Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, August 31, 2007

Excuse me, how do I get to O's House?

If you are going to the Barack Obama fundraiser in Montecito -- our friends at EdHat report that you have to park at Earl Warren where the Rodeo types park....does this mean it won't be reported in the News-Press as none of us know her address? In any event, we can't provide O's address anyway because it is against our policy at BlogaBarbara. She is entitled to privacy!

Still, what's up with Oprah making people that must be paying thousands to see Barack and her together making them travel so far to have AN AUDIENCE with the Queen of Daytime TV and the Cause Celebre of the Democratic Party? I can see the corporate, network reporters now asking whether America is "ready" in front of Oprah's mansion (why is that so common?). Still, the juxtaposition between the two is an easy PR MEGA MOVE for both of them.

I've been waiting for Oprah to become more like us and get involved with local non-profits but perhaps she is more like them....time to reassess? She does great things but does she live in Santa Barbara County or not? I will hurt for a long time on this one as Oprah does so much good -- but where has it shown up where she lives? I am probably wrong and please tell me about it...

Labels: , ,

Sphere of Influence Discussion in Goleta

Spheres of influence allows cities the ability to create boundaries for which they are interested in annexation and future development. Next week, the City of Goleta has a series of workshops related to this issue. Thanks to City Council Watcher for passing this info along.

Why is it important? The proposed sphere includes Goleta Beach Park which is run by the County of Santa Barbara -- is the City of Goleta ready to take that on? The sphere extends north of Cathedral Oaks to the Forest Service boundary, runs beyond Tecolote Creek and out to the shoreline at the Bacara Resort. These areas include two large areas of undeveloped land that is currently zoned for agriculture -- will this help or hinder keeping it that way?

A map is on the September 4th council agenda on the City's website. Here are the dates of the upcoming workshop:

Tuesday, September 4th at 6 pm
Sphere of Influence discussion

Saturday, September 15th 9 am to 3 pm
First General Plan workshop

Thursday, September 27th 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Second general Plan workshop

Friday, October 5th 9 am to 3 pm
General Plan housing element workshop

Wednesday, October 17th 6 pm to 8:30 pm
Third General Plan workshop

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wendy extending the Bias to live video on the Internet?

Video Pimp My Ride: the tragedy of the News-Less-Press-Supress-Mess may be extending into other media, but will anyone watch or care?

Sources (and that is all you readers need to know) reveal that representatives of The Wendy traveled to Turlock (yes, that Turlock, the one near Modesto) earlier this week to purchase a mobile TV production rig, often called a War Wagon, the kind of electronically-tricked-out vans that TV crews use to broadcast live productions from the field.

The Wendy reps reportedly were not too sophisticated about understanding all the technical capabilities of the TV production rig, but they did pay full price of $125,000.

They told the Turlockers that the "TV" streaming video at the News-Less web site will expand to include live webcasting from the field.

But will anyone watch Wendy-TV because of the gee-whiz hardware, or will web viewers instead still crave the fundamentals of a newspaper business: crazy things like experienced and credible editors and writers and a functional web site to start with.

Is live web video the answer when the canned video still is lame and just a rehash of the news releases and/or the Wendy view of reality?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Watch Out for the Subpoena Man

I'm finally catching up with my reading after a few busy days and caught up on the NLRB Hearing through Craig Smith's Blog.

The real story in Craig's post, however, was a very well-written piece by former News-Press journalist William Etling that was published by our friends at Edhat.

Craig called it required reading and I would say that it is definitely required reading for anyone interested in what is at stake here ---something Washington Post reporter Lou Cannon said is "much bigger than the fortunes of a few former reporters and editors of the News-Press".

Even with all that has gone on over the past many months, and how they are so personally involved, I am sure the erstwhile reporters from The Santa Barbara News Room would agree.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Community Post: Reflections on My News-Press Experience

by Bob Guiliano, former assistant city editor, SBN-P, 10/30/06-1/26/07

Now that my share of the testimony at the NLRB hearing is over, I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can continue on with my life.

I am not happy, however, that I failed to accomplish my mission, which was to help Wendy McCaw fix the News-Press, and help resolve all the various conflicts taking place between her and past and present news staff and members of the community.

This controversy caught my attention while I sat at my desk at the North County Times in Escondido, Calif., peaceful and secure in a position I had held for eight years, editing stories and designing pages. I had just received a good annual review and raise, and my vacation time increased from two to three weeks. And I had also been substitute teaching about three days a week for five years in local high schools, something I enjoyed doing as I considered making a permanent career change to teaching.

What particularly caught my attention about the News-Press was not all the controversy about the Rob Lowe land story, or the Travis Armstrong DUI story, or even the mass exodus of editors and reporters, but that a group of remaining reporters bonded together and risked their financial well-being and careers for something they believed they were fighting for, journalistic ethics and integrity.

Opinions may vary on whether they have been justified to stand up to the owner/publisher of the newspaper, who possesses the right to determine the paper's philosophy and choose what areas of coverage she would like prioritized in Santa Barbara County.

Of course, a newspaper must be a champion and community leader demonstrating ethics and integrity to maintain its credibility. And, a truly non-biased newspaper would not only require a variety of comments and all sides to be reflected in any story, but it would cover all the news, and publish readers' letters to the editor or op-ed columns, whether they agree or disagree with the publisher's, or editorial page editor's or other readers' viewpoints.

Now, back to my case in point. How often in your lifetime have you seen a group of American co-workers show the courage to risk all in their fight for what they believe is right? Troops have experienced such bonding in combat to the extent that they regard each other as brothers or sisters, and remain close for their lifetimes.

I figured that if Wendy McCaw could recognize the courage in her team of reporters and harness their energy, she could have propelled them and her newspaper to excel in covering Santa Barbara County and perhaps there would have even been Pulitzer Prizes down the road!

Giving up the security of my jobs at the North County Times and the Escondido high school district to enter this mess in Santa Barbara was something I wanted to do. I felt there was such potential, with the combination of an individual, financially independent owner who is not beholding to anyone, and a group of reporters who have the guts to fight. Hell, don't fight them, get in front of the line and lead them! Give them direction, build their confidence, appreciate them and set them loose!

Besides typical news and feature stories, there are always social issues to investigate. The ones I've been involved with or interested in over the years include political and police corruption, illegal drug dealers (you'd be amazed where the kingpins live and what country clubs they belong to), human trafficking, sex & domestic slavery (the best investigative report I read about this was done by El Universal newspaper in Mexico City several years ago, focusing on North San Diego County), child pornography, gangs, and real estate fraud.

One thing about being on the night shift at the News-Press, you field calls from a variety of people giving you tips for breaking news or possible investigative reports. That was always one of the most interesting parts of my job at a newspaper, developing sources, determining if they were credible, and then investigating and writing the story myself, or hooking the source up with a reporter.

In conclusion, I hope the Santa Barbara News-Press can resolve its many situations and get back to focusing on being a real newspaper and serving the community. And I wish the best for the courageous eight fired reporters involved in the NLRB hearing, remaining copy editors and other staff I had the pleasure to work with at the News-Press; community members and religious leaders I've met; my late-night tipsters who kept me company when I was alone in the newsroom, and who provided some really solid leads for stories; and Sara De la Guerra, for allowing all voices to be heard on Blogabarbara!

Labels: ,

Friday, August 24, 2007

Good Cop, Badder Cop: TKA Thinks He's Fair?

Travis Armstrong's editorial today yet again bashing Mayor Blum sat alongside a miracle letter from the Mayor herself. Misquoted in comments for Esquire Magazine -- if any of you know her, she doesn't say "gonna" evah --her letter actually was printed on the editorial pages of the News-Press for the first time in maybe a year or more. Perhaps it is not Hotchkiss 1, Incumbents 0 as I pointed out the other day.

I'm surprised as Travis has consistently pointed out that she doesn't read the News-Press and does this, that and the other thing. Has he realized that showing the other side, another argument -- actually strengthens his?

With apologies to The Poodle, good for TKA for throwing her and us a bone. I really don't care what he has to say in his editorials if he is fair with opinion pieces, letters to the editor and stays out of the newsroom. Perhaps this is a harbinger of things to come -- TKA, Bring It On!

Ouch! I just read the front page and it has another animal on the cover. I have nothing against saving animals but there is a war going on, US-based Seagate might be bought by a Chinese company and several generals differ on the timing of troop cuts. Oh, there was a quake in Peru the other day, right? By the way, there were floods in midwest cities -- they didn't have a blue line because their newspaper editor was against anything their city did.

Sorry, maybe my bias is showing -- Travis, keep on printing those letters to the editor! Really!

Labels: ,

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: Al-Qaeda in Santa Barbara

The Terrorists have won.

An adage of diplomacy --American at least, and especially Israeli-- is that if one gives in to threats and intimidation, such as kidnapping for ransom, then The Terrorists have won the battle and therefore grow even more emboldened to commit more acts of terrorism, kidnapping, and the like. Accordingly, the policy should be not to give in to threats and terrorism, as a direct means to discourage future terrorist acts.

By now, most news followers have learned that the backers of the Light Blue Line project have given up and withdrawn their plans, apparently permanently. An irony or tragedy is that only a few hours earlier, a clear, calm explanation of what this public art project is and is not was published by them as an Independent Voice, an opinion piece in the Independent.

In a viral email message sent out Thursday evening to their list of 265 interested people (and all with their email addresses revealed through a CC), the proponents of the Light Blue Line project wrote this explanation about why they caved in to The Terrorists:

“The whole idea of lightblueline is to foster an informed
conversation about our local vulnerability to future sea level
rise due to climate change.
This public conversation requires
a local media that can sustain a civil discourse
At the current time,
a certain local media outlet
has poisoned the flow of
information to its public.
Lightblueline does not have the resources to effectively
respond to this unfortunate situation. We will continue
to work with residents in other cities who want to mark
their local vulnerability to future sea-level rise.

We will continue to work with local environmental groups.
But we have no plans to paint the line on the streets
of Santa Barbara

Translation: we give up and instead are taking our Classic Greek wave stencils and our 140 stainless steel medallions to San Francisco and New York, and maybe even the entire nation of Argentina, all places that have invited us and have no “certain media” and their Castoroid-inspired operatives to terrorize us.

A Thursday morning Blogabarbara comment by a 'Trekking Left' perhaps best encapsulated the irony of this entire Light Blue Line frenzy:

“Doesn't the blue line project really show the problem with the global warming debate in general? ... People are concerned about it, but they don't want to take any action if it adversely affects them in any way. In this case, it's just the "idea" of global warming's effect on SB that has these people up in arms. Shouldn't they (and all of us) be more worried about the real effects?”

Does even the perception of market-bubble-deflating property values decreasing make everyone go nuts when they usually are quite rational?

Why did The Terrorists win this time and intimidate, bully, harass, and/or scare away the Light Blue Line project and its proponents and allies?

Of course, the political effect here is that The Terrorists won this one and now will be more encouraged, emboldened, and empowered to install more IEDs and dispatch more suicide bombers into the usually staid and rational enviro-socio-political discourse of Santa Barbara.

Will the once-sensible politics and culture of Santa Barbara now cut and run even more quickly as a result of this surge from The Terrorists? What will be the next manifestations of terrorist acts from “a certain local media outlet,” now that this truck bomb has been so successful blowing up the Blue Line Embassy?

Will the Santa Barbara establishment, movers, and shakers ever grow a pair and not back down anymore?

This issue already is yielding a huge overlay effect for the ongoing City Council election, but that analysis here apparently would be too many words for some Blogabarbara readers.

And --posted a couple of days early because we know it won't get any better-- that’s the Political Play of the Week.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

C'mon Barry, the Film Fest is Months Away!

See Craig Smith for how Sam Tyler's "Michael Moore"-style documentary escaped being aired to early....c'mon Barry, the Film Fest is month's away!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beaver Free Says Stop the Blue Line!

This from the Taxpayers seems Jerry Beaver wants Santa Barbara to be blue line rather than Beaver Free! Gosh, do you have to be practically a native to get that pun?

August 22, 2007 - Honorable Council members: This appeal is filed on behalf of Jerry Beaver and Stop the Blue Line, a group citizens interested in this issue pursuant to Chapter 22.22.170 of the Santa Barbara Municipal Code. Mr. Beaver is an interested party adversely affected by the Historic Landmarks Commission's Aug. 8 approval of the Light Blue Line project because Mr. Beaver owns real property within the project area and attended the HLC meeting. Mr. Beaver's properties will be directly impacted by the proposal for the reasons described herein. Visit the sbcta web site for full appeal (PDF of Appeal).

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hotchkiss 1, Incumbents 0

Nice letter to the editor in the News-Press today -- when's the last time Williams, Barnwell or Schneider got a positive letter in the News-Press.....just asking :)

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: Wendy P. McCaw gives the community a big **explicative deleted** again!

As I wrote last week in my first Political Play of the Week, the Play can be executed by both heroes and villains, based on political effect, not likability. Even the Time Magazine Person of the Year included Hitler, Stalin, and George W. Bush a few times for each.

Without even being there, Wendy Petrak McCaw enjoyed even more chances during the past week to tell the community off through her hirelings and minions appearing in the federal trial presided over by the Internets-news-reading Administrative Law Judge for National Labor Relations Board. The testimony and antics during the trial were documented throughout the week by Craig Smith's Blog, SB Independent (three separate writers), SB Daily Sound, Ventura County Star, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Lompoc Record, KEYT, KSBY, and other news media, including several discussion topics in Blogabarbara.

Here are some of the cumulative key moves for this Play of the Week:
  • Even the ever-lovable Hannah Guzik, of the "News"-Press herself, wrote up (or at least had a by-line attribution) some articles that featured a very thorough treatment of what The Wendy's Uuber-lawyer Barry Cappello always had to say. Therefore, this time no one can accuse the News-Press of being the usual News-Less, at least by the three articles published.
  • Associate "Editor" Scott Steepleton managed not to have his nose grow visibly as he said, under oath, that the editorial Buck Stops With Him and that he had no awareness of how his wife, another editor there, felt about the unionization. Steeps also claimed the Teamsters union members were terminated because of the "biased" writings that he approved months earlier, instead of that the terminations were made out of retaliation only the day after their Cancel Your Subscription banner was hung over the freeway. The Steepinator even Did Not Recall if he had written a non-by-lined article months earlier about himself during the first NLRB hearing in front of another federal Judge.
  • Outright sympathy and morbid fascination for The Wendy is growing, with an eventual court appearance for HRH Wendy promised by Cappello during a TV news interview, sort of how an audience builds in anticipation for the latest Lindsey Lohan booking photos.
  • "Howse she holding up?" That question Thursday by KEYT (TV channel 3) news "reporter" Beth Farnsworth was **not** about the disclosure during the trial about the recent successful treatment for alcoholism of one of the terminated News-Pressers, but rather that question to Cappello apparently was out of concern for how The Wendy herself was enduring all the stress and wrath from the Natives.
Just when you did not think this Freak Show could get any worse or more bizarre --or sad and scary-- it does yet again during only the first of the four weeks of the NLRB trial. Then, after the Judge in November writes up some creative phrases that essentially mean the same as Extreme Embellishment --while finding in favor of NLRB on all the claims that matter-- the appeals by Ampersand will drag out the torture to the final resolution for even longer than the life of the Bush Administration and a even few months more.

Justice delayed is justice denied, yielding a victory all in itself for Wendy P. McCaw.
And that's the Political Play of the Week!

Community Post: TKA Bias in Not Checking Council Candidate Facts?

Got this from an avid reader and found it interesting considering our discussions on bias of late...

=====Community Post============
In an editorial this morning, Travis Armstrong urged voters to support the challengers to the City Council incumbents and lists the names of eight challengers at the end of his editorial. Indeed, his list includes all who took out papers and filed to run, but he apparently didn’t check his facts! Two of those he listed are not viable and official candidates because their petitions lacked enough signatures to qualify for the ballot (Cruzito Herrera Cruz and Nicholas M. Sebastian).

While editorial writers are entitled to their bias (and he sure has some strong feelings about the three incumbents), he still has an obligation to get his facts straight. His bias against all things related to the City prevented him from checking with the City Clerk’s office on who would be listed on the ballot. They had this information by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

What is a 'club reporter' anyway?

Here's an interesting Editor and Publisher article passed on to me from an avid reader on bias in the newsroom -- which describes a much more reasonable way to handle the issue than firing anyone and everyone where the label might stick if you say it enough times. Ironic that the article is partially about a man that perfected that technique for President Bush.

Editor and Publisher also reported on the NLRB union certification at The Santa Barbara News-Press.

Too bad we have to get detailed news on the certification from a national publication...even our very own Santa Barbara Independent had "Club Reporter" pretty much only refer to our friend Craig Smith on the story which broke late in the week -- saying he "hops all over this". Is a "club reporter" kind of like a "staff report"? Why isn't "Club Reporter" covering what's happening at Tonic or Velvet Jones tonight? Odd name that doesn't instill trust for this issue....

To be fair, it seems they are using many resources for covering the Zaca Fire and doing a great job at that -- but I would have thought one of their main reporters would want to write about this issue. There is likely a fair explanation....but should we hear about it, rather than guess?

Labels: , ,

Edited Blogging Guidelines

Wanted to let you know that I have edited our blog guidelines to better outline how I would like community posts submitted.

You are welcome to submit your story and be published anonymously or as yourself (just let me know) anytime by emailing me at

Steve Greenberg's Cartoon in The VC Star

For more Greenberg editorial cartoons, see his blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Major Victory for Teamsters!

Craig Smith reported today that the NLRB has "adopted an administrative law judge's findings and recommendations that upheld the 33 to 6 vote in favor of unionization, in effect, overruling the News-Press' objections to the outcome of the election".

What does this mean? The Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamster's Union is now the bargaining unit for the newsroom employees at the News-Press. As Craig points out, the hearings we have been posting about will continue as they are about a different issue but this is good news for the rank and file in the newsroom.

Labels: , ,

Other Union Action in Santa Barbara Overlooked!

Here's something from the Carpenter's Union about the brand new Ruth's Chris Steakhouse -- overlooked because of the SBNP hearings. Hasn't shown up in any newspaper or TV news that I know of.

Here's a Flyer Written by Carpenter's Union

For Desecration of the American Way of Life
(There’s a drawing of a rat eating an American flag, and the text below reads:)
A rat is a contractor that does not pay all of its employees prevailing wages, including either providing or making payments for health care and pension benefits.

Shame on Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for contributing to erosion of area standards for carpenter craft workers. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse uses Scott Winter Construction to do the metal stud/drywall construction at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse located in Santa Barbara, California. Scott Winter Construction does not meet area labor standards for all their carpenter craft workers, including fully paying for family health benefits and pension.

Carpenters Local 150 objects to substandard wage employers like Scott Winter Construction working in the community. In our opinion the community ends up paying the tab for employee health care and low wages tend to lower general community standards, thereby encouraging crime and other social ills.

Carpenters Local 150 believes that Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse has an obligation to the community to see that area labor standards are met for construction work at all their projects, including any future work. They should not be allowed to insulate themselves behind “independent” contractors. For this reason Local 150 has a labor dispute with all the companies identified here.


The members and families of Carpenters Local 150 thank you for your support. Call (805) 482-1905 for further information.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reporters don't put biased stories in the paper....

"editors do....". Linda Strean, former managing editor said the above...and Craig Smith explains it here:

By that she was referring to the process by which an editor assigns a story to a reporter, suggests angles or approaches to the story, suggests sources or individuals to interview and then, when the story is written, reads the story, asks the reporter questions about it, suggests additional stakeholders in the story who might be contacted if their viewpoint is not represented and then finally when, and only when, the story is deemed fair and balanced, puts it in the paper. As Strean put it; "The editor is the backstop."

So who was Melinda Burn's backstop on the Measure D story written by her and cited in her termination letter as an example of biased reporting on her part? Steepleton testified that the person who edited the story and failed to recognize it as being biased was, himself. I guess the buck didn't stop at the backstop.

We also got an explanation today as to why Anna Davison was turns out that treacherous sidewalks mean less than trees and our Mayor, who was quoted "too much" in the article. I'm not sure what the Mayor wouldn't comment on if she wasn't commenting on trees and sidewalks in her town -- but I guess she can't do her job and not be biased at the same time.

I have to ask -- why does our community newspaper owner get to decide what is biased and what is not? Why can't we decide that for ourselves? What makes her such an expert on the subject and why does her management feel so compelled to forget what they learned in journalism school?

Read Craig's Blog for some other good stories but read this:

Second best exchange of the morning came when Steepleton reiterated his testimony from yesterday that reporters and editors should be regularly reading the editorials of the papers that they work for. Counsel for the NLRB then asked him, "Isn't it true that at the January 9th objections hearing (where the News-Press was contesting the outcome of the union election) you testified that you didn't read the editorial pages of the the News-Press?" Steepleton answered; "That's correct."

Ouch. That must have hit the judge in his gut.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One of Those Journalism 101 Things...

Associate Editor Scott Steepleton of the News-Press continued his effort of defending his paper's jihad against bias by showing even more bias for management today during the second day of proceedings against the Santa Barbara News-Press. An article at The Santa Barbara Independent describes him being shown pictures of the signs used in the "overpass protest" and continuing to deny that that the reporters were fired for union involvement. He then went on to paint Melinda Burns as biased even though he knows full well that republishing articles in political mailers is a common practice by lobbying firms everywhere.

The Independent went on to describe how the amount of "do not recalls" decreased as News-Press attorney Barry Cappello questioned him and suggested that business owners can do whatever they want with their products. I'm not sure when reporters or the news became a product in America but I guess I was sick that day. Here's what Steepleton said about TKA's DUI not being covered and Rob Lowe's address being published showing bias:

She owns the newspaper, and I think she has every right to be a part of whatever she wants to be a part of.

He says later that reporters are supposed to be well aware of their publishers views and "That's one of those Journalism 101 things". Wow, that's rich coming from an Associate Editor and probable Staff Reporter. SO, as the logic goes, reporters are supposed to hold back because of what their publisher believes in? Where's the "wall" they talked to you about in Journalism 101? Orwellian in delivery, Steepleton and Cappello, continued in their effort to rewrite history by taking on Starshine Roshell.

Cappello projected a few sarcastic letters from her onto a video screen, making much ado about the presence or lack of "smiley faces". Not to outdo himself, Cappello then tried to discredit Linda Strean who lectures at UC Berkeley's School of Journalism and has worked for the SF Chronicle and Examiner. She also happened to work for the News-Press and defended Melinda Burns correctly characterizing her "bias" evaluations as normal for a newspaper and not worthy of termination.

There was an almost-live blog post by Craig Smith today and I am posting just about the same time he usually does so there may be more on this tonight over at his blog. No matter what, you can always talk amongst yourselves here at BlogaBarbara.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Buck Stops with Me in the Newsroom!

Like so many samurai ready to commit hari kari, that's what Scott Steepleton said today in defense of Wendy McCaw, Arthur Von Weisenburger and Travis Armstrong. Kudos to Craig Smith for sitting through the hearing today and even becoming a target of Barry Cappello who may call him as a witness along with the many others that may be called upon as well.

Surprising points made by Smith:

Steepleton Didn't Know?
In listening to Steepleton, there were two things in his testimony that tested the bounds of credulity for me. First he claimed he had no idea of whether his wife, Charlotte Boechler, the paper's assistant features editor, had any allegiances to the union. (I wonder what they talk about on those long daily commutes between Santa Barbara and Ventura where they live?)

Where's Wendy? She might be in court later....I won't hold my breath
Armstrong was sitting in the front row of the courtroom and, according to Cappello, he will be the paper's representative at the proceedings. There were four attorneys sitting on the News-Press side of the counsel table. A few feet away, volumes of enormous loose-leaf binders were stacked up shoulder high.

Cappello's Long Opening, from The Santa Barbara Independent:
As an excuse for why he was about to give a longer opening than his opponents combined, Cappello explained that this hearing’s “potpourri of items” amounted to “15 separate trials.” Judge William Kocol assured, “If it gets long, be sure I’ll let you know.” And he did, multiple times.

Dictators?.....maybe according to the NP in The Santa Barbara Independent:
Unlike most NLRB hearing, this case was not about wages and benefits, said Cappello. Rather, he explained, “These are employees who have testified and will testify here that their sole goal is to take over the newspaper so that the owner of the newspaper has no involvement in how they write their stories or when they write their stories.” It was a statement that everyone in the room could agree with.

Then, Cappello made it seem like too much was reported about Travis Armstrong's DUI -- even though it was not reported fully in his own newspaper. Capello then said Robe Lowe's address should not be printed as a 'stalking guide'. After that, somehow Starshine's column -- primarily about Moms, Dads and Apple Pie -- was biased. Hunh? If it could even get worse, Cappello said that the freeway overpass incident wasn't clearly a union activity becasue the banner did not have the word 'Teamsters'. I'm not clear what world he is living in...

About staff reports according to The Santa Barbara Independent:
As a counterpoint, Wyllie produced the article about the first NLRB hearing that was bylined as a “staff report.” Originally assigned to Leana Orsua, she called in later that day to say she couldn’t write the story. When asked if he wrote the story, Steepleton said, “I don’t recall.” It would become a very common response all afternoon. Later, Wyllie asked if the story, which omitted large amounts of information but reported the news that was favorable to the newspaper, was biased, Steepleton said he thought the piece in question was fine.

What a comedy of errors. Unfortunately, Scott Steepleton is being paid handsomely as newsroom editor to take the fall....I'm not clear it is worth it considering his wife was a reporter for the News-Press and a part of this hearing. What does that say about the two of them? How could he or she not see this coming? Why would they want to be a part of this?

Labels: ,

NLRB v. News-Press Began Today, Again

The hearings as to whether the News-Press violated the National Labor Relations Act began today in Santa Barbara. Didn't we already go through this and establish they did a few months ago? Craig Smith has a primer on what the hearing is about on his blog and will likely soon have an update on what exactly happened on day one. You can talk about it here and I will update this post later as information comes in from Craig and, I assume, The Independent and The Daily Sound.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Measure A: Council Election Change

With all of the clearly election-oriented comments recently, I hesitate to point out that the Measure A ballot argument has come out and they do have a blog. Please read the arguments before commenting because this is longer term than November!

Also, review the voter turnout chart and notice how low it is on off-years when there is no other election. Participation enhanced and money saved -- such a deal!

Labels: ,

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: Helene Schneider Calls their Blue Line Bluff

Now that Silly Season is upon us with the deadline last Friday for the 11 Santa Barbara City Council candidates who filed their papers, this Citizen Stringer will strive each week (posted sometime Friday through Sunday) to declare a Political Play of the Week up through the upcoming local election in November. A Political Play of the Week was a regular feature by CNN up through a couple of years ago, so Blogabarbara now can feel free to emulate that catchy title.

Like the CNN tradition, and the Time magazine Person of the Year, the Political Play of the Week can be a brilliant move to score points, or it can be a fumble, by either heroes or villains. The Play also can be a cultural or social outcome for Santa Barbara, and not purely political.

This first Political Play of the Week was a move that surprised the chorus of whiners --believed to be Travis Armstrong and his three friends-- who throughout most of July and early August had been just soooo concerned about the $12,000 budgetary item for City of Santa Barbara to support the blogubiquitous Light Blue Line project. The City pisses away money barely tracked to the nearest $120,000 to know what good was gained by the spending, so all that righteous indignation about the mere 12 Grand was becoming a curious hyperventilation that unfortunately was not also reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Schneider’s Play of the Week simply was to get the $12,000 of original City funds replaced by private donor(s) giving directly to the Blue Line project as a nonprofit organization. It was a simple, elegant, stealthy move that broke as news as the top banner headline in the Tuesday issue of Santa Barbara Daily Sound, and then was news chased by KEYT. News released on Tuesday also fits perfectly with the weekly news cycle for the Independent, and the Angry Poodle ran with it, Big Time, highlighting the hypocrisy of this fabricated controversy.

In her original statement published at Edhat news, Helene concluded: “the debate about the lightblueline project should be about climate change, not whether City funds are being used. So now that topic is off the table.

And that actually has fell off the table since Schneider’s announcement last Tuesday. Only a small fraction of the choruses of Anonymity still have jabbed as late as Saturday that the city should have other spending priorities even though that spending no longer is necessary. However, the Cheneyesque naysayers --such as Dale Francisco, who just filed his candidacy and who wants Schneiders office-- now have been exposed and are resorting to a basic denial that global warming is the modern reality, all in their quest to keep arguing against whatever the City Council is doing that week or month.

Francisco had an exceedingly long opinion piece about all that published, of course, in the News-Press the prior Sunday, August 8. He wrote mis- or dis-information about the scientific estimates for the rate of the Greenland ice melt and its effect, coincidently the same week that Newsweek (no liberal rag) made its cover article an analysis of the well-funded Denial Machine that has been operating for many years about global warming.

This may be Silly Season, and a lot more of the frothy schtick of climate denial undoubtedly still will be spewed about the Light Blue Line project during the next few weeks. For all this silliness, though, it all seems like Helene Schneider will be getting the last laugh as she cruises --with admittedly a few days of choppy seas-- to reelection for a second term on City Council, and with the highest number of votes as well.

And that’s the Political Play of the Week.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Community Post: Many Thanks to the Firefighters

This from one of our readers, Dirk Brandts:

I am tremendously impressed and thankful for the firefighters who are
protecting us from the Zaca Fire. By the same token, the manner in
which disaster preparedness personnel are keeping us informed and
properly alert is fantastic.

Today I watched several crews familiarize themselves with the twists
and turns of various neighborhoods in the Goleta foothills, meeting
people, learning the lay of the land and identifying sources of water.
That kind of precautionary anticipation is the essence of
professionalism. God forbid that conditions drive the fire in our
direction and necessitate a fight for our homes, but when the threat
is finally over we mustn't forget what a terrific job these
hard-working men and women have done.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

LIGHTer Blue Lines, Two Times the Value

In a story that one of our avid readers uncovered two days before the News-Press on EdHat, David Pritchett reported on the Historic Landmarks Commission discussion on the LIGHTer Blue Line that will now last two years rather than five because of the paint being used. Google Video is available here on the KEYT story.

It's interesting to read how the HLC is acting like the HLC about this project. There will be no URL's on the medallions that are included in the project -- so no self promotion! And, the paint will have to last two years rather than five. Rather subjective opinion, it will really depend on traffic and the message will already have had a major impact.

Two things are important about this:

1) Approving the Light Blue Line project means it continues with no need for an appeal to the City Council.
2) More importantly, $12,000 worth of lighter blue lines has been spent to get at least twice as much public relations value. Irony of ironies for those that think it should have been spent somewhere else, the LIGHTer Blue Line has promoted the problem of global warming very cheaply. Council Member Helene Schneider had it right in the video linked to above. See it.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 10, 2007

Community Post: President Gayle Beebe on Westmont Growth

Here's a community post from Westmont College President Gayle Beebe. I'm honored to have him here as a guest blogger and am happy to offer his perspective on my post from the other day. Thank you for offering your thoughts.

The Following was Written by Westmont College President Gayle Beebe

Hi, Sara, I'm new to Santa Barbara. It seems that my interview in the Pacific Coast Business Times led some people to assume my enthusiasm about fulfilling our approved campus master plan means the college will increase its enrollment beyond 1,200. It does not.

For the record, I will never ­- and the college will never ­- seek to increase the number of students on our Montecito campus. I knew the college was committed to the 1,200-student cap when I accepted the position, and I plan to honor
the college’s long-standing policy of not adding more students on campus. I am sure most everyone in town knew that Westmont never plans to grow its enrollment.

We are building new facilities to better serve our 1,200 students. As several writers on your blog have noted, we went through a very long and completely thorough public process to earn approval for the update to our approved campus master plan.

I'd love to give you a tour so you can see the many students living three to a room and the severe lack of classroom, lab and faculty office space.

At present, our average square feet per student on campus is just 312; the average for liberal arts colleges in America today is 549 (and top-ranked schools have 742). Even after we fulfill the campus master plan many years down the road, our average square feet per student will be just 624.

Best of all, despite the new buildings, nearly 80 percent of our campus will remain as open space. We are very proud of our scenic and wooded campus.

We recognize that it’s a privilege to be located in such a special community, and we honor the privilege every day.

Gayle Beebe
Westmont College


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

How old is Most Eligible Bachelor #4, The Palm?

I was leafing through Coastal Woman today as I was lucky enough to be interviewed for an article and looked perhaps a bit too closely at some eligible bachelors that were featured. On page 27, it says John Palminteri is 47 years old but in a more detailed bio on page 33 says he is 49 years of age....hmmmm. Easy mistake to make and edit to miss....I just hope Michael Stanton is free for dinner Saturday night as I love The Palace.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 06, 2007

Community Post: Traffic Tolls?

An anonymous sent this to me for a post and I did not write's maybe a little Minority Report for me but I am willing to consider. Weigh in below.

--------Community Post Starts Here--------------

The 101 Traffic issue has dogged our community for years now. Many solutions have been proposed, including the two most popular ideas: freeway widening and commuter rail. While I'm not advocating one suggestion over the other, there might be a way to both reduce traffic and fund any project proposal. This is an idea that I suggested in a 'Letter to the Editor' in the SBNP several years ago, and the idea did not get much feedback then, though perhaps it might now. It was inspired by the toll-by-camera policy in place in downtown London (England).

Many commuters to the South Coast who drive to work are an economic drain on our local economy. They work here, drive on our roads, use our infrastructure, and earn money that is spent in other communities. Their earnings fuel the urban sprawl in the North County and in Ventura County, and help to drive those economies and boost tax revenue when the dollars are spent there. Think of it as a small-scale trade deficit-- businesses here pay out money that is spent elsewhere, much the same as when US consumers buy foreign-made goods. The South Coast loses out on tax revenue in various forms, expends more to maintain roads and infrastructure, and local businesses lose out on money that would otherwise be spent here.

I think it is time for us to take some control of OUR economy.

A simple toll should be placed on commuters to the South Coast who spend more than 3 hours in any given day within the metro area from the County line in the South, and North to El Capitan. Cameras could be set up to track license plates, and software used to determine entry and exit times. A toll of a minimum $5 per day per vehicle would encourage more folks to use car-pooling, commuter buses, etc. The revenue generated would help to pay for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance in Carpenteria, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, and areas in between. The revenue could also go toward funding freeway expansion, commuter railways, expansion of MTD services, etc. $10-20 million a year, based on at least 10,000 cars traveling into the area per day, in gross revenue from the toll could pay for many basic items in our community, even to lessen the tax burden on residents and businesses here.

I think this to be an appropriate 'user fee' that would allow for payment of these projects by those who are in most need of traffic congestion relief-- the daily commuters. Why, after all, should those of us who would benefit least from traffic mitigation have to pay for such projects? And why shouldn't we collect on the use of our own infrastructure, and the losses to our own economy?

What say you, Santa Barbara?


Is Westmont the New UCSB?

PacBizTimes just did a story on Westmont's new President Gayle Beebe and how he wants to continue growing the university into Montecito. Unfortunately, he has a history of growth considering the fact that he grew Spring Arbor Michigan to a doubled budget of $52 million and 14 more buildings. Enrollment doubled and Spring Arbor was named one of the best "Christian" places to work by Christian Today Magazine. I'm all for delivering God's purpose but do not think it can be seen in doubling Westmont's enrollment and that his intention? Read more at the PCBT.....Beebe seems to be demuring from double growth but is not saying he won't either.


Montecito Fire Meeting

For those of you that live in Montecito -- The Independent's J'Amy Brown posted this earlier today:

Dear Montecito Neighbor ~ You have probably received several emails today (and I may have posted you twice here in my haste) about a townhall meeting tomorrow night at El Montecito Prsby Church, organized by Montecito Fire District. The meeting will address facts and procedures regarding the Zaca fire, as it pertains to Montecito.  I have now posted a story on Indy so you can email this link to your neighbors.  I spoke with Kevin Wallace this evening, and there is no immediate danger, but by attending this meeting, you can get the current facts, see some maps, and learn how to be prepared for this emergency or others. Thanks, and DO stay safe! J'Amy


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rob Lowe "is not available" and can't take the heat?

This is an update to the Blogabarbara post from early yesterday that was speculating about any chance a newspaper actually would think that Rob Lowe would have something profound to say about the Zaca Fire instead of that newspaper featuring more content and quotes from one of the elected officials or emergency response professionals who were there and really knew what was going on with this wildfire.

Believe it or not --I know, it's just shocking-- the Santa Barbara News-Press indeed did interview Rob Lowe and publish some oh-so-profound quotes by him from his field trip tagging along with his pal Arnold. See the excerpt below, which I had to type manually because the News-Press web site removed the whole article late Saturday afternoon or early evening.

Now, after sources verify that the article ("Governor declares emergency over Zaca fire") was indeed up at their web site all day, the message at the News-Press web site is: "Sorry.. the requested document is not available."

All the other articles are available at the News-Press web site, but not the one article that makes Rob Lowe look bad, when it probably was intended by the writer to do the opposite in a continuing effort to keep her job.

Here are the Deep Thoughts by Rob Lowe in this Saturday news article attributed to Hannah Guzik as the author (printed edition, page A11, top right column):

"The board of Supervisors had prepared and initially approved the declaration minutes before the governor walked in the door, accompanied by actor Rob Lowe, who owns a home locally and was with Mr. Schwarzennegger when the governor learned of the emergency meeting.
'I saw the flames,' Mr. Lowe told the News-Press. 'It seems like the fire got a lot bigger today.
'I'm really impressed with this meeting and I'm curious to see just how big the fire is,' he said as the group was about to be briefed on the state of the blaze."

So, there ya go, gentle readers. Is it just innocent coincidence that the Wendy's privileged pal Rob Lowe is interviewed to represent the views of all local homeowners and what they think about the Zaca Fire expansion? Did Lowe "see the flames" on KEYT, or was it KSBY?

Does Lowe not have a broadband internet connection so he can get the frequently posted fire updates from InciWeb? All other Blogabarbara readers can look there too, at InciWeb, so please do.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Shooting Downtown During Fiesta

Several readers raised the spectre of a shooting during Fiesta over the last few weeks....and it happened last night on the 600 block of State Street. Although I don't have all the details and do not know who shot at who, it seems the SBPD and an Oxnard man was involved. More on this later as details of the story develop. (NOTE: This post edited as more information became available)


Rob Lowe just helpin' out

With a few clever camera angles, both KEYT and KSBY TV news deliberately included Friend-of-Arnold and my-address-is-more-important-than-your-address Rob Lowe in the background when The Arnold visited the emergency session of the County Board of Supervisors today. The Governor of California made a point of praising the cooperation among fire protection agencies and personally approving the Emergency declaration that the County just requested.

Fair enough, and that is nice and all, but what was Lowe really doing there? He wasn't filling the pitchers with tap water so no one had to drink water from plastic bottles that would fill up Tajiguas landfill, was he?

Of course, maybe Lowe and Arnold were just on their way to the Chumash Casino or someplace nice like that? However, I simply cannot imagine that any local newspaper or TV news station actually would interview and quote Rob Lowe, as if he had anything relevant and credible to say about a raging wildfire breaking through its containment lines and possibly threatening the coastal cities.

Naaahhhh! No local newspaper would actually **interview** and **quote** ROB LOWE about the wildfire emergency when the room there was full of actual community leaders and emergency response professionals who actually might know what they were talking about, if only asked.

No respectable newspaper would do that, would it?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Maldonado's Frog and Iya's Blue Line (No!)

I received the following from an avid reader (slightly edited for spelling) late this afternoon:

This morning the News Press carried on it's front page the following photos, Abel Maldonado and his pet frog, a two day old photo of a small plane that crashed off El Capitan and five (count them five) pictures of Fiesta.

Buried on page A9 were the photos of the return of Army Specialist Jamie Rodriguez remains arriving at the Santa Barbara airport. Specialist Rodriguez a graduate of Carpinteria High was killed in Iraq, serving his country, by an improvised explosive device on 26 July 2007.

Burying Jamie's photos on page 9 is a insult to the memory of his life.

Please consider calling Associate Editor Scott Steepleton at 564-5200 if you agree.

Specialist Rodriguez deserves as much as Maldonado's frog

I also received an email wondering why Council Member Iya Falcone's "change of heart" about how the faux-controversy around the blue line made the front page like she was kissing News-Press management smack on the lips. Why the change of heart just because a few people think $12,000 will make a difference in the fight against gangs? The problem, as she well knows, isn't in the is what she and past council members didn't do yesterday. Really, she isn't even to is past councils for not concentrating on this important issue when they had a chance. Bemoaning $12,000 won't, however, make a difference and she knows it. Why the symbolic change? Maybe because blue is the wrong color for the line....

Labels: ,

Getting Closer: Fire Evacuation

See InciWeb for the latest on the ash that is in your car, home and lungs. Be careful if you have a respiratory issue. We thought Fiesta would be overwhelmed by gangs but it is really being showered by a thick layer of ash. Paradise Road is being evacuated....has it hit Santa Barbara yet? Do we need real local radio news now? I promised to talk about this more a week or more ago...isn't it time for a new KTMS or local public radio as Doc Searls suggests? Let's tell Doc Searls he is right and let's find someone to buy out or create a new local radio news station now.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Did the Daily Sound cave in to a legal bully?

Did the now-established Santa Barbara Daily Sound newspaper cave in to a legal bully and overzealous Judge, or was it a prudent "business decision" based only on price and not on their reputation?

A fresh news release (late Thursday afternoon) from Daily Sound publisher Jeramy Gordon is inserted below. The SB Independent today also covered the issue thoroughly in a news article by Sadler and an opinion piece by Brantingham. Gordon has written several editorials as well in addition to publishing several long letters today and earlier.

What do you think, gentle readers?

The issue is mighty smelly because the Deputy Public Defender did **not** also seek the unpublished photos that are in the possession of Santa Barbara Independent nor that relic publication at the end of Plaza De La Guerra. Was it a double- or triple-standard of selective subpoenaing against Gordon and his Daily Sound, but not the other newspapers that have the financial assets to fight back?

Is Deputy Public Defender Atkins afraid of Independent publisher Marianne Partridge and the bite of her Angry Poodle?
Or, did Daily Sound publisher Jeramy Gordon invite trouble by repeatedly publishing the photo of the accused criminal sitting on the street in police custody?

Here is the fresh news release where Gordon blinked late Thursday.


*Daily Sound turns over unpublished photographs*

*SANTA BARBARA, Calif. *— In order to avoid fines that could potentially put them out of business the Santa Barbara Daily Sound turned over to the Santa Barbara Superior Court today 144 unpublished photographs of a March 14 crime scene.

“This is a sad day for journalism and for our rights as Americans,” Daily Sound editor and publisher Jeramy Gordon said. “This newspaper was singled out because Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins knew we didn't have the resources to fight her fishing expedition.”

Michael Cooney, the attorney representing the Daily Sound, handed over the photographs this afternoon along with a signed affidavit by Gordon confirming the integrity of the photographs.

Gordon said that if jail time was his only obstacle, he would gladly go, but said the other penalties threatened by Judge Brian Hill would have severe financial repercussions on his newspaper.

“I feel that if we have to turn over these photographs to the public defender, they should also be made available to the pubic,” Gordon said. “That is why we have decided to print as many of the photographs as we can in Friday's paper.”

Gordon said his motive in printing the photographs is two fold, to prove to the public that there is nothing worth hiding, and to avoid fines that could potentially bankrupt the small paper.

“Atkins is a bully, and I tried my best to stand up to her, but we just can't afford to keep fighting this,” Gordon said. “Every ounce of my being wants to keep fighting, keep standing up for what I believe in, but I have to balance those instincts with my fiscal responsibilities to my family and friends who backed me in the Daily Sound.”

“It's more important that we keep providing Santa Barbara with hard-hitting local news, than risk going out of business standing up to Atkins,” Gordon said. “She attacked us for a reason, because we're small and she knew she had a better chance of getting away with it.”

Measure D Revived

A new blog called Politics Santa Barbara has begun's first issue is an announcement that Measure D has been revived. With a nom de blog of Juan De la Vina, it seems the anonymous blogging tradition continues....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Where's the Frequency, KEYT?

Unfortunately, KEYT had audio issues with Fiesta Pequena tonight on TV and cut it short just as Linda Vega was coming on for an encore...but did a good job at showing a community event. ¡Viva la!

Labels: ,