With a nod to my former staff in a previous life, being publisher of Noozhawk is the most fun I’ve ever had professionally. One of the reasons is the opportunity to meet people like the teenagers competing for the coveted title of Goleta Teen of the Year.
For the last several years I’ve had the privilege of being a judge in the program run by my friends at the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime. It’s a rewarding experience, and knowing that these young men and women are tomorrow’s civic leaders is reassuring.
And I know that’s a likely destiny for them because, in addition to the leadership they demonstrate in all the campus activities, clubs, student governments and nonprofit organizations with which they’re involved, the Rotary Club puts them to an arduous, year-long test. The process includes plenty of fun but it also instills in them the values of accountability, responsibility and teamwork.
It’s hard work, which is why this year’s five Goleta Teen of the Year finalists were culled from a group of 17 that started out as 51.
This year’s winner is exceptional: Shandeep Ahdi, an ebullient 17-year-old senior at Dos Pueblos High School with an electrifying smile and aspirations of becoming a pediatrician. She is carrying a 4.54 grade-point average while being a vital member of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy’s robotics team, a popular mentor in The Academy at Dos Pueblos High School and an officer in just about every organization on campus.
Her brother, Hardeep, a sophomore at UCSB, earned the Goleta Teen of the Year award in 2009. Waiting in the wings is a third Ahdi: Anmole, a Dos Pueblos sophomore who told me he expects to enter the program next year in an attempt to keep the title all in the family.
Joining Shandeep as finalists were first runner-up Nino Mireles and Preston Bies, Christina Blair and Michael Yi — all of whom are Dos Pueblos High seniors. Please join me in congratulating all five, along with their parents, who laid the groundwork and gave them the confidence, love and support they needed to succeed.
Of course, there’s never a downside to spending time with my friend, Larry Crandell, who has been the ceremony’s emcee for more than a decade. This year I had the privilege to share some of those duties with him, which made me appreciate how Mychal Thompson felt when he spelled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Larry’s beloved Los Angeles Lakers.
• • •
Noozhawk’s newest public-engagement project, Let’s Talk Westside, is off to a strong start, with nearly 1,000 visitors so far, half of whom have registered to participate.
The virtual town hall is a joint project with the nonprofit Just Communities and it’s intended to develop ideas to improve and enhance Santa Barbara’s Westside as part of the larger THRIVE Westside initiative.
Additional Let’s Talk Westside sponsors include the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate-Do, Business First Bank, El Zarape Mexican Food, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Meridian Group, Paper Moon Printing, ParentClick.com, Presidio Sports, Santa Barbara Community Housing Corp., Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center and the South Coast Community Youth Cultural Center.
Tony Denunzio,whose experience at the hands, fists, feet and Tasers of the Santa Barbara Police Department spurred eyewitnesses to accuse the police of excessive force, on Dec. 8 pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence and related charges.
Denunzio’s Oct. 21 traffic stop has fueled a fierce community debate over just what happened when he and police Officer Aaron Tudor had their fateful meeting in the parking lot of Loreto Plaza. Denunzio’s attorney, Darryl Genis, has been rather open about his defense strategy, which includes making explosive allegations about Tudor and SBPD. Although Genis has yet to prove anything in court, he’s shared details about two women who — to their detriment, he says — crossed paths with Tudor almost a month after the Denunzio incident.
And so the Denunzio saga — which Noozhawk broke, by the way — continues.
If you want to know why the Denunzio controversy shows no signs of abating, the city of Santa Barbara’s oddly nonchalant and unhurried public response surely has something to do with it.
Soon after the incident, Mayor Helene Schneider asked Police Chief Cam Sanchez to begin providing the City Council with regular reports about his department’s activities. On Dec. 6, six City Council meetings after the incident, Sanchez made his first appearance and he regaled the council with several notable achievements.
If there was an 800-pound gorilla in the room, few people on the city payroll appeared to notice. The public comment got a little heated — thanks to the righteous indignation of John Hunter, one of the Loreto Plaza witnesses, as well as the presence of one of Santa Barbara’s most notorious publicity seekers — but otherwise it was business as usual at City Hall. As I said, odd.
At about the same time, a few miles to the west but a world apart from Santa Barbara’s City Hall, the city of Goleta was installing its newest mayor, Ed Easton. Elected to the Goleta City Council in 2008, Easton’s peers on Dec. 6 voted to have him succeed Mayor Margaret Connell.
Easton is a champion — and resident — of Old Town Goleta, a former chairman of the city’s first Planning Commission and a former Design Review Board member. He’s also got the coolest mustache of any elected official around.
Consistent with his planning background, the retired architect told our Sonia Fernandez that he would be concentrating on ways to make the city and its government more efficient.
“I hope I can help the city work better than it does now,” he said.
One of the most positive stories of the week was the Dec. 7 groundbreaking for Deckers Outdoor Corp.‘s new 150,000-square-foot headquarters at Cabrillo Business Park at Hollister Avenue and Los Carneros Road in Goleta.
Sares-Regis Group, the developer of Cabrillo Business Park, and the city of Goleta worked diligently to convince the homegrown shoe manufacturer to move to Goleta from Santa Barbara when it outgrew its multibuilding location. The result keeps a $4 billion company on the South Coast.
“It’s an opportunity for a young city like Goleta to establish itself as a pragmatic business-friendly steward of the future,” explained Angel Martinez, Deckers president and CEO.
• • •
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.