School District board voted 4-1 to fire Michael Babb

Michael Babb served as VUSD Superintendent for less than two years.

Ventura Unified School District Superintendent Michael Babb has been fired by the school board. Babb had been superintendent since July 1, 2015 replacing longtime Superintendent Dr. Trudy Tuttle Arriaga after she retired. He will receive six months of his annual salary of $215,605.

The board voted 4-1 to fire Babb without cause.  Trustee Sabrena Rodriguez voted against the firing. The decision was made at a special closed meeting.

The board emphasized that there are no alleged grievances or ongoing investigations into Babb but just felt that a new direction was necessary. Several members felt that his communication and leadership skills were not up to par.

Babb, who lives in Ventura, was previously superintendent of the much smaller Mesa Union School District. He was principal of E.P. Foster Elementary School for five years.

Deputy Superintendent Joe Richards, 60, will serve as interim superintendent until a replacement is hired by the board. Richards stated that he is not interested in filling the position permanently.

When hired Babb stated, “I came to Ventura Unified in 2001, when my own sons and daughter were small. I was a principal at E.P. Foster Elementary, and I brought my children to school with me each day. At the time, Ventura and fatherhood both were new to me, and, like all parents, I hoped and I worried. Would my kids be all right here? Would their teachers be kind? Would they be safe, make friends and learn and grow?”

“As a parent and as a leader, I have found the community and the schools in Ventura to be a rich resource, a comfort and support, a terrific place to work and to raise our children.”

“This is what I wish to preserve for us all, for you and for your children and for their children.  I am certain that if we work together as partners, if we use our collective intelligence, creativity and inspiration, if we treat one another with dignity and work cooperatively, we can provide an ideal learning environment for each one of the students in our town. I look forward to discovering together what wonders we can create by working with our hands and our hearts for their benefit.”

Ventura County’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Ventura County’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held on March 11 on Main St.

The large crowd lining the street enjoyed a gorgeous Ventura day. The Parade is sponsored by Elks Lodge No. 1430 and featured marching bands, horses, music, wonderful cars and much more.

Judges for the parade were Connie Stahl, Elks Lodge #1430; Richard Rush, California State University Channel Islands; Erika Beck, California State University Channel Islands; Sue Georgino, Georgino Development and James Lockwood, Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Ventura County’s Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2017

Vol. 10, No. 12 – March 15 – March 28, 2017 – Harbor Patrol Blotter



2:14pm, while on patrol officers discovered a stalled vehicle on Navigator Drive with two persons trapped inside. The vehicle was eventually pushed out of the flooded street, both persons rescued and no injuries were reported.

11:55pm, officers observed 3.6 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. Also, the Santa Clara river is flowing dramatically, depositing debris along the beach.

02/18/17 1:05pm received a dispatch to a water rescue at the Ventura Pier. Officers responded, but it was determined to be floating log from the storm.

3:12pm received a report of a 50ft motor vessel listing heavily. Officers responded to VIM and assisted maintenance and dewatered the vessel.

3:52pm received a dispatch to a water rescue at the Ventura Pier. Officers responded with Ventura fire and State Parks lifeguards. The kite surfer made it safely back to shore.

02/21/17 6:55pm received a report of a 46ft sailboat lost in the fog. Officers responded and assisted U.S. coast guard search for the vessel. The inexperienced captain is unable to use his navigation equipment. After searching for hour, the vessel was located a mile offshore of the Mandalay beach power station. After escorting the vessel to their slip, officers conducted a safety inspection and found numerous deficiencies.
02/22/17 2:40pm, received a dispatch to a water rescue at the pier, kite surfer in distress from FCC. Officers responded and assisted State parks lifeguards with the call. The victim was safely returned to the beach.

Vol. 10, No. 12 – March 15 – March 28, 2017 – Police Reports

by Cindy Summers

Police reports are provided to us by the Ventura Police Department and are not the opinions of the Ventura Breeze. All suspects mentioned are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Possession of a Controlled Substance with a Loaded Firearm Arrest

On March 3, at approximately 2:30am, a VPD officer conducted a traffic enforcement stop near the intersection of Palm and Main Street.  The vehicle continued westbound and the driver later identified as 36 year old Ventura resident Rawls Amores appeared to be shuffling around in the vehicle.  Amores yielded to the officer in the 200 block of Main Street. As the initial officer contacted Amores at the driver’s side window a secondary officer approached the passenger side window.  The secondary officer observed a Glock Model 19 on the passenger floor board in plain view. The secondary officer alerted his partner and Amores was detained.  Further investigation revealed the firearm in question was loaded and Amores was found to be in possession of methamphetamine.

Amores was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance while in possession of a loaded firearm. He was transported to the Ventura County Main Jail where he was booked. The vehicle that Amores was driving was impounded as he was also driving on suspended license.

Violation of Parole and Felon in Possession of a Firearm Arrest

On March 3, at approximately 4:30pm, VPD Street Crimes Unit Detectives received information that a male subject was “live streaming” himself over a social media site while he handled a firearm and ingested narcotics.

The detectives were able to view this site and observed these actions and recognized the subject as 22 year old Ojai resident Ivan Reyes, a known convicted felon who had been paroled from state prison in the last year.

VPD Street Crimes Unit Detectives coordinated efforts with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and responded to the Ojai neighborhood where Reyes lives. After a brief surveillance of his residence Reyes was observed outside holding an object concealed and wrapped in an article of clothing.

Uniformed officers moved in and detained Reyes and discovered the object he was holding was a .357 revolver, similar to the one he was seen handling on his social media site.

Reyes was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Ventura Police Department for questioning. The firearm that was recovered was determined to have been reported stolen from a residential burglary in Ventura that occurred in 2015.

Reyes was later transported to the Ventura County Main Jail where he was booked for a parole violation and a felon in possession of a firearm. The circumstances of how Reyes came to be in possession of the stolen firearm are still under investigation and may lead to additional charges being filed.

Possession of a Loaded and Concealed Firearm with a High Capacity Magazine, and Threats  

On March 4, at approximately 6:30pm, the Ventura Police Department Command Center received a 911 call of subjects heard fighting inside of Barranca Vista Park, 7050 Ralston St.  When officers arrived at the park, they observed two subjects, one of them later identified as 41 year old Temecula Gabriel Luna, physically fighting and detained them both.  As an officer was conducting a search of Luna, a gun fell out the bottom of his pant leg and onto the ground.  He was taken into custody.

During the investigation officers learned that while involved in the physical altercation, Luna made threats to harm the victim with the gun.  The gun was never displayed.

Luna was arrested and later booked into the Ventura County Jail for possession of a loaded and concealed firearm with a high capacity magazine and threats.

Residential Burglary Arrest  

On the March 5, at approximately 5:45am, the Ventura Police Department Command Center received a report call reference a residential burglary at a residence in the 100 block of Barry St.  Officers arrived and during the investigation learned that while the victim was not home, an unknown suspect had broken a window and entered the residence sometime overnight.  A large amount of alcohol was stolen.

Officers obtained information that the residents in a neighboring home may have been involved in the burglary and made contact with several subjects inside, including the suspect later identified as 18 year old Ventura resident Michael Owens.  Owens was found hiding inside a bedroom.

During a search of the residence, officers located the stolen alcohol and found evidence to connect Owens to the crime.  He was arrested without incident and booked into the Ventura County Jail for burglary.

A second 36-year-old male was also contacted inside the home and found to have several outstanding warrants for his arrest.  He was arrested without incident and booked into the Ventura County Jail.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Resisting Arrest, Malicious Harm to Police Dog, Possession of Deadly Weapon

On March 8, at approximately 5pm, an alert citizen called the Ventura Police Department and reported that a male subject was in front of a residence cutting the grass with a handgun visible in the back of his pants.

Ventura Police patrol units were dispatched to the area, and further investigation revealed that the person in question was on active probation, and is a person prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm.  Officers attempted to make verbal contact with the suspect, identified as 54 year old Ventura resident Lonnie Ellis, and an elderly female exited the residence and was cooperative with the investigation.  Ellis initially came to the door but he refused to comply with the officers orders, was verbally combative and went back inside the residence.

After several additional attempts were made verbally to order Ellis from the residence, he exited the front door and came outside, but again refused to cooperate and was verbally combative.  A Ventura Police K-9 was used to take Ellis into custody, during which Ellis attempted to physically and maliciously harm the K-9.

Ellis was ultimately taken into custody with the assistance of the K-9.  During a search of the residence a handgun and metal knuckles were located.  Ellis was transported to the Ventura County Medical Center for minor injuries he sustained, then transported to the Ventura County Jail and booked for the above mentioned charges.

Narcotic sales, Possession for sales, Identity Theft arrests

On March 9, at 7am, Ventura Police Department Street Crimes Unit Detectives concluded an investigation into the suspected sales of methamphetamine from a residence in the 1300 block of Mead Ave.

This morning VPD detectives and patrol officers served a search warrant and detained several subjects who were inside the residence. A search was conducted and detectives seized over and ounce of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of over $1,000.00.

A handgun and a small amount of heroin was also recovered from the residence. Three adult males were arrested: 52 year old Ventura resident Shaun Landy, 56 year old Ventura resident Clifford Landy and 27 year old Ventura resident Anthony Maxwell.

Shaun Landy was arrested for felony sales of methamphetamine and identity theft, his brother Clifford was arrested for felony possession of methamphetamine for sales, and Anthony Maxwell was arrested for five outstanding misdemeanor warrants for burglary, theft, and narcotic violations.

All three suspects were later transported to the Ventura County Main Jail and booked on the above listed charges.

City Code Enforcement responded to inspect the residence due to sub-standard living conditions.

Arson Arrest

On March 11, between the hours of 12:00am and 3:30am, Ventura City Fire personnel along with Ventura patrol officers responded to numerous fires throughout the city. The fires started in the area of Shenandoah Street and Portola Road at approximately 12:30am.  At 1:45am, Ventura city fire and VPD responded to four additional fires in the 2400-2600 block of Main Street.

At approximately 3:30am, an alert citizen observed a female subject, later identified as 37 year old Ventura resident Elisabeth Hurtadovera, set a fire to a trash can and shopping cart in the area of Ventura Avenue and Prospect Road. The citizen contacted the Ventura Police Department Command Center and continued to watch Hurtadovera as she proceeded northbound on Ventura Avenue.  Officers arrived on scene and contacted Hurtadovera in the area of Barnett and Ventura Avenue.

Hurtadovera admitted to setting the fires. She was arrested and booked at Ventura County Jail for Arson.


Community Crime Alert – Tool Thefts

During the last several weeks the Ventura Police Department has responded to over 27 crimes involving the theft of tools from tool boxes affixed to vehicles or from storage containers of businesses. The majority of the crimes have occurred in the industrial area south of the 101 Freeway between Arundell Ave. and Knoll Drive. These crimes are occurring during late night or early morning hours. The suspects are using pry tools or cutting tools to gain entry into the locations.

The Ventura Police Department has increased patrols in this area and we are asking the public to report suspicious activity to our Command Center by calling 650-8010 or 911 in the event of an emergency.

2017 State of the City-Ventura: Growing Stronger While Keeping Its Charm

Mayor Nasarenko stated “Ventura remains a magnificent and unique city to live in” during his State of the City presentation.

by Ventura Mayor Erik Nasarenko

Ventura has so much to celebrate, for it remains a well-managed and beautiful beach town that Sunset Magazine recently described as the “off-ramp to paradise.”

In terms of our fiscal management, revenues taken in by the city have exceeded expenditures since 2013, meaning Ventura is living within its means, balancing year-over-year budgets and even ending recent fiscal years with a slight surplus.  Growth in the transient occupancy tax—commonly referred to as the hotel bed tax—along with increases in sales and property taxes have strengthened the city’s financial position and enabled residents to receive outstanding police, fire and park services, among other city-delivered benefits.

Last November’s successful Measure O campaign, which nearly 59 percent of Ventura voters supported, will bring an additional $11 million annually to city coffers, with the first quarterly installment due to arrive this July.  Residents can expect to see the city perform immediate infrastructure improvements with the much-needed revenue, including street repaving, sidewalk repair, tree well maintenance and landscaping of road medians.  As promised in the ballot statement, the city will also allocate funds to maintain Fire Station 4 and its 9 firefighters and paramedics so that east end residents continue to receive rapid and effective fire and paramedic response.  I would also like to work with my colleagues to complete Ventura Community Park and fulfill the 2005 Master Plan by creating sports courts and a library component for one of Ventura’s largest recreational centers.

As the city grows, so, too, do many of its flagship businesses.   The worldwide outdoor apparel company and environmental steward Patagonia is scheduled to expand its Westside campus.  Similarly, the Trade Desk, which started with literally one desk eight years ago in office space adjacent to city hall, is now a publicly-traded tech company on the NASDAQ stock exchange that is looking to expand its Chestnut-street headquarters.

The health care industry in Ventura will see major changes in 2017 as Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC), Community Memorial (CMH)and Kaiser are all expected to open new medical facilities in the year ahead.  These wellness enterprises will not only bring high-paying jobs to Ventura but will also provide residents with outstanding emergency, acute and long-term care.

But, like many cities across California, Ventura faces an array of fiscal pressures, some known and others still uncertain.  For example, escalating retirement costs will continue to encroach upon our budget, especially given the fact that the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) recently told its member cities—like Ventura—that it is downgrading its assumed rate of return on its investments, which means we will have to make up the shortfall internally, an amount expected to climb above $6 million over the next several years.  The city has already budgeted this expected increase into its long-term fiscal outlook, recognizing that—based upon predicted revenue—we should be able to absorb the new costs.  But if the economy begins to retract or CalPERS reduces its assumed investment return further, this forecast could easily change.

Speaking of uncertainty, the city is unsure of how much funding, if any, it will receive from Washington, D.C. in the form of Community Development Block Grants, or CDBG funds.  Historically used to help fund assistance for low-income mobile home residents, the Avenue library, and the winter warming homeless shelter, among other worthy projects, CDBG dollars are at risk of being defunded, according to the National Conference of Mayors.  This loss would hurt Ventura, particularly its most vulnerable residents.

And water scarcity, despite the heavy rains, will remain a major challenge and fiscal stress for Ventura.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties remain in “Extreme Drought,” the only two counties statewide to be given this designation.  With Lake Casitas at only 38 percent of capacity and groundwater basins subject to new state and local regulations, Ventura has to identify new sources of water.  To this end, the city is now studying a connection with the State Water Project, a system of canals, pipelines and channels that brings water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Colorado River to Ventura County and much of southern California.  The city is also exploring construction of a water reuse facility that would treat wastewater to the highest cleaning standards and subject it to strict safety and regulatory scrutiny before returning drinkable water back to the customer.

Finally, we are making progress to address homelessness in the city.  Next month the city council will consider a change to its zoning laws that would broaden the geographic area of Ventura where crisis housing and supportive services, such as mental health counseling, substance abuse assistance and housing advice, can co-locate.  The proposed regulations would allow for a maximum 55-person occupancy for up to six months, utilizing either a re-purposed structure or a new building.   I look forward to working with my colleagues to begin a serious discussion about using Measure O funding to jump start the project in conjunction with other government, non-profit and private sector supporters.

Ventura remains a magnificent and unique city to live in, and the Ventura City Council is dedicated to keeping it that way.  Whether you enjoy an afternoon looking at the boats moored at our Harbor, or prefer a walk along the Ventura Botanical Gardens before dining at a local (not chain!) restaurant Downtown, Ventura has something to offer for everyone.  Let’s continue to work together to grown stronger while maintaining our charm.

Women’s teams break state record in highest academic team achievement

CCCAA recently announced its academic awards for the 2015-16 year.

The Ventura College Pirates women’s cross country, track and field, and water polo teams are recipients of the spring 2017 California Community College Athletic Association “Scholar Team” awards.  The CCCAA recently announced its academic awards for the 2015-16 year, and Ventura College is home to three of the state winners.

The women’s cross country, track and field, and water polo teams earned the highest academic team achievement given annually by the CCCAA.  Ventura College is the 31st, 32nd and 33rd recipient of the award since 1997-98, a state record. At least one Pirate team has been honored in each of the past 17 academic years.

The women’s cross country team achieved an overall GPA of 3.40 for the fall 2015 semester. The team finished sixth in the Western State Conference championships and 13th in the SoCal Regionals, qualifying for the state championships for the fifth time in six years. The award is the program’s second as they were the State Scholar Team in 2006.

The Pirates’ women’s track and field posted an overall GPA of 3.37 for the spring 2016 semester. They finished a strong third in the Western State Conference championships and sent four athletes to the CCCAA state championships, placing 12th as a team – the program’s highest point total and finish since 1997.  It is Ventura College’s first state “Scholar Team” award in track and field.

The Ventura College women’s water polo team was 17-12 in the season in 2015, finishing in third place in the WSC tournament.  The honor is the program’s fifth award, having earned the state “Scholar Team” in 1999, 2008, 2009 and 2013.

All team members must have excelled academically with a total combined GPA of 3.0 or higher and have demonstrated better than average accomplishments in intercollegiate athletic competition.  The program began in the 1994-95 school year. All of the 2015-16 “Scholar Teams” will be honored at the Celebration of Scholar Athletes Luncheon, during the 20th Annual CCCAA Convention, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at the Hilton Concord, Concord, CA.

“A special congratulations to each of these teams for achieving such a high honor and to Head coaches Mary Giles and Tony Veney and assistant coaches Tyson Butler, Tom Lawrence (retired) and Linda Wright,” said Ventura College President Greg Gillespie.  “We would also like to thank Scott Brewer and Becky Hull for their leadership as counselors for student athletes,” stated Ventura College Dean and Athletic Director Will Cowen, president, California Community College Athletic Directors Association.