by Kimberly Rivers

kimberly@vcreporter.com

Can Ventura County grow 500 new gardens?

Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) is starting an online community initiative with the goal of encouraging the growing of 500 new home gardens across Ventura County.  Gardens can be in your yard or in pots on a patio. 

SEEAG provides five easy steps (plan, gather resources, plant seeds, maintain, harvest and share) to get started and asks participants to share their progress on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #letsgrowagarden2020. There will also be weekly worksheets, activities and resources online. 

Agromin is a project partner and is offering 500 bags, on a first-come basis, of 20-quart potting soil mix to get started. Details online at www.seeag.org/letsgrowagarden2020

District Attorney closes Brown Act complaint

On Jan. 17, 2020 the Ventura County District Attorney received a complaint from the VCReporter claiming the Ventura City Council violated the Brown Act on Sept. 9, 2019, when it failed to publicly report a vote taken in closed session by the council to begin a legal adjudication of the Ventura River Watershed. 

On Jan., 27 the Ventura City Council voted unanimously to release the vote they took on Sept, 9, 2019, which was reported as a unanimous vote. (“‘To avoid controversy,’” Ventura releases info, will consider alternative to adjudication” Kimberly Rivers, VCReporter, Jan. 29, 2020.)

On March 27, the VCReporter received a response via email from Thomas Frye, Deputy District Attorney for the County of Ventura, which stated the pertinent code of the city council “to report-out their closed session vote when the body gives approval to ‘initiate or intervene in an action,’ after such action is formally commenced,” and continued, “The issue here is whether a cross-complaint  amounts to ‘initiating an action’ within the meaning of Government section 54957.1, such that the legislative body was required to publicly report their votes. The pertinent language of the statute is ambiguous and has not been interpreted in caselaw. In so far as the issue of concern is now moot (Mayor LaVere disclosed his vote), and considering the ambiguity in the law, we are closing our file in this matter.” 

Ventura hires new communications manager 

The city of Ventura has hired Heather Sumagaysay as Communications Manager. She began in her role as the city’s media spokesperson on March 30, which includes coordinating communications in the city’s Emergency Operations Center. 

Heather Sumagaysay

Since 2015 Sumagaysay was a public information officer with the Ventura County Fire Department and was managing crisis communication and outreach efforts during the 2017 Thomas Fire, 2018 Woolsey Fire and the 2019 Conception fire at Santa Cruz Island. She holds a master’s degree in strategic communications from George Washington University in Washington D.C.

Sumagaysay can be reached at hsumagaysay@cityofventura.ca.gov .

Comment on county industrial hemp ordinance

The Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner’s office has extended the public comment period indefinitely for the new ordinance regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp. The draft ordinance can be read online at www.cdn.ventura.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Hemp-Ordinances-1.pdf. Public comments can be emailed to: vcachemp@ventura.org

STEM major scholarship deadline extended to June 1

The Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarship Program, honoring the founder of the Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation, has extended its application deadline to June 1. The Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarships are funded through a $10,000 Edison International grant and individual donations and are awarded to students demonstrating leadership and the ability to empower themselves to improve the quality of life in their communities.  A portion of the funds has been designated for STEM majors, but students in all majors are encouraged to apply. 

Information and application are online: bit.ly/CEDCScholarship. For more information, contact Cabrillo’s Resident and Community Services Department at info@cabrilloedc.org with the subject RFL Scholarship, or call 805-659-3791.