FEAR ITSELF: The "Save Our State" initiative...

FEAR ITSELF: The "Save Our State" initiative appears bound for the November ballot. And its proposals to ban illegal immigrants from public hospitals and schools promises to intensify California's contentious debate over immigration. . . . Tonight at 6:30, author-social commentator Ruben Martinez lectures on "Xenophobia and the New Immigration Debate" at Oxnard's Heritage Square Hall. "Five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall," asks Martinez, "are we on the verge or erecting a similar wall on our southern border?"

LETTUCE REJOICE: In some not-so-sour news, a bountiful crop of lemons helped turn around agricultural sales last year (B1). . . . Lemons remain the top crop in the county. But celery, which has stalked strawberries in recent years, plowed ahead to become the county's No. 2 farm commodity. Avocados produced a fat crop of 62,600 tons, yet remain behind berries and nursery plants in total sales. Farmers attributed the year's hefty harvest to better weather and healthy vegetable markets.

HOOK OR SINKER? Ventura city officials understand the allure of oceanfront restaurants. They appreciate how the peaceful ocean and island views lend a special dimension to the dining experience. . . . So the officials are frustrated that few restaurateurs have jumped at the chance to build an eatery on the refurbished Ventura Pier (Ventura County Life, Page 8). After all, it's the only free-standing beachfront property available.

CAPS AND GOWNS: More than 200 Cal State Northridge students graduate in Ventura today, taking some small steps for their degrees. But the procession symbolizes big strides toward Ventura County's own four-year university (B5). . . . The satellite campus had enough graduates this year to warrant graduation ceremonies in Ventura. "It's a very visual and meaningful ceremony," campus director Joyce Kennedy said. "And it shows that we really are moving toward that four-year university."

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