Read it and weep

Dear Editor:
Two stories in the Sentry’s November issue caught my eye, and they should catch the eye of every reader.  The first story by real estate columnist Al Ricci points out that the current “tax reform” being discussed in Washington may very well eliminate mortgage interest deductions, as well as state and local tax deductions.  Both are critical to all Californians because they make homeownership more affordable. Take away those deductions, and there’s a net transfer of tax dollars from California and other coastal states to the South and the Midwest.  These deductions facilitate homeownership. Take them away, and you take away the dreams of millions of Californians.

The other story was in Canyon Beat by Andrew Tonkovich, which noted the conspicuous absence of feedback from Rep. Mimi Walters.  I received a slick brochure from Walters several months ago, which said that small businesses can’t compete because the tax code is too complicated and that “thousands of jobs are lost each year to places like China.”   Tax reform, she implies, will change that. The brochure didn’t mention that big corporations, not small businesses, will be the primary beneficiaries, and that they send jobs to China, not because of a complicated tax code, but because labor is cheaper there.  The very rich will also benefit from reduced tax rates in the highest bracket, and through elimination of the estate tax, which benefits people who want to pass through, without taxation, estates worth more than $5.5 million.  

I have never worked in a political campaign before.  Neither has my wife.  But come 2018, we’re going to volunteer on behalf of Walters’ challenger: someone willing to provide timely feedback to constituents, and more inclined to help Californians, not the donors who keep her in office.

Jim Sill
Modjeska Canyon

Candid comments

Dear Editor: 
After reading the Sentry article “Villa Park Constituents call out embattled city council,” several times, I have come to the conclusion that check-gate is much ado about nothing. 

Councilpersons Robbie Pitts and Diana Fascenelli are concerned that Councilmen Bill Nelson and Bob Collacott signed a check to pay the city’s monthly credit card bill, which included the repair of damage caused by the city parking lot gate to Collacott’s vehicle.  Nelson and Collacott sign this check every month.  Pitts claims that city processes were not followed, but did not identify which ones.  

Collacott reported the damage to Don Powell, the interim city manager at that time.  The repair to his vehicle was approved by Powell.   The only error was in Powell’s failure to file a report of the incident. 

It is time for Pitts and Fascenelli to get over their anguish of not controlling the council, and to stop blaming Collacott and Nelson for acting on Fascenelli’s failure to reimburse the city treasury for her health insurance premiums.  

Let’s get back to the business of the City of Villa Park.  And, let’s judge our council members by their track record of contributions to Villa Park. 

Since the November article focused on Councilman Collacott, I list some of his contributions to our city since he was elected.   

On Jan. 28, an eight-foot diameter storm drain collapsed, endangering nearby houses. Collacott and Vince Rossini notified Supervisor Todd Spitzer of the emergency and requested assistance.  The drainage was cleared.

Collacott has been the force behind the current focus on city infrastructure maintenance and improvements. He championed establishment of the City Infrastructure Advisory Committee consisting of residents with significant professional infrastructure knowledge and skills. 

Collacott, with Bill Nelson’s support, championed  the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee, a committee of resident law enforcement professionals with background in public safety. 

We should be grateful Councilman Collacott is working for us!

Mary Beth Felcyn
Villa Park

Dear Editor:
In 2014 I campaigned to be part of a team:  the Villa Park City Council.  I did not campaign to be part of any faction or cabal.  Unfortunately, from 2015 to 2016, Councilpersons Greg Mills, Rick Barnett and Diana Fascenelli ostracized Bill Nelson and me.  Nevertheless, Nelson and I did not complain, but rather collaborated to make significant contributions to our community.  These include implementation of a more useful and transparent financial reporting system, and establishment of the Law Enforcement Advisory Committee.

With the election of Vince Rossini and Robbie Pitts, Nelson and I hoped that the council could begin to work as a team to move the city forward and address deficiencies in our streets, storm drains and sewers.  However, at the outset, Councilwoman Fascenelli announced that she would not work with the council, and has since made a determined effort to oppose and/or obstruct the efforts of the council.  To our astonishment, Councilman Pitts has joined in supporting Fascenelli’s opposition.   Most notably, they opposed the budget for updating the Villa Park City Strategic Plan, which was last reviewed in 2006; walked out of the public workshop for the strategic plan; and voted against the establishment of the Infrastructure Advisory Committee.   My middle school student council would not have tolerated this type of behavior, and such behavior by elected officials is unconscionable.  This determined opposition of beneficial initiatives explains many of the 3-2 votes that frequently occur.

I am not a part of any cabal, and neither are Councilmen Nelson or Rossini – there is just a shared commitment to make positive contributions to our city.   Mayor Nelson and I apply the knowledge gained from our Masters in Business Administration degrees and Councilman Rossini the knowledge from his Masters in Public Administration, as well as our professional experience, and have accomplished much. 

I choose to define myself, and any attempt by others to define me as part of any council “faction” is offensive.  My only interest is to address the city’s problems and needs, and only consider what is best for our community.  If ANY of the other council members (including Fascenelli or Pitts) propose a fiscally responsible measure that will benefit our city, they can count on my support.  However, they can also count on my opposition to any proposal that does not. 

Robert Collacott
Mayor Pro Tem, Villa Park