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Bill Macfadyen: Best of Noozhawk 10.07.11

What were you reading on Noozhawk this week? Here's your weekend recap, and a peek at what's ahead

By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | @noozhawk |

1. Karen Telleen-Lawton: Here’s Your Chance to Close the Federal Budget Deficit

Noozhawk columnist Karen Telleen-Lawton nearly always writes about sustainability issues, and this week she offered her readers a slightly different take on the topic and an interesting exercise. The results made her column our top story.

With the U.S. economy staggering under record debt and unsustainable deficits, the AARP, aka the American Association of Retired Persons, created an online calculator so you can try your hand at getting America’s finances under control. Karen was more than up to the challenge, lopping off a cool $618.8 billion from the deficit on her first try — $10 billion more than she needed. There’s still plenty of red ink for you to cut, however. Click here for a scalpel, or an ax.

2. DUI Case Delves Into Circumstances of Santa Barbara Police Department’s Destroyed Evidence

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper was back in Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Brian Hill’s courtroom Sept. 30, covering the trial of a 63-year-old Santa Barbara man charged with driving under the influence. Such cases are usually ho-hum affairs but this one is truly an oddity. The defendant, a freelance writer, has been chronicling his ordeal in a local newspaper, and has accused one of his arresting Santa Barbara police officers with all manner of crimes and improprieties. A majority of Noozhawk commenters apparently has found the case he’s made compelling enough to close it, but the wheels of justice grind on.

3. Occupy Santa Barbara Hits the Streets to Protest Corporate Greed and Corruption

A group of protesters calling itself Occupy Santa Barbara gathered at De la Guerra Plaza on Oct. 3 to protest ... well, to protest. The Santa Barbara effort is modeled after Occupy Wall Street, the purpose of which ... gives Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli and me another opportunity to promote our favorite budding journalist: Tamara of Beat Kidz.

Giana also put together a Storify feature to chronicle Occupy Santa Barbara’s exploits, which its organizers say will continue indefinitely.

4. New Owners of Bacara Resort & Spa Reach Out to Community with Open House

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik and photographer Nick St.Oegger were among the more than 2,000 guests who converged on Bacara Resort & Spa on Oct. 5 for an open house hosted by the new owners. To drive home the point that the place is under new management, Ohana Real Estate Investors and Rockpoint Group invited the Goleta community to spend an evening at the 78-acre beachside property at 8301 Hollister Ave. Alex reports the gesture appeared to be well-received.

5. Prescription Drug System Is Rife with Loopholes, Fraud and Lack of Oversight

Loopholes! Doctor shopping! Overprescribing! Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper kept our Prescription for Abuse series going with an Oct. 4 examination of many of the ways that addicts, doctors and others can beat or game the system. For our staff, one of the most perplexing elements of these stories is that there are more than a few physicians out there who routinely overprescribe — or fraudulently prescribe — with little apparent consequence. What’s up with that?

Our series partner, KEYT, interviewed Lara about her story in a news segment that it featured Monday night.

Also getting good traffic this week were our always popular Candidate Q&As with the 2011 Santa Barbara City Council candidates. Seven of the 10 candidates took the time to answer our questions. If you see the other three, ask them why they chose not to participate.

Before we move on to next week, I want to expand on some of my Oct. 5 tweets marking the death of the visionary Steve Jobs. The late Apple co-founder has long been an entrepreneurial inspiration to me, but not for the creative genius that will live on in the products he imagined and got us to buy before we even knew how much we needed them.

Jobs’ ability to reinvent himself after failure was a gift, and an important lesson that nearly all entrepreneurs must learn. Having one or two of those disappointments in my own past, I often looked to Jobs’ indomitable spirit as a reminder that even the most successful businesses never have it all figured out. The joy is in the journey. Think different.

The Week Ahead

October is Adopt-a-Dog Month and Noozhawk photographer Valorie Smith had the bright idea for readers to share their adopted dog photos with us. Her mom and one of her sons each have rescue dogs as pets, plus she knows I’m a dog lover (Alaskan malamutes rule!).

Valorie and our managing editor, Michelle Nelson, came up with a plan to start a slideshow — beginning Sunday — and we’re asking you to send us your pictures of you and your dogs to include in it. At the end of the month, we’ll have readers vote for their favorite photo. Email your photos of you and your dog to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

On Monday and Tuesday, Noozhawk will resume Prescription for Abuse with Week Five of the series. After defining the extent of the problem, our reporters will begin explaining the plentiful resources that do exist for parents, youth, families, friends and co-workers. Click here for a complete series index of what we’ve published so far.

The Prescription for Abuse project is the result of a partnership between Noozhawk and USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, with a big assist from the Noozhawk-sponsored Santa Barbara Teen News Network. The project is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Mosher Foundation, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Zona Seca and KEYT.

Noozhawk needs and welcomes your support. Just as you might subscribe — or formerly subscribed — to a favorite newspaper to keep up with your community news, please consider becoming a voluntary paying subscriber to Noozhawk, for as little as $5 a month, or becoming a member of our Hawks Club.

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Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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