And now, introducing the Ventura County Life Valentine's Day Dinner Party. For an evening of stimulating conversation and probable food fights, we submit the following six couples not made in heaven:
1) Madge Schaefer, the hot-tempered former county supervisor who was ousted by voters in last June's elections, and . . . Doug Johnson, the top aide whom Schaefer ordered out of her office last November when she discovered he had accepted a job with her successor.
Said Johnson: "Madge Schaefer ruled the 2nd District as if it were a personal fiefdom where she could make and break her own rules." Said Schaefer: "I demand excellence, and when I don't get it, sometimes it's off with your head."
2) County Supervisor Maria K. VanderKolk, who beat Schaefer with a slow-growth campaign that opposed land-swapping and development at Jordan Ranch, near the county's southeastern border, and . . . erstwhile comedian Bob Hope, owner of the Jordan Ranch, business associate of the developers, proponent of a deal that would trade 5,700 now-privately owned acres for a 59-acre stretch of parkland that would allow the building of 750 houses.
Hope has done all his public communicating through an attorney and other spokesmen, who in recent months have despaired of the controversial deal's future. Said VanderKolk recently: "I often wonder, if I owned the Jordan Ranch and had the chance of making so many millions of dollars, would I give it away? But this is Bob Hope, and if he only gets $20 million instead of $45 million, does he really care? I think he just wants that golf course. Golf is his religion, and he might come down to 10 houses as long as he gets his golf course."
3) Vicky Howard, the Simi Valley city councilwoman who ascended to the county Board of Supervisors in November by beating out her council colleague and next-door neighbor, and . . . Bill Davis, the rival next door, who remains on the Simi Valley City Council, and cites the character of the campaign as a key to his defeat.
Neighbors for a decade, Howard and Davis tangled over mailings, over statements of qualifications, and over who started fighting dirty first.
4) James T. (Tom) Ely, the Ventura Community College District trustee who is awaiting trial with his wife, Ingrid, on conspiracy and embezzlement charges connected to more than $15,000 in allegedly improper expense claims, and . . . Deputy Dist. Atty. Carol J. Nelson, prosecutor in the case.
A few months ago, when Ely told the court he couldn't pay for his own defense and sought public assistance, Nelson cited reports that Ely owned a house in Hawaii. "She's a liar," yelled Ely in response. "Is that clear, certain, unambiguous? Carol Nelson is a liar." Ely, who has filed for bankruptcy, won that round and got a court-appointed attorney. Trial for the Elys is scheduled to begin May 20.
5) Maureen Davidson, director of the Ventura's Momentum Gallery, executive director of the Ventura Arts Council, and organizer of an early January exhibit that displayed 23 artists' anti-war responses to the prospect of fighting in the Middle East, and . . . Bob Alviani, the Ventura bank manager who served as the Arts Council's president until he hit the roof over the war exhibit.
Though 10 of the council's 12 board members approved the idea and Davidson said she tried repeatedly to reach him and get his input, Alviani resigned in protest. Said Alviani: "It's a question of using a public facility for a private forum." Said Davidson: "I don't think the role of the arts is to decorate your life. The arts have a lot to do with social change."
6) David Murdock, multimillionaire builder of the 1,900-acre Lake Sherwood Country Club project, and supporter of the idea that future residents should pay taxes to cover Lake Sherwood maintenance costs, and . . . Ruth Schepler, the county elections official who discovered that a Murdock employee was the lone voter in the 1990 election to create a special tax district at Lake Sherwood.
The lone voter favored the tax. But the county grand jury, alerted by Schepler, later found that the voter cast his ballot illegally.