August, the city council approved $22,000 to build a fishing pier that would be 14-ft. wide and extend 600-ft. over the ocean.
Although the Port Hueneme pier, which was completed in July 1956, was legally owned by the Port Hueneme Sanitary District, it was leased to the city for the quite affordable sum of $1 a year.
I watched it anyway, every single frame. And I sometimes backed it up to watch the stupid parts over again. The over the top score in places helped. And that Gloria Talbot was cute as a bug, of which there were no giant versions in the movie.
Giant lizards, a giant rodent, a giant snake and a giant hawk though.
Plus the giant cyclops.
Anyway, Lon Chaney Jr. gets to be an idiot, and I didn’t recognize anyone else. Gloria Talbot, incidentally, was the great great great granddaughter of the guy who founded Glendale, tho’ I didn’t even know it had been losted.
Steve Provizer Reviews
The Trumpeter's Cinematic Curse
At the Museum
Role of Duct Tape in Emergency Preparedness
Sat 11:00 AM PDT
Dr. Mark Fleischman Human Variations
Sat 11:00 AM PDT
Mayor Will Berg Chinese Characters
Sat 11:00 AM PDT
Fourth Annual Veterans Day
Mon 8:30 AM PST
Joy Todd “Pleasant Valley and Hueneme: A Shared History”
Sat 11:00 AM PDT
Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Homeless Veteran Families Act, legislation authored by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) to help homeless veterans with children find a safe place to live.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that veterans with children are living out on the street or in other unsafe locations because VA can’t reimburse community agencies for housing them,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “This is an issue that disproportionately impacts women veterans — the fastest-growing veteran population. It is imperative that we fix chronic homelessness amongst our veteran population and help keep families together and safe, while providing long-term, stable living environments for veterans to thrive. This bill is one step towards that goal. I’m pleased that my bill has received strong bipartisan support and passed the House today, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to see this bill reach the White House and be signed into law.”
The Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program offers funding to community housing agencies that provide services to homeless veterans. Currently, VA does not have the authority to provide reimbursements to these providers for the additional costs of sheltering minor children of homeless veterans. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that this inequity led to a financial disincentive for providers and, in turn, limited housing for veterans with young children. Brownley’s legislation would help address this issue by allowing VA to reimburse providers for 50 percent of the per diem costs of housing minor dependents of homeless veterans while the veteran receives services from the grant recipient.
Our hearts and thoughts are with all impacted by the recent wildfires. Fire season has come all too soon this year. In an effort to assist you in preparing your business for the unexpected, EDC has compiled a list of resources currently available.
Be Informed- Visit our website for the latest in disaster preparedness and recovery resources.
Be Prepared- Use our Disaster Preparedness & Resiliency Toolkit for Business to asses your business's level of preparedness.
Stay Connected-Register with your local alert system. Residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara County should visit the following websites to sign up for local alerts and recovery resources:
Santa Barbara County www.readysbc.org
Ventura County www.readyventuracounty.org
Need more assistance? If your business is facing crisis or has been impacted by disaster, EDC SBDC offers immediate turnaround assistance through free, confidential consultations on topics ranging from business resiliency, operations, staff management, debt reduction and more. To sign up and learn more visit our center in person, call (805) 409-9159 or click here to enroll as a new client.
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J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher