Santa Paula Times


October 15, 1999
Unjustified rumors To the Editor:I keep hearing talk of racism and how unfair the City of Santa Paula is in its hiring process. I personally think the rumors are unjustified. Just for fun, let's take a look at a few of the employees. Peter Cosentini, our City Administrator, is Italian. Do you think that is why he was hired to lead our city? Julie Hernandez, the Assistant to the City Administrator, is Hispanic and our former Police Chief, Walt Adair, is "white." I rather doubt that had anything to do with why either was given their position. Bob Gonzales, our current Police Chief, is Hispanic. All the citizens of Santa Paula, both "white" and Hispanic, came forward and insisted Bob was the best person for the job, to which I definitely agree. Race was not the deciding factor. In fact, it was not even considered.This is only a fraction of the people employed by the City. They were all hired because they were educated, applied, tested and interviewed for the jobs. Their scores were earned and it proved they were the persons most qualified to do the job. Being a former employee of the City, I have sat on oral boards for the interviewing process. The color of a person's skin was never an issue, nor was their gender, religion or political belief. The bottom line was always who was the most capable of doing the job for which he or she had applied.We all live in the United States. I believe the word "united" means together as one. It's a proven fact...United, we Stand...Divided, we Fall.We have a nice City here. I, for one, am tired of all the bickering and think it is time for the residents of Santa Paula to stand together as one and realize we are all the same race - the Human Race. If you don't consider yourself to be part of the Human Race, regardless of where you live there will never be any room for you as a community leader.Janet SwingleSanta PaulaA matter of inconvenienceTo the Editor:In my travels about town I see the movement of our children and grandchildren going to and from school. I see elementary school kids walking as far as about one half a mile. I see middle school kids more than that. High school kids a mile or more. These distances are common in most communities.The question facing us is the claim of a few that the polling places are not conveniently located in certain areas for voters. If this is true, then apparently our schools are not conveniently located for our children.Bill MensingSanta PaulaPlaying the race cardTo the Editor:Re: Santa Paula DOJ Investigation, LULACTo my knowledge, the United States Department of Justice has not called any individual or group of individuals racist in their Santa Paula investigation nor has the League of United Latin American Citizens, of which I am a member. I find it curious that people voicing their opinions about the investigation have decided to play the race card when neither of these organizations have done so.An attempt is being made to address a legal issue, which has had social ramifications within our community...nothing more, nothing less. Individuals choosing to focus on the terms "racism" and "racist" should invest some time, energy and intelligence, get themselves a copy of the Voting Rights Act and read up on the legalities of this investigation. They might contact LULAC National Headquarters and find out just what kind of principles this organization promotes. I doubt that any intelligent human being could find anything offensive, if they would invest the time to educate themselves by researching the subject before voicing their opinions. If after their research they still disagree, that is beauty of our country, we have that right.There have not been nor will there be any secret meetings. The Los Angeles Times printed my name and telephone number as a contact for the local LULAC council about a month ago so that any persons interested in attending our meetings or joining our council could do so.I would like to end on a positive note by thanking the authors of recent letters to the editor for encouraging everyone to exercise the right to vote. This is where our true strength and power as citizens is found. I actively encourage each and everyone eligible to vote to do so. ONE VOICE - ONE VOTE...SU VOTO, ES SU VOZ.Cyndy Zakrajshek-SmithSanta PaulaTeam effort pays offTo the Editor:The Santa Paula Boys Traveling Baseball Team, ages 9 to 11, held a Chicken Dinner Fund Raiser at the Santa Paula Moose Lodge Sunday, October 10th. Our goal was to raise money for uniforms and equipment. Thanks to a wonderful "team" effort we reached our goal.On behalf of the players, Coach Tony Mata, and families of the boys, we have some special people to recognize.The members of the Moose Lodge for use of their facilities and generous donations.Members Margie Fernandez and "Coach" Gil Navarro for their guidance and help.Alvis McNalley and Toni Bauman for lending us their barbecue grills.Mark Osuna for his assistance cooking the chicken.Margie Fernandez donated beans.Ms. Mata donated rice.Esther from Crystal Bakery on Main Street for the rolls.
Bobby from Sam's Market on Harvard for the chicken.Nancy Gonzales and Christine Gomez donated the tickets.Izzy and Eve Mora for their generous donation.Thank you to the people and organizations who made donations anonymously.Thank you to all of the parents and extended families for donating their time and efforts. Thank you to the community for setting an example of generosity and participation.Judith DonatoSecretary for the teamSanta PaulaContract extensionTo the Editor:Re: City Council Extension of City Manager's ContractThe recent brief article regarding the Council majority's vote to extend City Manager, Peter Cosentini's, contract accurately described the discussion - brief but costly.One should contrast the two-year Police Officer negotiations with the unexpected early contract renewal of the City Manager. The S.P.P.O.A. labor negotiations culminated in an overflow meeting of public safety supporters which saw the Council majority unilaterally implement a 2% ($34,000) contract.In a matter of possibly five minutes the City Manager had quite easily convinced the Council on a 4-1 vote that his "at will" status was really worth a six year binding contract and over $300,000 in salary alone. Benefits such as life insurance policy, automobile, health benefits, pension, etc. are above this amount. One might question what specific accomplishments garnered an "at will" employee such a steep reward for only 1 1/2 years tenure in the city. Mayor Garfield stated it was important for Cosentini "to have something to hang his hat on."A review of the City Manager's contract will show that the City Manager already had many protections. The current three-year contract allowed for lump sum cash payment of six months severance salary and benefits package if the Council chose to release him from the contract. The contract called for a review seven months prior to the termination of the contract so that Mr. Cosentini and his family could have assurances of his continued employment.Additionally, if the council should fail to timely declare, at least six months prior to the termination of the contract, its intent to negotiate a new contract or extend the current one the contract shall be automatically be extended for a period equal to that during which such intention is not declared. The City Manager also has protection during the 90 day period following a general or special election for City Council. Mr. Cosentini and his family are well protected to the tune of over $300,000, an amount not yet budgeted for but now encumbered.An added note, Mr. Cosentini strongly advised the Council not to provide a contract for Police Chief Bob Gonzales because this position was "at will."Laura Flores EspinosaCouncil WomanSanta PaulaJustice Department threatens Louisiana parentsTo the Editor:In a previous letter to the Santa Paula Times, I discussed the wrong-headed opinion of the Acting Attorney General of the United States, Bill Lee. Mr. Lee believes that Santa Paula's at-large voting practice is discriminatory against Hispanics and, at the urging of Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa, Lee's views may result in the Justice Department filing suit against our town.Currently, of three councils elected in city-wide voting, only one is majority Anglo, the city council. The other two, the elementary and high school boards, are majority Hispanic. Surely this is an indication that local voters can and do exercise the right to vote for whomever they wish. As I stated, if at-large voting is scrapped, you and I will be allowed to vote for only one city council person, not all five as we can now. Under district voting, only one city council person will represent you and be answerable to your concerns. You will not be able to vote for family or friends running for office if they live across town or even down the street, if that is where one of the five district lines happens to be drawn.Since my letter appeared, a number of Hispanic letter-writers have commented that they want to continue voting for five council persons, not just one that that the current at-large system does not inhibit them for voting for whom they please.This week, I ran across an article in a nationwide newspaper, Investors Business Daily, which reported that the Acting Attorney General is attempting to obstruct not just Santa Paula voters, but parents of school children in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Parents in Baton Rouge organized a charter school and were set to enroll 650 local, mostly low-income minority children. The parents want an alternative to public education but cannot afford private schools. But Mr. Lee believes that the new school will attract minority students who have been traveling to predominantly white schools, and leave the white schools less integrated than they had been. For this reason, the Justice Department will try to bar the kids from attending the school of their choice by filing suit against the new school. Because someone complained, Mr. Lee is going to fix a problem that does not exist by ensuring that everyone has fewer choices rather than more.Likewise, here in Santa Paula, because someone complained, Mr. Lee is going to fix a problem that does not exist by ensuring that we have fewer choices for city council - one choice instead of five. Santa Paula is too small to be divided into separate districts. This time, race is being used to promote a bad idea.Stop this misguided man and his bad ideas. Call City Hall now at 525-4478 and tell them you want to vote for five not just one.Rita GrahamSanta Paula