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DINER JINX: The hilltop view from the...

DINER JINX: The hilltop view from the Simi Valley dinner house now known as Tony Roma’s may be the best in town. But restaurants there have repeatedly closed. . . . “First it was Josephina’s, then it was The In-Between, then it was something else, and then the Sagebrush Cantina,” Mayor Greg Stratton recalled. The problem was that the restaurant--although adjacent to a freeway--was on a hard-to-find side street. . . . Tony Roma’s overcame that obstacle, then suddenly closed in January. “We felt that finally someone had broken the jinx,” Stratton said. “And then we have an earthquake to mess it up.”

SOUR NOTE: The Ventura County Symphony may be better than ever, but also poorer (B1). . . . At age 33, the orchestra faces an $80,000 deficit, a fourfold increase in three years. “This is the worst year we’ve had. It is a crisis,” Executive Director Karine Beesley said. . . . Others say the problems are inevitable growing pains from a two-year improvement in artistic standards and musical variety.

STAR SHOT: High-flying Phoenix Suns forward Cedric Ceballos got his start at Ventura College. Today, repaying that debt, he will kick off ticket sales to charity events Aug. 26 and 27. . . . “Cedric didn’t have the grades, so he came here and improved tremendously academically and as a person,” Ventura College Coach Phil Matthews said. “He thought what better way to pay it back.” . . . About $40,000 raised by a dinner, auction, clinic and alumni game will be split by the college basketball program and the Boys and Girls Club of Ventura.

CAT CAPER: Shady slipped into Port Hueneme City Hall like a thief in the night, and--just like that--stole the hearts of a whole bureaucracy (B1). . . . Seven years later, the tailless black cat makes herself at home on City Manager Richard Velthoen’s arm as he chats on the phone. And Shady has never missed a council meeting. . . . “I was not fond of cats before, but Shady turned me around,” Velthoen said.

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