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Updated: 40 min 47 sec ago

Tax collector branch to open in Thousand Oaks

40 min 37 sec ago

From staff reports

The Ventura County Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office will open a temporary branch for the public in Thousand Oaks on Monday.

It will be located in county Supervisor Linda Parks' office, 625 W. Hillcrest Drive.

The branch office will be open from Monday through Dec. 10 and from April 1 through April 10.

Hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Payments will be accepted in person only. Payments should not be mailed there.

Small fire ignites in chemical spill area

2 hours 8 min ago

From staff reports

A small fire ignited Friday in the area of a dried chemical mixture that spilled outside Santa Paula this month, the Ventura County Fire Department said.

It quickly went out and there were no injuries, secondary fires or additional contamination, officials said.

The cause of the small explosion shortly before 10 a.m. was unknown, but the mixture of sulfuric acid and an organic peroxide has been known to spontaneously ignite, officials said.

About 50 people were treated at local hospitals after a vacuum truck exploded about 3:45 a.m. Nov. 18 at Santa Clara Waste Water Co., 815 Mission Rock Road.

About 1,000 gallons of the chemical mixture spilled from the vehicle and burned. When it dried, the substance spontaneously ignited, sparking small fires. A plume of chemical smoke drifted over the area.

In the days after the explosion, an area within a half-mile of the site was evacuated. The evacuation was lifted Sunday and the cleanup is underway.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean on Wednesday declared the incident to be a local emergency, which can allow the county to seek reimbursement for its costs from state disaster relief funds. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to ratify the declaration.

Ventura considers expansion of smoking ban

2 hours 17 min ago

The city of Ventura is debating bolstering its smoking ban, even as officials admit they would not have the resources to enforce it.

A proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking at virtually all open spaces and expand the city's current measure to include electronic cigarettes.

Over the summer, a group with the westside's Healthy Eating Active Living Zone initiative, a Kaiser Permanente-funded grant designed to improve the health of low-income neighborhoods, brought a proposal to the city's Park and Recreation Commission that would ban electronic and traditional cigarettes at street fairs, trails, sports fields, outdoor dining areas, on sidewalks and in other public places.

The commission forwarded the proposal to the City Council, recommending it implement an ordinance. Both a resolution and an ordinance are legally binding, a staff report notes, but a resolution has no penalties involved and "does not allow for an enforcing agency or individual to provide a citation."

The council will vote on whether to have staff prepare an ordinance at its Monday meeting.

In 2006, the council passed a resolution prohibiting smoking at parks and beaches but decided against implementing an ordinance "because of the enforcement issue," a staff report at the time says.

That hasn't changed, the new staff report notes. "The realities are that neither the Police Department nor Code Enforcement has the resources to actively enforce or respond to complaints of public smoking."

Elena Brokaw, Community Parks, Recreation and Community Partnerships manager, said the ordinance isn't designed to have police enforce it but rather citizens.

It's a "self-enforcing program. It's how it works in other communities," she said.

The new ban extends to electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, which cities in recent months have begun regulating, though their health impacts remain largely unknown.

A study by UC San Francisco researchers published in the scientific journal Circulation earlier this year determined e-cigarette aerosol, or vapor, could cause possible short-term biological impacts but the long-term effects were unclear.

In 2006, current council members Neal Andrews, Carl Morehouse and Jim Monahan voted in favor of the resolution. Christy Weir was absent at that meeting, according to the city clerk's office.

Also Monday, the council will hear an update on the state of its libraries. As part of that update, the Library Advisory Commission is recommending the city increase its library funding, from $18.84 per capita to $34.28, the per-capita state standard on library spending. That would mean an increase to roughly $3.6 million per year, up from the $2.03 million it currently allots.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 501 Poli St.

Restaurant review: Casa de Soria in Ventura

2 hours 22 min ago

Casa de Soria, which has been dishing up traditional Mexican favorites in midtown Ventura since 1958, this month completed an expansion project that saw it move into a space that used to house a Subaru dealership next door. Old-timers will still recognize the familiar facade, new paint notwithstanding, and appreciate the welcoming patio.


Location: 1961 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. 648-2083;

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Impressions: Newly renovated and expanded, with more room and updated, comfortable seating; very helpful service; good range of traditional Mexican dishes, with a few surprises.

What’s hot: Special nachos, crispy taco dinner, chile verde tostada, lobster and crab enchilada plate.

Casa de Soria’s original size of 2,500 square feet has more than doubled. The expansion also added more than 30 parking spaces in a lot at Thompson Boulevard and Anacapa Street.

The food has changed over the years, too, as ownership keeps up with the times in such areas as using canola oil instead of more calorie-laden possibilities. But diners will still find about every familiar specialty along with a few new menu twists.

Click here to read more restaurant reviews

We started with the medium-sized Special Nachos ($8.45), plenty for four people, with its abundance of cheese, beans, tomatoes, jalapeños (we had ours served on the side and actually found them relatively mild), guacamole and sour cream drenching the tortilla chips. There’s a choice of protein and we asked for chicken, which appeared in generous portion.

Soon the rest of the meal was arriving in quick succession: a crispy taco dinner ($11.95), a chile verde tostada ($6.95), lobster and crab enchiladas ($14.95) and a tamale and relleno dinner ($9.95).

Our crispy taco-fan loved the crunch of the three tacos and the tostada-lover gave a thumbs-up on the chile verde version. The sweet chipotle cream sauce that enriched the lobster and crab enchiladas was addictive and there was plenty of seafood overflowing the tender wraps. The tamale and relleno dinner was good, and we all agreed that the beans on each plated dish had a notch up on old-fashioned refried versions. The chile in the relleno was rather thickly covered with batter, slightly dimming its punch.

A small plate of bunuelos ($2.95), cut in small pieces from thin, crisp dough, was the perfect sweet treat for the meal’s finale.

Many of the sides and such can be ordered a la carte and there are a selection of fish dishes on the menu too. “Mexican pizzas,” with a range of possible ingredients to choose from, offer lots of opportunity to create your own special version.

Rita Moran visits restaurants unannounced and pays for her food. If you know of a new, unusual or just plain good restaurant, contact her at

John Waters offers his take on Christmas

2 hours 22 min ago

With Christmas on the rotisserie spit and campy shockmeister John Waters driving in the skewers hard and deep, it might be time to bid a hasty and fearful goodbye to the holiday, at least for one night.

‘A John Waters Christmas’

The writer-director performs his one-man show at 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, at The Canyon, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45, $65 and $100 (the last of which offers a meet-and-greet with Waters). Call 818-879-5016 or visit

The Waters Christmas tour has three other Southern California stops next week: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert (73000 Fred Waring Drive, 760-340-2787); 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano (33157 Camino Capistrano, 949-496-8930); and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles (8433 Sunset Blvd., 323-650-6268).

The famed writer-director’s one-man “A John Waters Christmas” show Thursday at The Canyon in Agoura Hills figures to be a serving of one odd roast duck, a la the one at the Chinese restaurant near the end of “A Christmas Story.”

“I’m not picking on Christmas,” Waters insisted with a slight laugh, “I’m elevating it.”

Like all the subjects he’s tackled in his long career, he likes to poke fun at things in his twisted way, Waters explained last week during an interview from his beloved hometown of Baltimore (where he still lives). “I’m not mean-spirited,” he pleaded.

No Grinch here, but Waters has always lived at some hazy counterculture confluence of camp, gore, glam, gross — and funny. His signature 1972 film-turned-cult-classic “Pink Flamingos,” after all, is about a competition for the title of “filthiest person alive.”

His adult Yuletide show promises to “put the X back in Xmas,” as the marketing goes. Without tipping his joke cards, Waters said he’ll talk about everything he wants for Christmas, what a good gift is, what a bad gift is, and how to handle holiday trauma and disasters.

But he might also delve into his unhealthy love of real-life holiday horror stories, his passion for lunatic exploitation Christmas movies and his desire to remake his films into seasonal children’s classics (now that would be something).

Or he might talk about the ornery Christmas wreath that snags people as they walk past, or his habit of decorating the electric chair from “Female Trouble” (another of his films) as a Christmas tree.

The wreath, he confessed, was actually his sister-in-law’s, explaining, “She didn’t know it was going to do that. It was made from a crown of thorns.”

Turning serious for just a second, Waters said he “does” Christmas, throws a big party every year and also sees his family, though this year will mark the first Yuletide without his beloved mother, Patricia, who passed away in February at age 89.

His show is almost a holiday tradition unto itself; he’s been doing it for 11 years now. It began after he wrote a funny Christmas chapter in his book “Crackpot” and a promoter asked if he could create an act from it.

“Later, it went viral, so to speak,” Waters said with a chuckle.

Not everyone enjoys a Currier & Ives brand of Christmas. His Agoura Hills show falls roughly a third of the way through a 17-gig tour that’s squeezed into three weeks. His camp, he added, already has eight Christmas shows booked for the 2015 season.

Sipping these Waters

Waters, 68, said he still wears his titles “Pope of Trash” and “Prince of Puke” proudly.

“But I’m not sitting in a royal chair, wearing a James Brown cloak — though I am tempted to get that outfit,” he noted.

In “Pink Flamingos,” Divine eats dog poop. Divine (the drag queen who frequently was a character actor in his films) also played a criminal so bent on being famous that she committed murder in 1974’s “Female Trouble.” The 1981 Waters film “Polyester” included “Odorama” scratch ’n’ sniff cards so moviegoers could smell along with the characters in their fragrant search for romantic happiness.

His most commercial film, “Hairspray,” from 1988, is a comedy about star-craving teens in the early 1960s and their stage mothers and featured Ricki Lake, Deborah Harry and Pia Zadora. Waters directed Johnny Depp in the 1990 juvenile delinquent musical comedy satire “Cry-Baby.”

In the 1994 Waters film “Serial Mom,” Kathleen Turner starred as the mother who would do anything to protect her family from any perceived slight. In his “Cecil B. DeMented” (2000), a young film director and his band of cinema cultists kidnap an A-list Hollywood actress (played by Melanie Griffith) and force her to act in their Super 8 underground movie.

And so on. There is method to his madness. “Hairspray” later became a Broadway musical. The Huffington Post calls Waters “funny, brash and brilliant.” National Public Radio noted that he’s broken many taboos.

Some have dubbed Waters the King of Bad Taste, a moniker he didn’t exactly embrace.

“You have to have good taste to appreciate bad taste,” Waters said. “I don’t know if I like it. I have offshoots of bad taste within good taste in my works. I like extremes of taste.”

An ‘odd duck’ gets its wings

He was attracted to that — violence and gore and such — in exploitation films he saw growing up in Baltimore, noting, “I was always drawn to what I wasn’t supposed to have or see.”

Waters recalled going to Catholic Sunday school where the nuns would read the list of condemned movies — the ones the kids were told they’d go to hell for if they saw them.

“So I’d write them down,” he recalled — films such as “Love Is My Profession,” “Mom and Dad,” and “The Naked Night.”

He knew he was bound for showbiz. At age 12, he was doing puppet shows for the neighbor kids at birthday parties. “I knew what I was gonna do; I wasted time in school,” he recalled.

Soon, he was shooting silent 8 mm and 16 mm films with his offbeat coterie of friends.

“I remember once I heard my parents talking about me at the top of the stairs and they were saying, ‘He’s just one odd duck,’ ” Waters related.

It comes as a bit of a surprise that Waters has not been in the director’s chair in 10 years, since “A Dirty Shame,” his 2004 comedy about sex addicts.

He didn’t sound optimistic about making another film, noting, “It’s because no one will give me money to do one. The days of the $7 million indie are gone.”

But, he noted, many of his Christmas shows are already sellouts, and his films are still out there for those who want them.

He still gets a trickle of voice-over jobs and acting gigs — cinephiles might remember him in Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Lowdown,” Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild,” or Don Mancini’s “Seed of Chucky.” He once played a bartender on the acclaimed NBC show “Homicide: Life on the Street,” which was set and filmed in Baltimore (where homeboy Waters sets all his films).

He’s also an accomplished photographer and has another exhibit opening in early January in New York.

“So if I never make another movie, it’s not like I’m this tragic, misunderstood, starving artist,” said Waters. (He also keeps apartments in San Francisco and New York, and a summer rental in Provincetown, Massachusetts).

He also noted his latest book among a half-dozen plus, “Carsick,” was a best-seller. Released this June, it’s about the cross-country hitchhiking trip Waters took between Baltimore and San Francisco a couple years ago.

Thumbin’ it the Waters way

Part of it is a true road-trip memoir, but Waters also includes his fictional best-case and worst-case scenarios for the journey. The former includes a kindly drug dealer who hands him a wad of cash, no strings attached; the later includes getting a ride from a killer out to cut down cult-film directors he hates … such as Waters.

There’s also something in there about his singing anus having a duet with Connie Francis. It’s in the fiction part, but some took it as gospel, he recalled with a laugh.

“I liked the people who skipped the intro and then would come up and say, ‘Is that true?’” Waters said. “And I’d go, ‘Oh yeah, that was true.’ ”

The hitchhiking trip took eight days. Waters was armed with little more than a crude cardboard sign that read “I’m Not Psycho.”

He accepted rides out of desperation on the lonesome western plains, telling National Public Radio in June, “You’ll get in any car, believe me. All your rules, all your things that you imagine, go out the window when you’ve been standing there for 10 years and those Kansas winds are ripping your weather-beaten face.”

Hitchhiking, he added, is the “worst beauty regimen ever” and cracked that his hitchhiking face even caused motel-room mirrors to shriek.

Turning serious for one more moment, Waters told The Star that he was heartened to reconfirm something about Americans.

“It was reinforced — the basic goodness of people,” he said. “I didn’t need to learn that. People were very kind, they wanted to help me out; some of them thought I was a homeless man. The people were great — but I already knew that.”

Waters indicated he might talk about best- and worst-case scenarios for Christmas on Thursday night in Agoura Hills.

As for his holiday worst-case scenarios, Waters said easily, “Weather delays,” as if his last bout with that was still torturing his memory bank. He paused, and quickly deadpanned another one: “Or if someone got up and shot me onstage.”

Don't default on those student loans

2 hours 54 min ago

Statistics tell us that the typical student graduating from a four-year college has eight to 12 federal and private student loans, according to Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors and author of “Filing the FAFSA.”

“It is easy for one of those loans to get lost and, inadvertently, go into default,” explained Kantrowitz

Last week, we talked about the consequences of default.

This week, let’s discuss some tools that can prevent default.

The first step is to get a handle on all the loans outstanding. The best way to do that is to access the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) online at NSLDS, the U.S. Department of Education’s central database for student aid, receives data from schools, guarantee agencies, the Direct Loan Program and other Department of Education programs.

There you will find a list of the student’s federal education loans and loan servicers, but not the parents’ PLUS loans. Parents can log onto the same site to look up their PLUS loans using their own PIN numbers, not the student’s.

Another resource is the college’s financial-aid office. You also can access this information through the three major credit bureaus. Students can get a free copy of their credit reports once a year at

Second, review the loans. Make a list of them, noting the payments due and payment due dates. Put the due dates on a calendar.

Third, make sure the student’s address is noted correctly on the loan servicers’ records. If mail is not received by the borrower, that’s no excuse for delaying payment.

Fourth, don’t wait for a letter from the lender asking for money. Again, payments are due on time even if the student is not notified of due dates or payment amounts.

Fifth, decide on a repayment plan. The default is a standard 10-year repayment plan, which has the shortest repayment terms. Here is a rule of thumb from Kantrowitz: “So long as the total student loan debt is less than the borrower’s annual income, the borrower should be able to afford the monthly loan payments under standard repayment.”

Sixth, automate repayments. Each month, the graduate’s bank should be debited in the amount of the monthly payment due to the lender. Automatic debits will help prevent tardy or missed payments. Plus, some lenders reduce the interest rate due on the loan when an auto-debit is set up. The reduction can be as much as 1/2 of 1 percent.

Seventh, to simplify matters, graduates with many loans might consider consolidating them. However, it’s important to review terms before doing that. For more information on consolidating federal student loans, go to For private consolidation loans, go to

Eighth, consider accelerating repayment of the loans. Graduates need to be aware that there are no prepayment penalties on student loans, both federal and private.

Ninth, if a co-signer needs to be released, consider private consolidation. The student can go to a bank to refinance his or her loans on his or her own credit record without the co-signer. Federal education loans do not require co-signers, so there’s no need for co-signer release on federal loans.

Tenth, understand tax breaks. Student loan interest payments are tax-deductible. Up to $2,500 in interest paid on federal and private student loans can be deducted on federal income-tax returns each year. There is no need to file a Schedule A for itemized deductions to claim the student loan interest deduction.

Eleventh, understand when to get help. If the graduate runs into a problem making payments, don’t be silent. Talk to the lender. Help is possible through deferments and partial forbearances (temporarily suspending repayments of principal; requiring interest-only payments).

Twelfth, federal student loan borrowers need to study the official U.S. Department of Education site at

Another resource is Edvisors publishes free sites of continually updated information as well as tools to help students and families plan for and pay for college.

Next week, let’s talk about applying for student loans.

Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager (Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn.) and award-winning author, welcomes your questions/ comments (

Mexico's president plans police overhaul

3 hours 13 min ago

Under pressure from protesters —

“Step into our shoes. Think about the families of our fallen colleagues!”

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto says he’ll put all of the country’s local police units under control of the federal government. (Video via Fusion)

That would mean dissolving the 1,800 forces — starting with four states considered the most violent, including Guerrero, where in late September —

— local police attacked 43 students on their way to a protest. All of those students are believed to be dead — and local police are accused of acting on the orders of the local mayor to deliver the students to a local gang to be killed. (Video via Vice)

Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca allegedly told police to intercept the students to keep them from interrupting a speech his wife was about to give. And that’s reignited debate over corruption and collusion in all levels of Mexican government.

Which brings us back to Pena Nieto’s plan to dissolve municipal police forces. See, local police forces can make as little as $370 a month. That — plus what critics call poor training — creates an environment ripe for bribery.

To clarify — at least for now, Mexico doesn’t have a nationwide police force or a single phone number for residents to report crimes. (Video via CBS)

So Pena Nieto’s proposal — which will go to Congress soon — would essentially allow for the dissolution of local governments. It would centralize law enforcement, standardize training, and set up a nationwide emergency phone number — kind of like 9-1-1 in the U.S

It’s not the first time police reform has been proposed in Mexico, and the president’s plan could take some time to implement — so it’s unlikely the latest will relieve Pena Nieto of much heat.

“We want justice. That’s it.”

Those 43 students are still missing — and until they’re found protests are likely to continue.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Reagan Library to host student film festival

3 hours 22 min ago

High school students James Lennon and Charlton Ellzey spent this past summer looking up footage and learning about film editing during a filmmaking program at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

They ended up making a five-minute video documenting how former President Jimmy’s Carter’s upbringing influenced his diplomatic policies and influenced his diplomatic policies during the Camp David Accords, the agreements between Israel and Egypt signed in 1978.

Their film will be one of 15 original films being showcased and recognized with awards during the second annual Student Film Festival from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

Students will be greeted on the red carpet, where they will also be recognized by industry professionals from major movie studios.

The event is hosted by international television personality Shay Yuval.

Twenty-eight high school students, most from Ventura County, were selected to participate in the program sponsored by the library’s education department to learn from professional filmmakers about making a historical documentary and retrieving information from the archives at the library.

Each film is about five minutes long, and can be viewed at:

The students worked on the films with professionals from the entertainment industry and they utilized the library’s millions of documents, photographs and original footage from the White House, said Mira Cohen, the library’s director of education.

Some of the topics this year include Ronald Reagan’s film career, the John F. Kennedy assassination and conspiracy, and Richard Nixon’s rise and fall as a president as a result of his involvement in the Watergate scandal.

Other students such as Mitchell Nagy and Joe Eskanos focused on the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles.

Lennon said his favorite part of the experience was producing a final product.

“It was really fun to do research and producing a documentary that I can show to all of my friends,” said Lennon.

“My favorite part was meeting other passionate filmmakers and spending time with them. It was very inspiring,” said Ellzey.

The award winners receive proclamations from the libraries and behind-the-scenes tours of major studios, including Warner Bros., Disney and DreamWorks.

“Reaching out to today’s youth by educating and inspiring them with history has always been very important to us at the Reagan Library,” said Duke Blackwood, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

“Branching this idea out into film allows students to communicate and express themselves in a medium that brought Ronald Reagan much success. We look forward to seeing what the students create and to expanding the program each year,” said Blackwood.

Those interested in attending the event can RSVP to, or call 577-4019. The event is free.

Oxnard police arrest three

4 hours 50 min ago

From staff reports

Oxnard police have arrested three men on suspicion of various offenses in an area of the city that has seen a rash of violent crimes in the past few weeks.

While patrolling the 500 block of Pacific Avenue about 4 p.m. Thursday, officers arrested Angel Hernandez, 37, of Oxnard, on suspicion of being in possession of a loaded handgun that police say had been stolen in a Santa Paula burglary.

Police also arrested two other men who were with Hernandez.

Sergio Cupa, 31, of Oxnard, was taken into custody on suspicion of possessing stolen property. David Mosqueda, 45, of Oxnard, was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

2 arrests: Southern California shoppers fight

4 hours 56 min ago
TUSTIN, Calif. (AP) — Two women have been arrested after an early morning Black Friday fight among shoppers at a Southern California store.   Tustin police Sgt. Ryan Coe tells City News Service a disturbance was reported at a Kohl's department store around 1 a.m.   Two female victims were located on the second floor near the baby section and two suspects were found on the first floor.   Coe says it appears the four women got into an argument and a physical altercation ensued.   Coe says one victim was taken to a hospital as a precaution. He did not know the nature of her injuries.     Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Repavement leaves Thousand Oaks residents peeved

5 hours 8 min ago

An $11 million project to resurface some of Thousand Oaks' oldest and most traveled streets is hitting some rough patches.

Some say a new and more cost-efficient method used by the city to repave residential streets is second rate. Dislodged rocks and a bumpy surface, characteristics of a method called cape seal, have left some neighborhoods peeved.

"There's a lot of ticked-off people on this street," said Jim Cicuto, who lives on Madrid Street. "At first I thought it looked great, it's a darker color. Then I started driving on it and I said, ‘They're done?' "

Cape seal is one of three methods used to repave 54 miles of roadway — about a sixth of the city's streets. Although it leaves some residents unsatisfied, the city sees cape seal as a viable way to fix the most streets with a limited budget.

About 33 miles have been completed since work began in September, but some streets look better than others.

City Engineer Cliff Finley said several streets in Newbury Park, including Madrid Street, were paved poorly by the contractor.

Finley said while the city can't demand the contractor fix the street immediately, it can withhold payment until the work is acceptable. He said the streets should be fixed within a month.

Dave Anderson, another Madrid Street resident, said he's pleased the city will resolve what he calls a "washboard road."

"Nobody from our city government saw this and said I want this for my city," said Anderson, kicking up some loose rocks collected in front of his house.

There are also complaints along streets where the city believes cape seal was applied correctly.

"My kid couldn't get on a skateboard, it's a mess," said Morris Finestone, who lives on Rexford Place. "It's really an unfinished product."

Cape seal is a process that adds new rock to the pavement. It is typical for loose rocks to emerge after application but city officials said those will eventually be swept up. The bumpy surface will also smooth out after a month or more as the street gets more traffic.

The city had previously used two processes — overlay and slurry — to repave cracked streets. This year, the city added cape seal, which costs a third of what an overlay costs.

An overlay process is used on thoroughfares that get the most traffic and involves grinding down the edges of an old road before laying down new asphalt. A slurry, which is basically a layer of sand and oil, is used for the least damaged streets. Cape seal, which extends the life of the road for seven to 10 years, is not as smooth as an overlay but better than a slurry, Finley said.

"If funding were not an issue, we would overlay everything," Finley said.

Many of the streets currently receiving a cape seal treatment are 20 to 40 years old and have been getting a slurry treatment through the years.

"We're kind of at this point where another slurry seal is not going to help them," Finley said.

Like most other cities, Thousand Oaks has deferred street maintenance projects the last several years because of budget cuts. The city receives about $3 million every year in gas tax revenue to be spent on street maintenance.

In January, the City Council is expected to consider a master plan for the maintenance of city streets. The results of the 54-mile project, which is scheduled to wrap up in December, will steer the discussion.

"If the community absolutely can't tolerate cape seal, we'll have to come up with another idea," Finley said.

Ventura T-shirt finds its way to Uganda

5 hours 8 min ago

KAMPALA, Uganda — A young man behind a butcher's counter is wearing a 2009 Ventura Turkey Trot T-shirt. You may think there is nothing surprising about that.

But Simon, 22, is not from Ventura. Indeed, he is not even American and has no idea where Ventura is located.

So why is he wearing a Ventura Turkey Trot T-shirt?

Simon, whose last name was not available, is from the East African country of Uganda. He lives in a suburb of Uganda's capital city, Kampala, just a few hundred meters from Lake Victoria.

Most Ugandans wear imported secondhand clothes, as do many people in poor, developing countries. Used shirts, blouses, trousers, caps and much other clothing reach Uganda in huge bales from developed nations. The used clothes often start out in the United States.

Lesser secondhand clothes, much of which is faded or stained, is labeled Africa A and Africa B. Used clothing is Uganda's sixth largest import from the United States. For other countries, the import rank is even higher. In Tanzania, for example, it is the largest import.

Once in Africa, the bales of clothes find their way along a chain of wholesalers until they end up with small retailers in thousands of trading centers around Uganda and other African countries.

Such secondhand clothes are known in Uganda as "mivumba." Simon bought his Ventura T-shirt for 5,000 Ugandan Shillings (about $2) in Owino Market, the main market for mivumba in Kampala.

It's a huge business. CNN reported last year that secondhand clothing is a highly lucrative industry across Africa. While exact continentwide figures are hard to come by, global used clothing exports from 20 developed countries stood at $1.9 billion in 2009, according to 2011 U.N. Comtrade data.

Simon, whose favorite subject was math when he attended four years of secondary school, now works as a butcher's assistant. He chose the T-shirt — among the many thousands available — because, he said, "he liked the picture."

The 2009 Ventura Turkey Trot, an annual 5K race on Thanksgiving morning, was won that year by Michael Chavez, of Fullerton, in 14:17.2, according to the race website.

Kevin O'Connor is a British freelance journalist and athletics coach who has lived in Uganda for 20 years. His book, "Ugandan Society Observed," is available from Amazon.

Evangelicals with gay children challenge church

5 hours 15 min ago
Rob and Linda Robertson did what they believed was expected of them as good Christians.   When their 12-year-old son Ryan said he was gay, they told him they loved him, but he had to change. He entered "reparative therapy," met regularly with his pastor and immersed himself in Bible study and his church youth group. After six years, nothing changed. A despondent Ryan cut off from his parents and his faith, started taking drugs and in 2009, died of an overdose.   "Now we realize we were so wrongly taught," said Rob Robertson, a firefighter for more than 30 years who lives in Redmond, Washington. "It's a horrible, horrible mistake the church has made."   The tragedy could have easily driven the Robertsons from the church. But instead of breaking with evangelicalism — as many parents in similar circumstances have done — the couple is taking a different approach, and they're inspiring other Christians with gay children to do the same. They are staying in the church and, in protesting what they see as the demonization of their sons and daughters, presenting a new challenge to Christian leaders trying to hold off growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.   "Parents don't have anyone on their journey to reconcile their faith and their love for their child," said Linda Robertson, who with Rob attends a nondenominational evangelical church. "They either reject their child and hold onto their faith, or they reject their faith and hold onto their child. Rob and I think you can do both: be fully affirming of your faith and fully hold onto your child."   It's not clear how much of an impact these parents can have. Evangelicals tend to dismiss fellow believers who accept same-sex relationships as no longer Christian. The parents have only recently started finding each other online and through faith-oriented organizations for gays and lesbians such as the Gay Christian Network, The Reformation Project and The Marin Foundation.   But Linda Robertson, who blogs about her son at, said a private Facebook page she started last year for evangelical mothers of gays has more than 300 members. And in the last few years, high-profile cases of prominent Christian parents embracing their gay children indicate a change is occurring beyond a few isolated families.   James Brownson, a New Testament scholar at Western Theological Seminary, a Holland, Michigan, school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, last year published the book "Bible, Gender, Sexuality," advocating a re-examination of what Scripture says about same-sex relationships. His son came out at age 18.   Chester Wenger, a retired missionary and pastor with the Mennonite Church USA, lost his clergy credentials this fall after officiating at his son's marriage to another man. In a statement urging the church to accept gays and lesbians, Wenger noted the pain his family experienced when a church leader excommunicated his son three decades ago without any discussion with Wenger and his wife.   The Rev. Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in California, was already moving toward recognizing same-sex relationships when his teenage son came out. When Cortez announced his changed outlook to his congregation this year, they voted to keep him. The national denomination this fall cut ties with the church.   In the United Methodist Church, two ministers with gay sons drew national attention for separately presiding at their children's same-sex weddings despite a church prohibition against doing so: The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, ultimately was not disciplined by the church, while the Rev. Frank Schaefer went through several church court hearings. He won the case and kept his clergy credentials, becoming a hero for gay marriage supporters within and outside the church.   "I think at some point moms and dads are going to say to their pastors and church leadership that you can't tell me that my child is not loved unconditionally by God," said Susan Shopland, the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary who, along with her gay son, is active with the Gay Christian Network.   Kathy Baldock, a Christian who advocates for gay acceptance through her website, said evangelical parents are speaking out more because of the example set by their children. Gay and lesbian Christians have increasingly been making the argument they can be attracted to people of the same gender and remain faithful to God, whether that means staying celibate or having a committed same-sex relationship. The annual conference of the Gay Christian Network has grown from 40 people a decade ago to an expected 1,400 for the next event in January.   Matthew Vines, author of "God and the Gay Christian," has attracted more than 810,000 views on YouTube for a 2012 lecture he gave challenging the argument that Scripture bars same-sex relationships.   "These kids are now staying in the churches. They're not walking away like they used to," Baldock said.   The collapse of support for "reparative therapy" is also a factor, Shopland said. In June of last year, Alan Chambers, the leader of Exodus International, a ministry that tried to help conflicted Christians repress same-sex attraction, apologized for the suffering the ministry caused and said the group would close down. At a conference on marriage and sexuality last month, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, the Rev. Al Mohler, said he was wrong to believe that same-sex attraction could be changed. Baldock, The Marin Foundation and the Gay Christian Network all say Christian parents have ben reaching out to them for help in notably higher numbers in the last couple of years.   "If it doesn't work, then parents are left with the question of what is the answer?" Shopland said. "If I can't change my kid into being a straight Christian, then what?"   Bill Leonard, a specialist in American religious history at Wake Forest Divinity School, said church leaders should be especially concerned about parents. He noted that many evangelicals began to shift on divorce when the marriages of the sons and daughters of pastors and "rock-ribbed" local church members such as deacons started crumbling. While conservative Christians generally reject comparisons between the church's response to divorce and to sexual orientation, Leonard argues the comparison is apt.   "The churches love those individuals and because they know them, those churches may look for another way," Leonard said.   Some evangelical leaders seem to recognize the need for a new approach. The head of the Southern Baptist public policy arm, the Rev. Russell Moore, addressed the issue on his blog and at the marriage conference last month, telling Christian parents they shouldn't shun their gay children. Mohler has said he expects some evangelical churches to eventually recognize same-sex relationships, but not in significant numbers.   Linda Robertson said the mothers who contact her through her Facebook page usually aren't ready to fully accept their gay sons or daughters. Some parents she meets still believe their children can change their sexual orientation. But she said most who reach out to her are moving away from the traditional evangelical view of how parents should respond when their children come out.   "I got a lot of emails from parents who said, 'I don't know one other parent of a gay child. I feel like in my community, I don't have permission to love my child,'" she said. "They have a lot of questions. But then they're going back to their churches and speaking to their pastors, speaking to their elders and speaking to their friends, saying, 'We have a gay child. We love them and we don't want to kick them out. How do we go forward?'"     Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

5 foodie things to do this weekend (Nov. 28-30)

5 hours 55 min ago

From going nuts in Moorpark to toasting the new barrel-aged beer program launched by Ventura-based Surf Brewery, there's plenty to do -- and taste -- in Ventura County from Nov. 28-30.

1). The build-your-own gift baskets of nuts, dried fruits, candies and trail mixes offered by Somis Nut House are a Ventura County gifting tradition. But if Somis isn't on your list of places to hit on Black Friday, you're still in luck: The 55-year-old business recently opened a satellite location at the Community Marketplace in Moorpark. As a new take on the whole indoor-swap meet concept, the marketplace is a former business-park site filled with booths offering clothing, jewelry, gift items and, yes, the occasional packaged food product. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday -- and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. most weekends. (709 Science Drive, Moorpark, 805-222-6082, For information about Somis Nut House, click here.

2).  'tis the seaon for tamales. Learn how to make your own during the tamale-making class offered from 11 a.m. Saturday at Familia Diaz restaurant in Santa Paula. Required reservations, $80 per person, include about 3 dozen pork and chicken tamales for you to take home. (245 South 10th St., Santa Paula. 805-525-2813,

3). Now in its fourth year of making wheats, blonde ales and porters named for surfing terms and locations, Surf Brewery of Ventura is tapping into the barrel-aged beer scene. The first beer produced under its Scientific Series label is a Flanders-style red sour ale that will be released during Small Business Saturday festivities in the tasting room. At $24 each, bottles will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting at noon Saturday. The 750ml bottles feature cork-and-cage packaging and are hand-numbered; only 760 were produced. (4561 Market St., Suite A, Ventura, 805-644-2739,  For information about Scientific Series, click here.

4). 'tis the season, part two: Tree-lighting festivities from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa will include music by the Ojai Youth Symphony, a chance to check out the resort's gingerbread house display, free hot cocoa, and other bites and beverages available for purchase. Bring non-perishable food items for donation to Help of Ojai. (905 Country Club Road, 805-646-2420,

5). The Camarillo Ranch #TBT Throwback Thursdays food truck event is moving (temporarily) to Sunday.  Scratch, Cousins Maine Lobster, Georgia's Smokehouse and other trucks are expected to visit the historic property from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; sales of food and of beer and wine from Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and Panaro Bros. will benefit the Camarillo Ranch Foundation. Bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating. (201 Camarillo Ranch Road, 805-389-8182,

CALL AHEAD to avoid disappointment over last-minute changes and cancelations.

This list was compiled by Lisa McKinnon of the Ventura County Star. For between-list updates, "like" VCS Eats on Facebook and 805foodie on Twitter and Instagram. To submit information for consideration, send email to


Police shoot, kill man in Austin

6 hours 37 min ago

A male shooter targeting several buildings in downtown Austin, Texas, on Friday morning was shot and killed by police outside the department’s headquarters, and authorities said they are concerned he may have had an explosive device.

Police reported they began getting reports of shots fired at buildings in downtown Austin around 2:30 a.m. local time, and said an officer subsequently shot the suspect outside police headquarters.

A police spokesman told reporters that as police approached the suspect to assess him, they saw “what appeared to be an improvised explosive device” in the car that was next to the suspect. Police dragged the suspect away from the car, the spokesman said, and then noticed he was wearing a vest.

At that point, officers backed away from the suspect and called in a bomb squad to investigate the scene, the spokesman said.

Police would not identify the man during a morning news conference, but said officers are searching his home in north Austin.

The Mexican Consulate was among the buildings authorities are investigating as possible targets of the shooter, police said.


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LIVE: Black Friday in Ventura County

7 hours 22 min ago

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Darren Wilson's future in law enforcement

8 hours 1 min ago

We now know he won’t be indicted on criminal charges, but Officer Darren Wilson is still the subject of a federal investigation.

“I stand by what I did. I stand by my training,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

But the 28-year-old doesn’t think that federal Department of Justice civil rights probe will come to a different conclusion.

So here’s what we know about Darren Wilson’s future: He is still — technically — an officer with the Ferguson Police Department, on administrative leave. But his lawyer told CNN’s Erin Burnett:

“There’s no way in the world he can continue to be a police officer. … It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when. … It’s only a matter of time,” Neil Bruntrager said.

Only a matter of time, because while protests have become peaceful — there’s still a lot of anger. (Video via The New York Times)

Which makes Wilson’s stated wish for a “normal life” hard to imagine in the short term future. Meanwhile, we know he had recently gotten married to a fellow officer — and that he and his wife are expecting a baby. In interviews with several sources, his legal team has pretty much all said the same thing: That a future in law enforcement is out of the question for Wilson.

They told KSDK he’ll be looking for a new career, though no indication of what that might be.

But Wilson did tell ABC he hoped to educate other law enforcement officers about the use of deadly force.

He’s currently still in hiding, and one of his attorneys told The Washington Post that location is “quote-unquote permanent.”

As for that federal probe, Attorney General Eric Holder has promised a timely and fair investigation, but he has also acknowledged the bar will be high to prove Wilson violated Michael Brown’s civil rights.

If, on the other hand, Brown’s family decides to pursue a civil case in a state court against Wilson, The Guardian has noted it’s likely the case would be heard in Clayton, Missouri. That’s the same place from which the grand jury decided not to indict him.

Black Friday problems hit Britain

8 hours 52 min ago

LONDON (AP) - Americans celebrating Thanksgiving in Britain may have felt right at home as Black Friday shopping chaos caused disruptions.

The practice of offering bargain basement prices the day after Thanksgiving has spread across the Atlantic, with some retailers opening overnight to lure shoppers.

Police were called early Friday morning to help maintain security at some supermarkets and shopping outlets that offered deep discounts starting at midnight.

Some of the worst problems were in the Manchester area in northwestern England where police were summoned to seven Tesco supermarkets after disturbances.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Peter Fahy said he was "disappointed" that stores did not have enough security personnel on duty for the after-hours shopping.

"This created situations where we had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers," he said.

Fights broke out at some stores and major websites stopped functioning because of too much traffic as shoppers sought online bargains.

Greater Manchester Police said two arrests were made and injuries reported as police closed some stores to prevent more severe problems. One woman was injured by a falling television set.

The force tweeted "Keep calm, people!" at one point.

There were problems in many parts of Britain, including Wales and Scotland.

Ventura County flirts with heat record

November 27, 2014 - 8:47pm

Southern California broke its all-time record for heat on Thanksgiving Day while Ventura County was within one degree of making the same weather history.

Cities including Los Angeles, Long Beach and Burbank had Thanksgiving temperatures in the 90s, ushering the Southland to a new heat record.

Ventura County came close, with Camarillo hitting 85. Its record temperature was 86 in 2011. Oxnard hit 87, almost breaking the 88-degree record set in 1924.

National Weather Service weather specialist Stuart Seto said the record temperatures are due to an offshore flow of warm air.

Friday's highs for Camarillo are predicted to be in the mid-70s before cooling into the high 60s Saturday. It will be sunny with temperatures in the 70s along the coast.

Fatal crash reported on PCH near Sycamore Cove

November 27, 2014 - 5:55pm

Authorities responded to a fatal crash on Pacific Coast Highway near Sycamore Cove Thursday afternoon.

Preliminary reports say a motorcycle and an SUV were involved in the crash that occurred about 2:20 p.m. in the 9000 block of PCH, near the entrance to Sycamore Cove campground. California Highway Patrol and Ventura County Fire Department responded.

Northbound lanes on PCH were closed for about two hours after the crash. All lanes had opened by about 6 p.m.