Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

PR: NLRB to Prosecute SBNP for Bargaining in Bad Faith

Well, it took nine months of effort and the SBNP continues to insist they are in the right. Like a petulant child, McCaw and Company refuse to budge despite 15 counts of labor law violations. Yes -- they will appeal again and McCaw's lawyers will be able to buy their second or third house and maybe even a new Porsche from the deal. How long can this go on? Yes, Wendy McCaw has every right to run her business into the ground -- but she doesn't have the right to continually ignore court rulings in the process. Most of us do not have that option. Here's the Teamster press release. -- Sara

The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board announced yesterday, after an investigation into the misconduct of the Santa Barbara News-Press at and away from the negotiating table over the last nine months, that it will prosecute the News-Press for failing and refusing to bargain in good faith with the Graphics Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

The GCC/IBT won a secret ballot election in September, 2006, winning the right to bargain collectively with the News-Press over terms and conditions of employment for news department employees. Since then the News-Press has committed and been found guilty by an Adminstrative Law Judge of no less than 15 labor law violations, including the unlawful firings of eight reporters. The News-Press has appealed that decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

After the News-Press stalled the first day of bargaining for over a year through legal maneuvering, the parties first met to negotiate in November, 2007. The News-Press conducted itself at the table as if the Union had not won the right to bargain, seeking to maintain the pre-union status quo in its bargaining positions and to avoid agreement, while doing what it could, lawfully or otherwise, to frustrate the newsroom employees hoping for workplace improvement through negotiation of a contract. That misconduct and disinterest in bargaining was manifested, inter alia, in its outrageous and absurd proposals that, if agreed upon, would maintain its discretion to change economic terms even after an agreement was reached, provide for a grievance process ending with Wendy McCaw deciding whether her own management had violated the contract, perpetuate the arbitrary "at will" lack of employee protection that the News-Press has used to intimidate and coerce its employees over the last two years. That News-Press bad faith and disdain for the bargaining process was further demonstrated in the unprecedented hiring of employees it labeled "temporary" - though some have remained employed for over a year - to perform newsroom work, failing and refusing to provide information requested by the Union, its filing of bogus unfair labor practice charges against the Union (none of which have been found to have merit), agreeing to meet only sporadically, its publishing of scurrilous editorials about the bargaining sessions, its misrepresentation of the nature of accepted editorial practices that have been customary at the SBNP for years, and its circulation of employee communiqués rife with misinformation and vitriol.

The NLRB's investigation of the News-Press' bad faith bargaining came in response to a charge filed by the Union in May, and canvassed the totality of the parties' conduct from the beginning of the bargaining sessions.

"We would much prefer that the News-Press bargain in good faith and reach a satisfactory agreement, than have to go to the NLRB to once again force the newspaper to adhere to basic labor law requirements", said Teamster negotiator Nick Caruso. "We have been quite reasonable in our positions, and quite clear as to what it will take to get an agreement. We recognize these are tough times for newspapers, but the News-Press in turn has to recognize that the Union is here to stay, that the employees need and deserve some basic protection and stability, and that the best way to improve the paper and the atmosphere in the newsroom is to reach a fair employment contract.", added Caruso. Summarized Caruso, "Once we have a good agreement in place, the Union will be happy to help the News-Press gain back lost readership and advertising revenue."

This is not the first time that the NLRB has found the News-Press' lead negotiator, Nashville, Tennessee union buster Michael Zinser, to be worthy of prosecution for bad faith bargaining. In at least two other recent cases in Pennsylvania and Hawaii, the NLRB's General Counsel issued complaints against Zinser newspaper clients for bargaining in bad faith in violation of federal labor law. Both of those cases settled before trial.

The NLRB has not set a hearing date for prosecuting the News-Press on its forthcoming bad faith bargaining complaint. The NLRB also announced that it would prosecute the News-Press for failing to provide annual evaluations to a substantial number of employees for last year, and continues to delilberate on several other charges filed by the Union against the News-Press, including the hiring of "temporary" employees to undermine the bargaining unit, and the hiring of an investigative reporter outside of the unit.

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Caruso Loses Bet in Santa Anita

This from Barney Brantingham at The Indy:

Caruso’s Other Project: Rick Caruso, who is trying mightily to avoid a full environmental impact report on his Miramar project, has suffered a blow to his Santa Anita racetrack area mall. Reason: An L.A. judge has ruled that the mall’s impact report must be revised. The judge found 11 points of contention, ranging from air quality to traffic.

Sound familiar? I guess this guy has something against environmental impacts...

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Big City or Small Town?

Has anyone noticed the increased police presence of late with helicopters in Old Town and Noleta, ATF raids in San Roque, and heavy preparations for the problematic-of-late Fiesta? This morning SWAT teams with large firearms responded to a break in at Macy' we need to be more like Long Beach and LA to address our gang problems or is this overkill? Walk softly and carry a big stick sounds okay to me -- as long as judicious decisions are made. But how do we make sure of that?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Miramar Pulled from MABR Agenda

Last week, I questioned why Rick Caruso got special treatment in being able to table for his cause in the County Administration Building parking lot. The Planning Commission hearing that day was continued to the 6th of August.

One of the things that the Planning Commission asked for was that the Miramar Project be sent to the Montecito Architectural Board of Review to get questions answered related to the size and scope of the project. An agenda for next week's meeting was made and yet the item has been pulled and the hearing will not be held in favor of an audiotape of an older hearing being sent to planning commissioners.

Not quite the opportunity for public review and consideration I would have hoped for. Apparently, some of Caruso's team didn't think they could attend the meeting on such short notice and didn't feel they were prepared. That's hard to believe when this is the kind of answers they should have been prepared for at the recent Planning Commission hearing.

What I haven't heard is who actually got to make that decision to pull the item? Does this decision serve the public? What about the size, scale and bulk issues around the Miramar Project? I also have to wonder if average applicants have the same ability to pull themselves off a public agenda. More questions than answers here....

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Strickland Fracas Brings Criminal Charge

Earlier this month we covered a Ventura County story involving the Chief of Staff to Assembly Member Audra Strickland playing the big heavy for Strickland's husband who is running for the State Senate. Criminal charges have been filed against Angeles and here's here's what those involved sent to the press...Sara

On June 17, 2008, approximately 55 men, women and children assembled at the Westlake Hyatt Hotel to protest a $50,000 contribution that the Ventura County Republican Central Committee received from the tobacco industry for the perceived benefit of Tony Strickland’s campaign for State Senate. Many of the protestors had lost family members from lung cancer. All shared a common interest that opposed the tobacco industry’s attempt to sway the local political process by making such a large contribution.

As we entered the only public access to the protest area along Westlake Boulevard, the group was challenged by Joel Angeles, Chief of Staff to State Assemblymember Audra Strickland, who warned us to turn back. “You are atheists,” he shouted. “You are not Americans – you are cowards.” And then came the ultimate threat. “If you step foot on this curb, you will go down.” He held his outstretched had in front of him in a manner known to signify “halt.” This conduct was memorialized in a photo that ran in The Ventura County Star newspaper.

Our group was stunned by hearing such untruths and un-American language. But, thinking that the agitator could not be seriously making such blatantly illegal threats, in the best tradition of American democracy we proceeded with our lawful demonstration. It turns out that we misjudged the intent of the public employee we faced, who had every intention of carrying out his threat.

Several members of our group, including Louis J. Pandolfi, a Simi Valley Republican and organizer of the protest; John (Jack) B. Phillips, a minister, senior citizen and Vietnam veteran from Camarillo; and Sandy Quiring, a recent high school graduate from Simi Valley; stepped onto the sidewalk and all three were promptly knocked to the ground by
Mr. Angeles. Ms. Quiring, thrown into the shrubs, sustained minor cuts to her arms and Mr. Phillips suffered a rotator cuff injury. Mr. Pandolfi immediately called 911 and summoned the Sheriffs.

The assaults and batteries were witnessed by not only dozens of citizens present at the event, but also by members of the press.

These were attacks not only on our persons, but also on our cherished American freedoms. Americans have long fought or lost loved ones in the struggles to establish and defend our Constitution and its Bill of Rights, including the one so blatantly violated on June 17th, 2008 – the right to express ourselves, by public protest, and to speak our opinions.

Jack Phillips, a 1962 Naval Academy graduate, was awarded the Bronze Star in Vietnam, following a family tradition of service to flag and country going back to the Revolutionary War. Sandy Quiring is from the newest generation of patriots. Sandy just graduated high school and is headed for a Political Science major in college, facing the future with wide open eyes and a desire to immerse herself in the great political process of our country.

Today, we have said we can not turn our backs on those who have given of themselves over the centuries to defend our Constitutional rights. Today we have said that a government employee who is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to work for the taxpayers of our great state who are having so much trouble making ends meet, cannot get away with lawlessness in promoting his political beliefs. Women, men and children were prepared to peacefully demonstrate against the tobacco industry in the spirit of democracy.

Today, we have filed criminal complaints against Joel Angeles and we have demanded that the Sheriff’s Department investigate the allegations and forward that investigation to the District Attorney for prosecution. In filing these criminal complaints, not only have we presented to the Sheriff our victim statements, but we have also provided the Sheriff with Declarations from eleven witnesses who have prepared their Declarations of Fact under penalty of perjury.

We have put our faith in the fair and impartial legal system in Ventura County, a system to which we have all looked to with pride for many years. Today, we ask that justice be done, not just for the victims of Mr. Angeles’ violence, but for the free speech and freedom of assembly rights in our Constitution, for which so many others have given their last, full measure.

We can do no less on behalf of the American democratic system.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Margaret Connell Announces

As expected, former council member and Mayor Margaret Council announced she will be running for one of the two seats open this November on the Goleta Council. Here's part of the press release she sent out tonight describing a media event tomorrow in front of Bishop Ranch. -- Sara

"The current council has a poor record of listening to Goleta residents and ignoring their concerns about growth and traffic congestion. I am running to ensure that residents, not special interests and developers have a voice on the city council."

Connell's long track record of community involvement has earned her the support of current councilmember's Roger Aceves and Jonny Wallis, as well as County Supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal. Former councilmember Cynthia Brock and current city council candidate Ed Easton, a member of the Goleta Planning Commission also endorse Connell.

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Dems for Strickland? whaaa?

The Jackson/Strickland race for State Senate went into high gear in the last week or so. Many of us started to get phone calls, letters in the mail, etc. With these kind of elections there is often a "dirty tricks" element meant to move voters one way or another.

Democrats for Strickland looks to be just that kind of dirty trick and was sent to me under the guise of anonymity last night.

We're fiscally conservative, socially moderate Democrats and Independents who are tired of having tax happy, out of touch candidates forced on us, leaving us no choice but to stay home or vote for the guy with the R after his name. This election cycle has proven no different.

Amateurish in design and approach, the site goes on to call Hannah Beth -- "Taxin' Jackson" and name one of Strickland's attributes as someone who lives in Ventura County. It goes on to say "He's not going to be in a position to take away a woman's right to choose or install any offshore oil rigs by himself." Thank goodness for small favors! Still, making such statements is asking for willful suspension of disbelief.

A simple search shows the site domain ownership is masked for privacy/anonymity.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008


Thanks to an avid reader -- I saw a couple jobs at that piqued peaked my interest. First -- this anonymous listing got me curious as to where it would be:

Effective leader who will be the hub in the wheel of our newsroom wanted immediately. Requisite abilities for the city editor's position include keen news judgment, a knack for teaching a young staff, sharp editing skills and an understanding that incorporating new media practices into the traditional newsroom is the key to survival. The setting is a community newspaper near the central California coast. Please e-mail a resume and cover letter.

Hmmmm. Then I had to wonder what a "Sports Designer" was at the new News-Press:

The Santa Barbara News-Press is seeking a creative, self-motivated, detail-oriented designer and copy editor for its SND-award winning Sports section. Ideal candidates will have superior design skills, solid copy-editing skills, a keen awareness of deadline and experience on a daily sports desk. Duties will include designing C1 at least twice a week, designing inside pages, editing local and wire copy, writing local roundups from coaches' calls and handling agate.

Never mind that the award-winning writers have been gone for some time now -- is this a "tighter and brighter" reporter? You are only allowed to call coaches? You have to be a graphic designer as well as a copy-editor? Guess it's a lot cheaper than Barry Punzal and company....

Wallis Announces Support for Easton

Goleta Council Member Jonny Wallis announced Friday that she will NOT be running for reelection this fall and endorsed Ed Easton for the position. Not unexpected, it brings up speculation as to who else will run for the second seat available.

Word on the street is that former-Council Member Margaret Connell will come out of retirement in the coming days to announce her candidacy.

Some people will likely say that she had her turn -- the truth is, however, that Connell is extremely capable and knowledgeable and got caught in a poor situation with a slate that was ill advised in the last election. It will be interesting to see what she has learned during her hiatus and what her approach would be with a council where the future of growth lies in the balance.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Victory for EDC on Pesticides

Good Victory for the EDC. Here's a press release. -- Sara

State Appeals Court Affirms Trial Court Ruling:

State Pesticide Agency Failed to Adequately Protect Public and Farmworkers from Dangerous Pesticide

Environmental and Farmworker Advocacy Groups Prevail Again in their Challenge to DPR’s Methyl Bromide Regulations

The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, has ruled that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) failed to make use of recommended health standards from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) when it issued methyl bromide field fumigation regulations. The decision stems from a lawsuit filed in December 2004 by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF), based on concerns that the health standards used by DPR were inadequate to protect farmworkers and the public. The Superior Court ruled against DPR in March 2006. The Office of the Governor and DPR, along with industry groups that had intervened against plaintiffs in the lawsuit, appealed that decision.

“The Environmental Defense Center, California Rural Legal Assistance, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation have achieved a significant legal victory that will protect farmworkers and the public from exposure to methyl bromide,” stated Linda Krop, Chief Counsel for the EDC. “Hopefully, this ruling will not only result in lower exposure to this highly toxic pesticide, but will also encourage farmers to use safer alternatives.”

“We urge DPR to do the right thing and take steps to immediately implement the health protective measures that farmworkers and rural residents are legally entitled to,” stated Mike Meuter, a Director of Litigation, Advocacy and Training for CRLA.

Anne Katten, CRLA Foundation Staff Scientist, noted that “We are very concerned that DPR’s regulations allowed methyl bromide exposure 8 and 9 fold higher than the limits recommended by OEHHA for protection of public and worker health.”

“Methyl bromide should be phased out of use permanently, and hopefully we are headed in that direction. In the meantime, we are encouraged by the Court’s decision that the worker safety risks posed by methyl bromide should be assessed by OEHHA, an office whose focus is on health risk assessment,” stated Jonathan Gettleman, an Agricultural Worker Health Project staff attorney for CRLA.

Methyl bromide is a fumigant applied to soil before the planting of crops such as strawberries. Overexposure can cause long term neurological problems including seizures, tremors, convulsions, and coma and neurobehavioral problems. It is a central nervous system depressant and shown to cause birth defects in test animals. Recent studies have found an elevated risk of prostate cancer among methyl bromide applicators and farmworkers.

At issue in this lawsuit was the role of OEHHA, a State office of the California Environmental Protection Agency whose specific mission is to evaluate risks posed by hazardous substances, and which, along with DPR, is charged with responsibility for developing regulations related to pesticide and worker safety. OEHHA had recommended that seasonal (or subchronic) exposure levels of methyl bromide should not exceed 1 part per billion for the general public and 2 parts per billion for adult workers. In contrast, DPR’s adopted regulations allowed seasonal exposure levels of this highly toxic pesticide to reach 9 parts per billion for the public and 16 parts per billion for workers, an 800% and 900% increase, respectively, over OEHHA’s recommended levels.

The Appellate Court agreed with the Superior Court that DPR violated the law when it failed to jointly develop the methyl bromide regulations and ignored the recommendations of OEHHA scientists.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Got a Miramar Now! Button? Cool, You Can Have Your Scone and Eat It Too.

A table just outside the back door of the County Administration Building replete with Jeannine's employees and their wares graced the Miramar hearing yesterday. I've heard reports that one had to "sign in" at a second Caruso table to get a cup of coffee or pastry at the table. Does this not amount to electioneering on county government property? At the very least it shows a bias in that the County should not be allowing such a display at a public hearing that is supposed to be objective. I don't remember tabling ever being allowed in the past -- is this a new policy? If it is -- they better be ready for every group in town to want to take part in the fun.

If that wasn't enough, Caruso was allowed to interrupt the public hearing numerous times yesterday to whine about time given opponents. A very expensive video was shown with 3D modeling as well -- unfortunately, it also had a series of interviews with proponents of the project. Testimony that is professionally produced like a television commercial should not be allowed in the hearing room as far as I am concerned. Also, for the first time that I can remember, a speaker's position on the project was announced prior to being given time to speak -- apparently to let the supporter counters in the room do their work.

What's going on over there? It's one thing to give everyone a fair hearing -- it's another to pave the way with scones, coffee and a professionally directed video.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Easton to Announce Candidacy in Goleta

Ed Easton will be announcing his candidacy tomorrow and here's part of his press advisory...he's someone I consider a very strong candidate for one of the two spots available in November. Let's see how he does in the months leading to the election. -- Sara

Easton, a Goleta Planning Commissioner, former member of the Goleta Design Review Board, and the Old Town Project Advisory Committee, is running on a platform of returning common sense principles of slow growth, neighborhood and environmental protection to the Council.

"I believe my forty-two year record of local and national environmental leadership, planning and architectural experience have prepared me to be a voice for slow, measured growth and sound planning on the Goleta City Council." said Easton.

Easton's platform includes:

· Putting residents concerns first. Easton will listen to citizens of Goleta, not special interests that want to avoid city control of development. He will protect the General Plan.

· Preserving neighborhood character. Our neighborhoods, like Old Town and Ellwood Beach, are unique and should be protected from over development such as "Big Box" stores and their inevitable traffic impacts.

· Environmental Protection. Preserving our last remaining open spaces, public beaches and agricultural lands will be a top priority.

· Protecting Public Safety. The recent Gap Fire was a strong reminder of the critical work performed by our community's first responders. As a former regional planning director and long time environmental leader, Easton knows that one of the best ways to protect Goleta from a future disaster is to preserve agricultural land and prevent runaway urban sprawl.

· Negotiate a fair and reasoned Revenue Neutrality Agreement. Rather than threatening and insulting county and regional leaders, Ed will bring common sense and a balanced approach to these important discussions. Leadership requires listening, and Ed is committed to negotiating an agreement that fairly compensates Goleta without harming existing relationships with the County

Graduating from Yale University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Masters in Architecture, Easton was licensed as an architect, and later served as Director of Planning for the Regional Council of Local Governments in Charlotte NC. Easton then accepted a visiting professorship at the University of North Carolina, where he taught architecture.

For the past thirty years Ed has worked in different capacities for environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, then created the Institute for Conservation Leadership with multiple grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts as well as other foundations. Easton was CEO of the Institute for six years.

Ed has lived in Goleta for eight years, where he has used his architectural background to renovate a 1913 California bungalow in Old Town Goleta. In addition to his service on the Planning Commission where he was its first Chairman, the Design Review Board and the Old Town Project Advisory Committee, Ed has also been active locally with the Sierra Club as Santa Barbara Group Secretary, then Chair and Conservation Chair. He is also a Board Member of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, and founded Friends of Coal Oil Point Reserve, where he continues to serve as a Snowy Plover docent.

Ed is the proud father of two adult sons, and lives with his wife of forty-nine years in Old Town. He became a grandfather for the first time in January of 2007.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Caruso/Miramar Project Emails Released

The enclosed PDF was released to the media late last week by the law firm representing community groups opposed to the current Miramar project. It represents a series of email communications between County staff, employees and officials -- as well as emails from the applicant in a drama which continues to unfold.

Decide for yourself -- but this project looks like it was fast-tracked on an unrealistic timeline. These emails also give us a view of the circumstances around two project managers who had issues with the process and the ethics surrounding the County's approach.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Was He Thinking? TKA Spreads Falsehoods Again

I'm surprised I hadn't heard about this until I read it in The Santa Barbara Independent online today.

Mayor Blum resigning? Has Travis Armstrong gone off the deep end? If there wasn't a reason for him to step down or be fired in the past -- there is one now. Ridiculous. The man lives in his own little world and thinks little of the impact of his words and The Santa Barbara News-Press on others.

I'd like to see how he responds. This one ain't over.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bishop Ranch Pulls Application

This just in from Bishop Ranch LLC -- one less issue to talk about in November. -- Sara

Bishop Ranch Withdraws City of Goleta General Plan Amendment Initiation Application

July 11, 2008 - - An application to initiate the study of options for the future of Bishop Ranch scheduled to be heard by the Goleta City Council next Tuesday, July 15, 2008, has been withdrawn by the applicant following the release of a staff report recommending denial of the requested initiation. The project hearing will not take place.

Not wanting to waste valuable City of Goleta time or resources, the applicant stated there is no reason to move forward. “It is very clear that while there is substantial support in the community to fully study and review the future of Bishop Ranch that same support does not exist at the City, neither with the staff nor with the council,” stated Michael Keston, the applicant.

The subject Bishop Ranch property, first zoned for housing in 1951, is a 240-acre site along the 101 Freeway and neighbored on two sides by homes. According to public records it has not been farmed since the 1940s. The application was the result of model community collaboration, a four-month Community Working Group process undertaken from late 2007 through January 2008 involving hundreds of local residents.

“In withdrawing this plan, it is important that I publicly thank the hundreds of Goleta residents who worked with us for long hours to fully understand the challenges the City faces to fulfill State housing demands without having to build high density multi-family housing,” added Keston.

“A diversity of Goleta residents came forward and worked hard to create a consensus plan, I appreciate the effort and I regret this vision will not go forward.”

Without the plan there will be no project hearing on Tuesday. Keston requested all those who have indicated that they will attend the Goleta City Council meeting stay home and enjoy time with their families.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

State Street Update: Mel's to Close Doors

Perhaps the last local business in the immediate area which preceded Paseo Nuevo, Mel's Lounge is set to close on August 24th. Open since 1963, reports are that their rent was doubled to $10,000 per month. I doubt rent was that high when Piccadilly Square surrounded the rather Santa Barbara institution. I'm not sure what former-Mayor Harriet Miller will do without her coffee there in the morning!

The Disneyfication of downtown continues -- does anyone know what's going in there? Would have to be something with high volume, high price and some cachet. I can hear the LA types now -- "Look dear, they are finally cleaning up that side of the mall! Thank God....".


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rick Caruso's Ultimatum Party: The Event of the Season!

I spent a few minutes last night going through my closet, trying to figure out what in the world I was going to wear to Rick Caruso's party next week. OMG! I have six days to get my ensemble together, my hair done done at Walter's and new shoes from Nordie's to match my Vera Wang dress. I'm sure Occhiali has the right glasses to match. I don't need them -- but I think Caruso wanted us to look smart and like, you know, we know what we are doing? The July 15th event is at Birnham Wood Golf Course and you just never know who might be there!

Now that I've written this bit of sarcasm, however, I might end up in the same spot as her man at De la Guerra, Travis Armstrong. This from an opinion piece last week:
The company wants to replace the Miramar with a new 202-room hotel, along with restaurants, shops, employee facilities and convention and banquet rooms.

I've been told I'll be turned away at Birnam Wood's gate.

Matt Middlebrook of Caruso Affiliated says he has no idea how much his company will spend on the reception. The company also will provide lunch and refreshments as incentives for people to attend the commission hearing on July 16.

Politics sure does make strange bedfellows in that I never imagined Armstrong naming someone to his cabal and then getting cold-shouldered by someone of the likes of Caruso. I'll even go so far as saying I've generally been in agreement with TKA's op-ed pieces on the Miramar project. Planners have quit, ultimatums have been made -- it's really been a circus over there. And, is the public so tired of seeing an empty Miramar that they will do anything to get something?

I think just about anyone can see the arrogance inherent in telling the County of Santa Barbara that he will just pull up and leave if he doesn't get his own way. EIR's and the community be damned!

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Gap Fire Update (07/07/08 9:13 PM)

Another night of a few hours without electricity, but another day of increasingly better news about the Gap Fire. Although the Indy Google Map continues to show the spread of the fire and there are still "hot spots" in the West Camino Cielo and Trout Club areas -- good weather is expected to continue tonight and fire officials continue to express their optimism. The Incident Command Post will be moved from Earl Warren Showgrounds to Dos Pueblos High School tomorrow and a radio repeater device is being installed to help with communications.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Prognosis Optimistic for Gap Fire

The Santa Barbara Independent reported that Gap Fire Officals are optimistic about containing the fire given good weather conditions.

Here's what Incident Commander Wally Bennett had to say, according to The Indy:
Calling the southern boundary of the fire, which has been threatening much of Goleta for the past four days, “extremely good at this time” and being similarly upbeat about the northeast limits of the flames licking at edges of Old San Marcos Road and West Camino Cielo, Bennett painted a picture of the human-born wildfire that was markedly sunnier than just 24 hours ago. “The news so far is good — real good.” Said Bennett, before adding with distinct caution, “But we still have a lot of work to be done… This is far from over. There is still a lot of potential here.”

Gap Fire Update Bring Cautious Optimism

Calling it the first day of good news, the Santa Barbara Independent has the latest on the Gap Fire saying "San Jose Creek Flank Appears to Be Holding While Urban Fire Line Nears Containment". Fire officials are hoping many get to return to their homes today.

Other tidbits:

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fire Briefings Reveal Who is In and Who Wants to Be

Community Post by Citizen Stringer

The daily briefings about the Gap Fire are starting to reveal which politicos are in and which want to be. The Saturday morning appearance by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Earl Warren Showgrounds really topped off this political pattern.

Some observations especially from that event:

* County Supervisor Brooks Firestone finally appears, despite this fire occurring in the area of the County he supposedly represents. Apparently, his time was freed up after he just finished lighting up at the ranch the Family Pack box of fireworks he bought in Santa Maria, despite being the only Supervisor to vote a few weeks ago for selling fireworks in the unincorporated County.

* Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett still is totally incapable of dressing down, appearing everywhere all week in the same taupe suite no matter the setting. He threw a little tantrum at the beginning of the Friday briefing, when he longed for an electric generator "peaker plant" to be revived in The Good Land (as if electrons know city boundaries).

* Always fashionable and TV-ready, County Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Governor Arnold set the example for the appropriate open-collar blue shirt, although some jeans now and then would be warranted for Salud as his mentor Naomi Schwartz knew how to do now and then.

* State Assemblymember Pedro Nava continues to get his million-dollar investment return in his Assembly Member Only jacket, regardless of how warm the day is.

* Governor Arnold adopts quite the Bushian cowboy stance with his thumbs in his belt standing there by County Supervisor Janet Wolf and her always-impeccable hair.

* And making the most irrelevant speaking appearance at the event? None other than --wait for it... State Senator Abel Maldonado, Arnold's little sidekick when no other Republican in the legislature will have him. The coastal District for Maldo extends from Santa Maria north to Saratoga. At least Arnold's sidekick this year was not Rob Lowe, who looked a bit weird at the briefing last year during Zaca Fire.

* For the local Gap Fire briefings held daily so far at 2 pm, Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and Councilmember Helene Schneider have been present, but no other past or future mayor were there, considering that all the electeds were mentioned at the beginning.

* During the Saturday briefing, future State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson was present and even asked a question to prompt more public information to be revealed.

At least none of the politicos at these briefings wore the yellow fire-resistant clothing that the actual pros use. None wear their never-dirtied Nomex better, though, than Primetime Palminteri reporting from the field. His jumbo goggles Friday night on KEYT were quite the testosterone-enriched fashion accessory!

Link for the entire Friday local briefing at KCSB, where Bennett blows up right at the beginning here:
Link for the entire Thursday briefing here:

Mandatory Evacuation Lifted for Several Areas (07/05/08 at 9 PM)

Mandatory evacuation has been downgraded to warning status for several areas according to the The Santa Barbara Independent.

Painted Cave residents as well as homes in the Rancho Embarcadero area neighborhoods of Vereda del Ciervo and Vereda Leyenda, or along Vereda del Padre are being allowed to return to their homes with proper identification. A specific list of streets along the Fairview to Poinsetta Way corridor remain on mandatory evacuation notice and are available via the link above -- other neighborhoods in that area can return so it is best to review the list if you live in that area.

Blue Line Ventura

I received this from a reader in Ventura...I wasn't for or against the blue line here but perhaps now the word will get out. If there really was only two days notice -- that's bothersome no matter where you stand. -- Sara

I am looking for support from our neighbors to the north. The city of Ventura has just allowed a group to post global warming poles along the ocean front promenade and they painted a blue wave on the city owned parking structure.

The only notice the public received about this was 2 days before they were installed on public property and using public staff time.

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Gap Fire Coverage, Photos, Twitter

While most of the national news and AP photos seems to be centered on California wildfires like it only includes Big Sur -- our local coverage has been excellent over at The Santa Barbara Independent. They have some amazing reader photos and of course Paul Wellman's usual extraordinary fare. If you are a Twitter fan, try out The Indy's updates by SMS service.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Today's Evac Order #EOC 08-0715

A reader asked that the evac orders be time stamped -- they are also numbered anyway, so we can use that. Thanks for the good request. -- Sara

Effective immediately, an Evacuation Warning has been issued for all residents between Glenn Annie Road to Farren Road North of Cathedral Oaks Road. In addition a warning has been issued for the area from San Marcos Road to Highway 154 North of Cathedral Oaks Road.

Mandatory Evacuations remain in place for the areas of:

Hidden Valley at the top of 154 and the Trout Club.

North of Cathedral Oaks Road from San Marcos Road west to Glen Annie Road

West Camino Cielo, west of Highway 154, including Kinevan Road, the Haney Tract, Painted Cave and Windemere

Glen Annie and La Patera Canyon areas.

Residents will not be allowed into the areas designated as Mandatory Evacuation areas until further notice.

An American Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at San Marcos High School at 4750 Hollister Avenue at the intersection of Turnpike Road and Hollister Avenue.

Residents in Evacuation Warning Area should remain alert and prepared to leave if so ordered.

Residents are advised to stay alert for additional information by listening to County Government cable TV station Channel 20, or the following AM or FM radio "Stations of Choice" for Emergency Public Information or other local television stations.

AM Stations
KTMS-990 KUHL-1410 KZSB-1290 KINF-1440

FM Stations
KCSB-91.9 KSPE-94.5 (Spanish) KSYV-96.7 KTYD-99.9 KSBL-101.7
KRAZ-105.9 KIST-107.7 (Spanish)

San Marcos Pass Radio 1040-AM

Corrected Evac Orders (07/04/08)

This will be a Fourth of July we will never forget -- the evacuation orders from last night have been changed slightly since my post last night. -- Sara

Santa Barbara County Emergency Management Officials are providing this updated information to help clarify the geographic boundaries for the series of Evacuation Orders and Warnings issued by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff and Fire authorities due to changing conditions of the Gap Fire.

About 1,700 homes spread throughout the following areas or communities are under mandatory EVACUATION ORDERS:

Painted Cave, Hidden Valley and the Trout Club

West Camino Cielo, west of Highway 154, Kinevan Road and the Haney Tract.

Glen Annie and La Patera Canyons

From Glen Annie Road going east to just west of, but not including, San Marcos Road, north of Cathedral Oaks Road.

EVACUATION WARNING is in effect for about 250 homes north of Cathedral Oaks Road from Winchester Canyon Road to Glen Annie Road

An American Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at San Marcos High School at 4750 Hollister Avenue at the intersection of Turnpike Road and Hollister Avenue.

As a reminder, an Evacuation Order means residents are being directed to leave their homes immediately. An Evacuation Warning means residents should be prepared to leave immediately if their area is upgraded to an Order.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

New Evac Warnings

Here's the most recent info I've seen on evacuations -- North of the Patterson Curve would be towards the mountains. The Santa Barbara Independent has an informative Google Map that shows where the fire is located. With all the smoke and ash, it is hard to not feel it is right on top of us. Traffic is also heavy at this hour with people heading south for the long weekend and likely many locals playing it safe and getting away from the fire.

Effective immediately, an Evacuation Order has been issued for all residents North of Patterson Avenue (North of the Patterson curve) between Fairview Avenue and Patterson Avenues.

Evacuation Order remains for the communities of Hidden Valley and the Trout Club.

Evacuation Order remains for homes along West Camino Cielo, west of Highway 154, including Kinevan Road and the Haney Tract.

Evacuation Order remains for the Glen Annie and La Patera Canyon areas.

An American Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at San Marcos
High School at 4750 Hollister Avenue at the intersection of Turnpike Road and Hollister

Evacuation Warning remains for residents north of Cathedral Oaks Road between
Winchester Canyon Road and Fairview Avenue. Residents in Evacuation Warning Area
should remain alert and prepared to leave if so ordered.

The link in the post below to the Wildland Residents Association is well-updated and a good source of information. The Independent has also been doing frequent updates as news comes in.

Reverse 911 for Cellular Phones

If you do not have landline home phone service, you can register your cellular phone for Reverse 911 service on the sheriff’s website. Using pre-recorded voice push technology, you could be made aware of evacuation news as they will call you with information.

Gap Fire Cause

The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting a possible cause of the Gap Fire:
Investigators suspect the fire may have started at an old shooting spot. Some reports indicate that fire fighters found a can of cold Coca Cola at the spot of origin, suggesting some human involvement in the fire. Volunteer fire fighters also reported they saw three cars drive by with bike racks and bicycles at about the same time. They did not say that they suspected the people in these vehicles as having started the fire.

Gap Fire Coverage

After spending most of yesterday wondering whether I would have to help move one of my relatives out of the hills of Goleta, I came home to candlelight and visions of the Painted Cave Fire and listening to the radio for more detailed information. Was it the late Dick Williams who always seemed to be right in the middle of the fire, sending in updates at KTMS? Times have changed but perhaps we have not changed along with it.

I'm not sure about the most recent status of evacuations but GLEN ANNIE AND LA PATERA CANYON RESIDENTS were asked to evacuate last night.

For updates, one of our readers pointed us to a nice site by the Wildland Residents Association which I assume is made up of Trout Club and Cold Spring Tavern types...they do a really good job at putting it all together. Here's what they had from the county at their site:

At 7:28 p.m. as a result of the Gap Fire, Edison lines were temporarily damaged causing power outages on the South Coast.

We urge all South Coast residents, if you have power, to reduce power usage immediately. At this time there is not an estimated time for restoration of power. Please stay informed through the following media.

Residents are advised to stay alert for additional information by listening to County Government cable TV station Channel 20, or the following AM or FM radio "Stations of Choice" for Emergency Public Information or other local television stations.

AM Stations: KTMS-990 KUHL-1410 KZSB-1290 KINF-1440
FM Stations: KCSB-91.9 KSPE-94.5 (Spanish) KSYV-96.7 KTYD-99.9 KSBL-101.7 KRAZ-105.9 KIST-107.7 (Spanish)

For other updates, InciWeb has a map and general information about the fire as well.

Mayor to TKA: Mud is Better When Not Flung Around

First reported at Craig Smith's Blog -- Mayor Marty Blum responded to yet another nasty op-ed piece by her man at De la Guerra. Don't you guys have a fire to cover, Travis? -- Sara


I hope you will print this answer. If not, the other people I have copied may print it.

Marty Blum

On July 2nd Editorial Editor Travis Armstrong launched a number of mudballs at the Mayor. I respond below:

  • This Mayor did not cause a "deadly youth gang crisis". The truth is that the budget for the Police Department has climbed each year I have been Mayor. The fiscal year we just ended, it was $32,206,702 and this new fiscal year has an increase to $32,960,553. The overall crime rate has fallen steadily over the past decade, and this city has stepped up to pull together youth-serving organizations for a short term summer strategy focussing on core gang members and a longer term strategy preventing and intervening in gang activities. It is working. Government, nonprofits, schools, businesses are all working together, making a difference in the lives of our youth.

  • Saying that this Mayor is "approving overdevelopment that is changing the essence of Santa Barbara" assumes that I act alone and that there is overdevelopment going on. The fact is that I don't act alone, and we are a well-planned and well-managed city. Do I like the two buildings on Chapala Street that are so controversial? Not much, but I did not have anything to do with their approval. They were approved at the Planning Commission without an appeal. Yes, this town is changing, a steady growth rate over the past 50 years of a little over 1% a year. Now the growth rate has leveled off, less than 1% each of the last couple of years. Do I like the way this town has evolved? Yes, very much. We have managed our growth well here. It is one of the best places to live in the world, not only for its physical beauty but for its wonderful people who live here. We are a caring compassionate people, ready to help our neighbors and to celebrate this place.

  • Mr. Armstrong says that I twice tried to get him fired. Show me the letters or the emails to that effect. He can't because they don't exist. Early in his career, I tried to get then-publisher Joe Cole to get Travis out into the community so he can see who we are and what we are about in order to write better editorials and opinion pieces. I have never tried to get him fired, although everyone knows I have had many reasons to. Mr. Armstrong cannot come up with any proof of this.

  • Show me any proof that I resent former Mayor Miller. It does not exist. I don't. She has her style and I have mine which is the way it should be. It was Mr. Armstrong who cancelled my apearance on her radio show for no reason that I know of. I stand ready to come on the News Press radio station anytime, and I have an open invitation to Mr. Armstrong for him to come on my radio program.

  • I have no idea about the other mudballs Mr. Armstrong threw. I don't remember refusing to have a picture taken with Bruce Rittenhouse on the beach of Puerto Vallarta, nor do I know of any letters about former Mayor Miller I would have delivered to the News Press. Why would I do either of those? Nor have I ever ordered my husband to do anything. We are married 44 years because of a mutual respect for each other, not for any ordering around.

Mud is better when it is not flung around.

Marty Blum

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

SB County Fire Google Group

Thanks to Cookie Jill for sending in Google Group information from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. One can get updates on fires and receive any "red flag" alerts that night be in effect. To join, simply visit the above link and ask to join!