Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, March 30, 2007

Was Rudy's Fundraiser the Biggest?

Over at the Montecito Journal I was reading how Andy Granatelli and his Sheriffs Council posse were hemming and hawing about the recent fundraiser for Mayor Rudy being the biggest ever in Santa Barbara. Was it really? It seems the Clinton one a few years ago was pretty large too. I'm not so sure it is a harbinger of Republican days to come in Santa Barbara either as Mayor Rudy is pretty middle of the road. For those interested, I saw another post via our friends at edHat at The Average Man -- a relatively new blog that is worth a look see.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

TKA Kicks It Up Yet Another Notch

Yet another theme for employers at the SDLG Center for Union Busting Studies studies will have to be to be in a continual state of denial and blame others for your problems. This might have worked when Travis Armstrong tried to blame a public official here and there and maybe a big, bad union -- but what about extending the net?

In today's opinion, Armstrong take on Sara Miller McCune and her foundation (who joined with her Sage Publications in publishing Scott Hadly's Reinventing Newspapers), Mayor Blum and former Supervisor Susan Rose and a whole:
web of interconnections among the activists, the politicians, developers and certain nonprofit groups is tangled and deep. A common denominator of some of these folks is that they appear to abhor a press they can't bully.

If that wasn't enough, he also plans to take on non profit organizations:

In the months ahead, I plan to detail more about the political ties, financial entanglements and personal grudges of these individuals and anti-News-Press organizations, such as Hap Freund's Channel 17, the developer-backed Coastal Housing Partnership/Coalition, Fund for Santa Barbara and the Environmental Defense Center.

Travis' smackdown also now has a tag team partner. It's none other other than COLAB's Andy Coaldwell -- who doesn't even have a residence in our county. I can see it now -- "Are you ready to rumble! In this corner -- from the Fund for Santa Barbara - it's Geoff "Super Lib" Green and the EDC's very own Linda "The Bully" Krop in a battle royale, mano a mano 16 round fight against the Travis "Wrong Way" Armstrong and Andy "COLAB" Caldwell..."

Just about all of us will be touched by Travis' attempt to smoke out the evil forces that 'abhor a press they can't bully". We better make our "salsipuedes" plans now. By the way -- what does he mean by saying that he has a "diversity of staff"?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Steepleton and PUEBLO

I've gotten several emails from readers who question Scott Steepleton's article this morning on the Alex Pulido recall effort in Carpinteria. In it he refers to PUEBLO as "a group calling itself People United for Economic Justice Building Leadership Through Organizing". A group calling itself? Isn't that reserved for organizations that may not have filed for 501(c)4 or 3 status? maybe they are just a couple of people who don't have an official organization name yet?

PUEBLO is far from being some kind of a loose, autonomous collective or even a self-perpetuating autocracy (see Monty Python's Holy Grail) with little organization or history. I guess their Executive Director Ana Rizo was called both Ms. and Miss as well....and I'm pretty sure she is older than 18. Any bias in the newsroom? Maybe, maybe not but it seems to me a long standing group like Pueblo should be shown a little more respect by the News-Press.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Union Strife? Tell the whole story...

One of these days you will know who I am because you will see me reaching into garbage cans near Starbucks because I see a headline that just has to be written about :)

Today's was one of them in that Travis Armstrong decided to add another chapter to my forthcoming book from the SDLG Center for Union Busting Studies. Today's editorial tried hard to raise fear in our hearts that unions are the cause for just about every social ill one could think of. If you are an aspiring union buster, today's lesson is to purposely leave out information so that your readers think every union is the Teamsters Union (just make sure you say for the twentieth time that they have ties to organized crime as this is a key part of your strategy). Next, make it look like the Teamsters are predator-like and want to attack and devour every employer in Santa Barbara County. Won't we be in real trouble then?

One of my main issues with Armstrong is how he conveniently leaves out key information. To my knowledge, Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons workers do not belong to the Teamster's Union. I believe they would be Food and Commercial Workers, no? If one of you could confirm that, I'd appreciate it. Next, Armstrong makes sure that we think the food workers striking and this spread of unionization will "disrupt" our lives. Maybe his life is disupted by Teamster organizing -- not mine! Finally, he can't let a day go by without attacking government. His oft repeated comments about SEIU and election contributions continue to fail to also point out that law enforcement unions have had a far greater impact on local elections than SEIU. Finally, union member or not, rising employee retirement and health care benefits costs are not the fault of collective bargaining -- it is because we have an older population that is retiring later than anticipated years ago. Blame the unions all you want -- but they have the same benefits management and non-represented employees have and they are probably very similar to Armstrong's own at the News-Press.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

McGhan Says He's Not Responsible

In a separate case than what was discussed here the other day, the Pacific Coast Business Times writes that three Las Vegas attorneys motioned to dismiss claims against Don McGhan --- "asserting that the failure to deliver funds was strictly a breach of contract by Southwest and that he has no personal responsibility or legal liability for the loss of funds".

Will a similar filing be made in the Hollister and Brace complaint against McGhan? We don't know yet -- but this is what Robert Brace had to say in the PacBizTimes:

“The money was held in trust, it was supposed to be safe. A trust relationship imposes on the trustee the highest duties known in the law. McGhan and anyone who knowingly helped him move the money out of trust are liable and we will pursue them,”

Good for H & B.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Goleta Housing Plan Rejected by State

Much was made of the 55% inclusionary rule for afforadable housing, which Jack Hawxhurst championed in both creatng Goleta's General Plan but also in his erstwhile campaign for reelection. According to a Martha Sadler article at The Independent, the State did not specifically reject the rule but they also had the benefit of knowing it will likely be changed by April 16th when the new council votes on general plan amendments. Let's hope the rule stays within the more reasonable 25-30% as the opposing candidates promised during the election and no less. Hawxhurst dreamed big but not realistic -- Goleta needs a high but attainable goal and my vote is for 30%.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Qualified Intermediary or Common Thief?

(Please note: I made a few updates tonight (3/25) after finding out new information)

I read at The Santa Barbara Independent that local investors have lost almost $10 million when the fund of a local company, Qualified Exchange Services (QES), were found missing. This is likely part of a much larger scam involving perhaps $100 million in funds. I did some research and found that his is an unregulated industry that was set up to address the needs of the Internal Revenue Service's 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange. McGhan Medical Coporation (now Inamed) founder Don McGham has been charged with filing false financial statements.

The tax deferred exchange process is a way sellers of an investment property can sell their property and acquire a replacement property without seeing any taxable capital gain. In essence, the "qualified intermediary" (QI) holds the property between the sale and purchase of replacement property.

From what I understand, this business model is not structured to protect the customer. Although most QIs are honest and ethical -- and not all use this business model -- this is what can happen:

1) A QI can keep all or part of the interest on the funds held in between sale and purchase. There is no legal reason for this as the IRS allows customers to keep all of their interest. The IRS is considering changing this and taxing on the interest whether or not the QI is involved. (Update: actually the IRS is considering taxing the interest to the exchanger even if the QI keeps all or part of that interest. This would be a positive step for customers to become well aware of what
interest is earned on their funds).

2) Accounts are not segregated. QIs can mingle funds to maximize interest for themselves.

3) When accounts are not segregated, the risk of theft is greater. McGhan found that he could buy a QI and use the funds for his own purposes. Imagine using these funds to buy more QIs and having access to even more funds. Consider $10 million at 5.25% and you have monthly interest of $42,730.

I'm not an expert at this but it seems each of the sellers in this case have breached a fiduciary responsibility to their customers by giving up control of the funds they held without making sure they were protected. The customers have now lost their money and could not complete their exchange -- a double whammy from which they may not ever recover.

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Wonder who's sorry now?

Here's an execerpt from Travis Armstrong's column the other day...rather than staying with the spirit of apology or even not publishing Cohee's employer-induced mea culpa and leaving well enough alone, Armstrong had to swipe at Council Member Barnwell.

SAYING SORRY: Speaking of the Chumash, one of its PR reps (and former News-Press reporter) Camilla Cohee Barnwell, e-mailed me an apology for her recent personal attack on yours truly. She wrote, "I would like to apologize for the public nature of the comments I made in response to your (column) and subsequent blog discourse. Considering the position I now hold at the Chumash Casino Resort, it was inappropriate for me to respond in such a public manner. I hold the highest regard for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and never meant for my comments to disrespect the tribe, its good works or your editorial support."

Ms. Cohee Barnwell's husband, Santa Barbara City Councilman Brian Barnwell, continues his attacks on the newspaper. (His motivation: He doesn't like our editorials holding him accountable for his actions in office.) In a low point in the community's discourse on the gang killing on State Street, Mr. Barnwell tainted his mostly thoughtful comments at Tuesday's council meeting with an oddball ending swipe at the News-Press.

Once again, he was unable to control himself, a complaint about Mr. Barnwell over the last three years. Ms. Cohee Barnwell can give Mr. Barnwell my e-mail address if he'd like to apologize as well for his lack of tact in public.

I could go on about tact in public for days -- or even being able to control oneself over the last five years -- but has he ever apologized publicly for things he has said?

Here's what Barnwell said in video format:

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Background v. Content: Serious Consequences

I received a copy of this letter that will likely, inevitably not be published on the editorial pages -- although it might have been published in the Los Angeles Times if it happened to them (despite their recent issues, you have to give them kudos for their transparency versus what we see around the union issue at the News-Press -- despite TKA's obfuscation of the issue).

Our citizen stringer questions whether inexperienced reporters can tell the difference between background, off-the-record and what actually goes in a newspaper. I do to. What is written affects peoples lives. Read amongst yourselves.

c/o Santa Barbara News-Press
715 Anacapa St .
Santa Barbara , CA 93101

RE: Article of Sunday, March 18, 2007
“Experts: Reconnecting vital for those feeling ‘lost’” by Leana Orsua

To Whom It May Concern:

Having read Leana Orsua’s sensationalistic portrayal of a recent alleged suicide attempt, I am offended and disappointed to have associated myself, and by extension The Glendon Association , with the Santa Barbara News-Press. This piece featured inflammatory and inaccurate information about a situation that demanded the utmost sensitivity.

I wish to clarify the content of our interview which was misrepresented in her article. I never characterized this event as “a cry for help,” despite the lead of Ms. Orsua’s article. Nor did I claim it was “really tragic” for kids with parents in conflict—that wording was fabricated by the author to dramatize my position. I did not say that those who attempt suicide are experiencing a “disconnect from [their lives],” I explained they experience a temporary disconnect from themselves; the difference is crucial—when they reconnect with themselves, not necessarily with their lives, is when they are ok.

I specifically urged Ms. Orsua not to print anything that could cause increased stress or pain to the family. Instead I advocated she focus on mechanisms for preventing suicide, in light of the recent event. Unfortunately, it seems she took this article to print with little regard for the information I actually presented to her. When she wrote that the victim’s parents were in the middle of a divorce and that the victim “may also be a victim of sexual abuse,” she was apparently using speculation to assign causes to a situation that is undoubtedly more complex. I never said anything like that to her. The author concludes these points with a statement by me regarding the ‘tragedy’ of parental conflict, which is then repeated, out of context, more prominently beneath the article;

anyone seeing this could conclude the parents were to blame for the event, which was neither the intent of my interview nor my stated position. This quote was taken completely out of context and gave the false implication I had confirmed these facts to be significant in this case. What I offered did not pertain to this situation; I had no knowledge of this case at the time of our interview, and as such, to offer an assessment would have been impossible, not to mention unethical.

I have already received multiple reactions from community members critical of this article. I call upon the News-Press to issue this correction immediately.

The Center for Disease Control, in their Guidelines for Reporting on Suicide, strictly guards against sensationalism, specifically in publishing assumed causes or photographs of the site of an incident. We have repeatedly provided the News-Press with these guidelines when they covered stories regarding suicide, and in the past the News-Press adhered to them. These guidelines can be found at:
I strongly advise you consult this guide before you publish anything more on this topic.


Daily Sound Turns One!

The Daily Sound turned one year old today! Congratulations for more than doubling your pages and circulation at 7,000 copies per day. Keep up the good work!


Separation Anxiety

This community post is written by MicDeNiro:

In a parallel universe down the 101, some of the same issues in play locally appear to be problems at the Los Angeles Times as well.

In his blog posting announcing his resignation as editorial page editor, Andres Martinez writes:

"Among the biggest possible conflicts of interest a newspaper can enter into is to have the same people involved in news coverage running opinion pages. I am proud of the fact that Jeff Johnson, Dean Baquet and I fully separated the opinion pages from the newsroom at the Times. I accept my share of the responsibility for placing the Times in this predicament, but I will not be lectured on ethics by some ostensibly objective news reporters and editors who lobby for editorials to be written on certain subjects, or who have suggested that our editorial page coordinate more closely with the newsroom's agenda, and I strongly urge the present and future leadership of the paper to resist the cries to revisit the separation between news and opinion that we have achieved."

I'd be interested in seeing how Blogabarbara posters weigh in on what appears to indicate that some of the claims of the News-Press management and its editorialist/opinionator may actually be grounded in problems other newspapers face.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Washington Post's Woodward Backs The Organized

In a press release from The Organized today -- a list of speakers for the upcoming rally on Saturday was announced. Although he will not be present, a statement from famed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward will be read which concerns a News-Press ad on March 8th which wrongfully used a quote from him. The statement will say that the quote was used out of context and against the unionization effort. other scheduled speakers include Congresswoman Capps, Mayor Blum, several union representatives and three of the illegally fired reporters from the paper -- Dawn Hobbs, Melinda Burns and Tom Schultz.

The rally is scheduled for 1:30 pm at De la Guerra Plaza.

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Casa de la Raza Forum Feedback

I'm interested in hearing what those of you that went to the forum think about what happened there. How many people attended? Who had great things to say?

It seems to me that our community is saying several things:

1) We need more activiites for our youth. I've heard calls for the CostCo promised skating rink, another skateboard park, etc. The CostCo promised rink brings up the fact that this is a regional issue that Goleta and Carpinteria City Council should be involved in too. We don't live in a vacuum.

2) We need MALE mentors -- there aren't many male teachers, role models, etc. Fathers are working too much or non-existant due to our society's predisposition towards divorce.

3) Get the gang leaders together to work it out. A program called "Hoods in the Woods" takes at-risk youth to the wilderness to talk things out.

4) More commitment to programs from our city government. Well, the Pro-Youth Coalition did a great job some years ago but the state and the feds have pulled so much money from the city -- where are they supposed to fund these programs? The three year grant dried up and the city is left with mandated expenses and not much else. How can we create funding for a generation of young people when the state takes more and the Feds hold back for years on COPS funding?

5) Get rid of the minimum day -- the School District has already stepped up to this one but it is hard to understand why people are so ready to blame a minimum day when gang or even youth-on-youth violence has been around for many years and can happen anytime, anywhere.

6) Parents are at fault. Well, yes to a large extent but what about the systemic problem of them having to work several jobs? If housing and the cost of living in Santa Barbara were less expensive, would this not have happened? Police officers that make $70,000+ a year say they can't live here -- what about the rest of us that make maybe half that?

On truly a less important note than the above, I'm also interested in how the News-Press is reacting to the problem. It really doesn't work to blame public officials and then let every letter to the editor which bash them be printed. It shows bias in the face of tragedy considering so many of us have been trying to get letters to the editor printed for at least five years to no avail. Scott Steepleton's report which spelled Mayor Blum's name wrong lead right into the editorial page...where's the wall?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Take Action: News-Press Mess Calendar

From one of our faithful readers:
News-Press watchers will be picketing in front of the N-P building
today during the lunch hour. We’re there to pressure management to
comply with the NLRB rulings and to celebrate the fired reporters’
plans to launch a news website and Channel 17 TV show. Melinda Burns
and Tom Schultz said they would be there. They are getting ready to
unveil the details of their new projects at this Saturday’s big

Today, we’re also mad about how the News-Press has been covering the
youth stabbing death. Reporter Scott Steepleton misquoted and/or
twisted the words of city councilman Grant House to the point that
House had to issue a public statement to clarify his remarks and
actions after the incident.

Wednesday, March 21, 12noon to 1 p.m., De La Guerra Plaza
--- Wake-Up Wendy Picket by Community Members

Saturday, March 24, 1:30 p.m., De La Guerra Plaza
--- Rally Organized by Fired Reporters and Teamsters

Sunday, March 25, 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., First United Methodist Church,
305 E. Anapamu St.
--- Town Hall Meeting sponsored by Greater SB Clergy Assn.

Wednesday, March 28, 12 noon to 1 p.m., De La Guerra Plaza
--- Wake-Up Wendy Picket by Community Members

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

BlogaBarbara Community Guidelines

As always, my goal is civil discussion about the issues of the day.

Please take them in the spirit of goodwill to which I provide them:

BlogaBarbara was built around the ability to make anonymous comments and I take that right very seriously. Past legal actions have threatened your and my anonymity; and, I will always do what I can to protect your right to free speech. As with any right we have, however, I believe it comes with some responsibility. Your identity is much more likely to be kept to yourself if you choose to make comments which are socially acceptable and further the conversation that is taking place on BlogaBarbara. That would mean the following:

Added on 2/16/08: BlogaBarbara Community Guidelines ask that you post your comment using a Blogger/Open ID login or the Name/URL option (URL not needed but provides anonymity). Comments Using the "Anonymous" option will not be published. For more info, see our post on choosing an identity.

1. Comments which try to point to the identity of another reader/commenter will not be published. For example, "Bob -- I know that's you" will not be published as Bob might want to stay anonymous.

2. Comments which try to reveal my identity will not be published. Before the recent NLRB hearing, I received a few comments which tried to get all of you to email Nelville Flynn if you knew my identity -- those, for obvious reasons, were not published. Perhaps this was what News-Press lawyers mentioned to the NLRB as their effort to ascertain my identity which only began just days before the start of the hearing. Still, Nelville always has a forum here if he follows the guidelines -- which he generally does, whether or not he wants to know who I am.

3. Speaking of which, there is norm among bloggers to use pun when discussing a public figure within a post. I have mixed feelings about this but generally think if the pun used is used in humor rather than rancor -- it is more likely to be published. You may have noticed that in the last six months or so I have refrained from calling several public figures any kind of pun-related name -- although I had in the past. I am very much open to discussion about this.

4. People who comment are encouraged to take an identity by either setting up a Blogger ID or using the "Other" option and typing a name which they use consistently. The "Your Web Page" area is optional and not necessary. This creates some continuity to your thoughts and help others organize their comments and thoughts -- making it more like a conversation in a room than a bunch of anonymous comments.

5. If you are going to be a flame thrower, you should probably use anonymizing technology. This will be the subject of a future post.

6. 99.9% of you will never have an issue with this, but it must be said. If you become the subject of a subpoena because you are a flame thrower, I will likely go to bat for you if you take steps to help yourself. I will do this because I am a true believer in freedom of speech and internet rights but also realize that there are more than a few poseurs out there.

1. Comments which advocate violence or harm to others will not be published, period. If you question this, please read the NLRB hearing decision. That will never happen again. If it does happen and you object, please contact me directly rather than waiting several weeks and publishing a press release :) I might actually be more likely to help than you think.

2, Please don't send me threatening comments. If you do, at least be courageous enough to send them via email so I can respond to your concerns. Several came across my desktop in January that could have been pursued...I will not be intimidated.

3. Comments which discriminate based on any of the basic federal affirmative action guidelines we all know and understand will not be accepted. If I am not sure you are discriminating or not -- I probably won't publish your comment. For example, if a comment points to someone's sexual orientation in a mean-spirited way -- it won't fly.

4. I, of course, delete "splog" (Spam + Blog = Splog) anytime it comes across my desktop.

5. I also consider marketing efforts by people who host other blogs to be splog UNLESS their post is relevant to the subject matter at hand. Offering a link to your blog when it has nothing to do with the subject matter is no better than a splog which pushes Viagra as far as I am concerned. Give us more information that is helpful, not a shameless plug.

6. Finally, don't drink and blog -- you'll regret it in the morning. If you do, think twice about what you are writing.

Open Door Policy
1. If you have a problem with anything that is written on BlogaBarbara or want to offer a post topic and news, let me know by emailing me at

2. If you offer a community post that I choose to publish, I will not publish your name or email unless you say that it is okay. Otherwise I will say it came from a citizen stringer or a faithful reader...

Community Posts to
1) I will accept community posts from anyone on most subjects assuming they follow the above guidelines.
2) I don't care if you don't agree with me if the topic furthers conversation about an issue of concern to our readers. I would publish a community post from Dr. Laura or even Travis Armstrong if they took the time to request one and wrote a post which was within the guidelines addressed above.
3) My only request is that your post be kept to a couple of paragraphs as that is what works best for reader comprehension and response.
4) Unless you say otherwise, I will attribute you as an "avid reader" or "citizen stringer" (small c!). I will not use your name unless you say that I can.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cappello to NYT: The Meteor Has Hit

Senator John McCain told a New York Times reporter today that he was "stumped" as to whether contraceptives can stop the spread of HIV during a Boys on the Bus interview in Iowa. In reading this, I was amazed that a presidential candidate could say this in 2007. The real story here is that he must know the truth but was afraid to say it as the religious right might not look kindly to someone saying anything else but the word "abstinence".

Interestingly enough, Santa Barbara News-Press attorney Barry Cappello told the New York Times today that what we think we know about newspapers is so old school that journalists haven't caught up with the times. I was surprised a representative of a newspaper could say that in 2007 as well. Here's what Cappello really said:

Mr. Cappello said newspapers are anachronisms, and journalists have failed to realize this.

“The meteor has hit. We’re watching the end of the industry,” he said. “Journalists think they can write what they want when they want. I don’t know if that can survive in this age.”

An anachronist journalist then, kind-of according to the dictionary, is a person who "who seems to be displaced in time; who belongs to another age". So, they can't write about what they want? What about the news? Do they want to write about the basil harvest or the fate of meerkats at the Santa Barbara Zoo as an above-the-fold, above-the-banner story? Does a reporter have no choice but to hit delete when they start typing a celebrity address and then have second thoughts because he is their boss' friend? Does Travis Armstrong have no choice but to write about saving whales and his personal hatred for public officials because he, too, is an anachronism? Are journalists and editors merely marionettes of this new century's bias towards political correctness and those who happen to have money?

Under this logic, journalists should drink Kool-Aid, put on their Nikes and go to work each day. There has to be a wall between newspaper ownership, the newsroom itself and Cappello repeating something his client has said? If so, do they think they are untouchable? The NLRB decision, by the way, is just a recommendation according to Capello...I think the "meteor" is made of hubris....pride, of course, comes before the fall.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

TKA on Gang 'Melee': Everyone Else To Blame

None of us will be too surprised on Friday morning to hear about an editorial posted late yesterday afternoon by Travis Armstrong blaming the Mayor, the ethnic makeup of the council and the School District for the "gang melee". Here's a harsh excerpt:

These are the times when we expect our leaders to, well, show leadership. It reminded me of those awful days in 2002 when Mayor Marty Blum was too busy attending Fiesta parties to read the police report on the drowning death of a 14-year-old girl who died after suffering an epileptic seizure while swimming as part of a city aquatics program.

As a faithful reader pointed out to me:

Only that author can link Katie Janeway, gang murders, and suburban housing proposals as all the fault of Mayor Blum. And if only Das Williams were a real Latino, then he could have stepped in to sweet talk the brawlers into holding hands and singing instead. The two press conferences also apparently should have been BEFORE the rumble...

Mr. Armstrong went on to rail against Brian Sarvis and the Santa Barbara School District and somehow tied a development project with the "gang melee" Wednesday. Now that the School District is his new whipping boy, is there any government agency besides perhaps the Santa Barbara Police Department that he hasn't criticized harshly?

This tragedy is so much more than an opportunity to swipe at Mayor Blum, Superintendent Sarvis and gain supposed political points with your readers...these problems begin at home. Talk about taking personal responsibility as a parent and even as a young adult, Mr. Armstrong. City government and our schools are not parents! As usual, he misses the point in favor of being sensational. I guess personal responsibility doesn't sell newspapers.

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PR: Group Sues Over St. Francis



(Santa Barbara, CA) – A grassroots citizens group filed suit today in Santa Barbara Superior Court to force the City of Santa Barbara to uphold and enforce the City’s Zoning Laws and General Plan. The suit seeks to protect citizens, neighborhoods and the community as a whole from excessive development.

St. Francis Friends and Neighbors contends that the City violated Zoning Laws and its General Plan when it approved Cottage Hospital’s controversial plan to demolish St. Francis Hospital and build 115 condos. The City’s Zoning Laws allow no more than 73 units on the property. The vast majority of the 115 condos are intended for market-rate and upper middle-income buyers.

“This is an out-sized, out-of-scale housing project. It harms the community as a whole to have the City do zoning by decree and not by law,” states James Westby, President of St. Francis Friends and Neighbors. “When the City makes zoning decisions on a project by project basis, making up policy as they go along, nobody can depend on the law to protect our neighborhoods. This creative zoning results in multiple negative impacts on our environment.”

The contested approval violates the limits set by the Zoning Ordinance and exceeds the density allowed by the General Plan. According to the lawsuit, the City’s approval of the subdivisions, the density, and modifications are all actions that exceed the authority granted to the City Council. Therefore, it is contrary to the law.

“Neighborhood groups across the City view the St. Francis project as precedent-setting, and as the kind of mega-development that could affect them, too,” adds Westby. “We have widespread support from the adjacent neighborhoods, as well as citizens from all over town. The essence of Santa Barbara is at stake.”

The citizens group, after exhausting all avenues through the City’s approval process, has turned to the Courts for help. “We love our City and our neighborhoods,” Westby says, “All we are asking is that this project -- and all others -- be done in accordance with Zoning Laws and the General Plan. The laws were established to protect us all, and they must be followed.”


UC Regents Buy Devereux

The 33 acre Devereux Property was acquired today by the UC Regents according to an announcement that was sent out by UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. Two questions -- what about the school? Here's what he had to say:

The Devereux School has long been an important part of our community, and will continue to lease back a small portion of the property for the ongoing programs of the school. I have met with the family members and staff of Devereux, and we look forward to continuing our mutually collaborative relationship.

Next -- what does this mean for development of this coastal property? UCSB continues to expand and now the Devereux Property will be developed without needing to adehere to local planning guidelines as it is now state property. Yang didn't discuss any plans other than have the property produce income so there is no additional financial burdern for UCSB. This will be something to keep a close eye on.

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PR: to Launch April 2

To: All Media

From: The Illegally Fired Journalists of the Santa Barbara News-Press

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2007

Re: Santa Barbara Newsroom Web site and news broadcast

We, the eight illegally fired journalists of the SBNP, are starting our own online news site and broadcast news program -- called Santa Barbara Newsroom -- in an effort to provide the community with the quality local journalism it deserves while we await reinstatement to our jobs. is scheduled to launch on April 2. A half-hour news program will follow, airing regularly on Channel 17, Santa Barbara's public access station. The original broadcast time slot and re-run times will soon be announced. A link to a rebroadcast of this program will also be on the Web site.

Both the Web site and the broadcast program are sponsored by the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The newsroom staff voted overwhelmingly last September to join the Teamsters in an attempt to restore integrity to the Santa Barbara News-Press through a union contract.

This multi-media effort will allow us to continue to publish the stories we have taken such great pride in providing our community. It will also enable us to provide timely updates to developments concerning our unionization effort and the pending unfair labor practice charges our Teamster attorney has filed against Wendy McCaw, the owner and co-publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Six of us were illegally fired on Feb. 5 and 6 for protesting the previous illegal firing of two other reporters.We expect the National Labor Relations Board to aggressively prosecute the company for these wrongful terminations and seek back pay and the reinstatement of each of these highly respected and award-winning journalists.

The eight fired reporters, who will now staff Santa Barbara Newsroom, are: Melinda Burns, John Zant, Dawn Hobbs, Tom Schultz, Anna Davison, Barney McManigal, Rob Kuznia and Melissa Evans.

The crisis that has brought us to this point began at the Santa Barbara News-Press last July when seven editors walked off the job, they said, because they could no longer uphold their standards of ethics and integrity. Since then more than 40 professionals have been forced out or fired.

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Downtown Homicide

Here's a series of stories from KEYT on the downtown homicide yesterday which killed a 15-year old from Santa Barbara Junior High. Unconfirmed word on the street is that there was another incident o the Westside near Foodland today.

Earlier readers wondered aloud whether doing a post on this would cause me to be hitting "delete" all night. An emotional subject for sure, let's try to keep it clean.

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Dr. Laura Kicks It Up A Notch

Not willing to let a sleeping dog lie, "Dr." Laura has taken on local blogs and anonymity on the Interent again today:

My second boycott is all blogs and such which permit anonymous postings. For example, go to and see for yourself how, under the darkness of anonymity, people feel free to give "opinions" that often go right over the edge into slander and downright meanness. Same with the Santa Barbara blogs which spend most of their time and space on attacking everyone associated with the Santa Barbara News-Press.

I got free publicity last Sunday, and The Santa Barbara Media Blog got free publicity today. Should we be happy to be in the same company as the hit tv show Law and Order? I thought that was so yesterday...

That being said, my offer to allow her a community post on BlogaBarbara still stands. Rather than not allowing me to respond to her columns by not getting my side of the story, why not get instant feedback from all of us? I will even promise to not allow any comments that aren't directly about the subject matter, use invective or name calling, etc.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Great Quote from the Daily Sound

In writing about tonight's fundraiser for the over litigated ex-News-Press Managing Editor Jerry Roberts, The Santa Barbara Daily Sound reports that political consultant Gail Kaufman says "Ann Coulter will appear on the television hit program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy before McCaw’s paper ever wins a Pulitzer Prize". Ouch.

NLRB to Prosecute News-Press Over Firings

The NLRB will be prosecuting the Santa Barbara News-Press for unlawfully firing Melinda Burns, Anna Davison, John Zant, Barney McManigal, Dawn Hobbs, Tom Schultz, Rob Kuznia, and Melissa Evans in retaliation for their support of the Teamsters union. [See more at Craig Smith's Blog]

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Google Subpoena Update

I have received an email from Google saying that they intend to provide "responsive documents" as to the identity of the January 27th commenter by March 19th.

The silver lining in this communication from them is that they did not have to contact me at all about this issue. This email gives the anonymous commenter a bit more time to take steps to protect him or herself.

As I have suggested before, the commenter might begin by contacting an attorney, and/or the Electronic Frontier Foundation as soon as possible.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

NLRB Ruling Text

For those of you interested in actually reading Judge Schmidt's 22-page ruling, I would recommend it. It's available in the following PDF from Thanks to The Organized for providing it.

It's fascinating to run through the events of the last nine months, see the NLRB's point of view and obtain some satisfaction for our many months of discussing this issue. As to achieving total satisfaction, we will have to see how and if the ruling is implemented by News-Press management.

For several years now I have expressed concerns about Travis Armstrong's editorial policies, blatant editorial bias, and head strong approach. He was described as someone who "embellished" and "evidenced a strong, visceral bias toward the organizing campaign...". His account of Marty Keegan "lurking" across the street from his apartment was a described as a "self-serving characterization without convincing corraboration". Later, Armstrong and Steepleton's accounts were called "extreme embellishments" and "unreliable". Although these comments clearly do not bely my concerns with Armstrong directly -- it could, um, establish one's opinion as to 'character, courage and conscience'.

As for the parts of the objection which included BlogaBarbara, I am glad that the judge saw that the "Phase 2" comment could not have had a strong effect when it was only on the blog for a short period of time, overnight. Allowing that comment to be published was certainly a mistake and one that I regret.

Finally a reader suggested we come up with "spin" suggestions for the News-Press. I'm not sure they will say much of anything at all. They did cover the hearing and it will be interesting to see if they follow up or not. I vote for next to no comment.

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NLRB Decision Upholds Union

The National Labor Relations Board finally announced their decision today which was to support the Graphics Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters election held at the Santa Barbara News-Press on September 27th of last year. According to Craig Smith's blog, Judge Schmidt decided that the News-Press objections (one of which involved a comment on BlogaBarbara) did not warrant overturning the election. Collective bargaining should begin immediately -- is there an appeal process, however, that Ampersand Publishing could use to delay this even further? I hope not.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dr. Laura Cries Foul

Many thanks to several of our faithful readers for passing on Dr. Laura's column this morning. I will not include the full text here as the Santa Barbara News-Press has made it clear that reprinting articles is something they will not support. If you are a subscriber, you can read it in the newspaper or online...

In the article, Dr. Laura described my March 6th post on the subpoena made to Google and says that "writing commentary without full personal attribution did not demonstrate character, courage and conscience". She went on to ask why her comment wasn't published and wonders openly why this happened.

As is common with News-Press opinion columns, I wasn't contacted by Dr. Laura for my side of the story or for an explanation as to why her comment was not published. I am sure that many of you have had similar instances of this with Mr. Armstrong as well. While Dr. Laura may think that comments on a "media outlet" should be worth standing behind -- so should columns printed in the newspaper. Writing about someone without getting their side of the story, basically not doing your homeowrk -- is not living up to high jouralistic standards to which journalists like her supposedly aspire.

My explanation for not publishing her comment is that currently Ampersand Publishing has several subpoenas that they have issued related to BlogaBarbara. Why would I want to assume Dr. Laura was who she said she was in commenting on this post? Considering the state of litigation those of us that are News-Press critics live in these days, why would I want to risk her comment being made by just about anyone? Her celebrity status affords a level of caution in this situation that I believe is warranted. If she really wanted to offer her opinion, it might have made more sense to email me.

Of all people, Dr. Laura should realize the position I was in considering that she works for Ampersand Publishing and that she is a columnist who ignites opposition on a wide variety of topiics.

I've offered space to News-Press management on BlogaBarbara several times and have not been taken up on my offer. If Dr. Laura would like to offer a community post to be published, I would be happy to offer her thoughts for discussion in our community. She could simply email me at with a verifiable email address -- and I would be happy to afford her that opportunity. I would hope in the future, she would do the same and check her source's viewpoint prior to writing about them.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

DIY FAQ: Noms de Guerre/Nombres de la Guerra

A faithful reader suggested I provide a tutorial on creating your own "nom de blog" -- I like calling them "nom de guerre" (name of war) even more than "nom de plume" (pen name)-- but maybe it should be "nombre de la guerra" in my case. provides some great examples of anonymity among writers: "Famous examples in literature are George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), O. Henry (William Sydney Porter), Stendhal (Marie Henri Beyle), and George Sand (Mme Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, baronne Dudevant)".

You can have your very own and not worry about getting a Blogger ID, setting up an anonymous email or whatnot....simply click on "Other" when you are making a comment and type in another name. I noticed the other day that someone called themselves "Marty Bishop" during the discussion about IP addresses -- if you have ever seen the 1990s movie "Sneakers" you would know that Robert Redford played that role and this was a fun reference to the movie and the subject matter.

There is a space for you to put your web page location but this is totally optional -- the name will turn out blue in the comment area if it has a link and black if it doesn't -- it isn't necessary to make a comment.

I'd love to see some creative names -- give me your best. You'll get kudos and street cred for your efforts :)

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ampersand Subpoena Independent Story

The Santa Barbara Independent has posted a story on their media blog about the Ampersand Publishing subpoena to Google which was reported here the other day. Both myself and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have not heard from the anonymous commenter -- and although I find it strange that Ampersand would seek the identity of a comment that was supportive of their relative position, I feel strongly that the commenter has a right to keep their identity private. Why have no News-Press sympathizers come to the person's aide? We'd love to hear from you...

I heard the other day on NPR that Lyndon Johnson once said about politics that 'it is much easier to throw a grenade than to catch one'. Perhaps that is a way to look at all of the legal maneuvering over at De La Guerra Plaza. Subpoenas, cease and desist letters and other "forms of communication" are pretty easy to churn out when you care little about big picture implications for our community, journalism and free speech...but that's just my opinion and point of view isn't it?

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Status of Measure P

Would anyone like to report on what they see as the progress of Measure P? This aptly named initative went into effect a few months ago and I heard on the radio that a City Council Committee was meeting soon to review its progress. Personally, I'm not sure the local police made such a big deal about marijuana anyway and it seems like a big waste of time and money if we have to have meetings on it at City Hall....what do you think?

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Name that Basketball Team!

A reader suggested the following as a topic:

After a week of very heavy subjects, how about a lighter note—namely, naming the B-Ball team Coach Curt Pickering is bringing to town. Why not let your readers blog their little hearts out on the best name for the team—surely someone will suggest the McCaws, the Journalists, perhaps the Abused—how about the Smug, the Homeless or, my favorites, The Condos or The Developers…

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The Next SB Council Race

Its seems really early to be talking about this when I have only just about recovered from the lashing I took in moderating you folks around the 2nd District Supervisor race....still, at least one person has been consistently pushing a 'next council race' context (or is that agenda?). With a Mayor's seat soon to be open and three council seats -- this will be a big race. Nominations from the floor anyone?

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Subpoena to Anonymous Made by Ampersand

One of the most challenging things about being Sara de la Guerra is moderating the diverse, often emotional comments that are made at BlogaBarbara. There are times when I make judgement calls as to what I allow to be published and I reject many comments for various reasons every day. They are either way off-topic, use profanity or are over-the-top in their mean-spritedness which I don't believe facilitates civil dialogue. Protecting your freedom of speech, however, is an important matter to me -- even if I don't agree with what you have to say.

It has come to my attention that Google has received a subpoena from Ampersand Publishing requesting the IP address for an "Anonymous" who made a comment on January 27, 2007. In it -- the commenter said a "bombshell" would be dropped soon related to a former employee of the News-Press. My understanding is that Google intends to provide this information and I felt strongly that our community should know about this as it doesn't sound like there would be a way for the anonymous commenter to know that information is being sought about them.

To keep their identity from being revealed, the commenter might want to contact an attorney or seek assistance from The Electronic Frontier Foundation which has been invaluable to my efforts to keep my identity private. I want to make it clear I do not know who made the comment.

That being said -- common, everyday dynamic IP addresses and other anonymizing technologies will usually keep anyone from knowing where you are writing your comments from past your Internet Service Provider. Still, for whoever made this comment not to know they might be found out seemed wrong to me on an ethical and philosophical level -- whether or not I agree with them. Perhaps we would all be better served if we never wrote anything we wouldn't want to stand up for ourselves.

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Housing Series: Rental Costs

A comment yesterday said that there are plenty of one bedroom apartments for under $1,000. Are there really?

Realizing that this is half of many people's monthly income -- why is this okay? Is it because property owners assume there will be at least two people living there? Why should housing costs be 50% of income when books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad say it should be 30%. Definitely an oversimplication -- but what do you have to say about it?

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Housing Series: Prop 13 Reform

We need to break this subject up a bit as there has been so much, PROP 13 Reform. One of our readers says he pays $11,200 versus his neighbor with a similar house who pays $2,500 in property it good public policy to provide incentives for people to stay in one house for many years or should all property taxes be based on more current appraisals? If so, who is going to do all that work? and better yet, who is paying for it?

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Home is Where You Park It.

Our friends at EdHat provided a link to a story on Santa Barbara's "mobile homeless" which made ABC national news recently after a national study showed that 3/4 of a million people are homeless in our country. If you don't mind the ads, the story has a video to go with it which shows the "parking lot shuffle" at a local parking lot at 7 AM.

I've seen a few people on BlogaBarbara take on the homeless like they should just move somewhere else. The truth is that people are being priced out of homes all over the country -- it's just happening here on a bigger scale. It's a regional, state and national problem that can't just be solved by sending someone to Bakersfield.

Lately, I've been wondering whether our insistence on owning a home is misguided...what's so great about it when you have property taxes, upkeep and $4,000 mortage payments? Did real estate's success in the 80s and 90s send us down the wrong path? Perhaps debt elimination and good old fashioned investment is more appropriate today...

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bias is a Bias Does...

My mama always said...bias is as bias does.

Through pass-along readership, I saw the full page ad today in the News-Press with the headline "The Truth behind the Words at the Santa Barbara News-Press" -- replete with a dictionary definition of the word "bias". In case you needed to look it up -- "To influence in a particular, typically unfair direction; prejudice". It went on to quote the oft-used 60% poll and then takes on the Teamsters. My favorite part was the authoritative quote from "Anon" which one must assume was part of the poll as there is no explanation or source included.

I'm not sure where this definition puts the News-Press considering the news stories over the last few days, let alone the last eight months or more....but I think they should be more careful about how they wage their war, pointing the finger means there are three more pointing back at yourself.

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