Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fans remember Jackson, Neverland : Crowds gather to remember pop star; his records sell out


June 27, 2009 7:25 AM
The tiny screen of a security keypad off a driveway at what seems like the end of Figueroa Mountain Road features the greeting "Welcome to Sycamore Valley Ranch. Have a nice day."
To fans of Michael Jackson, this place will always be Neverland.
As the day the onetime King of Pop died turned into the day after, fans of the 50-year-old came to the place that, for years, he called home to ponder the reality of his never returning.
Indeed, Mr. Jackson said so long to this 2,800-acre ranch after being acquitted of all charges in his 2005 child molestation trial, moving first to Bahrain, then Europe. He recently returned to the U.S. to the rented home in Holmby Hills where paramedics arrived to find him in distress on Thursday.
He was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
Mr. Jackson sold Neverland in 2008 for $35 million to a joint venture that included an entity formed by him earlier in the year. As part of the deal, the property went back to its original name, Sycamore Valley Ranch.
If the green screen of the entry sentry is not enough to convince a visitor that change has come to Neverland, then perhaps the Lolli Swings ride at the Lompoc Flower Festival will do it. Once a part of Mr. Jackson's Neverland amusement park, the ride is now owned by Butler Amusements and is, until Sunday, wowing young and old on the midway at Ryon Park.
But fans don't care about the name of the place that Mr. Jackson once called home as much as the feeling they get being there.
And as Thursday night turned to Friday morning by the light of an infinite number of stars, fans came and went, hoping to get in touch with that feeling.
Among those braving the chilling cold were Samantha Werk, of Los Alamos, and Sharlee Stone, of Lompoc, who were at dinner Thursday night when, from the bar, came Michael Jackson blaring over the speakers.
"Everyone started dancing to 'Thriller' in the middle of the bar," Ms. Werk, 24, told the News-Press moments after the clock struck midnight. "We went home and had a tribute dance party ourselves and remembered suddenly that he lived not too far away, so we decided to come out here and see if anybody else was paying their respects."
They were not alone. At least 10 people showed up in the midnight hour.
"Michael Jackson was such a presence and he is such a presence to so many people from my generation and from his generation," said Ms. Werk.
"He's definitely always been in my life soundtrack."
Like others, the women came bearing a gift for the makeshift memorials going up on either side of the gates.
"We brought a wine bottle from a local winery, stuffed with our backyard flowers," said Ms. Werk.
While some people try to quantify Mr. Jackson's impact on music, Ms. Werk said that's a difficult call.
"There are so many contemporary musicians that obviously are influenced by him and so many people that are indirectly influenced by him as well, that it's not worth even counting," said Ms. Werk.
"It's infinite," said Ms. Stone, 25.
Solvang resident Barbara Pedersen, who served as a juror in a 2003 civil trial in which a concert promoter sued Mr. Jackson -- and won -- after the singer pulled out of two New Year's Eve concerts in 1999, told the News-Press that her strongest recollection of the singer was his physical appearance.
"At the time I would have said he was frail," she said.
Upon learning of his death, "I was saddened of course," added Ms. Pedersen.
"What a wonderful talent and troubled person he was."
Celebrating Michael Jackson and his legacy takes on all forms. As word of his death spread, after the celebrity Web site TMZ broke the story, employees at American Apparel on State Street dealt with the initial shock and then broke into dance, with CDs they bought at nearby Just Play Music.
"We were dancing around the store," said Kayla Egberg, assistant manager. "We all loved Michael Jackson."
At the music store, several people came in to buy his CDs.
"This weekend is going to be pretty crazy," said floor manager Dini O'Brien, 17.
Just Play Music's CD catalog spans the Jackson 5 to the "Thriller" eras. A best of Jackson 5 CD was priced at $24.95.
The store sold out of its Jackson vinyl records and employees said they expect the same of the CDs.
At Salzer's Records in Ventura, sales of Jackson recordings have been "really intense," said employee Johnny Marston.
"We got in a shipment of like 50 CDs (Friday) morning and sold out in two hours," said Mr. Marston. "People are still coming in and asking for it."
Returning to Neverland, make that Sycamore, Sharlee Stone talked about being a young girl putting on a Michael Jackson song and letting go.
"I'd basically create my own choreographed dance steps to his music, mimicking him," she said.
A Santa Maria native, Ms. Stone formed, by way of her mother, a fondness for the place that many will forever call Neverland Valley Ranch.
"It was always such a huge deal that Michael Jackson chose to live where I lived. That was always incredible," she said. "I remember being 7, 8 years old and my mom would always tell me how beautiful and wonderful this area was because Michael Jackson lived here."
"That was like what it meant to live in this area," she added. "Michael Jackson's here, therefore it was amazing."
Samantha Werk recalled, as a young girl, taking several school field trips to the fabled Neverland.
"It was great fun. You pretty much were given free rein of the place, regardless of his presence," said Ms. Werk. "Family School and Dunn and the local high school, it was almost a regular thing at the end of every year, pretty much every local school was invited to come and play for a day."
As for his legacy, both women said locals prefer to think of him as a performer.
"Regarding Michael as the pop star and the icon that he was is much more of local affinity than it was to regard him as the tabloid star," said Ms. Werk. "We always prefer to regard him for what he wanted to be known for as opposed to what people subjected him to."
You can't talk to a fan without the conversation turning to music. For Ms. Stone, when she wants to dance, nothing moves her like "Billie Jean."
"To just kind of feel, it's 'Man in the Mirror.' It just makes me cry every time I hear it. It wells me up."
For Ms. Werk, "Billie Jean" is definitely a dancer.
"But 'The Way You Make Me Feel' is always a mover," she said. "And we played that on repeat a couple times before we came here."
Staff writer Dave Mason and correspondents Miranda Green and Morgan Hoover contributed to this report.

Both sides rest in Hollywood trial : Closing arguments set for Tuesday; jury could have case on Thursday


June 27, 2009 7:49 AM

Jesse James Hollywood left the witness stand for the last time Friday hoping jurors believe that any responsibility he had in the killing of Nicholas Markowitz ended three days before the 15-year-old was shot dead in the hills west of Santa Barbara.

Testifying in his own defense in his capital murder trial, Mr. Hollywood, 29, said that when he left the home of Richard Hoeflinger, where Nicholas was held after being kidnapped, the boy was free to go.

"He was safe from what I saw," said Mr. Hollywood.

This line of questioning by prosecuting attorney Joshua Lynn raised several objections from the defense. Mr. Hollywood asked Mr. Lynn to repeat himself many times, and one juror became visibly exasperated.

Mr. Lynn asked whether Mr. Hollywood intended to make money off of Nicholas' murder.

"That's ridiculous," said Mr. Hollywood.

Mr. Hollywood did say that he feels "morally responsible for what happened," calling it a "terrible thing."

Mr. Hollywood took part in kidnapping Nicholas with friends because Ben Markowitz, the victim's brother, owed him about $2,500.

Mr. Lynn asked Mr. Hollywood whether he blames Ben Markowitz for the situation in which he is today, and Mr. Hollywood said no.

Once Mr. Hollywood left the stand, the defense called Paul Kimes, an investigator with the District Attorney's office, for another round of questioning.

Defense attorney Alex Kessel asked Mr. Kimes several questions about the investigation of the case, and Mr. Kimes was forced to respond several times that he had not investigated various pieces of evidence.

Mr. Kessel became so argumentative that at one point, Superior Court Judge Brian Hill asked him to adjust his tone. Most of the courtroom laughed, including Mr. Kimes.

"This isn't funny," exploded Mr. Kessel at the witness. "My client is on trial!"

Judge Hill again told him to adjust his tone and ask his question.

Mr. Kessel's final question to Mr. Kimes was, "In such a trial, who holds the burden of proof?"

"The prosecution," responded Mr. Kimes.

Under cross-examination by Hans Almgren, however, Mr. Kimes explained that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's department initially investigates the case, and he simply does what is asked of him by the District Attorney's Office should a case reach that level.

The jury was dismissed for the weekend at 11:50 a.m. and will return at 9 a.m. Tuesday to receive instructions.

Tuesday will also mark the beginning of closing arguments, which are scheduled to end Wednesday.

Jury deliberations are set to begin Thursday.

Mother hopes to be reunited with daughter : Feud among parents tugs at custody question


June 27, 2009 8:01 AM

A Burbank mother hopes to see her Santa Barbara-born daughter after having no contact with her for two and a half years.

Dawn Willson, 38, has been in a legal battle with her ex-husband for five years over custody and jurisdiction rights over their now 7-year-old, Raquel, who goes by Rocky.

Alex Willson, 39, resides in Vera, Spain, and has had physical custody of Rocky since September, 2006.

On July 3, a hearing will be held in Vera to determine the child's future living arrangements.

Ms. Willson filed eight police reports against Mr. Willson over alleged visitation violations, and he was found guilty of one. He was told that if he were found guilty of another, he would be sent to prison.

"I would like compensatory time with my daughter," she said. "If you add up only the times that he violated visitation, I would still have a solid year and a half with her."

Ms. Willson does not want to keep Rocky away from her father, however, and said that if she is granted custody, she would allow Mr. Willson to have summers, Christmas and Easter with the girl.

The Willsons decided to divorce while vacationing in Spain in 2004 after about three years of marriage. Rocky was 2 at the time.

The trouble began when Ms. Willson returned to California ahead of her then-husband and daughter. When she arrived, Mr. Willson informed her that he would not be returning to the United States and was keeping Rocky with him in Spain.

Ms. Willson returned to Spain, where she stayed for the summer. According to her, she stayed because Mr. Willson confiscated her passport, along with Rocky's.

Since that time, the two have struggled through numerous legal battles in courts in Santa Barbara, Wisconsin and Spain.

Requests for comments from Mr. Willson and his attorney went unanswered.

Both he and Ms. Willson have accused the other of kidnapping. Ms. Willson first, in June, 2004, when Mr. Willson told her he was not returning from Spain with Rocky.

Mr. Willson filed kidnapping allegations in November 2004, in a Spanish court, two months after Ms. Willson returned with Rocky to the United States.

According to Ms. Willson, she was only able to return to the states because she and Rocky received humanitarian aide from the U.S. Embassy, who sent the two home.

Ms. Willson has also reported numerous instances of neglect on the part of her ex-husband.

In December, 2005, when she went to Spain to visit Rocky for Christmas, she found her daughter covered in bites and with a mouth full of cavities that she says were ignored for eight months.

In March 2006, Ms. Willson says that when she arrived in Spain to visit Rocky, her daughter had head lice that Mr. Willson had not noticed.

In July, 2006, Rocky fell from a treehouse and broke her arm, which Ms. Willson said Mr. Willson ignored until she took Rocky to the emergency room, where the arm was treated.

Mr. Willson was also arrested on Sept. 6, 2006, for arriving at Los Angeles International Airport with Rocky, who was naked from the waist down. Mr. Willson was still allowed to leave the country with Rocky. That was the last time that Ms. Willson had contact with Rocky. LAX is still investigating the matter .

In December 2008, the Department of Social Services made a DVD of an interview with Rocky, revealing that the child sleeps and showers naked with her father, although no allegations of sexual abuse were made.

Ms. Willson hopes that she will finally be able to bring her daughter home after the July 3 hearing.

"I just don't think I should have to live in Spain to raise my child," she said.

Water bill credit available for Tea, Jesusita victims : City of Santa Barbara reaches out to ease pain of high charges


June 26, 2009 7:21 AM

Santa Barbara homes that were most affected by the Tea and Jesusita fires can still get a break from the city's Water Resources Department.

According to Bill Ferguson, water resources supervisor, if a home was destroyed or damaged by the blaze to the point of being uninhabitable, reimbursement can be received for the extra water used to defend it.

Mr. Ferguson explained that the amount of water used in the month before the fire is subtracted from the water used during the month of the fire to determine the amount of the credit.

"We try to estimate the loss," he said. "We only read meters once a month, and whatever happens in between is unknown. We have to estimate it."

As of Thursday, 100 people have received such a credit from the water department, which includes both fires.

Mr. Ferguson said that before residents call the department to inquire about a credit, they should know that if their home is in unincorporated Montecito or Goleta, different policies will apply.

The decision to adjust water rates for homes affected by the fires came when city officials realized the significance of the "unusual event," according to Mr. Ferguson.

"This was something we wanted to do as long as we had a basis for identifying those who were severely affected," he said.

For all the people helped so far, Mr. Ferguson said he knows that some have been overlooked.

"If we did miss some, we want to know about it," he said. "We've taken care of those we thought were affected, and we did miss some already and realized another meter needed to be read and credited."

The fire caused loss of water in ways other than home protection.

"In some cases it was because the plumbing was burned through, and then it was a larger credit," explained Mr. Ferguson.

As homes are being rebuilt, Mr. Ferguson urged people to consider water conservation in their building plans.

"We offer free audits and checkups and things of that nature," he said.

For information on how to receive a fire-related credit or have a meter read, contact Theresa Lancy in the Water Resources Department at 564-5369.

Plan Santa Barbara gets a public airing : Housing was subject of Thursday meeting


June 26, 2009 7:24 AM

Santa Barbara residents expressed concern Thursday evening over the possibility of higher-density housing being introduced as part of the city's future.

During the second night of a Residential Unit Size Workshop held by Plan Santa Barbara in the Central Library at 40 W. Anapamu St., city planners presented the research they conducted since winter to develop ideas on how to increase the amount of so-called inclusionary housing in the downtown area.

The question they were attempting to answer was, "How do we encourage marketplace affordability?"

Objectives introduced by Planner John Ledbetter included affordable housing and socio-economic diversity, community character and sustainable development.

Sujata Sirrastara presented a financial feasibility analysis, which examined four development scenarios to determine which would bring, at minimum, 15 percent profit to the developer.

The scenarios included the existing scenario and the fourth scenario, which was determined to be the one that was acceptably profitable. The second and third scenarios were not discussed in detail because they did not reach this 15 percent profit.

In this fourth scenario, three options were provided. In two of the options, the maximum height for a housing building was set at 40 feet, and in the third, it was set at 52 feet. In the existing scenario, the limit is 60 feet.

In all of the fourth scenario's options, underground parking was deemed necessary, and the average unit size was 950 square feet. The existing scenario's average unit size is 1,500 square feet.

The main problem with the existing scenario, according to Plan Santa Barbara organizers, is that it allows for no "middle income or workforce housing."

The scenarios were presented with no recommendations made by the panel, and the audience feedback rang almost unanimously skeptical.

"These are too bulky to keep with our small town feel," said one man. "We need to reject Scenario 4 and add a Scenario 5."

The speaker went on to recommend finding someone to build units at a lower price with above-ground parking, which is less expensive than building underground parking.

Another audience member was concerned that by building these higher-density units, Santa Barbara's "charm" would be lost.

"Over-development will make us another Los Angeles," he said.

Another man expressed concern over the realistic demand for such units.

"Who will buy these units?" he asked. He explained that his concern stems from a Santa Barbara stigma of attracting "young, talented folks who come here and get great jobs. Then they have a family and move to Ventura because these smaller units don't work."

The panel assured him that such housing is in high demand.

One audience member said that while he liked the analysis and found it a "useful tool," he questioned the feasibility of a 15 percent profit for this fourth scenario.

A woman pointed out that the fourth scenario still indicated that luxury housing would be required in order to obtain the desired "middle income or workforce housing."

The City Council will vote on what policies to implement to achieve affordable housing next year.

Jesusita Fire sparks art show

Morgan Hoover

June 25, 2009 7:38 AM

SANTA BARBARA Artists are being sought to contribute to an exhibit that will showcase art created from raw materials obtained from the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden after the Jesusita Fire.

Co-sponsored by the park and ART from the ashes, a collaborative of independent artisans and volunteers, the work will be displayed in the fall.

Sixty of the Botanic Garden's 78 acres were destroyed or damaged, and several structures, including the home of the park's director, were lost in the fire, which tormented the area in May.

Artists seeking to participate in the exhibit should send an e-mail to

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2 arrested on drug, firearm charges

Morgan Hoover

June 24, 2009 8:00 AM

SANTA MARIA Two men were arrested Sunday on suspicion of possession of a loaded firearm and possession of methamphetamine.

Jonathon Maurice Hays, 21, and Joe Guzman, 18, both of Santa Maria, were in the 100 block of Palm Court Drive when police stopped them.

A third occupant fled the scene and had not been apprehended. This suspect is described as being a Latino male wearing a black hat and all dark clothing.

After the unidentified suspect fled, police discovered the illegal firearm and narcotics.

Mr. Hays and Mr. Guzman are believed to be local gang members. They were booked for the listed charges at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Santa Ana mother dead in crash on Highway 101


June 24, 2009 7:51 AM
A Santa Ana woman died and her 12-year-old daughter suffered injuries when their car crashed on Highway 101 near Tajiguas Creek on Tuesday.
The name of the victim in the 8:51 a.m. crash was withheld pending notification of family.
No one else was in the car.
According to Officer James Richards of the California Highway Patrol, the woman was driving north in the left lane just north of Refugio Road when her Toyota drifted onto the shoulder.
Tire tracks and skid marks indicate that the vehicle drifted off the asphalt and into the dirt shoulder.
The woman applied her brakes and steered to the right to get the car back into her paved lane, but the car rotated clockwise and skidded into the right lane.
According to the CHP, she overcorrected trying to get back in her lane and spun the car counterclockwise 180 degrees, sending the car flipping over the wide, vegetated center median numerous times.
A trail of debris remained across the median after the car came to rest on its wheels in the southbound lanes.
CHP Commercial Officer Ralph Villegas was nearby and responded first to the scene.
The woman, who was wearing her seatbelt improperly under her left arm, was partially ejected from the driver's window and pronounced dead at the scene.
"Had the woman been wearing her seatbelt properly, she would have remained in the vehicle and survived," according to Officer Richards.
The girl was properly buckled in, and was treated for a minor hand injury at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Southbound 101 was closed for 30 minutes after the crash for investigation, vehicle removal and cleanup.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputies, Caltrans and Santa Barbara County Fire Department were involved in scene assistance.
At the time of the crash, the weather was overcast but clear and dry.

Kidney donation brings bank co-workers closer : Randy Weiss gave, but in return he received a chance at a new life


June 24, 2009 7:49 AM
Some people who ask, "How's your day?" really mean it.
Randy Weiss, a community relations guru for Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, is one of those people.
While routinely visiting the bank's main branch at 20 E. Carrillo St. nearly a year ago, Mr. Weiss, 54, said to senior teller Katherine Pinedo, "Pinedo, great day, huh?"
Mrs. Pinedo, 25, replied, "It would only be better if I had a kidney."
When Mr. Weiss asked for further details, he discovered that she had lupus, which resulted in nightly rounds of dialysis for two years.
"Well," he said, "I've got two kidneys. Why not one of mine?"
Mrs. Pinedo was skeptical.
"I didn't think anything was gonna happen," she said, "because I'm not the type of person to bug someone or push them to do anything."
But Mr. Weiss did undergo testing and discovered he was a match to Mrs. Pinedo.
His blood pressure and cholesterol levels were too high to perform the surgery immediately, however, and in October, he moved his office to Goleta, which put him near a gym in which he began to exercise regularly.
He lost 25 pounds by January and his levels were low enough for him to proceed with the donation.
"I believe Kat saved my life," he said. "I weigh 40 pounds less than when we started, I practice healthy eating habits every day and feel absolutely great."
The procedure was performed June 12 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and both Mr. Weiss and Mrs. Pinedo are recovering well.
"I'm a little sore," said Mr. Weiss, "but I've been able to work half days, and it's been shown that people live longer with one kidney anyway."
Mr. Weiss was released on June 14 and Mrs. Pinedo was released on June 17.
The first 30 days after the procedure will be restrictive for Mrs. Pinedo.
"It's harder than I thought it would be," she said. "I'm confined to home, if I go to the store or anywhere I have to wear a mask and I can't be around my pets."
She knows, however, that the difficulty is only temporary.
"I know the recovery is hard," she said, "but it's going to be worth it."
According to Mr. Weiss, the two were not close before the procedure.
"It wasn't like we were great buddies or anything," he said. "We became a family over the last two months."
"I call her 'sis' and tell her I love her, and she calls me 'bro.'''
"We are family," agreed Mrs. Pinedo, "and we talk every day to keep each other updated."
Mr. Weiss also said he is happy that Mrs. Pinedo and her husband can now look toward the future and a possible family.
"They're newlyweds, and it's hard to think of having a family when one of the partners is basically in prison," he said, referring to her dialysis treatments.
"I'm very excited for that," said Mrs. Pinedo, although she and her husband of three years have to wait at least a year before having children.
Mr. Weiss wants the story of his donation helps save others.
"We hope that it might encourage other people to donate their organs," he said. "I'm jazzed to make the difference of a life time."
In celebration of the employee-to-employee donation, all Santa Barbara Bank & Trust employees wore personalized green transplant ribbons from June 12, the day of the surgery, to June 19 and gave them out at the bank's main branch.
While Katherine Pinedo is recovering, others are not so fortunate.
Lea Williams was diagnosed with microscopic polyangiitis, a rare auto-immune disorder that attacks the kidneys and the lungs, in summer 2000.
In October 2007, her kidneys gave out and she began regular dialysis treatments.
Though she has been on a list to receive a kidney for the past nine and one half months, there are no guarantees in how quickly she will move up that list.
Mrs. Pinedo was on a list for two years and was told that it could take seven for her to receive a kidney.
Two friends have expressed interest in donating a kidney to Ms. Williams, but one changed her mind and another discovered he had arthritis and therefore could not donate.
Through all of her bad luck, Ms. Williams is glad that Medicare covers her dialysis expenses.
"It's a fortune!" she said. "I figured out that it's like $150,000 a year for me to be on dialysis."
She hopes that by making her story public, people will become more open to donating.
"If more people knew what the plight is and that they are the solution," she said, "they would be more enthusiastic" about donating.
Katherine Pinedo also hopes to inspire this message.
"There are so many more people that need kidneys and other organs," she said. "It's great for both people. Randy's living a healthier life, and I can start my life over again. It's one of the most selfless acts someone can do."

Governor hopeful Campbell meets GOP in Montecito : Cites budget background as he moves for party nomination


June 24, 2009 7:15 AM
A GOP member seeking the party's nomination for governor in next year's election spoke in Montecito Tuesday evening about the state's economic present and future.
Tom Campbell, a business professor at UC Berkeley, presented an aggressive plan to the Montecito Republican Party for balancing the state's budget.
His plan comprises strict saving by the state for 10 years followed by limiting each year's spending to the previous year's revenue.
'''Don't spend more than we have' shouldn't be such a shocking statement,'' said Mr. Campbell, who presented evidence that even if California ceased all borrowing, it would take 84 years to pay off its debt.
Mr. Campbell expects to run against GOP candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poisner in the primary, and though he said he supports his fellow party members, he is confident that he is the best one to manage the economy.
"I have worked on nine federal budgets, I have been California's budget director, I worked on the budget committee for two years as a state senator and the National Taxpayers Union Foundation voted me the cheapest out of 435 in the 102nd Congress," he said.
"I'm knowledgeable, and I am disposed to spend less," he added, "and no one can match me on that."
Mr. Campbell was adamant that "in the long run, the answer is not to raise taxes. The long run requires fiscal discipline."
Mr. Campbell said that the Republican Party's future is grim.
"It's in trouble," he said. "There's no national leader, no national spokesperson. There's tension between social and fiscal conservatives."
He added that he considers himself to be a fiscal conservative and social moderate.
"I'm libertarian socially, which I always thought the Republican Party should be," he said. "Less government interfering in people's lives."
On hand at the event were Santa Barbara County Republican higher-ups Mike Stoker and Gregory Gandrud. While neither endorsed one candidate over another to succeed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ousted Democrat Gray Davis in a recall, they were both supportive of Mr. Campbell.
"He's very impressive," said Mr. Gandrud, chair of the Santa Barbara County Republican Party. "He's a professor so he's so knowledgeable. The nuts and bolts economist stuff, I like that."
Mr. Stoker, who is running for the Assembly, was also supportive of the gubernatorial hopeful.
"I've known Tom for eight years," he said. "If he was to become governor, it would be a great state."
Mr. Stoker also said that "voters need to send a message that we will live within our means."
One audience member asked why, if a balanced budget could be achieved tomorrow, a hard spending freeze was not being implemented by the state's government.
"We can't get it past the legislature, which is two-thirds Democrat," said Mr. Campbell in one of the few moments he showed partisan stripes. He added, "The Republicans would do it."
On a national level, Mr. Campbell said that the federal debt is higher than it ever has been, but he does not place all the responsibility on President Obama.
He pointed out that the president added the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the budget for the first time, saying, "They should have been there before because they're expenses. Necessary expenses, but still expenses."
He also refused to blame all of California's debt on the Democratic Party.
"I will take plenty of blame in the GOP," he said. "There have been two Republican governors in the time that this debt has accumulated."
He said that the state's economic situation will only be improved with "a strong governor who is willing to use the line item veto."
"I'm running for governor because I want to do what's best for my state," he said.
Mr. Campbell said that his priority lies with California's "financial stability, responsibility and honesty" above all else except public safety.

1 arrested, 1 in hospital after beer bottle used in fight

Morgan Hoover

June 23, 2009 7:40 AM

One man was arrested and another hospitalized Monday following a physical confrontation on the 600 block of W. Lemon.

Leopoldo Ibarra, 27, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he broke a beer bottle and used it to strike Augustine Uribe, 29, in the face.

Mr. Uribe was transported to Marian Hospital for treatment of major facial lacerations.

Mr. Ibarra has been booked and charged at the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Both men are residents of Santa Maria.

Hollywood takes stand in own defense : First day of testimony focuses on his early life

Jesse James Hollywood

June 23, 2009 7:08 AM

His life on the line and facing a stream of potentially damning testimony, Jesse James Hollywood took the witness stand for the first time on Monday, telling jurors in his capital murder trial about the early days of his life - long before the August 2000 shooting death of Nicholas Markowitz.

During the final 30 minutes of Monday's court session, California native Mr. Hollywood, 29, gave composed testimony about his love of baseball and how an injury took it away from him.

He talked about selling marijuana, buying homes and being a "health nut."

What he didn't talk about was the apparent drug-related rift with Nicholas' older half-brother brother, Ben Markowitz, that prosecutors say led Mr. Hollywood to hatch a plot to have the 15-year-old shot dead at a hiking area known as Lizard's Mouth.

That could happen today, when Mr. Hollywood, who escaped to Brazil while on the lam for five years before his capture in 2005, is expected to again take the stand.

Called for direct questioning by lead defense attorney James Blatt, Mr. Hollywood on Monday suavely buttoned his sport jacket and made his way to the stand, taking his seat to the right of Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill.

But before jumping into the alleged kidnapping and murder that have been the focus of the heated trial since opening statements on May 15, Mr. Blatt began by focusing on the defendant's early life.

The Hollywood family moved from the Golden State to the Centennial State when Jesse was 13. In their four years there, the teenager and the rest of his family played a lot of baseball.

"It was my life," Mr. Hollywood said.

Moving back to California at 16, Mr. Hollywood attended three separate high schools, but had to stop participating in baseball after an unspecified "accident" affected his shoulder and back, according to testimony.

As a teenager, Mr. Hollywood started selling small amounts of marijuana, going on to sell more and more as time went on, he said. Growing up, he said he did not know his father, Jack Hollywood, sold marijuana, but he had the idea his dad took part in illicit activity. Mr. Hollywood described his father as conducting his business professionally, never making sales in front of his family.

By the time Mr. Hollywood was 18, he, with another person, was moving into a home into which Mr. Hollywood invested $20,000 - $5,000 from marijuana sales, $15,000 in insurance money collected because of the injury. While living there, Mr. Hollywood would sell 5 to 7 pounds of marijuana a month.

"I had moved up kind of," Mr. Hollywood said of his drug dealing business, which he said brought in $7,000 to $10,000 a month.

Mr. Hollywood, others have testified, specialized in high-grade pot. His father, on the other hand, was moving hundreds of pounds of low- to mid-grade marijuana.

Mr. Hollywood would tap friends and associates to sell pot, and "front" them $4,000 worth of drugs, which would be repaid as sales came in. Among Mr. Hollywood's close friends was Ryan Hoyt, the man who pumped nine rounds into Nicholas early on Aug. 9, 2000, in the foothills of Santa Barbara.

Mr. Hoyt had an abusive father, and his mother had mental issues, and he ended up spending a lot of time with the Hollywoods, the defendant recalled. Mr. Hoyt - described as the type to tell stories about his future but never follow through - came to be in debt to Mr. Hollywood, and started paying it off by assisting Mr. Hollywood in fixing up his home.

Of himself, Mr. Hollywood said he would always pay his bills on time, worked a legitimate job installing hardwood floors in addition to dealing drugs. And while he "partied" on occasion, he would put his marijuana business first, he said.

He also claimed to be constantly dieting and working out regularly.

"I'm health nut," said Mr. Hollywood, who additionally described himself as suffering from "full-blown" obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Mr. Hollywood lived in the first house for about a year before he purchased his own $205,000 house, according to testimony. The defendant put $45,000 down and took on a mortgage.

Toward the end of his time at the first home, Mr. Hollywood started hanging out with Ben Markowitz.

Mr. Markowitz travelled with Mr. Hollywood to San Diego to collect a debt, and according to Mr. Markowitz's testimony earlier in the trial, the two instead returned to Los Angeles County with a supply of stolen Ecstasy pills Mr. Markowitz planned to sell. Mr. Markowitz took the debt on as his own because he stood to make a profit in the deal.

It was reportedly this deal that led to the rift between the two, but before Mr. Hollywood could delve into the topic on Monday, the day's hearing came to an end. Mr. Hollywood will be back on the stand today at 9 a.m.

Earlier in the day, the defense argued for the inclusion of testimony for Jerry Hollywood, the defendant's second cousin, which indicates the defendant wanted the victim returned home. Judge Hill expressed concerned about the elder man's testimony because of some difficultly the witness had remembering events from about nine years ago.

Before the jury entered the room, Jerry Hollywood testified that he remembered the conversation he had with Jesse James Hollywood, on August 8, 2000, because "certain things in your life you remember" - a reference to Jesse's admitted involvement in the kidnapping.

The 70-year-old went on to take the stand before the jury later in the day, with Judge Hill determining it would be up to the jury to decide how reliable a witness he is.

Under direct examination from Mr. Blatt, Jerry Hollywood - a real estate agent - testified he had been contacted by Jesse James Hollywood to sell the defendant's home and assist in finding him a new one, preferably along the shore in Malibu.

Mr. Hollywood reportedly confided that the reason for the move was his being harassed by an unnamed individual. The cousins met again Aug. 8, 2000, when Mr. Hollywood signed still-blank contracts to put his house on the market, and the defendant went on to again discuss the trouble he was having, according to Jerry Hollywood.

Mr. Hollywood said he had been out with friends looking for the man he was having trouble with when they spotted Nicholas. Mr. Hollywood reportedly said they took the victim in a van and he was "partying" with the others.

"I knew he was concerned because he was going to see his attorney," Jerry Hollywood said. That night, Jesse James Hollywood called back concerning the real-estate deal and the situation with the victim again came up. The defendant then, according to Jerry Hollywood, said everything was OK, and someone was taking the boy home.

During cross examination from District Attorney's Chief Trial Deputy Joshua Lynn, Jerry Hollywood testified that when he was first contacted by the prosecution for a statement, the defense investigator did not have to remind him about the conversation, other than possibly about dates.

But last week outside the presence of the jury, the witness testified he believes he was reminded about the comment about the boy going home.

While law enforcement never approached Jerry Hollywood about the discussion with Mr. Hollywood, Mr. Lynn asked the witness if he ever attempted to contact police or the District Attorney's Office to deliver the information. Jerry Hollywood responded that he figured if what he had to say were important, law enforcement would come to him.

Jerry Hollywood said the FBI contacted him while his cousin was on the run, but authorities apparently never questioned him about Mr. Hollywood's guilt or innocence.

Also testifying Monday was Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Deputy Albert Lafferty, a forensics detective at the time of the murder.

Deputy Lafferty testified that the trail by which the body was transported to the grave would have been difficult to navigate in the early morning hours for someone with little knowledge of the area.

The defense's second witness, Paul Kimes, an investigator for the District Attorney's Office, testified that he conducted extensive scrutinizing of a phone log, which holds a record of all of Jesse Hollywood's calls between May 30 and August 9, 2000.

However, he said he has no recollection of contacting Jerry Hollywood to investigate the conversation that records show took place between he and Jesse on August 8.

Mr. Kimes said that on May 21, 2009, he reported on an interview between Richard Hoeflinger, in whose home the victim was alleged to have been held before he was killed, and prosecuting attorney Hans Almgren.

He said that he neither took notes nor tape-recorded the interview, and he wrote the report the next day.

During this interview, Mr. Hoeflinger revealed new information to he and Mr. Almgren about having met Jesse James Hollywood on two occasions prior to the first admitted encounter in August when the defendant was alleged to have brought the victim to Mr. Hoeflinger's home.

Mr. Kimes said during his cross-examination that Mr. Hoeflinger said that the first time he met Mr. Hollywood was five months before the kidnapping, when he was brought to Mr. Hollywood's home by Jesse Rugge. He said that Ryan Hoyt answered the door with a "Mac-10" and asked who it was.

According to defense co-counsel Alex Kessel, Mr. Hoeflinger said that he had not told prosecutors this information before because he was afraid of Mr. Hollywood.

When the jury was excused for lunch, the defense called their private investigator, Ashley Fauria, to the stand.

He testified that when he interviewed Jerry Hollywood, he was unable to record the conversation so he faxed a statement to the man to be signed and faxed back. Jerry Hollywood "did not approve" of the statement and decided to write his own.

During cross-examination, Mr. Fauria testified that when he interviewed Jerry Hollywood, he asked about August 8, 2000, but said that he did not prompt the man's memory otherwise.

Jerry Hollywood reportedly told Mr. Fauria that August 8 was the day that Jesse James Hollywood told him he wanted to buy a condo in Malibu.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

IN BRIEF : New ranger to take over in August

Morgan Hoover

June 21, 2009 8:55 AM

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST A new Santa Barbara District Ranger will begin his new job August 3. Douglas Dodge will replace John Bridgewater, who has overseen the district since last year when Cindy Chojnacky left the position. Ranger Dodge is currently the Harlowton District Ranger of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana.

His various positions at the Bureau of Land Management have included assistant field manager, archaeologist and outdoor recreation planner. He has worked in federal service for 27 years and in the U.S. Forest Service for five.

IN BRIEF : Free, low cost HIV testing to be offered

Morgan Hoover

June 21, 2009 8:54 AM

SANTA BARBARA Local clinics, non-profits and the Public Health Department will recognize National HIV Testing Day June 26-28.

At least nine locations will have free or low-cost HIV testing during the course of these three days.

Testing will provide results in 20 minutes and involves a swab of the mouth. Blood and urine testing will also be available.

Those at risk for contracting HIV are those who have unprotected sex or share needles, as well as their sex partners.

Since the 1980s, close to 1,000 residents of Santa Barbara have been diagnosed with HIV, the AIDS-causing virus; 501 have subsequently died.

Locations and times for testing can be found at

IN BRIEF : Registration open for birding workshops

Morgan Hoover

June 21, 2009 8:57 AM

SANTA BARBARA Children can now register for birding workshops at Cachuma Lake County Park, which are being offered by Santa Barbara County Park Naturalists.

Kids Learn Birds will focus on teaching children aged 8-15 the difference between birds and mammals; how to study birds behavior; bird identification; what birds live in the area; and how to use birding tools.

There will be two sessions of two days each -- a Tuesday and a Thursday-- which are $15 per child. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon each day. The first session is June 23 and June 25, and the second session is June 30 and July 2.

The workshops comprise indoor and outdoor learning, as well as a pontoon boat trip during which children can bird watch. Family members older than four can join the boat outing for an additional fee.

Thirteen children will be accepted per session; call 688-4515 to register.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Legal landscape in land use, manufacturing and climate change discussed : Former Schwarzenegger administration official sits down for some Q & A with


June 20, 2009 7:41 AM

Of the many environmental initiatives to take place in California over the past 15 years, you can bet Maureen Gorsen's fingerprints are all over them.

The 45-year-old was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson as general counsel of the state Resources Agency and, while there, led reforms of the state Environmental Quality Act as it pertains to the Endangered Species Act, the Williamson Act and the Coastal Act.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tapped her as deputy secretary for law enforcement and general counsel of the state Environmental Protection Agency in 2003. Among her accomplishments cited in this role was advising the agency during negotiations of AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

The same year Mr. Schwarzenegger signed that bill into law, he appointed Ms. Gorsen director of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

She left that post earlier this year to join Los Angeles law firm Alston & Bird as a partner in the Environmental and Land Development Group.

She was at the Santa Barbara Club on Friday to discuss with business people the legal landscape in land use, manufacturing and climate change.

After the talk, she sat down with the News-Press.

Q: As you go around to these business groups, explain in laymen's terms your message to them.

A: I just kind of tell people what's going on in Sacramento, what regulations are coming, what you need to think about and be prepared for.

Q: On the continuum of environmental protection, where does California sit?

A: On the vanguard. The nations of the world signed Kyoto; they've agreed to reduce greenhouse gas five percent by 2012. Well, California's AB 32, signed a couple years ago, will reduce greenhouse gases 30 percent by 2020. So whatever California does, it goes further.

Q: How is Santa Barbara viewed among environmental advocates?

A: I think very positively. Environmental advocates find Santa Barbara to be a good place for them to achieve their objectives. No off-shore drilling, that kind of thing.

Q: What does the federal stimulus plan mean for environmental planning?

A: It's huge. I'm very busy with federal stimulus stuff. There's an enormous amount of opportunity for entrepreneurs in clean tech and environmentally sustainable technology, and there's a ton of seed money being distributed for that right now.

Q: What does all this money mean for the regulation side?

A: The money does come with restrictions that are different. For instance, weatherization. A huge slug of money is coming for low-income housing in Santa Barbara to the extent that it's drafty. Window-caulking and insulation -- all of those services will be provided free. Last year there was $3 million for this. This year there's $185 million, and it all has to be spent by September, whereas the $3 million they normally get, they have three years to spend it. It's an enormous amount of money, and they have to use prevailing-wage laws, whereas normally they could just use minimum wage. So there's regulatory ties that come with the money. It has requirements that are not normally there in the grant cycles.

Q: Why did you leave government?

A: I worked for the governor for five years, and it was a pretty good run, and he only has 18 months left, so I wanted to leave somebody in charge who could continue, and if you leave with less than a year left before the next governor, nobody's willing to step in, and you have this vacuum for a year. You have to time it so that somebody can come and take your leadership mantle and carry it forward. There's an unwritten rule that you don't leave the governor in the lurch for the last year.

Q: Would you go back to government, and, if so, what position would you seek?

A: Yeah! I love public service. I love public policy, but I need a break right now.

Q: What is California's biggest challenge when it comes to protecting the environment and ensuring a robust economy?

A: There's a path forward where environmentally sustainable technologies are incubated in California and spread globally, and California grows its global share of the green chemistry market, material science. We're not a big chemical maker, but if we started making green chemicals made of algae and other green products and start supplanting the petrochemical market, it would be a $600 billion market for California. It's five times the amount of the Internet market. The challenge is to put it into a framework that stimulates the growth instead of just smacking the bad.

Q: Who are the people that you would say "get it?"

A: The governor. I think there's a lot of California-based companies that really get it like Method and Levi-Strauss. There's certainly the vanguard companies that are like, 'Oh, sustainable materials, let's go.'

Stimulus funds for small business

Morgan Hoover

June 20, 2009 7:39 AM

Small businesses struggling as a result of the economic downturn can obtain stimulus loans through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to a press release from the city officials.

The American Recovery Capital Program authorized $255 million in guaranteed loans for Small Business Association businesses, which can be obtained through September 30 or until funds are depleted. The maximum loan amount is $35,000.

Loans will be disbursed over six months, and repayment must begin one year after the final disbursement.

Businesses will have five years to complete repayment and will not be required to pay back interest.

Information on the loans can be found at

Chase Palm Park concerts begin next month

Morgan Hoover

June 20, 2009 7:39 AM

Chase Palm Park concerts begin next month

A summer concert series hosted by the city's Parks and Recreation department will take place Thursdays in July in Chase Palm Park at Cabrillo Boulevard and Calle Cèsar Chávez.

Concerts in the Parks kicks off July 2 with the Soul City Survivors, and each week a different performer will entertain concert-goers between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The concerts, five in all, are free, and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs beginning at noon.

The park's carousel will be open, and although alcoholic beverages and barbecues are not permitted, dogs can tag along, provided they are on a leash.

Other performers include Johnny Hawthorn on July 9, Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries on July 16, Tony Ybarra and Sonido Morena on July 23 and Spencer the Gardener on July 30.

IN BRIEF : Lang Lang and the S.B. Symphony

June 20, 2009 7:38 AM

SANTA BARBARA A world-famous pianist will perform in September at The Granada.

Lang Lang, a 26-year-old from China who performed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, sought out the Santa Barbara Symphony to start his 2009 performing tour. He will play Beethoven Concertos No. 2 and 3 and will donate his fee to the Symphony for its music education and community engagement programs.

The performer was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2008 and has been called the "hottest artist on the classical music planet" by the New York Times.

The general public can get tickets beginning June 23.

The Granada is located at 1214 State St. For tickets, call 899-2222.

-Morgan Hoover

Museum of Natural History launches app for iPhone, iPod Touch : Want to check out Butterflies Alive! without leaving home? There?s an app for that


June 20, 2009 7:37 AM

Now you can tour a museum exhibit without actually going there.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's summer exhibit Butterflies Alive! can be previewed on the iPhone and iPod Touch using The Butterflies Alive! application, or app -- available at -- can be used to become familiar with the butterflies before attending the exhibit or as a guide while visiting in person.

"Even if someone never visits our museum, if they're sitting in their backyard somewhere and see a butterfly and wonder what kind it is, they can use our app," said Easter Moorman, a spokeswoman for the museum.

The idea for such exhibit interaction stems from the long-cherished "Rattlesnake Button," a draw for museum patrons for more than 70 years, which allows the visitor to push a button to make a rattlesnake's tail rattle.

"I don't know what it is," she said by way of marveling at the attraction, "but it's a big thing."

The app is intended to make this concept digital.

The app provides some reading material and an audio tour to which patrons can listen using the museum's wireless Internet while visiting the exhibit.

The reading includes information on history, coloration, body structure, life cycle, butterfly plants and habitat loss.

It's not exhaustive," said Mrs. Moorman, "but it's fulfilling part of our mission, which is to educate."

The app's development started a year ago when a Digital Communications Committee was focused on a goal of connecting with the community.

Museums have often used written labels that visitors can read to obtain deeper understanding of a self-toured exhibit or phone numbers that patrons can call to hear narration for a fee. This app would eliminate these more cumbersome touring methods.

Michael Williams of iTMP Technology vocalized the concept of an iPhone application, and Mrs. Moorman agreed on the condition that it would be ready to use in time for Butterflies Alive!

She said the museum is not concerned about the possibility that the app could discourage the public from visiting the exhibit.

"It's one thing to see it on your iPhone," she said. "It's another thing to see it in person."

She also said that she has encountered research that indicates that such museum transparency does not stifle attendance and can actually increase it.

According to Dr. Karl Hutterer, the museum's executive director, plans are being made to develop additional app guides for future and current exhibits.

Although program designers are not willing to release specific information about future apps, they are willing to say that "in the next version, there will be a very exciting button."

The museum worked with iTMP Technology and Make it Work on the project.

Butterflies Alive! is open until September 1, but the app will remain available indefinitely.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chávez Charter school students vie for $100,000 fitness center : Ventura County schools also among finalists in Governor?s Challenge fitness competiti


June 19, 2009 7:27 AM

A Santa Barbara Charter school is rising to the challenge -- the Governor's Challenge.

The Cèsar Chávez Dual Language Immersion Charter school is in the running to win a $100,000 fitness center in the Governor's Challenge Competition, a contest promoting increased physical activity and better health among California's youth.

It has implemented several healthier policies, including serving nutritious snacks such as fruit salad or watermelon slices at birthday parties.

"From time to time, the kids will be like, 'Why can't we have Cheetos?'" said Principal Eva Neuer. "But they realize, 'I like celery sticks with hummus' or 'I like mango.'"

The school has also made it easy for students to be active for the contest-required 30 to 60 minutes at least three times a week, holding dance parties in music class and implementing basketball and track teams for the first time.

"We have a runner's club and a cheerleading group for the sixth graders, and next year we're going to have a walker's club," said Mrs. Neuer, who does her part by wearing sneakers to school every day.

"The way our campus is spread out, I can do my job better," she said. "And it's better for my health because I can move around more."

This is the second year the school has participated in the contest, which is put on by the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Three other Central Coast schools have been named finalists in the competition, including Hueneme High School and Robert J. Frank Intermediate School, both in Oxnard, and Lang Ranch Elementary School in Thousand Oaks. One of of these four schools will be named a regional winner and receive $5,000 in physical fitness equipment.

Three grand prize winners will be named from the list of 92 finalists and will receive a fitness center.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Highway 154 project completed


June 18, 2009 7:30 AM

A major headache for motorists traveling between the Santa Ynez Valley and South Coast came to an end Wednesday with the completion of so-called safety and operational improvements on State Route 154.

Construction on the $5 million project, which has led to lane closures, exit closings and congestion from Santa Barbara to State Route 246, began in July 2008.

Goals included an improved eastbound turnout area, turning lanes into Vista Point, turning lanes at Paradise Road and westbound passing lanes east of State Route 246 and turning lanes at the intersection of Routes 154 and 246.

Caltrans was in charge of oversight for the project, and CHP patrols participated in monitoring safety through the construction zones.

Representatives from a variety of agencies, including the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, were on hand for a completion ceremony Wednesday.

The project was funded through Measure D, Santa Barbara County's half-cent transportation tax.

Chumash to assist in Los Padres fire prevention

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the U.S. forest Service have reached an agreement to team up on forest fire prevention and suppression in Los Padres National Forest.

According to a press release, the plan joins the two in a coalition for "prevention, detection and suppression of wildland fires within their joint protection areas."

The agreement includes provisions for the tribe to assist Los Padres National Forest with a dispatcher based at the forest's Dispatch Center, the tribe's Wildland Fire Department to be listed on the forest's dispatch run card as an initial attack resource and for the band's department to be called to local fires within the forest's response areas along with CalFire and the Vandenburg Air Force Base and Santa Barbara County fire departments.

Additional provisions include the tribe's Wildland Fire Department's availability for special assignments and an opportunity for the department's fire engines to cover the forest and when needed.

-Morgan Hoover

Efforts fighting homelessness show promise : Advocates say 344 people have been placed

June 18, 2009 11:50 AM

Five hundred in five years. That was the number of homeless people that Bringing our Community Home hoped to place in permanent housing in 2007 when the organization launched its 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Santa Barbara. After two years, advocates have already placed 344 and are optimistic about achieving their goal.

BOCH held a press conference Wednesday at Transition House, 434 E. Ortega St., to detail its progress since the program was launched in 2007.

The BOCH Governing Board is encouraged by the increased cooperation among homeless advocates.

"The best thing that's happened is more partnerships, more planning," said John Buttny, BOCH Executive Director. "The community of those working with the homeless is more cohesive."

Santa Barbara Councilwoman Helene Schneider agreed.

"There were so many people doing this kind of work who didn't know each other," she said. "A homeless person might work with six or seven people, but if they don't know each other, they aren't helping him."

Steve Paro, a Vietnam veteran who was without a home for three years, has been living in the Victoria Hotel downtown for six months thanks to the efforts of BOCH.

"It's nice to sleep without getting wet," said Mr. Paro. "It's been a definite improvement, and I'm quite pleased."

According to Jeanette Duncan of People's Self-Help Housing, the project began with an estimated 900 chronically homeless in Santa Barbara in 2007. The current estimate is 1,000, including those 344 who have been placed.

"The economy is having an impact," said Ms. Duncan. "We've had many renters show up needing a place to stay because of foreclosures."

The project has made it a goal to solidify rights and dignity for the homeless.

Kathleen Baushke of Transition House expressed concern over the belief by some that homelessness is sometimes a choice.

"I have never met someone who was presented with an option and chose to lose their home," she said. "The difference between those of us who aren't homeless and those who are is that we have been able to access a safety net that the country is not providing for them."

Ms. Schneider said that homelessness is an "issue of life and death."

"Eighteen people already died on the street this year. Eighteen total people died on the street in 2008," she said, though she was uncertain of the reason for this concentration of deaths.

"The homeless have a right not to be assaulted," said Ms. Schneider. "They have a right not to be murdered."

"The homeless are a vulnerable population for crimes," said Santa Barbara County Chief Deputy Sheriff Geoff Banks. "They are difficult crimes to investigate and prosecute."

According to Mr. Buttny, a current concern of the program is the safety of homeless women, and BOCH is working to ensure that women are not turned away from shelters after hours.

"This already happens informally," said Mr. Buttny. "But we want to get something in place officially."

Although coordination has increased during the past two years, there is still work to be done, according to Tom Thomas, a business leader on the BOCH Governing Board.

"We need to get involved in record keeping," said Mr. Thomas. "Individual agencies do it, but the county doesn't yet."

County 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr agreed with Mr. Thomas that progress has yet to be made.

"I believe it is my job to facilitate partnerships with the county going forward," she said.

Deputy Sheriff Banks expressed concern for jailed homeless individuals who are released with nowhere to go.

"It's not a pleasant thing to not be able to solve somebody's problem," he said.

Deputy Sheriff Banks estimated that 10 percent of the jailed population is homeless.

Other concerns mentioned by press conference attendees included detox facilities for those without Medicare and the inclusion of the homeless population in the process of ending chronic homelessness.

Carp Unified Board to mull another $175,000 in cuts


June 17, 2009 10:33 AM

The Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education is preparing to discuss significant budget cuts at its meeting Monday, according to a press release.

The cuts are based on an updated copy of the state budget.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a budget in February that cuts education funding as part of a means to close a $6 billion state budget gap.

CUSD cut $358,000 in March and expects to cut an additional $175,000 before the end of the fiscal year in accordance with this plan.

As the governor works with the state legislature on the upcoming budget, the Board expects to cut another $1.27 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

According to the district's assistant superintendent, Cindy Abbott, the legislature can do little to counter the slashed funding.

"Most of the legislature supports schools," she said, "but the budget gap is so great that whatever anyone can do is pretty limited."

The cuts made at CUSD will not differ significantly from those of other districts, according to Ms. Abbott.

"... the goal of the legislature is to make sure they're the same per student," she said.

According to its press release, the Board is working to diminish the impact that budget cuts will have on students.

It voted Monday to divert funds intended for maintenance to its general fund, and it warns that if the expected cuts occur next year, class sizes may increase from 20 to 25 for students in kindergarten through third grade.

The Board also voted to cancel summer school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, though older students will still be offered summer school to remain on track to graduate.

As members investigate other ways to limit the effect the cuts will have on students, some roadblocks exist.

"We are not going to be able to lay off any more teachers," said Ms. Abbott. "Other schools can do that."

CUSD cannot lay off more teachers because tenured teachers must be notified of such action by March 15.

There is an additional August layoff window when a budget is passed and the revenue limit has not increased by 2 percent.

According to Ms. Abbott, this window might be used by some districts this year, but "CUSD will not be able to take advantage of that option."

The district's superintendent, Paul Cordeiro said that finding ways to leave the students unaffected is very difficult.

"We are at a low point in education funding," he said. "I have never seen it this bad."

Members of CAUSE, the employee union in the District, agree with Mr. Cordeiro.

"... CUSD ... will be required to pay its fair share in this economic crisis," said Casey Roberts, a representative of the union who pledged that the union will work in collaboration with the Board and District Administration to find solutions.