The drive to ’08
The California primary isn’t until next February, but Ventura County Democrats are starting the local push behind rising Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
Obama Ventura, a grassroots organization supporting the political star, held its first meeting at E.P. Foster Library March 27, joining already established groups in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks. The meeting was arranged to help connect Obama supporters in the area and to introduce those still unfamiliar with the first-term senator to his politics.
“To me, the most important issue personally is the war and the management of the country’s foreign affairs,” said Craig Christensen, organizer for Obama Ventura. “[Obama] is really the only announced Democratic candidate who has taken a consistent position against the war since it started.”
With an earlier state primary than usual, Christensen said it’s important for the group to get out and campaign for Obama now. At future meetings, the group will discuss strategies for introducing more residents to the candidate.
Christensen isn’t sure how many people will end up joining the campaign by the time 2008 rolls around. Prior to the 2004 presidential election, when he organized in favor of Howard Dean, only a dozen people showed up to the initial meetings. When the primaries began, however, attendance was in the hundreds.
Save the children
Local law enforcement and public health agencies have come together to found a new program dedicated to ensuring the safety of children discovered at the scene of meth lab arrests.
Although it has been in operation since late 2006, the Drug-Endangered Child Program (DEC) will host a press conference March 30 at the Ventura County Government Center at 10 a.m. to inform the public about the new effort. Representatives from the sheriff’s department, the Ventura County Human Services Agency and the Ventura County Health Care Agency are scheduled to speak about the program, which addresses the needs of children exposed to chemicals used to make methamphetamines.
“If parents are manufacturing meth, these children are exposed to chemical dangers that are inherent with these kinds of drug busts,” said Debbie Barber, communications manager for the human services agency. “It becomes a medical issue at that point.”
Now, when police go to the scene of a possible meth lab, they are accompanied by a social worker and a public health nurse. If a child is found at the scene, he or she is checked on-site for exposure to chemicals. Once the status of the child’s health is determined, they are then put into the county’s foster care system.
The program is part of the nationwide National Alliance for Drug-Endangered Children.
“It’s a really positive thing for kids,” Barber said.
75 years illustrated
To commemorate its 75th anniversary, the Humane Society of Ventura County is commissioning residents to design a poster celebrating the organization’s decades of service to the county’s animal population.
“We’re looking for a poster that represents our level of caring,” said Don Buffon, a humane society volunteer and member of its Board of Directors.
To enter the contest, all entries must be camera-ready, 11 inches by 14 inches, portray animals in a “humane manner” and include the organization’s name and the phrase “75 years.” It is open to anyone who is a resident of Ventura County.
They are looking for something similar to the yearly county fair posters, Buffon said.
The group, whose shelter is located in Ojai, specializes in giving temporary refuge for a variety of abandoned animals. Although its “primary clients” are cats and dogs, Buffon said after the Day fire in 2006, the shelter took in everything from goats to llamas.
Ventura tourists are some of the luckiest tourists in California, according to the California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC).
At the CTTC’s recent 2007 Marketing Excellence Awards, Ventura was determined to have the second-best visitor’s guide of any city in the state, finishing behind only Palm Springs.
“Just to be in company of Palm Springs is pretty good,” said Jim Luttjohann, executive director of the Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau. “It’s a very known destination, and while I know our town is pretty special, it doesn’t benefit from the name recognition they do.”
The colorful guide, designed by the Visitors & Convention Bureau and available online or at the Visitors Center, provides a comprehensive list of activities for out-of-towners, conveniently divided by region. Not only is Ventura included, but neighboring areas such as Ojai, Camarillo, Oxnard and the Channel Islands National Park are featured as well.
The pamphlet also comes with a removable restaurant guide, a list of business contact information and tips to getting the most out of a visit to the region.