Saturday, August 29, 2009

SBCC puts new Media Arts building on hold : State budget woes blamed; $50 million project was due to break ground in 2010


August 29, 2009 7:50 AM

California's budget crisis struck again this week, as Santa Barbara City College announced Friday that it will postpone the construction of a new $50 million School of Media Arts on its main campus.

It had been expected that construction on the 65,000 square-foot building, intended to bring together programs including journalism, photography, graphic design and film and television production, would be underway in 2010.

Because of the state's inability to provide funding for approved construction projects, the decision was made to indefinitely delay the groundbreaking.

The state, which had initially committed $32 million toward the media arts building, reduced its commitment to $22 million, but without a guarantee of a time for the arrival of those funds.

Although voters in June 2008 passed Measure V, which provided the college with $77 million, only $9.3 million was designated to the media arts facility.

In light of the state's reduction in committed funding and a lack of a target date for the provision of funds, the only way to go ahead with the project would be to obtain $28 million of Measure V's $77 million.

The decision was made to postpone the building's construction, as improving existing campus infrastructure is a more pressing priority.

Improvement projects include a remodel of the drama and music building, construction of the new Luria Conference and Press Center overlooking La Playa Stadium and repair and upgrade to the Pedestrian Bridge between the East and West Campuses.

Other bond construction projects will include renovations and upgrades to the Humanities Building and MacDougall Administration Center, as well as to the Alice F. Schott Center.

For more information, visit

Aerial salute to late Navy flier : Thomas Macleod Jr. served in World War II and Korea during 30-year career


August 29, 2009 7:52 AM

An aerial salute by a pair of fighter jets was performed as part of a memorial service Friday to honor decorated career Navy man Thomas LeBreton Macleod Jr., who died Aug. 16.

Born Nov. 3, 1921, to Thomas and Minnie Macleod, Mr. Macleod was married for 57 years to the late Ann Macleod, with whom he had three sons. He is survived by son Ron, with wife Andra and their sons Grayson and Hudson; and son Scott, with wife Diana and their children Maile and Miles.

Mr. Macleod is preceded in death by his oldest son Tommy, who passed away in 1989.

Thomas Macleod learned to fly at the age of 17 from well-known aviator Waldo Dean Waterman.

After being the recipient of approximately 15 awards during his 30 years in the Navy, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Airman's Medal, he retired in 1975.

He served in both World War II and the Korean War, during which he flew in more than 30 combat-strike missions and received a personal letter from President Truman for distinguished service.

Mr. Macleod earned his bachelor's degree in geology at UCLA and an MBA from USC.

After his service, he continued to serve by working with the Department of Defense as a senior engineer for Lockheed International programs in the development of anti-submarine warfare programs.

He was buried Friday with full military honors at Santa Barbara Cemetery.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jesusita hydromulching proposed : No plastic in the mix this time around, says county public works


August 28, 2009 7:18 AM

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on whether to authorize county actions in support of a hydromulching project to limit any further damage that may be caused as a result of the Jesusita Fire.

The board approved the Emergency Watershed Response Plan for the Jesusita fire on July 7, and hydromulching is a crucial element of the plan. Hydromulching is applied to ease the hazard posed to downstream areas by mudslides, debris flow, sedimentation and an increase in runoff, all of which can occur after a fire.

In May, the Burn Area Emergency Response Report for Jesusita was completed. In it, aerial hydromulching, which is the process of applying paper, wood fiber and a binder to prevent soil erosion, was identified as an effective means of aiding in the reduction of flood peaks and sediment yield to downstream areas.

It is proposed that the process be completed between Sept. 2 and Oct. 19.

According to Deputy Public Works Director Tom Fayram, the county must prepare for the worst, and while there have been some concerns over the possibility of a strong El NiƱo presence, there is no definitive indication of what winter will bring.

"There is no ability to truly forecast whether you're going to have a big winter," he said.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $4.6 million, and 75 percent of it -- $3.6 million -- will come from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The state of California's Emergency Management Agency will provide $690,000, the South Coast Flood Zone will provide $180,000 and the city of Santa Barbara has pledged $50,000. The Board of Supervisors is asked to authorize the funding as proposed.

Funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service will be provided via emergency funding. Therefore, if the debris basin clean-out, debris rack construction, channel excavation and hydromulching processes are not completed within 60 days, the money will be lost.

Aerial hydromulching will be applied by the county to about 1,200 acres of private land and local public agency land; affected private land owners must consent to this service by signing the county's Right of Entry agreement.

"Our piece of the project is about the same size (as it was after the Gap fire)," said Mr. Fayram. "The Forest Service piece is going to be different; it's something much less."

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed about 300 acres of hydromulching and is pursuing a contractor. The process was completed by Western States Reclamation Inc. of Frederick, Colo., following the Gap Fire; Despite concerns raised over the issue of contaminants in the mulch mix used then, the county public works officials were satisfied with the job.

The Board of Supervisors is being asked to authorize a waiver of the bidding for the service and to execute an agreement with Western States Reclamation not to exceed the estimated $4.6 million cost.

A year ago this week, a $4.8 million aerial hydromulching operation in the Gap Fire burn area began. Officials then described the material as an all-organic mixture of recycled paper and wood fiber, water and a binding agent made of guar gum, which is a plant-based substance commonly used as a thickener in foods.

The mulch did not contain seeds or fertilizer, but it did contain an organic green dye to help pilots monitor application.

As it turns out, the mulch also contained plastic.

In the face of questions over such contaminants being dropped on local hillsides and where it could end up, the Public Works Department agreed to specify 100 percent plastic-free mulch mix in the future.

"We're confident we can avoid those problems again," said Mr. Fayram.

The Jesusita Fire burned more than 8,700 acres in the mountains above Santa Barbara and Goleta.

Other drainage measures included in the Emergency Watershed Response Plan include the monitoring and removal of vegetation from the debris racks and removal of debris plugs and accumulated sediment deposits from within the stream channel in the urban areas.

Sandbag distribution centers will also be established, and officials have pledged to make information available to the public about the risk of various hazards related to the fire's damage.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Budget cuts impact HIV/AIDS programs


August 27, 2009 7:20 AM

At a town hall meeting Wednesday night hosted by the Pacific Pride Foundation, community members gathered to express outrage over budget cuts made to HIV/AIDS programs in July.

"My anger is appropriate, and it's real," said the Reverend Mark Asman, the foundation's board chair. He explained that most of his anger is directed toward Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who used a line-item veto in July to eliminate $52 million from state HIV/AIDS programs after the state legislature left the governor a budget deficit of $156 million.

At the meeting, advocates were encouraged to work toward a fundraising goal of $160,000 at the annual fall AIDS walk. "The thing that excites me is to really motivate my community ... with the biggest AIDS walk that we have ever seen." said the Rev. Asman.

"We've lost a lot," said David Selberg, the foundation's executive director. "About $82 million in a few weeks. We're back to funding levels that we saw in 1989, 1990."

Mr. Selberg said the foundation laid off 11 employees immediately after the funding was cut.

"Our testing programs, where you go in to get a test ... gone," he said.

Pacific Pride Foundation laid off a nurse case manager, social workers, food pantry coordinators, therapists, HIV test counselors and a volunteer coordinator.

The foundation also reduced its budget by downsizing office spaces and HIV food pantry groceries.

Some elected officials were present at the meeting.

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf said she is also outraged by the budget cuts, even going so far as to say they do not make sense.

"I guess I'm a little angry too," she said. "You can't sometimes understand how people think so differently."

Mrs. Wolf said she plans to help in any way she can.

"We are all facing horrendous budget decisions," she said. "Whatever we can do at the county to help, we're there."

City Councilman Das Williams said he does not agree with the budget cuts.

"I just want to be here in solidarity with all of you," he said. "This is taking away preventative treatment. There will be people who die because of this."

"This is 'Lord of the Flies' stuff," he said. "Our budget is a statement of our morality, and we are failing as a state."

A letter was passed out to the approximately 50 attendees, and everyone was urged to sign the letter and mail it to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

A portion of the letter says, "I urge you to continue the use of Santa Barbara County General funds in support of HIV/AIDS services. These funds are more crucial than ever and are an absolute necessity given the severity of the state cuts."

The foundation is also asking for monetary or item donations to the HIV/AIDS food pantry.

Priority items to the food pantry include juice, sports drinks, sugar, bar soap, Listerine mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, unscented laundry soap and paper towels.

For more information, contact the Pacific Pride Foundation at 805-963-3636, ext. 114.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

S.B. School Districts nixes interdistrict transfers


August 26, 2009 7:30 AM

There will be exceptions, but the new policy starts in 2010-11 school year The Santa Barbara School Districts will no longer accept interdistrict transfer students, beginning in the 2010-11 school year.

The School Board voted Tuesday night to approve policy that, due to "fiscal considerations," no interdistrict transfers will be permitted except in five specific situations.

These exception cases include students who are children of district employees; students who complete eleventh grade in a Santa Barbara Secondary District school during the current school year; students who are enrolled during the current school year in a high school academy; students who qualify for and are approved on the basis of extraordinary hardship; and tenth grade students who participate in a high school interscholastic sports program during the current school year so that they can compete in the same sport at the varsity level, only where a transfer to the district of residency would result in loss of eligibility to compete in that sport at the varsity level under California Interscholastic Federation rules; and

Public comment on the matter included two fathers, both asking that the policy be reconsidered.

"We're 35 minutes from Dos Pueblos," said Bruce Hamill, whose 12th grade daughter attends the high school and will not be affected by the policy, but whose ninth grade son attends San Marcos High School and will be affected. "I feel like you're leaving the rural students out of the equation."

"How are you going to explain to students who are sophomores this year and have to take the SAT and ACT next year?" he asked.

The board was divided on the issue. It passed, but members Dr. Robert Noel and Edward Heron voted against it.

"My option would be to grandfather the kids in starting with ninth graders next year," said Dr. Noel.

Mr. Heron agreed.

"I feel the same way as Dr. Noel," he said. "I don't see how you can tell people with heart-wrenching stories, 'you're not included.' "

Mr. Heron went so far as to make a motion to delete the exemptions for children in sports and high school academies. Both motions failed 3-2, with Dr. Noel siding with Mr. Heron.

The board also introduced the new district special education director, who comes at a time when special education is a tumultuous topic in the district, after seven directors have left in eight years.

Tom Guajardo said he is excited for his position in the district.

"I just really appreciate the welcome," he said. "As I get around and talk to people ... I'm amazed at the great resources that we have."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A LIFE SAVED : Dispatcher who did her job meets man she helped keep from dying


August 25, 2009 7:33 AM

After saving a man's life by calmly sticking to protocol under the most frightening of circumstances, a Santa Barbara County public safety dispatch supervisor was honored Monday afternoon with an Emergency Medical Dispatch CPR Save Award.

Tuesday's ceremony, held at the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center, marked the first time Shannon Hoogenbosch met the cardiac arrest victim whose life she is credited with saving on June 27, 56-year-old Orcutt resident Mike Hanneman.

On that particular day, Ms. Hoogenbosch took the 9-1-1 call related to Mr. Hanneman, learning that he was unconscious and not breathing.

After sending firefighters and paramedics to the scene, she provided instructions to Mr. Hanneman's family that ultimately saved his life.

County Health Department representative Marc Burdick took the opportunity Monday to praise Ms. Hoogenbosch for ensuring that Mr. Hanneman's family members took every step possible to save his life until help arrived, particularly performing CPR.

"She kept telling them to keep going until we got there," said Mr. Burdick, who explained that a defibrillator was eventually used on Mr. Hanneman. "After the second shock, he started to get his heartbeat back."

The importance of CPR was a theme of the ceremony.

Dr. Angelo Salvucci, the medical director of the county's Emergency Medical Services, also expounded upon the vital role of the life-saving technique and said everyone should learn how to perform it.

"Because CPR was done and done correctly," he said, "...(Mr. Hanneman) is here to talk to us today."

Dr. Salvucci then pointed out that the saving of Mr. Hanneman's life was a process accomplished through a "chain of survival," in which "the link representing the dispatch" was especially crucial.

He emphasized the point that were it not for Ms. Hoogenbosch, Mr. Hanneman may not have been present at Monday's gathering.

"If any of you listened to the (9-1-1) tape, you'd understand," he said.

Mr. Hanneman spoke next, briefly but memorably.

"I just wanted to thank Shannon for her professionalism," he said. "All I know is that I survived, and I survived because of the efforts of everyone it took."

Santa Barbara County Undersheriff Ken Shemwell used his time to praise Ms. Hoogenbosch, explaining that she would not praise herself.

"She's going to act like, 'Well, this is not that big a deal; I was just doing my job,' " he said. "This is her second (Emergency Medical Dispatch) CPR Save Award."

He called Ms. Hoogenbosch's efforts "fantastic," emphasizing that while she is modest, others recognize the impact of her accomplishments.

"I'm even more pleased that Mr. Hanneman is here today," he said, turning to Mr. Hanneman, who wore an appropriately lively green shirt to the ceremony, and he added with a handshake, "It's great to have you here."

Ms. Hoogenbosch spoke very positively of the inspirational experience.

"It's a good feeling," she said and quickly corrected herself, saying, "It's an awesome feeling to know that you saved somebody's life."

She said one of the most important aspects of a dispatcher's work is insisting on calmness from someone who has been forced to call 911.

"The caller was pretty hysterical," she said. "You've just got to keep reminding them."

She provided some words of wisdom for those who ever have to call 911 for emergency services.

"I know the situation's hard," she said, "but just try to stay calm."

As for meeting Mr. Hanneman, Ms. Hoogenbosch described it as having "come full circle."

"I'm very modest and very quiet about it," she said, "but it's a great feeling."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Woman plans to hula hoop 200 miles for a cause : She also has her sights on a long distance hooping world record


August 22, 2009 7:38 AM

Proving that staying fit can be fun and might even help make the world a better place, a Maricopa woman plans to hula hoop her way across 200 miles of the South Coast to raise awareness about the nonprofit organization where she is an intern.

Ahni Radvanyi, 23, currently interns at Quail Springs, described in its Web site as "a working farm dedicated to demonstrating and teaching holistic ways of designing human environments, and to facilitating deeper understandings of ourselves and one another through immersive experiences in nature."

"I want an adventure, and no one's set a record for long distance hooping," she said.

Ms. Radvanyi said she has hula hooped since she was a child, but she became especially passionate about it approximately four years ago.

"Any time there's good music around, you can't make me stop," she said laughing. "I don't do it every day; I do it when I feel called to do it."

Ms. Radvanyi said hooping has changed her perspective on health.

"It makes me feel so balanced afterward," she said, explaining that since she began hula hooping regularly, she has achieved greater body awareness and is "more comfortable in (her) own skin."

"It's another kind of yoga for me," she said. "It's mind and body."

Her favorite place to hula hoop is at Quail Springs.

"There's a hill ... that was considered the center of the Chumash Indian universe," she said. "Early, early morning is the best."

She now plans to take the activity to a new level by embarking on a hula hoop journey beginning Aug. 29 in Ojai, continuing through Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta and ending in Gaviota.

Ms. Radvanyi said she hopes people will join her along these 200 miles because she wants to be encouraged.

"I want to see that they believe they can do it too," she said.

Ms. Radvanyi said eventually she would like to teach a hooping class, but right now she wants "to take on the world."

"I want to facilitate hoop jams," she said of the future, "but what I really want to tell people is to take your next step toward a healthier mind and body."

Symbolism is another important part of the activity for the adventurous hooper.

"I want people to see it as a metaphor," she said. "I want people to see the circle they're dancing in and be the change within it."

For more information on Quail Springs, visit

To join Ms. Radvanyi's hooping journey at any point or to gain more information, visit

Friday, August 21, 2009

SBCAG urged to address sustainability in transportation plan


August 21, 2009 7:24 AM

Local environmental advocates on Thursday encouraged county officials to make further improvements to the sustainability of transportation in Santa Barbara.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments received a presentation and public feedback at the County Administration building of the new draft amendment to the Regional Transportation Plan's Environmental Impact Report of 2008.

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge ruled in June that SBCAG's certification of an associated program EIR was vacated, as it was "deficient with respect to energy setting, energy impacts analysis, and, to a limited extent, induced travel."

Aubrey Spilde presented the association with the draft EIR amendment, on which the public can comment on paper until Sept.. 4.

The amendment includes three key sections, including an "Induced Travel" section, which consists "of a new discussion of the potential for impacts related to induced travel;" an "Energy" section, which includes "additional description and quantification of current countywide energy use, supplementary regulatory setting and quantification of impacts and a "References and Preparers" section.

Public comment at the meeting produced statements that the association should continue improving the amendment.

K.K. Holland, the project coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable and Equitable Regional Transportation, said the association should look at supporting the addition of a coastal rail line as a means of sustainable transportation.

"The (Regional Transportation Plan) really needs to do a better job of taking sustainability seriously," she said.

The Community Environmental Council was also represented during public comment by Michael Chiacos and Dave Davis.

"Transportation provides the impetus for over 50 percent of the greenhouse gases in Santa Barbara," said Mr. Davis, who said that he wants the plan to be made more "adaptable" for the future. "What we are looking at is a plan that does pretty good for today's conditions."

Mr. Chiacos agreed, saying the amendment is improved but still "uses old data and ignores recent trends."

"I ask that you take a look ahead," he said. "Alternative transportation allows us to use our current infrastructure more efficiently."

Mr. Chiacos called affordable transportation "a moral imperative," and said the "local data is surprisingly incomplete" in the amendment.

The association's staff will bring the amendment back at next month's meeting after addressing the responses from both the public and association members.

To view the full amendment and submit comment, go to


Auto buyers have last weekend to cash in clunkers

August 21, 2009 7:31 AM

The Obama administration plans to end the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program on Monday, giving car shoppers a few more days to take advantage of the government incentive, but at least one local auto dealer doesn't think there will be a last-minute rush of buyers looking to unload their gas-guzzling, smog-belching jalopies.

The Transportation Department said Thursday the government will wind down the program on Monday at 8 p.m. EDT. Car buyers can receive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient models.

"It's been a thrill to be part of the best economic news story in America," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Now we are working toward an orderly wind down of this very popular program."

According to Jim Crook, owner of Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep Dodge, the project has wound down on its own, and its final weekend will not produce a spike in sales.

"I don't think it's going to do anything," he said. "If they were going to (take advantage of) it, they've already done it."

Walter Alfaro, general manager of Perry Ford Lincoln Mercury, sees things differently.

"It's impacted our business very positively," he said. "I know it will affect our business this weekend; I think the response is going to be overwhelming."

Through Thursday, auto dealers nationally have made deals worth $1.9 billion and are on pace to exhaust the program's $3 billion in early September. The incentives have generated more than 457,000 vehicle sales. Administration officials said they have reviewed nearly 40 percent of the transactions and have already paid out $145 million to dealers.

Administration officials said applications for rebates will not be accepted after 8 p.m. EDT Monday and dealers should not make additional sales without receiving all the necessary paperwork from their customers. Dealers will be able to resubmit applications after the deadline.

President Barack Obama said in an interview Thursday that the program has been "successful beyond anybody's imagination" but dealers were overwhelmed by the response of consumers. He pledged that dealers "will get their money."

Mr. Crook said he sees the wait for this reimbursement as a major downfall of the program.

"We haven't been funded from the government," he said. "That's the biggest negative."

According to Mr. Alfaro, the program "has put a lot of people in a position where they're looking at what they own," and how it relates to doing "the right thing for the environment."

News-Press Correspondent Morgan Hoover contributed to this report.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trash-to-energy plan for landfill discussed


August 20, 2009 7:08 AM

Although it would nearly double tipping costs, implementation of trash-to-energy conversion technology at Tajiguas landfill would necessitate a less severe increase for ratepayers in their trash bills and help ease the burden on the landfill, which was described as "basically at capacity" by Nina Johnson, assistant to Santa Barbara's city administrator, at Tuesday's city council meeting.

At a forum over conversion technology at the Faulkner Gallery Wednesday night, Project Leader Carlyle Johnston explained that the proposed technology would break waste down quickly in a controlled environment to produce energy and marketable products.

"That happens anyway in a landfill," said Mr. Johnston, explaining that using conversion technology would "speed it up and make it ideal."

Current tipping fees, which are the rates charged at the landfill when garbage is actually brought there, are currently at $63 for each ton of garbage. Implementing conversion technology would increase the tipping fee to $100 per ton, but the residential ratepayer would receive less than $4 in increase to monthly trash bills.

The city council approved a resolution regarding its intent to commit the city's residual solid waste to a conversion technology facility at Tajiguas. According to Mr. Johnston, the program was as successful with Goleta's city council and hopes to achieve success in Buellton and Solvang. Those four cities, along with Santa Barbara County, are the affected jurisdictions and are the jurisdictions within which the project is being handled.

Conversion technology is not the same as thermal technology, which Mr. Johnston explained is the controversial process of "heating up waste with the absence of oxygen."

Thermal technology creates a gas and is environmentally hazardous.

The use of conversion technology is necessary, argued Mr. Johnston, because the annual growth in waste generation since 1990 has been 2.7 percent, but the annual population growth since then has been 1 percent.

If the project's timeline remains on track, the conversion technology facility will be operational by November 2015.

For more information, contact Mr. Johnston at or 882-3617.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Goleta City Council divided over city hall acquisition : It will take matter up again in September


August 19, 2009 7:31 AM

Amid disagreement over the acquisition of a permanent city hall, a divided Goleta City Council on Tuesday voted to continue its deliberations to September.

The council heard a comprehensive presentation on various aspects of the proposed acquisition, which would involve the construction of a new 40,000-square-foot, two-story building at 6767 Hollister Ave and a move-in date of February 2011, with the second floor being leased to a tenant sometime in the following month.

The proposed building would be twice the size of the current leased space used by the council at 130 Cremona Dr., and the estimated cost is $14.7 million, or $367.50 per square foot.

Russ Goodman, the regional vice president of real estate company Sares-Regis, presented the council with information on the prospective project and told them that the company "couldn't offer this building at this price if we weren't in a recession."

This comment "concerned" Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves, who asked for further explanation and was told that the next presentation would answer his question.

Francois DeJohn and Steve Hayes of Hayes Commercial Group then presented the council with a report concluding that Sares-Regis is asking a reasonable price for the building. They also presented the council with comparisons to buildings in the city that they had seen and eliminated as potential locations for the future city hall.

One of the eliminated locations was the Cremona Drive building currently used by the council, which Mr. DeJohn said was determined not to be for sale.

However, during public comment, Geoff Berman, the developer who owns the building on Cremona Drive, stepped up to the podium and said he never participated in discussions about selling the building to the city and would be open to such negotiations.

Finance Director Tina Rivera presented a cash flow analysis to the board after working on the project with private financial institution Stone & Youngberg.

According to Ms. Rivera's proposals, the project could be funded using $1 million from the City Hall Reserve, $1.145 million from public and sheriff fees, $1.65 million from the cash flow reserve, $7 million from bond proceeds and $4 million from the contingency reserve, totaling $14.795 million. Ms. Rivera's report also applied a $395,000 contingency to the total.

After the presentations were given, the councilmembers began to present their personal opinions on the agenda item.

"I don't understand why the timing is so crucial," said Councilman Ed Easton. "I'm not ready to proceed at this point."

Councilwoman Margaret Connell and Councilman Michael Bennett agreed that they, too, were concerned about the project.

Mayor Pro Tempore Eric Onnen, however, expressed dismay at this lack of readiness, calling Ms. Connell, Mr. Aceves and Mr. Easton "unmotivated."

"I'm kind of surprised," said Mr. Onnen. "The public didn't turn out here today to say, 'This is the wrong place,' or, 'This is the wrong time.'"

Mr. Onnen continued, "This is an acceptable building in an acceptable location. We're making a mistake to think that we're going to have another opportunity roll down the street when we're ready."

Mayor Aceves retorted, pointing out that using a lack of public comment as a catalyst for a vote was unfair because he had received e-mails and blog entries against the project and they had chosen to hold the public session in the afternoon.

"I'm a firm believer that if we close this door, another one will open," he said. "We're only seven years old. Why do we need to run to buy a building that's twice the size of our needs?"

Ms. Connell also responded to Mr. Onnen's reference to public comment, quoting Donald Rumsfeld.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," she said.

It was decided that further discussion on the potential acquisition of the Hollister Avenue property would be continued to the evening session of the scheduled Sept. 1 Goleta City Council meeting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adoption scammer Mozes takes stand - against ex : Prosecutors use Orson Mozes in attempt to show Christen Brown's ties to sham agency


August 18, 2009 7:08 AM

Admitted adoption scammer Orson Mozes took the stand as a witness for the prosecution Monday against his ex-wife, who is attempting to obtain a portion of the $300,000 found with Mr. Mozes when he was arrested.

Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman continued to try to prove that Christen Brown was involved in the adoption business, as well as the activity involving taking money under false pretenses, 17 counts to which Mr. Mozes pleaded guilty in July.

Ms. Waldman asked Mr. Mozes how much involvement his ex had in the online agency Adoption International Program.

"I would say a lot of involvement," he said. "(She) founded AIP without me."

Mr. Mozes called Ms. Brown's involvement "constant," saying he wanted to pay back some of the clients from whom he had taken money, but "Christen refused."

During Ms. Brown's testimony, she said she and Mr. Mozes purchased gold coins totalling no more than 20 in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

Mr. Mozes, who was in possession of gold coins when he was arrested in Miami, Fla., said he purchased them on his own in Florida after separating from Ms. Brown in 2007.

Although Ms. Brown insisted during her testimony she had nothing to do with the fraudulent adoption agency after 2003, Mr. Mozes said she "had the last say on every person who was ever hired." His remark was stricken from the record, however.

A letter written by Mr. Mozes to his family upon leaving for Miami in June 2007 was submitted into evidence. In it, Mr. Mozes asked that Ms. Brown use some of the money from the sale of their house to pay off his debts. She used the money to pay off personal debt to herself that Mr. Mozes allegedly owed.

"I wanted my money to go toward. . .any victims that weren't paid," he said. "I never thought she'd take it for alimony."

On cross-examination, Mr. Mozes told Ms. Brown's attorney, Stephen Dunkle, that he left town in 2007 because of Ms. Brown's alleged demands that he make money with the business so they could keep their house.

"She turned my daughter, Zoe, and my son against me," he said. "All Christen cares about is money; she has no heart as far as I'm concerned."

Asked whether he disliked his ex, Mr. Mozes said, "I'm glad to say that I don't feel good or bad about her, which is worse than not caring at all."

Defense witnesses Kathy Lynch and Molly Walker, both former employees of the fraudulent adoption agency, testified that Ms. Brown had minimal involvement in the company, if any at all.

Both women admitted to being surprised that Ms. Brown professed having deep involvement in the company during a 2003 lawsuit, which AIP filed against the Pennsylvania attorney general.

It came to light during the questioning of Ms. Lynch, who said she worked only four or five hours a week at the agency, that she had spent time visiting with Ms. Brown as recently as Saturday, something Superior Court Judge George Eskin asked her about further after both attorneys completed their questioning.

Ms. Lynch insisted that she and Ms. Brown had only discussed personal matters not pertaining to the case, and she said she had reached out to Ms. Brown because she had a severe migraine and did not want to be alone.

Prosecution witness Jayne Howarth was employed at the company from May to August 2006, and testified that Ms. Brown did have involvement in the company.

"My understanding was that Christen and Orson were partners," she said.

Ms. Howarth also said she left the agency after only a few months of employment because she knew "that something was very wrong there."

The proceedings were continued until Aug. 27.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Forum brings together mayoral, city council hopefuls : Crowded field of candidates on hand for South Coast Community Coalition event


August 15, 2009 7:17 AM

City candidates took advantage of the chance to present their views on pressing local matters Friday night at a forum held at Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort by the non-partisan South Coast Community Coalition.

The forum was divided into two sequences: one for city council candidates Bendy White, John Thyne, Justin Tevis, Michael Self, Bonnie Raisin, David Pritchett, Cathy McCammon, Grant House, Frank Hotchkiss, John Gibbs, Dianne Channing and Lane Anderson, and one for mayoral candidates Helene Schneider, Isaac Garrett, Dale Francisco, Iya Falcone and Steve Cushman.

The evening was moderated by former city councilman Phil Bugay, who founded the hosting coalition.

Mr. Bugay began both sequences of the forum by asking the candidates to list their top three city priorities.

Nine of the city council candidates and four of the mayoral hopefuls put the budget at or near the top of their priorities.

"Clearly my top priority is ... to get a handle on the budget," said Mr. White, kicking the evening off with a firm response.

Mr. Pritchett said he plans to use "fiscal discipline and tough love budgeting" if he is elected to the council.

Mr. Tevis said he proposes "balancing the budget without passing the burden back onto" Santa Barbara residents.

Mrs. Self called it a "huge issue" and said that she has her "hair in an absolute flame when they talk about doubling our fees."

On the mayoral side, Mr. Francisco said that the budget is the "single most important responsibility of the mayor and the city council."

Another matter that candidates named among their top priorities is public safety, often as it relates to gang activity.

Mr. Anderson said strengthening neighborhoods could be achieved through "mentorship for young people."

Ms. Channing said she wants to work for the safety of businesses and neighborhoods.

"I love Santa Barbara as much as you do," she said, addressing the audience.

Mr. Thyne said he also has strong concerns about public safety and that the city "cannot have further cuts to the number of police and fire" personnel.

Ms. McCammon said she wants "people to take back their neighborhoods."

Dr. Gibbs said the gang problem "needs to be addressed ... soon ... firmly."

About gang activity, Mr. Hotchkiss said, "Not only is it a safety problem, it's a youth problem."

Sitting Councilman Mr. House said he pairs gang violence and homelessness in the city because "in both cases, the police department is the first contact."

Mr. Garrett said he promotes a "clean, safe environment," and Ms. Schneider said she prioritizes "youth violence prevention."

Mr. Bugay then asked the candidates whether they see the city as having a spending problem or a revenue problem.

Mr. Hotchkiss answered that the city has a spending problem and that if his hand were forced, his first cut would be to city planning.

"It doesn't need to be anywhere near that expensive," he said.

Mr. Anderson said in his opinion, revenue is the problem, and he said to adjust the problem, his first method of increasing revenue would be to "increase business tax on businesses that dispense alcohol."

On the mayoral side, Mrs. Falcone was the only candidate who said the problem is with revenue rather than spending.

"Folks are not coming and spending," she said, pointing out that issues such as graffiti and cleanliness can be addressed that will foster more visits to visit Santa Barbara.

Ms. Schneider said the problem is "the organizational structure of the city."

Mr. Cushman said the city should "look to privatize some of the services" to create "smaller, more efficient government."

Other matters discussed included the living wage, campaign finance and overnight parking on city streets.

Mayoral candidate Bob Hanson was not present at the forum.

For more information on the South Coast Community Coalition, visit

Friday, August 14, 2009

On anniversary of signing, Reagan tax cuts are recalled : Ceremony held at Reagan Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley


August 14, 2009 7:04 AM

While debate over federal spending rages throughout the country, the policies of the Reagan administration were remembered nostalgically by conservative activists Thursday afternoon at the former president's Santa Ynez Valley ranch.

The Young America's Foundation held its annual celebration for the anniversary of the Economic Recovery Tax Act with guest speaker David Kim, CEO of Baja Fresh, Cinnabon and La Salsa.

Sitting on the shaded lawn, audience members ate lunch and then listened to a formal presentation, filled with rhetoric celebrating both capitalism and former President Ronald Reagan before entering the house to take a look around.

Andrew Coffin, the director of the ranch, induced audience laughter when he said, "I believe this is the only place in the country where this anniversary is being celebrated."

Conservative Kate Obenshaim spoke next to introduce Mr. Kim, who was born in North Korea and moved to the United States as a child.

Ms. Obenshaim said she was glad to be at the ranch because as a conservative, she finds Washington D.C. right now to be "depressing and demoralizing."

"North Korea is an example of how damaging socialism can be," she said. "David Kim ... is the American dream."

Mr. Kim told attendees that he will always be grateful to President Reagan for teaching him "what it means to be an American."

He then responded to Ms. Obenshaim's statement about Washington D.C. with a joke.

"I do love going to Washington," he said. "After all, that's where all my money is."

Mr. Kim then spoke seriously about the cuts of the Economic Recovery Tax Act, signed by President Reagan 28 years ago.

"It's no mistake that he ... chose this beloved ranch" to sign the bill, he said. "To him, this ranch represented freedom; it's easy to see why."

Mr. Kim said President Reagan "returned over $750 billion to the American people."

"Let's try to understand how much a billion would be," he said. "If you sat down and counted to a billion without stopping, you would be counting for 95 years."

Mr. Kim told the audience about his experience involving the move from North Korea to the United States.

"Capitalism is ... the fastest path to human freedom," he said. "The start of communism is a process of socialism. A government powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take away everything you have."

Mr. Kim asserted that President Reagan would disagree with the economic approach taken by the current administration.

"He would say, 'Stop punishing our hard work,'" said Mr. Kim, who is also the author of "Ignite!: The 11 Values that Fuel Billionaire Success."

Referring to his earliest years in the country, Mr. Kim said he remembered admiring President Reagan.

"Here was a leader who believed in letting me climb as high as my ambitions would take me," he said. "He never stopped teaching Americans that the class warfare rhetoric was a way to get votes."

For more information on the Economic Recovery Tax Act, visit

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Protecting blue whales : Environmental group threatens lawsuit over federal plan for these giants of the sea


August 13, 2009 6:59 AM

The Environmental Defense Center gave 60-day notice Wednesday of its intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service under the 1973 Endangered Species Act for allegedly failing to implement provisions of the Blue Whale Recovery Plan.

The recovery plan was approved in July 1998, and the alleged failure of the fisheries service to implement provisions for the plan would constitute a violation of the Act, according to the the letter.

Environmental Defense Center lawyers claim the fisheries service has failed to implement the three elements of the recovery plan: "a description of site-specific management actions that may be necessary to recover the species; objective and measurable criteria that when met, would result in a determination that the species be removed from the list and estimates of the time and cost required to carry out those measures needed to recover the species and to achieve intermediate steps toward that goal."

Lawyers also listed alleged violations of the Act committed by the fisheries service, including failure to establish criteria for delisting or downlisting blue whales, failure to designate a blue whale implementation coordinator, failure to determine stock structure of blue whales using genetic analysis, failure to identify and implement methods to reduce ship collisions with blue whales, failure to identify and protect essential blue whale habitat and failure to conduct studies of environmental pollution.

According to Brian Segee, an attorney with the Environmental Defense Center, the changes needed should not be so ominous as to be off-putting for the fisheries service.

"Some should be quite easy," he said. "Other tasks are more intensive; none of them are burdensome."

The notice states Environmental Defense Center officials "would welcome the opportunity to meet with NMFS and other appropriate government officials to discuss the issues..."

"This is by no means hostile," said Mr. Segee. "It's more an issue of bureaucratic inertia."

According to the notice, "if the alleged legal violations are not remedied within 60 days, we intend to pursue judicial relief in federal district court."

It is the hope of the Environmental Defense Center that the fisheries service will begin to implement the recovery plan without the prompting of court intervention before those 60 days end.

Since 1992, the Santa Barbara Channel has held the densest population of the species, which has been endangered since establishment of the Endangered Species Act.

In September 2007, four blue whales were killed in ship strikes in the channel.

It was these ship strikes that prompted the Environmental Defense Center to "look into the rash of things," according to Mr. Segee.

"The fisheries services has essentially let this plan sit on the shelf and gather dust," he said.

Brown Act claims hit school board : Last-minute agenda addition draws criticism from the public and among the trustees


August 13, 2009 7:46 AM

After adding a monstrous attachment to an item on the agenda at the last hour, the Santa Barbara School Board Tuesday night found itself again accused of a Brown Act Violation.

The board attached an action plan only hours before the meeting to an item approving the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team's report on special education, approving of development of an action plan to address the team's recommendations and including approval of recommended additional special education expenses.

The action plan came with a staggering 153 recommendations, and the agenda allowed an estimated 80 minutes for action on the entire item -- the latter arousing outrage from members of the pubic and at least one board member, Dr. Robert Noel.

Karolyn Renard called adding the action plan last-minute, after having received the final team report June 23 a violation of the state's open meeting law, which requires public notice prior to government action and asked, "What about the discussion part? You think this is just fine?"

The board agreed, however, that more discussion needs to occur on the matter and decided to approve the convening of a self-selected representative stakeholders work group to review the categories of recommendations, consolidate any duplicates, identify responsible entities for implementation and establish a suggested priority timeline.

They also approved that the fiscal crisis team fulfilled its contractual obligations in developing a report and agreed to move forward with the intention to hold at least one workshop during which the action plan for the team's implementation will be discussed in a manner that allows public comment to be less limited.

One of the aspects of the action plan initially on the agenda to be approved was the hiring of an ombudsman at $12,000 per year.

Joan Esposito said during public comment that "$12,000 or even $24,000 is. . .nothing," and she would rather the board take no action on the matter than do it in a way that she saw as unsatisfactory.

Trustee Annette Cordero requested that the term be made gender neutral, and after her request, board members tried to keep the mood light when they humorously struggled to say "ombudsperson, ombudspeople and ombuds."

Trustee Susan Deacon said taking action on the ombudsman would be hasty. "I think we're moving too fast."

The board agreed and took no action on this point.

The theme of special education has been prevalent in the district, which has lost seven directors in eight years.

Tension between board members was apparent several times on the topic of the fiscal crisis team, particularly surrounding Dr. Noel, who was openly unhappy about having had little time to review the item.

He first suggested an amendment by asking that the stakeholders group be self-selected; this amendment passed.

When he said he wanted to make another amendment adding a confidentiality clause to the amendment for the stakeholders, Board President Kate Parker became visibly exasperated, causing Dr. Noel to become defensive.

"This is all happening very spontaneously," he said, leaning back and turning up his palms. This second amendment did not pass.

Craig Price, the board's legal counsel, also found himself at the center of a few tense moments.

At one point, when a board member referred to him with a procedural question, he was caught off guard while looking at his cell phone.

"He's texting!" could be heard from somewhere in the public section.

Later, Mr. Price told the News-Press that he didn't send any text messages during the meeting. Rather, he was using his Blackberry to look up board policy and provisions in government policy regarding the Brown Act.

Mr. Price was also caught in the middle of an exchange between Mrs. Parker and Ms. Renard, when Ms. Renard said she was officially "asking that inappropriate limitation of public comment" be added to the agenda.

Mrs. Parker said the request for an agenda addition would need to be written in accordance with board by-laws, to which Ms. Renard replied that state law does not require her to put it in writing. Mr. Price sided with Mrs. Parker.

Mrs. Esposito used the public comment time to accuse Dr. Donna Ronzone, principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, of delaying a child's assessment for "a couple of years."

Mrs. Esposito had mentioned the incident at previous meetings without using Dr. Ronzone's name.

Vice Chair Edward Heron told Mrs. Esposito that using a name in such a manner would inhibit what the board could do, which sparked Ms. Renard's request for an addition to the agenda.

"Since nothing had been done," said Ms. Renard, "she has a right to mention a person's name."

The board also approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Santa Barbara to contract for crossing guards and approved the funding of crossing guards for partial school year coverage for the 2009-2010 school year.

IN BRIEF : Local teen awarded $36,000 for community outreach

August 12, 2009 12:00 AM

SANTA BARBARA A local teen will receive $36,000 with the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award on Aug. 31 for her initiation of "Everybody Dance Now!," a social action project designed to be a positive outlet for at-risk teens.

Jackie Rotman, now 17, was 12 when her dance group performed a hip-hop routine for 80 teens with disabilities.

When the audio system failed, Jackie invited audience members onstage to "express themselves freely through music."

"Everybody Dance Now!" seeks to provide a creative outlet for approximately 2,000 Santa Barbara young people who are considered at risk for membership in gangs.

Jackie's program offers world dance classes and community service outreach to elderly, terminally ill and disabled.

For more information, visit

- Morgan Hoover

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Landmarks commission questions botanic garden vital mission plan : Son of co-designer warns against 'plunking down' of new buildings


August 11, 2009 7:08 AM

Charged with defending the historic landscape design concept of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the Santa Barbara County Historic Landmarks Advisory Commission on Monday amended and ultimately approved a letter to the county Planning Commission expressing concern over several elements of the garden's vital mission plan.

The garden sustained scorching to 60 of its 73 acres during the Jesusita Fire; as plans progress for its rehabilitation, new considerations compete for influence.

The first element dealt with by the commission's letter is that of the planned Meadow Terrace, referred to in the letter as "requiring structural additions that substantially deviate from the historic landscape design concept of the garden."

Some stonework is partially completed on the Meadow Terrace already, and the commission, with the exception of Vice Chair Deborah Schwartz, approved the letter, which demands the stonework be removed, going so far as to strengthen the language of the sentence to "shall be removed" from "should be removed," leaving no room for non-compliance.

Mrs. Schwartz did not vote to approve the letter because she said removing the stonework was unnecessary and an appropriate aesthetic can be achieved without doing so.

The second element is the paving of trails in the garden, which has been proposed to further comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The paving is described in the letter as "completely incompatible with the naturalistic trails that have been an important character-defining feature of the garden throughout its history and, as such, is a substantial deviation from the historic landscape design concept of the garden."

Commission Chairman John Woodward said a conflict exists between the ADA and the impact on such a historic landmark.

"What somebody has to do is that balancing," he said.

The commission also points out in its letter that the materials used, not just the paving itself, are vital.

"In heavy traffic areas that have traditionally been paved," states the letter, "the use of naturalistic materials (such as flagstone) instead of synthetic pavers would be acceptable."

Another element in which the ADA and the historic landmark design concept conflict is the historic main entrance.

The mission plan seeks to build a new, more accessible entrance, described by the letter as "where much of the dramatic views of the Meadow and mountains will be blocked or diminished upon entering."

The letter recommends reopening the main entrance, while possibly opening a second entrance to ensure more accessibility to the disabled.

Simply closing the main entrance is considered by the commission "a substantial deviation of the historic landscape concept as it greatly detracts from an important character-defining design feature of the Garden."

Public comment was uniform in asking commission members to defend as much history and natural scenery as possible.

Marc Chytilo made several comments, including lamenting the loss of a gigantic oak tree that will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace with a smaller tree; insisting upon paving only where the need for it is demonstrated; asserting that "new buildings do not belong in the landmark" and recommending the elimination of an "inappropriate" snack window in the library.

Paulina Conn said she too is opposed to paving.

"There are wheelchairs that go on sand, there are scooters that go on a 12 percent grade," she said, also adding her distaste for proposed new buildings in the Garden, similar to Mr. Chytilo. "I find the new buildings all very, very massive. I would prefer something a little simpler."

Lanny Ebenstein, who submitted a letter to the commission prior to the meeting, said he thought too much consideration was being made to make things ADA accessible.

"The whole point of a historic landmark is that it can be exempt from codes. . .," he said. "The argument is not whether it an meet ADA requirements."

In his letter, Mr. Ebenstein expressed concern about the addition of buildings to the garden.

"The proposed development at the Botanic Garden would be equivalent to about 27 portable classrooms," says his letter. "This would be too much development there."

Kellam Deforest, son of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden co-designer Lockwood Deforest, said he also did not think "the plunking down of new buildings" was acceptable.

Sunday, August 9, 2009



August 9, 2009 12:00 AM

A first date with dimmed lights is pretty standard and maybe even romantic, but a first date with no lights can be downright awkward.

That's according to a Santa Barbara man who will appear on Monday's episode of ABC's reality show "Dating in the Dark," which puts to the test the saying love is blind.

Cormac O'Brien, a 30-year-old medic, not only participated in the light-lacking show, which airs at 9 p.m., but he agreed to sit down with the News-Press -- in a totally dark room -- for a little Q & A, in which he and the interviewer never saw one another, something quite out of the ordinary for both.

Q: What was it like to date in the dark?

A: It was very awkward. You think you know what you're getting yourself into, and then as it all kind of plays out, there are parts of it where you're super uncomfortable, and then there are other parts of it where you have the opportunity to be yourself and kind of let your personality come through. But the rule of that game that we were playing is we're all there looking for a connection, and you know the possibility of finding a connection in the dark is just like, "Wow, OK, sure, I'll give it a shot!"

Q: How did you come to be on the show?

A: I was talking to a friend here in town, and we were like, "Hey, it'd be so cool if we could do something like the 'Amazing Race' or 'Wipe Out' or something," and I looked into it, and then I fired off one e-mail and a photo, and I got a reply back within 45 minutes.

Q: How long was the whole process?

A: It was roughly about a week, all condensed down into 43 minutes of television.

Q: What was it like? Did you have to rely on other senses? Did you touch their face?

A: Absolutely. We were kind of encouraged to get to know them as best as we can. This is your opportunity to potentially meet someone in this environment, and you'll never have this opportunity again, which is kind of cool, right? So you have to really rely on the voice inflections. If there's an awkward silence, you know that's really bad. As much as you want to think that your eyes are going to get used to the dark, and as much as you think you can guess what the person looks like, you really have no idea.

Q: What did you feel when you wanted to know so badly what this person looked like?

A: It's just hard to say. You knew that you had an option; there are three different women that you're going to get to know. You've got to kind of feel it out. You've got to really cut to the chase. For me it was important to ask some direct questions: What do you want out of life? What's your favorite thing you get to do? What kind of music do you like? I think it's important gauging all those small personality traits that you can get out of a person to try and build a bigger picture.

Q: Did you find yourself censoring what you were saying?

A: I think at first in general everyone kind of goes through that. You have to kind of get used to knowing that there's some recording device around at all times. And then finally you get to the point where, at least for me, I just didn't really care anymore, and I think I said a few things that were probably a little too revealing, but it's whatever plays, it plays, you know? It's a family show, right?

Q: And on that note, I was reading that you were encouraged to kiss the other people. Did you experience that or bypass that?

A: I definitely experienced it.

Q: What was that like?

A: Well, going into it, I was talking to a few friends, and I was like, "This is kinda what I might be doing," and they're like, "Well, dude, check for an Adam's apple first." Nothing too crazy happened, but it was pretty wild. It was really cool though. You can't make it an organic experience because you can know everything about a person: you can know their smell or their pheromones -- you name it, but not knowing if they're rolling their eyes when you're trying to kissing them or not knowing if they're like, "Oh, God, here I go," not having that visual cue -- there's no lean-in, you know?

Q: Why would you do something like this that's so outrageous? Because you wanted to be on TV?

A: No. I don't have a great desire to be on television. I'm little bit of a ham, a little bit of a performer, but I have no great desire to be on television. I'm not a very private person, but it's still way too all up in your business. I just thought it'd be a fun idea, and the opportunity presented itself. I'm like, "Well, why not? It can't really hurt, right?" Well, potentially!

Q: You didn't feel that what motivated you to be on something like "Amazing Race" propelled you to do this? Or did you actually want to find a connection?

A: That was another moment where I had to kinda realize, you know, "Hey, I'm single, and I'm not dating anyone at the moment, and it would be a really cool experience because never in your life would you have an experience to try to genuinely get to know someone without ever knowing what they look like so whatever prejudices or types you have go out the window." So I thought, "Wow, what a powerful experience it could've been or could be." And then I thought about it and, "Yeah, definitely. Why not?"

Q: Would you do it again if given the opportunity?

A: Absolutely. It was a really cool experience, and it was definitely eye-opening in the whole television business, you know not (having been) terribly exposed to it in the past.

Q: And did they give you any guarantee? Did they give you anything to assure you it wouldn't be something humiliating?

A: There was nothing guaranteed. You kind of get the general feel of it, but knowing in the back of your mind, and me being a little bit of a pessimist, wondering, "Well, this is reality TV, so however they want to spin it they could spin it." I've heard of horror stories before, so I was a little pensive at first, but when you're in the dark you really have no clue what's going to hit you.

Q: Did it teach you any life lessons about beauty being skin deep?

A: It teaches you to be humble and to be yourself. You always have the best results and the most genuine results when you're being honest with someone, as opposed to putting on a facade.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

City response to Grand Jury report


August 8, 2009 7:03 AM

The Santa Barbara Department of Public Works will submit a response at Tuesday's city council meeting to a county Civil Grand Jury report that identified and sought to correct flaws following two cases of a parking garage elevator getting stuck and trapping between 11 and 15 people.

The Grand Jury report, entitled, "Trapped in the Granada Garage Elevator -- Not an Uplifting Experience," addressed flaws in the city's elevator management system.

The Grand Jury's findings, eight in total, were gathered in an investigation sparked from two stalled elevator incidents involving the same Granada Garage elevator within a seven week period.

During the first incident, the elevator stopped between the first and second floors on its descent while carrying ten adults and five children.

The emergency phone did not work, the passengers had no cell phone service, the emergency bell did not achieve a response and although passers-by could see the passengers beckoning to them, the trapped passengers were ignored several times before someone alerted the parking attendant.

The passengers were trapped for approximately 75 minutes before they were freed.

The second incident lasted 30 to 45 minutes.

It involved six adults and five children, and although the emergency phone inside the elevator worked, the maintenance dispatcher, who did not identify himself, could not locate the elevator.

One passenger was claustrophobic and became panicky, and one of the children began to cry and say that he thought he was going to die.

The passengers' cell phones worked during this stall, and one trapped woman managed to call her husband; 9-1-1 was also called after what seemed a lengthy amount of time passed. The passengers were informed that the fire department had been notified only three minutes earlier by the dispatcher.

Firefighters did not open doors upon arrival because there was no medical emergency, and the trapped people had to wait for an elevator mechanic to arrive.

After the incidents, several letters were written to city officials by the passengers, and in only one case was a response received.

The Jury's investigations yielded eight findings, and with each finding the Jury provided a recommendation.

In the letter the public works department will produce Tuesday, a response is provided for each finding and recommendation.

The first finding in the report is that the city lacks a coherent management plan for its elevator systems, and the recommendation made to rectify this is that one be established, as well as a single point of accountability for these happenings.

The city's response is that a plan exists to monitor maintenance, and it refers to the currently contracted elevator maintenance company as "qualified and certified." The city also transferred administration and oversight of the contract to the Downtown Parking Staff.

The Jury's second finding is that the city does not maintain records of the contractor's repair work on elevators in city parking structures; its recommendation is that the city should maintain these records.

The city's response is that the city and the maintenance contractor both already keep records of inspections, repairs and maintenance on all city facilities' elevators, but the report was adjusted to include a line item for phone inspection, as it was previously considered included under "Car Stop Switch (es)."

The third finding in the report states that the audible alarm system in the elevator has a limited range; it recommends that the system be modified to directly alert a responsible agency.

The city's response is that the alarm system in every city elevator is installed per industry safety standards and is inspected by the city monthly and by the state annually.

The city also asserts that modifying the alarm is not a solution for notifying personnel and that the dispatcher, available via the elevator's emergency phone 24 hours a day, is trained to handle situations.

The city adjusted its management plan and maintenance protocol, however, to make sure phones work properly.

The fourth finding is that the emergency phone service in the elevator is not regularly inspected, and its recommended solution is that the city perform and document weekly inspections, as well as verify that the phones in all elevators are operational.

The city's response is that the emergency phones are checked by the city every month and by the state every year.

The report's fifth finding is that the city has no established written protocol for responding to elevator malfunctions; it recommended that the city acquire protocol for these situations.

The city's response states that it does, in fact, have emergency response protocol and it contracts with an independent answering service to answer elevator telephones, following city protocol in responding to elevator emergencies.

The Grand Jury's sixth finding is that the city has no incident reporting system to address elevator malfunctions, and its recommendation was that the city should implement one.

The city's response is that its Downtown Parking Program has had an incident reporting system for more than ten years, which is completed by the on-duty Parking Coordinator or Lead Maintenance Worker for incidents at any downtown parking lots.

This report is then reviewed by the Maintenance Supervisor or Parking Operations Supervisor, and, if needed, appropriate corrective action is taken.

The seventh finding is that the State of California Inspection Certificate in the elevator is out-of-date. The report recommends that the current certificate be displayed in elevators immediately upon receipt.

In response, the city asserts that the certificate renewals from the state are posted as soon as they are received, the state is responsible for scheduling inspections and issuing certificates, needed repairs are coordinated between the elevator contractor and the state inspector and permits are issued when the work is completed to the state's satisfaction.

The final finding of the Jury's report is that the physical address of the elevators are not posted in all cars, and its recommendation was that the address be posted in every elevator.

The city responds that the physical address is, in fact, shown on each elevator car's certificate, and the dispatcher has the ability to identify each car.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Native Sons of Golden West honor The Granada


August 7, 2009 7:25 AM

The Granada was honored on Thursday with a plaque from the Native Sons of the Golden West.

The dedication ceremony featured the group's grand president and a junior past grand president, along with the first, second and third vice presidents of the Native Sons.

Granada Executive Director Peter Frisch began the ceremony by expressing his gratitude to the organization, which is made up of men who were born in California and whose mission it is to preserve the state's history.

"I greatly appreciate this honor bestowed on us by the Native Sons," he said. "I think we have, by all accounts, a wonderful facility."

Mr. Frisch went on to call the Granada, which recently underwent a dramatic renovation and reopened in March, 2008, "a balance of historical details ... and new things."

"We have a wonderful performing arts facility," he said. "Contemporary production demands what we did."

Mr. Frisch spoke proudly of The Granada and its renovation, saying "some of it's science, and some of it's luck."

"Seal ... came here and said it was his favorite place to play," he said.

Santa Barbara City Councilman Roger Horton then spoke, saying all Santa Barbarans are to receive credit for the renovation of the historic building.

"The city couldn't have done it by ourselves if we wanted to," he said, calling The Granada a "wonderful, restored, quality theatre."

NSGW Grand President Eugene Perry then took over, leading the dedication ceremony.

"This is truly a thing I've never seen before," he said, "and I think it's going to be great."

The ceremony consisted of the grand president addressing each of the vice presidents, from first to third, before they spoke respectively about symbolic sand and gravel, cement and water.

First Vice President Jim Shadle recited a response about the sand and gravel symbolizing California's natural resources, Second Vice President Dave Allen recited that cement symbolizes the efforts of man and Third Vice President Allan Baird recited that water represents the necessity of both natural resources and man's effort to be "mingled with the lessons of the past."

With this statement, the three vice presidents mixed a small amount of each of the elements on a small tray in front of the attendees.

"The present is ours," said Mr. Perry. "but the present will soon be in the past."

He declared The Granada dedicated, and NSGW Junior Past Grand President Richard Kimball said a closing prayer before the plaque was revealed and read by the grand president.

The plaque consists of five paragraphs, and across the top reads, "The Granada: A Glorious Tradition."

"On April 8, 1924, a dazzling new venue opened in beautiful Santa Barbara, the Granada Theatre," says the plaque's first paragraph.

It goes on to chart the venue's renovation in 2008, its sturdiness in the face of a "devastating" 1925 earthquake and the plethora of productions and performers to which it has played host in the decades since its construction.

It concludes, "The Granada is truly where art and history converge. May she continue to light up State Street for the next 100 years and beyond."

Dinner and a movie will showcase one chef's talents, honor another


August 7, 2009 7:20 AM

A dinner and movie event has been planned by the American Institute of Wine and Food to showcase the recipes and cinematic portrayal of a beloved Santa Barbaran.

Julia Child will be honored Sunday at Cafe Shell by Chef Michael Hutchings, who will prepare a meal using recipes from her book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." The meal, which begins at 5 p.m., will be followed by a screening of the film "Julie & Julia" at 8 p.m. at Paseo Nuevo, in which Mrs. Child is portrayed by actress Meryl Streep.

Mr. Hutchings, 60, worked with Mrs. Child on various occasions since their first meeting in 1981.

"I did a dinner with her," he said. "It was the initiation of the AIWF. I also had the fun of cooking in her condo a couple times."

Mr. Hutchings, who has been cooking for 38 years and began his career at Disneyland, said he is eager to see the film and how it portrays his friend and fellow chef.

"I'm anxious to see how Streep does," said Mr. Hutchings, adding the earliest he will be able to watch the film is Monday because he is quite busy preparing for Sunday evening's event.

He emphasized the importance of Mrs. Child as a historical icon, calling her "part of our mosaic of wonderful people here in Santa Barbara."

"She really sparked American interest in fine dining," he said. "She popularized French cuisine and still has a lot of magic about her."

The food to be served Sunday, including mushroom croutons, fish fillet in a white wine and cream sauce, filet steak in red wine sauce and an upside-down apple tart, will be wholly authentic, according to the chef.

"They are meticulous recipes," said Mr. Hutchings. "She was humble and called herself just a home cook, but she was a real chef."

The price of a ticket for the event is $65 for AIWF members and $75 for non-members; tickets cover both the meal and the film.

Wine for the meal will not be provided, but attendees are welcome to bring their own. Seating will be open, shared and in some cases, outdoor.

It is requested that those who plan to attend the film after the dinner arrive to the theatre by 7:30 p.m.

For further information, contact Jean Schultz at 967-5358.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jordan, Schneider and White tops in money : Council, mayor races to be decided in November while others raise cash for primary in June


August 4, 2009 7:09 AM

The wheels of campaign finance are turning as local hopefuls raise and spend money to move forward in their runs for office.

With $119,228.07 on hand as of July 31, Susan Jordan is ahead of fellow Democrat Das Williams going into the primary to take over the 35th Assembly District seat from her termed-out husband, Pedro Nava.

Mr. Williams, a Santa Barbara City Council member who initially supported Ms. Jordan, ended the filing period with $108,767.62, according to the California Secretary of State's office.

Republican Mike Stoker, a former Santa Barbara County supervisor, did not file a campaign finance statement with the Secretary of State's office.

The primary is June 8.

At the city level, what so far is a six-way race for the non-partisan mayor's seat is led by Helen Schneider, who reported $42,902.82 as of July 31.

Ms. Schneider is followed by Iya Falcone, who reported an ending cash amount of $29,564.63 for the filing period, and political newcomer Steve Cushman, who reported $16,025.92.

Candidates Isaac Garrett and Justin Michael have not filed their finance reports for the six-month period, and Dale Francisco announced just last week he is running for mayor.

Mr. Francisco, who also announced last week that he will accept no money from unions or local developers, reported no fundraising and spending activity for the filing period.

In the race for three Santa Barbara City Council seats, Harwood White chalked up $22,709.00 at the end of the spending period, leading the field that, as of Monday, totaled 14.

The deadline to file candidate papers for the mayor and council races is Aug. 10.

Mr. White, who said the city needs more rental housing and smaller downtown residential units at his campaign kick-off last month, plans to make "adapting to modern change" a high priority if elected.

Following Mr. White are Michael Self and Grant House.

Mrs. Self, who last month made a splash by opposing a City Council-approved project to install bulb-outs throughout the city, reported $11,659.33 and Mr. House, who voted in favor of the bulb-out project, follows closely with $11,267.34.

As of Monday, this is how the remaining 11 in the council race fared: Cathie McCammon, $10,804.05; Dianne Channing, $9,657.40; Olivia Uribe, $8,767.25; Frank Hotchkiss, $7,022.29; David Pritchett, $3,528.36 and Justin Tevis, $2,251.17.

Also running for City Council are Lane Anderson, John W. Gibbs Jr., Michael J. Jordan and Bonnie Raisin, all of whom did not file their earnings for the period with City Hall.

Lastly, John Thyne filed no fundraising and spending activity for the reporting period.

Mr. Thyne stated at his campaign kick-off in June that he will focus on three priorities: the budget crisis, public safety and preserving the town's character.

Fiesta Parade lineup


August 4, 2009 7:08 AM

The lineup is official for Friday's annual Fiesta parade, this year themed A Tribute to Tradition.

The parade starts at noon at Castillo Street and West Cabrillo Boulevard. From there, participants hed north on State Street to East Sola Street. Leading the way will be the Long Beach Mounted Police with the Color Guard, immediately followed by walking groups of Fiesta flower girls and Pedro the Fiesta donkey.

More mounted units will lead the way for the Spirit Float, the Mariachi Mexicasmo band and the Saint Barbara float.

Carriages and wagons featuring this year's Reina de la Fiesta Hattie Feazelle, Mayor Marty Blum, the family of El Presidente, the Honorary Grand Marshal and Honorary El Presidente and a Navy Commander will be featured along with the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department mounted posse and a group of Spanish riders, which will include El Presidente Anthony Borgatello and Betty Borgatello.

Another group of Spanish riders, featuring a Camarillo white horses parade and event team will lead the Santa Monica Mounted Police and the Sheriff's Department bag pipes.

A walking group of sailors and the honor guard will be next, followed by carriages and wagons featuring Rep. Lois Capps and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historical Preservation float.

The King County Sheriff's Department will lead in carriages and wagons featuring Judy Pearce, who has been a participant in Fiesta since 1946, along with her friends and family.

The Escondido Mounted Posse will ride through just before a group of carriages and wagons will feature the Santa Barbara City Council.

The Rotary Club float, the Merced County Sheriff's Department and the carriages and wagons featuring Vivian Obern are next, followed by a De la Guerra wedding party and Los Padres Trail Riders.

El Presidentes of the past will then be featured with carriages and wagons, followed by a group of Spanish riders using Barque horses of Northern California.

The Santa Barbara High School Marching Band will then lead the way for the California Andalusiana Fiesta Day Group, who will be featured with a group of Spanish riders.

More Spanish riders will follow with Hollywood Paso Finos and Southern California Charros.

Carriages and wagons representing Impulse and MarBorg will be next, followed by a color guard from Captain Rivera y Moncada's Detachment of 1781. The Conejo Riders Drill Team will entertain next, leading into the Ventura County Sheriff's Department posse and the Rickard Family float.

The Oxnard High School Marching Band will come through next, followed by the Rainbow Riders and a rodeo-circus wagon.

The Black Cowboys of the Golden West will then ride, leading the carriages and wagons of Albertsons and the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge 613.

Charro Los Compadres is next, followed by a float from Daughters of the Golden West.

A group of Spanish riders representing War Horse and the Militaria Heritage Foundation will move through, leading carriages and wagons for Mission Linen, John F. Diehl and the Dipiola Foundation. A group of Spanish riders for Rancho de la Florecita Peruvian will be next, followed by carriages and wagons for 35th District Assemblyman Pedro Nava with his wife Susan Jordan and Wells Fargo.

A group of Spanish riders for Los Californios will ride just before a single Spanish rider, Kathleen MacQuiddy Galbrath and carriages and wagons representing Los Padres National Forest.

Los Amigos charros are next; then there will be carriages and wagons for the Gang from Cocker Row and the Friends of Fiesta.

Charros Los Taquileros will then ride before the Santa Barbara Bank and Trust wagons and carriages and the COX Communications wagons and carriages.

The Lonesome Cowboys will ride next, followed by carriages and wagons representing the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the Royal Presidio Mounted Soldiers as a group of Spanish riders.

The E. Campus Vitus float will lead in the Bartlett Pringle Wolf carriages and wagons, followed by the Peruvian Paso Heritage Riders and the Juan Torres-Mariachii carriages and wagons.

Los Caporales charros will then lead in the Santa Barbara Shrine Club, followed by charros De la Valle Santa Ynez and Merrie Hathaways 50-year reunion carriages and wagons.

The Shalhoob Group and the Cross Mountain Ranch will both have groups of Spanish riders, and they will lead Los Pobladores 200.

A walking group, Native Sons of the Golden West, will then lead Los Jinetes del Mar and the carriages and wagons of the City of Santa Barbara Fire Department.

Lastly, Los Caballios Spanish riders will lead the final float of the Castro family.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

IN BRIEF: Hearing on FAIR Plan to be held Aug. 25

August 2, 2009 12:00 AM

SANTA BARBARA The second of two investigatory hearings conducted this month by the California Insurance Commissioner will be held at the Santa Barbara County Administration Building at 105 E. Anapamu St. at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 25.

The purpose for the hearings is to review the adequacy of the insurance plans, standards and rates offered by the California FAIR Plan.

The meetings will also provide a forum to review whether the FAIR Plan is in line with the needs of fire officials in assisting in reducing the loss of property when wildfire occurs and in assessing the availability of private market insurance to homeowners in fire prone areas.


-Morgan Hoover

A Fiesta fixture since 1946 : Judy Pearce has participated in most Old Spanish Days for more than 50 years


August 2, 2009 8:51 AM

One Santa Barbaran is proud to say that this year's Fiesta theme, A Tribute to Tradition, is especially poignant for her because Fiesta has for more than 50 years been her favorite time of year.

"My kids don't have to be here at Christmas, but by golly they have to be here at fiesta!" said Carpinteria resident Judy Pearce.

Mrs. Pearce, 68, first participated in the famed Santa Barbara event in 1946, the first year the festival resumed after World War II. She was 5 at the time.

This year she is providing a dress to be worn by Mrs. Presidente while riding a horse in the parade.

"She came out and picked out a dress I made for one of my daughters," said Mrs. Pearce, who makes a dress for herself every year and has made dresses for her daughters and granddaughters over the years.

"It takes about 17 yards of material to make a big ruffle dress," she said. "Riding dresses, that's what I call them."

Mrs. Pearce laments some of the ways Fiesta has changed over the decades, but she still celebrates the way she wants, with a huge party for her family and friends.

"The house is really a wreck afterwards," she said. "Even at Christmastime, confetti is still oozing out from under the rug."

Surprisingly, Mrs. Pearce said her husband does not share her love of Fiesta.

"My husband doesn't like it at all," she said. "He's only been to one or two, but he's very generous with me."

In fact, an entire room in the Pearce residence is devoted to Fiesta.

"It's all full of posters and dresses," she said.

Mrs. Pearce is a true embodiment of this year's Fiesta theme, which was chosen by El Presidente Anthony Borgatello.

"My mother was a total nut about Fiesta; she was in the very first one," she said. "I was raised that way. It's just plain fun!"

According to the grandmother of six, one of the most exciting traditions in her family is a particular dress that she made in 1966.

"It's a great tradition for my family to wear the gold and white dress," she said. "My daughters have worn it, and my granddaughters have worn it."

A big change Mrs. Pearce has noticed in Fiesta since she has been a regular participant is the reduced level of festive behavior on the part of observers.

"People watching the parade don't wear costumes as much as they used to," she said. "People celebrating used to wear costumes; even if you weren't participating, you'd dress up."

Tourists visiting for the event bring her great delight.

"It was never just for the locals," she said. "It's always been about getting people here; in the '50s it was such a big deal that all the L.A. papers would write about it."

Mrs. Pearce said another change she has observed is the prohibition of drinking on the street.

"I always thank the police officers whenever I see them," she said. "It's great because that way I can take the grandkids downtown."

She said she does miss dancing in the street after dark, however, and the special timing of the event in the past.

"It used to be on the full moon of August," she said nostalgically.

Because Mrs. Pearce's birthday falls on Aug. 5, she feels particularly connected to the event.

"I ride zigzag across the street (during the parade)," she said, "and I tell everyone Santa Barbara is throwing me a celebration."

Fiesta 2009 runs Aug. 5-9, kicking off at De la Guerra Plaza Wednesday when El Mercado de la Guerra opens at 11 a.m.

Events continue through Sunday.