Brownley helps vets, addresses El Salvadorans

Julia Bownley

Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, has been busy at the start of the new year, introducing legislation and following up on work to provide Ventura County with more services for Veterans.

Brownley, who serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, won a victory for local veterans when her legislation to bring an expanded VA Clinic to Oxnard was authorized in 2017. On Thursday, Jan. 25, Brownley will host a Veterans Community Meeting to discuss the new clinic along with regional Veterans Affairs leadership.

“The interim clinic was a step forward, but I continued to fight in Congress for legislation to authorize a facility that will meet the needs of Ventura County veterans,” said Brownley. “My bill to authorize a new VA Community Clinic in our area was recently signed into law. This new clinic will be 41,000 sq. ft. – nearly seven times the size of the clinic when I came to Congress — and will add additional specialty care services here in our community, so Ventura County’s veterans do not have to travel so far for services.”

Further, on Friday, Jan. 12, Brownley’s bill to give Oxnard native retired Sgt. Maj. John Canley the Medal of Honor will be heading to the president’s desk for signature. Canley served as a Marine for 28 years, including service during the Vietnam War, and is credited with having saved many lives on the front lines.

On Monday, Jan. 8, Brownley released a statement in regard to President Trump’s decision to rescind temporary protected status for El Salvadorans. Approximately 200,000 people from the central American country have resided in the United States since a 2001 earthquake resulted in widespread devastation and migration.

“Just like our Dreamers, these families are deeply integrated into the fabric of America,” said Brownley. “It is long past time that we pass comprehensive immigration reform that reflects our shared values as a nation, especially the importance of keeping families and communities together.”

Limon’s, Jackson’s fire legislation, responds to offshore oil drilling

Hannah Beth Jackson

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, announced on Wednesday, Jan. 3, that they would begin work on joint legislation to create an opt-out emergency alert system, improve emergency communications to non-English-speaking immigrant communities, and reduce wildfire risk to new homes in the wake of the devastating Thomas Fire.

Senate Bill 821 will give counties the option of automatically enrolling every resident in a location-based emergency notification program while preserving the right to opt out. When the Thomas Fire broke out, says Jackson, less than 30 percent of residents had signed up to receive county cell phone and email alerts.

“With climate change creating the potential for longer and more severe fire seasons, we must strengthen our emergency alert systems and allow officials to effectively target alerts to specific areas or neighborhoods under threat.”

Further, a bill to be introduced by Limón will require state and county Offices of Emergency Services to offer emergency communications in Spanish as well as in English.

Monique Limon

A third Thomas Fire-related bill, to be introduced by Jackson, will strengthen CalFIRE’s ability to weigh in on local development plans to mitigate wildfire risk. The Thomas Fire destroyed over 500 homes in Ventura County alone.

On Thursday, Jan. 4, President Donald Trump signed an executive order expanding offshore drilling in federal waters in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. In response, Jackson and Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, reintroduced legislation (SB-834 and AB-1775, respectively) to ensure pipelines and other infrastructure can’t be built in California waters to support any new federal oil development.

“It’s more important than ever that we send a strong statement that California will not be open for drilling along our coast, which could devastate our multitrillion-dollar coastal economy, our coastal waters and marine life,” said Jackson.

Sheriff Dean will not seek re-election

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean announced on Wednesday, Jan. 3, that he would not seek re-election for a third term.

Dean, 61, says that he will step down in November. Ventura County Undersheriff Gary Pentis will also retire. Dean’s term ends on Jan. 7, 2019, but the Ventura County Board of Supervisors say that they will appoint whoever is elected to succeed him in the interim come November.

Race for County Supervisor heats up

The race to replace retiring Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy has received the attention of several candidates who have thrown their hats into the proverbial ring.

Community College Trustee Bernardo Perez, 68, says that he will be running for the seat vacated by Foy. Perez has sat on the Ventura County Community College District since 2010 and is a retired project manager for the Cabrillo Economic Development Corp.

Perez will so far compete with former commanding officer of Naval Base Ventura County Brad Conners and Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber.