Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Slugger and The Foot

With all the chat about The Leak from Frank here and from Sara here another aspect of the Police Union raise issue has been ignored: Mayor Marty Blum.

She's a slugger and a fighter all right. Speaks her mind, breast cancer survivor, populist politician, all that. But hey, it's hard to knock a homer with your foot in your mouth. Do not get me wrong, but BlogaBarbara is about free speech, and here is my take, is Slugger swinging at the right pitches? Taking on the Police Union? I'm not so sure, I've got my doubts. Even if she's against the raise, why so strident? Quotes like these seem much:
"It makes me sick...I see the people who are running for office very worried about getting the police endorsement.
Couldn't she oppose the raise without striking strident tones against others on City Council? She's probably correct, but still, why this fight?

On the other hand, it seems quite odd to me that she and Dan Secord -- her most-rumored challenger for Mayor -- voted in unison on this one. Why didn't he side with the police and set himself up for an endorsement? In an election year, how could these two seemingly inevitable rivals be on the same page?

I must admit that Iya Falcone comes off poorly, and that she looks, well, kinda spiteful or guilty or just silly. I just don't get how Secord and Blum voted the same way. Picking fights, no matter the validity, with the Police Union seems weird when running for Mayor, at least to me. There is something here that we simply are not privy to, not yet anyway.

Finally, Blum states:

"If I don't get re-elected because I believe we shouldn't be spending our reserves, I am going to have to do something else than be mayor. I don't want to be on a council with no reserves. I am happy to be fiscally responsible and if people don't like that, there's an easy way they can get rid of me."
Brave, I guess. Stupid and brave? Smart and brave? Jury out. Strike? Ball? Walk? Don't know. A strange fight to fight. But then again, we at BlogaBarbara pick fights with folks who buy ink by the barrel -- so who are we to judge?

Hard not to like her, but I must admit that it's totally gonna be fun to watch this game play out, extra innings or not.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Contact & Housekeeping

We are currently updating BlogaBarbara with contact info and a links section, but for now, anyone wishing to contact us directly can write to...BlogaBarbara: or Sara De la Guerra or Cannon Presidio or Frank Ciucut so that's the way to do the e-mail thing, OK?

A recent comment had requested the info, and though we will continue to be anonymous, we strongly encourage you to comment and/or write to us. However, we reserve the right not to write back -- but usually, we will.

Hee-Haw County

The Mission County Formation Review Commission has finished its work and is publishing a report. So far, I can't find the report online, and I'm feeling way too lazy to re-key the story from today's McPress. More soon, but the upshot: Hee-Haw County would hit the gate strong and saddled with debt, round the first curve with a strappingly spectacular display of of insolvency, and finish with an astonishingly surgent burst of bankruptcy! If NoCo wants to get on that horse and ride, I say giddy-up!

UPDATE: Duh, my total bad, just found it. Entire report here and the report summary PDF here.

Leaky Foulcone

First, a big BlogaBarbara welcome to Frank Ciucut who posts below on divebombing butterflies and today's happenings at the so-called City Council. And a quick note -- why the heck don't they publish the minutes of their council meetings online? Further, when I tried to link to the agenda page, a PDF, it crashed my browser....grrrrrrr. Sara mad, very mad! Sara digress....

Anyways, a quick note: I've no problem at all with paying our officers well, but why the heck should we break the bank on the backs of the poorest SB residents and other city workers? I find it notable and interesting that the sole "nay" votes on the so-called council were a teacher, Marty Blum, and a doctor, Dan Secord. The lowest-paid public servant and the highest-paid public servant seemed to agree, and both have dealt with the REAL public far more than the career politicians, attorneys and political consultants that largely comprise the rest of the council. Now I'm all for unions, but if I had to choose between teachers of all varieties and social workers or cops, you can guess who's gettin' the raises, and a quick clue: ain't the cops.

Now, about that leak....

Frank points out below that Josh Molina of the ever-unlinkable News-O-Press maybe followed his "leak" paragraph with Falcone's quote because he knew something and wanted to imply guilt by proximity. I say Frank? No need. Read the quotes. Have you ever read such back-handed guilt-talk? Sheesh. On the leak, Falcone:
"This is a small town and it doesn't take a long time for things to get out," said Ms. Falcone. "I operate from the position that everything gets out."
Oh, it gets worse:

"I don't need to hide behind closed session. I would be just as happy saying in public what I said in closed session."

Huh what huh? Closed sessions aren't about back room deals, they are about matters of human resources that by law in some cases -- well, actually, in most cases -- absolutely must stay in closed session. That's what closed session is for. In fact, if Falcone said some of the things in public that she said in closed session, much less divulging what others have said, it could cost the city a huge bundle in quite justified lawsuits by current and former city employees discussed in such sessions. Even worse? She knows this. The quotes above are sideshow hocus-pocus, cheap and flashy and quite easy to see through. You would think that an attorney like Leaky Foulcone wouldn't drip drip drip like a melting snowman under Molina's questioning unless, guilty as OJ, she felt the need to back-pedal and justify her own misdeeds. Now, I expect politicians to lie -- however, one might suppose that a seasoned political operative slash consultant slash politician like Falcone could at least lie well. Oops! Guess not.

A portent of who knows what

Good morning, BlogaBarbara fans. I'm new here and I'd be happy to introduce myself, but on second thought, nah, I'd rather stay shrouded in mystery. It's good to be here, though, and many thanks to the efforts of Cannon and Sara in developing the narrative so far. I hope my thoughts and words can be of some tiny service to this great community as well.

Sara's right: there are enterprises of great pitch and moment afoot at city hall today. And what better festive way to start the morning off than a plague of butterflies? Seriously! It seems to be slowing down now, but for an hour or so this morning, thousands upon thousands of butterflies were observed flying across the beach (straight upwind!) and apparently throughout town, headed for points west. They must be en route to the freshly preserved Elwood Mesa, so keep former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson and the good folks at the Trust for Public Land in mind today. Or try to imagine the hundreds of thousands of really awfully disappointed butterflies we would've had instead. They'd be looking for the eucalpytus trees they usually hang out in, but instead finding $2 million sprawly McMansions with lots of curb appeal and whopper heating bills. Shudder!

But back to the fireworks - if you're among the lucky subscribers to the local fishwrap, make sure to check out this morning's skinny on the negotiations that Sara's planning on gluing herself to Channel 17 today to watch. (ordinarily I'd link to it, but...well, y'know). There's a bunch of the good stuff in it, but you have to just love the story of the leak that looks like it's in the process of backfiring...

Mayor Blum believes that her vote in closed session to oppose the police union's 5 percent raises was leaked to the union, in an attempt to hurt her politically. Other council members interviewed confirmed that they believe there is a leak on the council.

Councilwoman Iya Falcone said council members shouldn't say anything in private closed session that they can't back up in public.

"This is a small town and it doesn't take a long time for things to get out," said Ms. Falcone. "I operate from the position that everything gets out."

Talk of leaks followed so closely by a couple quotes from Ms. Falcone? Does Intrepid Reporter Josh Molina have his suspicions, or is it just us? There's lots of possibilities, of course: maybe the Slugger leaked it herself to appeal to the fiscally prudent! Josh mentions (but doesn't really tease out) the implications of uber-organizer Das Williams' police-unionless win in the last go round, but I think the underlying point is that there are a lot more ways to win elections in this town than there used to be.

Stay tuned, and be sure to watch out for divebombing butterflies!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Big Contract Talks Tuesday with POA

Sara's tired and is going to sleep early....looking forward to some heavy Channel 17 watching tomorrow as the Police Officers Association (POA) contract is up? Will we see blind law enforcement support -- especially from those up for re-election (isn't it funny how the contract is up right now?) -- or will we see a modest increase that is more fiscally prudent. Word on the street is that the police officers want the world....will they get it? Probably. How will it go down? I will write about that soon...

Ball Park Semantics

The News-Repress unveiled the letters they have been soliciting all week about the Ball Park at Pershing Park. Yet again, they insisted on using the word stadium rather than ball park. And yet again, I can't link what I can't show.

Council Member Barnwell wrote a nice letter on what it means to have a great place like a ball park to bring the family. The BarnStormer also addressed a lot of the "what's going to happen to the neighborhood" issues. He addressed the issue you saw here first -- that it isn't a stadium! Has Mr. Barnwell read BlogaBarbara? He also pointed out that the seating isn't the 1,200 the News-Repress keeps on talking about but the 600-800 Barnwell and Mayor Marty "the Slugger" Blum have been talking about all along.

His letter addresses some of the concerns expressed by some writers about parking -- less seats mean less parking needs. One writer said people have to walk a mile to Los Banos Pool. This dosn't make sense as there is Harbor Parking near the pool and Pershing Park free parking (that will still be available if we even have one game a week there) is a short walk away. The same letter asked the city to take care of the Castillo Street underpass -- where tiles are broken and water is rampant. The city would love to and has lobbied for this work to be done for years but does not own the land. This is a problem for CalTrans and Assembly Pedro Member Nava to look into.

In any event -- Travis FactsWrong showed his colors once again by providing a leading question and getting the seating wrong. In simply asking people to come up with questions within a context that is incorrect, he has shaped the debate to his own agenda yet again.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Cottage Hospital Means Business

The News-Press’ Josh Molina surprisingly called them the “dream team” saying that Tuesday nights’ council meeting had “more than 100 people, most of them doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, packed City Hall, urging Santa Barbara to let Cottage build its $413 million hospital on the city's upper Westside. Cottage has assembled an impressive array of architects, business people and donors to back the project.” (Not to beat a dead horse, but I can't link what I can't show -- write Travis ( and Wendy (wow! no email listed for her!) at the News-Suppress and let them know how you feel).

As Cottage runs the construction and development gauntlet of a 2013 state deadline related to earthquake safety – those of us here at Blogabarbara wonder how much $413 million will buy them.

As Molina pointed out, Cottage is the only game in town – thus my philosophical problem with monopolies. There is no leverage available when you are held over a cliff by the scruff of your neck.

Kudos to Cottage for the $10 million in proposed improvements – especially the flood culverts and neighborhood improvements -- let’s just hope none of them follow the Fess Parker path of least resistance. Still, as I watched Channel 17 this morning – I caught something I am not sure even city staff saw.

There’s an area that planners had suggested be dedicated to a little bit of green space near the proposed building. Apparently, however, Cottage has already signed lease agreements with corporate doctors to place assigned parking in the location. The word from Cottage was that there was no way they could provide green space because of the legal contract they had signed already.

I found it interesting that staff didn’t have any objections to the fact that city planning is asked to be bound to a third party legal contract for a structure that does not even have approval as of yet. It would be nice to have a green space and I can understand the need for parking – but why should the city turn their head and look the other way because Cottage made a separate deal?

I did some research and found that Bill Levy apparently did not officially own the area that city planners spent countless hours and countless dollars reviewing and approving. You don’t actually have to own a piece of property that you send plans to the planning commission to review. Canon and I are thinking about submitting a plan to redevelop city hall into a three story night club – we don’t own the property, but it’s something that would bring a little panache to the most official building near the former residence of a King Juan Carlos III statue (Storke Placita).

BTW, Sara and Canon wonder whether LevyTown is going the way of the formerly “black hole” at the Carrillo Hotel (now known as Hotel Andalucia). Hmm – sounds like a future post.

Peace Out,

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Saint Ropin'

Well, what a week we've had here at BlogaBarbara! Let's rope up some of the cool folks we've met online, the folks who are helping us fulfill our letter to the future.

Hmmm -- where to begin? Nice mention from the Dem crowd at Heeeyah! -- thanks folks! And in solidarity with our coastal bloggers, this...and we rip from them directly:
Count the mistakes in today's News-Press editorial. The News-Press should run this morning's editorial on the back of a children's cereal box, like one of those "count the things that are wrong with this picture" games.

Rather than attack the fundamental premise of the living wage ordinance - that it is wrong to balance the city's budget on the backs of the working poor, especially in a city as wealthy as ours - they instead roll out a series of poorly researched (even by News-Press editorial page standards), elitist and utterly predictable lines of attack on the ordinance and the organizations that are participating in the coalition that's formed behind it.

What's the message here? That they agree with living wage proponents on not balancing the budget this way, unless the money is passed through a nonprofit first? That doesn't seem much like a particularly sharp approach to public policy.

As a backdrop for this conversation, keep in mind that living wage laws have been passed in hundreds and hundreds of communities across the country. Not a single one has experienced the fire and brimstone predicted by the assorted special interests that line up to oppose these efforts. The SB for a Living Wage website has lots of answers, and links to even more information.

But apparently the News-Press can't be bothered to do even a cursory study of the evidence that's out there. Much better to borrow a page from Bill O'Reilly - Who's looking out for you? - and score a few points with their increasingly tiny circle of allies while taking cheap shots at the grassroots groups that want to see this happen. A little research would've shown that great care has been taken by the drafters of the initial ordinance to balance the special needs of non-profits with the realization that non-profit payscales are an issue that our community has the capability of addressing.

Two errors are particularly glaring. The first is the accusation that the [living wage] campaign is unwilling to compromise. I'm not going to speak for the campaign here - I am not a spokesperson, I've just been to a few of the meetings and pitched in on some of the work. The problem is that this is a completely unsubstantiated opinion. The News-Press has no idea whatsoever has transpired so far or what the opinion of the group on compromise is. They haven't even tried to talk to anyone about it!

The other error is saying that this is PUEBLO (huh?) but under another another name. This is perfectly counterfactual. SB4LW (huh? we're dumb) is a currently legally unincorporated group of people and organizations that have come together out of an interest in seeing this little corner of injustice in our town righted.

These are serious problems. My understanding of libel is that [it] is untruths with malicious intent, which certainly seems like a possibility here. A fifteen second conversation with the spokespeople could've cleared this up, but again, the NP would rather run unresearched bullshit than actually ask coherent quesitons.

As for the overall levels of policy knowledge of the SB CAN and PUEBLO (huh? comments please -- we are ignoramusanti) board and general memberships, why exactly is this an issue? Are only those with the leisure time and necessary educational background to study these issues in depth allowed to express their opinion before our elected representatives? How many planning and policy experts do News-Press favored groups like the Coalition for "Sustainable" Planning turn out typically, one might wonder. Perhaps the News-Press would like to suggest that a citizenship knowledge and public policy test should be administered by elected bodies before those who wish to testify before them are permitted to do so.

The issue of non-profits paying living wages is an important and sensitive issue, and maybe the only thing the News-Press gets right in this entire piece is that there should be a community dialog, which makes their ineptitude even more disappointing. If the main venue where this dialog might occur can't resist chiming in with their megaphone before they've done even the slightest amount of research, how can we hope to have a reasonable conversation?
A phrase a friend of mine detests? Fair Enough. However, we pay more to live and (hopefully) love here than LA, and nearly as much as SF, damn near. When do we say ENOUGH -- when do we balance sustainablility with livabilty? In my view, Wendy McCraw (sp. intentional) has no problemo at all-o exisitng here, none at all. Rich is fine : ex-o-problemo. I guess she just wants her employees, coffee slingers, waiters, and other various servants to commute here -- and, without decent rail service, to serve her ass in the cheap. EFF THEM, says the pig-loving parrot. It's hypocrisy of the highest -- and most pathetic -- sort.

So, I guess, if you are on the Board of the SB Symphony and hang out with the Towbes and want your so-called donations to go to -- umm -- fantastic shindigs staffed by nearly invisible bar matrons and undocumented workers, well, that's cool. Really effing cool!!!!!! How dare we critique you're media and social imperiliasm? Egads! That bitch Sara! That bastared Cannon! Ignore them, they shall FADE away.....hrumph.

Hey Wendy -- what if we don't? Even worse, what if we did?

Now that could get really expensive.

As a recent visitor to BlogaBarbara put it, on a similar issue:

[The] most perfect place on earth, my ass. This town has a serious mean streak, and you only have to go as far as the editorial page of the paper to find it....

I wondered when Sara and I started this blog if we were alone. We are not. That is awesome, and it's sad. Really effing sad. Ready to write some letters?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

U-Curve Economics

News-Repress CFO Randy Alcorn's article on housing leaves a little to be desired.. He reviews for us the State of the City Breakfast last week where Mayor Marty Blum presented the State of the City. Sara was there and doesn't remember much of what he mentions in his article that appeared today.

Here's his take on what was said:
Heading the mayor's list of challenges confronting the city was the need for affordable housing, which, baring a real estate price collapse of seismic proportions, means more housing. More housing, however, means more people which mean more traffic; more sewage; more demand on limited resources like water and open space; more police and fire fighters; more schools; more teachers--more of everything we wouldn't need if we continued to have limited housing.
He took a statement about the need for affordable housing and made it look like the Mayor was calling for the apocolypse. I'm not sure what he means here as Santa Barbara just doesn't have a lot of real estate to build "more housing" and this isn't what the Mayor or the City Administrator actually said.
Twenty years ago the city's elected stewards recognized that in order to preserve what makes this place so uniquely desirable, population had to be limited to 85,000. Because they understood the correlation between development and population growth, they pursued policies intended to limit development.

Today, with noticeable new development and a city population exceeding 90,000, that correlation has been euphemized into the "critical need for more work-force housing". Do our elected officials speak for most of us when they stump for more housing and commercial development? Has community sentiment changed so much in 20 years?

Sara was at this breakfast and did not hear Marty "The Slugger" Blum or the City Administrator call for more commerical development or housing past our present capacity. Where does he think all of our service workers are going to live? Where are News-Press owrkers going to live -- if we aren't careful, we are going to have a "brain drain" and lose our young talent. No one wants Santa Barbara to grow too much or even at all -- but we have to take care of our workforce if we are going to thrive as a city.

We are in the u-curve era. In the Reagan era, it was the bell curve trickle down economics. Today, the u-curve is how there are young and old, rich and poor, etc. without much in between. Just as dangerous as building up or out is the concept that we need to circle the wagons like we are entitled to have Santa Barbara all to ourselves.

Call it like it is! It's a ball park!

For the last week, the News-Supress has been asking readers to comment on plans to build a baseball facility at Pershing Park on West Beach and whether readers think it is "realistic" that it will take the estimated $1 to $3 million city officials say it will take to build it.

Why do they insist on calling it a "stadium"? This 1,200 seat facility is a ball park. Why evoke images of Dodger Stadium with the public like it will be some kind of a behemoth seen from the Riviera when early plans call for a small facade, a media box and just 1,200 stadium seats?

Why are the questioning the costs when there are no official budgets or plans as of yet? Matching the word stadium and the question whether $1 to $3 million is "realistic" -- makes this a leading question.

They ask about transparency of process and there isn't even a written proposal as of yet. It is then that we should be making comments and figuring out neighborhood and environmental impacts. The editors of the News-Press forget that this is an idea which has a lot of community support -- but it is not on paper as of yet.

How can they or their readers comment on more than the idea itself without something to refer to? Let's see what Marty "The Slugger" Blum and the council come up with. As for cost, the city can't bear all of the cost -- this will have to be a partnership with contributions from the community to be successful.

Oh yeah -- I'd show you the actual text but the News-Press doesn't give you access on-line unless you have a subscription.

Let's play ball!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hackett vs. The Slugger

From the SB Independent this item:
Hackett’s Comeback: William Hackett, who made news earlier this year for his involvement in a fight at a local Unitarian Church library, has decided to throw his hat in the ring for the upcoming November mayoral election. The longtime Santa Barbara resident and often loquacious “professional thinker” has run unsuccessfully for mayor several times in the past. He hopes to fare better this year, running against incumbent Marty Blum on a rather anemic platform that boasts simply, “a new freedom for Santa Barbara.” Hackett opines that his plan of a “freedom fee” of two cents per gallon of gasoline will allow MTD buses to run free of charge and in turn sway voters his way. Until Hackett’s announcement, Mayor Blum had been running unopposed in her campaign for re-election.
Wow! How the hell do you get kicked out of the Unitarian Church? The new Bruce Rittenhouse -- just like the old Bruce Rittenhouse, only way effing crazier. Doubt he's got much of a chance against The Slugger, Marty Blum.

Prediction: Strike November 1st, Hackett's out.

Where's the youth hostel Fess?

This from Barney Brantingham at the News-Depress on Saturday:
Fess won: Lily Rossi, former city clerk, reminded me that today is the 20th anniversary of the referendum where the public OK'd what is now known as Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort. "Environmentalists had challenged the city's approval of the proposed 360-room hotel-conference center that had taken over 12 years and many scaled-down revisions to go through the city's planning process.
What Barney forgot to tell us is that Fess "Let's Build the Hotel Across Cabrillo Blvd" Parker promised a youth hostel and a public park as part of the deal he got from the city.

The public park consists of the swath of grass in front of the Doubletree. Not many Santa Barbaran's even know its a public park because Fess never put up a sign saying so. Even a few benches might help imply that this is a public park. Santa Barbara resident David Stone has been holding his birthday parties there for the last few years under the moniker "Take Back the Park". Go Dave!

As for the youth hostel, which was originally going to be located where Q's Sushi-a-Go-Go is now, it is promise left unfulfilled.

Let's not give Fess any more projects without making sure that a promise made is a promise kept -- especially when that promise is made to an entire community in exchange for an incredibly profitable hotel. Yeah, Fess won, but Santa Barbara lost big time. Hope ya' got kissed, 'cause...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Docs Self-Heal, Blog-Style

So, from a recent News-Press article, Ted Mills actually gets some shit really effing correct: Hal-a-(in-lieu)-ya!!! We would have posted sooner, but alas, all that typing. On blogging....
But all of sudden, because of a few high-profile resignations in the media world and the still-underreported news that an uncredentialed male prostitute (yep, please Google "Jeff Gannon") was being allowed into White House briefings to lob talking-point softballs at White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, bloggers are now "news."

The mainstream is acting like bloggers are a newly discovered lost tribe, or a new genus. But what's really freaking these commentators out, I think, is that bloggers are now doing the job that journalists should be doing -- you know, investigating, finding the facts and the truth -- instead of scribbling GOP press briefings, getting their noses brown and looking for book deals.

But what has this to do with books and reading? Well, in this culture of blogger hysteria, where the legitimacy of writers on the Web is sending all sorts of cultural critics into semantic huffing and puffery, comes this ridiculous article by Michael Gorman, president-elect of the American Library Association. The ALA is usually cool about things -- they've been on top of various censorship and First Amendment issues -- so who knows what justified Mr. Gorman's rant, a puerile slagging off of all things blogger.

In an editorial that purports to be about Google's "universal library" idea (the use, implications and design of which are all debatable), Mr. Gorman piles on the offense and crass generalizations. All writers of blogs are "unpublishable, untrammeled by editors or the rules of grammar" who can't enjoy "sustained reading of complex texts."

They are likened to illiterates, or sewage (because "blog" sounds like "drain clog"), or protohumans (he calls them "blog people"), while Mr. Gorman, trying desperately to elevate himself above the punnage, likens himself to a wise learned man, all Galileo-like, attacked by the masses as a "heretic."


Yet nowhere does Mr. Gorman name one blog he's read, not one blogger (yes, some write under pseudonyms, some don't) or quote or link to one URL. And all this in an article posted online! It's this intellectual laziness and hypocrisy that astounds me, especially from somebody representing learning and reading. Maybe next week's column can be a jeremiad against these new-fangled, so-called "magazines," based upon a sample read of Motor Boats Monthly, Action Figure Collector and Juggs.

Listen, Mr. Gorman, bloggers are writers, plain and simple. Some are brilliant, some are bad. Some are professional writers who write for
the fun of it on the side. Imagine that, writing that's not a commodity! Others are amateurs who write loose and free -- they know this and make no apology for it. Some are political, some are not. Blogs can be all these things, but most importantly, they are a sort of democratization of information, open for all to read if they want.

It's almost like . . . a library.
Hear the man, hear Ted the Great!

One quick note: Ted, how's about a meeting with WenMcTedArm letting them/they know that practically every other regional and California daily has a model making their current content available online for free!!! Your opinion, ahem, applies, at least in part, to your very own publisher. So, whatcha think about that?

By the way, we'd link to you, but we can't.... Perhaps we'll see ya' online at the News-Bereft in the "classifeds" Ted. But hey, cheers for the great article. We loved it so much, Sara and I practically made a baby. Woulda been named Ted. Or Sheila.

Under the Sainted Skirt

Slow week at the News-Repress. With Travis Factswrong out of town, the so-called editorial page has gone largely and spookily silent -- ah, the theater is dark, and pleasantly cool. Since we can't actually link to anything of local interest at SB's only daily, we take a peek under Saint Barbara's skirt from two other sources, Edhat and the LA Times...first, Edhat on the oddly low-to-the-ground Harding School Bridge:

As you can see, it’s not a typical bridge. It hovers close to the ground like a flying saucer. It’s like they faxed over the blue prints, but only the top half came through. Or, maybe someone got too zealous with the crop function in Photoshop. Or it could even be a fashion thing, like those girl’s skirts that are no bigger than pappardelle. The dedicated staff didn’t find anyone who could give us a definitive answer as to why the bridge did not go all the way to the street. The most popular guess was that the area underneath was there to let the water flow through it. Another guess was for the aesthetics, but that would be hard to believe.

Although it would be impossible for a car to make it underneath the bridge, a person can navigate the low clearance to the other side if they ducked and stay ducked.

Of course it is less of a challenge to elementary school students who, by virtue of their age, height, and agility, don’t need to duck as much.
And then, an exhaustive story on Montecito's Lotusland from the LA Times -- free registration required, here's a snip:

Walska's imperiousness about what she wanted where was as legendary as her disinterest in the names of plants, and more than one of her many garden designers and advisors had reason to believe he was working for Lewis Carroll's Red Queen.

Certainly a visitor encountering the garden's living clock — reported to be the world's largest when it was created in the 1950s — may be forgiven for thinking she's fallen down a rabbit hole. Composed of succulents, and the diameter of a merry-go-round, it tells time to an audience of topiary bears and peacocks.

And then there's the forest that's planted exclusively in shades of blue (blue hesper palms and Atlas cedars underplanted with blue fescue).

But Lotusland's garden is not simply an eccentric fantasy, any more than "Alice in Wonderland" is just a children's book. For Walska, plants were more than plants; they were colors to paint with, a family to nurture, characters to direct.
Well, until the News-Repress decides that freedom of information for all Santa Barbarians is more important than catering to the elite, at least you can get items of local interest somewhere online for free. But alas, the poor pigs on Santa Cruz Island are far more important than the poor citizens who can't afford a subscription to the paper. You'd think a locally owned paper in a liberal town would have their priorities a little more in line with everyday people, right?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Local News Radio Great Idea

March 6, 2005: "Bringing Back Local News Radio" was the headline today in the News-Press article written by Wendy McCaw in VOICES.

Although she's been taking some hits from me of late with the pigs-rights effort and continuing to rewrite Lois Capps' environmental record, this effort is worth supporting. In the article, she points out that Bob Newhart, who owns KZBN 1290 AM, sold the station to a group of investors at below market rate because of his commitment to Santa Barbara having an all news station.

I miss listening to the Voice of Santa Barbara in the morning (Jerry Cornfield has since moved to Olympia, WA). It's also important for all of us to have a place to turn to in an emergency.

How an all news radio station will cooperate with the newspaper side of the business remains to be seen -- Josh Molina podcasting from De la Guerra Plaza? Barney Brantingham cell phoning from Java Jones? I am willing to hope for the best on this one -- we need news radio and we need it bad.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Enviro Representative Subterfuge

I would give you a link to this News-Press editorial from 3/4/05 -- but they won't let you see it without a subscription. Please see Cannon's post below. I've typed out a few of their most heinous quotes for discussion:

The representative signs off on bills written by other members. The more bills he or she "co-sponsors" -- that is, let the real author use your name -- the better the odds.

The News-Repress calls this the 'Lotto' approach - I call it democracy. There's nothing wrong with co-sponsoring legislation that you believe in -- it's the way those of us that vote can see where a representative's intention lie.

When a member of Congress labels herself the "environmental Representative," the official better expect scrutiny of whether past actions justify the title.

Mrs. Capps wrote that she's "stood up to protect endangered forests, wetlands, rivers, and coasts."

What she's actually referencing, according to her office, are about 30 bills she put her name on as a co-sponsor.

What about these bills she has sponsored that are listed on the Congressional Website -- (They actually let you in without a subscription).

You'll find sponsorships on a variety of environmental legislation -- some passed, some didn't. That's how Congress works. You don't have to pass a bill to show you are environmentalist -- you do have to vote consistently, and she does. Notice that Travis FactsWrong doesn't mention this in his editorial.

The self-proclaimed title of "environmental Representative" suggests a standard that Mrs. Capps must live up to during the remainder of her time in office. To that end, Mrs. Capps says she's introduced bills to halt new drilling in Los Padres National Forest and quicken the replacement of single-hull oil tankers. Will these become law in light of her history?

"She says she's introduced"? -- Mr. FactsWrong, she has! It's in the Congressional Record! A little bit of web research would do you some your homework! As for her history -- right now she's co-chair of the coastal caucus, on the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Energy and Commerce Committee and need we remind the News-Repress that she is highly rated by the League of Conservation Voters, been endorsed by the Sierra Club in each of her elections and shows up at every way she can to save open space and protect the environment here locally? Interview someone at the Environmental Defense Center or Surfrider and tell us what they say.

Mrs. Capps also is failing the Channel Islands. She's ignored calls for an independent investigation of the mismanagement by the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy.

A program to return bald eagles has resulted in eagles drowning as they tried to escape the island. The 2004 listing of the island fox as an endangered species means that the captive-breeding program needs examination. Pups produced in it can't survive in the wild at acceptable rates.

She stood by as the Park Service approved the mass poisoning of the Anacapa islets, which not only killed black rats but species from native deer mice to migratory birds.

Is this the record of the "environmental Representative"?

Mr. FactsWrong should be more clear in his intentions. Being a PETA "don't drink milk, drink beer" supporter and being an environmentalist are two different things. You can't bash her on her perfectly strong enviornmental record based on pig, rat and bird rights! At least be straight about your intent -- this writer thinks animals should be treated well but the editors of the News-Opress should stick to animals or the environment as a whole as their issue and not use Rep. Capps' excellent environmental record as a subterfuge for animal rights.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

SB News-Repress: So Last Century

So, you ever tried to access the News-Repress online?

If you are NOT a print subscriber, you are invited to register and buy online access to daily articles appearing on The cost is $6.00 for four weeks, $18 for 13 weeks, or an annual subscription for $60. (Single stories from our archives can be purchased for $2.50 per article.) Please note: Classifed, Special Sections and Community pages are available for FREE to all visitors.
Oh golly gee Wendy, thanks for the bone. I can get the classifieds for free? How magnanimous of you. And please note, they didn't even spell "classified" correctly, and this has been their splash page for eons. Lovely editing, just lovely. Now, compare this to the Santa Maria Times where all sections are free, and you don't even have to register. Compare this to the Ventura County Star:

Become a Registered User

Please take a moment to tell us about yourself!

By completing this simple one-time registration, you'll gain instant access to all our award-winning news coverage and interactive subscription services.

To register, just complete the form below!
So, if you're wondering why us BlogaBarbararians are not linking to the News-Repress articles that we discuss, it's because we can't. Sara actually had to key this stuff in. I'm not sure if McCaw and the gang are 1). really behind the times and clueless as to the standards of open-source information on the web, or 2). have no idea how to build an online advertising model that would make their site both profitable and free, or 3). they are frightened of the online world and stick to the safety of paper to insulate themselves from media criticism like the kind you see here at BlogaBarbara, or 4). they are greedy elitists who really don't give a flying squirrel about access to news and information for the thousands of Santa Barbarians who can't afford a subscription to their publication, online or hardcopy, in this incredibly expensive town.

Whatever the answer, perhaps the News-Repress should take a look at the major CA dailies like the Los Angeles Times, or The San Francisco Chronicle, or the San Jose Mercury News, or The Sacramento Bee. Every one of these publications provides full content with nothing more than a simple, free, and fast registration. You'd think, that in a place as wealthy as Santa Barbara, that a locally-owned and operated paper would give a shit about the citizens it claims to serve and provide free content for all Santa Barbarians -- not just the ones who can afford it. Heck, it's not like they couldn't make money on the site with advertising. In the meantime, I guess all you locals who want online news will need to go the SB Independent or Edhat. Maybe someday we can drag Wendy and the gang kicking and screaming into the 20th century -- but hey, don't bet on the 21st. Baby steps, baby steps...

SoCo Caca Go NoCo

Sara posts below on last weeks Poodle but didn't mention this section of the column which I simply can't resist:
It turns out that the South Coast is incapable of handling its Port-a-Potty waste stream locally and has taken to exporting a significant amount of flow to Santa Maria. It seems those weirdly blue chemical disinfectants that keep Port-a-Potties smelling farm fresh wreak havoc on the precise chemical processes that transform the South Coast’s human waste into a harmless sludge soup. So much for living “within our resources,” long the mantra of South Coast eco-warriors. If nothing else, maybe this will revive the push to split Santa Barbara County in two. Perhaps the insult of being the dumping ground for South Coast feces will prove so outrageous to North County sensibilities that it will overcome the profound economic violence a county split would inflict upon North County residents. In the meantime, I’m sure glad I didn’t step in any of it. Too bad we’re all swimming in it.
I would love for North County to collect their marbles and walk away. I'm sick to death of their whining about South County liberals while those very same liberals are paying their effing bills. So much for the GOP being the party of "responsibility" -- kinda makes me wanna retch. In the meantime, I've just one phrase for North County to consider: you're soaking in it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Santa Cambodia Island

Here we go parrot Wendy McCaw takes her screeching to an all-time high!

Last week's post on how the News-Repress thinks the League of Conservation Voters award winning Rep. Lois Capps isn't an environmentalist was eclipsed today by the blatant promotion of a pigs-rights group at the Santa Barbara Public Library. Can't believe it? Read on:

The National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy, which owns much of Santa Cruz Island, are bent on turning the island into killing fields later this month or April. These organizations, particularly the conservancy's Los Angeles office, haven't been upfront in the past about the details of their plans.

Killing Fields? Oh, please. Not to make too fine a point, but the plants have been there for hundreds upon hundreds of years. The pigs, as the name would imply, are eating everything in sight and destroying native plant life and threatening other native animal species that don't, well, eat everything in sight.

Wild pigs have been at home on Santa Cruz Island since 1852 so there's no rush to begin a multimillion-dollar campaign to kill them.

Please consider joining the Channel Islands Animal Protection Association and other concerned residents at a public forum at 6:30 p.m. in the Santa Barbara downtown library's Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St.

Now, Sara likes animals. Sara even likes pigs. Sara wants to protect animals wherever she can -- but Sara thinks that it's about balance -- not blindness. The anniversary of Malcolm X's death was last week -- "by any means necessary" should only apply to broad goals, not a narrow, perhaps even wrong-headed, agenda.