Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ready for the Hands Free Law?

July 1st marks the first day of California's "Hands Free" law requiring motorists to use headsets with their mobile phone. What you may not know is that drivers under the age of 18 aren't allowed to use a mobile phone while driving unless they are in an emergency situation. For more specifics, see the DMV FAQ on Wireless Wireless Telephone Laws.

If you have a fairly recent phone and bluetooth capability, a bluetooth headset will probably be your best bet. The brand for the bluetooth headset does not have to match the phone -- so don't feel like you have to pay through the nose at your cellular phone provider's store. Radio Shack and other electronic stores have plenty of choices and have been hitting the sales and the advertising pretty hard in recent weeks. If you drive a great deal, you might want to try a hands free microphone that is built into your car. Some of you may even have cars with bluetooth ability which can route your cell phone through your car speakers...

Whatever the case, I'm glad people will sometimes now "get off the phone and drive". Phone calls are still a distraction -- but at least now we won't be seeing people drive with their ear to their shoulder while they are merging unto the freeway.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Twisted Tax Logic at Goleta Council Meeting

What's up with Onnen, Bennett and "gee I guess I'll go along with you because I'm up for reelection" Blois --- voting for a sure thing lawsuit from the County of Santa Barbara and then hedging on a small business license fee that most cities charge for a basic service?

The logic evades me. Protect businesses from a small fee because a survey we sent out says they wouldn't like it -- big surprise! -- but make sure the people of our city have to pay many thousand times more in legal fees and restitution to the County because we want your tax money all to ourselves. Also, forget Measure A and the regional government cooperation we talked about during the last election...what were they thinking? Has incorporation gone to the Trio's heads? Do they really think they can beat up on the county, kill Measure A and still have the respect of their neighbors?

For more information on the successive 3-2 votes that have been happening in Goleta over the last few months, pick up a Valley Voice now and then -- still the best place for Goleta news, despite their ownership. Here's their article on the last council meeting.

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Was Das Stopped by Johnny Law?

Lauren Hansen took these pictures over at EdHat. Looks like Council Member Das Williams was stopped by a police officer during the McCain protest in Montecito. Guess the police officer (looks like he's from the City) didn't recognize him....anyone know the story?

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Feeney Fifteen Minutes

Well, maybe less...but local Land Trust of Santa Barbara County Executive Director Michael Feeney accused both Sen. John McCain and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger compromising on environmental standards in finding energy solutions during McCain's panel held yesterday here in Santa Barbara at the Museum of Natural History. Here's the MSNBC story which mentions Feeney and reports that McCain told him nuclear power was working just fine for the French.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Hospital Ban to Draw "VBAC" Protest

Interesting issue expressed in this press release I received....especially coupled with the pending closure of the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Birth Center. Any of us that care about individual rights have to wonder about the "wisdom" of a health care system that seems structured around malpractice this a policy guided by health, cost or risk of legal action? -- SDLG

Santa Barbara Families Protest Hospital Ban on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

June 23rd Rally Highlights Plight of Cesarean Mothers

Santa Barbara, CA, June 23, 2008 – Dozens of parents and concerned community members, supported by the Birth Action Coalition and the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN), will rally outside Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara on June 23rd at 11a.m. against the hospital's refusal to allow them a natural birth. Women in Santa Barbara County who have previously given birth by cesarean section have been banned since 2003 from choosing a vaginal birth at Cottage Hospital. This policy is part of a growing national trend. The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) has documented vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) bans at 280 hospitals nationwide. Rally supporters will gather to raise awareness about the VBAC ban and to request that it be reversed.

The Birth Action Coalition's goal is to "work to create supportive birth environments in the Ventura and Santa Barbara areas."

"Families in our community want better birth options for all women. We are saddened by Cottage Hospital's decision to close the Goleta Valley Birthing Center, which was one of only 40 hospitals in the country to receive the World Health Organization's "Baby Friendly" designation. And for five years now, women with a prior cesarean have been facing a choice between a forced repeat cesarean, or traveling great distances while in labor to give birth at facilities that still allow VBAC," said Jessica Barton, the Santa Barbara coordinator of the Birth Action Coalition.

VBAC is a safe and desirable option for many woman. With a vaginal delivery, most women spend less time in the hospital and are back on their feet more quickly to care for their new baby and older children. For some women, having a baby vaginally is more emotionally satisfying than having a cesarean. Mom can hold her baby sooner, and bonding and breastfeeding often get off to an easier start. Some families wish to avoid the health risks that may be incurred with a cesarean. Last, most doctors recommend that women not have more than two or three cesareans, so for those who want to have more children, VBAC is an important option that can prevent extra scarring on the uterus.

Concerns over liability and the slim chance of a medical complication known as uterine rupture have fueled VBAC bans across the nation, even though VBAC is a safe option and cesarean delivery is not risk-free. According to a 2006 study published by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, ACOG "A trial of labor after cesarean seems to be as safe for the mother and infant as planned cesarean delivery, and the hospital stay is shorter." In addition, a cesarean section is major surgery and is subject to the risks of major surgery including hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, re-hospitalization, dangerous placental abnormalities in future pregnancies, unexplained stillbirths in future pregnancies and emotional distress.

Potential risks to babies include low birth weight, prematurity, and respiratory problems. Studies also show that babies delivered by cesarean are more likely to suffer from asthma in childhood and adulthood. The recovery from a cesarean is much longer than for a vaginal birth, involving more pain, more difficulty establishing breastfeeding, and a longer hospital stay. Birth advocates recognize that when a cesarean is necessary, it can be a lifesaving technique for both mother and baby, and worth the risks involved.

"Patients should be treated according to their individual needs. A blanket ban ignores the fact that the vast majority of women can safely and successfully deliver subsequent babies without going through another major abdominal surgery. If Cottage Hospital can't handle VBAC emergencies, then they can't handle any birth emergency and should get out of the birth business," says Barbara Stratton of ICAN.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Congrats to SB Breakers

The Santa Barbara Breakers went undefeated in winning the West Coast Pro Basketball League Championship against the High Desert Rattlers, 122-103. See John Zant's story at the Santa Barbara Independent for details. Congrats on a great season!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

19th SD Race Gets Physical

The other day I pointed out that HBJ could take it to the hoop -- it looks like Strickland supporters are taking it to the street. This from the Ventura County Star describing a "fracas" involving Assembly Member Audra Strickland's Chief of Staff getting into it with a protester, knocking his hearing aid out and wrestling him to the ground.

Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark, announced she was placing Joel Angeles, her chief of staff, on "a one-month leave of absence without pay for what I view as a show of poor judgment," according to a written statement issued by her office.

Of course later in the article, she had to point out "most accounts show that Hannah-Beth Jackson's protesters were the aggressors."

Jackson put out a statement of which here is a part:
Had Joel Angeles been my employee he would have been fired on the spot. There is no justification for anyone, let alone a state employee, to deprive anyone of their free speech rights. A public employee on the staff of an elected representative is committed to protect the constitution on behalf of his employer, the State of California. Assemblymember Strickland has apparently suspended Mr. Angeles for a month. It is incomprehensible that someone with such a long history of service with Audra and Tony Strickland as Mr. Angeles would not understand the public's basic constitutional rights and the responsibilities of a public official. Audra and Tony Strickland should ensure that he has no future role in fulfilling their public responsibilities or campaigning for public office.

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Goleta Throws Down the Gauntlet on the County with RNA Alternative Tax

A major issue during the last campaign for council, NoozHawk reported that the City of Goleta's revenue neutrality agreement (RNA) with the County of Santa Barbara came under fire this week with the Chamber Trio of Onnen, Bennett and Blois seeking to put the issue on the ballot next November. One proposed measure would allow the City of Goleta to "unilaterally amend" the unaptly-named RNA. Aceves and Wallis dissented citing something called "contract law" and the fact that there are more appropriate ways to address the issue.

If that wasn't enough -- Goleta Chamber's Trio threw a tea party at the harbor and proposed an alternative sales tax for Goleta which would compete against and almost certainly derail Measure A.

Agreed. The RNA is not fair and the County of Santa Barbara took advantage of the deal by not including a sunset clause. Now with Montecito looking at incorporation -- we can expect a a firefight over this issue in Goleta. With shrinking revenue from all sides, I wouldn't expect the County to give up easily on this tax for which they have to do little but sit back and collect from the likes of Costco and Home Depot.

The final council vote to put these measures on the ballot is July 1. What is unsettling about this turn of events to me is not just the in-your-face approach which is clearly an election ploy to gain a fourth vote on council and retain Jean Blois -- it is the complete disregard for the bigger picture. It will cause a huge strain on the City budget in legal fees and puts the trio's rush vote to create in-house council in perspective. It will also likely derail the county-wide vote for Measure A with the amount of votes coming from Goleta in a presidential election holding court in the Fall. Like much of our society, the Chamber's Trio is only thinking of themselves with this entitlement tax.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unlike the Lakers, HB Jackson Can Take It To The Hoop!

Although Altria does much more than sell tobacco -- Hannah Beth Jackson takes it to Strickland pretty hard here. Can you blame her? This is the time to distinguish yourself from the other candidate. Associating Strickland with a "cartel" certainly does that. Here's a statement sent from her campaign:

Over 440,000 Americans die early, costly, preventable deaths from tobacco, and over 2,000 children begin illegal tobacco use each day. In August 2006, after a criminal prosecution extending over 8 years, the US tobacco cartel was found guilty on federal racketeering charges for “marketing and selling their lethal product with zeal, deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted,” (Judge Kessler). This same cartel spends over $1.8 million dollars a year in California in contributions to elected officials and candidates, to limit regulation of their products and stop effective tobacco control that would reduce smoking and thereby reduce the astronomical costs to the public of tobacco-related disease. It is deeply troubling to me that any candidate for public office would be complicit in so seriously undermining the public interest and public health.

In light of the extraordinary dangers posed by tobacco products and the tobacco industry’s defense of their use, I call upon my opponent in the race for the 19th Senate District to return all contributions received from tobacco companies or their representatives, including

  • the over $6,000 received directly by Strickland for Senate for the current campaign;

  • the $50,000 received by the Ventura County Republican Party which is clearly earmarked for this State Senate contest;

  • the over $85,000 which Tony Strickland campaign committees have received directly from tobacco interests throughout his career in the State Assembly

My record as a public official is clear. Tobacco Industry money has no influence on my vote. As a member of the Assembly and as a candidate for the 19th State Senate District I have not and will not solicit or accept contributions from tobacco companies. I received one of the highest scores in the legislature on tobacco control issues from independent reviews by the UCSF Medical School . As a representative of the 19th Senate District I will advocate for a return to the public health strategies first implemented in the early 90s in California , which included highly effective media communications and public education on the dangers of tobacco, and caused immediate and significant decreases in the rates of smoking among Californians.

The American Medical Association recommends that its members, state and local medical societies, to determine whether candidates for federal state and local offices accept gifts or contributions of any kind from the tobacco industry, and publicize their findings to both their members and to the public (AMA Resolution CSA Rep. 3, A-04). I urge California AMA Chapters, doctors, nurses, everyone in health related professions and in the media to carefully monitor the spending by the tobacco industry in the campaign for Senate District 19, so that the public can safely predict how their representative will vote and advocate on tobacco control related issues.

--Hannah-Beth Jackson, June 17, 2008

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Community Post: SBMA Seeks Docents

Take your love of art to a whole new level by becoming a docent at The Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The museum provides a comprehensive training program to develop your skills for actively looking at a work of art so that you can help people connect with the art at the museum. People of all professions and levels of experience are welcome and no previous art background is required—just an intellectual curiosity and a passion for art.

The museum provides all necessary training in stimulating classroom, lecture and in-gallery classes meeting one day each week from September through May. Being part of the docent team will expand your knowledge of art, enrich your life and give something valuable back to our community.

For inquiries and application, please contact Rachael, Coordinator of Education Programs, at 805-884-6441 or email to

UCSB Public Survey -- Finding the Obvious?

Our friends at edHat provided a link to the UCSB "Central Coast Survey" which shed light on a few things such as the fact that lack of affordable housing is a major concern among us. Another obvious result was their Reagan question which asked if we feel better off economically today than we did last year. The percentage has tripled from the year before. Here's another point you may have been able to surmise:
Fifty-eight percent of all respondents indicated that high gas prices have placed a strain on their household budgets, and 29 percent described that strain as substantial.

Kidding aside, I like the fact that they did the survey and hope it becomes an annual tradition at the Sociology Department. Here's the full survey at their website

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Cease and Desist to Citizen McCaw

Continuing their scorched earth policy when it comes to criticism of the Santa Barbara News-Press, it seems the producers of Citizen McCaw are the most recent target. This from one of their producers, Sam Tyler:

Wendy McCaw, through her attorney Barry Cappello, recently sent us two "cease and desist" letters regarding future showings of our film Citizen McCaw. Our attorneys, John Keker (Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, CA) and David Greene (The First Amendment Project in Oakland, CA) sent Mr. Cappello a written response.

We are now actively moving forward with plans to show Citizen McCaw again, several times in local theaters in October, after which we will release the film to television.

We will have no further comment on legal matters at this time.

The Producers of Citizen McCaw

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

SBNP Likely to Lose Paterno Case

Calling the Susan Paterno Libel case ironic, a judge dismissed a key element of the SBNP Case against the American Journalism Review reporter yesterday. Here's how Craig Smith describes the case:

In order to meet its burden of demonstrating that it would prevail on the libel claim, Ampersand sought to take testimony from Paterno and her editorial assistant and to obtain any documents "reflecting, relating or referring" to their preparation of the article. Ampersand also sought documents from the American Journalism Review relating to the article. Ampersand claimed this discovery was necessary to show Paterno's subjective state of mind regarding the truth or falsity of her statements.

According to Smith, the case will now go back to trial where a Judge would have to reverse the claim against Paterno and very likely dismiss the News-Press claim.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

PR, I mean...GreenWave Gets Award

It's not often that I receive a press release for a business from a politician and I am not sure I feel comfortable about that. Tony Strickland, VP of GreenWave and candidate for State Senate, has gotten a lot of flack lately for his ballot designation as an Alternative Energy Executive. I'm actually a fan of Chambers of Commerce in general -- but it's hard to get excited about a green company getting an award from a business organization so that a candidate can look legit. Good for Strickland for getting an award and being an entrepreneur of sorts -- but it shouldn't be used for political cover and I have to wonder whether the US Chamber of Commerce PAC has given his campaign contributions as of yet -- Sara


Company Vice President Tony Strickland Accepts Award At
United Chamber Of Commerce Function

(Thousand Oaks) The United Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards breakfast this past Friday to honor a handful of Southern California businesses, each nominated by their local Chambers. The nominee from the Agoura-Oak Park-Conejo Valley Chamber was local company GreenWave Energy Solutions, an alternative energy company exploring ways to harness the power of the ocean’s waves and meet the increasing demand for clean, renewable energy.

GreenWave Energy Solutions was one of only thirteen businesses to receive the award from the United Chamber of Commerce which represents over 21,000 Southern California businesses and provides more than 387,000 jobs.

“GreenWave Energy Solutions is working to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce gas prices, launch a cleaner, smarter energy future for California and I’m proud to be a part of that. Our company is committed to meeting the increasing demands for a cleaner environment and working toward reducing gas prices by providing a smarter, renewable source of energy.”, said GreenWave Vice President Tony Strickland.

In addition to the 2008 Small Business Award, GreenWave Energy Solutions also received awards and certificates of recognition from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles City Council, State Senator George Runner, Assemblymembers Paul Krekorian, Cameron Smyth and Audra Strickland as well as Congressman Brad Sherman.


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Shane Stark Joins Cabal on Off-Leash Public Affairs!

for County government watchers...
Shane Stark joins the Cabal in this episode of Off-Leash Public Affairs

Thursday at 1130 and beyond on cable TV-17, view retired County Counsel Shane Stark as he joins the Cabal and dishes to SBCAN about local culture and politics, and the state of the local news media, during the annual Looking Forward awards event by SBCAN (Santa Barbara County Action Network)

See this at the website for Off-Leash Public Affairs or on Cox cable TV, channel 17, with a schedule in the description at the OLPA website or below for TV-17.

06/12/2008, Thu., 11:30 AM
06/14/2008, Sat., 09:30 AM
06/15/2008, Sun., 08:00 PM
06/16/2008, Mon., 06:30 PM
06/18/2008, Wed., 05:30 AM
06/21/2008, Sat., 09:30 AM
06/22/2008, Sun., 08:00 PM


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Strickland and Tobacco Money: Big Deal or No?

Some neighbors of ours in Westlake are protesting State Senate candidate Tony Strickland's involvement in $50,000 in tobacco money. Sorry to my friends at The Indy, but is this worse than The Santa Barbara Independent accepting American Spirit ads? As for Strickland, would a truly green entrepreneur do this?

I tend to be a bit more libertarian about this -- they have every right to give and he has every right to accept. That also means we have every right to notice:


We will be protesting the Ventura County Republican Central Committee's acceptance of a $50,000 contribution from Altria (Philip Morris) on behalf of Tony Strickland. We view a contribution of this size as very significant and a further indication that the tobacco industry will continue to attempt to buy politicians in California. No other single company is responsible for more deaths of American citizens. Mitt Romney, keynote speaker at the Strickland fundraiser and on the shortlist for Republican Vice President, should speak out about tobacco and the cancer it continues to spread throughout our Nation.

Date: Tuesday, June 17, 6:00 P.M.

Place: Hyatt Westlake Plaza
880 S. Westlake Blvd.
Westlake Village

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Smack Down at Fairview Gardens

The Goleta Council told Fairview Gardens this week that they had one year to take care of the housing violations that have generally been ignored for the last ten years by government officials. According to The Goleta Valley Voice, Mayor Bennet had this to say:

“You’re going to put the farm out of business” if workers are relocated offsite, he said. “You can’t have it both ways.”

He also turned to the farm, and sternly reprimanded its representatives for years of inaction and its dealings with the neighbors.

“The trust is broken, and you broke it,” he said.

He was willing to take a risk and let Fairview proceed, he said, but that they would “not get a second chance.”

I have to wonder out loud if he would be that tough talking with the owner of the Bacara...around issues like beach access?

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Maldonado Wanted His Mom to Vote for Him -- Yeah Right!

Our friends at EdHat led me to an article in the Monterey Herald which suggested State Senator Abel Maldonado could possibly be the Republican and Democrat candidate for State Senate in November. Apparently, Maldonado filed for a Democratic write-in candidacy so his mother could vote for him. Perhaps he actually smelled opportunity as there were no Democratic candidates for the seat?

Dennis Morris, a Pismo Beach Democrat, mounted a last-minute write-in candidacy in Tuesday's 15th District election in the Democratic primary but can he actually qualify for the November ballot against Maldonado?

We will have to see once all the votes in four counties are counted as the 15th Senate District goes through This from The Herald:
A partial count of write-in ballots from four of the five counties
in the 15th District indicate it is possible one of the candidates hit the threshold. San Luis Obispo County reported 1,939 write-in ballots; Santa Barbara County, 413; Santa Cruz County, 897; and Monterey County, 1,182.

So as of Thursday, the total number of write-in ballots, still awaiting Santa Clara County's number, stood at 4,481.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Miramar Project Shows Intrigue

Over at The Indy web site, there's an interesting article on the Miramar Hotel. Intrigue, whistleblowing, histrionics and arrogance are all present in this modern day EIR mystery of a hotel owner that doesn't want to go through the same process as everyone else.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Low Turnout, Pappas Perseveres

With a low turnout of just 12,383 votes, Doreen Farr garnered first place in the 3rd District race with almost 36% of the vote. Perhaps surprisingly to many, Steven Pappas received 25% of the vote and beat out Solvang Council Member David Smyser for second place. Did Dr. Dave's 10% of the vote keep Farr from getting to the magic 50% plus 1? Not really as 36% and 10% does not a primary win make, but it might have changed the dynamics of the race if he hadn't been in it. From another perspective -- any candidate for Supervisor has to be in it for the long haul and anyone should run if they have the fire in the belly. It's a bit too easy for us to use 20/20 hindsight the day after, no?

MacKinnon won the Judge race and Measure V got an amazingly close to 70% of the vote. For a bond initiative, it says a lot about how the campaign was run, what people think about City College and how bipartisan endorsements make a huge difference.

Election Night Results

In early, vote-by-mail results -- Doreen Farr is in the lead for the 3rd District seat (with pappas surprisingly in second) and John McKinnon has the most votes for Superior Court Judge thus far. It also looks like Measure V might just win.

For returns throughout the night, check the County Elections Office website.

Strickland Fodder at The Star

The Ventura County Star Blog did a decent run through of why Tony Strickland is so different than Hannah-Beth Jackson as a candidate for the 19th Senate District. If anyone ever tells you there is no difference between the parties, you need only point to a race like this one.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Is the Cannabis Vote Enough?

Your prescription for change, Dr. Dave Bearman, has likely realized that only through a "Hail Mary" pass can he win the race for supervisor in the 3rd District or even have a chance at forcing a run-off. Here's his rather green commercial which I can't think will do him much good unless you are high on election day or just don't care about who gets elected, which may be the case for many voters. I especially like the robotic disclaimer at the end....

Has it come to this for Dr. Dave? Nice guy, stands by his principles -- unelectable as far as I am concerned...let's hope he doesn't keep Doreen Farr from winning outright.