There’s debate among most people acquainted with the personality of Ventura County that the West County — the Venturas and Oxnards — are governed with a more liberal hand, while the East County — the Simi Valleys and Thousand Oakses — take on a decidedly conservative, almost strict, tone in rule.

Then you have Camarillo, the center dividing line of them all, smack dab in the middle of the county. One might expect that Camarillo gets a mixture of the two camps. But is it a city even stricter than its counterparts to the east, a city where *nothing* goes?

In the past year it seems as if nothing has been allowed, and everything’s been banned. Last year, officials voted down a pilot program allowing homeless people to sleep in their cars, a decision the Ventura City Council welcomed with open arms in their city.

Last week, Camarillo also enacted, a complete, total ban on marijuana dispensaries — no chance at them ever popping up anywhere. They’re not allowed in the remainder of the county, but in places like Ventura, there’s still a moratorium in place, which means there’s still a small chance of dispensaries setting up shop.

There were indications at a special VCOG meeting this week that Camarillo also wasn’t receptive to building up, instead of out, to prevent sprawl. Not an outright ban, but contrary to Venturans’ decision late last year to ban a ban on building heights.

What’s the reason for Camarillo’s unwavering stance on these things? They’ve taken great strides in welcoming higher education (CSUCI), enhancing its downtown (PBID), and encouraging public transportation (i.e. a high tech transit center). They’ve also done their best to amend its local education system, to no avail, by proposing a new high school.

Other issues, like stopping the introduction of a prison hospital, aren’t outright bans, but we can’t argue that opposing the building was a good thing for the city.

But are the city’s other bans really good for the city? Might disallowing medical marijuana or a safe sleep program stick Camarillo with an unfriendly label? Or would allowing those things encourage crime, vagrancy and safety problems?

Weigh in with your comments: Just what is it that makes Camarillo tick?

If you had to choose, would you take the piercing sensation of lead discharged into one of your extremities from a loaded .45, or the circulation-killing clamp of a pair of handcuffs? Which one hurts more?

Two men in Oxnard may know the answer to that last question. In two separate incidents, they were shot through no intent of their own, yet still arrested for the trouble.

In the first, a man with a stolen handgun accidentally shot himself this week. In the second, it was the cops whose gun accidentally went off, sending a bullet into someone’s arm.

Both men were subsequently arrested. And both events are raising questions over police responsibility, and ultimately, police carelessness.

Granted, if you look deeper into these men’s stories, there’s more to it. Mr. Whoops-I-Shot-Myself did so with a stolen gun. And it was the shooting that alerted police to the fact that the gun was stolen, *and* that the victim was also a suspect in a number of outstanding arrest warrants.

In the other shooting, the cop’s gun went off *only* because he was trying to apprehend the Oxnard man over an alleged rape/assault complaint.

Essentially, when you look at it, the cops were following the letter of the law. It’s unfortunate these men were wounded by firearms, but they were wanted for other crimes. Getting shot doesn’t exempt them.

Yet some people are intimating that all charges on everything should be dropped for the trouble these men went through. There are people who wait for the police to slip up at any moment. “Police brutality? Their gun discharged accidentally? Let that suspect go even though he’s a serial killer!”

True, in the second case of cop’s gun-on-suspect, there’ll be a civil suit, and he might make some cash off the incident. There may even be charges of misconduct down the line in the P.D. But that doesn’t erase the fact that he was a criminal, being apprehended for another crime he should be off the streets for anyway, bullets in the arm, leg, head, anywhere notwithstanding.

I think it would go something like this: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime … even if you do bite the bullet.”

The family of Guadalupe Garcia is looking for donations to cover funeral costs after the 2-year-old was struck and killed by a car.

I always figured that 9/11 was the turning point by which nobody in their right mind would display insensitivity in the face of human tragedy or death. For me, it seems like anytime a person offers up snide remarks following a major incident, no matter how cynical, spiteful or in jest they are, it’s nothing short of despicable.

But take the case of young Guadalupe Garcia and Ventura County residents don’t let up one bit for a toddler who’ll never get the chance to grow up.

Guadalupe was struck and killed last week by a car in Oxnard, which police have determined was an unfortunate accident involving something parents find so familiar and scary. Look away for a second and your curious, energetic child may have run out of your sight, maybe into the road.

Guadalupe was born into a poor family in Oxnard, and his family is seeking donations to cover expenses incurred from the boy’s funeral and burial:

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2010/mar/07/donations-sought-for-ventura-boys-funeral/?partner=popular

Yet does this story so tragic and affecting tug at the hearts of many readers of the daily paper? Unfortunately, and predictably, not one bit.

So let me get this straight … if the inane comments posted by readers to the Star’s Web site were anything to base substantive evidence on, the Garcia family should not receive aid because 1. Guadalupe’s mother was not paying attention when her son ran into the road, and this is her penalty; 2. The Garcia family has four other kids to go around; 3. Since the Garcias are Mexican and have a large family, they are certainly living off taxpayer-fronted money; and 4. Mexicans living off taxpayer-fronted money are most certainly illegal immigrants and should be shipped off immediately.

These four examples, and more, are just the tip of the iceberg to how insensitive – and judgmental – we are of just about anyone reported in the news in Ventura County. The fact that someone died, and was of Mexican descent, only brings out the sharp teeth of those hiding behind their computer screens. It’s been hypothesized that the anonymity of the Internet brings out the worst in people. In Ventura County, that dark side manifests itself in a racist tone that needs to be done away with.

All I can say are two things. First, donate as much as you can to the Guadalupe Garcia Fund, at any branch of Rabo Bank. Second, to the offending posters: You should be ashamed of yourselves.

And you thought it was just about coffee and donuts, didn't you?

Just when you thought that the caffeinated, caloric snafu at a Camarillo hardware store that topped crime, auto fatalities and the like as the biggest news in Ventura County last week couldn’t get any more complicated, think again. The plot thickens more than a big, juicy Kobe beef patty with some skewered kabobs on the side.

Did I hear you say barbecue? Because if my ears are right, it came from your mouth and not from anyone at the health department. Or was it the owners of the hardware store? See, I’m having a hard time right now trying to figure out who is at fault for failing to reveal an important piece of information in this breaking of news stories.

Initially, it was reported that B&B in Camarillo was ordered by the health department to refrain from serving their complimentary coffee and donuts because the shop failed to equip themselves with the proper sanitation equipment, i.e. a hand washing basin and food prep station.

Ventura County residents were up in arms. A food prep station just to serve donuts? As if those sprinkles need a good scrubbing first?

Yet it goes beyond that. In a culture where a complimentary cup o’ Joe is like a friendly handshake, it was like the health department’s way of banning us from connecting as a community. I cried in my cup of coffee myself after reading the news.

But just like a cinematic cliffhanger ending, where the hero appears to have died in the end, only for us to discover in the sequel that they’ve survived through some contrived device, another piece of, well, meat, was thrown into the mix in Camarillo, altering the original story beyond recognition.

Turns out that the real reason the health department cracked its whip on B&B was because the store was operating a full-service barbecue for its patrons … without the proper prep facilities. Considering the safety dangers (“We don’t have any mustard for your hot dog, how ’bout some drain cleaner?”), I can understand why the health department acted as it did: by the books.

Of course, now it all makes sense. But the problem equates to the unsolved hit-and-run where a witness comes forward years later, claiming they conveniently “forgot” about the big, black sedan, license number too, racing from the scene of the crime.

Somebody — either the hardware store or the health folk — didn’t reveal to the media the BBQ element of the story, making the initial uproar about harmless coffee and donuts seem ridiculous now.

Here, at the VC Reporter, we were all set to go to print with this week’s editorial, too, before we discovered this added portion to the story at the eleventh hour. It changes the story significantly and basically makes it “non-news” now.

So why was that information withheld? And by who? A general rule for Journalism 101 is that we of the newspapering kind need all the facts in order to present a balanced, thorough story to the public. Otherwise, without some critical facts, whether it’s an illegal brothel or an illegal barbecue, the story can cause a public outcry. In the case of B&B, it all seems pointless now.

Now, not only is the health department still under fire, but so are some members of its lead agency, the county’s Board of Supervisors.

And we all know that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there’s fire, there’s an opportunity to publish a rare story about illegal barbecues that’s … well done?