A few months back, I participated in a DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) stakeholder meeting organized by the city, and led by Phin Xaypangna, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer - County of Ventura. The meeting allowed for group brainstorming sessions to discuss inequities and disparities on topics that included housing, transportation, health care, K-12 education, racism, minimum wage, digital divide, law enforcement, city elected officials, community attitude, disability community and LGBTQ+ community.
Additionally, time was provided to talk about the city's strengths, problems, weaknesses and threats ... and then to suggest some BOLD ideas.
The presentation kicked off with a video that I thought would be valuable for people to watch to set the conversation.
Here are the notes as provided by the city from that meeting.
You can also download a PDF of them HERE.
I spoke with councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña about next steps stemming from this meeting and she shared that she is focused on hiring a full-time DEI position for the City of Thousand Oaks who can address this feedback and work with city staff and city residents.
Rob McCoy and his selected candidates for school board (Joelle Mancuso, Karen Meyer, and a third TBD) have been polishing their political statements for campaign runs. They're primed, airbrushed and dying to scare you, because fear is all they've got, really. So, I want to break down some of their polished talking points that you're going to see in their mailers, flyers and social media talking points. And, I want to then give a BRIEF recap of origins/context as it relates to this effort here locally.
Disinformation continues to run rampant in our Conejo Valley community, thanks to the efforts of a few, but well-funded community members. Call it out. You never know what your friends are consuming, and sometimes YOU are the voice they listen to.
The trash was tossed upon my driveway once again … by trash, you know what I’m talking about: the propaganda paper presenting itself as an “independent” community newspaper, called the Conejo Guardian.
You may wonder why I bring up this paper from time to time — you may be thinking, “Gosh, AM, stop giving it attention!” So, here’s the thing … I get a significant number of emails from “non-AM” readers who come across my blog after searching for information about this paper online, who thank me because they were curious what this new paper was and why it was showing up on their porch.
So, if nothing else … I want people to have that information — I want them to know who is behind these slanted “articles,” and I want to hold this “paper” accountable. I also don’t believe in turning a blind eye to biased reporting that leaves out context in order to craft a specific agenda-driven narrative — especially when it’s littering our community with disinformation.
We already know the Conejo Guardian doesn’t adhere to journalism 101 best practices, nor, based on the number of typos they regularly publish, do they care about copyediting. But we also know — at least according to what they state on their front page — that they distribute this to 39,000 households in Conejo Valley. And so, we owe it to our fellow neighbors to make this information easy to find. Look, Rob McCoy has got a lot of money, let’s be honest. And yes, I think McCoy is a funder (either directly or indirectly) of this paper given that the delivery folk will tell you they were sent from Godspeak Calvary, and many of this publication’s writers are McCoy associates … not to mention the paper's CEO is Amy Chen.
Because I like to be aware of what disinformation is being spread, I took a glance at today’s edition. Surprising absolutely no one, there’s another hit piece on CVUSD (trying to drag down the district is the core goal of this paper) … this time with the words: LOCKED DOORS CONFRONTED PARENTS AT THE AUGUST 31 CVUSD BOARD MEETING, writes Rachel Anaya.
Rach, doors don’t confront people. It’s not the way inanimate objects work. Beyond that, I am fascinated that Rachel left out what these parents did to the doors during that meeting. More on that later.
Rach (is this the writer's real name?) goes on to write that the board passed a policy without “public presence.” This not factually true. An accurate statement would have qualified that phrase with IN-PERSON public presence. The community still had opportunity to provide public presence at this meeting by way of public comments via telephone and/or emailed comments to the board. It’s 100% disingenuous to suggest that the board isn’t allowing parents to voice their input. And, it’s lazy and just flat-out bad reporting to not provide the context that this group of parents referenced were FULLY aware that the meetings had shifted to a virtual viewing platform and that they planned to show up and cause a scene at the district office specifically as a show of organized protest. There’s not an innocent little ol’ Mary Jane in this situation, who, hands to Jesus, got turned away at the door. For fuck's sake ... even the sister wives were in on this staged disruption.
So, let’s talk about why the meetings are virtual for the time being. In case you’re living under a rock, you’d know there is a County mask mandate in place. Unfortunately, the same group of parents who showed up to protest and bang on district property, are the same folks that refuse to comply with the mask mandate or health guidelines. And, given that our local law enforcement won’t enforce the mask mandate, these people were putting district staff at risk each meeting. The district has a responsibility to comply with heath mandates and to also protect its staff. It’s these same parents (affiliated with California Parent Alliance, Concerned Parents of California, Informed Conejo, and Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley), whose actions forced the district’s hand in resorting to virtual meetings. Want to attend in-person meetings during a pandemic when there's a mask mandate in place? Wear your fucking masks you fucktwits.
Clearly, I don't have a strong opinion about this. But like, COME ON.
So stop clutching your pearls and feigning outrage over a situation YOU CREATED and are monopolizing on to create the false appearance of being silenced. You literally have Pastor Rob paying for you to put out these shit takes and pieces.
Rach goes on to further write: “motion after motion was passed, with the obligatory question, “Any public comments?” posed to a non-existent audience.” This chick either doesn’t know how public comments work, or is hoping her readers don’t. First, the very fact that she can write this story means she had access to the school board meeting live or via recorded footage, so she is actively part of an audience watching this board meeting. Does she not exist? Is the writer having an existential crisis? Second, public comments are submitted PRIOR to the meeting in a virtual platform, and therefore, had any been submitted for any agenda item (which is posted 72 hours in advance), those public comments would have been heard.
STOP PRETENDING PARENTS WERE BEING SILENCED. This was literally the process throughout the entire last year and no one had an issue with it. No one is showing up banging on city hall's doors while their meetings are virtual ... Y'all want us to believe you were informed enough to organize a group of people to come to the district on a a school board meeting night, but weren't capable of reading instructions for submitting public comments all of a sudden? I know your bulbs don't all shine as brightly as we all wish they did, but you all knew what was up.
Toward the end of the opinion piece presented as an article, Rach touches upon the "disturbance" community members were making outside of the board room. She suggests that the board couldn’t handle the pressure from parents on-site and so they called the cops. Let’s be honest about what that pressure was. These parents were literally screaming, pounding on doors and shaking and rattling the windows. Like that was a thing that actually happened. They could hear it from INSIDE the board room. It was so disruptive that the district leadership was forced to call the police due to the disruption and safety concerns. Seems super weird to leave out that part in her “reporting.” She goes on to state that the police were sympathetic with the parents.
Per a chat with our superintendent on this: “the Chief has been very good to work with. He has been responsive to my feedback and has made adjustments specific to my concerns. The night of the board meeting where they were banging on the windows, he was at the City Council meeting, stepped out to take my call, officers were already there from a Dr. Hayeks' call.” McLaughlin shared that he is finding most officers have no idea how city council/board meeting work and what is considered a meeting disturbance, which is why, at the last meeting, CVUSD SROs from our schools were assigned as they understand more about meetings and school stuff. McLaughlin also shared that the chief did stop in to check in with the board and staff prior to the meeting.” (This has been edited after clarification from the Superintendent was provided).
Then, for safety concerns, the board members exited through the back door to get to their cars, amidst being yelled at by the community members. At a previous meeting, board members were being verbally accosted by these folks as they walked to their cars … so yah, I’d say I could understand why they were taking precautions in protecting themselves from a rowdy crowd that was engaging in district property tampering and verbal harassment.
The piece continues on to a 3rd page with the headline: PARENTS BARRED FROM CVUSD BOARD MEETINGS — Rachel is really getting off on the fear-mongering titles, straight up.
How do I know it was planned? Well, emails were being sent out by CPA, and women from Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley were trying to rally up another protest for the Sept. 14 meeting. I swung by that night to check out their efforts. Five women were there by themselves with "honk for free speech" signs and left after 15 minutes, lol. Anyway.
The paper is also big on its own presentation of history SHOCKINGLY in line with Pastor Rob’s mission to continue white washing history (heard of his program: “Vintage McCoy”? He’s even got a merch line for it — 100% not kidding). The paper features “history” pieces on 1776: “Reviving the Founders’ Patriot Network” and also a piece on "clearing up" the civil war, apparently … which was written by Joel Kilpatrick. Joel, along with Kirk Cameron, the douchenozzle of a d-lister that just won’t quit terrorizing Thousand Oaks, participated in one of McCoy’s “fireside chats” last September. Joel is known for his reporting through the Evangelist Press Association and for a Christian satire website he runs. Not sure why he’s writing history lessons … ?
The rest of the paper is filled to the brim with sob story articles about grown adults who won’t wear a cloth mask inside a store to protect vulnerable fellow community members during a health pandemic. So, there’s that.
I wanted to take a moment to share with you the advertisers in this latest edition:
What is this Conejo Guardian? It's a question I still receive PMs about, as it hits people's driveways.
The paper, and I refuse to call it journalism as it doesn't adhere to basic journalistic best practices, attempts to position itself as an "independent community news source." Rather, "independent biased community takes" feels more appropriate, but perhaps that's because I prefer being honest with the audience you're communicating to.
A little digging, and you'll note this propaganda is far from nonpartisan/neutral.
Can we talk about local politics for a minute? I know, we’re all exhausted. But locally … there is going to be a LOT happening that y’all need to be aware of … and now is early enough for you to start familiarizing yourself.
In 2022, we’ve got three seats in the mix for Thousand Oaks City Council, three seats in the mix for CVUSD, a board of supervisor’s seat for District 2, a VC Sheriff race (Ayub v Fryhoff, at the very least), plus, RIGHT NOW, we’ve got a special elections against Governor Newsom, the current recall effort against BOS District 2 Supervisor Linda Parks, and the CVUSD trustee appointment process for the vacant Area 2 seat.
IT’S A LOT, but I’m going to break it down for you.