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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Begin files billion Dollar lawsuit against albertsons

By Melissa Simon 

Haggen, Inc. has filed a $1-billion lawsuit against grocery giant Albertsons, alleging that the company competed unfairly and left the independent market chain no choice but to lay off 1,100 employees and close 27 stores companywide.

Filed in federal court Tuesday, the 55-page complaint alleges that Albertsons engaged in “coordinated and systematic efforts” to eliminate Haggen as a viable competitor in more than 130 local grocery markets in five states, including Ventura County, essentially blaming the company for Haggen’s well-publicized failures in Southern California.

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“Albertsons’ anti-competitive conduct caused significant damage to Haggen’s image, brand and ability to build goodwill during its grand openings to the public,” the complaint states. 

This “wrongful conduct” by Albertsons is directly connected to Haggen’s announcement last month that it would close 16 California stores, including two in Simi Valley and one in Newbury Park, according to the lawsuit.

In February, the small Washington based grocery chain grew from 18 to 164 stores practically overnight after agreeing to purchase former Vons and Albertsons stores in CaliforniaNevada and Arizona. The transaction followed the $7.6-billion merger of Albertsons and Safeway in March 2014.

According to Haggen’s lawsuit, Albertsons’ recent actions have resulted in less competition and more power, directly violating the Federal Trade Commission’s order for the acquisition.

“Had Haggen known Albertsons’ true intentions, Haggen would never have purchased the stores, nor would the FTC have permitted such a purchase,” the lawsuit states.

Haggen alleges Albertsons used its knowledge of store transitions to time its ad campaigns in a way that would steal customers away from the newly transformed markets.

Albertsons is also accused of providing misleading price information, resulting in the high costs many consumers have complained about since Haggen’s expansion in April.

“The practical result of this deception was a consumer walking into a brand-new Haggen store and finding the same item on the same shelf, but now priced higher than it was immediately prior to store conversion,” the complaint states.

Deborah Pleva, a Haggen spokesperson, declined to provide further information to the Acorn on the allegations as it is “pending litigation.”

In a statement provided by spokesperson Carlos Illingworth, Albertsons calls the allegations “completely without merit.”

“Albertsons has not engaged in anti-competitive or inappropriate practices as alleged by Haggen. The divesture of stores to Haggen followed the process determined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) order,” the statement reads. “Like the process followed by Albertsons in prior divestitures, our process with Haggen was the subject of regular reports to the FTC and review by the Monitor Trustee appointed by the FTC.”

Illingworth said the company plans to “vigorously defend itself in court.” 


Another PR job on the 23 freeway construction which is a boondoggle with accidents

Construction enters final phase 
By Anna Bitong


END IN SIGHT—Construction on the 101-23 freeway interchange enters its third andfinal stage this fall, according to project manager Mike Tohidian, who said lane reductions should be removed by November. 
FILE PHOTO END IN SIGHT—Construction on the 101-23 freeway interchange enters its third andfinal stage this fall, according to project manager Mike Tohidian, who said lane reductions should be removed by November. FILE PHOTO Traffic near the 101-23 freeway interchange is expected to improve as construction enters its third and final stage this fall, a city engineer said this week.

“I feel we’re about to pass the worst part of the construction,” said Mike Tohidian, project manager. “We’ve had a whole bunch of closures and lane reductions, and I think by early November we’re going to remove all of these.”

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On Aug. 12, the southbound 23 connector to the southbound 101 was returned to two lanes for the first time in over a year. The striping will remain until November, when the connector will be re-striped based on its final configuration, Caltrans said.

“The final configuration will add a lane between the connector and Hampshire Road off-ramp, allowing motorists to continue on to southbound 101 without merging with mainline traffic,” said Yessica Jovel of the Caltrans public affairs office. “The right lane will be an auxiliary lane and exit at the Hampshire Road off-ramp.”

In the current stage of the project, work includes construction at the northbound Hampshire Road off-ramp, lane widening between the Westlake Boulevard and Hampshire Road on-ramps, and work on the northbound Moorpark Road on- and off-ramps, Jovel said.

Crews will be reconstructing the northbound 101 on-ramp at Hampshire Road, which will require a 55-hour ramp closure, she said. The date for that closure has not been finalized.

In the last stage, Tohidian said, the contractor will work on the freeway median, placing K-rails on both sides of the divider. 

“We may see shifting lanes, but we shouldn’t be losing any lanes based on what I know,” the engineer said. “I feel the stage three impact won’t be as severe as what the community has experienced during the last year and a half.”

The two-year, $40-million expansion project will add a travel lane in each direction for drivers connecting to the 101 Freeway from the 23 Freeway and vice versa. Sound walls are being built on the north side of the interchange between Hampshire and Conejo School roads and on the south side between Manzanita Lane and Hampshire.

“The afternoon rush hour traffic in the northbound direction is pretty bad,” Tohidian said. “We’re going to have the additional one lane in the northbound direction and remove the bottleneck at Moorpark Road. I feel that would be the most significant change in traffic.”

Traffic accidents down

The number of reported traffic accidents in the construction zone spiked after construction began almost two years ago. But between March and July this year, there were fewer reported accidents than there were at the same time last year.

“While we have seen the number of traffic collisions drop in the last few months compared to last year when construction began, we would like to see those numbers continue to decline,” said CHP Officer Miguel Duarte. “With construction scheduled to continue into next year, it’s imperative motorists continue to pay attention to their driving, decrease their speed to 55 mph in the construction zone, and plan ahead to allow them extra (time) to get to their destination safely.”

For information on the construction and road closures, or to sign up for updates, go to www.toaks.org/10123

manager named to T.O. Planning Commission ‘I think I can help make a good to to acorn

Boulevard property manager named to T.O. Planning Commission 

‘I think I can help make a good town better’
By Anna Bitong 


Jeff Alexander 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers Jeff Alexander RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers Longtime Thousand Oaks businessman Jeff Alexander has been appointed the newest member of the city’s planning commission.

The commission is charged with reviewing and deciding on applications for commercial, residential, industrial and other development projects. It also makes recommendations to the City Council on matters related to the General Plan, zoning ordinances and other city planning policies and regulations.

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Alexander, who manages the property on Thousand Oaks Boulevard where Carlson Building Materials and several contractors are located, was appointed by new Councilmember Rob McCoy.

It is McCoy’s first appointment since joining the council in June. The City Council approved McCoy’s selection Sept. 1.

“I think I can help make a good town better,” Alexander told the Acorn. “I think that my perspective as a multiple, longtime business owner will allow me to think the same way that some of my customers have thought and articulated over the years.”

Alexander replaces Dan Roundtree, who’d been appointed by Jacqui Irwin in 2012. When Irwin left the council last November after her election to the Assembly, Roundtree’s four-year term on the commission ended early.

McCoy and Roundtree, who did not seek to reapply for the post, ran against each other in the T.O. City Council special election in June.

McCoy said he met his appointee on the campaign trail.

“I had the privilege to meet Mr. Alexander and see his heart for the city and the wisdom that he has,” McCoy said at Tuesday’s meeting. “He’s pragmatic, he’s a team player, and he’s got some great ideas.”

Alexander, who gave the McCoy campaign a $100 donation, said in an interview that he told the then-candidate about his interest in joining the commission.

“I had some discussion with him and told him at one point that I’d be interested in the planning commission,” Alexander said. “But I didn’t think that I’d necessarily be approved. I’ve been here a long time, therefore there are people who aren’t happy with some of my attitudes. He decided that it would work. I’m happy that he did. I’m honored that he did.”

Alexander, who started three businesses in the city, including feed store T.O. Corral, recently dealt with a fire behind Carlson’s that was allegedly started by a transient. Asked about the matter, he said, “I think the transient population has and continues to be an issue. I’m not sure how a planning commissioner will resolve that, but, for example, in the process of reviewing a particular project, there might be additional things that can be done by a police recommendation that would enhance the security on that project.”

In 1994, when Alexander ran T.O. Corral, he was among a group of merchants and volunteers who worked with police in the city to create crime-fighting programs, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Councilmember Andy Fox supported his appointment, noting that he and Alexander (who also gave $100 to Fox’s most recent reelection campaign) have been friends since before Fox was first elected to office more than 20 years ago.

Fox said that though Alexander has asked for an appointment to the planning commission several times, he didn’t think his friend would like the post. Nevertheless, Fox said, “We’re getting a good one on the planning commission. I think Mr. McCoy’s appointment was outstanding.”

“I know he will bring a sense of independence,” Fox said. “He cares deeply about this community. He’s lived here a long time. He does have perspective on the boulevard. But I also know he’s a guy that plays by the rules all the time. So I have no doubt he will perform his duties as a planning commissioner with the utmost integrity and character.”

Still, Newbury Park resident Nick Quidwai, a frequent council critic and an applicant for the planning commission himself, questioned how Alexander could be allowed to speak or vote on matters related to the boulevard.

“This is his complete source of income. How can he not be asked to recuse himself?” Quidwai said before the vote.

Alexander noted that as a commissioner, his job is to implement existing policy, not create new rules. He told the Acornhe would not need to recuse himself from decisions affecting the boulevard.

“The rules are straightforward,” he said. “Everybody has to be treated equally, and that’s what I intend to do.

“Every project stands on its own. I have to deal with the facts, and I’m fine with that. I’ve been following the rules all my life, no reason to change now.”

To trolley fails council says no!! To acorn 090315

By Anna Bitong 


DERAILED—As part of its priorities for the year, the City Council asked city staff to research what it would cost to have trolley service along Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Council members were none-too-thrilled with the results on Tuesday. 
Courtesy of City of Thousand Oaks DERAILED—As part of its priorities for the year, the City Council asked city staff to research what it would cost to have trolley service along Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Council members were none-too-thrilled with the results on Tuesday. Courtesy of City of Thousand OaksThe City Council has hit the brakes on a proposal to bring a trolley to Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

The council voted unanimously Sept. 1 to table the issue until 2016 and ask residents whether they want a trolley in the next Community Attitude Survey scheduled for 2017.

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Past councils have considered a trolley service on the boulevard several times over the years but never approved the vehicle due to concerns about its usefulness and cost, Councilmember Andy Fox said.

There are currently six bus lines on the boulevard, he said.

“Every time this has come up I can’t get past the cost issue and the need for (a trolley),” the councilman said. 


NO GO— A purple line shows the route that’s been proposed for a trolley or shuttle that would travel from The Oaks mall to the Promenade and back. City Council members have voted not to approve the trolley at this time. 
Courtesy City of T.O. NO GO— A purple line shows the route that’s been proposed for a trolley or shuttle that would travel from The Oaks mall to the Promenade and back. City Council members have voted not to approve the trolley at this time. Courtesy City of T.O. Fox noted that the project would make more sense if there was at least one mixed-use development on the boulevard.

“The fact of the matter is, no one is coming in and making an application (for mixed use). It doesn’t have anything to do with the city or Measure E (housing cap) or any of the other things you may have read in the paper,” he said.

The cost to have two trolleys on the boulevard from Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., would be about $400,000 a year (including rental, maintenance, operational costs and fuel), versus $250,000 a year for two shuttles—a less expensive alternative some council members asked about. To offer either vehicle, the city would also have to pay $30,000 to extend ADA and Dial-A-Ride services until 10 p.m. as well, which is required by federal law, Mike Houser, city transit manager, said.

A trolley or shuttle service could be funded by Transportation Development Act funds, which are restricted to transit services, during a three-year demonstration period, Public Works Director Jay Spurgin said.

After that, the service would need to be subsidized by the general fund, a frightening thought given the city’s current challenges just to pay for ongoing street and road repairs, Fox said.

“I can’t in good conscience spend . . . TDA or general funds on an experiment,” said Fox, who had suggested offering the trolley service at no charge for a year to gauge its popularity. “I think it’s irresponsible. . . . It’s a very expensive experiment, which, at least anecdotally, many of us know is going to have very low ridership.”

Proposal

The proposed 24-passenger trolleys could be purchased or leased. The cost to buy is from $275,000 to $350,000 per vehicle.

The trolley would follow a route (see map at left) along Thousand Oaks Boulevard that starts at The Oaks mall and goes to the Westlake Promenade and back. There would be stops every three blocks, for a round-trip time of about 45 minutes using one vehicle, or 30 minutes using two vehicles, a staff report said.

The fare would likely cost 50 cents or 25 cents for seniors, people with disabilities and Medicare recipients.

Trolleys are operated in nearby cities such as Westlake VillageCalabasas and Camarillo. Ridership ranges from less than 100 a month in Calabasas, where the service is free, to 9,000 a month in Ojai, where it costs $1 to ride.

Despite its presence in those cities, the council members agreed that the idea is ahead of its time in T.O. and should be re-examined as part of the 2016 Transit Master Plan.

“I don’t see a demonstrated need yet,” Councilmember Joel Price said. “Hopefully we’ll get there at some point, but spending that kind of money on an experiment for a year is not, in my view, a good expenditure.”

Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña said that with possible future mixed-use on the boulevard she sees a need for a shuttle or trolley along the thoroughfare.

But Fox said a shuttle would be a waste of time and money.

“That’s why we have buses. The whole allure of the trolley is it’s a cool thing to ride,” he said.

Fox noted that his own teenagers do not want to take public transportation and prefer having their own cars.

“They are not interested in riding a bus or a trolley,” he said. “I just don’t think we’re going to get a lot of students from Westlake High School jumping on anything, a bullet train or otherwise.”

Studying the potential for trolley service on Thousand Oaks Boulevard was on the council’s 2015-16 priorities list. 

Letters to acorn 090315 all about 10!!!

Quit pandering to PC crowd 

I’m compelled to comment on Bob Calverley’s letter (Acorn, Aug. 27) about the “disturbing” lack of diversity among the city’s highest-paid employees.

He complains that the top 10 wage earners include just one female and nine males, all of whom are white and about the same age. Calverley suspects the white male leaders at City Hall are sexist, racist and ageist in their promotion and hiring practices. Maybe he’s right.

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Perhaps these good ol’ boys get together on the 19th hole, throw down a few beers, have some good belly laughs and conspire to keep women, minorities and old folks in their proper place. Yep, that’s probably how it works.

And to think, some people might find Calverley’s utterances to be lazy, tired, worn-out, simplistic cliches that pander to the PC crowd.

Ken Grow
Newbury Park

Frustrated with mayor’s actions 

I am certain the Acorn will receive multiple letters regarding the Aug. 20 article on Thousand Oaks city employee salaries, so rather than repeating what I am sure will be a significant amount of outrage, I would like to make two different observations.

The first is the incredible lack of diversity in the top levels of our city government. Nine of the 10 top-paid employees were male and there were no minorities. You would think that by paying such competitive salaries, the city would be able to attract more qualified diverse employees; instead, it just looks like the good old boys club that you would expect to see in a small-town government in Mississippi.

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Second observation belongs to Mayor Al Adam. His statement that none of the city staff works a 40-hour week is interesting. If you walk into a city facility after 5 p.m., it looks like a ghost town. That’s OK, Al, I am sure us private-sector employees who make half the compensation the city employees make get away with only a 35-hour work week.

The more this guy opens his mouth, the more I look forward to the election where his seat is up for a vote. I encourage all Acorn readers to remember Al Adam’s comments over his tenure in city government when filling out their ballots in future elections.

Anyway, I need to go: I have been on the job for five hours straight and it’s time to go to the beach. 

Matt Taylor
Thousand Oaks

Council a portal to higher office 

Ed Jones made an excellent point in his letter last week concerning outside money pouring into local elections. However, these local elections don’t stay local.

Most higher-level politicians started out serving in local school board or city council positions, then advanced to state or federal elected offices. We all witnessed how conveniently Jaqui Irwin used her council seat as a springboard to run for state office, vacating the position midterm. 

Apparently this didn’t upset too many folks because she succeeded and is now serving on the California Assembly. It comes as no surprise that outside interests would take note of events like this and pour money into local elections to get their favorite candidates into position.

Ed Jones is a great guy and has served our community very well for all these years. He would have been great on our local City Council.

Unfortunately, we just couldn’t see him running for a state-level office, and that’s where the really important decisions are being made that my family cares about. Long term I’m betting we’ll all be very glad we elected Rob McCoy. 

Dirk DeKreek
Thousand Oaks

F-35 sounds like waste of money 

So to Acorn reader Timothy Bond, the roar of the F-35 that woke up a large portion of Thousand Oaks residents on a recent early morning is “the glorious sound of freedom.”

I offer an alternative description: the roar of billions of taxpayer dollars being sucked into a mammoth black hole.

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The troubled F-35 fighter plane, riddled with safety and design issues, cost overruns and production delays over more than a decade, is still not operational. This one weapons program alone has sucked up more than 350 billion taxpayer dollars (and counting) and for what? A fleet of planes that don’t perform and that we don’t even need.

The F-35 fiasco is emblematic of this country’s bloated, out-ofcontrol Pentagon spending and its flawed procurement process —all part of a military-industrial complex that sucks up $650 billion taxpayer dollars per year.

If that’s not bad enough, the right-wing war hawks and their defense contractor allies want to shovel even more billions into that black hole.

Meanwhile, spending on everything from education to medical research to environmental protection is pinched, not to mention our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

“The glorious sound of freedom” indeed. 

Tim Smight
Thousand Oaks

Power outages poorly timed 

I suppose Southern California Edison doesn’t understand the extreme disregard they show their customers by scheduling planned outages in the heat of summer. It’s currently 93 degrees. Service has been off since 8 a.m.

It was supposed to be on at 4 p.m. but was not. A call to SCE informed me it would be delayed to 6 p.m. No robo-call for that update was made to alert neighbors.

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When I asked why this could not have been postponed to a day in the fall, the answer was, “There are people who work from home, so this is the best time with all things we need to consider.”

Admittedly, I only have seven years of college and 30 years of management experience, so I’m sure the agent had some reason for a comment that I can’t comprehend. And this was the second planned outage this summer; the previous one was in the heat of July, so clearly they feel summer is the best time to do this.

I’m guessing they wanted to get this done before schools start tomorrow in our neighborhood (although I would imagine parents readying their children for tomorrow are questioning this timing as well). I suppose we couldn’t expect Edison to do this on a weekend when there are no schools in session and fewer people working from home.

Oh, maybe there would be important weekend sports on TV? Are those customers more important than the elderly shutins who are experiencing a health risk today?

Shame on you, Edison. Put the health of your customers first in the future.

We can all go to a suitable location to get Internet access on a cold day, but we cannot transport seniors, children and the frail who we don’t know are suffering on a day like this. 

Annette Broersma
Thousand Oaks

CRPD misusing round up!! Attend meeting this Thursday nite!

I’ve been round and round the Conejo Recreation and Park District website trying to make sense of the arguments for use of glyphosate—the chemical found in Roundup—in broad-scale applications for the removal of turf.

In the CRPD document titled “Glyphosate Use in Parks” there is a list of reasons for using Roundup. Most fall flat.

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The document states that anticipated negative consequences of simply letting the grass die without chemical application include: park aesthetics will suffer; residents will raise concerns that park appearance negatively af- fects property values; dust will be a recurring concern; CRPD may miss out on hundreds of thousands of dollars to be used to beautify parks should it wait too long to complete qualifying “Cash for Grass” conversions; and, finally, district staff will receive a high call volume regarding park issues/ appearances, taking time/attention away from other tasks.

Well, it appears that CRPD has achieved all of these unintended consequences with the use of Roundup.

It doesn’t appear that Roundup is the panacea for our parks. Furthermore, this document states that part of CRPD’s protocol includes posting and leaving signage, stakes and barricades until the day following application.

In Southshore Hills Park, the signage and barricades were removed after three hours.

The spraying was done midmorning and by late afternoon the sprayed areas were being utilized by families, children and dog walkers who had no knowledge the area had been sprayed that morning.

Citizens at Triunfo Park were shocked to see a high-use area by the restrooms sprayed by staff in hazmat suits. The signs and barricades were removed only a few hours after application.

Citizens in the area of Russell Park held similar complaints.

If you’re a fellow citizen with concerns in regard to the use of Roundup in our parks and the failed protocol of CRPD, please join us at the CRPD board of directors meeting 7:30 p.m. tonight, Thurs., Sept. 3, at the Hillcrest Center, 403 W. Hillcrest Drive.

Every voice counts. 

Yvonne Brockwell
Westlake Village


Field  lab cleanup should continue Boeing  Santa Susanna contamination

We are a group of high school students advocating for full cleanup of Rocketdyne (Santa Susana Field Lab), as promised in legally binding agreements between the federal and state government.

Now someone has petitioned the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to come into our community and advocate for breaking the agreement. This is outrageous.

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Although ATSDR will not release the name of the one individual who petitioned for the study, it is clear who it is. He is not a community member concerned about health risks from the contamination at the site, but rather is a former site official close to Boeing, a corporation spending millions of dollars on lobbyists and PR to get out of the cleanup.

Elected officials and community members have for decades insisted that studies of the potential health impacts of the radioactive and chemical contamination be done by independent, credible scientific researchers.

Since the federal government is a party responsible for the contamination, it can’t be trusted to study whether its reckless environmental practices harmed people.

Several elected officials, including Sen. Feinstein, worked hard for the establishment of an independent oversight panel. They hired the UCLA School of Public Health, which found elevated death rates from cancers associated with the workers’ exposures.

In 2007 a University of Michigan study found a 60 percent higher incidence of key cancers in people living near the site compared to those who live farther away.

And a University of California team found toxic materials had migrated beyond the borders of the site at levels in excess of EPA limits.

These last two studies were paid for by ATSDR. Now someone with ties to the polluters has asked ATSDR to come in and repudiate these studies and try to block the cleanup.

The ATSDR is known for doing shoddy health reviews that find nothing wrong. It has no credibility. This would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.

The feds and their contractors contaminated the site and should stop playing games trying to get out of their promises to clean it up. 

Davis Gortner
Thousand Oaks

CRA to blame for financial crisis 

Mr. Graves’ letter of Aug. 20 cannot go unchallenged. Like Hillary Clinton and her denial of problems with her emails, Mr. Graves denies the large part the Community Redevelopment Act played in the financial crisis.

It is true that people flipping houses, those unable to afford down payments and mortgage payments, and greedy bankers added to the crisis. However, government’s part in bullying banks to grant mortgages to those typically unqualified played a major role in the disaster that ensued.

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Perhaps Mr. Graves did not hear Congressman Barney Frank (Democrat) argue with President Bush as he expressed concerns about the solvency of Fannie Mae. Frank assured everyone that their worries were unfounded and he would be happy to invest his own money in the institution. I cannot help but wonder if he did indeed invest as he said.

If proof is desired, you have only to Google this exchange to see and hear him in his own words. Interestingly, even though there is absolute proof of what he said, like so many others who deny what can be seen with their own eyes, he denies it. However, facts are interesting things.

I would also like to remind Mr. Graves that good people can debate and disagree, but calling those with whom you disagree racist is despicable.

Della Spinelli
Thousand Oaks

City salaries ‘way out of line’ 

I was absolutely appalled, I think this is an ideal place to use the colorful word “gobsmacked,” at the exorbitant salaries and ridiculously generous benefits afforded the civic servants employed by us taxpayers of the City of Thousand Oaks(“T.O.’s top earners outpace counterparts in Ventura County,” Acorn, Aug. 20).

A clerical staffer is earning a 10th of what they make. Just compare these numbers to what we pay our schoolteachers for heaven’s sake.

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And, why on earth do we need a city manager who needs an assistant city manager who needs a deputy city manager for almost $1 million a year for three people to do one job? That is ridiculous.

This is all especially appalling as I have struggled to maneuver through years of stalled, poorly planned street construction, dodged potholes, waited for hours at ill-timed traffic signals and experienced the shock of the Westlake Plaza debacle with those same city employees asleep at the switch as outside profiteers do what they please in our fair city.

Those salaries and benefits and perks are way out of line, and I cringe at the comment attributed to Mayor Al Adam: “All these folks can make more in the private sector.”

Well, Al, maybe they should just go to the private sector and we can easily hire other very talented folks at much less than what we are currently paying this group of overpaid, underperforming employees.

If we are paying through the nose for the “best and brightest,” well, I think we should be getting a much, much better performance that we are experiencing. 

Bill Bush
Thousand Oaks

Enforce code to solve parking 

The bids for the Thousand Oaks Improvement Project are 15 to 50 percent over the engineer’s estimate, and Mr. Adam is on record stating that the city needs to reconfigure the project. I have an idea how to do that:

Remove the work needed to add additional on-street parking spaces. The parking spaces won’t be necessary when the city begins enforcing the municipal code’s off-street parking regulations at the auto mall, so there is no need to spend taxpayer funds on that. 

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Pretty simple: Code enforcement will solve the auto mall parking problem. 

Robert Hodson t oaks

Solar carports the way to go 

I was very disappointed in 2011 when the city decided to not follow through with the solar carports at the Newbury Park Library but now am excited that the city is reconsidering the project.

We have multiple examples of solar carport installations at our community parks throughout the Conejo Valley.

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Cost certainly must be considered and I’m sure the city accountants could easily crunch the numbers from those projects to see if it was fiscally worthwhile.

I’d be surprised if they weren’t.

I have neighbors and work colleagues who installed solar panels not because of the environment but because it made sense for their pocketbook.

Also, when I go to my local Dos Vientos Community Center, I see cars flocking to park under the carports for the shade. This week’s heat makes that beneficial feature acutely apparent. Plus the aesthetics debate has not really materialized as a significant issue.

So I say, let’s keep amassing our city’s solar portfolio, panel by panel. It will cost us less for electricity in the long run, will reduce pollution, will be a great example of energy technology for library patrons and on oc- casion will keep our kids from burning their thighs on superheated leather seats.

Joey Liu
Newbury Park

Merger required sale of stores 

Letter writer Marilyn Hellener (Acorn, Aug. 27) was thoughtful to include contact information for Haggen’s corporate offices, but she is off-base with her main point and criticism.

The Safeway-AB Acquisition LLC merger, completed early this year, resulted in an entity with sole ownership of 2,230 stores, dozens of distribution and manufacturing facilities and more than 250,000 employees across 34 states and the District of Columbia. As a condition of this merger, the Federal Trade Commission mandated the sale of 146 stores.

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A condition such as this routinely occurs in cases involving sales to competitors (an antitrust consideration, the FTC requiring some stores to be sold to others, in this case, grocers, in order to ensure competition).

For good or bad, the FTC watches and facilitates the system. However, the FTC’s action in no way “forced Haggen to buy 150 stores” but rather required that the 146 stores be sold by Safeway-AB.

If, as Ms. Hellener suggests, “Haggen didn’t want and couldn’t handle 150 stores and never intended to keep all of them,” they could have stayed on the sidelines. The situation can hardly be blamed on “the FTC interfering in private enterprise.”

Sure, going from 18 to 164 stores (an 800 percent increase) and failing and bailing miserably could have been Haggen’s plan all along. Or, they were simply way out over their skis and made a supremely misguided and fantastic strategic blunder.

But in a free market society, if Haggen didn’t agree to acquire the 146 stores, another company would have. That’s the way private enterprise and capitalism work. 

Chuck Seeger
Thousand Oaks

Roundup safe when used as recommended

I read the Aug. 27 letter “Really no need for Roundup” with major concerns.

Not concerns that glyphosate, the chemical used in Roundup, is a personal and environmental hazard when used in accordance with its label directions, but that so much false information is being interpreted as gospel truth.

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All registered herbicides have a label. The label gives you directions for the use of the product and tells you what personal protection equipment the applicator must use to apply the product in a safe manner.

It also tells the applicator how to avoid environmental and public hazards.

There is no excuse for using the product in conflict with the labeled recommendations. The label even includes the level of potential hazard the product represents.

There are three levels written on all labels. They are caution, warning and danger. Roundup falls into the category of warning.

It falls into that category because it represents an eye hazard to the applicator, and the label directions tell you how to avoid that hazard.

An applicator should follow label directions and apply Roundup in the absence of the general public in the immediate area.

Once the product has dried, the general public can reenter the area. Within 24 hours, Roundup will begin to revert back to its natural elements, therefore not becoming an environmental hazard to the ground or groundwater.

All this with the assumption that the product is being used consistent with the label directions.

I am a retired state licensed pest control adviser. I was the manager for Los Angeles Unified School District’s Pest Management Department.

I pride myself in the Integrated Pest Management program which considers nonchemical answers to pest problems. I am the first recipient of the state-sponsored IPM Innovators Award for my reduction of the use of pesticides.

I do not have stock in the production of Roundup nor do I endorse any product. I have no skin in the game.

It’s just that I see too much ado about a relatively benign, efficient, labor-saving product. 

William “Bill” Hicks
Newbury Park

Heart use of Roundup now City and CRPD

The Acorn’s headline “City opts against using Roundup at golf course” from Aug. 20 conjures memories of last year’s Tree-Gate or Tree Travesty at Westlake Plaza. City and park officials were tone deaf until they heard the public outrage: 200 trees seemingly indiscriminately removed.

The Acorn reported that City Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña and Community Development Director John Prescott, independently, asked Patrick Conway, regional owner of Regency Centers, to consider saving the trees. 

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We now have “Roundup- Gate.” Which is the art of spraying Roundup around the Los Robles Golf Course. The City Council has come to its senses again.

Now the question: What about the parks in Conejo Recreation and Park District?

I’m very concerned with other park citizens who use Triunfo Park and other parks witnessing spraying Roundup in the parks’ common areas for removing turf. These areas are used by children, soccer kids, families and the general public with their dogs.

There are no signs to alert the general public as to the dangers of Roundup.

No posting Roundup’s ingredient, glyphosate, which may be a carcinogen. No notices about Roundup’s effect on public health. Embedded in Roundup’s terrific toxic swirl is POEA or, as everyone knows, “polyethoxylated tallowamine,” deadly to human embryos, and placental and umbilical cords cells. Researchers find this fact “astonishing.” Marie Oser said “Glyphosate pollutes groundwater (and) is banned in countries around the world.”

We call on the City Council and the parks and rec to abandon the use of Roundup now. If you want to use this chemical then keep the public safe: Conduct a formal environmental impact study. Formulate a plan. All parks share the burdens of the plan. Publish your “Turf Removal Plan.”At the CRPD website, links to listed parks for “Turf Removal plan” don’t work.

We’re all for saving water. And we’re doing it. It’s time for the City Council and CRPD to stop toxic use of Roundup.

The Acorn reported, “Jaime Boscarino, deputy finance director, said, ‘Alternative methods are being discussed.’” Halt. Abandon your Roundup strategy now. It’s time for alternatives. 

Pete Elliot
Westlake Village

Grateful to good Samaritan 

I’m writing to send a huge thank-you to the anonymous good Samaritan who took the time to place a note on my car with the license number and vehicle description of the truck that hit my car on July 29.

The hit-and-run accident took place in the parking lot at the southeast corner of Westlake Boulevard and Agoura Road.

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Without the information provided by this good Samaritan, I would have been left to pay all the repair charges myself. If more people took the time to come forward in situations like this, perhaps we could begin to stem the tide of hit-and-run accidents in California

Diane Brown
Thousand Oaks

Protect the right to carry 

In America, we cherish the good and tolerate the bad. We cope and try to make sense of the absurd and embrace the divine. We pray and we hope.

Can we do more? Yes, we can read good books and learn, we can educate ourselves and listen to the wise and aged, we can teach, work hard and serve one another. We can get involved and be passionate about ideals, gracefully change our mind or understand another’s point of view.

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We can vote for those we believe in, run for office ourselves or speak what is on our mind. Yes, we can even fight for what is right and good.

We can defend ourselves against those who want to harm us or follow those we trust. We can choose to be warriors or sheep: Neither is better than the other. It’s a choice.

This is America, the land of the free. We have but one life to live; let us live it to our full potential.

Let us do whatever we can to defend and honor America, our freedom, our heritage, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness, including that of our neighbors no matter how different they may be. Let us be respectful and support and protect the warriors and sheep around us.

Receiving a right-to-carry permit requires a thorough background check, a personal interview with a detective, training, basic abilities of handling a gun and being able to shoot what you are aiming at within a specified time.

Any person with a mental or criminal history is generally denied a permit. The process can take up to a year here in Ventura County. There are strict laws and constraints associated with an RTC; any misuse is severely punished.

There seem endless intellectual, scientific and emotional arguments for and against RTC. Let a person choose what they may, but for myself, I appreciate the opportunity to exercise my right to bear arms. 

Peter Wolf
Thousand Oaks