Letter to the Editor: Christmas display

Dear Editor:

Doing Christmas displays is not new to me; after all, I’ve lived in Downey since 1961 and have been decorating my own house since the age of 10 years.

Over the years I had some very impressive displays at 7920 Melva Street. I was the first to create a 40-channel, 4,000 light, electronic Christmas tree and the only one to put the vintage C-9 bulbs in motion way back in 1989.

Being innovative comes second to nature for me, but this year it was time to lend some of that know-how to my sister’s display at 7614 Yankey. If you have not seen it this year, you should do so. It’s all new and quite a crowd pleaser.

I really pulled out all the stops this year by installing three computerized singing Christmas trees right up on the edge of the roof. Because of their very large size, special consideration had to be taken in bracing them to handle the big gusty winds we get every year.

And with her tile roof, that was a huge challenge since I could not screw them down. I designed a clever mechanical lock system to lock them in tight right under the tiles - no screws whatsoever.

Each singing tree is comprised of almost 200 addressable RGB LEDs. Timing sequences have to be programmed on the main computer inside the house to make each tree’s mouth sync to the music. Then the data is sent out serially over a CAT 5 cable to a network of controllers behind the trees. Each tree needs to receive the correct digital address from the main computer to light up the corresponding LED on the face of the tree to make it sing.

All this data is flying around at the speed of light to those trees, so fast you can’t tell each LED is actually being turned on one at a time!

Then for your listening pleasure, Christmas music is piped in stereo out to your car. The sound track is broadcasted on 100.7 FM plus outside over speakers at a soft level not to disturb the neighbors.

To give the display some sparkle, there are 250 strobe lights 25 feet in the air complemented by 4000 blue LEDs gracefully draped throughout the trees.

And finally, to add some electronic pizzazz to those trees, I hung thirty 10 inch, 300 white LED spheres from the trees and synchronized them to the music too. Besides all the new electronics stuff is a well done nativity scene plus other Christmas icons spread out the display. It takes about a full month to put it all up.

Please stop by and enjoy the best lights of the season in Downey!

Larry Osterhoudt

Letter to the Editor: Political role model

Dear Editor:

With the passage of George H.W. Bush, the country lost a great and decent leader.

His civility in his public and private life was legendary and his actions are something that the current crop of politicians would do well to emulate. His legacy will stand the test of time.

I am hopeful that another similar leader will emerge in the not-to-distant future so that the country can continue in its path to grandeur.

Jorge Montero

OP-ED: Don't leave the American Legion behind

Photo by Brian Heyman

Photo by Brian Heyman

While the nation was mourning the death of WWII Naval Aviator and 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush, the building housing the American Legion Post 723 in Hollydale was demolished by Los Angeles County, which owns the parcel in Downey, to make way for a proposed veterans' housing project.

The flag flying at half-mast in front of the building to honor our former Commander-in Chief was sadly apropos, as bulldozers brought down the walls of a place where so many local veterans of our wars have gathered since the Hollydale Post was established in the 1940's.

For all intents and purposes, the demolition of the building is akin to the death of American Legion Post 723. The contents of the building were removed by its members and transferred to storage before demolition, but without a permanent meeting place to gather, it is unlikely the post will survive.

Downey's American Legion Post 270 meets on the third Tuesday of the month in the Sizzler Restaurant on Lakewood Blvd. at 7 p.m., but it is struggling from declining membership. Its remaining members are still active in Downey by supporting both the Veteran's Day ceremony at City Hall and the Memorial Day ceremony at the Downey Cemetery, but in declining numbers every year unfortunately.

Veterans of our military conflicts in the 21st century don't seem to be interested in joining the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as almost everyone did after service during WWII, the Korean War or the Vietnam War. This isn't isolated to Downey; American Legion and VFW posts across the country struggle with declining membership.

Downey honors the active duty service of our citizen soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen through the military banners posted along Firestone Boulevard. It also honors veterans of all of the branches of the military through the beautiful veterans memorials in the Civic Center, and at the niche wall in the Cemetery.

There is also a memorial to the young Downey men killed in Vietnam in the plaza of the Downey Theatre.

Downey has another veteran's service group which is doing good things in our City, as well as for "at promise" students at Columbus High School. It's called "Courage Forward."

Courage Forward is a non-profit whose members are primarily veterans of the War on Terror. They are young, idealistic, enthusiastic and ambitious. The group came together initially as a social club of sorts, but with the vision and leadership of then council candidate and now Mayor Rick Rodriguez, it has evolved into a strong service group and force for good in Downey.

With the demise of Hollydale American Legion Post 723 and the declining membership of Downey American Legion Post 270, Courage Forward has an opportunity to join forces with these service groups to make them stronger.

Military combatants have a credo they are all willing to die for: "No one left behind" on the battlefield.

I pray and hope that members of the American Legion in Downey aren't left behind.

Brian Heyman is a United States Air Force veteran and member of American Legion Post 270.

Letter to the Editor: Boycotting the Downey Theatre

Dear Editor:

I was both disappointed and disgusted to read in the Downey Patriot that VenueTech was given another 3-year contract to manage the Downey Theater. It is an epic mistake that just keeps getting worse.

I applaud Mr. Lawrence Christon for his detailed and articulate article in the Patriot. Downey’s naive needs-more-marketing approach completely misses the point. City council thinks that VenueTech will help solve the problem when VenueTech is the problem.

What a wonderful Christmas present it would have been for all of us had Downey announced that they were going to bring in an ethical, reputable, responsible theater management company. Then we might see revitalization occur, as well as the potential return of our beloved Downey Civic Light Opera. Instead, we get three more years of oblivion.

All of this leaves one question to be asked. Who is collecting the payoffs and kickback that keeps this awful company in place?

My boycott continues.

Mike Sanburn

Letter to the Editor: City Council encounter

Dear Editor:

I would like to report an encounter I had with Downey city council-elect Claudia Frometa, and let the reader form an opinion on its content.

I had written an op-ed piece for The Downey Patriot about what we lose when candidates for public office don’t hold public debates, which not only give us an insight into their ideas, beliefs policies and breadth of experience, but show how well they deal with the pressure of having to think on their feet in an unpredictable, challenging environment.

The candidates in question were Frometa and Carrie Uva. Both were running for the 4th District seat of Fernando Vasquez, who is termed out this year and whose purview includes the downtown region, crucial to the social, cultural and commercial life of the city. Failure to debate allowed them, as I put it in the article, to hide behind the “platitudinous drivel” of carefully edited PR statements.

Frometa won the vote.

I was sitting in an aisle seat during the November 13th city council meeting when Frometa sought me out. We had never met or communicated before.

“I take exception to what you wrote in the Patriot,” she said, jabbing an accusatory finger toward my sternum. “I have a background in journalism. What you wrote is irresponsible.”

Naturally, I was taken aback by this unexpected and aggressive stance.

“Where did you work in journalism?” I asked.

“Never mind that,” she replied. “What you did was wrong.”

“How so?”

“You didn’t talk to me privately before you wrote the piece.”

“I wasn’t obliged to. It was an op ed opinion piece, not a news article that requires reportage. What would you have said that wasn’t in your PR statements. Why didn’t you debate?”

“Never mind,” she replied. “What you did was irresponsible.” She walked away.

This was the full extent of our conversation. I thought about it afterward and wondered about her background in journalism. Why wouldn’t she reveal where she worked? How is it she didn’t know the crucial difference between editorial opinion and news story and where a writer’s responsibility lies on each. Finally, after I had made the case, however briefly, she insisted that I was still irresponsible.

What does this tell you? Let’s see: she’s evasive about her background. In not presenting a cogent argument, and not acknowledging a counter-argument, she showed that she’s someone who doesn’t listen. That she took umbrage at an article that was not a personal attack indicates that she may be too thin-skinned for public office, or at least naively unaware of the realities she’ll be facing.

We’ll never know if those qualities may have come out had there been a public debate or two with her opponents. But I for one have had a preview of what we may have to deal with in the coming years. It’s not a promising start.

Lawrence Christon

Why were Downey residents not asked about a library closure?

Dear Editor:

There was an article in the paper that the Downey City Library is going to be closed for more than a year for extensive remodeling.

They are doing this because they need to use up the millions of dollars raised by the half-cent sales tax increase voted for by the citizens of Downey for the benefit of the Downey library.

We voted for that sales tax increase to assure that our library wouldn’t need to be closed a couple of days a week because of under-funding.

The City Council does not own the library, the citizens of Downey own the library.

We elected the City Council to represent us, not to rule us.

The City Council needs to ask the owners of the library, the users of the library, if this is what we want.

Seniors, including myself, use the library on a regular basis for research, making copies, and even using the restroom in an emergency. Seniors ages 90 do not decide when to use the restroom. They just hope to make it in time. Every time is an emergency. We don’t have a year to give up our library.

The kids who go to the library every day after school to do their homework can’t give up a year. Neither can the little children who have classes there.

The myriad of people who just drop in occasionally to check out a book, a VHS tape, a CD recording, or whatever requires constant access. And the people who attend the computer classes don’t have a year to spare either.

My suggestion is to remodel the library one section at a time but leave it open.

The City Council should be doing what candidate Carrie Uva said to me, “Reach out to me. Reach out to me.”

They should be asking for input by the citizens. Then we’d have a good City Council.

Belle Fluhart

Letter to the Editor: The left's never-ending game

Dear Editor:

Tearing down Trump is the name of the game
By some of the media and those of great fame.
No credit for ISIS now taking a dive
Allowing more people to live and survive.

No credit for ceasing the Rocket Man’s roar
When threatening the world with horrific war.
With tax cuts and many more jobs to be had
Trump gets no credit -- he’s totally bad.

He’s a racist! Impeach him! The left loudly shout.
We don’t care what he’s done -- we just want him out.

Martha Morrissy

Letter to the Editor: Little League fees are reasonable

Dear Editor:

I read last week’s comments from a writer comparing our little league to a Mafia. Really? Wow.

Sounds like another uninformed, un-involved parent to me. As a 20-year past board member of Downey Fastpitch Girls Softball, I know the facts of running a league. Does Mr. Brown? Has he ever served on a board or seen what a league has to pay?

A $25 registration fee will not pay for: league Insurance, uniforms, equipment, umpires (who can take over 50% of this income), fields, trophies, or repairs to the snack shack.

Then there is working the snack shack - which no parent ever wants to do. Parents were willing to pay a fee to hire a student to work their shift as they never show up. They, of course, want to watch their little one play and can’t miss 2 hours.

These fees are definitely reasonable. Get involved and thank those sports groups for volunteering their time so we still have recreational leagues here in town.

Dorothy Pemberton

Letter to the Editor: Credit to Trump

Dear Editor:

I read the New York Times’ op-ed “Just Let Jim Acosta Do His Job.” I wonder if the NY Times has ever printed anything good about President Trump. Anything?

I, too, wish he would tone down his replies. He was elected by the American people to be President, but the liberals can’t accept it. The Democrats in Congress have done nothing but try to take him down. The same regarding Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh.

It didn’t bother them that Clinton lied to Congress but it is different if you’re a Democrat. ERic Holder lied and sent over 2,000 AK-47 rifles to the drug cartels in Mexico. One of the guns killed one of our Border Patrol officers. Nothing was done to him; he’s out now telling people to attack Republicans, as is Maxine Waters -- nothing done there either.

I firmly believe that if every politician who has lied were put out of office, we would have to have special elections to fill a major part of Congress. I recall President Obama saying several times “you can keep your doctor” and “it won’t cost you a dime more for your healthcare.” If the Democrats have anything they wish to accomplish, I wish they would share it with us, other than take President Trump down.

These are some of the things Trump has done:

  • He has made headway with North Korea, trying to get them to take down their nuclear missiles and still working on it. Don’t recall Bush, Obama or Clinton trying to do this.

  • Trump has cut taxes so families with children get a greater deduction and Nancy Pelosi called it “crumbs” and wants the tax cuts back.

  • Does it bother you that more African Americans, more Hispanics and others are now working and wages increased?

  • Fewer are on food stamps.

  • Fewer are on welfare.

  • Trump has sent more MS13 gang members out of the U.S.

  • Trump is trying to get the border fence.

  • The stock market is up.

  • Jobs are coming back to the U.S.

The most surprising thing is Trump is trying to do the things on which he ran. That’s most amazing and highly unusual.

So maybe the left or socialists can sit back and relax for a couple of years, or six years, as those of us desire. But give President Trump credit for his accomplishments.

Elsa Van Leuven

Letter to the Editor: Little League fees

Dear Editor:

$100 for the first child (ages 4-7), $140 (ages 8-12), $140 (ages 13-18), plus each family will pay a $50 snack shack deposit, plus all players are required to participate in one league fundraiser or pay a fee to opt out, plus a late registration fee of $25 per player will be added for registration after Dec. 1.

When did Northwest Downey Little League become part of the Cosa Nostra? Looks more like paying protection than joining Little League.

Kenny Brown

Letter to the Editor: Mario Guerra op-ed

Dear Editor:

In your Nov. 1, 2018 edition, you published a letter from our former mayor, Mario A. Guerra, in which he gave a recap of how he was voting in our recent election.

My first thoughts were; ‘Oh, just what we need.... another politician telling us how to vote.’ However, I was pleasantly surprised.

While I voted differently than he on several of his positions, his comments were very helpful in forming my voting decisions on the ballot Propositions. And, he answered the question why there was no Proposition 9 on the ballot.

I hope Mario continues to give us his thoughts on future elections. He does a better job than the State writers.

Gary Castagnola

Letter to the Editor: Coyote threats

Dear Editor:

Like your Crime Report, you should have news about the coyote threat to pets and small children both day and night.

North Downey has a long standing problem with these predators, and it is spreading south. An adult coyote was recently seen near Paramount and Imperial Highway. Its den is possibly in the Rancho Los Amigos facility.

Ignorance of the threat can be tragic for families unaware of coyotes, or thinking they are safe in their fenced yards.

Gordon Lundene

Letter to the Editor: Veterans Day ceremony

Dear Editor:

I want to thank the City of Downey for participating in 2018 Veterans Day. The American Legion Post #270 takes great pleasure in honoring our veterans with the city.

I remind everyone that we should celebrate our veterans every day. Our veterans are suffering today with homelessness and suicides. This cannot continue.

We cannot put these veterans issues on the shelf and talk about it next Veterans Day. We have to act now.

Ray Gard
American Legion Post #270

Letter to the Editor: When our leaders spoke with eloquence

Dear Editor:

A quote from President George Washington from his Thanksgiving proclamation, Oct. 3, 1789:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor -- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal flavors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

If only our leaders of today spoke with such eloquence, patriotism, love of God, love of country, and love of people instead of spewing hate and discord, what a much better America we would have.

Martha Morrissy

Letter to the Editor: Jim Acosta

Dear Editor:

Without getting into the politics of this issue, the unfortunate and unkind behavior from Mr. Acosta was shameful and unsettling to watch, considering his demeanor and body language.

If you watch closely, the White House intern reaches twice with her right hand for the mic, to no avail. Then she reaches with her left hand and grabs the mic, when Mr. Acosta hits her with his left hand on her inner left elbow, pushing her away.

If I would have been the White House intern, I would have held on and pulled the mic away from Mr. Acosta and risked losing my job by saying to him, “What the [expletive] are you doing? Don’t you have any integrity or self respect? Don’t you realize that you are standing before the President of the United States of America?”

For how long are we going to allow Mr. Acosta’s behavior to continue and escalate? All of us, including myself, have to make a concerted effort to be more cordial and respectful no matter who it is that we are addressing.

Angel Cortes

Letter to the Editor: Downey Library

Dear Editor:

How exactly will the Downey City Library interior spaces be reconfigured? The Oct. 25, 2018, Mayor's Corner article did not specify.

Is it true that the Adult and Children's Sections will be switched? Mayor Sean Ashton, please clarify by printing a schematic, a drawing to show how our Downey Library's public utilization will change with the planned interior reconfiguration.

Knowing how much space and how that space is to be used is critical information that Downey citizens should know now.

Zaida Ramos

California propositions: How I'm voting

This November, Californians will have the opportunity to vote for 11 propositions that include rescinding a gas tax, funding for housing projects, reconsidering daylight savings and adding new standards for farm animals.

I am giving a short recap of each and how I’m voting.

Of course, we all share different opinions and views. But the greatness of our country is that we can and should have discussions about things that can influence our lives with proper dialog.

There’s a lot to consider as you prepare to cast your vote by mail or at the poll booth. Here’s a breakdown of all 11. (Note: The propositions are numbered 1-12 but proposition 9 was pulled in July by order of the California Supreme Court.)

Proposition 1: $4 billion in bonds to fund existing affordable housing projects for low-income families and veterans. Adds about $170 million annually to California’s costs over a 35-year period. The total cost of the bond will cost the taxpayers $5.9 billion. There are a lot of pet projects written into this proposition and both sides agree that it will not fix the housing shortage. I’m voting NO for several reasons.

Proposition 2: An act to amend a current law to utilize $140 million per year to fund the No Place Like Home program, which provides housing to the mentally ill who are homeless. The funds would be used to pay back bond debt of $2 billion that funds the program. In 2004, Californians enacted a millionaires tax to be used for mental health. This proposition expands the ways it can be used towards the mentally ill to include housing. I’m voting YES.

Proposition 3: A bond proposal to fund clean sustainable water supplies and storage. The ask is for $8.877 billion with a repayment schedule of $430 million per year for 40-years. Didn’t we pass water bonds just two years ago to do exactly the same thing? And didn’t we just pass a $ 4.1 billion water infrastructure improvement bond on June 5? I won’t be voting on this one.

Proposition 4: Asks for $1.5 billion in funds to help pay for construction, expansion, renovation and equipment for children’s hospitals throughout the state. Costs the state $80 million annually over 35-years to repay. While the cause is noble in name, it just adds to our overall debt that locks us in when the next recession happens. The League of Women Voters is even against it opposing public funds for private non-profit ventures.

Proposition 5: Allows the transfer of property taxes to a replacement home for individuals over 55, the disabled, loss of primary home due to contamination or natural destruction. Will impact schools and local government due to potential loss of tax revenues. The real estate industry is for it as it will allow seniors to move and not be landlocked due to higher potential property taxes, even if they downgrade to smaller homes. I will be voting YES on this. (Full disclosure, I am now over 55 and this could be self-serving).

Proposition 6: Would repeal the 2017 increased gasoline taxes and fees (gas tax) established for public roads. This is the controversial roads additional tax passed by Sacramento last year. We have been basically paying this for the past 20 years but now all the money that was directed towards this were not fulfilled for the intended use. Using road money on a train that is billions over what we voted for does not make sense to me. Of course our roads need to be fix but we are currently paying for this and have been doing so for a long time. The mismanagement of our roads money needs to stop before we give more to our legislature. I was in Florida last week and saw gas prices at the $2.62 level per gallon. This morning the average cost per gallon in the Los Angeles area per Gasbuddy was $3.84 per gallon. That will cost the average family over $800 annually including car fees. It disproportionately impacts those who least can afford it. I will be voting yes on this proposition.

Proposition 7: Would align California with federal law related to daylight savings with no fiscal impact to the state. This doesn’t really matter since it would take an act of congress to change it. I’m neutral on this and resent that we are wasting taxpayer dollars on this ballot measure to take a public opinion poll. The California legislature should not waste their time with things that cannot happen.

Proposition 8: Establishes limits on charge amounts dialysis clinics have for treatment. This is a controversial proposition as opponents including the state’s nurses association and medical association charge the proposition will actually increase the risk to patients by not providing full treatments. Like everything else it takes reading the fine print to get the real reasons we are having this discussion. Since this is such a vital medical service I hesitate to vote for changes without having vetted the potential alternatives. I am voting NO on this one.

Proposition 10: Rent control enactment would repeal current restrictions faced by cities and other local jurisdictions. I really do believe this will make the housing problem a lot worse and will impact the potential building of new housing. I also believe that each local municipality should always have control on such decision in their own cities. I will be voting NO on this because I believe it will hinder those who need the help the most.

Proposition 11: This would require private-sector ambulance operators to have their hourly paid employees on-call during standard break-time. It seems to be a labor dispute and I’m surprised we are voting on such an issue. It will slightly lower EMT contract cost and save local government some undetermined dollars. I will be voting YES.

Proposition 12: This would set a standard for caging and/or confinement of specific farm animals with a prohibition on sales of animals confined outside of the new standards. This adds new regulations to Prop 2 voted in by the voters in 2008. I will be voting NO on this not because I don’t care but because Prop 2 did a lot to protect our egg laying hens.

I know it’s a lot to digest. But very important that we look at both sides and who put the initiatives on the ballot. The TV commercials all seem to make sense (on both sides) but we need to look deeper and not be influenced by who has the most money. We have voted in things we have regretted in the past and our cost continue to escalate on many of them.

This is the time for us to do our research. Be informed and research your candidates, your local ballot initiatives and the big propositions that affect all of us.

And please, go out and vote. In our unique and great country we are privileged to have this amazing right!

Mario A. Guerra is the former mayor of Downey and current treasurer of the California Republican Party. He can be reached at Mario@guerrains.com

Letter to the Editor: Support for Garcia

Dear Editor:

As a retired member of the California Federation of Teachers, I can’t help but shake my head at the vicious attacks against Cristina Garcia, our 58th District Assemblywoman. The past letter from the Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic Club was spot-on for voicing opposition to the relentless propaganda against her.

When voters are well-informed, we see through the litany of personal attacks, and, instead, focus on merit. I believe many citizens care about clean air, a healthy environment, social justice and equality for women, children and families, government transparency, jobs, and frankly a leader, who will get things done. She hasn’t backed down from political corruption and from tackling pressing issues. She will persist, even in the face of adversity.

This past Sunday on the eve of yet another deadly attack against our Jewish brethren and numerous bomb threats against political leaders and activists, a pastor’s message strongly resonated with me. In part, his message conveyed, “As a community, we may express our opinions; however, the tone should never be in harsh judgement and condemnation of others. Instead, we should uplift people, be of service to others and conduct ourselves in the spirit of love and unity.”

His message reminded me of the context of our despicable political climate. I couldn’t agree more with my pastor’s message. Moreover, I applaud the Hubert H. Humphrey Democratic Club and others for supporting Ms. Garcia’s re-election. For uplifting her. For valuing her service to the 58th Assembly District she courageously represents. Please join informed voters on November 6th and vote. Strong representation matters; and more kindness and unity is what we desperately need from our current leaders.

Linda Johnson