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Camarillo Chamber of Commerce CEO resigns [Ventura County Star, Calif. :: ]
[January 29, 2014]

Camarillo Chamber of Commerce CEO resigns [Ventura County Star, Calif. :: ]

(Ventura County Star (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 29--The Camarillo Chamber of Commerce installed a new CEO on Wednesday to replace Jennifer Wells, who resigned from the post effective Tuesday.

Gary Cushing has agreed to be interim CEO for at least six months. Cushing owns two Camarillo-based businesses: Marie Callender's and Cushing Public Affairs.

"It will be business as usual at the chamber," he said shortly after the board appointed him. "I was past chair of the chamber twice, and I've been involved in the chamber for over 20 years." Wells could not be reached for comment. She served as CEO for three years, beginning in January 2011.

"She left to go pursue other opportunities," Cushing said, declining to comment further about what he called a personnel matter.

The resignation came a month after the chamber's former tourism marketing director, Anthony McDemas, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Ventura County Superior Court against Wells and the chamber.

In it, McDemas says he was wrongfully discharged Nov. 1 after confronting Wells when he learned two of his child support payments were never sent to the Department of Child Support Services as per his employment arrangement. He says his pay stubs reflected the deductions from his paychecks but that a department representative said they had not been received.

"Wells told McDemas that she did not make the payment because the chamber was 'tight on money,' " the suit alleges.

The chamber ultimately made the payments, but McDemas is still out of work.

"I'm still looking for something full time," he said Wednesday.

He is seeking unspecified monetary damages in his lawsuit. Before its filing Dec. 20, he was asking to be compensated for $275,000 in lost wages, benefits, legal fees and other damages.

The chamber's lawyer, Robert Feinstein, did not respond to requests for comment.

McDemas' attorney, Robert Ostrove, said he heard Wells had resigned but that he did not know why.

"I don't know any of the details," he said.

As far as the litigation, Ostrove said a date for Wells' deposition had been set. Ostrove said both sides were agreeable to mediation.

Cushing's appointment was welcome news to Gary Wartik, who lives and works in Camarillo as a consultant specializing in economic development.

"I think the change at the chamber will be good for the chamber and our business community," he said. "I've known Gary Cushing for a while, and he is strong. He's a leader and successful businessman so I think he'll bring a lot to the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce." ___ (c)2014 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) Visit Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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