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Oxnard council hears scathing report on leave

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 3:19pm

Oxnard’s City Council received a scathing report on past policy practices Tuesday from its new city manager, who described his critique as “a symbolic first step toward transparency.”

The five-page analysis highlighted “at least nine years” of administrative policies that allowed workers to rack up excessive amounts of accrued leave. As a result, the city now has $23 million on the books in unfunded leave, said City Manager Greg Nyhoff.

Hired in June with a directive to make sweeping changes at city hall, Nyhoff told council members the report would be followed by more as he continued to research the city’s troubled past.

“This report is a symbolic first step toward transparency in this city’s governance,” Nyhoff told the council. “When you interviewed me for this position, you said you wanted all the problems from the past administrations to be brought out in public and corrected. This is the start of a long process.”

Nyhoff said the practice was sanctioned by top administrators and department heads, including former City Manager Ed Sotelo, and directors of the finance and human resources departments.

Of the city’s 1,600 employees, about 200 have accrued what Nyhoff described as an “excessive” amount of non-budgeted leave. The practice applied to nonunion employees such as department heads, mid-level managers and others.

City labor attorney Dania Torres Wong said the practice was an example of how former top city administrators had made significant spending decisions without the council’s approval or a public discussion.

“Typically a city manager does not have the authority to confer an economic benefit,” she said. “This was a huge economic compensation given to employees that was not approved by the City Council.”

Nyhoff said the practice would end immediately and negotiations with employees who benefited from the leave accrual were underway. Workers have been instructed to reduce their leave banks by mid-March. The administrative policy will be eliminated by Jan. 30.

Wong said changes will include caps of 80 hours of leave for department heads and 40 hours for mid-level managers.

City Council members welcomed the report and approved Nyhoff’s plans. They directed Nyhoff and city staff to return in February with a salary resolution outlining all pay and benefits for nonunion employees such as department heads and managers.

The leave accrual policy applied to management-level and higher staff who could cash out their unused leave or transfer the funds into a retirement account. Several council members said they were unaware of the practice and had asked repeatedly for better information from Sotelo as well as finance and human resources departments.

Sotelo, who was put on paid leave in early 2012 until his contract expired in 2013, is suing the city. Finance director James Cameron this month announced his plans to retire in January. Human Resources Director Michelle Tellez recently departed abruptly, though whether she was fired or quit is not publicly known.

The council voted to hire Dave Millican of Management Partners Inc. as an interim chief financial officer. The $70,000 deal will cover consulting for up to four months while a permanent CFO is recruited.

City Council member Carmen Ramirez praised Nyhoff and said: “We are saying to the public, you asked for accountability. You will get it now.”

Mayor Tim Flynn said the practice was tantamount to “skulduggery” by the city’s former administration. Flynn publicized a letter last week saying employees who chose to take the leave at this point would be “forever blemished.”

That statement drew criticism from Oxnard Police Detective Mike Johnson, who said most of his department’s accrued leave resulted from the city’s decision to save money by leaving positions unfilled.

“We take that as a slap in the face,” Johnson said. “It paints a picture of employees as robbing the city ... this was mandatory overtime and giving up days off, getting called out in the middle of the night. This is time that has been earned by the employees not awarded.”

Some city watchdogs agreed. Resident Steve Nash said the city’s practice of balancing the budget through unfilled vacancies was the driver of the administrative policy.

Johnson asked for a public apology from Flynn, saying the mayor and council have known about the mounting leave bank and “police staffing situation” for the past two years.

Flynn said he wrote the letter with his father, former county Supervisor John Flynn in mind. “After all his years working long hours and away from his family, he didn’t take his payout and retirement because he believed in public service.” Flynn then apologized, saying that as a city leader the buck stopped with him.

Nyhoff said an update on the city’s administrative structure and other issues will be presented to the council in January.

“There will be findings about quite a few things we need to change,” he said. “I want to say to my staff, it’s time to step up with me to achieve those solutions for the council, for the community and for the greater good.”

Oxnard council hears scathing report on leave

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 3:19pm

Oxnard’s City Council received a scathing report on past policy practices Tuesday from its new city manager, who described his critique as “a symbolic first step toward transparency.”

The five-page analysis highlighted “at least nine years” of administrative policies that allowed workers to rack up excessive amounts of accrued leave. As a result, the city now has $23 million on the books in unfunded leave, said City Manager Greg Nyhoff.

Hired in June with a directive to make sweeping changes at city hall, Nyhoff told council members the report would be followed by more as he continued to research the city’s troubled past.

“This report is a symbolic first step toward transparency in this city’s governance,” Nyhoff told the council. “When you interviewed me for this position, you said you wanted all the problems from the past administrations to be brought out in public and corrected. This is the start of a long process.”

Nyhoff said the practice was sanctioned by top administrators and department heads, including former City Manager Ed Sotelo, and directors of the finance and human resources departments.

Of the city’s 1,600 employees, about 200 have accrued what Nyhoff described as an “excessive” amount of non-budgeted leave. The practice applied to nonunion employees such as department heads, mid-level managers and others.

City labor attorney Dania Torres Wong said the practice was an example of how former top city administrators had made significant spending decisions without the council’s approval or a public discussion.

“Typically a city manager does not have the authority to confer an economic benefit,” she said. “This was a huge economic compensation given to employees that was not approved by the City Council.”

Nyhoff said the practice would end immediately and negotiations with employees who benefited from the leave accrual were underway. Workers have been instructed to reduce their leave banks by mid-March. The administrative policy will be eliminated by Jan. 30.

Wong said changes will include caps of 80 hours of leave for department heads and 40 hours for mid-level managers.

City Council members welcomed the report and approved Nyhoff’s plans. They directed Nyhoff and city staff to return in February with a salary resolution outlining all pay and benefits for nonunion employees such as department heads and managers.

The leave accrual policy applied to management-level and higher staff who could cash out their unused leave or transfer the funds into a retirement account. Several council members said they were unaware of the practice and had asked repeatedly for better information from Sotelo as well as finance and human resources departments.

Sotelo, who was put on paid leave in early 2012 until his contract expired in 2013, is suing the city. Finance director James Cameron this month announced his plans to retire in January. Human Resources Director Michelle Tellez recently departed abruptly, though whether she was fired or quit is not publicly known.

The council voted to hire Dave Millican of Management Partners Inc. as an interim chief financial officer. The $70,000 deal will cover consulting for up to four months while a permanent CFO is recruited.

City Council member Carmen Ramirez praised Nyhoff and said: “We are saying to the public, you asked for accountability. You will get it now.”

Mayor Tim Flynn said the practice was tantamount to “skulduggery” by the city’s former administration. Flynn publicized a letter last week saying employees who chose to take the leave at this point would be “forever blemished.”

That statement drew criticism from Oxnard Police Detective Mike Johnson, who said most of his department’s accrued leave resulted from the city’s decision to save money by leaving positions unfilled.

“We take that as a slap in the face,” Johnson said. “It paints a picture of employees as robbing the city ... this was mandatory overtime and giving up days off, getting called out in the middle of the night. This is time that has been earned by the employees not awarded.”

Some city watchdogs agreed. Resident Steve Nash said the city’s practice of balancing the budget through unfilled vacancies was the driver of the administrative policy.

Johnson asked for a public apology from Flynn, saying the mayor and council have known about the mounting leave bank and “police staffing situation” for the past two years.

Flynn said he wrote the letter with his father, former county Supervisor John Flynn in mind. “After all his years working long hours and away from his family, he didn’t take his payout and retirement because he believed in public service.” Flynn then apologized, saying that as a city leader the buck stopped with him.

Nyhoff said an update on the city’s administrative structure and other issues will be presented to the council in January.

“There will be findings about quite a few things we need to change,” he said. “I want to say to my staff, it’s time to step up with me to achieve those solutions for the council, for the community and for the greater good.”

Fillmore woman renews Bellringer gifts

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 3:09pm

Marlene Lowe has been giving to The Star’s annual Bellringer drive for longer than she can remember.

“I started more than 30 years ago,” the Fillmore woman said.

When her son, Jeff Lowe, died, she temporarily stopped giving. “But I thought it was time to get back into it,” Lowe said of her donation this year.

The Star’s annual Julius Gius Bellringer drive will run through Christmas, with a list of new contributions published daily, except Mondays.

Although The Star acknowledges all contributions, donors can remain anonymous if requested. The Salvation Army will receive all the money raised, to serve local people in need.

Checks should include the donor’s name, phone number and, if desired, the name of the person, organization, pet or other cause in whose memory it is given.

New donations:

Laura L. Thomas: $300.

A very Merry Christmas to all! Amanda McClard: $50.

Larry and Wilma Lopes: $150.

Anonymous: $100.

In memory of my loving father, Wei-yu Wang. Hui-Fang Rida Lee: $100.

In loving memory of my husband, Donald Downey, and our parents, Fred and Ann Foster, and Elery and Eunice Downey. Ruth Downey: $100.

Happy Chanukah! Anonymous: $36.

Given on behalf of my grandchildren in honor and memory of Kevin Wise, who was ever mindful of the needs of others, especially “the less fortunate children in the United States of America.” Anonymous: $1,000.

In loving memory of my wonderful parents, Stanley and Genevieve Edwards. I think of them every day and love them forever. Linda: $25.

In loving memory of our dear son, Jeff Lowe, and his faithful companions, Oreo, Rocky, Ginger and Toto. We miss your sweet smile, Jeff. Bud and Marlene Lowe: $100.

In memory of John Hills, who dedicated 14 years of volunteer service to the Camarillo Ranch Foundation. Friend, Rose Wisuri: $100.

In memory of Duncan, Edith and Dorothy McMillan. Anonymous: $100.

In loving memory of our father, Lt. Gen. Elvin R. (“Vald”) Heiberg III (ret.), who passed away last year. From Kitty, Kathy and Guy, Walter and Heike and Andrew and Corinna, Elvin IV and Beth and April, Kay and Todd and Cole and Carly: $200.

In loving memory of our parents, Dick and Mary Mercer, and our big brother, Lonnie. Suzy and family: $30.

In memory of our sweet “hugger,” Barry. We’ll miss you forever. Shirley and Sandy Pond: $100.

In memory of my wife, Norma Tonello, and my son, Michael Tonello. They are always in my heart. Aldo A. Tonello: $50.

In loving memory of my daughter, Maryann, and special friends who have passed this year. Gone but not forgotten. Joyce Webb: $25.

In memory of my son, Bobby Straeck, who died in an auto accident in 1966 at age 16. I miss him always. Doris Stein: $100.

In memory of my beloved and wonderful wife, Geri Tackman. You are my angel in heaven and God’s gift to me. Norbert Tackman: $50.

In memory of Ernie Messner and friends we have lost this year. Lillie Messner: $100.

In memory of David and Gordon. Sharon Cunningham: $100.

In memory of my husband, Cullins W. Brown, and two dear friends who passed away this year, Marlene and Mabel. Myrna Brown: $50.

Today’s total: $2,966.

Previous total: $27,836.

Total to date: $30,802.

Please make checks out to Bellringer and send them to:

Bellringer

Ventura County Star

P.O. Box 6006

Camarillo, CA 93011

Supreme Court Denies Arizona's Request to Block Driver's Licenses for Young Illegal Immigrants

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 17, 2014 - 3:02pm
The U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency request by Arizona officials that sought to prohibit state driver’s licenses for young illegal immigrants who received a reprieve from deportation from the Obama administration.

Moorpark men's team on the rise

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 3:01pm

It only took a quick glance at the schedule to learn the outside opinion of Moorpark College men’s basketball entering this season.

Paired against the tournament hosts on opening night of two of the four events they had entered, the Raiders had been figured for patsies in their first year under new head coach Gerred Link.

Not so fast.

Moorpark promptly spoiled the Neil Edwards Classic for Citrus, knocking the host out 80-77 on opening night Nov. 28.

A week later, the Raiders nearly took down unbeaten and state No. 1-ranked Mount San Antonio in the opener of the Mountie Classic, falling 78-76.

“We’re definitely different than in past years,” freshman guard Larry Bush said. “Teams are starting to learn that and hopefully they’ll respect us more in the future.”

Moorpark (7-6) has made sure of that with a promising start under Link, debuting at No. 14 in the Southern California coaches’ poll last week.

“We’re 7-6, and we could easily be 9-4 or 5-8,” Link said. “We’ve had a lot of close games and I think we’ve played a pretty tough schedule. ... We’ve played some of the better teams around.”

When Remy McCarthy stepped down after 17 years at the helm last year, he cited the need for “a young guy ... with the energy and desire” to attract talent to Raider Pavilion.

Enter Link, 30, a former UC San Diego assistant who grew up in Van Nuys, played locally at Chaminade Prep and at the two-year (Grossmont) and four-year (Sonoma State) levels.

“I’m still getting used to it,” Link said. “Basketball is basketball. Coaching is coaching. We hold them accountable for the things that we believe in.”

Moorpark returns four sophomores, including starters Shaquille Moore and Austin Howell, who led the Raiders with 15.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, respectively, a year ago when the Raiders finished 10-14.

A strong freshman class includes former Westlake High teammates Bush, Joshua Brooks and forward Jeremiah Gray.

Brooks (14.8 points per game, 54.0 percent shooting) and Bush (14.3 ppg), along with point guard Justin Eisen (6.0 assists per game) have formed a strong first-year backcourt.

“We’re definitely building a chemistry and a bond with the sophomores,” said Bush, who finished his high school career at Calabasas. “As soon as we find that bond, we’ll be able to turn some heads this year.”

Power forward Reggie Dixon, a Rio Mesa High product, has also started well. Just like their coach, the local freshmen are making a seamless transition to a new level of play.

“There’s definitely a difference in the level of play,” Bush said. “Completely different than high school. ... You definitely have to bring your A game every time.”

Despite the strong start, Link hasn’t been satisfied with his team’s play or results.

Shot selection has been a reoccurring issue, as has rebounding differential. Moorpark has been outrebounded by an average of 5.0 per game.

“We’ve played some good basketball and we’ve played some poor basketball,” Link said. “But we don’t have a kid over 20 years old on our team. Which his really weird to say as a community college team, but we’re pretty young.

“We’re slowly getting better.”

And he’s enjoying his first year as a head coach.

“Being a head coach is a lot different than being an assistant,” Link said. “We’re 7-6. I’d like to be 13-0.

“We’ve been in consolation championship games. We’ve been in third-place games. We’ve yet to make a championship game. I’d like to be in one of those. We’ve given some good efforts against some great teams, but we haven’t gotten over the hump yet.”

Which is just a way to say the beginning has been nice, but there’s so much left to accomplish.

“I think we’re on the right path,” Link said.

 

MOORPARK COLLEGE
Nickname: Raiders
Coach: Gerred Link (1st year)
Assistant coaches: Brendan Wheeler, Alex Jamerson
2014-15 start: 7-6
2013-14 record, division finish: 10-14, 6-6, tied for fourth
2013-14 playoffs: Did not qualify
STARTING LINEUP
Pos.    Name    Year    Ht.    High school
PG     Joshua Brooks     Fr.     6-2     Westlake
SG     Larry Bush     Fr.     6-1     Camarillo
SF     Shaquille Moore     So.     6-4     Madera South
PF     Reggie Dixon     Fr.     6-5     Rio Mesa
C     Austin Howell     So.     6-6     Grand Rapids, Mich.
BENCH
Pos.    Name    Year    Ht.    High school

G     Justin Eisen     Fr.    6-0     Chaminade
G     Chris Fields     So.     5-11     Ribet Academy
G     Jerrel Harris     So.     5-11     Queens, N.Y.-Price
G     Cooper Pedati     Fr.     6-0     Calabasas
F     Chris Carter     So.     6-4     Thousand Oaks
F     Jeremiah Gray     Fr.     6-4     Westlake
F     Brandon Hill     Fr.    6-2     Oak Park
C     Mason McConkey     So.    6-3     Ventura
RECORD BOOK
2014: 10-14     2009: 17-11
2013: 7-17       2008: 17-11*
2012: 9-18       2007: 27-6*
2011: 9-17       2006: 18-12*
2010: 17-12     2005: 13-12
 * WSC North champion​

Sony cancels 'The Interview' Dec. 25 release

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 2:48pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Sony Pictures has canceled the Dec. 25 release of "The Interview" after hackers threatened terrorists attacks and the largest multiplex chains in North America pulled the film from its screens.

In a statement Wednesday, Sony said it was cancelling "The Interview" release "in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film." The studio, which has been shaken by hacker leaks over the past several weeks, said it respected and shared in the exhibitors' concerns.

"We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public," read the statement. "We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

Earlier Wednesday, Regal Cinemas, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Theatres — the three top theater chains in North America — announced that they were postponing any showings of "The Interview," a comedy about a TV host (James Franco) and producer (Seth Rogen) tasked by the CIA to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jung-un (played by Randall Park).

Regal said in a statement that it was delaying "The Interview" ''due to wavering support of the film ... by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats."

Sony had offered theaters the option of bowing out, and when so many of them did (other chains included ArcLight Cinemas, Cineplex Entertainment and Carmike Cinemas), it left Sony little choice for the release of "The Interview."
The seriousness of the threat made Tuesday in messages posted online by the hacking group that calls itself Guardians of the Peace, is unclear. The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," but noted it was still analyzing messages from the group. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security.

The FBI is investigating the identity of the hackers, but suspicion has centered on North Korea, which previously issued warnings over "The Interview."

Sony did not say what its plans for "The Interview" now are, or whether the film's release could potentially happen at a later date. Conjecture has centered on the possibility of an unprecedented on-demand release that would distribute the film without risk to theater operators. No wide-release studio film has ever been first released on VOD, out of protection of the theater business.

A representative for the film's directors, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, didn't immediately respond to messages Wednesday.

Oxnard sees 3 slayings in 3 days

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 2:38pm

Christmas lights sparkled behind yellow crime scene tape late Tuesday in Oxnard as police investigated the city’s third fatal shooting in as many days, the latest in a flare-up of violence that left the city with its 11th homicide of the year.

Tuesday’s shooting was reported just before 8:10 p.m. in the 1200 block of Felicia Court. Police said when officers arrived, they found David Lara, 28, of Oxnard, lying on the grass with a gunshot wound. Emergency medical personnel tried to save him, but he died at the scene, police said. 

There were no suspects, Sgt. Jon Keller said.

As police investigated, a crowd gathered nearby, with at least 20 people lining the street at the Colonia Village apartments to watch the scene, the focal point of which seemed to be a white tent authorities had set up to shelter something on the north side of Felicia Court.

The trappings of the investigation provided a sharp contrast to the festive decorations around the neighborhood. From near where the crowd stood, strings of white and multicolored icicle-style Christmas lights could be seen draped from the eaves of an apartment behind the tent. An inflatable Santa beckoned with an upraised hand. 

There were at least seven to 10 police cars, two crime scene investigation vans and a mobile command post. Police officers perched on roofs to take photos of the site, while others snapped images of cars in a parking lot behind the complex. 

But even the huge police presence wasn’t enough to stop an anguished woman. 

Just after 10 p.m., the wailing woman rushed past the police tape. Officers yelled at each other to stop her as the woman in a red jacket repeatedly shouted, "What happened?" Soon, a man stepped past the yellow tape to comfort her. 

Members of the crowd, some wrapped in blankets and others using umbrellas against the sprinkling rain, were mostly silent after the woman cried, although a man’s sobs could be briefly heard. Later, a police officer offered some coffee to the woman and the small group beside her.

The shooting came on the heels of the death of a man shot Monday in Oxnard and the identification of a man shot dead Sunday in the city. 

There was no indication any of the shootings were related.

Police said Tuesday the victim of Monday’s shooting was a 35-year-old Oxnard man, although they didn’t give his name, pending notification of next of kin. 

Police said he was found in the 700 block of South Oxnard Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. Monday, then was taken to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura with critical injuries. He later died.

A woman called 911 several minutes after the shooting to report she had been shot, too. She was at a restaurant on North Oxnard Boulevard, police said.

She was taken to St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard with a serious gunshot wound to her leg that was not life-threatening, police said.

Witnesses told police a man walked up to a group of a people in a parking lot and shot the Oxnard man multiple times as he talked to friends. The woman, a 35-year-old from out-of-state, was shot as she tried to run away, police said.

Investigators believe the man was the intended victim and the woman was not. Police said Tuesday no arrests had been made in the case. 

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office released the name of an Oxnard man who was found shot to death early Sunday.

Jose Sainz, 31, was found fatally wounded about 2:35 a.m. Sunday in the 4400 block of South G Street in Oxnard, authorities said Tuesday. Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive Sainz. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner’s office said.

No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

HOW TO HELP

The city of Oxnard offers up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in homicide cases. 

Investigators are encouraging anyone with information about Tuesday's slaying to contact Detective Gordon Currie at 200-5682. Those who want to remain anonymous can call the violent crimes hotline at 982-7070 or Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or visit www.venturacountycrimestoppers.org  to submit a tip.

Congress criticized for doing nothing

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 2:28pm

WASHINGTON — While some say the 113th Congress that ended this week will be best remembered for its partisanship, dysfunction and gridlock, members from Ventura County can point to some significant legislative achievements.

What some consider missed opportunities, others see precisely what was intended: inaction rather than making mistakes. But political scientists label this two-year session as a “Do-Nothing Congress,” which passed fewer bills into law than even the 80th Congress (1947-1949) that President Harry S. Truman chastised with that nickname.

“It looks like the 113th is on track to be the least productive in history,” said UC Santa Barbara political scientist Stephen Weatherford. He noted that even if the number of bills passed is not a measure of progress, “even a good conservative would be uncomfortable with a polarized stalemate that resulted in the Congress being unable to act even on important, pressing issues.”

Despite that, members representing parts of Ventura County pointed out some benefits for their constituents.

“It is no secret that the atmosphere in the 113th Congress was particularly tough,” said Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. “But even in this divided Congress there were some important successes for the Central Coast, including the passage of the Farm Bill that is so important for our local agriculture sector.”

Capps noted that she authored bills signed into law, including the Organic Standards Protection Act, which was part of the Farm Bill; the National Pediatric Research Network Act, which will help coordinate research on rare pediatric diseases; and the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, which studies the feasibility of organ transplants between HIV-positive patients.

Closer to home, Capps’ bill to name a post office in Lompoc for a federal correctional officer killed in the line of duty is awaiting the president’s signature.

“While they didn’t quite make it over the finish line to become law this Congress, I have numerous other pieces of legislation that passed either the House or the Senate, including a bill to help military medics transition back into civilian service and another to help schools improve their safety infrastructure in case of future violent acts,” Capps said.

Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, said she was proud of work on the Farm Bill and on a Veterans Affairs bill, which she helped shape with Senate counterparts as a member of a conference committee.

The latter bill passed as investigations revealed long waiting times at VA clinics and falsified records. It authorized $17 billion to improve staffing and provide for the care of veterans outside VA facilities in certain cases.

In an interview on the last day the House was in session, Brownley said she plans to be vigilant on all veterans issues, including homelessness and major improvements to the VA facility in Oxnard.

Brownley also noted that the Farm Bill included provisions for specialty crops grown in Ventura County, a first that she called “a big deal.”

Brownley said she has been in the company of President Barack Obama “maybe 8 or 10 times,” and on one occasion talked to him about dredging the county’s harbors. “And he put me in touch with others in the White House and that was helpful in terms of getting sand (for) Hueneme and getting the harbor dredged,” she said.

She added that she helped the Port of Hueneme secure a Department of Energy grant so docked ships can plug in to get power instead of idling on diesel fuel. Brownley also mentioned grants for both the Oxnard and Camarillo airports.

Another one of her priorities has been protecting Naval Base Ventura County from

the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) effort. “The very best way to inoculate Naval Base Ventura County from any kind of BRAC is to make sure they have a diversity of commands,” she said, citing the Triton drone program planned for the base as “a big deal.”

She said much of her job satisfaction came from helping constituents, such as getting fairly substantial retroactive benefits for a homeless veteran and his wife living in their car.

A statement released by her office said it responded to more than 119,000 inquiries from constituents in the past two years and opened cases on 2,100, recovering Social Security and other benefits worth millions of dollars.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, acknowledged that polarization has resulted in a kind of legislative paralysis. Asked what the 113th Congress has accomplished, he was succinct: “Not a lot.”

In another example of keeping touch with district needs, McKeon got a bill stopping a 56-million ton gravel and sand mine in Soledad Canyon in Los Angeles County the last day the House was in session. But a single senator’s objection killed the measure in the Senate.

In Ventura County, McKeon successfully pushed through a bill to rename the post office at 2551 Galena Ave. in Simi Valley for the late Neil Havens, who served as postmaster for 30 years after his appointment by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958. He died in 2004 at age 74.

McKeon, whose district includes most of Simi Valley, also shepherded a $585 billion National Defense Authorization bill through the Armed Services Committee he chaired, on to a floor vote and through a House-Senate conference.

McKeon is retiring from office but is in negotiations with retiring Virginia Democrat James Moran to form a lobbying partnership. Under House rules, they can’t talk with other members or their staffs for a year. McKeon is selling his home in California and will live in Old Town Alexandria, near the Pentagon, he said.

Despite some success in completing must-pass bills like the continuing budget resolution that closed out the year, Political Science professor Herb Gooch at California Lutheran University said the 113th Congress is living up to its do-nothing reputation.

And looking forward, he’s not sure there will be marked progress.

“The new Congress will have the greatest Republican majority since 1876 — Reconstruction — but it is unclear how many bills they will be able to pass. In the Senate, the Republican reversal of majority control will be difficult to translate into political muscle” Gooch said in an email, noting the majority doesn’t reach the 60-vote threshold for cutting off debate.

Gooch does see a promising sign for California’s political influence — Gov. Jerry Brown may be the most influential Democratic governor in terms of “clout” in the country and may act as “kingmaker” as candidates vie for the 2016 presidential nomination.

He noted another plus for California is that the No. 2 Republican in the House is Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.

Arrests Made in 2012 Meningitis Outbreak

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 17, 2014 - 2:27pm
Federal authorities arrested 14 people early Wednesday connected to a Massachusetts pharmacy that they believe was behind a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012.

Books of The Times: ‘The David Foster Wallace Reader,’ a Compilation

NY Times Books - December 17, 2014 - 1:31pm
In “The David Foster Wallace Reader,” a blend of fiction, magazine articles, essays and guides for his students, logorrhea emerges as a stealth virtue.






Comedy star Carlos Mencia coming to Ventura

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 1:00pm

You can never really know what’s going on in a man’s mind, even one as famous as Carlos Mencia’s.

Carlos Mencia

The stand-up star will perform at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club, 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura. Admission to the 21-and-over shows are $20-$45 plus a two-item food/drink minimum. Call 644-1500 or visit venturaharborcomedyclub.com. Mencia's website is carlosmencia.com.

The man behind “The Mind of Mencia” had a stratospheric rise in the comedy world and catastrophic backlash that nearly cost him his career. But the 46-year-old comic has emerged from the dust and rubble to be a leaner, though not necessarily meaner, performer.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been funnier or had a better perspective and been more prepared,” said Mencia, who will perform his final shows of the year on Friday and Saturday in Ventura. “I’m at the top of my game.”

To know what it means for him to say he is at the top of his game is to realize that during the height of his backlash, he felt like he was at the bottom and might end it all. So, as with any good comeback, the key is knowing how it all happened. (Note: the following video contains harsh, R-rated language.)

 

Back in 2005, Mencia’s Comedy Central show, “Mind of Mencia,” was the highest-rated new comedy series on all of cable TV that summer. It went on to become one of the top-rated programs for the channel, behind only the perennial hit “South Park.” The bombastic comic had his own TV specials and was featured in a prominent Super Bowl commercial for Bud Light.

Then in 2007, fellow comic Joe Rogan stormed Mencia onstage during a performance in Los Angeles and accused him of plagiarizing other comedians’ work. A clip of the altercation that also showed similarities with other comics went viral, and Mencia’s reputation as a joke stealer — perhaps the deadliest sin in the comedy world — was sealed. His Comedy Central show was canceled in 2008. The vitriol went so deep that in 2010 The Wall Street Journal called Mencia one of the three most hated standups in the profession, alongside Dane Cook and Jay Leno.

That level of disgust, though less fever-pitched, still follows the comic today. When news broke in June about the crash that critically injured “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan and killed comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, Mencia received a tweet from a stranger that said, “Why couldn’t that be you?”

“Someone wished I was dead instead of the individual who died,” he said. “It takes a lot to not to bite on that. To not even send a message of, ‘Why would you say that?’ Five, six, seven years ago, I probably would still be in a Twitter war with that guy. But that’s not my job. My job is to make people laugh.”

Positive perspective

The most important thing Mencia said he learned from the debacle is perspective. It is something he tries to share with people from the stage. Flipping people’s perspective, while continuing to say what most people won’t, is where he finds his humor now.

“It was a rough time and taught me a lot. Some people choose to live in a negative world. If you get stuck in it, whether defending yourself or whatever, it doesn’t matter what you say. You’re a pig in mud, trying to clean yourself — but you’re still in mud. It doesn’t matter your intentions or your proof. That’s irrelevant,” he said. “I choose to live in a positive world and a positive presence. I love after a show when someone says, ‘You gave me a different perspective.’ It’s just who I am. I like to look in the crevices of things, the nooks and the crannies. I like to see the things other people don’t see, don’t want to look at.”

Mencia, who has steadfastly denied consciously stealing jokes, said one of the things he is most proud of is his refusal to bad-mouth the comics who have flung allegations at him. (Note: the following video contains harsh, R-rated language.)

 

 

“Google my name or whoever else hates me. You’ll find a lot of anti-Carlos stuff,” he said. “You can’t find me saying something bad about other comics. I am proud I went through all of that. There were suicidal moments in those days, there were homicidal moments within those days. It’s not easy when you don’t have perspective and are going through all of this. There are billions of people, and everyone has an opinion; everyone has a filter. That has nothing to do with me. That’s the perspective this gave me.”

It didn’t come without hard work, though. Mencia said he went to therapy after the allegations of joke stealing surfaced and threatened to torpedo his livelihood. After “Mind of Mencia” was canceled, he took some time out of the national spotlight. In 2010, he appeared in the film “Our Family Wedding” with America Ferrera and Forest Whitaker. Then in 2011, a visibly thinner Mencia re-emerged with a new Comedy Central special aptly titled “New Territory.”

A lot to learn in 12B

Mencia credits a friend who was diagnosed with diabetes for his 70-pound weight loss. He said he had told his friend for years to lose weight and eat better. When the friend was facing toe amputation because of the disease, the two had a heart-to-heart.

“He started crying. He said, ‘You know what, bro? You told me the truth — I didn’t want to see the truth.’ Then he said, ‘I want to be there for you the way you were there for me. You are fat, too.’ He said if I continued the way the way I was going, I’d be where he is, going to get his toe chopped off.”

But Mencia did one more experiment to verify his friend’s claims about his weight.

“I had to fly the next day to Nebraska, so I changed my seat from first class to coach. And I put myself in the middle seat, I’ll never forget, it was 12B,” he said. “I said, ‘I am going to look at the faces of two people I have to sit between and that will let me know if I am fat or not.’ Then I looked at their faces and said, ‘Oh, no, I am fat.’ ”

Mencia has kept much of the weight off since and continues to tour extensively. After each show, he stays to sign autographs and take pictures with his fans. And, as he has done for 15 years, he offers audio recordings of the show after each live performance.

He continues to do a podcast, called “Laughin’ and Livin’,” which is available on his website. He said his online show allows him to be more three-dimensional. His performance, he said, is all about being funny. But his podcast gives him the chance to talk to people and discuss things he has seen, or his life or current events, without always going for the laugh.

No more anger

Still, he said, what people hear and see of him in the public is a far cry from where he came from. Born Ned Arnel Mencia in Honduras, Mencia took a stage name and developed his persona as an entertainer. He was the 17th of 18 children in his family and majored in electrical engineering in college before turning to comedy.

“Ned doesn’t come through in anything. Ned is shy and quiet and would rather stay home and watch television,” Mencia said. “Ned is completely the opposite of Carlos. Ned goes to a party and never says hi to everyone. Everything that is entertaining is Carlos.”

The mind of Mencia today is less angry, he said, despite the anger that has been directed at it.

“There’s no more proving, no anger, no aggression. That doesn’t mean I don’t get aggressive and excited and shout. I am unbelievably passionate, but it comes from a different place,” he said. “I used to scream from the mountaintops, ‘I am funny, check me out!’ Now I speak from the valley and let anyone come who wants to come.”

Bay Bridge Light Installation to Glimmer On in San Francisco

New York Times - California News - December 17, 2014 - 12:21pm
“Bay Lights,” a shimmery LED art installation by the artist Leo Villareal, may become a permanent nighttime sight in San Francisco.

Man found guilty in 2012 assault case

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 12:09pm

A Santa Paula man has been found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon in a 2012 case, officials said Wednesday.

A Ventura County jury last week found German Renteria, 24, guilty of an Aug. 23 incident involving a firearm as well as a special gang enhancement, Santa Paula police reported.

Renteria is a documented gang member and was found to have committed the assault for the benefit of the gang, authorities said. He failed to appear in court when ordered to appear by the judge midway through his trial and a bench warrant was issued, officials said. Renteria was still missing when the verdict was announced Friday, police said.

Renteria was later found and arrested in Camarillo with the help of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January and could face up to 19 years in state prison, officials said.

Stephen Collins: 'I Did Something Terribly Wrong

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 11:55am

Months after allegations first surfaced, Stephen Collins, the former star of "7th Heaven," has confessed to abusing minors.

People magazine published a statement from the actor Wednesday morning. He admits to "inappropriate sexual contact" with three female minors.

"I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. ... As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth."

The truth, according to 67-year-old Collins, is that three times — first in 1974, then in 1982 and then in 1994, he had sexual encounters with minors.

The story first broke in October, when TMZ published recordings from a therapy session — recordings allegedly made in secret by Collins' now-estranged wife, Faye Grant.

The therapy session happened in 2012, and in it Collins is heard discussing the incidents. Grant and Collins are in the middle of an intense divorce now. 

After the recording was leaked, Collins quickly lost work — he was dropped from the upcoming sequel to "Ted," and reruns of "7th Heaven" were pulled. It's unclear why he is speaking about the incident now, but you can read more of his statement on People's website, and a sit-down with Katie Couric will be airing Friday on Yahoo and ABC.  

This video includes images from Getty Images.

Oxnard sees 3 slayings in 3 days

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 11:34am

Christmas lights sparkled behind yellow crime scene tape late Tuesday in Oxnard as police investigated the city’s third fatal shooting in as many days, the latest in a flare-up of violence that left the city with its 11th homicide of the year.

Tuesday’s shooting was reported just before 8:10 p.m. in the 1200 block of Felicia Court. Police said when officers arrived, they found David Lara, 28, of Oxnard, lying on the grass with a gunshot wound. Emergency medical personnel tried to save him, but he died at the scene, police said. 

There were no suspects, Sgt. Jon Keller said.

As police investigated, a crowd gathered nearby, with at least 20 people lining the street at the Colonia Village apartments to watch the scene, the focal point of which seemed to be a white tent authorities had set up to shelter something on the north side of Felicia Court.

The trappings of the investigation provided a sharp contrast to the festive decorations around the neighborhood. From near where the crowd stood, strings of white and multicolored icicle-style Christmas lights could be seen draped from the eaves of an apartment behind the tent. An inflatable Santa beckoned with an upraised hand. 

There were at least seven to 10 police cars, two crime scene investigation vans and a mobile command post. Police officers perched on roofs to take photos of the site, while others snapped images of cars in a parking lot behind the complex. 

But even the huge police presence wasn’t enough to stop an anguished woman. 

Just after 10 p.m., the wailing woman rushed past the police tape. Officers yelled at each other to stop her as the woman in a red jacket repeatedly shouted, "What happened?" Soon, a man stepped past the yellow tape to comfort her. 

Members of the crowd, some wrapped in blankets and others using umbrellas against the sprinkling rain, were mostly silent after the woman cried, although a man’s sobs could be briefly heard. Later, a police officer offered some coffee to the woman and the small group beside her.

The shooting came on the heels of the death of a man shot Monday in Oxnard and the identification of a man shot dead Sunday in the city. 

There was no indication any of the shootings were related.

Police said Tuesday the victim of Monday’s shooting was a 35-year-old Oxnard man, although they didn’t give his name, pending notification of next of kin. 

Police said he was found in the 700 block of South Oxnard Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. Monday, then was taken to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura with critical injuries. He later died.

A woman called 911 several minutes after the shooting to report she had been shot, too. She was at a restaurant on North Oxnard Boulevard, police said.

She was taken to St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard with a serious gunshot wound to her leg that was not life-threatening, police said.

Witnesses told police a man walked up to a group of a people in a parking lot and shot the Oxnard man multiple times as he talked to friends. The woman, a 35-year-old from out-of-state, was shot as she tried to run away, police said.

Investigators believe the man was the intended victim and the woman was not. Police said Tuesday no arrests had been made in the case. 

Meanwhile, the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office released the name of an Oxnard man who was found shot to death early Sunday.

Jose Sainz, 31, was found fatally wounded about 2:35 a.m. Sunday in the 4400 block of South G Street in Oxnard, authorities said Tuesday. Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive Sainz. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner’s office said.

No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

HOW TO HELP

The city of Oxnard offers up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in homicide cases. 

Investigators are encouraging anyone with information about Tuesday's slaying to contact Detective Gordon Currie at 200-5682. Those who want to remain anonymous can call the violent crimes hotline at 982-7070 or Ventura County Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or visit www.venturacountycrimestoppers.org  to submit a tip.

Evacuations lifted, threat of heavy rain ends

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 11:32am

Just after midnight Tuesday, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for homes in Camarillo Springs for the second time in less than a week.

The forecast had changed and warned of possible heavy rain and thunderstorms that could bring mud and rocks down the steep hills above the neighborhood. Those same hills were burned in the Springs Fire in May 2013, leaving them mostly bare and vulnerable to slides.

"We wanted to keep all residents safe and out of harm's way," said Capt. Mark Franke with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities knocked on doors to tell residents to leave in evacuation zone that included 124 houses on San Como Lane, Gitana Avenue and Itamo Street. Some in the neighborhood had already left when a voluntary evacuation was ordered at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Others chose to stay, Franke said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning at 12:30 a.m., as thunderstorms and heavy rain moved quickly toward Ventura County.

"We saw it coming from the Santa Barbara Channel," said meteorologist Curt Kaplan in the National Weather Service Oxnard office.

Thunderstorms swept over Ventura and Oxnard, heading toward the Springs Fire burn area.

"Band of thunderstorms moving into Oxnard area. Camarillo Springs needs to take this situation very seriously," the National Weather Service tweeted shortly after 1 a.m.

By 3:15 a.m., after the worst of the rain and thunderstorms had passed by, the all-clear was given and the evacuation order was lifted. No new reports of debris flows or rocks slides were reported.

The heaviest rain stayed north and then east of the Springs Fire burn area.

It was a much different scene than last week, when tons of debris, mud and rocks poured down the hills and into the neighborhood.

The storm that hit overnight Thursday dropped close to 2 inches of rain on the area, most of it falling in a few hours. Rocks and mud poured down burned hillsides, flooding yards, homes and streets.

Sixteen homes were damaged, including 10 deemed uninhabitable and three others significantly damaged.

Click here for an interactive on the storm.

Overnight Tuesday, the storm dropped about 0.25 to 0.50 of an inch of rain in most areas of the county, according to preliminary figures from the Ventura County Watershed Protection District. Some foothill areas received closer to an inch, and Camarillo Springs reported 0.26 of an inch.

Simi Valley also got hit hard by thunderstorms Wednesday morning.

Point Mugu State Park is set to close at noon Wednesday and remain closed until Jan. 12. The park had widespread damage from last week’s storm. Rocks and mud buried roads, campsites and parking lots and washed out trails.

A nine-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway is closed from Las Posas Road in Camarillo to Yerba Buena Road near Malibu because of a dozen mud and rock slides last week. The road is not expected to reopen for three to four weeks, Caltrans officials said.

Potrero Road between CSU Channel Islands and Rancho Dos Vientos near Camarillo also remained closed because of mud and debris problems.

By 4 a.m. Wednesday, all seemed calm in Camarillo Springs. Roads were mostly clear of mud and rocks, and a Sheriff's SUV patrolled the streets. 

Other than a few television news vans parked on San Como Lane, and a coyote running up a drainage creek between the streets, the neighborhood was quiet.

The National Weather Service has issued a high-surf advisory through midnight Wednesday. A swell is expected to bring 5- to 7-foot surf to beaches in the area. West-facing beaches likely will see the highest surf. Local sets could reach 9 feet.

Strong rip currents should be expected on all beaches, bringing dangerous swimming and surfing conditions. Waves may overtop jetties and sea walls, particularly during high tide, the weather service said.

Ventura County might get some showers Wednesday. By early next week, the forecast calls for dry, warmer weather.

* Allow time for the live blog to load below...

 

Evacuations lifted, threat of heavy rain ends

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 11:32am

Just after midnight Tuesday, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for homes in Camarillo Springs for the second time in less than a week.

The forecast had changed and warned of possible heavy rain and thunderstorms that could bring mud and rocks down the steep hills above the neighborhood. Those same hills were burned in the Springs Fire in May 2013, leaving them mostly bare and vulnerable to slides.

"We wanted to keep all residents safe and out of harm's way," said Capt. Mark Franke with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities knocked on doors to tell residents to leave in evacuation zone that included 124 houses on San Como Lane, Gitana Avenue and Itamo Street. Some in the neighborhood had already left when a voluntary evacuation was ordered at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Others chose to stay, Franke said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood warning at 12:30 a.m., as thunderstorms and heavy rain moved quickly toward Ventura County.

"We saw it coming from the Santa Barbara Channel," said meteorologist Curt Kaplan in the National Weather Service Oxnard office.

Thunderstorms swept over Ventura and Oxnard, heading toward the Springs Fire burn area.

"Band of thunderstorms moving into Oxnard area. Camarillo Springs needs to take this situation very seriously," the National Weather Service tweeted shortly after 1 a.m.

By 3:15 a.m., after the worst of the rain and thunderstorms had passed by, the all-clear was given and the evacuation order was lifted. No new reports of debris flows or rocks slides were reported.

The heaviest rain stayed north and then east of the Springs Fire burn area.

It was a much different scene than last week, when tons of debris, mud and rocks poured down the hills and into the neighborhood.

The storm that hit overnight Thursday dropped close to 2 inches of rain on the area, most of it falling in a few hours. Rocks and mud poured down burned hillsides, flooding yards, homes and streets.

Sixteen homes were damaged, including 10 deemed uninhabitable and three others significantly damaged.

Click here for an interactive on the storm.

Overnight Tuesday, the storm dropped about 0.25 to 0.50 of an inch of rain in most areas of the county, according to preliminary figures from the Ventura County Watershed Protection District. Some foothill areas received closer to an inch, and Camarillo Springs reported 0.26 of an inch.

Simi Valley also got hit hard by thunderstorms Wednesday morning.

Point Mugu State Park is set to close at noon Wednesday and remain closed until Jan. 12. The park had widespread damage from last week’s storm. Rocks and mud buried roads, campsites and parking lots and washed out trails.

A nine-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway is closed from Las Posas Road in Camarillo to Yerba Buena Road near Malibu because of a dozen mud and rock slides last week. The road is not expected to reopen for three to four weeks, Caltrans officials said.

Potrero Road between CSU Channel Islands and Rancho Dos Vientos near Camarillo also remained closed because of mud and debris problems.

By 4 a.m. Wednesday, all seemed calm in Camarillo Springs. Roads were mostly clear of mud and rocks, and a Sheriff's SUV patrolled the streets. 

Other than a few television news vans parked on San Como Lane, and a coyote running up a drainage creek between the streets, the neighborhood was quiet.

The National Weather Service has issued a high-surf advisory through midnight Wednesday. A swell is expected to bring 5- to 7-foot surf to beaches in the area. West-facing beaches likely will see the highest surf. Local sets could reach 9 feet.

Strong rip currents should be expected on all beaches, bringing dangerous swimming and surfing conditions. Waves may overtop jetties and sea walls, particularly during high tide, the weather service said.

Ventura County might get some showers Wednesday. By early next week, the forecast calls for dry, warmer weather.

* Allow time for the live blog to load below...

 

Your Price of Paradise: Ken Turner

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 11:22am

Ken Turner is a technician in the process of retiring from Procter & Gamble.

Where do you live? Southwest Oxnard's Wingfield neighborhood, near the Oxnard Airport

Age? 57

What percentage of your gross income goes toward housing? A little less than half

How long have you lived in Ventura County? Forty-four years. I have been in Ventura County since I was 13. My family moved here from Inglewood.

What type of housing do you occupy? A house

Do you rent or own? Own

Why do you live here? "My mother moved here when I was a young man, so of course I came along. Then I landed a really good job, and I stayed here from that point. I guess what really keeps me here is I like the weather, and I like the location. Either way, I'm an hour to 45 minutes away from Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, so it's ideal."

Port Hueneme police chief to retire

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 17, 2014 - 10:19am

Port Hueneme Police Chief Robert Gager has announced he will retire May 11 from the post he took over when former Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan resigned in 2012.

Gager, 55, said he hopes to eventually run for justice of the peace in Yavapai County in Arizona, an elected position, although he said that would happen years from now.

“It’s been wonderful to work in Port Hueneme. I started at bottom and made my way to the top. Administration has not been what I expected it to be. But it’s been an enjoyable experience and with the new city manager I’m leaving things in good hands,” Gager said this week.

Gager started as a patrol officer with the department in 1999. He said his length of service helped him build the relationships necessary to overcome the turmoil created when Sheehan resigned in December 2012 amid allegations of misconduct, which she denied.

“The neat thing about it is we’ve been a family for 15 years. People here are my friends. An outsider wouldn’t have the long-term relationships with directors and staff that I had. The biggest thing put to me was to mend those fences,” Gager said.

Port Hueneme Councilman Doug Breeze said Gager was the perfect choice to lead the department after Sheehan left. Breeze was mayor when City Manager Dave Norman was asked to step down, followed by Sheehan’s resignation two months later.

“He stepped up to the plate when Chief Sheehan left. He had done an outstanding job done during his time here. But he’s eager to go and I wish him all the best,” Breeze said. “We will do a very, very thorough job at finding his replacement. We want to get input from the Police Department and make sure we get best fit we can get.”

In Port Hueneme, the city manager is responsible for hiring the police chief. City Manager Cynthia Haas said Gager’s notice has come so far ahead of his planned retirement date that she hasn’t yet considered his replacement.

“I’m thinking about what type of process to go through and how the police department will give me input,” Haas said Wednesday. “The entire recruitment process from start to finish takes about two to three months, although with police you have to have a much more extensive investigative process.”

Haas said she would welcome input from the City Council on the selection.

Gager started his law enforcement career with the Glendale Police Department after serving in the Army for 12 years, where he rose to the rank of sergeant first class.

In Port Hueneme, Gager was promoted to sergeant in 2002 and lieutenant in 2011. He has also served as acting commander, investigative services division supervisor, watch commander/sergeant, sniper team leader, range master and field training officer.

His salary is $152,214 annually.

Gager has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He is also is a volunteer woodshop teacher at Newbury Park High School.

Port Hueneme police chief to retire

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 17, 2014 - 10:19am

Port Hueneme Police Chief Robert Gager has announced he will retire May 11 from the post he took over when former Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan resigned in 2012.

Gager, 55, said he hopes to eventually run for justice of the peace in Yavapai County in Arizona, an elected position, although he said that would happen years from now.

“It’s been wonderful to work in Port Hueneme. I started at bottom and made my way to the top. Administration has not been what I expected it to be. But it’s been an enjoyable experience and with the new city manager I’m leaving things in good hands,” Gager said this week.

Gager started as a patrol officer with the department in 1999. He said his length of service helped him build the relationships necessary to overcome the turmoil created when Sheehan resigned in December 2012 amid allegations of misconduct, which she denied.

“The neat thing about it is we’ve been a family for 15 years. People here are my friends. An outsider wouldn’t have the long-term relationships with directors and staff that I had. The biggest thing put to me was to mend those fences,” Gager said.

Port Hueneme Councilman Doug Breeze said Gager was the perfect choice to lead the department after Sheehan left. Breeze was mayor when City Manager Dave Norman was asked to step down, followed by Sheehan’s resignation two months later.

“He stepped up to the plate when Chief Sheehan left. He had done an outstanding job done during his time here. But he’s eager to go and I wish him all the best,” Breeze said. “We will do a very, very thorough job at finding his replacement. We want to get input from the Police Department and make sure we get best fit we can get.”

In Port Hueneme, the city manager is responsible for hiring the police chief. City Manager Cynthia Haas said Gager’s notice has come so far ahead of his planned retirement date that she hasn’t yet considered his replacement.

“I’m thinking about what type of process to go through and how the police department will give me input,” Haas said Wednesday. “The entire recruitment process from start to finish takes about two to three months, although with police you have to have a much more extensive investigative process.”

Haas said she would welcome input from the City Council on the selection.

Gager started his law enforcement career with the Glendale Police Department after serving in the Army for 12 years, where he rose to the rank of sergeant first class.

In Port Hueneme, Gager was promoted to sergeant in 2002 and lieutenant in 2011. He has also served as acting commander, investigative services division supervisor, watch commander/sergeant, sniper team leader, range master and field training officer.

His salary is $152,214 annually.

Gager has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He is also is a volunteer woodshop teacher at Newbury Park High School.

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