Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, March 31, 2008

Downtown Update: Martinis No More, Chad's for Sale

I saw an article on this the other day in The Daily Sound and The Santa Barbara Independent followed up with the story this week. No more Orange Crush martinis? Perhaps Craig Smith would say this is the end of the sub-$18 martini...Chad's will be missed.

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Bias in the Newsroom? Mayor Gets Cold Shoulder

Craig Smith points out that the News-Press failed to cover the State of the City speech Mayor Blum gave last Thursday. In years past, there had been a photographer as well as a front page article on the speech. According to Smith's post, a News-Press reporter finally committed to cover it after watching a rerun on government access television.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

How Long Must We Sing This Song?

I received this press release from the News-Press/Room Eight:

==============Press Release===============

The judge in the reinstatement hearing for the eight reporters who were illegally fired from the Santa Barbara News-Press wants the parties back in court on Monday, March 31, to hear further arguments.

The hearing, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., will be held at Federal District Court in Los Angeles, 312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom 6.

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Rest in Peace: Herb Peterson

The founder of the Egg McMuffin, Santa Barbaran Herb Peterson, passed away Tuesday. Herb was 89 years old and owned several McDonald's franchises with his son David. CNN did a good story about him on Wednesday that I had meant to post yesterday.

I've sat with Herb a few times over the years at his Upper State Street store and discussed current events over a cup of coffee...he was a good man who gave a lot to our community and will be missed by many.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Book Review: Life of Dr. Jacob Bolotin

Something new and different for BlogaBarbara! -- a book review by SB Wineguy. Thanks for passing it on!

=============Book Review=============

This is a locally-published book which is highly inspirational:

Life of Dr. Jacob Bolotin

Jacob Bolotin was a highly respected physician, a teacher at medical school, and a head of department at several Chicago hospitals. He was also a Scoutmaster and a leader in Kiwanis, becoming a trustee of the club and rising to Lieutenant Governor Junior of the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District.

When Jacob was a young boy he determined to pursue a medical career. Born to poor immigrant parents, his road to this goal was hard. He spent four years traveling alone throughout the midwest selling typewriters to accumulate the funds for tuition. Once admitted to medical school his marks were consistently the highest, as were his scores on the State Board examination.

As a physician Dr. Bolotin was known as a consummate diagnostician. He was beloved by patients and respected by his fellow doctors. His achievements were many, and his life was worthy of praise. But there was one more thing about Jacob Bolotin that makes his story extraordinary: he was blind from birth.

Just think how hard it was to accomplish all these things without sight. In those days there were no braille textbooks or audiobooks to study. For the most part, blind people were left to fend for themselves. Dr. Bolotin did a lot to change our attitudes toward the handicapped.

Bolotin had no children, but his young nephew Al Perlman lived with him for a number of years. I was acquainted with Perlman and his lovely wife Rosalind near the end of their lives, and I was aware that they had a manuscript of a biography of this fascinating character. Rosalind asked me to help with some internet research; she was especially interested in locating a copy of a speech he often gave entitled "Over the Top in Darkness."

After Al and Rosalind had both passed away I assumed the Bolotin story was lost forever. Then I came upon this book in the Library: The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story, a Biography by Rosalind Perlman. Rosalind had left a bequest in her will to the Santa Barbara Foundation directing them to prepare the manuscript and have it published!

Dr. Bolotin's story is truly heroic and an inspiration to anyone who reads it. Please take the time to find this book and read will not be sorry.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Does TKA Solicit Letters for the Editorial Page?

A faithful reader forwarded me this email from one of the leaders of Coalition for Sensible Planning (CSP). I've stripped identifying information to protect the innocent but have heard about this email from several people. It must be making the rounds.

Did News-Press Editor Travis Armstrong actually solicit letters with a particular point of view for his newspaper? Hard to tell as there is no direct proof other than the reference herein.

Subject: We MUST send letters about Janet's betrayal - and to support Travis!

You have been reading the excellent, fabulous editorials that Travis Armstrong wrote this week, supporting us and castigating Janet Wolf who turned her back on us at the Supervisor's Hearing on Tuesday, March 18.

Now, Travis is asking for our support. He was expecting us to write letters, and now feels that we have not been supporting him! We absolutely cannot fail to support him when he asks for it, after all he has done for us!

So please right now, sit down and write him what you think of all this. Since Travis is leaving on vacation tomorrow, please write him today.

Assuming TKA used the complex and less traceable public relations technique called "the five minute phone call" to solicit letters from CSP, one has to wonder why his work has been more about who he and his bosses are fighting than true substance on an issue. I guess the other option is that someone else is making these calls to solicit letters on his behalf. I'm not sure of his current status with CSP but it is my understanding that uber-attorney Barry Cappello has been retained by the organization in the past.

After yesterday's continued tirade against Supervisor Wolf and her aide -- it seems pretty clear that his pieces are more about who they happen to have their targets on of late. Why, for instance, has Council Members Horton and Falcone escaped his ire and listing on the cabal roll? Aren't they on council and thus part of the problem too? Shoot, Brian Barnwell isn't even a council member anymore....

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ArtWalk to Move to Camino Real Marketplace

Good news! I heard from the organizer for the ArtWalk formerly housed at La Cumbre Plaza yesterday who tells me they will be moving to Camino Real Marketplace near CostCo in May. They are excited by the positive attitude of Marketplace management and say a portion of the proceeds from their event will be donated to Girsh Park and Stow House. A new name and show dates will be released in the near future.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Travis Gets Personal. Are you part of the cabal? Everyone else is...

News-Press Editor Travis Armstrong inducted a few more people into the cabal hall of fame over the last few days and continued his retaliation campaign against all enemies of the News-Press. It's amazing to me how many people he can scorch in one column. Tomorrow he will probably try to call each one of them and then say they won't return his calls. Let's review this week's list:

Council Member Helene Schneider: Helene-gate, a term created in jest by David Pritchett over at EdHat, resurfaced again as if it is on our minds on a daily basis. Pritchett does a great job in this post explaining a couple of amazingly complex investigative techniques including the "five minute phone call" and "alphabetizing" to explain the perceived transgression on Schneider's part. Why hasn't TKA made the call to the Community Development Department and reported the facts? Interestingly enough, TKA also made it sound like the News-Press was a Dale Francisco kingmaker but at the same time put him on warning saying he "is off to a slow start". Perhaps that is one and a half cabalistas mentioned....two and a half if you count Schneider's husband.

Mayor Marty Blum: Our Mayor is in TKA's permanent cut and paste file when he has little to write of substance. This time he calls her the "antithesis of Pearl Chase". Them there is fighting words!

Former Council Member Brian Barnwell: Calling him "cocky" -- in just a couple of paragraphs Armstrong implicated Pedro Nava and Das Williams in Barnwell's election defeat. Campaign manager Jeramy Lindamann was also mentioned because he didn't respond to questions from the News-Press -- I don't think that is why Brian lost that election. Out of nowhere TKA then says Barnwell is rumored as a candidate again. Most of us have not heard that rumor spoken at all and have only seen it on the pages of the News-Press -- what's your source Travis?

In a truly low blow, Armstrong continues his appetite for Barnwell's destruction by bringing up his divorce and a law suit from his former wife. Is anything sacred? His divorce has nothing to do with anything other than his personal life.

Former News-Press Reporter Camille Cohee: she is married to Barnwell and a former employee. Double cabal trouble. I always thought that personnel files were personal but I guess they aren't when you are out for revenge. Cohee also was outed for a financial offense that is truly none of anyone's business but her own. Interestingly, TKA feels free to use a quote from Mayor Blum here when it serves his purpose.

Supervisor Janet Wolf: now has broken promises and new cabal inductee and Wolf aide James Kyriaco won't return phone calls. I don't think I would either.

When will you join the cabal?

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Pandering supplicants? What exactly did you mean, Barry?

Craig Smith reports that the federal court hearing which could possibly reinstate the fired News-Press workers has been delayed again -- this time due to the judge being ill. A new hearing should be scheduled in the next week. How long must we sing this song?

In related news, the Citizen McCaw producers are planning a sequel as the News-Press saga seems far from over. In a PacBiz Times article, über-lawyer Barry Cappello calls many of us who saw the movie "willing supplicants":

“It was written to pander to willing supplicants,” Cappello wrote in an e-mail. “Many facts were twisted, ignoring the truth, beginning with the assertion that the owner [or someone at her behest] instituted a gag order which forced the so-called ‘brave’ reporters to organize a union and act to protect themselves. The entire film’s credibility is destroyed by this flaw.”

I have to admit that I needed to look up this big brain word that Cappello bandied about so easily as I only know of it in the religious sense. Merriam-Webster online says one who supplicates does so "to make a humble entreaty; especially : to pray to God". Wiktionary says the etymological base is in the Latin supplico which is to "kneel, bow down, request" has to assume that Cappello means that the producers of Citizen McCaw are pandering for money, no?

Did he just call them pimps in a major newspaper? I've heard that he has sued for a lot less...perhaps a class action defamation law suit is in order. Can anyone front the producer's some cash? Pandering to the word of the day because most people won't understand what you are talking about is no excuse for attacking someone's integrity.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Surprise! Americans Don't Trust the News Media

A reader turned me on to a post about a recent poll that points to the failure of mainstream media to elicit trust in the public. According to a recent Harris Poll, 54 percent of Americans do not trust the news media. 41 percent now trust Internet sources more than mainstream media. Surprisingly, 44 percent trust radio sources more.

Other recent polls point to respondents saying that traditional journalism is out of touch with what we want, lacks empathy and do not accurately report on the war.

Surprisingly, the post mentioned people's concern about bias but did not specifically blame reporters that are union members in their report. As we all know, the public will trust our local newspapers more if union reporters are terminated for bias in favor of editors who masquerade opinion as hard news and investigative journalism.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Resource Team to Tackle Gangs

There is a new strategic plan to tackle the gang problem in Santa Barbara outlined in The Daily Sound. Resource teams are being created to identify and work with gang identified youth in our schools. Saying they can't wait, Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez says they will start this work before the school breaks for the summer.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Levy Foreclosure Marks End of an Era?

Saint Barbara over at The Santa Barbara Housing Bubble blog did a good piece on the construction at State and Mason where La Entrada aka "Levytown" would have been. Later in the post, she mentions that the Levy's have gone into foreclosure on their Hope Ranch home which is for sale at $9.8 million. Before you begin to feel somewhat sorry for Levy, who bought this rather large home from uber-attorney Barry Cappello for only $3.4 million in 1999, Saint Barbara speculates that the foreclosure beneficiaries are members of his own family.

One has to wonder if this is a sign of things to come but on a rather grand many other people do we know that have lived and spent beyond their means? On the other hand, Levy had a dream, went for it and gave it all he had -- not many of us have the courage to do that, whether or not we agree with the developed outcome.

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He Photographs Tall Buildings at a Single Web Site! It's Captain Haley!

Thanks to Captain Haley from who has made a very cool web site which tracks the taller buildings in Santa Barbara with an interactive map and photographs. I'm liking the concept of creating a catalog of these buildings as Santa Barbarians begin discussing just how high is enough regarding building height limitations.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

LA Times Covers Citizen McCaw

The LA Times story on the premiere of Citizen McCaw was an excellent synopsis of the issues surrounding the News-Press Mess but also had some of the best spin I've heard in awhile from uber-attorney Barry Cappello on McCaw's reaction to the film.

"This is, literally, like water off her back," Cappello said of the film. "Barking dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on."

As of Sunday, the News-Press had yet to report a word about "Citizen McCaw."

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

KEYT and TKA: The Other Shoe Drops

When I asked the other day, Hey Travis, What Were Yout Thinking?, little did anyone know about the rather large, size 13 shoe he would drop this morning about "Blow-up dolls, pole dancing, 'non-Jew parking,' and other video escapades of KEYT employees". Here's a snippet:

The video, said to have been produced at KEYT and shown at a company party of employees, includes a "gag" about reserved parking spots at the station.
One sign reads: "Non-Jew parking."

Another part of the video includes a man dressed as a woman. He goes by the name of "Cathy," perhaps a reference to station manager Cathy Jacquemin.

"Cathy" is spotted in the men's restroom on her knees, wiping up the floor. She banters with on-air journalists, including entering the office of one she calls a "sports retard." She begins throwing out objects from his office, including a blow-up nude doll. The sports reporter shouts, "I'm not done with that yet."

Armstrong has been salivating for weeks to retaliate against KEYT and especially KEYT anchor Paula Lopez for becoming part of the "cabal" perhaps a year ago. What a lead up to yet another story that should be handled by the newsroom! Put a question here, another there, intimate further wrong doing and then say it is their fault it is published because they didn't call him back. Perhaps the most telling part of this planned attack is that it was timed to coincide with the world premiere of "Citizen McCaw".

Again, I have to ask -- why wasn't this dealt with in the newsroom? Maybe because he doesn't have the tape itself? Did he actually see it? An opinion piece is not the place to be breaking a story like this...

Assuming this tape exists, one has to figure there is an angry employee out there that gave it to Armstrong. What was the staff at KEYT thinking? I have to agree with TKA's question of them -- did they think it wouldn't get out? It's one thing to have some fun, it's another to make anti-semitic and sexual jokes in the workplace.

Expect some heads to roll on this one and TKA to have fodder for many more an editorial. I guess the film showing up on YouTube is next...he said as much himself and could we suppose he will make sure that happens?

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Additional Screenings of Citizen McCaw

Tonight's opening night is sold out as I live blog from the Arlington. Due to such high demand, the film will be showed again on Saturday and Sunday. Here's the info from the film's web site:

...after selling out the 2,000 seat Arlington Theatre for the World Premiere, two additional screenings have been added at the beautiful Marjorie Luke Theatre located at 721 E. Cota Street in Santa Barbara: Saturday, April 5th at 8PM and Sunday, April 6th at 3PM.

Tickets are on sale now at the Lobero Theatre Box Office at 33 E. Canon Perdido Street or by calling 805.963.0761 or online at General Admission Tickets are $17.50 (including all box office fees) and a limited number of $100 VIP center section seats.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hey Travis, What Were You Thinking?

In an editorial entitled "Hey Paula, let's talk", News-Press editor Travis Armstrong continued the temper tantrum he began last week with CJ Ward and KEYT television about not being called back about a story that is best left to the newsroom. He also cast aspersions toward her and intimated a conflict of interest because of her marriage to Judge Frank Ochoa.

If that wasn't enough, Armstrong brought up another possible conflict on Lopez' part but failed to describe what it was -- presumably holding it up as possible punishment for a future editorial. Raising the specter of ethics with the Fiesta Queen for Old Spanish Days might not be a good idea for Armstrong if he really and truly wants a call back from the KEYT anchor. A loyal reader who commented on this editorial in an email to me pointed out that much like going after sports writer John Zant, Travis is dealing with a constituency that supports Lopez and may not be fully aware or care about the News-Press Mess as of yet. This kind of witch hunt with KEYT may change their perspective.

Hey Travis, what were you thinking? Is it not arrogant to defame someone, assign them to your imaginary cabal and then expect them to hop to when you come calling? Paula Lopez and her colleagues at KEYT may be dumb but they are not stupid.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Community Workshop from Citizens Planning Foundation on Neighborhood Advocacy

Received this from CPF for a series of workshops in both North and South County over the next week and a half.

============CPF Press Announcement================

Citizens Planning Foundation presents…

FREE Do-It-Yourself Neighborhood Advocacy Workshops

Take charge of your future!

Somewhere close by developers and government officials are planning YOUR community's future. Do these people know what's best for you and your community? Find out how to make sure they do!

Join the Citizens Planning Foundation for any of the following FREE evening workshops:

Thursday, March 6 (6:30-8:30pm)
@ Goleta Valley Community Center
5679 Hollister Ave, Goleta

Sunday, March 9 (6:30-8:30pm)
@ La Casa de la Raza
601 E. Montecito St., Santa Barbara

Wednesday, March 12 (6:30-8:30pm)
@ Center for Employment Training
509 W. Morrison Ave, Santa Maria

Refreshments, Spanish translation, and resource materials will be provided.

Bring a friend or two (or more)! These workshops are for everybody!
RSVPs appreciated, but not required.

For more information:
(805) 966-3979

Special thanks to the Fund for Santa Barbara for making these workshops possible!

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SBNP Makes DLG Plaza Correction and Apparently Hasn't Served the City Yet

An avid reader passed on this correction which appeared on the SBNP website:
In Friday's paper on page A10, a story about a lawsuit filed by News-Press parent company, Ampersand Publishing LLC, against the City of Santa Barbara, its Transportation and Circulation Committee and three individual members of the committee should have included the fact that the suit was filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Why wasn't this mentioned in the original article? Perhaps because the suit hasn't been officially served to the City of Santa Barbara yet according to word on the street. Apparently this small matter can wait until Monday...after Ampersand's opinion has been properly publicized in the newspaper as an article. Wanna bet there will be an opinion piece published today?

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Conspiracy Theory 101: De la Guerra Plaza Saga Continues...

Like any good conspiracy theory, the News-Press assuming that everyone is biased against them relies on a specific world view that may or may not be correct. I did some research into this issue after hearing that David Pritchett, David Tabor, the Mayor and others are redesigning DLG Plaza to actually harm the News-Press and put up blockades between City Hall and Travis Armstrong. The fact that the redesign efforts precede the News-Press Mess seems to be conveniently forgotten.

There is a political scientist named Graham Allison who developed an interesting argument about what is rational in Essence of Decision. He named his theory the "rationality theorem". Below is a synopsis from a Wikipedia entry as I had read about this theory elsewhere sometime ago.

The theory says that many theories rely on there being rational expectations and responses from both groups and individuals. The problem is that we don't always act in a rational manner and he argued that many people automatically take a "black box" approach to problems that fail to take into account factors not normally present such as bureaucracy, disagreements, environmental factors, etc. Further, he argues that rational thinking can violate the scientific law of falsifiability that "there exists no event or groups of events that cannot be explained in a rational and purposeful manner".

I realize that using the phrase "conspiracy theory" itself can be construed to disregard the actual topic. The City of Santa Barbara may or may not have violated the Brown Act but as Mayor Blum notes it is perfectly normal for a commissioner to give a report that is not on the agenda. It is up to the Chair of the committee as far as I am concerned to reign them in if there is a decision that could be made from that discussion.

My concern is that the News-Press is taking the "black box" approach by saying that their enemies are against them and presupposes that their intentions are not separate from their political views. Quite the opposite, I contend that historical preservation and planning guidelines that seek public spaces can and should be distinct from, in this case, the News-Press Mess.

This suit occurs to be subterfuge in that it fails to address what is best for the plaza and the fact that there are other places for people to park (the city lot, street parking and even the News-Press' own rather empty lot)-- not to mention that these are public parking spaces also used for City Hall, Starbucks and other restaurants and stores nearby. To the point, these spots do not belong to Ampersand Publishing. Concerns about activists such as David Pritchett fail to acknowledge that a better staging area would be great for community events like Old Spanish Days and therefore great for business -- even for the News-Press.

Small 'd' democracy means that we all get to have our say on this before the decision is made -- even the News-Press. The fact that attorney's fees are asked to be recovered may be a normal proviso -- but I also have to wonder whether the News-Press' war of attrition which seeks retribution of their enemies Caligula-style, may have a significant role in their opposition of the plaza redesign. A five minute "report" versus a lawsuit and scores of negative articles and editorials? I think the News-Press has had a larger influence on the process than they contend.

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