Santa Paula Times

New City Councilmen Robinson, Tovias address Good Morning SP

January 28, 2009
Santa Paula News

Fred Robinson and Jim Tovias, Santa Paula’s newest City Councilmen, offered some thoughts on their new municipal duty at the January Good Morning Santa Paula!

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesFred Robinson and Jim Tovias, Santa Paula’s newest City Councilmen, offered some thoughts on their new municipal duty at the January Good Morning Santa Paula! State Farm Insurance/Jim Tovias hosted the Chamber-sponsored event, held at Logsdon’s at the Santa Paula Airport.Tovias, elected to the Council in November and selected vice mayor, has been with State Farm for more than 30 years. “My first eight years I worked in corporate, really loved it,” until the position threatened to relocate the family. “Family and kids come first,” he noted.Insurance is “kind of recession proof... my business grew last year. It’s a nickel and dime business, but they add up,” and Tovias said provide “flexibility of time” that allowed him to become involved in the Chamber, as well as seek elected office.Chamber President/CEO John Blanchard noted Robinson and Tovias served as dedicated and productive Chamber board directors, but “resigned so there is not a hint of conflict. We hate to lose you guys, but we know we have friends in high places. We thank you for your fine service.”The Council held a historic joint meeting with the district school boards, and Tovias said he believes “people understand how important education is to the community. As we start to attract business to town, I hope we have the opportunity to not only bring the school boards to meet companies, but also our wonderful teachers and students,” who would bring a “name and a face” to education.Overall, Tovias, who has run numerous campaigns, said his own election experience showed him “It’s easier to run a campaign than to be a candidate... I was glad when it was over.” Those at City Hall have been “very cooperative, and a lot of research and homework is done before the meetings. There are a lot of dedicated people in town” that Tovias said he finds “very gratifying.”Robinson commended the Chamber under former Chair Connie Tushla and new Chair Sam Hishmeh.
The joint Council/schools board meeting centered on “one of our concerns... education in the community. I am a firm believer that a quality education is the key to our success,” and Robinson said with “so many families overwhelmed with housing issues,” it can have a negative impact on student success.“Both Jimmy and I are products of the public education” offered in Santa Paula. “Isbell Middle School was my second home” and, noted Robinson, “I grew up on South 4th Street and in those days the campus was wide open... my mom would always know where to find me.”The city is a business, quality of life a high priority, and “In order to be a successful business” the economy must be sound. Santa Paula is in “relatively good shape,” with reserves of about $1.8 million, “better,” Robinson said, than he thought.“I compliment Wally (City Manager Bobkiewicz) and city staff for being proactive in planning,” and mid-year budgets are being examined. “Pressing issues important to us are housing, and I mean housing for everyone,” including Adams Canyon, which Robinson said has been put on hold due to financing issues.“We need that development, high-income level,” as well as Limoneira’s East Area 1. “We’re working with Fillmore to tweak” the greenbelt agreement before the land-use is finalized by LAFCO, and Robinson said Limoneira’s concern for education has prompted plans for an educational center.Labor issues “seem to have been resolved” at the city’s new water recycling plant, and Robinson complimented the “underground, out of sight out of mind processing” that saves land, and the exploration of recycled water revenue.“Jim and I are very keen on code enforcement, people living in dangerous situations.” Robinson said the Council is interested in more enforcement to raise living conditions, and working with the agricultural community on housing opportunities.Tovias said the Council’s “business approach to government” could result in restructuring, including early retirement for some staffers. “The big concern now is with the state budget shortfall; the state might look to cities” and withhold funding.