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.
I always ask myself: is this a good-faith or bad-faith effort when discerning whether or not to respond or engage with people on my page. Is it a genuine question, or, is it an orchestrated question to troll or disrupt? If you were following my page last week, you will have noticed I highlighted this tactic courtesy of the 1,000-member private and secret Facebook Group: Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley. They had orchestrated another collective effort of targeted harassment on my page, starting first by sending in a woman to post disinformation related to our school's newly adopted sex ed curriculum. The propaganda flyer she shared on my page showcased the table of contents for a book that's not linked to our new curriculum and isn't being taught in any California classroom.
While I engaged in a good-faith effort to provide her with correct information, I soon learned she was not there for facts or resources, of which I provided many. She didn't come to learn more or to be informed. She came for two reasons:
1) to post disinformation as fact, and
2) to pepper my page with dozens up dozens of comments until she got blocked, so she could run back and post about being blocked ... and that's what happened.
It's a two-pronged approach where the group aims to gaslight you by first attacking you and posting disinformation, and by then claiming victimhood and that you're unwilling to "debate."
And then, after she kicked off her celebratory post in the group, more of them came and attempted the same. Each one pretending as she had, that they had no affiliation to or knowledge of the group, while also simultaneously posting in the group about "it's getting good," after they'd post a comment on my page. I didn't promise you they were among the brightest, did I? Meanwhile, queen bee of the mean girls herself, ousted school board member Sandee Everett, was leading and inciting the pack from inside the group .... in one breath incessantly trying to remind people that I'm irrelevant and non-influential, and in another breath stating the union and other organizations pay me voice their messages.
However do I manage?
I share this with you in order to give you context about how these local conservative fringe groups operate — they attack in packs, not just on social media, but in school board rooms and city councils. And, I've always believed that having context and background to help paint a fuller picture of any "advocacy" effort is extremely important for our community to know about and to understand. It's about the character of our community ... and it's important you know all of it — not just their public-facing comments. That being said, they've recently tossed any attempt of civility to the wind these past few weeks as they've staked presence at the school board meetings. They're unraveling, which I find worrisome, because that leads to desperation. And desperate people take desperate, scary action.
We've got a few chaos-oriented groups here in Conejo Valley, Conservative Moms of Conejo Valley, of whom I've mentioned above, California Parent Alliance (run by Tim Cooley, Sandee Everett's first cousin), and "Informed Conejo Valley," a new group (not new people) that has popped up. These groups are working now to establish their platform issues for 2022, which includes a multi-faceted fear-mongering campaign rooted in distributing propaganda and disinformation about critical race theory and about about sex-ed in. I'm not going to delve in on the CRT issue, but here's an article that gives you an overview of this nationwide movement implemented by conservatives with the specific intent to take over school boards.
So, about last night ...
The updating of our district’s sex ed curriculum to be in compliance with the State’s California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) concluded at last night’s board meeting, with a 5-0 vote to move forward with the “Teen Talk” curriculum — but, it was not a quiet evening.
Development seems to be a scary word if you utter it in Thousand Oaks. I picture movie posters of old, where Godzilla is replaced with a 4-story mixed-use development and people are running away from it screaming in hysteria rivaling Oscar worthy performances.
I keep hearing people say, “We are turning into the San Fernando Valley!” It’s frankly an absurd statement. Thousand Oaks is not in a building frenzy. For example, in the 10 years since the Boulevard Specific Plan has been put in place, only 180 units have been developed. And, as far as the conversations related to the land use map portion of the General Plan update, less than 3% of the entire city was facing potential areas of change.
Further, even if we added another 10,000 to 20,000 people over the next 25 years, our population will remain under 150,000 across 55 square miles. Under no scenario, facts, measures, and/or wildest figments of our imagination can/will Thousand Oaks become anything like the San Fernando Valley, which has 6,500 residents within a square mile.
In listening to the public comments and observing online conversations, I realized there are a lot of us who have no idea how the heck any sort of development happens/gets approved in our city (me included.)
So, I reached out to a local TO Blvd business owner (Oak & Iron, woot woot) and former planning commissioner for the city, Drew Pletcher, to have him give us the high-level insight on the general process. Thank you Drew for helping break down this complex process into something we can more easily digest.