In brief

Speaking personally

As the immigration debate only becomes more heated, California Lutheran University’s Center for Leadership and Values will host an expert voice on the subject. The Center for Leadership and Values, housed within the school of business, was founded to encourage an open exchange of ideas and a free discussion of values, social progress, character and leadership. Dolores Huerta of United Farm Workers will appear as part of an ongoing series of speakers to address topical issues.

In the public address, Huerta will draw on her over 50 years of experience working with Cesar Chavez (with whom she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association), leading classes on community organization at the University of Southern California and running her own organization to promote leadership training and economic justice.

Huerta’s “Human Side of the Immigration Policy Debate” is free and open to the public. Nov. 8, 4 p.m., at Samuelson Chapel, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks.

Preparing for the worst

Six Ventura County law enforcement agencies joined with the Behavioral Health Department and Ventura County Medical Center five years ago to form the Ventura County Law Enforcement Crisis Intervention Team program. The program, better known as CIT, aims to prepare members of the police force for scenarios involving mental illness and psychosis, and to increase the dialogue between the medical, mental health and law enforcement sectors.

The 40-hour program prepares participants to address potential suicides, nonviolent crises and post traumatic stress disorder. Courses are led by mental health experts and trained law enforcement personnel, and participants can expect role-play scenarios, site visits and lectures.

CIT will hold its 17th training session at Oxnard City Hall, Oct. 23 – 27, ultimately graduating a grand total of 500 people since its inception.

Voting with your feet

“There’s no longer any doubt that a clear majority of the American people want the U.S. out of Iraq without further delay. It’s time now for voters to make clear to the politicians that they will continue to ignore that message at their peril,” states the Peace Coalition of Greater Ventura. With that sentiment in mind, the organization is preparing for the Nov. 7 midterm election with a 3-day event Nov. 4 – 6. Termed “Power of the People,” the information fair will feature volunteers on hand at the Downtown mini park between Oak and Palm Streets, an area dubbed “Voters’ Peace Headquarters,” each day from noon to 5 p.m. Information regarding candidates’ positions on the Iraq war will be provided, and voters are encouraged to sign a pledge to affirm that they will only support presidential and congressional candidates who pursue an expedient end to the war.

On the final day, the Peace Coalition will lead a rally in front of the Ventura City Hall at 6 p.m., to be followed by a torchlight peace march on California and Main Streets. The public, as well as candidates pledged to end the war now, have been invited to march.

Not in my backyard

Two years after a permanent injunction was issued for the Colonia Chiques gang of Oxnard, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Vincent O\’Neill has issued a similar injunction for the area’s second-largest gang, the Southside Chiques, whose membership runs about 200 strong.

While a 6.6 square mile area was affected by the older ruling, O’Neill has declared that a 4.26 square mile area will be of particular concern to Southside Chiques, meaning that, within that zone, members are forbidden from socializing, wearing specific clothing, leaving the house after 10 p.m., abusing substances and taking part in gang behaviors.

Penalties for infraction include arrest and heavy fines.

Although there had been a push from many sides for a permanent gang injunction in the area, Port Hueneme City Councilmember Murray Rosenbluth was one of many official representatives to argue for alternative solutions, like an increase in law enforcement, outreach in the area public schools, and scholarships for underpriviledged youth.

While he noted that “the council had absolutely no authority one way or another on the injunction,” he points out that members voted unanimously to give the district attorney all the information at their disposal to properly define the boundaries of the injunction.

Meanwhile, Rosenbluth notes, the city of Port Hueneme has increased the police force by four additional officers.

“We believe we are combating violent crime very, very effectively,” Rosenbluth says.

Living well

As the cost of living in the county remains high, the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation has joined with the City of Simi Valley to help an underserved group — the elderly — acquire affordable housing.

Together, the two parties were able to help nine seniors purchase units at the newly built Wood Ranch Senior Condominiums. Applicants had to be at least 55 years old and designated “lower-income” under the income guidelines of Ventura County to qualify for assistance. Special consideration was given to Simi Valley residents and employees, as well as applicants who had siblings or children in the area.

Financing was done primarily through the non-profit Ventura County Community Development Corporation, with interest much lower than the current market rate.

In Brief

Learning to fly — and loop, spin and roll

Judy Phelps didn’t start flying until she met her husband, Clay, while waiting tables at Logsdon’s Restaurant in the Santa Paula Airport in 1994. He happened to be the owner of CP Aviation, a flight school located on the same grounds. She began taking lessons and working part-time at the school. Eventually, she quit the restaurant and dedicated herself to navigating the friendly skies.

Twelve years later, Judy Phelps is now one of less than 500 certified flight instructors in the country to earn the designation of master CFI in the field of aerobatics. There are only 41 aviation instructors in California with that title. What’s more, she is also the first female pilot to gain aerobatic accreditation.

It took Phelps two years to earn the title. The process was not unlike any other master’s degree program, she says. She had to earn credits in a number of different areas, through designing a Web page, writing articles and taking photos — not to mention teaching aspiring pilots how to do loops, rolls and spins. The title must be renewed every two years; she says she is already “accumulating stuff” ahead of her 2008 reevaluation.

So what exactly does this mean for her career?

“I can charge more,” says Phelps, 43, half-jokingly. “It’s a good marketing tool. It also shows that I’m not just [a flight instructor]. There are a lot of flight instructors, but that doesn’t mean they’re actively involved in everything. I’m not just teaching people to fly; I’m actually involved in the aviation community.”

Giving credit where it’s due

Don’t let anyone call the Ventura County Community Foundation ungrateful. On Oct. 17, the VCCF celebrated the opening of its new Camarillo-based technology center by acknowledging the donors who made its construction possible. The Amgen Foundation, Edison International and Affinity Bank were among those that contributed a combined $175,000 to the state-of-the-art facility.

The center, located inside the VCCF Resource Center of Nonprofit Management, is designed to help in the foundation’s overall mission of promoting philanthropy and bolstering the work of nonprofit organizations throughout the county. The lab houses 10 workstations equipped with top-line flat-screen computers and offers numerous courses and seminars covering everything from basic office software to hardware operations. It represents one of three strategic initiatives established to increase the efficiency of local nonprofits, along with the quarterly “building board leadership” roundtable discussion, which began earlier in the month, and an as-yet-unfunded focus on planned giving.

In addition to honoring those who donated to the technology center at the lab’s opening ceremonies, the foundation, whose charitable assets currently exceed over $90 million, also recognized three of the groups and individuals who have supported the resource center over the course of its 15-year history: the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation; Affinity Bank; and Sally and Whitten Yount, the former being the chair of the VCCF Resource Center Advisory Committee.

Environmentally speaking

As awareness about the dire state of the environment spreads deeper and deeper into the mainstream, more and more events are being held by grassroots activists hoping to galvanize the public into taking control of the problem.

On Oct. 24, five concerned residents — Elise Dazies, Donna Hebert, John Howard, Rachel Morris and Margaret Morris — are hosting a town hall meeting regarding global warming at the Century 10 Theaters in Downtown Ventura. Speakers include: City Manager Rick Cole; County Supervisor Steve Bennett; and Dave Davis, executive director of the Community Environmental Council.

“But the really important speakers,” says Margaret Morris, “are the people of Ventura.”

According to Morris, what she and her partners hope to get from this event is an idea of what people can do and are willing to do to help curb the threat of global warming, as well as what they feel they would need from the city to achieve those goals. Throughout the night, the organizers will be writing down suggestions and projecting them on a screen, so attendees can “not only hear it, but see it.”

For more information, contact Rachel Morris at 648-1267, or Jenise Wagar at 658-4730.

Kinetic energy

Do you have what it takes to be a Kinetic Kop?

The City of Ventura is looking for a few good men — and/or women — to volunteer at the ninth annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, “where art and engineering collide,” or so says the event’s tagline.

Specifically, the city needs people who can direct traffic and racers along the course, answer questions and also judge the race, which kicks off at 9:30 a.m. at the Ventura Harbor near the Four Points Sheraton on Oct. 28.

Sculptures are judged on artistry, style and speed. For five straight years, Flying Fish by Survival Systems Inc. has been the grand champion. But there are other categories, as well, such as Snappy Dresser, Neophyte, Best Skid Marks and Mediocre — those last two don’t sound like awards anyone would be proud to win, but whatever. For more information, visit or call 652-0000.

In brief

Putting it in the system

The research library at the Ventura County Museum of History and Art houses 350 glass- plate negatives, invaluable but less-than-accessible artifacts that document everyday life in early Ventura County.

A $24,800 Museums for America Grant will enable Librarian Charles Johnson and Associate Librarian Jennifer Maxon to unearth each slide’s backstory, ensuring that the images — dated 1870 to the early 1900’s — will be properly scanned, archived and made available to library patrons in a more user-friendly digital form.

This massive undertaking continues an ongoing project that has already managed to put the research library’s card catalog online, via the Ventura County Library System, in a collaboration with other area museums.

And the Ovation goes to …

Ventura actress Linda Livingston was recently seen in Transport Theatre’s production of W;t at Ventura College’s Circus Theatre and, in taking the performance to Burbank’s Victory Theatre, landed herself a hefty nomination for an L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award. The most prestigious peer-judged recognition in the Los Angeles area, the award is part of what the Los Angeles Times refers to as “the highest-profile contest for (L.A.) theatre.”

Also nominated are small-screen stars David Hyde-Pierce and Laurie Metcalf (giving Livingston some stiff competition in the category of Best Leading Lady).

The black-tie awards ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, better known as television’s Doogie Howser.

Positive energy

As the debate over Australian energy firm BHP Billiton’s proposal to place a floating liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of Oxnard continues to rage throughout Ventura County, clean energy advocates are planning a day of action to take place at several locations on the West Coast.

Events and gatherings are scheduled for several locations across the West Coast on Oct. 14, in places as far north as Longview, Wash., and as south as Tijuana, Mexico, with the main idea linking them all being that LNG is not an efficient solution to the region’s energy problems.

But the Oxnard rally, taking place at Plaza Park, is not just about opposing BHP Billiton’s Cabrillo Port Project.

“It’s really focused on doing a better job in the utilization of energy,” says Carmen Ramirez, chairperson of the local No LNG Community Alliance. A number of prominent county figures are slated to speak at the event, including Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Andres Herrera and Port Hueneme Councilmember Maricela Morales, along with various other members of the community.

Residents of Malibu will carpool to the event as well in a show of solidarity referred to as “Drive Out LNG.” There will also be hula dancers, which Ramirez says has a symbolic message. “A lot of people think hula is just people shaking their tail-feathers, but it really isn’t. Hula is a sacred dance, a way of communicating with mother earth.”

Awareness about LNG and the alleged dangers to the environment, and to the safety of people living near the coast, has been steadily growing, says Rory Cox, California program director for Pacific Environment, one of the groups sponsoring the coast-wide event.

“In these communities, over and over again, we’ve seen how momentum builds,” he says. “It definitely takes a couple years. Where Coos Bay, Ore., [which will be holding a ‘rally and tea party’ called ‘No Gasification Without Representation’] is now is where Oxnard was a year ago.”

Public display of art

If Ventura is indeed the “New Art City,” then that would make its residents “New Art Citizens.” As such, on Oct. 17, the public will be given the opportunity to make use of its designation when the city’s Public Art Commission holds an open workshop to discuss new projects to be included in their annual projects plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Community members are encouraged to attend and lend their opinions on what public art projects the commission should consider making space for in its 2007-2008 budget.

“As a general rule, it’s a great opportunity for the public to learn how programs are funded,” says Denise Sindelar, public and visual arts supervisor for the city of Ventura, adding, “If someone has a great idea, it can be immediately incorporated into the work plan.”

The commission has been holding open meetings prior to the start of each fiscal year since its creation in 1996. The idea is to clarify for the people how art is incorporated into other aspects of the city budget, such as construction and improvement projects, which “marry community-driven ideas with a generator of public art funding,” Sindelar says.

The meeting will take place in the Santa Cruz Room at Ventura City Hall at 5:30 p.m.






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