Santa Barbara-Goleta, Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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Jackson, Williams Announce Significant Progress in Securing Drought Funding for Lake Cachuma

By | Published on 09/02/2014

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Following months of work to identify state drought funding for a Lake Cachuma emergency pumping project, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, announced Tuesday that significant progress is being made.

In a recent meeting Jackson and Williams had with leaders of the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources, these agencies indicated a funding announcement will likely be made in coming weeks.

“We know how critical this issue is to our districts, and so we have and will continue to make it a top priority,” Jackson said. “We are pleased to have received word that funding agreements between the state and local agencies are likely to be completed within weeks. We look forward to continuing to work to ensure that this money gets into the hands of our local communities and local water agencies as soon as possible, given the extraordinary urgency of the Lake Cachuma situation. While it’s important that we continue to conserve water, it’s also vital that we ensure our residents have access to water in the midst of this historic drought.”

During the meeting with SWRCB and DWR, it was reported to the lawmakers that while the prospect of receiving emergency funds is positive, there are still some necessary prerequisites. One such example is that a local water agency may need to have their governing board officially adopt a resolution declaring an emergency due to drought. However, once those actions are taken, the state will be prepared to announce funds in the coming weeks.

“We are pleased that the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board are working closely with our local water agencies to provide this crucial funding for the Cachuma pumping project in a timely manner,” Williams said. “We look forward to continuing this state and local partnership as we address California’s drought emergency through conservation, efficiency measures, and infrastructure improvements.”

The member agencies of the Cachuma Operations and Maintenance Board are in close communication with the state agencies and are working diligently to provide any necessary additional information for the receipt of funds.

Lake Cachuma serves as the primary water source for approximately 200,000 Santa Barbara County residents. A decline in the lake levels due to the severe drought has jeopardized the gravity-fed pump system that delivers water to residents.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

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Santa Maria Main and Branch Libraries to Close Sept. 19 for Staff Training

By | Published on 09/02/2014

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The Main Library and branches (Cuyama, Guadalupe and Orcutt) of the Santa Maria Public Library will be closed on Friday, Sept. 19 for staff training.

The libraries will be closed the entire day to enable all staff to attend the important training. The regular schedule of service at all branches will resume on Saturday, Sept. 20.

The training will provide library staff with exposure to current strategies and practices that will enable staff to better serve the library’s clientele. As usual, the library’s webpages will be available for access to online resources, item renewals and patron account information.

Exterior book return drop boxes will be available and open in the lower level of the Civic Center parking structure. Library items may be renewed (if eligible for renewal) by phone by calling 800.354.9660.

Black Gold libraries in the greater area that will be open for service on Sept. 19 are as follows:

» Arroyo Grande Library, 800 W. Branch St., 805.473.7161, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

» Lompoc Public Library, 501 E. North Ave., 805.875.8775, 1 to 5 p.m.

» Nipomo Library, 918 W. Tefft St., 805.929.3994, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The library staff apologizes for any inconvenience as a result of this closure.

Questions may be directed to the Administration Office of the Santa Maria Public Library at 805.925.0994 x321.

— Darleen Vallejo represents the Santa Maria Public Library.

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Caltrans Accepting Online Applications for Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants

By | Published on 09/02/2014

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Caltrans will host a transportation planning grant workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Sept. 16 in the San Luis Obispo County Library Community Room, 995 Palm St. in San Luis Obispo.

Caltrans is now accepting online applications for fiscal year 2015-16 sustainable transportation planning grants until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31.

This newly consolidated grant program supports Caltrans’ new mission to provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability. It also features just two funding categories — strategic partnerships ($1.5 million) and sustainable communities ($8.3 million).

These grants promote a balanced, comprehensive multi-modal transportation system. The funding is available for a wide range of transportation planning purposes addressing local and regional needs and issues. The implementation of these grants should result in initiating, adopting and programming transportation improvements.

Funding for both programs is available on a statewide, competitive basis. There are some restrictions that apply for applicants. The application and guidebook are available online by clicking here.

For more information, contact Melissa Streder, Caltrans associate transportation planner, at 805.549.3800 or melissa.streder@dot.ca.gov.

— Jim Shivers is a public information officer for Caltrans District 5.

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Westbound Lane of Hollister Avenue to Close for Overnight Work Wednesday

By | Published on 09/02/2014

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On Wednesday, there will be a closure of one westbound lane of Hollister Avenue between South Glen Annie and Santa Felicia to allow for pavement grinding.

The work will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday and end no later than 3 a.m. Thursday. The work is being done at night to minimize traffic impacts and for the safety of the public and the workers.

Work along this section of Hollister Avenue is part of the public improvements under way in conjunction with the Westar/Hollister Village project.

The city recently added a Westar/Hollister Village email/text notification topic in its notification system to provide updates on the public improvements related to this project. Register for these notifications by clicking here.

— Valerie Kushnerov is a public information officer for the City of Goleta.

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San Marcos Volleyball Players Earn Medals at AAU National Classic in NYC

By | Published on 09/02/2014

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Anika Wilson, a senior at San Marcos High School, and Cassidy Drury-Pullen, a sophomore at San Marcos, who played as the No. 1 seeded team for San Marcos High School during the 2013-14 sand volleyball season, recently traveled to New York City together but played with different partners.

The girls were invited to compete on one of three teams taken to compete.

Gino Grajeda, coach for International Children’s Games-Los Angeles delegation and head of AAU beach volleyball, traveled with three two-person teams to New York for this competition.

The Los Angeles-based squad of selected athletes represented the West Zone in the AAU National Classic held at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Aug. 9-10.

The competition featured four zonal squads of up to five plus pairs representing the four AAU zones of the USA, in addition to the host district, the New York Metropolitan District. The athletes played in Brooklyn at newly built courts at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 6, with the Manhattan skyline in the background.

After two long days of competition, Wilson and Drury-Pullen both walked away with hardware. Wilson won the gold medal while Drury-Pullen placed third, earning bronze. Drury-Pullen was the youngest competitor, at age 15, to compete in the 18U event. All three Southern California teams placed in the competition, first through third, and the Los Angeles District earned the title of district champions.

Wilson went on to compete in St. Barth, where she earned a second gold medal with partner Isabel Carey.

Both Wilson and Drury-Pullen continue to train on the sand season but have also hit the wood floor at San Marcos High School on the varsity indoor squad.

Click here for more information.  

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Santa Barbara Beautiful Hosting Annual Awards Gala on Sept. 28

By | Published on 09/02/2014

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On Sunday, Sept. 28, the lush garden at the Music Academy of the West will be abuzz with enthusiastic crowds gathered to celebrate the Santa Barbara Beautiful Annual Awards Gala that recognizes individuals and teams of people who contribute to our vibrant community.

"We are very fortunate to have a community of talented professionals, who through their work contribute to the beauty of Santa Barbara," shared Jeanette Casillas and Ricardo Castellanos, gala co-chairs. "The Santa Barbara Beautiful annual awards recognize and celebrate their beautification efforts."

The festivities will get under way with a garden reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., where guests will enjoy local select wines from Lieff Wines, savory hors d’oeuvres by Lorraine Lim Catering and live music by Three for Joy. Inside Hahn Hall, Paula Lopez will serve as emcee and awards will be presented in the following categories.

Special Award Recipients

» President’s Award — Alma Del Pueblo

» Heritage Oaks Award v Isabelle Greene

» City of Santa Barbara Arts Advisory Committee’s Business In Art Award — Laura Knight, Pascucci Restaurant

» The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Native Choice Award — Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation

Property Award Recipients

» Architectural Feature — Lucky Penny Wall, 127 Anacapa St.

» Hugh Petersen Award For Art In Public Places — Joseph Knowles California Mosaic Mural, 1315 Chapala St.

» Commercial Building — The Anacapa Project, 131-137 Anacapa St.

» Commercial Sign — Boathouse Hendry’s Beach, 2981 Cliff Drive

» Historic Revitalization — Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

» Multi-Family Residence — 121 W. De la Guerra St.

» Public Open Space — Santa Barbara Harbor Sea Landing walkway

» Single Family Estate — El Nido, 1900 Garden St.

» Single Family Home — 521 Santa Barbara St.

The admission price is $60 per person and can be purchased by clicking here.

For more information about the event and sponsorship opportunities, click here, call 805.965.8867 or email info@sbbeautiful.org.

Sponsors to date include: Platinum — Lieff Wines, Alma del Pueblo, RoadShow Media; Gold — NS Ceramic, Lorraine Lim Catering, La Arcada Investment Corp, CASA Magazine; Silver — Jacoby Family Trust; Supporting — Arcadia Studio, Schipper Construction, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden; Event — West Covina Nursery, KBZ Architects, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Beautiful is an organization of volunteers dedicated to beautifying our area in a variety of ways not only by working independently but also by partnering with city departments, neighborhood associations and other agencies. Formed in 1965 by concerned civic leaders, Santa Barbara Beautiful is a non-political, non-profit, tax-exempt corporation. The organization provides funds to support and assist community groups and businesses in beautifying Santa Barbara through landscaping, and public art and recognizes outstanding contributions in those areas through its annual awards presentation each September. 

— Jacqueline Dyson is the vice president of public relations for Santa Barbara Beautiful.

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County Considers Revisions to Dangerous-Dog Ordinance After Shelter Death

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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Two meetings, in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, are scheduled for this week to gather public input on proposed changes

Bryan Szal is still grieving the death of his dog, Kitti, after she was mauled to death at a Santa Barbara County animal shelter last month after the gates to several kennels were left open by a volunteer, releasing several dogs at the county shelter located at 5473 Overpass Road in Goleta.

Kitti, a 12-year-old boxer mix, was awaiting a hearing to determine whether she should be euthanized, and Szal was working to get her out of the shelter when he learned she had been killed.

Now the county is working on changes to how it determines which dogs are dangerous and whether they should be unilaterally euthanized. They've issued a draft ordinance, one that Szal said, had it been in place, "my dog never would have ended in the shelter in first place."

The county's Public Health Department, which oversees the shelter system, has issued changes to the ordinance, which can be read by clicking here, and is asking the public to attend meetings this week to give their thoughts about the changes.

Two meetings are being held to gather input. One will be held in Santa Barbara on at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at 300 N. San Antonio Road, and one will be held in Santa Maria at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at 548 W. Foster Road.

The incident that landed Kitti in trouble in the first place transpired on June 1 when Szal was walking with the 62-pound dog, who was off leash one day when they came upon a woman with her small dog, also off leash and which was being carried.

What happened next is unclear — perhaps the small dog was startled by Kitti — and the woman "dropped her dog or it jumped and fell," Szal said.

The small dog died, and Kitti was confiscated and impounded.

Two weeks later, Kitti was given a hearing, where the woman whose dog had died brought forward no witnesses and Szal brought in 11 people to testify on Kitti's behalf, he recalled.

He was later notified that Kitti had been mauled to death after her cage had been left open by a volunteer.

Szal took the dog's body to the vet for a necropsy and turned the report and photos in to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Szal has been volunteering at the shelter for years, and said he's not sure how the ordinance got passed in the first place.

"I've never known Santa Barbara to have any sort of dangerous dog problem," he said. "She was a 12-year-old dog who had no history of violence. She had cancer. She scared that little dog, and I had to plead guilty to a misdemeanor."

Szal says there should be other options besides euthanasia of the animal, and that Santa Barbara County's ordinance on dangerous dogs is even more strict than state law. Szal also said he'd like to see a person with a background in animal behavior preside over the dangerous dog hearings.

"It's just volunteers guessing," he said, adding that the shelter could contract the hearings out to an animal behavioralist. "Even hardened criminals get more chances than dogs in the shelter system."

Susan Klein-Rothschild, deputy director of community health for the Health Department, said that she and her staff want to hear from the public about changes they want to see.

One of the biggest differences with the draft ordinances is that "there may be options other than destroying the dog," she said. "Right now, it says there's no option."

Public safety is still a priority, but options could be added so that a dog could be muzzled or restrained when out in public or other ways to keep the public safe without killing the dog, she said.

The information is brought to a hearing, and in recent hearings "we've used someone who has a law enforcement background" to be the hearing officer, she said.

"This is a really a place to begin, we truly are interested in people's thoughts," she said of the draft ordinance and the workshops. "We want to hear these suggestions. I think there is universal agreement that the current ordinance does not give us the flexibility we want."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Bomb Squad Disposes of Grenade in Santa Maria

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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The area around the Santa Maria Courthouse was evacuated Monday after a man alerted police to a potentially live grenade inside his vehicle.

Santa Maria police Sgt. Eligio Lara said the man told officers that he had purchased a storage locker from an auction in Nipomo on Sunday, and that he found the grenade while taking inventory of the contents.

After conducting research online, he determined that it could be a live grenade. He then brought it to the courthouse parking lot at 312 E. Cook St., left the grenade inside his vehicle and noticed the Police Department, according to Lara.

Officers cordoned off the area, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department bomb squad removed the grenade for disposal.

Lara said the Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Towbes Group Focuses on Apartment Living to Help Meet Need for Affordable Housing

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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On the heels of completing its expansion and renovation of Willow Springs, the firm prepares to submit plans for a Goleta project

The Towbes Group CEO Michael Towbes thinks the Central Coast could use more affordable rental housing options, an area the local real estate firm has spent the past few years developing and investing in heavily.

That’s why, on the heels of completing an expansion and recreational center renovation at Willow Springs apartment complex in Goleta, The Towbes Group is preparing to submit plans for another development to the City of Goleta.

Towbes hinted at the to-be-proposed apartment complex last Friday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new and improved Willow Springs at 60 Willow Springs Lane.

The 10-year-old complex just added 100 more one- to three-bedroom apartments — all leased before construction was even complete — bringing its total to 335 units. An expanded pool area, new clubhouse, an upgraded entertainment center and more were recently built to accommodate the growth.

Next up on the horizon will be Heritage Ridge, a 360-unit project to be built on a vacant 16-acre parcel immediately north of Willow Springs along Los Carneros Road.

Heritage Ridge, so-named for the ridge running through the property, would feature 132 rental units for seniors and 228 workforce-housing apartments, constructed on the east side of Los Carneros Road on land Towbes’ firm already owns. Goleta City Council just approved a separate nearby development, Village at Los Carneros, to be built on the west side of the road.

“We’d like to be through the process and approved and ready to start construction in about two years,” Towbes told Noozhawk. “A lot depends on how fast the city will process the project. I think there’s a terrific need for that, especially in this area. People in the workforce sometimes move to other areas for their jobs. If they’re renting, they can move to another location. It’s a good alternative for working people.”

Towbes said the firm hopes to submit an official development proposal to the Goleta City Council in the coming weeks.

Heritage Ridge, billed by Towbes as a smaller, less expensive option than Willow Springs, would bring to 11 the number of residential properties Towbes has developed and managed in Santa Barbara County. The company owns and operates more than 2,100 residential units throughout Santa Barbara and the Tri-County area.

Towbes said his firm seems to be the only local outfit centering building efforts on affordable rental housing, especially in areas such as Goleta, where many businesses coexist with a limited inventory of less affordable single-family housing.

“Right now our focus is on apartments,” he said. “As quickly as we built the (Willow Springs) building, we had all the apartments rented. We’ve got a lot of community support for what we’re doing. We’re not next to any single-family neighbors. There’s really been no opposition to these projects.”

The ongoing drought has many locals worried about water consumption, particularly in connection with recent developments, such as the Rincon Palms and Village at Los Carneros.

Towbes said an agreement made with the Goleta Water District some years ago makes him confident Heritage Ridge won’t present issues, but it all depends on what city officials think once they see plans.

The ones present Friday, including Mayor Michael Bennett, had nothing but good things to say about Willow Springs.

“I just think there’s a continued need for that type of housing," Towbes said, "and we’re going to do our best to fill some of that need.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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More Plaintiffs Join Lawsuit Against City of Santa Barbara Over ‘Gang’ Press Conference

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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Ten people have filed a lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara and its Police Department for slander and libel, saying they were unfairly maligned during a press conference touting the department's gang-suppression efforts.

Last November, police held a news conference to hail the success of “Operation Falling Dawn,” which resulted in 68 arrests.

Authorities say most of those arrested in the sweep were gang members or associates, and that they were responsible for 322 offenses, more than half of which are felonies.

The complaint, filed by Whittier-based attorney James Segall-Gutierrez on Aug. 22, 2013, lists 10 people, an addition of four people from a similar lawsuit filed in January

The lawsuit accuses the city and Police Department of negligence, slander and libel.

Plaintiffs listed in the suit are Joseph Castaneda, David Andres Castro, Marci Andrea Estrada, Adriana Marisol Guerrero, Jessica Aguirre Perez and Sergio Sanchez, who previously filed suit in January; and Jason Hernandez, Ruben Rodriguez, Albert Sanchez and Junior Frank Drew.

Named as defendants in the suit are the City of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Police Department, police public information officer Sgt. Riley Harwood and Police Chief Cam Sanchez.

The lawsuit states that at a press conference on Nov. 20, 2013, police met with reporters to talk about "Operation Falling Dawn" and posted the mugshots of 68 people on a wall. Beneath that was a display of confiscated weapons and drugs that had resulted from the arrests.

"Plaintiffs suffered loss of reputation, shame, mortification and hurt feelings, and exposed them to harm by affiliating and/or associating with membership in a gang," the complaint reads, adding that the plaintiffs were falsely implicated as violent criminals directly tied to gang-related assaults as well as attempted and actual homicides, drug sales and drug distribution. 

The complaint states that the press conference was an attempt to support the need for a gang injunction, and that injunction was denied by a judge in part because the criteria for gang-related activity was not specific enough.

"These slanderous and libelous statements were an attack on our clients’ basic rights to privacy, and the reckless and negligent disregard for their rights were trampled upon — with the hope that nobody would speak out and defend themselves," Segall-Gutierrez said in a statement. "One of our clients’ goals is to set a new standard for police reporting on what constitutes being a gang member and or how gang-activity is categorized, gathered, tracked, identified and labeled. We must protect the community’s right to not be publicly slandered or caused to be distressed."

Segall-Gutierrez is also representing the family of Brian Tacadena, who was shot by police last fall, and has sued police for excessive force.

As for the most recent complaint of libel and slander, City Attorney Ariel Calonne said more details need to be provided from those bringing the lawsuit.

"The complaint is extremely general. and they're going to need to be a lot more specific about what the city has done," Calonne told Noozhawk on Friday.

The city has a "very broad privilege" to disseminate information when its employees are acting within their official duty, including that of police officer, he said.

"We think the Chief  (Sanchez) was well within his speech rights to say what he said," Calonne said.

The city has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Gaviota Rest Areas Along Highway 101 to Remain Closed Until February

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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Construction continues on restrooms renovations and other upgrades at the heavily used facilities

Travelers on Highway 101 near the Gaviota Tunnel may have noticed rest stops in the area have been closed for some time, but engineers working on renovations in the area say they're hoping the restrooms will be opened by February of next year.

The rest stops, which are located on both the northbound and southbound sides of the highway just south of the Gaviota tunnel, have been closed to replace worn-out restroom plumbing, according to Jim Shivers, a spokesman for Caltrans.

Caltrans estimates that both rest stops had more than 1 million visitors last year, and Shivers said it's been almost 15 years since major improvements were made at the facilities.

"Many years of wear and tear due to high visitor use combined with older model fixtures and clogged plumbing pipes needed to be remedied," he said.

The structure's plumbing is being overhauled with new piping, low-flow toilets and urinals, and other amenities will be added to the restrooms. 

Other less-visible items will also be installed, such as newly required underground water storage tanks for fire suppression at both restroom locations.

The contractor for the $927,000 project is Prism Engineering Inc. of Hayward.

Signs at the northbound Highway 101 rest area at Gaviota are covered up while a major renovation project is under way. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

Shivers said the project was in the works several years before Gov. Jerry Brown's drought declaration, and that the closures are also overlapping with work California State Parks is doing at the nearby Las Cruces Water Treatment Plant. 

The rest stop and Gaviota State Park both rely on the same spring as their water source, which is processed at Las Cruces, and conservation is important even without the drought, Shivers said.

To conserve water in the future, landscaping in the area will also be changed to replace the lawn areas with mulch, and a smart irrigation system will be installed for watering shrubs and shade trees.

More information about Caltrans operated rest areas can be found by clicking here, including closures and a map of open locations.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Construction on restrooms and other facilities is continuing at the Gaviota rest stops on Highway 101. The facilities are expected to reopen in February. (Mike Eliason / Noozhawk photo)

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Santa Maria Council May Mandate Safety Gear at Bicycle Park

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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Recreation and Parks Department is urging use of equipment similar to what skateboarders are required to have

Riders hitting a bicycle track at Fletcher Park in Santa Maria could soon be required to don protective gear, much like their skateboarding brethren.

The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department on Tuesday will ask the City Council to implement a requirement for riders at the bicycle training track, or “pump track,” installed earlier this year at the park on College Drive. 

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall on the corner of Broadway and Cook Street.

“In order to ensure the safe and orderly use of the pump track, it is essential that bicycle riders wear protective helmets, elbow pads and knee pads when using the new bicycle park,” Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said in a staff report.

Park rangers would be responsible for enforcing the rule. 

“Violations will be dealt with depending on the frequency and severity of the violation,” Posada said. “Staff may elect to warn a first-time offender, or choose to issue an ‘infraction’ citation for persons with multiple violations. The latter would result in a court appearance for the violator.”

The city installed the bicycle ramp after cyclists repeatedly used the nearby skateboard, where safety gear is required.

“The unauthorized use by bicyclists in the skate park poses a safety risk to not only the bicycle riders but also the skaters that are using the skate ramps.

In addition to the facility at Fletcher, the law also would require safety gear at a city bicycle park with temporary ramps. 

“We expect the impact to be reduced violations of the skate ramp ordinance by persons misusing skate ramps, improved opportunities for the public to ride their bicycles for training and health purposes, and fewer injuries to bicyclists,” Posada said.

The new law would take effect later this year.

Presentations on the Santa Maria Economic Development Commission and the Santa Maria Visitors and Convention Bureau also are planned.

And council members are scheduled to conduct the second reading of an ordinance implementing rules regarding water conservation, such as banning water uses deemed wasteful by the state.

These include requiring people washing their cars to use a hose with a shut-off device and avoiding overwatering that leads to runoff into the sidewalk, street or off-site.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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County Supervisors to Receive Briefing on Laura’s Law as Possible Resource for Helping Mentally Ill

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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Santa Barbara County's district attorney and Third District supervisor are encouraging the Board of Supervisors to approve a law that could help seriously mentally ill people obtain court-ordered treatment.

On Tuesday, District Attorney Joyce Dudley and Supervisor Doreen Farr are scheduled to present information to the board about Laura's Law, which allows a judge to order the most seriously mentally ill people who refuse help into a treatment program.

Farr and Dudley sit together on the Isla Vista Safety Committee, which has been searching for ways to improve safety in that community in the wake of the mass murders that took place there on May 23, when 22-year-old Elliott Rodger killed six people before taking his own life.

Farr's district includes Isla Vista.

"Although it is impossible to know if Laura's Law could have impacted the recent tragic events in Santa Barbara County in Isla Vista and Goleta, closer monitoring and treatment of unstable and seriously mentally ill people may well serve to prevent another tragedy in the future," according to a board letter sent from Dudley and Farr. 

The law grew out of a 2001 shooting rampage in Nevada City carried out by Scott Thorpe, a man with an untreated mental illness.

Thorpe entered a county psychiatric facility and gunned down several people, including 19-year-old Laura Wilcox, who was working at the clinic during her winter break from college.

After her death, Wilcox’s parents joined up with the Treatment Advocacy Center to put together Assembly Bill 1421. With its enactment, the law gives judges the ability to order a six-month treatment program for an adult with an untreated mental illness who is unlikely to survive safely in the community.

Under Laura’s Law, people can be ordered to engage in a six-month treatment program that allows them to stay in their home or community and even keep working in their job.

There are conditions: The person must have been placed in psychiatric hospitalization or incarcerated in the last 36 months and/or committed violence toward themselves or others in the last 48 months, and must have been offered voluntary treatment and failed to engage and be substantially deteriorating.

A family member, law-enforcement officer, housemate, hospital or health agency director, or director of a nonprofit agency, can petition for a referral, and a judge will ultimately decide whether the person qualifies for court-ordered treatment.

Dudley and two other officials traveled earlier this summer to Nevada County, where the law originated, to see how it has affected that Northern California community.

"Nevada County's experience indicates that the mere presence of the Assisted Outpatient Treatment option increases participation in services by many who were previously resistant," states the board letter.

Santa Barbara County has looked at the law before, first in 2003, when it found that it did not have the resources to implement it.

In 2004, the county's Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health team began its Assertive Community Treatment or ACT Program, which reaches out to severely mentally ill people in the community who cannot or refuse to seek help on their own.

In 2010, the county's Mental Health Commission designated 15 of the spaces in the ACT program to operate with components of assisted outpatient treatment, but did not choose to put in the judicial requirement if a person continued to refuse treatment.

Now, proponents of the law saw that with the Affordable Care Act in effect and new ADMHS grants coming in, the department could have more of a possibility of moving forward with Laura's Law.

An hour has been scheduled for the item on Tuesday's Board of Supervisors agenda.

The board will hear a presentation on the law, and could direct the CEO's office to look into the resources needed to move forward.

If they approve that approach, the CEO could return with those findings within six months.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the board hearing room on the fourth floor of the Santa Barbara County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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One Person Hurt in Rollover Crash Near Jalama Beach

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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One person was injured Monday afternoon in a rollover accident near Jalama Beach County Park, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The single-vehicle crash involving a white pickup truck occurred at about 12:45 p.m., a mile from the beach park, the CHP said.

Firefighters from Santa Barbara County and the city of Lompoc, an AMR ambulance and a Calstar helicopter were dispatched to the scene.

CHP dispatch initially indicated two adults and a child had been hurt, but units on the scene later reported that only one person was injured.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Letter to the Editor: Measure P — a Nonindustry View

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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On Nov. 4, we in Santa Barbara County will have a chance to vote on Measure P, which would ban future use in our county of oil drilling practices known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), acidizing and steam injection.

We have this possibility in common with San Benito County, our near-neighbors to the north who will vote on a similar Measure J, proposed there by a coalition of farmers, ranchers, vintners, business owners, political leaders, teachers, workers and retired people, which would also prohibit any new gas or oil drilling activity — even conventional, low-intensity activity — in areas of the county zoned for residential or rural land use.

During public comment in a recent Montecito Planning Commission meeting, one gentlemen, attacking Measure P, thumped his fist on the podium and told commissioners, “Oil producers are among the best, most effectively regulated industries there are!”

He apparently had not read the Los Angeles Times of Aug. 14 exposing 33 oil/gas companies that had, since 2010 in at least 351 wells across 12 states, illegally used diesel — known by the Environmental Protection Agency to contain carcinogens and neurotoxins — in their fracking operations. No permits in these states, required for such use, were ever issued. The Environmental Integrity Project, not industry regulators, brought this corruption to light.

The gentleman seems not to have seen the YouTube video that records an oil company in Watsonville, Calif., dumping large quantities of toxic fracking wastewater into an unlined pit, in violation of California Water Code and California Water Quality regulations. The whistleblower videographer, not industry regulators, exposed this corruption.

Perhaps he had not read the U.S. Geological Survey report that documents serious drinking water contamination caused by oil production in Montana: almost 18 square miles of the aquifer that's the only source of drinking water for about 3,000 people of Poplar, whose private drinking water wells and public water supply wells for the city are irremediably fouled by brine, requiring them to build a pipeline to bring in drinking water from the Missouri River. The contamination has been going on for decades. The regulators were ... where?

Finally, the gentleman seemed not to know that right now in Shafter, Calif., fracking flares spew nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into the air within 400 feet of Sequoia Elementary School. Rodrigo Romo tells us his child came home from that school “every day with terrible headaches.”

Madeline Stano, staff attorney for the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, has told us that under current California law, nothing prevents oil companies from fracking on or next to parcels zoned for school, residential or agricultural use, and there exists no regulation for air monitoring or water monitoring of these facilities.

She tells us too that Kern County, where nearly 300 fracking wells are in operation, has some of the highest poverty rates, highest pollution rates and highest death rates due to pollution, in the United States.

Every voter should certainly consider whether large energy companies, such as the ones who'd profit from the use of fracking in our county, are completely free of the possibility of devastating accidents, have a history of operations that do not despoil the environment and are always truthful and forthcoming as to their procedures' safety and reliability.

Independent Editor Nick Welsh, discussing whether we in Santa Barbara are in danger if the El Diablo Nuclear Plant continues to operate in the face of warnings by a top-level company official, wrote, "Ambiguity is not an option.”

Do you consider ambiguity an option with regard to hydraulic fracturing when permanently poisoned drinking water, polluted air, earthquake possibilities and the extravagant use of needed water are at stake?

Some opponents of Measure P say, “We don't do fracking here and never will!” Though a messenger from God accurately predicted the Virgin Birth, local media don't report that this divine one has come to Santa Barbara to reveal exactly what will or will not happen here.

Some critics reason that, due to the nature of our county's geology, fracking is not economically feasible here. While it's true that oil shale deposits in this area are twisted and contorted in a way that's difficult to exploit, it's also true that any company at any time could believe it's found a “sweet spot” and start to frack for whatever profit it thinks possible. As Andrew Hsia-Coron in San Benito said of his own community, “We’re trying to stop it before oil companies even get started and invest in infrastructure.”

Measure P would also ban the use of acid stimulation and steam-injection drilling techniques in our county. Why?

Briana Mordick, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote in livescience (Aug. 29, 2013): “Acid stimulation can use multiple types of acid, including hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid (hydrofluoric acid is extremely toxic beyond its ability to cause burns, and exposure to very small quantities can be life threatening). In addition to acid, acid stimulation fluids use other potentially toxic chemicals, including some of the same substances used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. ...

“The acids used in acidizing treatments are corrosive and present a risk to the integrity of an oil or gas well. ... The spent acid that returns to the surface after acidizing poses environmental risks similar to those from produced water and hydraulic fracturing flowback and must also be properly handled, transported and disposed.

“Acidizing presents many of the same environmental and public health risks as hydraulic fracturing and should be regulated similarly. That is why the [Bureau of Land Management's] first draft of rules, issued last year, rightly would have covered both. The new draft, issued this year, would not apply to acidizing. The BLM should reverse this mistake and ensure any final rule applies to acidizing and other forms of well stimulation.”

In Cyclic Steam Injection drilling technology, which some have called a chemical-free version of fracking, steam is injected into a well whose walls are sealed. The heat of the steam “dissolves” oil deposits adjacent to the well which are then transported to the surface. After cooling through use of produced fluids, the process is repeated.

In 2011, in an oil field using this technology, Chevron failed to warn employees of the relevant dangers; a worker was sucked underground and boiled to death. His body was recovered 17 hours later. The company was fined $350.

According to the Bakersfield Californian, CSS created ongoing problems at the oil fields: "Other oil fields in Kern County have repeatedly experienced seepage and even violent volcanoes in which oil, water, and rocks can shoot 50 to 60 yards through the air. In fact, about a month and a half after [Chevron manager] Taylor's death, one such eruption at the sinkhole site continued for three days. That event prompted DOGGR to shut down steam injection activity within 500 feet of Chevron's 'broken' well."

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of comments on Measure P are, and will be, posted here and elsewhere. Opinions will be heated; statistics will be quoted and questioned. Nasty names will be used.

It's my hope that some will read both parts of what I've called a “Non-Industry View.” They are meant to complement each other.

After all is said and done, I believe the thoughts of Los Alamos Planning Commission Advisory Board chair Chris Wrather go to the heart of the matter: “We have a horse farm in the Los Alamos Valley. We in the valley don't get our water from pipes; we have to drill wells into our water table. Should fracking fluids get into our water supply, it would be the end of our home, the end of our property value, the end of our business. ... If you don't know the likelihood that something bad will happen, but you do know that if the something bad does happen it will be devastating, you err on the side of caution.”

Voting yes on Measure P will give us that caution.

William Smithers
Santa Barbara

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Cottage Health System Selected for List of Best Places to Work in Health Care

By | Published on 09/01/2014

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Cottage Health System has been selected as one of Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Health Care for the year 2014.

The Best Places to Work program recognizes 100 outstanding health-care employers nationwide.

The Modern Healthcare survey assessed Cottage Health System for organizational culture, communication, working environment, training, development, salary and benefits.

“The survey results demonstrated what we witness each day,” said Ron Werft, president and CEO of Cottage Health System. “The people at Cottage — employees, physicians, board members and volunteers — collaborate to create a truly exceptional work environment.”

Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Health Care recognition program, now in its seventh year, honors workplaces throughout the healthcare industry that empower their employees to provide patients and customers with the best possible care, products and services. An alphabetical list can be found by clicking here.

Modern Healthcare provides health-care business and policy news, research and information through a weekly print magazine, websites, e-newsletters and events.

In October, Modern Healthcare will publish specific rankings of the organizations selected as best places to work.

— Maria Zate is the manager of marketing and public affairs for Cottage Health System.

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Judy Foreman: Élu Delivers Sexy, Cool, Street Luxury with a Touch of Rock ‘n’ Roll

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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Upper Village boutique gives Montecito a range of top-notch artisanal shoes, boots, bags and more — including work of local Taiana Giefer

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Montecito was flooded with store openings in 2013, but a standout addition to the 93108 fashion landscape is élu, which means to choose or select in French. Located in the new Gunner Center on San Ysidro Road, the overall  interior effect is minimal but lush. It’s all in the details, as the saying goes.

Cristina and Paul Nicoletti are the founders and interior designers of élu. Cristina, Brazilian born, created Henry Beguelin stores in the United States, rebranding them élu last year. She introduced more lines, all of which are intensively handcrafted and bear a sophisticated primitive air. 

The Nicolettis, the visionaries behind their multibrand concept stores, have other outposts in Los Angeles, Malibu, San Francisco, Aspen, Chicago and New York City.

“I love the weather and the casual, athletic, beach lifestyle,” Cristina said.

Élu specializes in unique, modern, nonbranded, artisanal luxury goods ($$$$) for men and women. The story behind behind the merchandise is offered by manager Jenna Ferrell and sales associate Suzi Clark to help a customer understand why the items the store carries are so special.

With an emphasis on shoes, boots and bags, elu has a selection of hard-to-find brands like Guidi, Rick Owens, MA+, Marsèll, Henry Cuir, Officine Creative, Göran Horal and Maison Martin Margiela. Élu also offers a beautiful and edgy selection of clothing for men and women, including lines from designers Isaac Sellam, Peachoo+Krejberg, If Six was Nine and L.G.B. Jewelry, glasses, hats, distressed leather tennis shoes and belts are also available, as are small leather housewear items.

Designer and model Taiana Giefer, a Santa Barbara native, recently collaborated with Cristina on one-of-a-kind scarves and wraps. While attending The Waldorf School of Santa Barbara, Giefer says she was “introduced to the world of the true artisan.”

There, she says she was taught how to work with any materials, “understanding the potential to be able to build and bring anything you can imagine with your own two hands while staying true to nature and its gifts, respecting what the earth has given to us.”

After Waldorf, Giefer attended Santa Barbara Middle School, which taught her how to tap into her endurance and push her own boundaries of strength and imagination while staying kind and humble and noncompetitive.

“A mixture of being a native Californian, surrounded by so much culture,  and experiencing a lot of world travel with my family,  I have had  so many great examples and influences in my life,” she said.

“I knew that my path was that of an artist. I have always been driven to explore the boundaries of function, color, texture, shape and scale.”

At élu, Giefer’s current collection of scarves, wraps, blankets and accessories is inspired by the ancient technique of felting and the personalities that the merino wool and other natural materials carry. 

“My mission is to bring the ancient textile techniques of felting to the modern world of fashion as a one-of-a-kind ageless pieces of art by merging art and textiles,” she said.

Giefer merges well with a contemporary, yet warm and friendly atmosphere at the Nicolettis’ store.

Élu showcases the convergence of artisanal craftsmanship with a modern aesthetic. Unlike any other store in Santa Barbara, it offers a truly unique shopping experience supporting and showcasing the craftsmanship of its artists. It is a true luxury that makes the experience of going into this posh store with one-of-a-kind finds so special. Enjoy!

Élu is open seven days a week and is located at 525 San Ysidro Road, Building One. Click here for more information, or call 805.770.7187.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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After Years of Pressure, Santa Barbara ’s Eastside Residents to Get Brighter Street Lights

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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City moves to replace hundreds of existing lights with LED bulbs, but some locals want more emphasis on pedestrian lighting

The City of Santa Barbara plans to replace more than 250 lights on the Eastside in an attempt to address concerns about safety in those neighborhoods.

The city will pay Southern California Edison to convert 180 of the utility’s street lights to light-emitting diode bulbs from high-pressure sodium bulbs. Santa Barbara will also replace 77 of its own high-pressure sodium lights with the LEDs.

In addition to replacing the existing lights, the city will pay SCE to install 14 new LED lights, attached to existing power poles that currently do not have street lights, along Cota, Haley, Indio Muerto and Salinas streets.

The $270,000 project has already begun and is expected to be completed by October.

“We need to do something that will help protect pedestrians and give people a sense that there’s more safety in the area,” said James Dewey, the city’s facilities and energy manager.

The light replacement project comes after years of requests and calls for the city to pay more attention to the needs of Eastside residents. From a lack of street and pedestrian lighting and a need for more bus stops, to wanting more bicycle lanes and better sidewalks and paths for walkability, residents have long sought more attention from municipal leaders.

In 2013, the city approved an Eastside Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan that includes 28 strategies and projects to enhance mobility and traffic safety. In that plan it was projected that $11 million would be needed to address all of the Eastside’s lighting needs.

At an April 2013 workshop, Eastside residents ranked lighting as their No. 1 most wanted improvement. Transportation manager Browning Allen said in a staff report after that workshop that “it is likely that funding for lighting installation will need to be addressed through smaller projects over the long term.”

The city plans to pay for the project through one-time general fund money.

Many of the sidewalks in Santa Barbara’s West Downtown neighborhood are illuminated by 21-foot tall lights that brighten pedestrian pathways. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Many of the sidewalks in Santa Barbara’s West Downtown neighborhood are illuminated by 21-foot tall lights that brighten pedestrian pathways. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Dewey said that although the city is not installing many new lights, the LEDs are more “light efficient.” The high-pressure sodium lights cast a “golden hue,” he said, but LEDs are more effective at rendering color. Dewey said the LEDs have a color-rendering index of over 90, which is very close to displaying colors as though they were under sunlight.

Despite the city’s efforts, some on the Eastside believe more could be done to address residents’ needs.

“To me it’s just changing a light bulb,” said Sebastian Aldana, a neighborhood resident and Eastside activist. “We need more pedestrian lights.”

Aldana points to the type of lighting in the West Downtown neighborhood, where 21-foot pedestrian lights hang on both sides of the streets over many of the sidewalks. The city spent $3.5 million in redevelopment funds to pay for those improvements, including the LED lights on some streets there.

That West Downtown Improvement Project was funded with RDA money, however, and Santa Barbara’s Eastside was not in a designated redevelopment zone when the RDA existed. In an effort to balance the state budget, California abolished redevelopment agencies, which had been used as a funding mechanism to boost communities out of blight.

Aldana wants to see the city do for the Eastside what it did for West Downtown.

“That’s the template for what needs to be done,” he told Noozhawk

The 30-foot-high “cobra lights” that hook over the street on the Eastside do a great job of lighting up the streets, Aldana said, but don’t do much for the sidewalks.

“To me it is not solving the problem,” he said. “A lot of people want pedestrian lighting, not just street lighting.”

Aldana sees it as an example of a lack of prioritization of the Eastside.

Dewey, however, doesn’t see a huge difference.

“Overall the lighting on the Eastside isn’t significantly differently from any other neighborhood in town, but we are finding that the Eastside has some unique challenges in that there are a lot of cars on the street, a lot of activity and a lot of traffic in the neighborhoods,” Dewey said.

“The density of traffic, the density of the population, the amount of activity in the area, the improved lighting will help the situation.”

City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo said she is pleased Santa Barbara is doing more to address the needs of Eastside residents. She credits Aldana, members of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, and other activists in the neighborhood.

“The Eastside is finally getting the attention it deserves,” she said.

Murillo said that with the redevelopment agency gone the Eastside is competing for dollars with every other neighborhood. She says she’s convinced that strong activism will continue to pay off for the residents.

“Yes, I believe there is more lighting in the West Downtown,” Murillo said. “But if residents want more light and believe it will make them safer, they should get their lighting. It’s just a matter of time.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Isla Vista Housing Project to Give Homeless Much More Than a Roof Over Their Heads

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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$12 million Pescadero Lofts — a partnership between federal government and county Housing Authority — to include services like career and job training

A $12 million, three-story rental housing project designed to bring the homeless off the streets of Isla Vista and into permanent housing is set to open in November.

The Pescadero Lofts, at 761 Pescadero St., will include 26 studios, six one-bedroom apartments and a two-bedroom managers unit.

The project, funded by the federal government and the the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara, will feature on-site services, such as mental health, alcohol and drug addiction counseling, computer and financial literacy classes, as well as career and job training. Drug testing and health screenings will also be available.

“We’re looking for people living on the streets, in cars, on people’s couches, who have made a decision that they want to move out of homelessness,” said John Polanskey, director of the county Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority purchased the site, behind Friendship Manor, from the county’s former redevelopment agency for $2 million. Federal tax credits and Section 8 rental housing assistance programs will allow residents to pay between $400 to $600 a month to live at the Pescadero Lofts, although they don’t necessarily need to have a job to live there. Section 8 rules require that residents pay 30 percent of their income, but if some people looking for housing may not have any income to start.

Once housed, Polanskey said the goal would be to help them develop job skills and return to the housing market. He is hopeful that construction will be completed in October and residents can move in mid-November.

South Coast agencies and activists have long struggled with how to handle the region’s homeless problem. While the homeless are more visible in Santa Barbara, Isla Vista has long been home to an eclectic mix of people. Although Isla Vista is perceived as a college town, the densely populated area also houses thousands of working and low-income families and several hundred homeless people who live on the streets and crash nightly at parks and in other secluded areas.

With the help of federal tax credits and Section 8 housing assistance, Pescadero Lofts residents will be ale to rent units for between $400 and $600 a month. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
With the help of federal tax credits and Section 8 housing assistance, Pescadero Lofts residents will be ale to rent units for between $400 and $600 a month. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Housing Authority hopes to encourage sorority and fraternity members to volunteer as buddies for the residents, and possibly check in on the tenants from time to time.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said the project is a model of what is needed to help the homeless population.

“You have to bring the services to the homeless,” Farr told Noozhawk.

After years of living on the streets, Farr said some homeless residents “don’t feel comfortable behind walls,” but may not have the ability to hop on the bus and attend support meetings or apply for jobs. Moving into a new studio or apartment could be overwhelming at first, but the on-site services will increase the chances for a successful transition into housing life.

“This is a great project,” she said. “I am really excited to see it moving forward so quickly.”

Although each studio and apartment are individual units, Polanskey hopes to see the residents interacting and learning from each other as they battle out of homelessness. Residents will be encouraged to cook dishes and bring the food out into downstairs dining room, to enjoy potluck meals.

The units will be furnished with beds and furniture, but community members will have the opportunity to donate $500 to help a resident purchase living essentials such as pots, pans, linens, sheets, towels and toiletries. Donors will be listed on plaques.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, said the project is what Isla Vista needs.

“Support services for people coming out of homelessness are vital,” she said. “It’s not just putting up walls. It’s what you are also offering them that counts.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The three-story Pescadero Lofts will provide more than 30 individual studios and apartments. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
The three-story Pescadero Lofts will provide more than 30 individual studios and apartments. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

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New Classroom Building Changing the Look at Venerable Santa Maria High School

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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$12 million project taking shape along South Broadway includes rooms for band and choir students

The Santa Maria High School campus is undergoing a big change with the addition of a two-story building to provide more classrooms and other learning facilities.

Construction began late last year on the prominent new building, which sits at the front of campus in the 900 block of South Broadway between the school’s administration building and the historic Ethel Pope Auditorium.

The 26,000-square-foot structure will house 14 learning areas and 10 classrooms, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District officials said. The building will have rooms for band and choir students to use.

The project also includes an outdoor performance area and restrooms.

“Construction at the ... Broadway project is moving along very well and remains on schedule for completion in April,” said Gary Wuitschick, the district’s director of support services.

District officials said the new building’s architectural design will complement the other buildings on the oldest high school campus in the Santa Maria Valley.

While designed to match the older architecture, the structure will feature some modern touches such as solar power and LED lighting.

The project’s price tag is $12 million, with most of the funding coming from Measure C, a $79-million bond measure Santa Maria voters approved in 2004.

Other Measure C projects in the district include a new yet-to-be-built high school and a performing arts center under construction at Pioneer Valley High School. Righetti and Santa Maria high schools also will get new swimming pools.

In another project, the district’s Board of Trustees recently approved the conversion of a warehouse at the Skyway Drive office location into a professional development center or multipurpose room.

The “building within a building” will feature 1,500 square feet with room to seat up to 200 people and is meant to accommodate board meetings, training and community meetings.

In addition to being too small, the district’s current boardroom is cramped and lacking adequate temperature control systems, district officials said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Michelle Malkin: Bloodstained Hypocrisy of Hollywood’s Violence Profiteers

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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Did you miss Tinseltown’s latest political correctness powwow? Preening celebrities showed their solidarity with Ferguson, Mo., at the MTV Video Music Awards show last week. Rapper Common led the convocation, preachifying about the positive impact of hip-hop music on society as a “powerful instrument of social change” and “truth.”

Cameras showed drug-addled gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg bowing his head and flashing a peace sign during a “moment of silence” for Ferguson. MTV President Stephen Friedman aired public service announcements plying social justice messages.

“It’s a call to action to our audience that we have to confront our own bias head-on before we can truly create change,” Friedman pontificated.

Spare me the shizzle and hypocri-dizzle.

While these Hollywood do-gooders gnash their Zoom!-brightened teeth over violence in the black community, they turn their Restylane-filled cheeks from the bullet-riddled violence glamorized by their own industry.

The night before the VMAs, a gunman barged into the 1Oak nightclub in West Hollywood and shot rap mogul Suge Knight six times. He survived.

It wasn’t the first time Knight had been targeted for apparent revenge. And it wasn’t the first time the VMA party scene had been rattled by violent gunfire. In 2005, Knight was shot at a pre-VMA party in Miami hosted by rapper Kanye West.

Knight, founder of the Death Row Records empire and possessor of a mile-long rap sheet, reportedly refuses to cooperate with Los Angeles police, who are investigating the roles of the infamous Bloods and Crips rival street gangs in the crime. The Bloods-affiliated Knight’s reign of criminal terror has been well documented by law enforcement and rap aficionados. A climax: the still-unsolved shooting deaths of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, which multiple insiders believe the record executive ordered.

Fellow thug rapper Chris Brown (who remains on probation for beating up former girlfriend/pop queen Rihanna) was at the West Hollywood party last weekend, reportedly throwing Bloods gang signs. Also on scene: gangsta rapper and Bloods-promoter The Game.

Fun fact: The last time “Game” was in the news, he had released album artwork depicting Jesus as a Bloods gang member — complete with gold chains and the signature red bandana of the Compton Piru Bloods gang.

Not to be outdone, Crips-affiliated Snoop Dogg — a marquee Death Row Records “artist” with Dr. Dre before their falling out with Knight — boasts his own vicious criminal gang history ranging from felony drug possession to assault and multiple deadly weapons possessions charges. And that’s not including a deadlocked jury outcome on voluntary manslaughter charges after rival Crips gang member Philip Woldermarian was gunned down by shots alleged to have come from a car Snoop and two fellow gang members were in at the time.

Corporate Hollywood liberals have made billions of dollars off of hard-core, gang-promoting, gun-toting, cop-bashing, misogynist rap. The corrosive effects on the black community are incalculable. Grandstanding about Ferguson is a convenient distraction from the rank hypocrisy of violence profiteers.

As you might expect, MTV didn’t call for a “moment of silence” about the latest Knight shooting. There was no need for one. When it comes to holding themselves accountable for fostering black-on-black violence, Hollywood’s gangstas have adopted a systematic code of silence.

Michelle Malkin is author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies. Contact her at malkinblog@gmail.com, follow her on Twitter: @michellemalkin, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Susan Estrich: Diane Sawyer Steps Down, But Who Will Follow Her?

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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There were no ruffles or flourishes.

Diane Sawyer stepped down as the anchor of ABC World News and the “face” of the network (her job to be effectively split between George Stephanopoulos and David Muir) with characteristic dignity, grace and understatement.

And, OK, she still looks gorgeous.

But where are the next 10 women in line for her place?

Once upon a time, all of the broadcast anchors were men. Then there was the “first” woman co-anchor and then the first woman anchor and then — as unbelievable as it seems — there were two, which should mean you can stop counting. Someday, I used to tell my students, counting will seem silly, like counting how many male nurses there are.

And then there was one anchor.

Now there are none.

Is counting really so silly? Is it possible that this is all just the product of a gender-blind, race-blind world? What an amazing coincidence that would have to be.

I am absolutely certain that no one making any of these decisions at the broadcast networks in any way experiences themselves as discriminating. Some — more than there used to be — are even women and minorities themselves. So while it is still true that most of the people who make most of the major decisions about just about everything except maybe what happens in elementary school classrooms are men, and while it is absolutely true that the most natural thing in the world is to assume that the person who looks like a younger version of yourself is, strictly on the merits, the most qualified, it is also true that the best person for the job is not always a woman.

But none of the four best?

Since 1995, the number of women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies has grown from 0 to 23, meaning the number of men has dropped from 500 to a mere 477.

I know women have children, and many women put family first, and I’m the last to say that’s wrong. But not all women have families, and children grow up, and 0 for 4 or 477-23 are just not the kind of numbers you get at random, just aren’t explained by the demands of family, just don’t make sense unless someone was paying so little attention to all of the unconscious factors at work that they had no idea that their high-minded principles were producing mid-20th-century results.

That's why we started counting — why Catalyst started counting women CEOs and why The White House Project started counting women on the Sunday shows and why I started counting op-ed pages and we all started counting things we hoped we could soon stop counting.

It’s not to impose a quota. It’s to sound a wake-up bell when the numbers are out of whack with what should be the 21st-century reality.

Oh, sure, anchors aren’t what they once were — unless, God forbid, it’s one of those moments when you might depend on their judgment, their calm, their ability to hold us together. I remember watching Walter Cronkite when President John F. Kennedy was shot.

Diane Sawyer has always been a class act. There must be a successor somewhere. And another Katie, and another Barbara, not to mention some Hillarys in the wings, if only we look for them.

Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to contact her or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Orcutt Storage Trailer Destroyed in Fire; Cause Under Investigation

By | Published on 08/31/2014

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A fire destroyed a storage trailer and its contents in Orcutt on Sunday.

Santa Barbara County firefighters responded at 10:37 a.m. to the blaze in the 200 block of East Foster Road, in an alley between Michelle Drive and Odie Lane.

The first crews found a trailer, approximately 25 feet by 50 feet, engulfed in flames, Capt. David Sadecki said.

Firefighters completed a search of the trailer to confirm nobody was inside, he added.

Crews knocked down the fire at 11:05 a.m., but remained on the scene dealing with hot spots, including using power tools to remove part of an exterior wall.

The trailer was a total loss, Sadecki said. Contents inside also appeared to be charred beyond recognition.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, he added.

One firefighter reportedly was taken to the hospital for treatment after stepping on a nail.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Wooden Boardwalk Among New Features Planned to Spruce Up Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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$11 million renovation includes upgrades of East Beach Grill, gym facilities in bid to create waterfront recreation center

Designs for the restoration of Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center & Bathhouse have been revealed, and the plans include a wooden boardwalk along the beach, new gym facilities and redesigning the restaurant space.

At the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting Wednesday, Jill Zachary, assistant director of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, gave some historical background on the city-owned building, which has hosted many community programs and events since it was built in 1926.

“The city is forever indebted to (philanthropist) David Gray for this building,” she said.

The building at 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. has served as a dance hall, wedding venue, temporary housing for servicemen during World War II, event center and a youth center over the years, Zachary said.

Renovations are meant to revamp the shower and gym facilities, which are very out-of-date, and upgrade the overall accessibility and functionality of the building so it can be better-utilized as a community and event center, she said.

There’s “quite a bit of room for improvement in terms of revenue” with upgraded facilities, she noted.

The city wants to make the building a viable community recreation center and return it to its status as the “crown jewel of East Cabrillo Boulevard.”

In the proposed designs, the first floor would be completely renovated, the city would add a dedicated space for aquatic sports programs, and the East Beach Grill space would be redesigned.

Fenced off after being declared unsafe, the playground at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center will soon undergo renovations of its own. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Fenced off after being declared unsafe, the playground at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center will soon undergo renovations of its own. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

There would be some changes to the building’s landscaping and accessibility as well.

The building and stoa — the covered walkway to the east of the building — are city structures of merit so the Historic Landmarks Commission will review the exterior design changes.

The design’s new wooden boardwalk would run along the beach side of the main parking lot on the west side of the building and then perpendicular out onto the sand from the eastern side.

There wouldn’t be changes to the patio dining area that exists now and the playground — which was deemed unsafe and fenced off — will be replaced in the same area.

East Beach Grill owner Francisco Aguilera intends to stay involved in the design process and supports the project, his attorney said during Wednesday’s meeting. The restaurant has been a tenant in the building for 30 years.

Parks and recreation department staff gave several presentations to advisory commissions last week and held a community meeting to present the plans to the public.

The City Council allocated $1 million for project design in April and city staff estimated the total cost at $11 million. Most of the project will be funded from Redevelopment Agency bond funds that were approved for the project before the RDA was dissolved.

There is $9.1 million of RDA funding available and the city plans to fundraise for the rest.

Engineers are working on a sea-level rise vulnerability report, which is required to get a coastal development permit from the California Coastal Commission, Zachary said.

The project also needs Planning Commission review for a coastal development permit.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Kayakers Narrowly Avoid Being Blown Out to Sea Off El Capitán State Beach

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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Sundowner winds push pair 2 miles offshore while they fished near Las Flores Canyon

Two men narrowly escaped being blown out to sea Saturday evening when sundowner winds pushed their kayaks away from shore along the Gaviota coast, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Rescue crews were called out shortly after 7 p.m. after a 9-1-1 call reported two kayakers in distress near El Capitán State Beach, Fire Department spokesman Vince Agapito said.

“They decided to go kayak fishing, and put in at Las Flores Canyon, north of El Capitán,” Agapito said. “Their plan was to fish along kelp line, but the sundowners came up, which they were not expecting, and they literally got blown out to sea.”

The 9-1-1 caller told dispatchers the kayakers were about a half-mile offshore, but by the time rescuers reached them on personal watercraft, they were nearly two miles out, Agapito said.

He said the two men were towed back to shore about 45 minutes later, just as darkness was falling.

The men were checked out by paramedics, and determined to be uninjured, Agapito said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Letter to the Editor: Hollister Village Sidewalk Removal Only One of Many Issues with Project

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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Why would a developer choose to “tear up” Hollister Avenue and South Glen Annie Road, causing more congestion in an already high-traffic area, right before a three-day weekend?!

I am referring to the section of Hollister Avenue in front of Costco and the Camino Real Marketplace and down the right side of the Westar project. All sidewalks were torn out on Friday, orange cones are everywhere — but on the Friday prior to a huge three-day holiday!!!

They have no consideration for anyone except themselves. My neighbors and I park on South Glen Annie Road, the street on the right side of the Westar project, but not now. We also walk on the sidewalks along Hollister Ave to cross safely in the crosswalk at the light to go into Camino Real Marketplace, but not this weekend. Is this poor planning? We knew they were going to “tear up” the street and sidewalks, but couldn’t they wait until Tuesday after the holiday and immediately put in new sidewalks when folks would be less affected?? I do not know! Me ides! Tear up the sidewalks before a three-day weekend and leave until after the three-day weekend to put it back together?!

Camino Real Marketplace didn’t want to be without water for a day so that the water company could connect water to the Westar project. This was understandable when construction takes place and choices need to be made. The choice was to interrupt the neighbors, including myself, and work all night long. Backhoes, construction crews, four generators, bright lights, 20 workmen, dump trucks backing up with their loud beep beep beeps ... work crews having to shout over the generators to be heard, the sound and smell of welding torches. They run over us like we weren’t even here, inconvenience the few, not the masses. Needless to say it was a sleepless work night. Talking about feeling like chopped liver. We took a “bullet” for Camino Real Marketplace and Westar, you owe us.

Westar now wants to put in an excess amount of obnoxious, over-lit signs all around this project. “Here I Am,” “Vacancy,” “Pool House,” “Smart & Final,” etc. This project is going to stand out like a sore thumb with the height and overcrowding in this 23-acre-square parcel. Everyone is realizing the project is just too big, and adding salt to injury, it will now have too many over-lit signs.

If you haven’t had a chance to drive by and notice how high the partially built “one-story” Westar structure already is, wait until the other two stories go up along with the final phase of three stories structures in the back. Yeah ... the City of Goleta will get approximately 273 apartments in the back of the property and several commercial building in the front with the minimum parking required. Yahoo for everyone!

Let’s not forget to  mention the strong stench coming from the Westar property once a week when they change the portable toilets. Even when you shut your windows you can still smell it.

Westar says that they will not rent to UC Santa Barbara students, but as anyone who has been to the Westar/Goleta City Council meetings will contest to is Westar people are liars. I do not dislike the UCSB students, but let’s be honest, they like to party. We all partied when we were young. There have been a lot of mishaps in Islay Vista. Do you want that spilling out into Goleta?

The Westar folks are Big City Slickers who’ll sell your shirt off your back and the Goleta City Council have no backbone whatsoever. I’ve watched the City Council time after time look like they are going to take a stand on an issue and at the end sit still and let Westar have their way. Not only are the Westar people violating so many traffic, health and air-quality issues but the City Council is allowing it. It’s obvious they want this project and that’s it.

We have no water! Go look at Lake Cachuma! Too much building, no water, you do the math!

If the city needs housing, why aren’t houses — good old-fashioned houses with front and back yards, without association fees — being built instead of apartments? Families want to live in and own a house, not rent an apartment.

Patricia Moreno
Goleta

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Letter to the Editor: Measure P Is Nothing More than Cunning Deception

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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As a senior citizen raised from birth on an oil lease, I may have a rather unique view of the hazards and rewards that are associated with oil production. The hazards seemed to be limited to such things as heavy equipment and trucks operating on the roads, pumping units with a myriad of moving parts, high-voltage electric lines and heat created by steam generators. None of these ever harmed me or my family.

To me as a child, these “hazards” were a part of my everyday playground. Having been taught to respect these hazards, they no longer created a danger to me. Ironically, my family bathed daily in the water coming from an aquifer located directly beneath the same lease property. We used water from that same source to grow pasture to feed our cattle, as well as to water our garden and lawn. And it would all have met today’s “Certified Organic” growing standards.

We cooked and heated our home using natural gas, which was a by-product of the oil production. And, most important, our family was well provided for by my father’s income, which was derived solely from the oil produced on the Needham-Bloomer and Vedder-Parkford leases in Kern County. No health issues developed from this daily exposure to crude oil, gas vapor and waste water. At a very young age, I learned personal responsibility by bleeding waste water from tanks and gauging the daily oil production. We also learned a great deal of common sense and developed a very healthy respect for the natural environment.

When I first began to hear about Measure P I thought that perhaps the folks behind this proposed regulation might simply be misguided and perhaps a bit disingenuous. Having done my homework by actually reviewing the proposed measure, I have concluded that what they really are is cunningly deceptive. The daily claims that are being made by these folks are totally specious. The claims are not fact-driven in spite of proponents contending that they are.

The proponents of this sham would have us believe that Measure P is a “pre-emptive measure for health and safety.” Nothing — absolutely nothing — could be further from the truth. The proponents are using the hyper-sensitivity that we have all developed during this period of prolonged drought to frighten the uninformed among us about our water supply and the quality of that supply. They are using “dirty air” as a scare tactic when in fact the air quality of Santa Barbara County continues to improve year after year — during a period when oil production has increased substantially. They talk about “fracking” when no fracking is actually being done here.

Don’t allow yourselves to be deceived. This proposed measure is a politically driven attempt to eliminate ... read that as destroy ... an industry that creates at least 1,000 direct jobs in this county, thousands more ancillary service jobs, and which contributes millions of dollars to education and general services.

Published in the Aug. 29 Bakersfield Californian was a story with this headline: Fracking Study May Allow Feds to Resume Lucrative Oil Leases in Kern County. The article went on to say that on Aug. 28 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released an “independent scientific review of well stimulation activities in the state.” According to the newspaper, “The review by the nonpartisan California Council on Science and Technology found no instances of groundwater contamination, seismic activity or other significant detrimental environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing.”

While this article is not entirely germane to what is taking place in Santa Barbara County, where no fracking is being done, it does help to expose Measure P for what it really is, and that is an effort by hypocritical environmental extremists to rid Santa Barbara County of an entire industry.

The Santa Barbara County Counsel and the Board of Supervisors are already preparing for the anticipated onslaught of lawsuits that will follow if this measure passes in November. This measure is a boondoggle of the worst order and serves the needs of a small, overzealous segment of our population.

Do not be deceived. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated and misled by this pack of prevaricators. Do your homework and read the measure. Once you have done so I am confident that you will vote NO on Measure P.

Riley Parker
Orcutt

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Diane Dimond: After Ferguson, a Challenge for Civil Rights Leaders, Police ... and Us

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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A notion struck me as I studied the continuing stream of news about the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo. After his funeral, I wondered, could we be witnessing the birth of another historic civil rights movement?

If you are white, you may think that’s a ridiculous notion. A recent Pew Research Center poll reveals that 80 percent of blacks believe the shooting in Ferguson raises important issues about race that need to be discussed. But only 37 percent of whites agreed. Even more troubling: 47 percent of white Americans think the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

This signals a disturbing disconnect. When 80 percent of one group of people says there is a basic human rights problem in America, the rest of us ought to be willing to listen and discuss.

The circumstances surrounding Brown’s death have still not been adequately explained, to my mind, and coming on the heels of three other fatal incidents involving unarmed black men and white police officers, the basic questions seem clear: Are cops in America too prone to strong-armed tactics when it comes to black and brown people? Or do young minorities lack respect for others — especially the police — and engage in behaviors that invite the trouble? How can the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect be improved?

After Ferguson endured two weeks of looting and arson, street demonstrations and violence, there were genuine calls for calm and a national discussion about why another unarmed black kid had been shot and killed by a peace officer. Speakers inside the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church spoke about going forward.

Eric Davis urged the packed church crowd to immortalize his cousin’s death with a renewed effort to advance civil rights.

“Show up at the voting booths,” Davis said. “Let your voices be heard, and let everyone know that we have had enough of this.”

Those who came to the service openly said they believe Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson had grossly overreacted that awful Saturday afternoon. Why didn’t he simply arrest Brown if he was breaking a law or use a Taser instead of a deadly gun?

In other parts of town, supporters of Wilson answered with the still-uncorroborated police version of the events of that day: The 6-foot-4-inch, 290-pound teenager had struck first and fast, wrestling for Wilson’s gun and driving him to use deadly force to defend himself.

But there was no forum for the two sides to talk to each other.

Even the often-grandstanding Rev. Al Sharpton, who flew in from New York to attend the funeral, seemed to understand that Brown’s death could be a pivotal event to improving race relations.

“There have been other times in history that became seminal moments, and this is one of those moments,” Sharpton told the congregation. “And this young man, for whatever reason, has appealed to all of us that we’ve got to solve this and not continue this.”

In strong language, Sharpton urged all African-Americans to push for positive change instead of hitting the streets with violent protests and “sitting around having ghetto pity parties.”

Just what Sharpton and other civil rights activists plan to do to “solve this” remains a mystery. But here’s a challenge: Get organized. Make the nation truly understand what life is like for inner-city minorities who encounter police in their neighborhoods. Take a page from dignified heroes of the past who peaceably fought for their rights.

As Rosa Parks did in Alabama in 1955 when she quietly refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, and then challenged her arrest. As students in North Carolina did in 1960 when they staged silent sit-ins at segregated lunch counters. As civil rights activists did during a series of marches between Selma and Montgomery, Ala., back in 1965. None of them stopped their peaceful demonstrations until segregation policies crumbled under nationwide public pressure and the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

To those who declare themselves today’s “community leaders,” I say, launch a nationwide movement for change instead of simply showing up to scream into television cameras at the scene of the latest controversial death. Galvanize your people and send them forth in productive and noble ways to change what is wrong.

Is it right that in 2014, minorities must still fight for what they see as their full rights as American citizens? No. No more so than it is right that a police officer is automatically condemned and branded as a criminal when a fatality occurs on his watch.

For the Rosa Parks strategy to work in today’s world, everyone will, first, have to admit we’ve got a racial problem. Second, all involved will have to convince their constituents to act responsibly.

Minority communities have to re-dedicate themselves to promoting a cohesive family structure, stressing the importance of education and setting goals. They should instill respect for human life and the idea that a good work ethic means success. Our youth who embrace the temptation of drugs and criminal activity as a suitable way to make a living must be redirected. The startlingly high number of black-on-black crimes has to be acknowledged and addressed.

The challenge to law enforcement? Adopt new policing practices that focus on community relations and better management of tense situations. Anyone with a brain understands that police officers put their lives on the line every single day; and their dedication needs to be honored, their need to protect themselves acknowledged. But there can surely be fewer bold displays of military-like might, increased use of Tasers instead of guns, more dashboard cameras to capture the undisputable facts of a situation and updated training for officers who patrol at-risk areas. Police academies should include specific course work in race relations and psychological techniques to diffuse disputes.

But there is a third component: The rest of us. We have to truly listen and understand each other.

This can be an important crossroad moment in the way issues of race and poverty and crime and confrontation are dealt with — but only if we seize the moment.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at diane@dianedimond.com, follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Mark Shields: America Needs a Serious, Honest Debate About War

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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Our country in September 2014 needs an open, serious and honest public debate so that this time we can make an informed decision on whether to once again send Americans into war in Iraq.

Tragically, the most recent time, 12 years ago, before the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, there was no such honest public debate. Republicans on Capitol Hill failed to question the Bush administration’s campaign of misinformation in support of military action, while too many Democrats, apparently fearful of being tagged “soft” on terrorism on the eve of a national election, followed suit.

Let’s give credit to three House members — Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass. — who have just written a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, arguing that “the situation in Iraq is a grave one, and before sending our uniformed men and women into danger we owe it to them and the people we represent to fully debate the matter and have a vote.” They urge Boehner to bring a resolution to the floor for debate and a vote when the House reconvenes Sept. 8.

This does not make Lee, Jones and McGovern popular with many of their colleagues, because, as former Republican Senate leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., candidly explained, members of Congress like to make tough speeches and to avoid casting tough votes. The Obama White House has shown no interest in seeking either congressional authorization or debate on Iraq.

It is worth noting just how misleading and dishonest the Bush administration’s case for war was. On Aug. 26, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ national convention: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

What the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group would learn, after 18 months of investigation, was that Saddam had terminated his nuclear weapons efforts in 1991, and his biological and chemical research efforts had been ended in 1995.

How long would the U.S. war in Iraq last? In November 2002, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld confidently announced, “Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” What about the cost? Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress, “We’re really dealing with a country that could finance its own reconstruction.” The war, which the Bush administration initially predicted would cost $2 billion a month, has now exceeded a total of $1 trillion.

Advocates for going to war against Iraq were wrong about WMD, wrong that U.S. troops would be “welcomed as liberators,” wrong that Iraq’s emergence as a thriving democracy — instead of a land crippled by sectarian strife — would lead to a veritable domino effect of democracy throughout the Middle East.

Before we go to war once again — even to stop such hatefully barbaric extremists as the Islamic State — we must understand that an army does not fight a war, that a country fights a war. And if we, as a country, are unwilling to fight a war, we must never send our army. We must also accept that war truly demands equality of sacrifice, which means that we must be willing, as Americans have done since the Civil War, to tax ourselves more to pay for the costs of war — something we did not do last time.

Lee, Jones and McGovern are right: Congress needs to vote, and the country needs to decide.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Tyler Renner: For LGBTQ and Students with Disabilities, Curriculum Rarely Reflects Their Histories

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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How many white, heterosexual male historical figures can you name? How many scientists, politicians or artists can you think of who reflect this image? Now consider how many historical figures you know who were, or are, women, people of color, people with disabilities, or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Has our world and all its significant historical, scientific and cultural contributions really been shaped solely by able-bodied, straight, white men? Or is there something in our education system that slights those who didn’t write our history books? While Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr. or Caesar Chavez may come to mind, few can readily name a person with disabilities or an LGBT figure.

While tokenized lessons of women’s history or “celebrations” of Black History Month are far from reflecting the true diversity of student demographics, LGBT and students with disabilities rarely or never see role models or heroes who share their identities. These students may look at curriculum and historical figures, not as a reflection of people like them, but rather as a window into a world that doesn’t recognize, let alone celebrate people like them.

That’s where California’s Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful or FAIR Education Act comes in. Signed into law in 2011, state Senate Bill 48 amended the California Education Code to require schools to incorporate factual information about social movements, current events and history of people with disabilities and LGBT people into social studies lessons. The law compels the input and involvement of community organizations that represent such demographics, such as Pacific Pride Foundation and the Independent Living Resource Center.

Pacific Pride surveyed more than 300 students from 2013-2014 to assess school climates for LGBTQ students. The data revealed an overall actual lack of safety, comfort and acceptance and a high frequency of homophobic language, but one question highlights our need for FAIR. When asked, “How many times have you received education about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) issues at school (presentations, speakers, classroom discussions)? More than half of students reported that they had never or only once discussed LGBTQ topics.

(Tyler Renner photo)
(Tyler Renner photo)

When asked, “Are there resources at your school library or are you able to use school computers to access websites that contain information about LGBTQ people, history or events?”, 60 percent reported they “didn’t know.”

Equality California, a nonprofit civil rights organization, reports that, “schools that perpetuate silence or harmful stereotypes about LGBT people can be breeding grounds for the fear and ignorance that fuel bullying during the early grades and hate violence or even suicide by the time students reach high school.” Research shows that diversity curriculum leads to safer, happier and better performing schools, but one student said it all, “If we got LGBTQ education, then there wouldn’t be such a taboo around this and people would stop being made fun of.”

The Santa Barbara Unified School District has taken some initial steps in implementing the FAIR Act, but with changes in Common Core State Standards and already high demands, we’re far from assuring all students receive a FAIR education.

In the meantime, Pacific Pride offers LGBTQ history lessons and guest speakers. This fall, under the supervision of Lelia Rupp, professor and author of Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, UC Santa Barbara students will design and teach LGBTQ lesson plans on a larger scale.

Brianna Camacho, from Dos Pueblos High School, said of the lessons presented to her classes, “As an English teacher, I wish there were more opportunities within our curriculum for students to read and learn about the history and contributions of the LGBTQ community. Tyler (Renner)’s presentation on Harvey Milk afforded the students this exact kind of opportunity. It was eye-opening, informative and powerful for them to learn about and discuss Harvey Milk’s tribulations and successes in terms of working toward progression for the LGBTQ community. The students and I enjoyed and appreciated this presentation and I believe that we need more of these to be held throughout the year.”

Three years after being signed into law, LGBTQ and students with disabilities still lack role models and inclusive education. Until leadership is taken by school districts, the history of secrecy and shame around underrepresented identities will simply repeat itself.

» Click here for more information about the FAIR Act, LGBTQ history lessons or Pacific Pride Foundation, or contact Tyler Renner at tyler@pacificpridefoundation.org or 805.893.3636 x117.

» Click here for more information about the Independent Living Resource Center or presentations on the disability community, or contact ILRC community living advocate Danielle Anderson at danianderson@ilrc.org.

— Tyler Renner is the LGBTQ program coordinator at Pacific Pride Foundation, and runs an LGBTQ youth group, provides outreach to schools to support Gay-Straight Alliances, and conducts LGBTQ Cultural Competency and Sensitivity Trainings for social services agencies and organizations. He can be contacted at 805.893.3636 x117 or at tyler@pacificpridefoundation.org. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Red Flag Warning Added to Wind Advisory for Santa Barbara Area

By | Published on 08/30/2014

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With gusty sundowner winds expected, a red flag fire warning has been added to a wind advisory issued Saturday for Santa Barbara County’s South Coast and the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Northwest winds of 20-30 mph are expected, with gusts to 45 mph, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service.

“Initially winds are expected to be strongest near the Gaviota area late this afternoon, then become focused from San Marcos Pass to the Montecito area this evening through late tonight,” forecasters said.

The red flag warning and wind advisory will extend from 3 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will begin soon. One is typically issued when above-normal temperatures, very low humidity and winds are expected.

The Montecito Fire Protection District said it would increase its Saturday staffing levels in response to the warning. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden announced it would close at 2:30 p.m. Saturday to reduce traffic in Mission Canyon, garden spokeswoman Nina Dunbar said.

Motorists were urged to use extra caution on affected roadways, including highways 101, 154 and 192.

Sunny skies were expected Saturday, with highs near 90 on the coast, and warmer in some inland areas.

Winds should diminish overnight, with highs near 80 on Sunday and Labor Day.

Next week should be cooler, with highs in the mid-70s.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Students, Teachers Gather to Mourn and Remember Slain Holzer Brothers

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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The young boys, found dead in their home allegedly at the hands of their father, came to school each day with 'joy in their hearts'

Students and teachers alike shed tears on Friday at La Colina Junior High School as they gathered to remember the lives of brothers Sebastian and Vincent Holzer.

S Holzer
Sebastian Holzer

Gathered in the school's courtyard, several hundred students, staff and community members met in the sunshine to recall each of the boys and the small details of their lives, their love of fishing at East Beach, Pokemon and root beer floats.

The community has been reeling since learning of the deaths of Sebastian, 13, and Vincent, 10.

The boys were found dead in their home on Aug. 11, along with their deceased grandparents, Bill and Sheila Holzer.  

The boys' father and the Holzers' son, Nicolas Holzer, 45, told deputies he had stabbed all four people to death as well as the family's dog, Dixie, in the Walnut Park Lane home they shared. He was arrested without incident and is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 9.

Many questions remain about Holzer's mental health history and the events leading up to the deaths, but on Friday, the hurting community gathered to try to remember the boys who showed up to school each day with joyful hearts.

Betsy Meagher, PTA president at Foothill School, where Vincent attended, took a moment to share several reflections from Vincent's teachers.

He was an avid reader, an expert on Emperor Penguins and lover of Pokemon cartoons with an inquisitive nature and eager to learn, his teachers said.

Meagher said he loved his brother as well and loved spending time with him.

Among the notes classmates wrote on the first day of school at Foothill, students remembered Vincent in sweet details, like as a boy who wore orange and green almost every day, loved to play kickball and as a child who was always hungry, even after devouring a plate full of food.

Both boys had a keen interest in history and science, which they loved to share with others, Meagher said.

"Vincent was well respected by his peers and made the adults he interacted with truly special," she said.

Meagher described grandparents Bill and Sheila as "wonderful and kind" toward the boys, and attended every back to school night, play and function that the children were involved in.

"Vincent was a great treasure to us and his presence will be missed every day," she said.

V Holzer
Vincent Holzer

Maureen Granger, an English teacher at La Colina, read a poem in which Sebastian had written about his coin collection given to him by his grandfather, a gift that Sebastian seemed to treasure.

Granger encouraged those in attendance to remember the family and hold their memories close.

"It would be easy and convenient for all of us to slip the Holzer family into a plastic sleeve like Sebastian's coin collection," Granger said. "It might be more difficult to view our time with Sebastian and his family as a gift."

P.E. teacher Chrystee Bradley said Sebastian had no shortage of friends at the school.

"Almost every kid knew him," she said.

Student Michelle Qin read a letter Sebastian had written to incoming seventh-graders in June as an English assignment, and said that meaningful lessons can be taken from it for everyone.

"Let us honor Sebastian and his family and do just what he wanted and have a great year," she said.

Principal David Ortiz recalled coming together as a staff for the first time last Thursday, the first time the school leaders had been together since the summer ended. He described the meeting, full of teachers who regretted not intervening earlier and having no idea that something was wrong in the Holzer home.

It was an emotional meeting, and one of the teachers "said repeatedly, 'I didn't see, I didn't see,'" Ortiz said.

He responded that no, the teachers had seen the boys in a real way and that they came to school each day, happy and well-adjusted.

"There was joy in their hearts. … You did see," he told the crowd. "May our dear friends rest in peace."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Local Commercial Fishermen Honor Patrick Becker, One of Their Own

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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In a show of solidarity, boats float out near Leadbetter Beach in remembrance of the 21-year-old Santa Barbara man

Dozens of local commercial fishermen and their families began gathering at the Santa Barbara Harbor around noon Friday, a number that gradually grew to hundreds.

Some clutched colorful flowers, but most wore black, a show of solidarity and respect for the 21-year-old Santa Barbara man they all came to honor one last time.

Like most members of the Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, urchin diver Stephanie Mutz had never known Patrick Thomas Becker, a 2011 graduate of Dos Pueblos High School who passed away unexpectedly nearly two weeks ago in a manner his family did not wish to share.

Mutz knew his father, Mark Becker, a longtime local who fished lobster and salmon, often with his son Patrick at his side, and sometimes in Alaska for weeks at a time.

Patrick’s mother, Martha, works at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, and his younger brother, Matt, is a pro surfer.

“The family is pretty phenomenal,” Mutz said, glancing around. “I’ve never seen so many fishermen in collared shirts.”

News of Patrick’s death hit home for members of the community-based fisheries organization, prompting thoughts of their own sons, many of whom help out as deck hands from time to time.

Per tradition, the organization arranged for its members to boat out near Leadbetter Beach for a memorial and interment of ashes.

Patrick Thomas Becker

“He was following his dad’s footsteps as a fisherman,” family friend Karen Purdue said. “He’d always come and jump on me and give me a big hug. He grew up around boats. His life was all about the ocean.”

Friends said Patrick’s end-of-summer plans had fallen through, so he fittingly spent the last few weeks of his life with his family, traveling to Hawaii with his parents.

Purdue’s son, Trae, 18, knew Patrick from school as a member of the surf and water polo teams. He was loyal to friends and subsequently had a lot of them — evident from the number assembled Friday.

“He was always a happy, joyful person,” he said.

After a ceremony at Free Methodist Church on Cliff Drive, where the Beckers are members, lei-wearing locals yelled for all family and friends gathered at Navy Pier near Harbor Way to find a boat. They had nearly 50 to choose from.

On cue, the Becker family boat, “Martha Jane,” began leading a processional out past Leadbetter to waters just below the cliffs at Shoreline Park, where another crowd waited.

“Do a big circle, Mark, there’s a lot of boats,” a fisherman called over the radio.

Boats form a circle around the "Mary Jane," the Becker family boat, on Friday for a ceremony near Leadbetter Beach honoring Patrick Becker, who passed away two weeks ago. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Hooting and hollering could be heard as the fishing fleet circled Becker’s boat, which idled in the middle before some of its passengers jumped into the ocean and spread some of Patrick’s ashes.

“I want to tell you once again I appreciate everyone being here,” Mark Becker said over the radio. “Patrick is honored, I know he is.”

A pastor offered a prayer, and Patrick’s brother and mother also thanked their friends.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he would’ve been blown away,” Martha Becker said. “Thank you. This is a beautiful sight.”

Boats blew horns, set off flares, sprayed water and shared memories of Patrick over the radio, calling the organization a “tribe” they were fortunate to take part in.

“Rest in peace, Patrick,” one said.

The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes before boats turned back to the harbor, and celebrants continued on to a barbecue on the beach.

The fleet happily left part of Patrick in the ocean, where he could go on catching the fish and waves he so enjoyed.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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David Sirota: Should American Companies Have to Pay Taxes?

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Reading companies' annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission is a reliable cure for insomnia. Every so often, though, there is a significant revelation in the paperwork. This year, one of the most important revelations came from Microsoft's filings, which spotlighted how the tax code allows corporations to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship yet avoid paying U.S. taxes.

According to the SEC documents, the company is sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore. That amount of money represents a significant spike from prior years.

To put this in perspective, the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company's home state of Washington.

The disclosure in Microsoft's SEC filing lands amid an intensifying debate over the fairness of U.S.-based multinational corporations using offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying American taxes. Such maneuvers — although often legal — threaten to significantly reduce U.S. corporate tax receipts during an era marked by government budget deficits.

Microsoft has not formally declared itself a subsidiary of a foreign company, so the firm has not technically engaged in the so-called "inversion" scheme that President Barack Obama and Democrats have lately been criticizing. However, according to a 2012 U.S. Senate investigation, the company has in recent years used its offshore subsidiaries to substantially reduce its tax bills.

That probe uncovered details of how those subsidiaries are used. In its report, the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations noted that "despite the [company's] research largely occurring in the United States and generating U.S. tax credits, profit rights to the intellectual property are largely located in foreign tax havens." The report discovered that through those tax havens, "Microsoft was able to shift offshore nearly $21 billion (in a 3-year period), or almost half of its U.S. retail sales net revenue, saving up to $4.5 billion in taxes on goods sold in the United States, or just over $4 million in U.S. taxes each day."

Microsoft, of course, is not alone. According to a report by Citizens for Tax Justice, "American Fortune 500 corporations are likely saving about $550 billion by holding nearly $2 trillion of 'permanently reinvested' profits offshore." The report also found that "28 corporations reveal that they have paid an income tax rate of 10 percent or less to the governments of the countries where these profits are officially held, indicating that most of these profits are likely in offshore tax havens."

In the political debate over taxes, conservatives often cite inversions and other games with offshore subsidiaries as proof that the U.S. corporate tax rate is too high in comparison to other industrialized countries. Yet, when all the existing tax deductions, write-offs and credits are factored in, America's effective corporate tax rate is actually one of the industrialized world's lowest.

With the U.S. tax code now permitting companies to use brazen tax avoidance schemes in true tax havens, the real question is more fundamental than what the proper corporate tax rate should be. Instead, the question is now whether corporations should have to pay any taxes on their profits at all?

The answer should be obvious. Companies enjoy huge benefits from operating in the United States — benefits like (among other things) intellectual property protection, government provided security (police, firefighting, etc.) and publicly financed infrastructure. Those services and assets cost money.

If the tax tricks employed by companies like Microsoft become the rationale to eliminate corporate taxes entirely, then America would allow companies to be exempt from paying their fair share of those costs. That would be a truly endless and unacceptable bailout — one given to executives and shareholders and paid for by the rest of us.

David Sirota is a staff writer at PandoDaily and the best-selling author of Hostile Takeover, The Uprising and Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @davidsirota, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Friendship Center Welcomes New Board Members Jacqueline Duran, Patricia Forgey

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Jacqueline Duran
Jacqueline Duran

The Friendship Center welcomes two new board members, Jacqueline Duran and Patricia Forgey.

Duran is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara.

She owned and operated her own business for five years before joining the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management team in Montecito as a financial advisor. She has 10 years of experience in real estate investment.

She is a supporter of the Santa Barbara Foundation, a board member of Friendship Center, a committee member for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center and a board member for the Santa Barbara Puerto Vallarta Sister Cities Committee.

Duran enjoys playing golf, hiking, skiing, performing arts and spending time with her family.

Forgey, MA, MBA, earned a master's degree in business administration with an emphasis in Marketing from San Diego State University.  She also holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in Speech/Language Pathology from the University of Kansas, and was awarded the Certificate of Clinical Competency following a Clinical Fellowship Year at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Forgey has developed inpatient and outpatient speech/language services at The Toledo Hospital (now Promedica Toledo Hospital), a 900-bed tertiary care hospital, and served as director of outpatient services and as vice president of planning and business development for Rehabilitation Institute at Santa Barbara (now Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital).

Patricia Forgey
Patricia Forgey

Most recently, she was director of community and organizational development for Tri-Counties Regional Center, and has also held managerial and clinical positions in other organizations such as Children’s Hospital of San Diego (now Rady Children’s Hospital.)

In January, Forgey launched an organizational development consulting firm, Path Forward. Strategic planning, executive coaching and facilitating group decisions are among the firm’s services.

Forgey is a graduate of the California Naturalist Program, a UC California Naturalist certification course in partnership with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. She is a member of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee and the Association for Women in Communications.

She and her husband have three adult children and enjoy hiking and traveling together.

— Justine Sutton is a grants and development coordinator for Friendship Center.

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Penfield & Smith of Santa Barbara to Be Sold to Stantec

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Santa Barbara-based civil engineering firm Penfield & Smith has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Stantec, an international consulting and design firm based in North America.

The transaction takes effect in October, according to Stantec.

Penfield & Smith has about 90 employees in its California offices, which include Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Camarillo and Lancaster.

Stantec wants to boost its presence on the Central Coast, president/CEO Bob Gomes said in a statement.

“California is an important market for our firm, and Penfield & Smith strengthens our community development presence in the state with talented practitioners that share our passion for serving clients through exceptional work,” he said.

Penfield & Smith’s portfolio includes many major and visible Santa Barbara-area projects such as UC Santa Barbara Sierra Madre family housing, the Shoreline Drive bike path and the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital expansion.

By joining Stantec, Penfield & Smith will have more combined creativity to apply to clients, the firm said in a statement.

“Our reputation in integrated engineering, surveying, traffic, planning, and construction management services and Stantec's global strength, knowledge, and relationships, allow us to go anywhere and meet our clients' needs in more creative, personalized ways,” the firm stated on its website.

President/CEO Hady Izadpanah added: “We’re proud of the heritage we’ve steadily built in the surrounding California communities and we’re inspired to increase support to our local clients through Stantec’s global network, while creating new experiences for our team members.”

Penfield & Smith was founded in Santa Barbara in 1946 and offers engineering, traffic, planning and construction management services to public and private clients.

Stantec, a publicly-traded company, has 14,000 employees working in more than 230 international locations, including 1,000 employees in California.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Sansum Clinic Celebrates Opening of Foothill Road Medical, Surgical Center

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Elings Pavilion, named for donor Virgil Elings, features 60,000 square feet of health-care space

The last time Sansum Clinic built a new facility, its clinic on Pueblo Street, it was 1976 and the first Rocky movie was in theaters, Don Sutton was pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers and televisions had external antennas.

So stated Sansum CEO Kurt Ransohoff when he introduced several hundred people to the newly-completed medical and surgical center and the Sansum Eye Clinic Center at 4151 Foothill Road. 

The Elings Pavilion, named for Virgil Elings who donated $1 million to support health care at the new facilities, will house an outpatient surgery center and offices for several departments, including orthopedics, podiatry, physical therapy, radiology, urology, audiology, and ear, nose and throat. 

Elings previously provided financial support enabling Sansum to complete the largest free colonoscopy program in the country, Ransohoff said, adding that Eling's gift would continue to help provide surgical services for those who can't afford them.

Across the parking lot, a second building houses ophthalmology services, including a surgery and procedure room, pediatric ophthalmology as well as cataract and glaucoma specialties.

Ransohoff said he expects 118,000 patient visits to take place at the Foothill Center over the next year of operation.

Donor Virgil Elings speaks at this week's ribbon-cutting event. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

The clinic's other two locations on Pueblo Street and Pesetas Lane will remain open.  

The Foothill Road buildings are providing additional capacity at the Pesetas Clinic so that primary care services can be expanded as well as be the potential site of a new Urgent Care location, said Ransohoff.

The project made impressive time to completion under the helm of developer Michael Towbes — the effort broke ground 16 months ago.

The event was well-attended by community members, Sansum doctors, donors and business owners, and each got a chance to take a tour of the new facilities.

There are some personal touches throughout the new buildings, including a waiting room decorated with picturesque photographs taken by Sansum staff.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The Foothill Road medical and surgical facilities are completed, and Sansum Clinic expects 118,000 patient visits at this location in the first year. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

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Westmont College Student Researchers to Present Summer Findings

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Twenty Westmont College student researchers, who have worked over the summer with their professors in the fields of art, biology, chemistry, physics and psychology, will present their findings from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 in the Winter Hall Rotunda and Darling Lecture Hall.

The Summer Research Celebration, co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts, is free and open to the public; please RSVP to Barb Kennedy at bkennedy@westmont.edu.

The celebration begins with a reception and poster display. Students will explain their research, which features a range of topics, including Rembrandt and the Jews in 17th century Amsterdam, the effect of drought on blood glucose levels in garter snakes, anxiety and the effect of education on older adults’ cognitive abilities and generating a DNA vaccination against herpes simplex virus 1.

A panel discussion, which begins at 4:15 p.m. in the Darling Foundation Lecture Hall, will feature professors Michael Everest (chemistry), Frank Percival (biology), Steve Contakes (chemistry), alumnus Luke Patterson ’14 and students Jacob Warren ’15 and Elizabeth Simoneit ’15.

Westmont has a long tradition of providing opportunities for students to partner with their professors on cutting-edge research.

“Just as internships in fields like business or medicine give students real-world experience that prepares them for future study or careers, research with faculty gives them a taste of collaborating with peers to solve real problems that matter to their disciplinary communities,” says Patti Hunter, vice provost and chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. “The skills they develop equip them to work in teams, talk with others about their ideas and tackle unsolved problems.”

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.

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‘Flamesniffer’ Fire-Detection Sensors Being Installed in Mission Canyon Area

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Santa Barbara County Fire will test infrared thermal sensors in a one-year pilot program

Santa Barbara County will pilot the first-ever “flamesniffer” early fire-detection program, which would place nine sensors primarily in Santa Barbara’s Mission Canyon area.

The more than $40,000 worth of equipment was donated to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, an action approved last week by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

FlameSniffer Pty Ltd. reached out to the County Fire Department with the idea five years ago, which is how long the Australian-based company has been around.

The plan is for nine infrared thermal sensors to be installed on tall existing Southern California Edison power-line transmission towers in the county’s front country and foothills, Capt. David Sadecki said.

Each 14-pound sensor has a range of about one mile, which is how far they will be spaced apart for the 12-month pilot program, Sadecki said.

“The timing is great because we’re in the middle of our high fire season, and then with our drought conditions," he said. 

The flamesniffers stream live weather conditions to two communication hubs — a Mission Canyon station and county fire’s dispatch center — and begin taking pictures every 17 seconds once an ignition source is detected.

The idea of course being that fire crews could more quickly react and put out flames.

“Right now we have no such device,” Sadecki said. “Weather conditions there are very dynamic. Each detector acts as remote weather station. Then we get an idea of what exactly is going on.”

Nine of these 14-pound "flamesniffer" detectors will be placed around Mission Canyon. (Flamesniffer photo)

Sadecki said dry vegetation and low moisture levels on the hillsides cause the most concern for high-fire season, which typically begins in May or June and lasts through December when the rainy season starts.

“We really never went out of high fire season,” he said. “The major thing about the outlook is that we’re about a month and a half ahead of where we would be. It’s dryer than it would normally be. Even though it’s late August, the plants think it’s mid-October.”

Flamesniffer plans to install the fire-management sensors in the third or fourth week of September, according to the company.

Sadecki said the department hasn’t yet discussed what would happen to the sensors after the 12-month pilot period.

As the drought continues, Los Padres National Forest officials announced that Level IV fire restrictions are in effect. 

Restrictions prohibit wood or charcoal fires in all areas of the forest (include camp sites), recreation target shooting without a special permit, smoking outside a designated camp fire and fireworks.

Violators could face a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail, and could be liable for the full cost of fire suppression activities resulting from their actions.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Vocal Coach Heidi Jacobs Forming Contemporary Choir for Teen Girls

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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For singer/songwriter and vocal coach Heidi Jacobs, finding her passion was the easy part.

Heidi Jacobs
Heidi Jacobs

“I think I was probably 5 years old,” the Santa Ynez Valley-based voice teacher said. “I would come home from school and all I wanted to do was practice singing.”

She would sing along with the Annie soundtrack, belting tunes out at the top of her lungs. And when Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 album She’s So Unusual came out, Jacobs knew that no matter what else she did with her life, singing had to be a part of it.

But there was work to be done, she said. Her voice, though pleasant, had not reached its potential. It was through the work of years of vocal coaching from various teachers that Jacobs’ own pipes matured and acquired the versatility to handle song styles from arias to pop and rock vocals. In the process, she went from being a shy student to a confident performer.

After years of coaching in and around the valley — with several students who have gone on to perform in the popular youth regional vocal competition Teen Star, and have also become successful in the professional arena — Jacobs wants to give the gift of voice to young ladies who are in the position she was in not so long ago: wanting to sing, and wanting to be a better singer.

To answer that calling, Jacobs is forming Mystique, a contemporary choir for girls ages 12 to 18, and is looking for teen female talent and enthusiasm to participate.

The age group is special to Jacobs. Young girls in their formative years need an outlet for their creative energies as well as a place to find their inner strength and confidence, she said. And the release from the often stress filled grind of the school day is a significant bonus.

Jacobs’ unrelenting positivity is also contagious, and her ability to put her students at ease can turn even the most timid newbie singer into an enthusiastic — and finely tuned — vocalist.

“I want my students to believe in possibilities,” Jacobs said.

Many of her students start out feeling like they can’t sing well, only to surprise themselves by aligning with the strengths and working on the weaknesses Jacobs can find for them.

“Singing, to me, connects us to something larger than ourselves," Jacobs said. "It allows us to tap into deep parts of who we are and show it to the world, which I think is super brave and amazing.”

Auditions for Mystique will be held at St. Mark's in-the-Valley in Los Olivos from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3 and Wednesday, Sept. 10. Auditions are by appointment only. Mystique will focus largely on a cappella performance. Rehearsals for this unique choir begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 at St. Mark's in-the-Valley.

To schedule an audition appointment, for tuition information or other questions, please contact Jacobs at 805.448.9659 or heidijacobsvoice@gmail.com. Click here to learn more about Jacobs.

— Sonia Fernandez represents Mystique.

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Lompoc District Awarded $411,000 to Expand Safe Routes to School Program

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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The Lompoc Unified School District announced this week that it had been awarded a $411,000 grant from the California Department of Transportation to expand its existing Safe Routes to School program and enhance safety for students traveling to and from the district’s campuses.

The grant ensures that the Safe Routes to School program will remain an important component of the district’s comprehensive efforts to improve academic achievement for all students.

Not only has the district invested heavily over the past year in strengthening its curriculum, technology and professional development initiatives to help boost student performance in core subjects like math and language arts, but district leaders have also placed a high priority on strengthening support programs that enhance students’ health and well-being, understanding that student success is determined by a number of factors, all of which need to be addressed collectively in order to impact student outcomes.

“To move Lompoc Unified forward and prepare our students for college and career success, we must take a holistic approach to improving our students’ academic experience,” Superintendent Trevor McDonald said. “Increasingly in education, that involves expanding our focus beyond classroom instruction and looking to address key areas of our students’ health and wellness that can impact their ability to perform at a high level in the classroom. If students are being bullied or are afraid for their safety, if they have not eaten a nutritious breakfast, or if they have unaddressed medical or dental issues, all the technology and curriculum enhancements in the world are not going to help them achieve their full academic potential.”

In 2013-14, his first academic school year as superintendent in Lompoc Unified, McDonald led successful efforts to launch anti-bullying initiatives known as the Stand Tall Program; the conflict resolution programs Art of Peace and Imagine; health and wellness partnerships with the Orfalea Foundation and Breakfast in the Classroom; and a community health collaborative with the El Camino Community Center.

The Safe Routes to School program, also launched last year, relies upon the support of parents, schools and community leaders to enable and encourage students to walk and bicycle to school by providing safe, accessible routes between neighborhoods and the district’s campuses. With the help of local, state and federal government funding, the district has helped implement a number of efforts to reduce and calm traffic around its campuses to enhance student safety while walking or bicycling to and from schools, helping to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age.

The latest grant from the California Department of Transportation represents an acknowledgement of the district’s successful implementation of the Safe Routes to School program and opens new opportunities to expand the program to only further enhance student safety and wellness.

“We have enjoyed so much external support for the innovative initiatives we have implemented here in Lompoc Unified, and are strengthened by our communities' buy-in to what we are starting to accomplish in our classrooms,” McDonald said. “We have already made tremendous progress across on a number of fronts, all aimed at boosting student performance and preparing them as best we can for success in college and in the increasingly competitive 21st-century economy.”

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Book Signing with Board Member Marilee Zdenek to Benefit Hospice of Santa Barbara

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Hospice of Santa Barbara welcomes board member and author Marilee Zdenek for a book signing of her seventh book, Between Fires.

Marilee Zdenek
Marilee Zdenek

The book signings will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 and Wednesday, Oct. 1 at Hospice of Santa Barbara, 2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite 100.

Between Fires begins in 1961, when the fierce Santa Ana winds hurled flames across the thirsty hillsides of Bel Air, on the west side of Los Angeles. A young woman ran with her two babies and a dog to escape the wildfire that burned her home to the ground. Eighteen days later, her husband died of a heart attack. What follows is a courageous story of dramatic choices — some foolish, some wise, but all emotionally honest and inspiring.

Zdenek is an author, speaker and coach living in Santa Barbara. The titles of her previous books are The Right-Brain Experience: An Intimate Program to Free the Powers of Your Imagination, Inventing the Future: Advances in Imagery That Can Change Your Life, Splinters in My Pride, Someone Special, God Is a Verb! and Catch the New Wind.

Zdenek moved to Santa Barbara in 1988 and taught at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for 25 years. She has also given lectures on mental techniques for altering perception and improving creativity at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; the Kongresshalle in Berlin, Germany; and Pharmecia in Uppsala, Sweden. She returned to Berlin a year ago and spoke on the subject, “Re-Inventing Your Future.”

The subject is relevant for anyone who has endured a devastating loss and wants to create a life of meaning and contentment.

Zdenek has lost two husbands in her life, and she has learned to deal with her grieving process. Between Fires goes beyond surviving tragedies and touches on creating an abundant life. As a volunteer at Hospice of Santa Barbara, she uses guided imagery with those who want to learn how to release their pain through this healing process.

The book signing is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $20 per book (all proceeds will be donated to Hospice of Santa Barbara).

For more information, click here or click here.

Hospice of Santa Barbara “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services to more than 600 adults and 125 children every month who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness, or grieving the death of a loved one. Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on eight local, middle and high school campuses, as well as UCSB, to work with children, teens and young adults who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, please call 805.563.8820 or click here. Find Hospice of Santa Barbara on Facebook and Twitter.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing Hospice of Santa Barbara.

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Santa Barbara Airport Flights Nearly Sold Out for Labor Day Weekend

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Travelers advised to come early and plan ahead for security checks

With Labor Day flights nearly sold out, Santa Barbara Airport Director Hazel Johns said those who haven't pinned down their travel arrangements yet are probably out of luck.

“More than 92 percent of seats are currently filled, so if you haven't already purchased a ticket you may have to take your chances with walk-up fares, which are expensive,” she said. “Travelers are generally advised to make travel arrangements 10 to 14 days in advance.”

Since Labor Day weekend is a busy time for travel, the Santa Barbara Airport recommends that travelers taking peak-period flights arrive at least 90 minutes before their scheduled departure time and use the short-term parking lot for shorter trips. 

Short-term parking is available for $20 a day at 500 Fowler Road, with $12 long-term lots adjacent to the terminal.

Travelers are also advised to come prepared for security checks or obtain a TSA precheck

No new flight advisories have been posted, although the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for U.S. citizens planning to go to Mexico due to safety issues.

Santa Barbara Airport departure and arrival times can be found by clicking here.

Noozhawk intern Shaun Kahmann can be reached at skahmann@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Lompoc Health Care Center Awarded $229,000 in Affordable Care Act Funding

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Takashi Wada on Friday announced receipt of $229,000 in Affordable Care Act funding to support the Lompoc Health Care Center’s patient-centered medical home project through new construction and facility renovations.

“The Lompoc Health Care Center is the health-care home for more than 8,400 patients, providing access to quality health care for the residents of Lompoc,” Dr. Wada said. “The renovations afforded through this opportunity will enable the LHCC to provide even higher quality services to the patients that rely upon them.”

The patient-centered medical home delivery model is designed to improve quality of care through team-based coordination of care, treating the many needs of the patient at once, increasing access to care, and empowering the patient to be a partner in their own care.

“This award will create a patient resource center that will provide training and education; a centrally located case management area for team consultations; a behavioral health environment; and an increase in the number of exam rooms. The renovations will lead to improvements to patient flow, case management, and patient education,” said Jeanie Sleigh, LHCC Health Center administrator.

The Santa Barbara County Health Care Centers continue to play a critical role in helping the public learn about new coverage opportunities under the Affordable Care Act, by conducting outreach and enrollment activities that link individuals to affordable coverage options available through Covered California. This award helps support high quality care and updated facilities for the more than 4,200 newly enrolled into health care coverage by the Public Health Department.

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Providence Opens School Year with Record Enrollment

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School, opened Wednesday for the second academic year since the merger of Providence Hall and Santa Barbara Christian School in July 2013.

One of the goals of the merger was to strengthen enrollment by offering a seamless K-12 educational experience. That goal was more than met, with K-12 enrollment up 21 percent this fall (from 191 students on the first day of school in 2013 to 231 students present the first day in 2014).

In addition, Providence Preschool opens for its inaugural year next Tuesday, Sept. 2, with 36 students enrolled, bringing overall enrollment to 267.

"The criteria for assessing the strength of the Providence program is about much more than numbers enrolled," interim Head of School Chris Rutz said. "It is about students who are excited about learning and who are making excellent progress in their academic subjects while growing socially and spiritually."

Providence is a Christian college preparatory school serving grades PreK through 12 on two campuses in Santa Barbara. The Preschool and Lower School meet on a campus at 3723 Modoc Road, and the middle and high school programs meet on a downtown campus at 630 E. Canon Perdido St.

One new eighth-grade student had a positive report for her mother when she arrived to pick up her daughter at the end of the first day at Providence.

"This was the best day of my life, Mom! Thanks for doing this for me," she said.

Click here to learn more about Providence.

— Elaine Rottman is the marketing director for Providence.

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Williams’ Yard Composting Bill Clears Legislature, Heads to Governor

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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The Legislature has passed a bill authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, to eliminate the loophole that gives local governments recycling credit for landfilling trimmings and other green waste.

Assembly Bill 1594 is now headed to the governor’s desk to be considered for a signature.

“Despite California’s robust recycling infrastructure for traditional recyclables like bottles and cans, the state continues to landfill organic materials, like yard trimmings, at an alarming rate,” Williams said. “We need to stop incentivizing this polluting practice.”

Currently, landfill operators are required to apply a daily cover to their landfill. In most cases, yard trimmings are used as a cover because local governments get recycling credit. This counter incentive discourages actual recycling and returning the green waste to the soil through composting.

“The use of recovered yard trimmings and other green materials as alternative daily cover at California landfills is the largest single impediment to the development of robust composting industry in our state and a significant contributor to greenhouse gas production,” said Bill Camarillo, an executive committee member of the California Compost Coalition and CEO of local company, Agromin. “The expanded use of compost here will not only aid global warming efforts, but will enhance the quality of California soils through the introduction of organic matter, preventing soil erosion, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and enabling water retention at a time when we need it most.”

AB 1594 is also being described as a job creator. Cal Recycle has estimated that recovering organic material through composting and anaerobic digestion can create 14,000 new jobs in the State by 2020.

California is one of the only states to allow the use of green waste as landfill cover and the only state to count cover material as diverted, nearly half the states in the country have banned the landfilling of this material all together. Eliminating this wasteful practice will help the State meet its environmental goals, support the growth of agriculture and create jobs.

Jeannette Sanchez is the district director for Assemblyman Das Williams.

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Bill Macfadyen: Deadly Wrong-Way Crash Brings Out the Worst in Internet Trolls

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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NoozWeek’s Top 5 finds a body after a 12-hour search, plumbs the depths of the Holzer family custody saga, repeats myself, and issues a BOLO for a highly contagious TB patient

There were 80,920 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top stories?

1. Teen Killed in Wrong-Way Crash That Shut Down Northbound Highway 101

A wrong-way driver was killed when he crashed his Ford Mustang into a big-rig near Bates Road in Carpinteria the night of Aug. 27. As it turns out, the dead motorist was a 16-year-old boy driving by himself.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Daniel James Perez of Santa Barbara entered the northbound freeway lanes from the Highway 150 exit ramp just before 10:40 p.m. The teenager proceeded south before colliding with a northbound Volvo tractor-trailer near Bates Road, about a mile away from where he started, Officer Jonathan Gutierrez said.

Dan Perez, a junior at San Marcos High School, was described as a stellar and selfless student carrying a 3.66 grade-point average. (San Marcos High School photo)
Dan Perez, a junior at San Marcos High School, was described as a stellar and selfless student carrying a 3.66 grade-point average. (San Marcos High School photo)

He said the Mustang flipped on its roof and skidded across the freeway, with Perez ending up underneath the wreckage.

Perez, a junior at San Marcos High School, was declared dead at the scene. The truck driver, Willie H. Lonie Jr., 56, of Pearl, Miss., was not injured.

Gutierrez said all northbound lanes were shut down overnight during the crash investigation. The closure stretched past dawn Aug. 28, causing a miles-long traffic jam for commuters driving up from Ventura County.

It has not been determined whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash, Gutierrez said.

San Marcos High Principal Ed Behrens told a news conference the campus community was “shocked and saddened” by Perez’s death.

“He was a stellar scholar/athlete,” Behrens said of the Royals baseball and lacrosse player with a 3.66 grade-point average. “Pretty much all day we’ve been working on creating a plan to provide assistance to the school community and to the community at large.”

With the help of the Santa Barbara County Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, the school set up a campus compassion center where students and teachers could talk and grieve. A moment of silence was held during first period Aug. 29, and another was scheduled for the school’s home football game Friday night against West Ranch High of Santa Clarita.

Several of Perez’s coaches and teachers described him as a team player who was well-loved.

“He was willing to do whatever it took to help his team,” said Sergio Castellanos, Perez’s freshman baseball coach. “Danny was always upbeat and positive, he got along well with all of his teammates, and everyone admired him and loved him for the person that he was.”

Chemistry teacher Kimberly Tilton said Perez was a gifted student with a sense of humor, an “exceptional young man” who had the potential to become a great scientist.

“It was truly a pleasure getting to know him,” she said. “My heart goes out to all of his family and friends for their terrible loss.”

Not feeling that loss — or any compassion at all, for that matter — were a couple of Noozhawk commenters who made no effort to hide their scorn for the death of a young man, regardless of the circumstances. Bravely, they were man enough to hide their identities behind screen names.

I’ve said this on numerous occasions over the years, but it clearly remains lost on a handful of our commenters: We believe story comments are an important part of Noozhawk’s engagement with readers and are happy to provide the platform for that interaction. But we expect our readers to be respectful of others and of the online forum we’re providing for you.

While I generally take a libertarian view of free speech and am not easily offended, we won’t allow our site to be hijacked by verbal terrorists. If you can’t clean it up and play by our rules, we will shut you down.

If you’re half as clever as you think you are, you’ll be able to adopt a modicum of civility. If not, go start your own website.

Rugged terrain appears to have hindered the search for a fatal car wreck that was reported more than 12 hours before. (Urban Hikers photo)
Rugged terrain appears to have hindered the search for a fatal car wreck that was reported more than 12 hours before. (Urban Hikers photo)

2. Body Found In Car That Plunged Off Highway 154 Near Top of San Marcos Pass

An 82-year-old Santa Barbara man was found dead in the wreckage of his car, which apparently plunged off Highway 154 near the top of San Marcos Pass late on the night of Aug. 23.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Donald Newsam was driving south on the highway when his sedan drove off the roadway, struck a traffic sign, and landed about 30 feet down a steep embankment north of Kinevan Road on the Santa Barbara side of the pass.

County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said the crash was reported late Saturday but it took authorities until midday Sunday to locate the vehicle, which was wrapped around an oak tree in the rugged terrain.

The crash remains under investigation, CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez said.

Nicolas Holzer, accused of killing his parents, his sons and the family dog, is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Sept. 9. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)
Nicolas Holzer, accused of killing his parents, his sons and the family dog, is scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Sept. 9. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

3. Bitter Custody Battle May Offer Clues in Holzer Family’s Gruesome Mass Murder

Since Nicolas Holzer’s Aug. 11 arrest as the suspect in the fatal stabbings of his sons, his parents and the family’s dog, many locals have been asking themselves how it could have happened.

Vincent Holzer
Vincent Holzer
Sebastian Holzer
Sebastian Holzer

Sheriff Bill Brown told an Aug. 12 news conference that “Holzer told detectives that he had killed his family to fulfill what he believed was his destiny.” That’s certainly one explanation, although it remains to be seen whether anyone believes it.

While we wait the eternity before the case goes before a judge and jury, we decided to have our Lara Cooper dig through the court files from the 45-year-old Holzer’s bitter 2006 divorce from his wife, Juana, to see if there might be clues pointing toward such a tragic outcome.

What she found was as breathtaking as the mass murder was heartbreaking.

According to the documents, most of the evidence appears to be circumstantial, although there are clear red flags that prosecutors and defense attorneys will be chasing as they build their narratives. Yes, the marriage seems to have been a volatile one almost from the start. Yes, both sides made vile, vicious accusations against the other, including an allegation by Holzer that his ex-wife and her sisters sexually abused their children, and an allegation by Juana Holzer that her ex-husband had mental-health issues. 

What Lara really uncovered, however, is an abominable and dysfunctional family-court system that any community this side of Rotherham, England, ought to be ashamed of. At almost every step of the way, a process that one would think was designed to protect the two most vulnerable people in its clutches instead allowed them to be used as pawns in a cruel game of keeps and keep away. You just know this isn’t an isolated case.

In their short lives on this earth, it’s remarkable that 13-year-old Sebastian Holzer and his 10-year-old brother, Vincent, achieved as much as they did and with as much kindness and determination as they had. That clearly is a testament to the “normal” life their grandparents — Sheila and Bill Holzer — appeared to try to provide them at their neatly kept home on Walnut Park Lane not far from Foothill School. If only the man in the middle had been removed from the picture, they would all be alive today.

4. Bill Macfadyen: What’s In Store at Trader Joe’s Was an Unfortunate Surprise

More than a week later, readers were still going back to and forwarding the story of a Goleta woman who apparently tried to take her life in a restroom at Trader Joe’s in Goleta. I’m guessing that was behind the stronger-than-usual traffic this past week on my Best of Bill column. I know it wasn’t the writing.

Although the woman was found alive, she later died of her injuries after being rushed to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. The case remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.

Click here for suicide-prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.

5. Public Health Searching for Contagious Tuberculosis Patient

A 24-year-old migrant farmworker with a highly contagious case of drug-resistant tuberculosis is on the loose, and authorities have issued an arrest warrant in an urgent attempt to find him.

Agustin Zeferino: You definitely want to keep your distance from this guy. (Santa Barbara County Public Health Department photo)
Agustin Zeferino: You definitely want to keep your distance from this guy. (Santa Barbara County Public Health Department photo)

Officials say Agustin Zeferino, whose last known location was in the Santa Maria area, has been consulted and treated by the county Public Health Department in the past but he’s discontinued treatment and his whereabouts are unknown, prompting the arrest warrant.

“Without treatment, it (TB) is often fatal and poses a public health threat due to airborne transmission,” said Dr. Charity Thoman, the county’s health officer.

“This is particularly due for drug-resistant cases. If Mr. Zeferino is contagious and he is out in our community, it is a public health emergency.”

If you spot Zeferino, call 9-1-1. Then see your doctor.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bring it in for a hug.

(MailOnline.com video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Researchers at UCSB, Griffith University Identify Origin and Purpose of the ‘Anger Face’

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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The next time you get really mad, take a look in the mirror. See the lowered brow, the thinned lips and the flared nostrils? That’s what social scientists call the “anger face,” and it appears to be part of our basic biology as humans.

Leda Cosmides
Leda Cosmides

Now, researchers at UC Santa Barbara and at Griffith University in Australia have identified the functional advantages that caused the specific appearance of the anger face to evolve. Their findings appear in the current online edition of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

“The expression is cross-culturally universal, and even congenitally blind children make this same face without ever having seen one,” said lead author Aaron Sell, a lecturer at the School of Criminology at Griffith University in Australia. Sell was formerly a postdoctoral scholar at UCSB’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology.

The anger expression employs seven distinct muscle groups that contract in a highly stereotyped manner. The researchers sought to understand why evolution chose those particular muscle contractions to signal the emotional state of anger.

The current research is part of a larger set of studies that examine the evolutionary function of anger.

“Our earlier research showed that anger evolved to motivate effective bargaining behavior during conflicts of interest,” Sell said.

The greater the harm an individual can inflict, noted Leda Cosmides, the more bargaining power he or she wields.

Cosmides, professor of psychology at UCSB, is a co-author on the study along with John Tooby, UCSB professor of anthropology. Cosmides and Tooby are co-directors of the campus’ Center for Evolutionary Psychology.

“This general bargaining-through-menace principle applies to humans as well,” Tooby said. “In earlier work we were able to confirm the predictions that stronger men anger more easily, fight more often, feel entitled to more unequal treatment, resolve conflicts more in their own favor and are even more in favor of military solutions than are physically weak men.”

Starting from the hypothesis that anger is a bargaining emotion, the researchers reasoned that the first step is communicating to the other party that the anger-triggering event is not acceptable, and the conflict will not end until an implicit agreement is reached. This, they say, is why the emotion of anger has a facial expression associated with it.

“But the anger face not only signals the onset of a conflict,” Sell said.d “Any distinctive facial display could do that. We hypothesized that the anger face evolved its specific form because it delivers something more for the expresser: Each element is designed to help intimidate others by making the angry individual appear more capable of delivering harm if not appeased.”

John Tooby
John Tooby

For our ancestors, Cosmides noted, greater upper body strength led to a greater ability to inflict harm; so the hypothesis was that the anger face should make a person appear stronger.

Using computer-generated faces, the researchers demonstrated that each of the individual components of the anger face made those computer-generated people appear physically stronger. For example, the most common feature of the anger face is the lowered brow. Researchers took a computerized image of an average human face and then digitally morphed it in two ways: One photo showed a lowered brow, and the other a raised brow.

“With just this one difference, neither face appeared ‘angry,’” Sell said. “But when these two faces were shown to subjects, they reported the lowered brow face as looking like it belonged to a physically stronger man.”

The experiment was repeated one-by-one with each of the other major components of the classic anger face — raised cheekbones (as in a snarl), lips thinned and pushed out, the mouth raised (as in defiance), the nose flared and the chin pushed out and up. As predicted, the presence by itself of any one of these muscle contractions led observers to judge that the person making the face was physically stronger.

Aaron Sell
Aaron Sell

“Our previous research showed that humans are exceptionally good at assessing fighting ability just by looking at someone’s face,” said Sell. “Since people who are judged to be stronger tend to get their way more often, other things being equal, we concluded that the explanation for evolution of the form of the human anger face is surprisingly simple — it is a threat display.”

These threat displays — like those of other animals — consist of exaggerations of cues of fighting ability, Sell continued. “So a man will puff up his chest, stand tall and morph his face to make himself appear stronger.

“The function of the anger face is intimidation,” added Cosmides, “just like a frog will puff itself up or a baboon will display its canines.”

As Tooby explained, “This makes sense of why evolution selected this particular facial display to co-occur with the onset of anger. Anger is triggered by the refusal to accept the situation, and the face immediately organizes itself to advertise to the other party the costs of not making the situation more acceptable. What is most pleasing about these results is that no feature of the anger face appears to be arbitrary; they all deliver the same message.”

According to Sell, the researchers know this to be true because each of the seven components has the same effect. “In the final analysis, you can think of the anger face as a constellation of features, each of which makes you appear physically more formidable.”

— Andrea Estrada represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Santa Barbara’s Transient Occupancy Tax Up 5.7% in July

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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In the first month of the new fiscal year, the City of Santa Barbara collected more than $2.1 million in transient occupancy taxes (TOT), resulting in growth of 5.7 percent over the same month last year.

The fiscal year 2015 TOT budget is $17,641,400, and assumes an overall growth of 4.9 percent in relation to fiscal year 2014.

The city’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 each year.

The transient occupancy tax table can be viewed by clicking here.

— Genie Wilson is the treasury manager for the City of Santa Barbara.

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Santa Barbara Dance Institute Celebrates 10 Years of Service

By | Published on 08/29/2014

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The Santa Barbara Dance Institute is celebrating a decade of helping low-income, at-risk children throughout the county learn critical life skills, build confidence, improve their health and set a new standard of excellence for themselves through its unique educational dance programs.

Ten years ago, SBDI’s founder, Rosalina Macisco, created an expressive outlet for Santa Barbara’s underserved children using methods developed by the National Dance Institute. Since then, over 3,000 students have participated in SBDI’s programs.

Starting with just two schools and 80 students, SBDI has grown quickly to serve 12 schools and organizations with over 550 students per year.

“Every year more students attend our classes, more teachers see the positive effect of our programs and more schools request our services,” said Rosalina Macisco, executive and artistic director.

What We Do

Through highly structured educational dance programs, SBDI helps children discover their potential by empowering them to believe in themselves, work together in a team and develop a personal standard of excellence. We teach high energy, joyful, physically and mentally demanding classes that instill confidence, pride, work ethic and a mentality of never giving up. Our programs increase neuroplasticity in children’s brains through the utilization of medically proven movement sequences and dance routines (e.g. cross-boy moves).

In SBDI’s Partner Programs, classes are held weekly over a 30-week period.

Children experience an immersion in dance and music to promote achievement, teamwork and dedication. SBDI’s Residency Programs are held either during the school day or after-school for six-eight weeks. For every program, no matter the length or number of participants, SBDI has a close working relationship with the school.

All SBDI programs conclude with a performance event. SBDI’s Event-of-the-Year is a professionally written original show involving students who attend SBDI’s full-year programs to perform for their community, family and friends at the Marjorie Luke Theatre.

Bill Cirone, county cuperintendent of schools says about the performance, “This is one show you won’t want to miss!” The show has been coined the “feel-good show of the year,” by county arts commissioner Ginny Brush.

Past themes include:

» 100 Years of American Music and Dance
» Literature
» Imagination and the possibilities it brings
» Bullying

— Kaila MacKenzie is a producer for the Santa Barbara Dance Institute.

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San Marcos High School Community Grieves Loss of Student Killed in Car Crash

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Dan Perez, 16, who died when his vehicle collided with a big rig on Highway 101, is remembered as an exceptional scholar and athlete

San Marcos High School students and teachers were grieving the loss of local teenager Dan Perez on Thursday after news of his fatal car accident spread across campus.

Dan Perez
Dan Perez

Perez, a 16-year-old junior, was killed Wednesday night when his vehicle collided with a big rig truck on Highway 101 near Bates Road.

The California Highway Patrol said Perez entered the northbound freeway lanes from the Highway 150 off-ramp, driving the wrong way until his Mustang clipped a tractor-trailer and his vehicle landed on its roof.

Perez was declared dead at the scene, and it has not been determined whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

On Thursday, San Marcos Principal Ed Behrens said the school is grieving Perez's death. He said he heard the news of Perez's death from the school resource officer Thursday morning.

"We were all shocked and saddened to hear about the tragedy that had occurred," Behrens said.

Perez played on the school's baseball team his freshman and sophomore years at the school and was looking forward to playing lacrosse this semester.

"He was a stellar scholar/athlete," Behrens said, adding that Perez had a grade point average of 3.66. "Pretty much all day we've been working on creating a plan to provide assistance to the school community and to the community at large."

On Thursday, the school set up a compassion center on campus with the help of the county's mental health department where students and teachers could talk and grieve.

Members of the school's baseball team found each other and came together to the compassion center, Behrens said.

On Friday, the center will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the school's career center, located at 4750 Hollister Ave. 

The school will also be holding a moment of silence during first period on Friday morning and during the school's football game on Friday night.

Several of Perez's teachers remembered him on Thursday, describing him as a team player who was well-loved.

"From a coach's point of view, he was willing to do whatever it took to help his team," said Sergio Castellanos, baseball coach of Perez's freshman team. "Danny was always upbeat and positive, he got along well with all of his teammates, and everyone admired him and loved him for the person that he was."

Perez's chemistry teacher, Kimberly Tilton, said Perez was a gifted student with a sense of humor.

"I can still see Dan laughing at one of my corny jokes from the back corner of my class," she said. "It's hard to accept that I won't be celebrating his walk across the graduation stage."

Tilton said Perez was an "exceptional young man" and had the potential to become a great scientist.  

"It was truly a pleasure getting to know him," she said. "My heart goes out to all of his family and friends for their terrible loss."

Lauren Meier, program facilitator with the school's special education department, said it's important for parents and family members of grieving students to allow them to talk about their grief.

"It's really important to listen to the students," she said. "And keep in mind that all children grieve differently. … Keeping the open line of communication is key."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara City Fire Department Shows Off New Equipment

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Largest grant in organization's history pays for purchase of breathing apparatuses

Battling blazes in the city of Santa Barbara is about to become a safer, more-efficient occupation with the addition of brand-new firefighting breathing apparatuses.

The Santa Barbara City Fire Department unveiled its new expensive, donated equipment during a demonstration Thursday afternoon at its downtown training center.

Two firefighters showed off the self-contained breathing apparatus units, donning devices before entering a building filled with artificial smoke billowing from a machine.

All 85 members of the department should have the equipment within the next six to eight months, thanks to a $591,311 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The grant was the largest in department history, and the third one Homeland Security has awarded city fire in the same number of years — bringing the total to more than $1 million, according to Fire Chief Pat McElroy.

Last year, a grant funded a region-wide radio upgrade, and in 2012 the department purchased Plymovent, which captures and removes the diesel created when engines are started up below firehouse living quarters.

The latest tools allow the department to upgrade current breathing apparatuses, which are 20 years old and provide just 30 minutes of oxygen compared to 45 minutes for the new units.

Breathing apparatuses should be replaced every 10 years, said Battalion Chief Michael de Ponce, who was recognized for helping secure the grant, along with fellow grant writer Ron Liechti, the department’s administrative services manager.

A $591,311 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has allowed the Santa Barbara City Fire Department to purchase new breathing apparatuses for its firefighters. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

“It’s an absolute win-win for our firefighters,” Ponce said.

Firefighters wear the units when battling structure fires, vehicle fires, during confined space rescues and hazardous material spills, and in potential hazardous environments.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, whose office helped secure the grant, was in attendance, as well as Mayor Pro Tempore Cathy Murillo, who said she hopes firefighters don’t have to use the equipment too often.

In addition to more air time, the new apparatuses better warn firefighters when oxygen is low and emit a chirping sound when someone hasn’t moved in 30 seconds, gradually getting louder the longer a firefighter is still.

Ponce said the communication within the new mask will also be better, and might soon allow in-mask exchanges. Currently, firefighters have to pull out a radio and put it up to their mask to speak to each other.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Maria CHP Officer Heralded for Saving Boy from Near Drowning

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Mark Naylor's training kicked in as he performed lifesaving measure on 8-year-old

Seeing a man carrying a limp boy from a swimming pool, off-duty California Highway Patrol officer Mark Naylor’s training immediately kicked in, and he began performing lifesaving measures on Alex Huffman in late May.

For his quick actions, Naylor, obviously uncomfortable with being in the spotlight, was recognized with the CHP’s Lifesaving Action Award on Thursday afternoon in Santa Maria as his fellow officers and top-ranking CHP officials gathered along with the family of the rescued boy.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to thank the man who saved your son’s life — no better feeling,” said Orcutt resident Larry Huffman, Alex's father. 

Law enforcement officers often have to defend their actions and rarely get celebrated for them, noted Lt. Alex Carrillo, commander of the CHP’s Santa Maria office.

“When we have the opportunity to recognize and commend one of our own, it’s really a pleasure,” Carrillo added.

Local residents notified CHP commanders about Naylor’s actions deserving of recognition, and the approval of the award went up the ranks from the local office to the division office to CHP Commissioner Joseph A Farrow.

Chief Reggie Chappelle of the CHP’s Coastal Division, which spans from Santa Cruz to Ventura counties, presented Naylor with the certificate of commendation.

Chappelle noted that law enforcement officers are never off duty.

“Usually that means you behave yourself because people are watching, but on a day like today, it also means that it if it wasn’t for Mark Naylor’s training, things could have turned out a lot worse,” Chappelle said.

“For me personally, I’ve never had the opportunity to present an award like this,” Carrillo said, noting he has been with the CHP for 30 years. 

Naylor was at a private barbecue and pool party in Orcutt where he noticed a man suddenly diving into a pool and resurfacing while holding an apparently lifeless 8-year-old Alex. 

Naylor acted immediately, noting the boy wasn’t breathing and that his eyes were fixed and dilated. He gave several rescue breaths and felt for the boy’s pulse, Carrillo said. 

Naylor continued giving rescue breaths and pulse monitoring before Alex revived and began breathing on his own.

A Santa Barbara County Fire Department crew, including firefighter Paul Christensen, arrived, and Alex was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

He has since fully recovered. 

“Without Officer Naylor's immediate response and lifesaving actions, it’s unlikely this child would have survived the incident,” Carrillo said.

Doug Coleman, representing Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, presented a certificate of recognition to Naylor, calling him a “true hero of this community and this young boy over here.”

Carrillo also recognized Alex’s brother, 11-year-old Aric, for his actions that day.

The boys' parents, Cindy and Larry Huffman, sat in the audience.

“When he noticed that his younger brother was at the bottom of the pool, he’s the one that really reacted, really showed some bravery, because many of us wouldn’t have known what to do,” Carrillo said, noting Aric alerted his father. “It really showed a lot of bravery, because like I said, many of us would freeze, not know what to do, not react at all, but he did.”

“You did a real outstanding job, I think everyone around here agrees with me,” Castillo told Aric before pinning a small CHP badge on the boy’s collar and later giving Alex one also.

CHP officers spend 20 to 30 percent of their time in training, which includes lifesaving measures that must be retained until needed, Chappelle noted. 

“I really appreciate this very much. It means a lot. It’s overwhelming to me having everybody here like this,” Naylor said as his family watched. “I feel very grateful for the training we got, and I was able to help. I really don’t know what else to say. It’s really overwhelming. I didn’t expect all this.” 

The “real heroes” of the rescue, Naylor added, were the boy’s father and brother.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Suspect in Death of Santa Maria Man Faces Different Charge at Arraignment

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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The man arrested on suspicion of homicide Saturday night in Santa Maria faced a different charge Thursday morning at an arraignment hearing in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Ismael Jacinto-Cruz, 24, was arrested after Santa Maria police officers responding to a fight found the victim inside a residence in the 1000 block of West Orange Street late Saturday night.

Police on Friday said the victim was Roberto Villa Rojas, 45, of Santa Maria.

The suspect, whose name is listed as Ismael Cruz Jacinto on a court website, was arraigned on a felony charge of resisting an officer with force and violence, according to Mag Nicola, chief deputy district attorney for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office in the North County.

The suspect is scheduled to return to court at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Nicola said his office is awaiting the results of the autopsy before filing additional charges related to the man’s death. 

While the preliminary autopsy has been conducted, it typically takes more time for the toxicology reports to be completed.

This was the first reported homicide in the city of Santa Maria for 2014.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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BizHawk: Invoca Plans to Expand Into Nearby Downtown Space

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Indigo boutique moves next door, ONTRAPORT plans annual event and Heeluxe wins nationwide award

BizHawk is published weekly, and includes items of interest to the business community. Share your business news, including employee announcements and personnel moves, by emailing news@noozhawk.com.

Invoca's rate of growth is catching up to the Santa Barbara business, which will expand into a second downtown building later this year.

The cloud-based, inbound call marketing company, which was founded locally in 2008, will take over the lease at 15 W. Figueroa St., current home of HG Data and within eyeshot of Invoca’s 1025 Chapala St. headquarters.

The move-in could happen as soon as November, and HG Data is working diligently to be out of the space — the tech company is moving (and growing) as well — by Dec. 31, when its lease is up.

Invoca took over the second floor of its headquarters not too long ago, but a three-year revenue growth of 1,200 percent from 2010 to 2013, the addition of 100 new jobs and an 82 percent gain in customers has prompted the expansion.

Earlier this year, CEO Jason Spievak told Noozhawk he was considering whether to scoop up another office space or to lease a new larger building somewhere locally.

Invoca, which was recently named as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies in Inc. Magazine’s annual 5000 list, plans to maintain its headquarters near the corner of Chapala and Figueroa streets.

Indigo Makes Move Next Door

Santa Barbara interior design boutique Indigo is moving to 1321 State St. — just a storefront down from its current location at 1323 State St.

After 26 years in its downtown space, Indigo will occupy a slightly larger next door location that housed the Alma del Pueblo development’s sales team until last spring.

Owner Genny Cummings and her husband, Tom, closed the business a couple weeks ago and hope to have everything moved to open the new space on Tuesday.

The longtime locals say nothing will change except a number of the address.

ONTRApalooza 2014 Comes to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara-based ONTRAPORT, creators of an all-in-one small-business automation platform, will host its third annual ONTRApalooza business building conference for entrepreneurs in October at Lobero Theatre.

ONTRApalooza 2014 will take place Oct. 1-3, bringing together small-business owners and business consultants from around the world to interact in hands-on training, workshops, social events and more.

Keynote speakers will include Santa Barbara resident Jack Canfield, originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and America’s No. 1 success coach, and more.

ONTRAPORT is offering a special discounted price for locals, with tickets at $299 — half off the regular price of $599.

Heeluxe Wins Award

Goleta’s Heeluxe has been named the grand prize winner of the BizClips Small Business Productivity Makeover Video Contest.

The local business, which provides shoe research, development and lab testing for footwear companies, took top honors after creating a video titled “A Revolutionary Approach to Footwear.” 

After winning the contest, sponsored by SCORE and Brother International, Heeluxe was honored at a gala this month in Washington D.C. and will receive a business makeover to include new tools and technology.

Two Properties Sold

Lee & Associates announced that two properties on Lillie Avenue in Summerland have been sold this month to new owners.

The location of Summerland Winery and Bonita at 2330 Lillie Ave. was one of those properties. The 4,344-square-foot landmark building also includes two residential units in the building. No other information about the sale was available.

A local family bought the 12,000 square-foot lot at the corner of Hollister and Lillie, which is zoned for commercial. The new owner, whose name was not disclosed, plans to develop the property.

A final sales price was also unavailable.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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David Harsanyi: The Left’s Ridiculous Burger King Freakout

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Burger King plans to merge with Canuck coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons and base the company's headquarters in Canada, where it will enjoy the kind of reasonable corporate tax structure that Democrats continue to obstruct here in the United States. And the move has provoked a fresh round of moral panic, faux patriotism and confusion.

It's doubtful, despite much wishful thinking, that there will be much of a real backlash. Nor should there be. Most obviously, the majority of fast-food customers are probably less inclined than the petitioners of MoveOn.org to mistake high tax rates for patriotism.

This kind of distorted understanding of national loyalty may work in populist politics, but not so much in markets. Few reasonable humans will meditate on Burger King's corporate tax "inversion" — or even its Brazilian owners — as they wait for the frozen French fries to be dropped into the deep fryer.

The four best-selling cars in America so far in 2014 are the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla. One of the best-selling cell phone brands is South Korean. And so on. Does a Whopper taste like a Whopper? That's all that matters. And it's all that should. Nothing really changes for the consumer.

Even among those who do pay attention, there will very likely be many who don't believe that the purpose of a business is to placate the Obama administration or generate more revenue for government. The executive's charge is to grow and sustain a healthy business, which this deal almost unquestionably does. Stockholders? According to TheStreet, the Brazilian equity firm that controls the company may make more in one day with the acquisition of Tim Hortons than it paid Goldman Sachs (and others) for Burger King four years ago. Sounds like a sweet deal.

Obviously, there are people out there who believe that "tax avoidance" is wrong in theory. President Barack Obama wouldn't be harping on the issue and offering punitive legislation if the topic didn't poll well somewhere. Judging from Twitter and comments sections, plenty of misinformed Americans are under the impression that Burger King will stop paying taxes altogether; "inversion" companies are subject to U.S. tax rates on profits earned in America. It's the kind of ignorance that allows crass demagogues like Sherrod Brown (Burger King has "abandoned the United States"!) to do their thing.

The media have done their part, as well, treating a perfectly legal corporate decision that's been practiced for decades as a form of perfidy. Take a recent hit piece by Bloomberg. It "investigates" an entirely legal action by congressmen who "are invested in deals that Obama and other Democrats say are wrong and unpatriotic." Who knows? Maybe House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Dave Camp (who, incidentally, had plenty of time to push reform themselves) are guilty of pre-crime, but maybe they just think it's "wrong" and "unpatriotic" to drive businesses out of the United States with a corporate tax rate that's the highest in the civilized world. But hey, our president has proposed ex post facto legislation for crimes against "economic patriotism." Let's criminalize behavior we don't like retroactively.

With all that said, the Burger King move isn't really about "inversion" anyway. This is a merger. Tim Hortons has a $9.9 billion market cap and generated more revenue than Burger King last year, so it seems implausible that the deal was made for reasons of tax sedition alone. When you merge with a company from another country, one that helps diversify your reach worldwide, it seems like a basic fiduciary responsibility to place your headquarters in the spot that offers you the best business climate. And though Burger King's move won't save much in the immediate future, it seems that choosing Canada makes sense.

And that's probably what's driving a lot of the overwrought reaction to this merger. The consequences of high corporate taxation could not be more apparent. If Burger King is willing to "leave" the country, it won't matter how much hyperbole Democrats throw around; other established American brands will do the same. It's certainly possible that the left will generate enough of a racket to persuade the fast-food giant to surrender on inversion. But as we've seen, most companies can't be shamed out of making the right decision.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Gerald Carpenter: ‘Of Mice and Men’ Opens in Ojai

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Starting Friday, the Ojai Art Center Theater will offer a new production of John Steinbeck's moving drama Of Mice and Men.

The play is directed by Richard Kuhlman and produced by Chelsea Vivian with sets by Neva Williams, costumes by Janna Valenzuela, and starring Ron Feltner, Nigel Chisholm, Doug Friedlander, David Stewart, Jessi May Stevenson, Ezra Ells, Shayne Bourbon, John Valenzuela, Buddy Wilds and Susan Franzblau.

This shows signs of being a splendid and memorable production. Director Kuhlman spent several seasons directing plays — including Of Mice and Men — at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. The cast and crew are well-seasoned and completely in sympathy with Steinbeck's vision.

Even a barely competent production of this play is a harrowing, cathartic experience, and the people at Ojai ACT are about 50 levels above that minimum. Prepare yourselves.

The short novel Of Mice and Men was Steinbeck's first big success as a fiction writer. Published in 1937, two years before The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men was still selling extremely well when the author himself turned it into a play, or rather — since he had written it in a format that allowed it either to be read as a novel or produced as a play script — he caused it to be brought to the stage, first in California and then on Broadway, where it ran for 207 performances and won the 1938 New York Drama Critics' Circle "Best Play" award.

It has been revived many times since then, and has been filmed a number of times. The main story thread has become permanently woven into American mythology, and its main characters, George and Lennie, elevated to archetypes.

There is a darker side to the story's permanent popularity, because it is also a tale of horror, like Frankenstein or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However gentle and innocent he may be, Lennie is a monster of epic and lethal proportions. His specialty is involuntary manslaughter: "I was just petting it!" Yet the play conditions us to invest our sympathy in him, rather than his victims, the main one of whom, so far as we know, is not even given a name, because, as Steinbeck himself admits, she is "not a person, she's a symbol. She has no function, except to be a foil — and a danger to Lennie."

George is unable to prevent the damage done by Lennie; up until the time of the story's "now," he has mainly served to help Lennie escape the consequences of his deeds. That he did this out of love for Lennie, without a thought to the danger he posed to anyone in his path, should not make us like him, but we do. When his heart breaks, so do ours.

As Conway Powers wrote, many years ago:

We are all bowmen in this place.
The pattern of the birds against the sky,
Our arrows overprint, and then they die.

But it is also common in our race,
That when the birds fall down we weep.
Reason's a thing dimly seen, in sleep.

Of Mice and Men plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 21, at the Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 S. Montgomery St. in Ojai.

Tickets are $18 for general admission, $15 for seniors and Art Center members, and $10 for students and groups of six or more. Tickets may be purchased by calling the ACT reservation line at 805.640.8797 or by emailing theater@ojaiartcenter.org.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at gerald.carpenter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Outdoors Q&A: Is It Easier to Hunt Deer During the Rut?

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Q: You recently said it’s easier to hunt deer during the rut. Where do you get your information? Have you compared the buck kill rates in states that allow deer to be hunted during the rut against the deer harvest in California?

The buck-to-doe ratio in California is terrible. I don’t believe the deer kill in California would be any higher than in any states that allow the deer harvest during the rut. It is not that easy to hunt deer in other states during the rut. If that were true the deer kill would be huge in those states, rather than their average yearly take.

Also, why does the California Department of Fish & Wildlife require that those hunters who do not harvest a deer in California must still call in or go online to report a non-harvest? If 260,000 licenses are sold and 50,000 hunters report a successful kill, why do the other 210,000 hunters have to report unsuccessful hunts? You already know simply by the successful hunters reports that the rest of the hunters were unsuccessful. What possible information can you gather by asking the unsuccessful hunters to verify an unsuccessful hunt? It is redundant information. (John M.)

A: Bucks in rut are much more vulnerable to all forms of predation — including by humans — because all they are interested in is mating and fighting, nothing else. They don’t even eat during that time period because they are so focused on the other activities. Plus, they are usually concentrated in certain places because rut hunting usually occurs on winter ranges for migratory deer.

According to CDFW Game Program manager Craig Stowers, the reason we don’t do more is because most California deer hunters would prefer a chance to hunt every year instead of having to wait to be drawn for a buck hunt. Our stats show hunter success numbers for late season hunts are much higher than general season hunts, thus requiring fewer hunters in the field to reach harvest goals. Click here to view all of the harvest reports posted online.

It would make sense if the other states you are referring to are whitetail states where they are actively trying to reduce populations. That would explain why they actively hunt in the rut.

We ask the success questions because we need to determine more information than just how many deer are killed. We want to know why people were unsuccessful. For example, if they were unsuccessful because they didn’t even go hunting, we need to delete their information from the harvest results to give a true picture of success — those who don’t even try shouldn’t be included in the calculations. We ask other questions like days spent hunting so we can paint a better picture of the amount of time and money hunters spend — all factors we use to justify the continuation of hunting. It’s not just about figuring out how many deer are killed.

Chopped Up Carp Chum?

Q: Is it legal for me to catch carp and then chop it up to use as chum when I go ocean fishing? (Chris S.)

A: Yes, carp can be legally used as chum in ocean waters. In inland waters, chumming is legal in only a few freshwater lakes and streams. For a list of acceptable waters, please check section 2.40 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Is It Illegal to Have a Trout on a Stringer?

Q: I know that trout may not be maintained or possessed in a live condition in any container on or attached to any boat, but is it also illegal to have trout on a stringer? We like to keep our catch on a stringer and the stringer in the water to preserve the meat. We do not attempt to keep trout alive with the intent of changing out the smaller ones. We just enjoy a good fish fry. Thank you for any help. (Stas and Holly A., Buena Park)

A: Keeping your fish on a stringer in the water is perfectly fine. The fish cannot swim freely when on a stringer, and this method does help to keep them fresh until you’re ready for your fish fry!

Fishing for Sanddabs

Q: When fishing for sanddabs, how many hooks can be attached to the line on a single rod? (Len P.)

A: You may fish for sanddabs with as many hooks as you like on a single rod, unless rockfish, lingcod or salmon are on the vessel or in possession, in which case special restrictions apply (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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UCSB Student Arrested, Gun Seized at Isla Vista Apartment

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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A UCSB student who was reported to be armed and suicidal was apprehended by Isla Vista Foot Patrol deputies, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies were called to an apartment in the 700 block of Camino Del Sur at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, said sheriff's spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

They were responding to a report that Joshua Hillsburg, 20, had a gun and wanted to kill himself, Hoover said.

"Sheriff’s deputies responded to the apartment, secured a perimeter, and attempted to make contact with Hillsburg," Hoover said. "After a short amount of time, Hillsburg came to the front door, and when he saw deputies, he attempted to retreat into a back bedroom."

Deputies were able to prevent Hillsburg from reaching the bedroom and detained him, Hoover said.

A records check did not show any weapons registered to Hillsburg, Hoover said, but deputies learned there was a handgun in a back bedroom.

They subsequently found a loaded .357 revolver under a pillow, and seized it pursuant to a section of the state Welfare and Institutions Code pertaining to weapons in the possession of people with mental-health issues, Hoover said.

The weapon was registered to a family member, she said.

"While deputies were inside the residence, they saw multiple sets of brass knuckles in plain view," Hoover said, adding that Hillsburg was arrested on suspicion of possessing brass knuckles, and those weapons also were seized.

Hillsburg was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $20,000.

"The Isla Vista Foot Patrol commends the reporting party in this case for calling 9-1-1 to report the subject’s erratic behavior which ultimately could have saved his life," Hoover said.

Click here for suicide-prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Letter to the Editor: Increased Threat to America

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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As Sept. 11 nears, America is in increased danger from the threat of Islamist terrorism.

There are two reasons for this: open borders/immigration issues and ignoring the rise of ISIS/ISIL.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the ISIS possesses an "immediate threat" due to lax border security. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has warned that Iraqis have already illegally crossed the southern border. Drug cartels are also talking with ISIS.

Who is ISIS? It is a barbaric, well-financed Islamic army that has taken over parts of Syria and Iraq, setting up an Islamic State (caliphate). They kill anyone who disagrees with them, especially Christians.

When did ISIS appear? According to the West Point counterterrorism center, "ISIS did not suddenly become effective in early June 2014. It had been steadily strengthening and actively shaping the future operating environment for four years." The report said that the "shattering" of Iraq's security forces in June is a "case-in-point, the result of years of patient preparatory operations."

Furthermore, there were warning signs along the way, and the intelligence agency warned the White House at least two years ago about the growing ISIS threat.

Stunningly, President Obama chose to ignore this growing threat and recently compared ISIS and related groups to a "jayvee team."

Clearly, ISIS needs to be destroyed. Will President Obama act to protect America?

Diana Thorn
Carpinteria

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Letter to the Editor: ISIS Is Dangerous

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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ISIS is not your run-of-the-mill Islamic terrorist group. They are a highly successful movement with an apocalyptic, nihilistic philosophy. They mean business when they say, "Convert, join us or die."

There are nine reasons why they are such a threat to Iraq, the Middle East, the world and the United States.

» 1) More sophisticated, excel in using the social media.

» 2) Rich. Use extortion, selling electricity, exploring oil and gas, and have looted five banks.

» 3) Other al-Qaeda-like groups are pledging allegiance to them, giving them access to a global network of terrorists.

» 4) Control territory the size of Maryland in the heart of the Arab world.

» 5) Evolved into a pro-state, with its own army, civil administration, judiciary and propaganda operation.

» 6) Most heavily armed Islamist extremist group in history.

» 7) Out-recruiting other terrorist groups, pulling in westerners.

» 8) Its leader, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, claims he is descent from the Prophet Mohammed.

» 9) Declared the rebirth of the Caliphate and its leader to be Caliph Ibrahim.

President Barack Obama got it wrong. ISIS is no "jayvee team." It must be destroyed.

Diana and Don Thorn
Carpinteria

 

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Susan Miles Gulbransen: Santa Barbara at Home in the Works of Local Authors

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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In the eyes of beholders, the Newbery Medal award for the most distinguished children’s book each year is akin to an Oscar for moviedom, Tony for Broadway or Emmy for television.

Named after a British 18th-century bookseller, John Newbery, the list began in 1922 as a superb guide for family reading and gift choices. My own all-time favorite children’s book, King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, was the 1949 winner among other years of favorite books.

Up until now, winning book covers displayed the award's bold gold seal, a top priority and honor above all others. Not anymore, it appears.

After 18 years of efforts, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, The Giver by Lois Lowry, is now a movie. The media have covered it with reviews and interviews in recent weeks. In a good marketing move, a movie tie-in book edition came out. The cover features star and backer of the movie Jeff Bridges, with his young counterpart in a utopian-becomes-dystopian drama set in the future.

Instead of the big familiar gold Newbery Medal above or next to the title, a gray circle catches your eye. It saysm “Includes exclusive Q&A with Taylor Swift and others!” Swift has a cameo role in the movie, not a major one. One small line at the bottom states, “Winner of the Newbery Medal.”

Author Lowry, winner of Newbery Medals in 1990 and 1994, stated her pragmatic attitude in a Los Angeles Times interview: “I’m kind of sorry we have to have Taylor Swift label instead of the Newbery Medal, but that’s OK. I think it’s an appealing cover. I think in a bookstore someone will gravitate to it and pick it up.”

Do you know any of these men: John Crowe, Michael Collins, Dennis Lynds, William Arden, Dan Fortune, Mark Sadler, Carl Dekker? If you say yes and name the late Dennis Lynds, then you know the real name. The others were some of his pseudonyms, except for Dan Fortune, one of Lynds’ fictional characters written as Michael Collins. By the way, Fortune ends his days in Summerland.

The other popular series has been John Crowe's Buena Costa novels. The William Arden in Lynds wrote children's series. He also published some short stories under other names. Why pseudonyms? When you’ve published more than 80 novels and who-knows-how-many short stories, writing under other names is a way to market and separate the books.

All of this is to say that Lynds was a prolific author, outstanding teacher and lived a good portion of his adult life in Santa Barbara. When I failed to mention his name among other outstanding local authors in a recent column, I twisted and turned over the omission.

Our community has historically been home to creative literary minds and does not lack for numbers. Just ask Steve Gilbar, editor of several books on local authors and/or Santa Barbara stories. My arbitrary favorite is Red Tiles, Blue Skies, second in his collection. Gilbar also founded Speaking of Stories, the series produced each winter at Center Stage with professional actors reading stories. These evenings make for dramatic and effect entertainment as you sit in the darkened theater losing yourself in excellent stories, the kind that stays in your head and heart a long time.

The other brain expert on numbers of Santa Barbara writers is book freak and former publisher of Noel Young's Capra Press, Robert E. (Bob) Bason. For several years, he had a hobby of collecting books by local authors. I visited his house once when the garage door was open. Instead of the usual closed cupboards, tool kits and workshop benches, the garage had loaded bookshelves — so many that one car had to be out on the driveway. He eventually compiled a paper titled "The Robert E. Bason Collection of Santa Barbara Authors and Books About Santa Barbara."

The project started in 1980 took off like a giant’s beanstalk. "The collection definitely outgrew storage space in my house and I was faced with 'marital discord.' When it reached over 1,000 (not even counting the tomes from UCSB professors), I realized that there was no end to this collection and gave up. I donated the whole collection to Special Collections at UCSB. They now maintain it — and the list is HUGE. It turns out that everyone in Santa Barbara is writing a book!"

By the time he called a halt to the project, he had 1,186 books, manuscripts and other related items. It ran from Michael Ableman's From the Good Earth to David Wyatt's Thrifty Gourmet. The catalog of books itself was 144 typed pages long.

He says, "Collecting Santa Barbara authors is an occupation that can easily take up your remaining time on this Earth. I had been at it for years and only cracked the surface."

While creating his hobby, Bason came across several ways writers refer to Santa Barbara in fiction, an entertaining sidebar. Perhaps the most famous was Ross Macdonald, one of the country's earliest mystery authors with his Lew Archer series. He called it Santa Teresa. Sue Grafton in her "alphabet mystery series" used the same name as a tribute to him but added Montebello to the east and Colgate to the west. Sound familiar? Her books are full of other named references.

Ron Ely and Tony Gibbs kept the real name Santa Barbara. William Campbell Gault called locations in the area San Valdesto, Montevista and Slope Ranch. Lynds (also as John Crowe) used San Vicente and Buena Costa County to describe our town.

Were you an author, what names might you use?

Noozhawk columnist Susan Miles Gulbransen — a Santa Barbara native, writer and book reviewer — teaches writing at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and through the Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education Division. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Laugh Out Loud with Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Presented by lolflix.com, the Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival announces the festival addition of comedian Ben Gleib’s one-hour special filming on Saturday, Sept. 6 at the Lobero Theatre.

Rip Taylor
Rip Taylor

Gleib has been a regular fixture on the Chelsea Lately roundtable for more than seven years and has made more than 100 episodes on the show. He is also the host of the Game Show Network's new comedy brain teaser game show Idiotest and is the voice of Sloth in Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Also added to the festival, comedian and national touring headliner Christopher Titus to host "Next Up Stand Up" at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the Lobero Theatre.

Titus is the host of History Channel’s new hit game show Pawnography with the cast of Pawn Stars and is currently on tour cross country preparing to film his next live comedy special later this month in Santa Barbara.

Titus will play host at "Next Up Stand Up" on Wednesday, introducing some of the hottest up-and-coming comics being filmed for a special feature airing on the dedicated Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival Channel on Hulu.

SBLOLFEST “Final” Comedy Schedule

» Tuesday, Sept. 2 — 8 p.m. • “Rip Rip Hooray” • Arlington Theatre •
 The premiere of the Rip Taylor documentary. Taylor will be in attendance for the premiere and will be conducting a Q&A at the conclusion of the premiere. Tickets: $18 and $25.

» Wednesday, Sept. 3 — 8 p.m. • “Next-Up Stand-Up Hosted by Christopher Titus” • Lobero Theatre • Featuring the hottest up-and-coming comedic and musical performances (Monty Franklin, Darren Carter, Dylan Mandlsohn, Eric Blake, Jarrod Harris, Josh Waldron). “Next Up Stand Up” kicks off at the Lobero Theatre and will take place at different, locations downtown. “Next Up Stand Up” will be filmed as part of a series to be aired on Hulu and loflix.com. Tickets: $18 and $25.

» Wednesday, Sept. 3 — 10 p.m. • “SuperNaked” • Lobero Theatre •
 Be prepared for the musically unexpected. SuperNaked lives somewhere between the lines of Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords with a raw intelligent and masterful comedic flare, with their hit show titled “Get SuperNaked!” This will be star-studded with guest comedians and musicians, including Eric Schwartz aka Smooth-E and Brett Riley. Tickets: $18 and $25.

» Thursday, Sept. 4 — 8 p.m. • “Russell Peters: Almost Famous World Tour” • Granada Theatre • 
Canada’s No. 1 stand-up export, Peters will launch his world tour from Santa Barbara and the SB LOL Comedy Festival. Tickets $45, $65$ and limited box seats $72.

» Thursday, Sept. 4 — 7:30 p.m. • “Hot, Funny Femmes 1” Bring a Date • New Vic Theatre •
 Hosted by Latin Diva of Comedy Monique Marvez and BravoTV.com’s Nadine Rajabi, featuring some of the funniest woman in comedy today, including Rachel Bradley, Jill Michele Melean, Kimmie Dee, Amy Anderson, Jen Murphy and Grace Fraga. Tickets $12 and $18.

Russell Peters
Russell Peters

» Thursday, Sept. 4 — 9:30 p.m. • “Hot, Funny Femmes 2” Find a Date • New Vic Theatre •
 Hosted by Latin Diva of Comedy Monique Marvez and BravoTV.com’s Nadine Rajabi, featuring some of the funniest woman in comedy today, including Rachel Bradley, Jill Michele Melean, Kimmie Dee, Amy Anderson, Jen Murphy and Grace Fraga. Tickets $12 and $18.

» Friday, Sept. 5 — 6:30 p.m. • “Eric Schwartz aka Smooth-E” Music Video Taping Lobero Theatre •
 Multi-talented comedian/musical performer Schwartz will be filming videos for his new comedic bits “I Got Game” and “Font Savant.”

» Friday, Sept. 5 — 8 p.m. • “Jay Mohr” Lobero Theatre •
 A comedian, actor, radio host and bestselling author, Mohr has been performing stand-up comedy since he was 16 years old. Anyone who has ever seen one of his concerts will be quick to tell you that there is no one better. Comedy Central agrees, having named Mohr one of the 100 greatest stand-up comics of all time. Tickets for each show. $18, $25 and $40 for Gold Circle tickets that include best seats, meet and greet and signed festival poster from Mohr.

» Friday, Sept. 5 — 10 p.m. • “Brad Williams” Lobero Theatre •
 Williams is filming his first one-hour comedy special in Santa Barbara and has appeared on numerous TV shows, including Legit, Live at Gotham, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mind of Mencia and Pitboss. His show is high energy, and Robin Williams called him “Prozac with a head.” Tickets for each show: $18 and $25.

» Saturday, Sept. 6 — 6 p.m. • “Kirk Fox” Lobero Theatre •
 Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Tennis Anyone? and The Test’s own Fox will be filming his first one-hour comedy special from the Lobero Theatre. Tickets for each show: $18 and $25.

» Saturday, Sept. 6 — 8 p.m. • “Ben Gleib” • Lobero Theatre • Chelsea Lately and host of GSN’s Idiotest will be filming his first one hour comedy special from the Lobero Theatre. Tickets for each show. $18, $25.

» Saturday, Sept. 6 — 10 p.m. • “Andrew Dice Clay Presents: The Blue Show” • 
Lobero Theatre • Coming on the heels of his role in the critically acclaimed Blue Jasmine and his hit Showtime special Andrew Dice Clay: Indestructible, Dice will present his favorite “blue” comedians on the Lobero stage with Eleanor Kerrigan, Jason Rouse, Colin Kane, Michael “Wheels” Parisi, Erik Myers, Steve Wilson, and Cory and Chad “The Smash Brothers.” This show is being filmed for broadcast. Tickets: $18, $25 and $35.

» Sunday, Sept. 7 — Arlington Theatre • “Jim Jefferies Live” • 
The star of the hit show Legit and international comedy fan favorite, Jefferies will round out the Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets: $32 and $42.

» VIP Festival Pass: One VIP Pass gets you into every show during the festival. The VIP Festival Pass gives patrons access to be the first to be seated at all shows and the best available seating possible. Also get the VIP Festival treatment at all receptions and festival parties. Once purchased online through lolcomedyfestival.com, patrons will receive an email confirmation with QR code and passes will be available upon check-in with their confirmation at the Festival VIP check in.

Follow the Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival and lolflix online by clicking here. Click here for daily updates.

— Carol Marshall is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara LOL Comedy Festival.

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Letter to the Editor: Oil Industry Arguments Against Measure P Are Absurd

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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The oil industry arguments against Measure P are absurd and an insult to our intelligence.

They say “there is no fracking now,” carefully limiting what they say to this very minute. But they leave out that fracking is permitted in Santa Barbara County and has been used in the past. Also notice that they are using this half-truth to retain the right to do it in the future.

They say “we haven’t contaminated any groundwater in Santa Barbara County,” but the rest of that sentence is “yet.” They leave out that they have contaminated surface water in our county hundreds of times, and contaminated groundwater in countless other places, including next door in Kern County.

They say “we have clean air already,” leaving out that what they want to do will unquestionably add significant amounts of pollutants and greenhouse gases to the air.

The whole point of Measure P is to prevent these problems before they happen!

Just like the tobacco industry’s false campaign about the health effects of tobacco, the oil industry is using denial, half-truths, and personal attacks to try to to confuse voters. Their goal is private profit at the expense of public risk.

Unfortunately, we will all have to suffer through $2 million worth of this stuff over the next two months. Their disingenuous campaign proves that they are not to be trusted.

To protect the public’s interests, vote yes on Measure P.

Rebecca Claassen​
Santa Barbara

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City of Goleta Seeks Student Member for Parks and Recreation Commission

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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The City of Goleta is seeking one student member of the community to serve on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

The purpose of the commission is to provide citizens a platform to discuss the needs, opportunities and current offerings of parks and recreation activities in the city. The commission also advises the City Council on all issues related to parks and recreational opportunities in Goleta.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is a seven-member body with one student member (15 years or older). Members of the commission must reside in Goleta and not be employed by the city. The student commissioner is appointed for a one-year term.

Meeting schedule: The Parks and Recreation Commission meets bi-monthly, or as needed starting at 6 p.m. at the Goleta City Council Chambers.

Compensation: Members receive $50 per meeting. However, the student commissioner may choose to waive their compensation to receive community service credit.

Applications/deadline: Applications may be obtained from and must be returned to the City Clerk, City of Goleta, 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B, Goleta, CA 93117. An application form is also available at the city’s website by clicking here.

Additional information can be provided by calling Deborah Lopez, City Clerk, at 805.961.7505. Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8.

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Letter to the Editor: A Proven Resource for Prison Reform

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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We don't need to pay the tab for high-level county officers to jet to Scandanavia to study recent advances in incarceration.

We have an acknowledged expert, Jeffrey A. Beard, Ph.D., secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, whom we can and ought to invite to consult with our county officials regarding good, up-to-date practices guaranteed to radically reduce jail numbers.

Across America we have many jurisdictions experiencing remarkable results with reform. Dr. Beard has been instrumental in some. He's been around the country, not just around Santa Barbara. Let's get his expertise for our plight.

To read the facts about our county's record on incarceration, click here.

Joe Cain
Santa Barbara

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Ed Fuller: With Homes at Risk for Wildfire, Take Time to Review Your Insurance Policy

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Although the last few fires burned most of the mountains spilling into the Santa Barbara area, I am told there is still plenty of fuel for new fires. As fire season continues, what is the extent of the danger?

Ed Fuller
Ed Fuller

One major insurer has defined it by refusing to write new fire insurance in the 93108, 93103 and 93105 ZIP codes. Several years ago, another major insurer refused to write any new fire insurance in the state.

As fire insurance is a requirement of any home loan, the lack of competition can add an another burden for a buyer.

For those with homes at risk, it’s time to review your policies.

A local insurance broker pointed out that many policies will only provide full replacement cost if the property is insured “to value.” In other words, the amount of insurance must equal all or a large percentage of the cost to rebuild. If not adequately insured, the policy will default to a formula that only insures for the “depreciated” (actual cash) value of the improvements, not the full replacement cost.

The catch here is that after a major fire, construction costs tend to rise dramatically. This new, increased cost to replace your home could wind up defeating your full replacement coverage, leaving you on the hook for a substantial amount of the cost to rebuild.

The best thing to do is read your policy before a fire happens. If it’s unintelligible, visit a licensed insurance broker for a translation.

For a map of the fire and flood dangers on the South Coast of Santa Barbara, the county has a very informative map available by clicking here.

Fire safety information can be found at the State of California website by clicking here or the Santa Barbara County Fire Department website by clicking here.

Be safe!

Ed Fuller is a real estate broker with San Roque Realty Inc. and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at ed@sanroquerealty.com or 805.687.1551. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Biologist/Author Rupert Sheldrake to Deliver CLL ‘Mind & Supermind’ Lecture

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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On Sept. 8, the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning will welcome visionary English biologist and author Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., for the 35th anniversary of the CLL’s Mind & Supermind lecture series.

Sheldrake is known for his theory of “morphic resonance” and is named among “The 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in 2014” by Watkins Books, London.

The lecture, titled “Extended Minds: Recent Experimental Evidence,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8 at The New Vic Theatre, 33 W. Victoria St. in Santa Barbara.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, or $50 for a VIP Meet and Greet (includes lecture and private reception; tickets are limited). Click here for lecture registration. Click here for the VIP Meet and Greet registration.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this milestone with special guest Rupert Sheldrake,” said Andy Harper, executive director of SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning. “Sheldrake embodies the tradition of Mind & Supermind, to bring the community together with top minds to explore and question the nature of human psychology and consciousness.”

Sheldrake’s theories are sometimes controversial, as demonstrated in the discussion of his TEDx talk. One theory posits that people can influence others at a distance just by looking at them, even when all normal sensory clues are eliminated. Intentions can have effects at a distance and can be detected telepathically. Minds are also extended in time. Just as memories connect us with our pasts, precognitions and presentiments sometimes connect us with our futures.

Sheldrake, Ph.D., is a biologist and author of more than 80 papers in scientific journals and 11 books, including Science Set Free. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, a Research Fellow of the Royal Society, and from 2005-10 was Director of the Perrott–Warrick Project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and a visiting professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut. He lives in London.

For more information, email infoCLL@sbcc.edu or call 805.687.0812.

The popular, long-running Mind & Supermind series is now part of the CLL’s lecture and special event series “CLL Presents Major Issues.” Notable guest speakers throughout the long-running series have included Deepak Chopra, Fritjof Capra (author of The Tao of Physics), energy-based healer Judith Oroloff, M.D., and quantum physicist Fred Alan Wolf. Through the series, the CLL invites the community to meet and hear from leading experts about timely local and global topics.

— Flannery Hill is a publicist representing the SBCC Center for Lifelong Learning.

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Foundation Invites Golfers to Take a Swing at Tournament Benefiting Guadalupe School District

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Golfers are invited to take a solid swing for the future: Guadalupe youth and education.

The Guadalupe Kids Come First Foundation will hold its first Golf Tournament Fundraiser on Sept. 20 at Monarch Dunes at Trilogy Golf Course in Nipomo. Corporate sponsors and community partners can also make a "Hole in One" with donations.

The funds are earmarked for 1,200 students attending the Guadalupe Union School District. The goal is to raise $10,000 to begin saving for learning tools such as laptops, iPads and other technology for the young learners in Guadalupe. The purpose of the nonprofit foundation is to support the district's academic, athletic and cultural programs.

"I am looking forward to golfers, businesses and the Santa Maria Valley supporting the foundation's efforts that are designed to provide extra support to students and their needs so they can make the most of their education,'' said GUSD Superintendent Ed Cora, who started the foundation last year. "The educational learning model has changed, creating an urgent opportunity for our students to have this technology. Our students are motivated about education and will richly benefit from the support they receive.''

The golf tournament starts with registration from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and an 11 a.m. "Shotgun" start in a scramble format. The cost is $110 per person, which includes 18 holes, green fee, cart, a goodie bag and lunch. There is a maximum of 144 golfers for the educational challenge.

Corporate sponsors are urged to support students, who after graduating from GUSD, enter higher education in the Santa Maria Valley. Sponsors can make a $500 or less donation to meet the foundation's goal. For others, participation is designed to meet advertising objectives. A hole can be sponsored for $100 and that includes your company's name on a tee sign.

For more information, please contact GUSD for a registration form at 805.343.2114 or click here. Donations can be made to GUSD, P.O. Box 788, Guadalupe, CA 93434-2114.

— Kenny Klein is the media contact for the Guadalupe Union School District.

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Granada Theatre Opening the Curtain on ‘Monday at the Movies’ Series

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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The Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts is proud to announce the launch of Monday at the Movies!, a special series of films that will be screened throughout the year in the majestic Granada Theatre, on the only state-of-the-art 4K, rear-projection digital cinema system on California’s Central Coast.

The first in the film series will be Bugsy Malone at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8. Bugsy Malone is a 1976 British musical gangster film, directed by Alan Parker. Set in Chicago, the film is loosely based on Chicago events from the early 1920s to 1931 in the Prohibition era, specifically the exploits of gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Moran, as dramatized in cinema.

Dates and film titles for the inaugural Elmer Bernstein Memorial Film Series are:

» Sept. 8 — Bugsy Malone

» Nov. 24 — To Kill a Mockingbird

» Jan. 26 — Magnificent Seven

» March 30 — The Great Escape

This season’s filmed entertainment programming features the Elmer Bernstein Memorial Film Series, established by the SBCPA to honor the life and work of noted film composer and Santa Barbara resident Elmer Bernstein. The series presents an annual selection of films noteworthy for the importance of their musical scores to the telling of each film’s unique story. A guest curator is selected each year to program the series, host the screening, discuss each film and moderate a question and answer session with the audience and other special guests.

“Elmer’s greatest passion was creating music for the arts, and it is truly an honor to have his legacy in film be memorialized in Santa Barbara, a city he called home,” said Elmer Bernstein’s widow, Eve Bernstein.

The inaugural series features selections by guest curator Paul Williams, one of the most beloved and respected music creators in the world today. Williams is a lyricist and composer, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winner, member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as well as president and chairman of the Board of American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Sober 23 years, his humorous observations of life, love and creativity, augmented by the education and knowledge he gained through his studies and certification from UCLA as a certified drug rehabilitation counselor, will be shared in his new book co-written by Tracey Jackson, titled Gratitude and Trust; Six Affirmations That Will Change Your Life.

“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to be the first guest curator for this extraordinary cinematic series,” Williams said. “The first film Bugsy Malone holds a special place in my heart as I wrote many of the lyrics in the original film. This program will be a fantastic collaboration of impressive musical scores with the most advanced level of technology in the 21st century.”

The vision of providing the Granada Theatre with a first-class, state-of-the-art digital cinema system came from SBCPA Board President Sarah Chrisman and her husband, Roger Chrisman. Thanks to their generous support, as well as that of the Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation’s gift in memory of Mike DeGruy, the Granada Theatre is now able to provide Santa Barbara audiences with an inspiring filmed entertainment experience that cannot be found anywhere else on California’s Central Coast.

Screenings will be preceded by a conversation with Williams and other special guests about each film and its musical score. An informal post-screening discussion with Williams in the Granada Theatre’s McCune Founders room will take place for SBCPA Premiere Patron members and their guests. RSVPs will be required for post-screening event attendance.

Tickets range in price from $9 to $20, and are available through the Granada Theatre’s Box Office. Click here to purchase online or call the box office at 805.899.2222. Dates and film titles are subject to change.

For all sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kristi Newton, director of development, by phone at 805.451.2932 or via email at knewton@granadasb.org.

— Sydney Gardner is a publicist representing the Granada Theatre.

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Santa Barbara Crime Data Show Robberies Down, Aggravated Assaults Up

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Attached is a summary of response times and recent crime data for the City of Santa Barbara collected by the Police Department and provided to the mayor and City Council.

The following are some highlights:

» Response times: The average response times to Priority 1 (emergency life threatening), Priority 2 (emergency non-life threatening), Priority 3 (non-emergency) and Priority 4 (routine) calls for service all remained within performance objectives.

» Positive trends: The rate of robberies has been experiencing a downward trend. Year to date there has been a 44 percent decrease in robberies compared with the year-to-date figure from 2013, and a 49 percent decrease compared with the same period in 2012.

The overall rate of property crimes continues to remain low. Year to date there has been a 25 percent decrease in total property crimes compared with the year-to-date figure from 2013, and a 33 percent decrease compared with the same period in 2012. The rate of residential burglaries is significantly lower than last year. Year to date there has been a 38 percent decrease in residential burglaries compared with the year-to-date figure from 2013. The rate of burglaries and thefts from vehicles has also experienced a significant downward shift. Year to date there has been a 42 percent decrease compared with the year-to-date figure from 2013, and a 56 percent decrease compared with the same period in 2012.

» Areas of concern: The yearly figure for aggravated assaults has been trending up since 2011, with 2013 having the highest number of the last five years — 325. The year-to-date number of aggravated assaults in 2014 is 3 percent higher than that of 2013 with 174. Most aggravated assaults are alcohol or domestic violence related. Also, the rate of DUI traffic accidents remains high. The year-to-date rate of DUI traffic accidents is roughly even (1 percent decrease) with that of 2013 and is up 45 percent compared with the same period in 2012.

Additional Santa Barbara crime information and statistics can be found by clicking here.

— Sgt. Riley Harwood is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.

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Santa Barbara Airport Gearing Up for Busy Labor Day Weekend

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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The Santa Barbara Airport anticipates another busy Labor Day weekend Thursday through Monday.

Passengers should arrive 90 minutes prior to their departure to ensure an easy and enjoyable experience.

There is plenty of convenient parking within a short distance of the airline terminal. SBA’s Short Term Parking Lot, located directly across from the terminal entrance, at 500 Fowler Road, is a convenient option for those dropping off or picking up passengers.

Those who travel for short durations may also wish to consider this parking option at $20 a day ($2 for the first hour and $1 for each additional). Long Term Parking Lot 1, located adjacent to the terminal, is but a short walk to ticketing — $12 a day ($2 for the first hour and $1 for each additional).

For those picking up passengers who do not wish to park, please use our cell phone lots at the WWII Memorial off James Fowler Road or the Slough Overlook off William Moffett Road.

Due to TSA security regulations in place since Sept. 11, 2001, vehicles are not permitted to park at the terminal curb unless active loading or unloading is taking place.

We encourage all passengers to visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website page “What to Know Before You Go.”

Santa Barbara Airport offers flights to six nonstop destinations: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles, and one-stop travel to everywhere in the world.

SBA is a self-supporting enterprise owned and operated by the City Santa Barbara and serves nearly 710,000 passengers annually.

— Hazel Johns is director of the Santa Barbara Airport.

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Teen Killed in Crash That Shut Down Northbound Highway 101

By | Published on 08/28/2014

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Daniel James Perez, 16, of Santa Barbara was wrong-way driver who died at the scene after colliding with big-rig, according to CHP

A fatal accident involving a big-rig and a wrong-way teenage driver shut down northbound Highway 101 overnight between Santa Barbara and Ventura, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Although the roadway was reopened shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday, the closure caused a massive traffic tie-up throughout the night that extended into the morning commute.

The crash, involving a big-rig and a white Mustang, occurred at about 10:40 p.m. Wednesday on the freeway near Bates Road, the CHP said.

The driver of the Mustang, Daniel James Perez, 16, of Santa Barbara, entered the northbound freeway lanes from the Highway 150 offramp, said CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez.

The Mustang proceeded southbound until it clipped the left front of a Volvo tractor-trailer.

Daniel James Perez

The Mustang landed on its roof, and Perez ended up underneath and was declared dead at the scene, the CHP said.

The driver of the big-rig, Willie H. Lonie, Jr., 56, of Mississippi, was not injured.

The southbound lanes of the freeway remained open.

Some 20 gallons of diesel fuel spilled and had to be cleaned up.

Gutierrez said it had not been determined whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

Perez was a student at San Marcos High School and a member of the school's baseball team, according to Barbara Keyani, a district spokeswoman.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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High Surf Continues to Rock Santa Barbara County Beaches

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Waves up to 10 feet hit local shores Wednesday; advisory lasts through Friday

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

High surf has been a blessing for local surfers but a nuisance for some Santa Barbara boat owners, who have called for a tow or found their boat run ashore on East Beach.

Waves peaked at 6 to 10 feet Wednesday, the riskiest levels expected during the high surf advisory the National Weather Service issued this week.

The advisory, which began Tuesday and remains in effect through 6 p.m. Friday, was prompted by big waves pummeling the coastal areas of southern Santa Barbara County and further south — courtesy of Hurricane Marie, which was moving through the eastern Pacific Ocean off Mexico’s Baja California coast.

Forecasters expected damaging surf with strong rip current and significant erosion of south-and-southeast-facing beaches from Santa Barbara to Rincon Point.

An unoccupied 24-foot boat anchored year-round east of Stearns Wharf was thrown onto shore at East Beach just before high tide at 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to Harbor Patrol Supervisor Steve McCullough.

Harbor patrol has towed a handful of other boats into the harbor, including one small vessel that flipped overnight, McCullough said.

A swimmers-in-distress call Wednesday turned out to be unfounded, he said, since they got themselves out of the water.

Harbor Patrol closed the breakwater because surf spilled over onto the walkway. McCullough said a sign is up, but people could still go out, so he advised using caution.

A sailboat that broke loose from its mooring is battered by large surf at East Beach in Santa Barbara. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“The surf was picking up,” he said of high tide around 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. “Hopefully (the tide) starts backing off in the next 24 hours. It’s just a beautiful day for surfing.”

McCullough said Harbor Patrol would monitor conditions through the weekend.

Other areas of Southern California coastline haven’t been so lucky.

Port Hueneme Pier in Ventura County was pounded with historically high waves, knocking loose two support beams late Tuesday, according to the Ventura County Star.

Facilities officials there say the pier, which is closed to the public, could weaken enough to collapse if conditions continue.

The Malibu Pier was also closed Tuesday after a surfer was pulled unconscious from the water near Surfrider Beach just after high tide, later dying from his injuries.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department posted a message on Facebook warning local surfers who sought the perfect wave near UC Santa Barbara’s Campus Point.

“Hundreds of Americans drown in the ocean each year due to high surf, rip currents and other hazards. SBC reminds you, ‘When In Doubt, Stay Out!’ Please remember to only enter the water when it's safe, and you’re capable of handling the rough water, and you understand the risks.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Jobs Focus of Measure P Presentation in Santa Maria

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Opponents of the anti-fracking initiative say it would reduce employment and harm the county

Measure P, a countywide anti-fracking initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot, would lead to the loss of current and future jobs in the oil and-gas industry, along with other sectors, at time when the North County already struggles with poverty.

That was the message driven home Wednesday by speakers at what was billed as a "Job Wars Conversation" in Santa Maria.

The lunchtime session at Church for Life on Skyway Drive attracted approximately 100 people.

Speakers urged those in attendance to vote against Measure P, saying it will take a high toll on jobs.

“It is a plan to shut down the onshore oil-and-gas industry in Santa Barbara County,” said David Pratt, president of Santa Maria Energy.

Measure P would ban high-intensity petroleum operations. Its backers call it the "Healthy Air and Water Initiative to Ban Fracking."

Opponents of Measure P contend it would do much more, including shutting down operations on wells now in production, costing a thousand jobs.

“Measure P will affect existing operations just as surely as it will affect future operations,” Pratt asserted, adding that existing wells require maintenance that wouldn’t be allowed under Measure P.

Measure P proponents claim oil-and-gas production will harm air quality and water resources.

But Pratt cited reports contending air quality in the county has improved, and said allegations about water are an attempt to exploit the drought. 

He also says hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, isn’t planned for the county. 

“Simply put, Measure P is deceptive,” Pratt said. “I thought long and hard about what word I would use, and that’s the most polite one I could come up with.”

If oil production increases, property valuation would increase, giving more money for schools, firefighting and law enforcement services, he said.

In 2011, the oil and gas industry in Santa Barbara County had a $291 million economic impact, opponents of Measure P said. Additionally, oil and gas sites in 2014 are expected to generate $20.3 million in property taxes, or 3.1 percent, of the county’s total property taxes, Pratt added. 

Increased production would only see those numbers rise, Pratt added.

“Unless Measure P is defeated, it will destroy jobs and leave a big hole in the economy,” he said, urging people to vote no and drawing applause from the crowd.

Kevin Walthers, president/superintendent of Allan Hancock College, discussed the “Snapshot on Poverty in Santa Barbara County.

The report noted that 65 percent of the children living in poverty in the county reside in North County.

“Poverty is a big worry,” Walthers said. “I think we need to be very mindful of policies that exacerbate it.”

A community’s other problems, such as crime and illiteracy, often are tied to poverty, he noted.

“We’re very much worried about what happens when you limit the amount of jobs …,” Walthers said.

Of the nearby community college districts with one school, Hancock ranks at the bottom for property valuation behind Santa Barbara, Cuesta, Monterey and Hartnell. This affects the local college’s ability to issue bonds to fund new projects, he added.

Shannon Seifert, executive director of the Santa Maria Valley YMCA, recalled the high toll the recession took on the organization’s members, with jobs lost and houses going into foreclosure. 

Recounting the stories she heard from members “almost makes me cry just thinking about it,” she added. 

“I am really scared about this happening again if this measure goes through,” Seifert said. “I’m so scared of that. And it’s my own personal terror … . I don’t want to lose our quality of life, you guys.”

Several speakers noted that in addition to the lost jobs in the oil and gas industry, a multiplier effect would mean fewer jobs in other sectors.

Representatives of the Yes on Measure P campaign didn’t speak at the event. 

Later Wednesday, Katie Davis, one of the supporters of the measure, said the initiative would not affect current jobs because existing wells are exempt. 

“Oil is a tiny fraction of jobs in the county, less than 1 percent of our workforce, and extreme extraction puts the other 99 percent of jobs at risk,” Davis said. “Our economy is based on ag, tourism, tech, and a healthy environment where people want to live and do business.”

She added that increased oil production would create temporary jobs, and that it would involve specialized, imported workers at the cost of other jobs. She contended studies show that counties that rely on oil extraction have lower wages and job growth.

“Using fracking and other extreme techniques brings little benefit at high cost, and is not worth the risk for our county,” Davis added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara Gets $8.6 Million to Fund Eastside, Las Positas Biking and Walking Projects

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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The State of California has awarded the City of Santa Barbara $8.6 million to fund biking and walking transportation projects on Santa Barbara's Eastside and in the Las Positas Valley

"Funding transportation projects is increasingly difficult as people drive less and gas tax revenues reduce over time with inflation," Rob Dayton, the city's principal transportation planner, told Noozhawk. "This grant, though small in comparison to the need, is huge for Santa Barbara, and particularly for Lower Eastside residents."

The California Transportation Commission awarded the funds through the state's Active Transportation Program, which is designed to fund projects that do the following:

» Increase biking and walking trips

» Increase pedestrian and bicycle safety

» Reduce greenhouse gases

» Improve public health

» Help disadvantaged, minority and low-income communities

Santa Barbara has long pursued alternative transportation projects designed to encourage residents to use their automobiles less and pursue walking, bicycling and bussing.

The city is also currently engaged in a bicycle master plan project, intended to increase bicycle options and improve safety in the city. 

The city received $1.1 million for the installation of sidewalks and lighting on lower Milpas Street and Calle Puerto Vallarta. New sidewalks will connect Milpas Street from the train tracks to the beach.

The city also received $3.4 million to use some of the money for sidewalks as part of the Montecito Street Bridge Replacement project. 

In addition, the city plans to spend $2.7 million for lighting as well as pedestrian and bicycle bridges on Cacique and Soledad streets, over Sycamore Creek. 

Finally, $1.4 million will go toward the Las Positas Road Pathway. The pathway would extend from Cliff Drive north to Modoc Road along Las Positas Road and west along Modoc Road, connecting to the Obern trail. The total cost of that project would be about $15 million.

“We are delighted with the outcome,” Public Works Director Rebecca Bjork said. “With increasingly fewer resources available, grant opportunities such as this are critical to making community transportation projects possible.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Santa Barbara, Goleta Students Head Back to School

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Administrators and teachers welcome children for the start of a new year

Just after 8 a.m. Wednesday at Harding University Partnership School, new Principal Veronica Binkley was walking the Santa Barbara campus, greeting students and welcoming them back to school.

It was the first day of the year for Binkley and the 400 or so students enrolled this year at the school, located at 1625 Robbins St. on the city's Westside.

"Are you excited?" she called to several children sitting at a picnic table in the school's courtyard, waiting for their classrooms to open up.

They nodded her direction, though some still looked a bit sleepy and were helped along by their parents.

Binkley popped into the sixth-grade classroom of teachers Lindsay Alker and Jennifer Lindsay and introduced herself to the students.

"We're looking to you to be leaders at this school," she told them.

Several doors down, first-grade teacher Jamie Stratford was introducing herself to her students, who sat on a brightly colored rug, eager and attentive, as their parents looked on after dropping them off.

Binkley said Harding's teachers, coupled with the International Baccalaureate curriculum, are the reason for the school's quality of education.

back to school
Students at Harding University Partnership School head to class on Wednesday for the first day of the new school year. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

"I would challenge anybody to present me a more internationally-minded, action-oriented program than what's at Harding," she said.

Schools in the Goleta Union Elementary District and Santa Barbara Unified School District started class Wednesday, giving students a three-day week to transition back to school.

Most of the public K-12 districts started classes this week in southern Santa Barbara County.

At La Patera Elementary School in Goleta, Principal Ricardo Araiza spent the morning excitedly welcoming students and parents. It’s his second year at the campus, located at 555 N. La Patera Lane, and he hopes to develop more relationships between the two groups of families — those who live nearby and those who bus in their students.

The school is trying out a new intervention strategy for struggling students this year, with certificated tutors helping teachers take aside students who fall behind, Araiza said. 

La Patera teachers Tara Svensson and Laura Buratto, shown with Principal Ricardo Araiza, prepare for the first day of classes Wednesday. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Fifth-grade teacher Laura Buratto will spend the first few days having students get to know each other and do some team-building, she said.

Her class can look forward to a curriculum filled with math and science projects, field trips and U.S. history projects, such as transforming explorer reports into board games for classmates to play.

“What’s cool about teaching is you get a new group of kids and families every year — it’s like restarting your battery,” said Buratto, who has been teaching at La Patera for 21 years.

Second-grade teacher Tara Svensson agreed, saying every first day of school is like starting a new job.

“We’re so excited,” she said.

She’s worked at La Patera for her entire 19-year teaching career and said her longevity speaks highly of the school community.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

La Patera Principal Ricardo Araiza welcomes students on the first day of school. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

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Man Pleads No Contest to Fishing-Related Thefts

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Wednesday that John Anthony Wilson pleaded no contest to four felony counts of grand theft of aqua-cultural product.

The case arose from a California Fish & Wildlife investigation whereby Wilson was caught stealing crabs from other fishermen’s holding tanks in the Santa Barbara Harbor on multiple occasions.

In addition to his felony plea, Wilson pleaded to five various misdemeanor Fish & Game Code and California Code of Regulations violations stemming from his conduct of: fishing species out of season, failing to service traps within the appropriate amount of time, and failing to maintain proper accounting records and landing receipts of his commercial catch. Wilson would then transport and peddle his stolen or undocumented catch at the Hollywood and local fish markets.

In exchange for his plea, Wilson agreed to three years of felony probation and 180 days in the County Jail. The terms and conditions of his probation will also require Wilson to pay restitution to the victims and investigation costs to California Fish and Wildlife.

Sentencing is set to occur Oct. 28, after which time Wilson will not be allowed to fish, commercially or otherwise, until any pending Fish & Wildlife Fishing Commission action related to this case is completed.

“This case demonstrates Santa Barbara County’s dedication to our fishing community, and to those fishermen who do their utmost to abide by all the laws and regulations in the course of their profession that help protect our local resources,” Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod said.

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Bill to Ban Offshore Drilling at Tranquillon Ridge Fails on Assembly Floor

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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A bill seeking to ban offshore drilling in an area off of Vandenberg Air Force Base went before the California Assembly on Tuesday night, but could not get the needed votes to move forward after facing significant opposition from the oil industry.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson put forward Senate Bill 1096, which sought to ban offshore drilling at Tranquillon Ridge, located in state waters, but the bill garnered only 29 votes in favor, while 41 were needed to pass the item. Thirty-six people voted against the bill, with many saying they wanted to keep authority with the State Lands Commission.

The vote ends the bill's chance of passing this year because the deadline for both houses to pass legislation ends Sunday.

In 2007, Tranquillon Ridge was designated as a Marine Protected Area, and was been the subject of high-profile brokering between environmentalists and Plains Exploration and Production, or PXP.

The oil company had agreed to directional drill into the area's reserves until 2022, when it would have withdrawn from the operation and donated land as a permanent conservation easement. That deal ultimately fell through when the State Lands Commission voted against it with a 2-1 vote in 2009.

Energy company Sunset Exploration also has been researching a directional drilling operation in the area with ExxonMobil as a partner and maintains no infrastructure would be placed in the marine environment.

The company's president, Bob Nunn, said in a statement Wednesday that the company is prepared to meet the environmental standards put forward by the State Lands Commission and the Coastal Commission.

“We are grateful that the California Legislature recognized the wisdom of not preventing local and state government and regulatory bodies the opportunity to evaluate this project on its merits," Nunn said. "We’re confident that once these bodies recognize we are using safe and proven technology to develop California resources for the benefit of California, support for our project will continue to grow.”

Jackson said in a statement she was "disappointed" by what happened Tuesday night, but remains committed to protecting that area of the coastline from new offshore drilling "for the long haul."

Assemblyman Das Williams, who co-authored the bill with Jackson, argued on the Assembly floor that the bill would have disallowed offshore drilling "in the last place in the state where a lease could potentially be issued."

"I believe that the sensitive marine habitat off the Santa Barbara County coast deserves the same protection as the rest of California's coastline," Williams said, adding that he will continue to fight for protection of the marine environment.

Both cited the California Coastal Sanctuary Act, which states that offshore oil and gas production in certain areas poses an "unacceptably high risk" of damage to marine environments.

Jackson and Williams maintained that the bill would close a loophole in state law that left Tranquillon Ridge vulnerable to offshore drilling, because it extends into state and federal waters, where reserves are being tapped at Platform Irene.

That "loophole" states that a lease could be entered into for oil extraction if the oil is being drained to producing wells on adjacent federal lands and "the lease is in the best interests of the state."

“Even the slightest chance of an oil spill in a Marine Protected Area far outweighs any potential benefit to the state,” Jackson said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Ken Williams: Those Who Made a Difference — Sinners and Saints, Part II

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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[Click here to read part one.]

As usual, there is another side to this story: the hidden heroes of Santa Barbara who shined brightly in the shadows.

John J. ran the Salvation Army in the beginning of this crisis. He was also the manager of one of the hotels mentioned earlier. This man was deeply religious. His problem was that he took the teaching of Christ to heart. For him, the homeless neighbor was neither a bum nor transient, but rather a child of God in need of help.

His compassion was endless. When he ran the shelter, he never came up with creative ways to deny services to the poor. Instead, he would throw open the doors of the shelter during savage rainstorms to offer a helping hand, even though the powers that be threatened to shut him down. I remember climbing over a prone mentally ill woman once so John and I could strategize how to get mental health to offer her services.

Rosemary V. worked at Catholic Charities. She would always call me “My Kenny.” She was the most kind-hearted woman I have ever known. In her gentle way, she would insist on government agencies helping the increasing flood of homeless refugees she found sleeping in her parking lot and on her steps. This remarkable woman helped me establish a children’s soup kitchen, Maritza’s Cosina, and a home for pregnant mentally ill homeless woman, AMBR House.

Throughout the years, Dr. Bloom worked quietly to help war-damaged veterans at the V.A. Clinic. Dr. Gaines, chief medical doctor, did the same. He also volunteers weekly to help the homeless in general at a feed program. Both men treat veterans with dignity and respect that is often lacking within Veterans Affairs. If one truly wants to fix a dysfunctional V.A., duplicating these caring men would be an excellent start.

Several years back, one of Santa Barbara’s premier oncologists approached me. She wanted to volunteer to go out on my rounds, to offer her services free of charge to those who needed medical help. For years, on a weekly basis, this incredible woman did just that. Countless lives were saved, and compassion and dignity were shown by this woman to those who usually go without. She affectionately won the nickname Dr. J from those she touched.

Then there were the countless nurses who never forgot why they had chosen nursing as a calling. Jan F., Linda H., Kathy M. and Donna W. come readily to mind. (Disclosure: Donna is my wife.) More than any other profession, nurses as a whole hold onto their humanity and caring hearts regardless of the strait-jacketing, mind-numbing bureaucracies they work for. For seven years I was privileged to run Project Healthy Neighbors — a mobile medical clinic for the homeless and poor. The real backbone of this project were the nurses from Public Health, Cottage Hospital and the private section who worked countless hours making it a success.

Over 30 years ago, I was introduced to Chuck, a philanthropist who wanted to help not only the homeless and poor but also those who served them. I was warned that he might be a CIA plant. (Luckily, I chose to ignore such flights of fancy.) Little did I know then that that meeting was the beginning of a deep and ongoing friendship, and that he was the first of many well-off individuals who cared deeply for those less fortunate than themselves and would do anything to help: Merryl B., Roger H., Leslie R., Sara M., Nancy A., Ken S. and the FUND families, and my Jewish saints who insist on remaining nameless.

I must also acknowledge the local media that chose and choose freedom of speech, and the right for the homeless and poor, for a voice by running my articles. First and foremost is Noozhawk, but also the Independent — Nick Walsh and Marianna Partridge — and most surprisingly, the News-Press, which, back in the day, ran my article for years. If the harsh emails and rejoinders that I received are any indication of the pressure that it was under to silence my voice, it took real courage and dedication to the ideas of a free press for it not to do so. In fact, one of the editors told me that every time they ran anything approaching a compassionate article on the homeless, a delegation from the business community would find their way into his office the next day.

I know there are people not mentioned in this article who should be, and I apologize. At the end of the movie Platoon, Charlie Sheehan, riding on a chopper out of battle, commiserates on how his soul was being torn between the two sergeants he fought with. At times I find myself in the same dilemma. On the one hand are the saints I have been privileged to know and work with. Finer people, more compassionate people simply don’t exist. On the other hand are my journals and memories of hundreds of our neighbors without homes, many without hope who died on these cold and unforgiving streets. Their memories, their plight, their faces lacerate my soul.

I know the truth lies somewhere in between. Pain and gratitude battle on their own terms. And Death becomes the arbitrator of good versus killing indifference.

Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Jim Hightower: Gov. Perry’s Clown Show

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Trial lawyers will tell you that any good prosecutor could convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

Well, meet that ham sandwich! Here in my burg of Austin, Texas, a grand jury has just indicted Gov. Rick "Rooti-Toot-Toot" Perry, a real ham — only not as smart.

He's charged with official abuse of power — specifically, threatening to veto all state funding for a public integrity unit that, among other things, was investigating corrupt favoritism in one of the governor's pet projects. Perry was trying to muscle out of office the woman who is the duly elected head of that unit, presumably to halt its inquiry. Leave office, he publicly barked at her, or I'll take away all your money. She didn't, and he did.

Not smart, for that's an illegal quid pro quo, much like linking a campaign donation to an official favor. This led to a judge, a special prosecutor, a grand jury and now the indictment of the gubernatorial ham sandwich.

Perry and his Republican operatives quickly denounced and even threatened both the special prosecutor and the jurors as partisan hacks who, in Perry's words, "will be held to account." Thuggish as that is, the national media have mostly swallowed Perry's hokum that he's the victim, indicted for nothing more than exercising his veto power. It's crude politics, he howled. But political candidates should avoid getting defensive — as old-timers put it, any candidate who's explaining, is losing.

So it's a hoot to watch Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry try to explain away his felony indictment for abusing his gubernatorial power. His first ploy has been to try dodging real questions by turning the indictment into a circus.

He literally mugged for the cameras when getting his mugshot taken as he turned this courthouse moment into a raucous Republican political rally. Image consultants had advised him to ditch the horn-rim glasses that previous image makers had told him to wear so he'd look smarter. Also, he wore a light-blue tie, for the consultants said that color conveys trust. Of course, he always coifs his trademark hair, but they also told him to apply skin makeup to avert any sweaty look and to put cool packs on his eyes on the morning of the shot so he wouldn't look haggard or ... well, guilty. Think pleasant thoughts as the picture is snapped, they instructed, and smile — but a humble smile, not an overconfident one.

Perry did all of the above, except the humble smile, giving his usual arrogant smirk instead. The day before his courthouse circus opened, Ringmaster Rick brought in the clowns — a whole troupe of $450-an-hour, hotshot lawyers wearing red power ties, came blustering onstage with Perry from out of a back room, as though tumbling out of a tiny clown car. Introduced as the indictee's legal dream team, each tried to outdo the other in a slapstick show of resumes, puffing themselves up as junkyard-tough lawyers who would shred this prosecutor and his flimsy case.

Meant to show how strong Perry is, the pack of lawyers only raised another question for Perry in the public mind: If the charges against you are nothing, as you keep saying, why do you need so many heavyweight, extremely pricey lawyers?

Perry has hornswoggled the pundits, but don't let them fool you — Perry clearly abused his power as governor. Again, the issue is not Perry's veto, but his linking of a veto threat to his effort to oust an elected public official. As for his hamming it up about being a poor victim of Democrats, the judge who appointed the prosecutor is a Republican, and the prosecutor himself was nominated to federal office by President Bush I, and endorsed by the Texas' Republican senators. This indictment is not a show. It's way more serious than Perry is, and the real explaining he'll have to do will be in a somber courthouse — under oath.

To keep up with Perry's circus, go to Texans for Public Justice by clicking here.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @JimHightower, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Harris Grade Fire Declared Fully Contained

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Some 20 acres were charred in blaze blamed on vehicle's malfunctioning catalytic converter

Firefighters worked through the night to contain a vegetation fire that charred some 20 acres on the Harris Grade near Lompoc on Wednesday, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The blaze was declared fully contained at 3 p.m. Thursday, said fire Capt. David Sadecki.​

Crews will be patrolling the fire area through Friday morning, Sadecki said.

Firefighters were dispatched shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday to the blaze, which broke out near the top of the grade, apparently sparked by a passing vehicle's malfunctioning catalytic converter, Sadecki said.

When the fire broke out, it was burning at a moderate rate in heavy brush on the east side of Harris Grade, Sadecki said, adding that no structures were threatened.

"The fire was slope driven and burned in pine trees," Sadecki said.

There was light wind in the area, and temperatures were in the high 70s, he said. 

Eleven engines, three bulldozers, four hand crews, eight air tankers, and two helicopters responded.

County crews were assisted by the Lompoc Fire Department, the Vandenberg Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service, CalFire, the California Highway Patrol and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Harris Grade Road was shut down at Highway 135 and Burton Mesa Boulevard, and parts of it remained closed Thursday afternoon, Sadecki said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Artificial Intelligence, Real Vision: UCSB Professor Matthew Turk Recognized for His Work

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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UC Santa Barbara computer science professor Matthew Turk has been elected Fellow by the International Association for Pattern Recognition.

Matthew Turk
UCSB professor Matthew Turk

He is cited by IAPR for his “contributions to computer vision and vision-based interaction.”

Turk was chosen from a select group of IAPR members: Only 0.25 percent of the organization’s membership is eligible for election to Fellow in any given two-year period. He received his award at a ceremony of the International Conference on Pattern Recognition in Stockholm, Sweden.

“This award for Professor Turk is a well-deserved, prestigious recognition from colleagues in computer vision around the world,” said Rod Alferness, dean of the College of Engineering. “His significant contributions to the field of vision-based interaction are highly valuable to the global research community and to the UCSB campus.”

Computer vision and vision-based interaction are facets of artificial intelligence that study how machines can process images as data and respond according to that data. Examples of such technology are ubiquitous in our society, from machines that inspect food for quality during processing, to surveillance systems that can recognize faces, to  more recent and futuristic developments, such as Google Glass and self-driving cars.

“I’m honored to be joining this group of IAPR Fellows who are distinguished leaders, mentors and colleagues in the field of pattern recognition,” Turk said. “Their contributions have advanced research and enabled new capabilities and products in computer vision, biometrics, document analysis, multimedia, data mining, machine learning and many other areas.”

Key application areas of Turk’s work include augmented reality, computational photography, mobile computing and vision-based and multimodal interaction. His work is largely interdisciplinary, including collaborations with researchers in areas such as psychology, geography, electrical engineering, art and music.

He joined the UCSB faculty in 2000 and served as chair of the Media Arts and Technology (MAT) graduate program from 2005-2010. He currently co-directs the Four Eyes Lab, a research unit of both MAT and the Department of Computer Science.

Turk’s research has been recognized by leading organizations in his field. In 2000, he received the “Most Influential Paper of the Decade” award at IAPR's workshop on machine vision applications. He went on to receive several more top paper awards in subsequent years from the International Communication Association, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the  International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality.

In 2011, he received the Fulbright-Nokia Distinguished Chair in Information and Communications Technologies and in 2013 he was elected to Fellow of IEEE for “contributions to computer vision and perceptual interfaces.”

— Sonia Fernandez represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Letter to the Editor: Mother Urges Cottage Hospital to Obtain Baby-Friendly Status

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Dear pediatricians of Santa Barbara,

I am writing to ask you as a local mom to support Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital obtaining official Baby-Friendly status as defined by the World Health Organization.

Most of the hospitals that surround us, including those in Ventura, Santa Paula, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Los Angeles (with Santa Maria in progress) are official WHO Baby-Friendly hospitals. Many concerned members of this community believe Santa Barbara families deserve this designation as well and have shown their support by signing the petition on Change.org.

What would becoming Baby-Friendly mean for our only maternal provider within a 60-mile radius of our town? Among many wonderful and critical things, Baby-Friendly hospitals provide ample training for their staff in the latest practices that support breastfeeding, including putting babies to breast within one hour after birth, even in the case of C-sections. And contrary to what many in our local medical community assume, Baby-Friendly hospitals are still allowed to give formula where medically indicated or at the request of the parents. (Click here to read more about the 10 steps Baby-Friendly hospitals implement.)

As part of the ongoing local effort to encourage positive change and raise awareness, I hope you will accept my invitation to a special screening of The Milky Way, a newly released, award-winning documentary about breastfeeding in America. The screening will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

As respected local pediatricians, your support of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital becoming Baby-Friendly is critical. I hope you will show your support by signing the petition or letting Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital know in some other way that you support them securing official Baby-Friendly status.

Thank you for your commitment to the health and well-being of our community's most vulnerable. I hope you will accept my invitation to the Santa Barbara premiere screening of The Milky Way at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History this Thursday.

Sincerely,

Kristen Walker, resident and mother
Santa Barbara

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Laurie Jervis: How Diverse Is Your Wine Palate?

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Diverse (adj): "Various, varied, varying, sundry, all means of, different, differing, assorted, mixed, unlike, dissimilar, contrasting, miscellaneous, separate, several, distinct."

During the Sta. Rita Hills Wine Growers' Alliance Wine and Fire seminar earlier this month, wine writer and reviewer Josh Raynolds noted that experienced wine drinkers have "diverse" cellars because, over time, their palates change.

In their cellars, there's a bit of this, a bit of that. Sometimes: Lots of that, and none of this. Other bottles lie in wait, gathering dust, until they return to favor with the cellar master.

Why? Because the palates of prolific wine consumers evolve over time. What we loved back when, we don't necessarily even sip anymore.

Take my cellar: Therein lie about 10 bottles of cabernet sauvignons, zinfandels or red Bordeaux blends. All are more than five years old.

My palate currently tolerates only pinot noir, grenache, rosé or sauvignon blanc, so the heartier red wines — and all the other grape varietals bottled into wine — might as well not even be in my cellars. 

Backstory: More than 30 years ago, a friend introduced me to red wine. Across the board, the reds we consumed were cabernet sauvignon, and most of it hailed from Chile and Napa County.

Today, I couldn't swallow a big cabernet sauvignon, even were it paired with hard cheeses and chocolate, a hearty beef stew, and served before a roaring fire on a snowy night.

Or, as Sommelier Rick Bakas says: A wine drinker morphs from "Boone's Farm to chardonnay to buttery chardonnay, to chardonnay with acid, to Grand Cru chardonnay, and finally, to Champagne. 

Not that buttery chardonnay is a bad thing, mind you, if that's what your palate appreciates.

Because your palate has taught you what to appreciate in a wine, and as long as you continue to taste wines, your palate will continue to say "yes" or "no" with every sip you take.

So trust that palate of yours, and it will never let you down.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via winecountrywriter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Pop Legend Engelbert Humperdinck to Perform at Chumash Casino Resort

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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International pop sensation Engelbert Humperdinck brings his North American tour to the Chumash Casino Resort’s Samala Showroom at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18.

Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck will entertain fans at the Chumash Casino Resort on Sept. 18.

Tickets for the show are $25, $35 and $45.

Humperdinck, who has crooned his way into the hearts of adoring fans worldwide, will appear in the intimate, 1,400-seat Samala Showroom just days before the U.S. release of his latest album, Engelbert Calling.

The longtime Las Vegas icon has become a legend in the music industry, compiling 63 gold and 24 platinum records, four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for Entertainer of the Year (1988) and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His classic hits include “Release Me,” “After the Lovin,” “The Last Waltz,” “The Way It Used to Be,” “A Man Without Love” and the unforgettable “Quando, Quando, Quando,” among others.

In the past decade, he has joined an elite group of musical artists, such as Tony Bennett and Burt Bacharach, who have crossed over successfully to strike a new chord with a younger generation in addition to their core audiences.

Humperdinck recently completed recording his first duets CD, Engelbert Calling, which features tracks with Sir Elton John, Willie Nelson , Shelby Lynne, Charles Aznavour, Johnny Mathis, Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers and Gene Simmons, to name a few.

The CD is scheduled to be released in the United States on Sept. 30.

Don’t miss an opportunity to see this legendary performer when he takes the stage in one of the most popular music venues in Santa Barbara County.

Located on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, the Chumash Casino Resort is an age 18-or-older venue. Tickets for all events are available at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Club Chumash or online by clicking here.

Mike Traphagen is a public relations specialist for the Chumash Casino Resort.

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Steve Jacobsen Joins La Casa de Maria as Co-Director

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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La Casa de Maria announces the selection of Steve Jacobsen, Ed.D., to fill a new position of co-director.

Jacobsen will join Stephanie Glatt, IHM, to lead the retreat and conference center, with Glatt focusing on internal operations and continued facility renewal and Jacobsen focusing on program development, community relations, and fundraising.

“Everyone is thrilled to have Steve step into this new leadership role,” said Glatt, who has been at La Casa for 37 years. “With his 20 year service as a member of our board and his background in nonprofit leadership, spirituality, interfaith activities, education, and community service, Steve brings a unique set of skills and relationships to La Casa de Maria and its unique potential to have a powerful impact on our society.”

Prior to this position, Jacobsen was executive director of Hospice of Santa Barbara for 5½ years and a Presbyterian pastor for 27. He holds degrees from UCSB, Princeton Theological Seminary and Seattle University, and was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Religious Studies at UCSB in 2000.

Glatt, a member of the Immaculate Heart Community, has served as director of La Casa since 2005.

“La Casa has an extraordinary history of being a place where many diverse individuals and organizations find healing, hope, inspiration, and wisdom,” Jacobsen said. “This is a dream come true for me to help La Casa write its next chapter as we seek new opportunities and partnerships to make a difference in the world.”

The nonprofit organization has just concluded two successful capital campaigns: paying off its mortgage and funding the update of its facilities.

“With major improvements now completed to our facilities and infrastructure, we now look to expand our influence in the local community and beyond and Steve’s critical role in this new chapter,” Glatt said. “I look forward to working with Steve, our staff and board to preserve La Casa’s legacy and explore these new and exciting directions.”

Founded in 1956, La Casa de Maria and its Center for Spiritual Renewal are situated on 26 acres in Montecito. It hosts approximately 12,000 people a year who come either as individuals or as part of educational, nonprofit and spiritual groups for learning, reflection and renewal. La Casa de Maria was recently featured  in The New York Times and in 2006, was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top retreat centers in America.

— Flannery Hill is a publicist representing La Casa de Maria.

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Gun Violence Restraining Order Bill Passes Last Hurdle in Senate

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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The Senate has passed a bill authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, which would allow for the temporary removal of firearms from individuals who are at-risk for committing acts of violence.

Assembly Bill 1014 is moving on to the Assembly for a hearing and full vote of the house before the end of the month.

“This is a huge success for our community,” Williams said. “The tragedy in Isla Vista is a horrific example of how our mental health laws and gun laws are not working together. This bill will help close the gap and provide the necessary legal tools to empower immediate family members and law enforcement to protect loved ones and the public from the dangers of gun violence.”

Under the provisions of this bill, a gun violence restraining order would be signed by a judge, and temporarily prohibit a named person from owning, purchasing or possessing firearms (or ammunition) who has proven to be at risk for committing acts of violence. Immediate family can request an ex parte GVRO, which lasts 21 days, and can extend it up to a year, after a notice and a hearing. In addition, law enforcement would have the ability to investigate threats and ask a judge to grant an emergency GVRO, which would last 21 days.

"Nothing can bring back the life of my son, but there are common-sense solutions that can help ensure other loved ones aren't killed by preventable gun violence," said Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez. "This bill will save lives and spare other families from suffering the anguish we experience each day."​

Just like a domestic violence restraining order, a GVRO is temporary. The person who is affected by the order cannot possess or purchase a firearm while the order is in effect, but regains his or her right to possess firearms when the order expires or is revoked by the court. AB 1014 also makes it a misdemeanor to petition for a GVRO knowing the information in the petition to be false or with the intent to harass the named individual.

Earlier in the day, family members of three college students who were killed in the recent Isla Vista shooting joined lawmakers at the state Capitol in support of AB 1014 and released a letter asking legislative leaders and Gov. Brown to support AB 1014. The letter can be found here.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson joins Williams and Skinner as a principal co-author of AB1014. The bill now goes to the Assembly, to be heard in the Committee on Public Safety.

Jeannette Sanchez is the district director for Assemblyman Das Williams.

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Santa Barbara Family YMCA Offers Healthy Living Tips for National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and as a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Santa Barbara Family YMCA offers the following tips to help families in Santa Barbara incorporate regular physical activity and healthy eating into their lives.

The following tips will not only help families live healthier together but help prevent childhood obesity as well:

» Eat healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate portions of 100 percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) and make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options. Feel free to mix and match fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables to provide variety.

» Play every day/go outside: Kids should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (when possible) and break a sweat at least three times a week by getting 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity.

» Get together: Eat as a family as frequently as possible with kids involved in meal preparation and cleanup. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-on-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.

» Reduce screen time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video games should be limited to two hours per day.

» Sleep well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule — 10 to 12 hours per night for kids and seven to eight hours for adults.

Click here for more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life.

— Andrea Opfer is the marketing director for the Santa Barbara Family YMCA.

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UCSB Professor’s Research Examines 13,000-Year-Old Nanodiamonds from Three Continents

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Most of North America’s megafauna — mastodons, short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and American camels and horses — disappeared close to 13,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene period. The cause of this massive extinction has long been debated by scientists who, until recently, could only speculate as to why.

A group of scientists, including UC Santa Barbara’s James Kennett, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science, posited that a comet collision with Earth played a major role in the extinction.

Their hypothesis suggests that a cosmic-impact event precipitated the Younger Dryas period of global cooling close to 12,800 years ago. This cosmic impact caused abrupt environmental stress and degradation that contributed to the extinction of most large animal species then inhabiting the Americas. According to Kennett, the catastrophic impact and the subsequent climate change also led to the disappearance of the prehistoric Clovis culture, known for its big game hunting, and to human population decline.

In a new study published this week in the Journal of Geology, Kennett and an international group of scientists have focused on the character and distribution of nanodiamonds, one type of material produced during such an extraterrestrial collision. The researchers found an abundance of these tiny diamonds distributed over 50 million square kilometers across the Northern Hemisphere at the Younger Dryas boundary (YDB). This thin, carbon-rich layer is often visible as a thin black line a few meters below the surface.

Kennett and investigators from 21 universities in six countries investigated nanodiamonds at 32 sites in 11 countries across North America, Europe and the Middle East. Two of the sites are just across the Santa Barbara Channel from UCSB: one at Arlington Canyon on Santa Rosa Island, the other at Daisy Cave on San Miguel Island.

“We conclusively have identified a thin layer over three continents, particularly in North America and Western Europe, that contain a rich assemblage of nanodiamonds, the production of which can be explained only by cosmic impact,” Kennett said. “We have also found YDB glassy and metallic materials formed at temperatures in excess of 2200 degrees Celsius, which could not have resulted from wildfires, volcanism or meteoritic flux, but only from cosmic impact.”

The team found that the YDB layer also contained larger than normal amounts of cosmic impact spherules, high-temperature melt-glass, grapelike soot clusters, charcoal, carbon spherules, osmium, platinum and other materials. But in this paper the researchers focused their multi-analytical approach exclusively on nanodiamonds, which were found in several forms, including cubic (the form of diamonds used in jewelry) and hexagonal crystals.

“Different types of diamonds are found in the YDB assemblages because they are produced as a result of large variations in temperature, pressure and oxygen levels associated with the chaos of an impact,” Kennett explained. “These are exotic conditions that came together to produce the diamonds from terrestrial carbon; the diamonds did not arrive with the incoming meteorite or comet.”

Based on multiple analytical procedures, the researchers determined that the majority of the materials in the YDB samples are nanodiamonds and not some other kinds of minerals. The analysis showed that the nanodiamonds consistently occur in the YDB layer over broad areas.

“There is no known limit to the YDB strewnfield which currently covers more than 10 percent of the planet, indicating that the YDB event was a major cosmic impact,” Kennett said. “The nanodiamond datum recognized in this study gives scientists a snapshot of a moment in time called an isochron.”

To date, scientists know of only two layers in which more than one identification of nanodiamonds has been found: the YDB 12,800 years ago and the well-known Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary 65 million years ago, which is marked by the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, ammonites and many other groups.

“The evidence we present settles the debate about the existence of abundant YDB nanodiamonds,” Kennett said. “Our hypothesis challenges some existing paradigms within several disciplines, including impact dynamics, archaeology, paleontology and paleoceanography/paleoclimatology, all affected by this relatively recent cosmic impact.”

— Julie Cohen represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Opposes Measure P

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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At its meeting on Monday, the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region approved the following statement:

The Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce urges its members to vote no on Measure P on the November ballot. This position was taken following two lengthy presentations to the chamber’s Government Relations Council from the proponents and opponents of Measure P. The GRC voted unanimously to recommend that the chamber oppose Measure P.

The chamber’s position is based on the following concerns:

» First: The ballot measure is written in a way that is likely to mislead voters. Its title says that it is a ban on “fracking.”

This is misleading for two reasons: There is no fracking in Santa Barbara County, and the ballot measure also prohibits many other forms of oil and gas extraction. A voter would have to read the entirety of the lengthy and complicated measure to understand that its impact is far greater than suggested by the title.

» Second: Measure P is not necessary or appropriate. It prohibits oil and gas production techniques that have been used safely and responsibly in Santa Barbara County for many decades. There is no significant evidence that these techniques — including using steam made from undrinkable water — are likely to cause adverse environmental or health impacts.

» Third: Measure P is likely to result in shutting down existing oil and gas operations in Santa Barbara County. An impartial analysis prepared by Santa Barbara County found that 100 percent of the active oil and gas wells currently use one or more of the production techniques prohibited by Measure P.

While the proponents of Measure P assert that existing oil and gas operations are not going to be closed, the ballot measure’s language does not support this claim. If the drafters of the measure intended to allow existing operations to continue, they could and should have included language clearly so stating. It is unfortunate that this major defect in the language of the ballot measure cannot be cured.

» Fourth: Measure P is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the local economy. The energy industry estimates that Measure P could result in a loss of $291 million to the local economy. More than a thousand jobs — mostly well-paid blue collar positions — would be lost. There is a ripple effect when an industry loses so many jobs, because the newly unemployed can no longer buy groceries, pay rent, buy clothes, and otherwise contribute to the local economy.

» Fifth: Measure P will have a significant impact on public services. The county’s impartial analysis found that in 2013 the county received $16.4 million in revenues from onshore oil and gas production. Of this amount, the schools received $10.2 million and fire services received $2.1 million. Legal experts — including Santa Barbara’s own county counsel — are predicting a great deal of litigation over Measure P, which will cost the county a great deal of money to defend. In addition, the county is facing substantial liability from the owners of mineral rights who have a legal right to claim that Measure P results in a “taking” of their property, thus entitling them to sue for damages. The county’s liability for damages and litigation expenses could exceed $100 million.

For more information on this position, please contact Ken Oplinger at 805.965.3023.

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CHP Schedules ‘Start Smart’ Driving Class in Buellton

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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The Buellton office of the California Highway Patrol has announced there are openings available for the next Start Smart classes scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10.

Anyone who is interested in enrolling their sons or daughters (ages 15 to 20) for this free one-time, two-hour class can make reservations by calling the Buellton CHP area office at 805.688.5551.

The class will be held at the California Highway Patrol office at 166 Industrial Way in Buellton.

Start Smart addresses traffic safety issues that directly affect new drivers in a way no other program does. Start Smart speaks directly to the newly licensed drivers and their parents/guardians.

Some of the topics of this class include collision avoidance techniques, collision causing elements, driver responsibilities, local collision trends and a viewing of Red Asphalt V. This 15-minute film emphasizes the necessity to drive responsibly and the consequences drivers face when they don’t.

For reservations, information or questions please contact the Santa Maria CHP office at 805.688.5551.

— Officer John Ortega represents the California Highway Patrol in Buellton.

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Kristen Miller: No Election Needed for Goleta City Council, But There Are Other Races to Watch

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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This year, the Goleta election story is unique. Three seats on the City Council were up for election (there are five seats total) and Roger Aceves, Michael T. Bennett and Paula Perotte filed papers to run for re-election. No challengers opted to run, so the election is canceled and the three incumbents will retain their seats.

So what does this mean? From the perspective of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce this is good news. We have been satisfied with the council’s direction for the past several years, noting that the council has a balance of individuals with a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints and, in general, their decisions have been logical.

Gone are the days of cliques and voting blocs. We have enjoyed a council that is open to discussion, proactive, thorough and conscientious. It also means that our community avoids a possibly contentious election and the resulting hyperbole and divisiveness.

But does it mean that nobody cares? I don’t think so. Goletans tend to be very engaged and passionate about local government. Seven candidates applied for the open seat that was appointed recently. And last year’s poll, conducted by the City of Goleta to learn about constituents’ views on the revenue-neutrality agreement with Santa Barbara County also asked questions about right-track/wrong track and general approval rating. In that survey, the city’s performance scored very well.

Interestingly, the Goleta Union School District has the same situation with its Board of Trustees. Three seats were up for election on a five-member board. Rich Mayer and Luz Reyes-Martin indicated their desire to continue to serve. Valerie Kushnerov decided not to run again and Carin Ezal filed, so all three candidates will be appointed in lieu of election. Similarly, they had six community members apply for an open seat that was filled by appointment in March.

The Santa Barbara Unified School District has a similar story with no challengers, as does our local Goleta West Sanitary District.

The Goleta Water District has a different story, as not surprisingly water issues are top of mind for everyone right now. The district has two incumbents and two challengers running for two seats. The incumbents are Bert Bertrando and Jack Cunningham and the challengers are Meg West (currently on the Goleta Planning Commission) and Charles McClure. In the fall, the Goleta Valley chamber will hold a forum to hear directly from these candidates about their priorities and plans for serving during a vitally important time for water service in Goleta.

And the Goleta Sanitary District has a race — incumbents Jerry Smith and Steven Majoewsky are being challenged by two names familiar to chamber members — Ed Easton, our former mayor and city councilman who recently resigned because he moved to a new home outside the city limits, and Phebe Mansur, an Old Town business owner who has volunteered on several community committees. Beverly Herbert is also running, which makes five candidates competing for two seats.

There are surely many factors in the equation that resulted in no election for some of these agencies, including the City of Goleta. Analysis from the Goleta Valley chamber’s perspective is that this is a positive endorsement of the city’s direction, and we agree with the assessment.

— Kristen Miller is president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Tracy Shawn: Chiari Association Reaches Out to Sufferers of Little-Known Disease

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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“The mission of the International Chiari Association is to educate and inform the public about Chiari malformation. It is the ICA's goal to bring awareness and research to this little-known, serious neurological disorder to help those with Chiari and the people that care about them.”

Q: Pete, you founded ICA in 2011 with the assistance of some of your fellow Santa Barbara High School alumni. Please tell us briefly about the disease and why you started this 501(c) (3) nonprofit, public benefit organization.

A: Chiari (kee-AR-ee) malformation is a serious neurological disorder where the lower part of the brain, the cerebellum (which controls balance and coordination), descends into the spinal canal.

During my journey, I was frustrated at the lack of resources and support for Chiari, and that is why I started the International Chiari Association. There are 33 people on the ICA team (board members and advisors combined). I've known the entire board since we were all at Santa Barbara High School. I've my known my VP/treasurer, Robert Mislang, since Cleveland School.

Since I know the board's personalities and they know mine, we were able to hit the ground running, not walking, and this was especially important because the ICA has been a pioneer in the Chiari world.

Q: Please share more about your own personal journey with Chiari.

A: I was born with Chiari, but it took 36 years before I was diagnosed. While 300,000 people have been diagnosed with Chiari in the U.S., it is not well known — even among doctors and nurses. I always had to work hard to help take care of my family so I figured that I should be tired. I should have pain. When I did complain, doctors couldn't find the problem. Finally in 2000, I had to resign my job as a magazine editor. I then went from doctor to doctor for eight straight years before being diagnosed with Chiari in 2008. An MRI revealed the malformation and I underwent surgery on May 11, 2009.

While there is no cure for Chiari, my health has improved dramatically. I feel so much better; it is like night and day different.

Q: On the ICA’s website you state, “I often tell people that we can’t change the past, but we can make things better for the future.” Please explain how this mantra affects how you run ICA.

A: The past is history and the future is a mystery. We can only learn from the past, but we can focus on today and prepare for the future. That is the focus of the ICA. We help people every day, as well as raise money for Chiari research and report on Chiari research that is taking place all over the world.

Q: Pete, you have suffered greatly from this debilitating disease. What advice would you offer someone who is battling any serious illness?

A: You have to keep fighting the good fight. There are always people who are dealing with more problems than you are. Some days they may be harder to find, but they are out there. Looking back, there were many days when I wanted to give up and cried myself to sleep in so much pain while wondering what misery tomorrow would bring. As I often tell people, you can't give up. What if I gave up? I would be in a wheelchair without a Chiari diagnosis and the ICA wouldn't exist. I'm thankful every day that I have had the courage to hang in there.

Q: Please tell us about your upcoming third annual Chiari Awareness Celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 at Tucker’s Grove, and how Santa Barbara businesses and individuals can help — and also enjoy this family-friendly event!

A: I'm looking forward to our celebration as it will feature food, drinks, live music, a silent auction, arts and crafts, an appearance by ICA mascot Courage the Bear and much more. Admission and parking are free. If someone and/or their business would like to make a financial donation or a silent-auction donation, their tax-deductible gift will also be acknowledged during my opening remarks at the event, as well as on the ICA's website, Facebook page and Twitter page.

There are many great causes out there, but the ICA is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that helps people and spreads Chiari awareness every day. You will be making an immediate impact.

— Tracy Shawn, M.A., lives and writes on the Central Coast of California. Her award-winning debut novel, The Grace of Crows, is about how an anxiety-ridden woman finds happiness through the most unexpected of ways — and characters. Dubbed a “stunning debut novel” by top 50 Hall of Fame reviewer Grady Harp, The Grace of Crows has also been hailed as an accurate portrayal of generalized anxiety disorder and a healing opportunity to the readers. Click here for more information about Shawn, or click here to visit her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter: @TracyShawn. The opinions expressed are her own.

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SBCC Students Attend Summer INSET Program

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Six Santa Barbara City College students were among the nine participants in the Internships in Nanosystems Science, Engineering and Technology (INSET) program this summer on the UC Santa Barbara campus.

The program brought together science and engineering community college undergraduates who gained firsthand research experience in a dynamic, collaborative research environment.

The interns were matched individually with UCSB faculty and graduate student laboratory mentors who provided training and support. They also attended weekly meetings and special seminars, and had the opportunity to develop their presentation skills.

The INSET program is hosted by the California NanoSystems Institute, a collaborative effort established by the State of California and located on the UCSB and UCLA campuses. It targets the scientific and technological possibilities of working at the molecular scale drawing upon a broad scope of disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, materials science, computation and media arts.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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Santa Barbara Team Helps Solve Death Valley Mystery

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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Many theories have been offered to explain rock movements at La Playa Racetrack

Santa Barbara is the home of many notable “firsts,” including the Egg McMuffin, hydraulic brakes, Sambo’s restaurant, Motel 6, Ranch dressing and more modernly First Thursday.

Now we can add to that illustrious list this thrilling accomplishment: A team of amateur scientists from Santa Barbara has solved the long-standing mystery of why the “sailing rocks” on Death Valley National Monument’s Racetrack Playa move.  

The inquisitive group of local folks took on this project because, in their minds, “science is fun."

Many had spent time at Death Valley over the years and had been puzzled by the phenomenon of the rocks — some large and some small — that mysteriously moved, leaving a type of “snail track” in the silt of the dead flat playa.

The phenomenon, which can be seen in a variety of YouTube videos (surprise, surprise), was first noted about 70 years ago. Since that time many theories have abounded as to the underlying cause of the bizarre behavior of the rocks.

Some of those theories involve movement by wind and water during a winter storm, intervention by Allah,  the involvement of extraterrestrial beings, terrestrial pranksters messing with geologists, and possibly even animals moving the rocks for reasons only known to themselves.

While a horned toad appears to be pushing rock at the Playa Racetrack, ergonomic research quickly disproved that theory. This little guy did go on to become the mascot of the research team from Santa Barbara. (Mike Hartmann photo)

Our intrepid team of investigators came together after its leader, Jim Norris, a consulting engineer by profession, posed the question of the moving rocks to a group of friends, who like himself, have a deep love for Death Valley.

The group of men and women quickly grew to about 30 committed souls, and resolved to “once and for all solve the damn mystery.”

When Jim first posed the question in 2010, there was no scientific agreement regarding what caused the rocks to move, but the general consensus within the scientific community was that high winds and water on the playa were involved in the propulsion of the moving rocks.

As with every project, logistics are often the most trying part of the program. Before undertaking field research, the group was required to obtain a permit from the U.S. Park Service.

Weather was another another significant factor, not only because the group needed to erect a mobile weather station, but also because of Death Valley’s legendary temperature extremes.

The location of the playa also posed a logical problem due not only its remoteness, but also because the playa is located in a designated wilderness preserve. Supplies, equipment and all research materials had to be carried in on foot to areas specified by the Park Service, which required packing rocks which weighed between 12 and 65 pounds apiece along with the weather station, which in and of itself weighed about 300 pounds.

Part of the sailing stones research team meets on the playa to go over the day's planned fun activities. From left are Kail Wathine, Jim Norris, Jane Ray, Jib Ray, an unidentified researcher and Jeff McFarlane. (Michael Hartmann photo)

The rocks used in the research project were of the type found on the playa, but restrictions by the National Park Service required that the investigators use rocks other than those gathered within the actual park boundary itself.

As a result, Jim enlisted the help of his father, the late Dr. Robert Norris, a retired UCSB geology professor. Together the men were able to find suitable rocks on nearby BLM land that could be used in experiments and research.

So how do you measure the movement of rocks out in the middle of nowhere? Why, with GPS technology of course.

But now the group had logistical problem set 2.1. How to fabricate an affordable GPS recorder that could withstand all weather extremes including hot and cold, dry and wet, for a total of 15 rocks that could maintain viable battery power after being left alone on the playa for a long period of time. 

With a bunch of rocks and a bunch of power tools, a bunch of guys started drilling away and ended up making a bunch of bionic rocks that would hopefully, once and for all, answer the riddle of the sailing rocks of Racetrack Playa.

In November of 2012, after shlepping the rocks to the dry lake bed, the intrepid investigators (one of whom is Peter’s brother, Mike), strategically placed them and kissed them goodbye with the hopes that they would “sail” in the coming months.

As it turned out, the rocks were more illusive than the investigators had originally anticipated.

Jim Norris makes field adjustments on one of the instrumented rocks. (Michael Hartmann photo)

Ultimately, over the course of about one year, Interwolf Engineering — which luckily is owned by Jim Norris and his business partner, Jib Ray — was required to perform three separate firmware updates on the GPS units to get data in order to measure the movement of the rocks.

Satisfied that the rocks and the GPS’s were operational, the team left the rocks at the playa and returned to Santa Barbara.  

In December 2013, two of the heartier members of the group, Jim and his cousin, Richard Norris, made a pilgrimage to the Racetrack playa to check on the rocks and  enjoy a campout in near arctic conditions...well maybe not, but it was too cold for most to camp.

There they noticed the dry playa had become a partially frozen lake and they also heard the unusual sound of ice forming. During their three-day stay, the men discovered that natural rocks were moving, due to a process known in the frozen latitudes as “ice shove.”

Due to the lake conditions, Jim and Richard weren’t able to check on the research rocks — they had been placed too far out onto the frozen lake bed — so it was impossible to know whether the research rocks had “sailed” as anticipated.

By mid-January 2014, a group of investigators, including Jim and Russ Crane, returned to the Racetrack Playa, and found that the research rocks had indeed sailed. The farthest GPS rock had traveled about 735 feet.

This is Akycha, one of the instrumented sailing stones and its track on the playa. It sailed the farthest of the instrumented rocks, about 735 feet. The instrumented rocks were named for goddesses to distinguish them from the previously studied native stones that had been given women's names. (Mike Hartmann photo)

By examining the GPS data and reconciling it with data from the mobile weather station, the investigators were able to definitively conclude that the rocks’ movement was due to the phenomenon of ice shove during a light wind event.

Therefore, they concluded that no extraterrestrials, gods or native animals were involved in the long-standing mystery of the movement of rocks on the desert floor. 

What exactly is ice shove, and why is it such an exciting phenomenon? An ice shove is essentially when pieces of floating ice are rammed into the shoreline of a lake, or in this case the on the playa, stones by the wind.

In extreme Arctic cases, the ice shoves are massive and can be as tall as 10 feet high, but out in the desert where water is limited, the ice shove is on a much smaller scale.

Sailing stones that had moved due to the previous night's ice event. (Jim Norris photo)

Smaller scale, but still powerful enough to move the rocks of the Racetrack playa, leaving a tell-tail trail that has excited and fascinated visitors and created not only myths but legends about the source of this “mysterious” phenomenon. 

Thanks to our Santa Barbara “scientists,” no longer will the sailing rocks of the Racetrack playa be featured on cheesy late night shows about paranormal phenomenon.

For what it’s worth, we’re still wondering about Sasquatch and Nessie. Maybe another research project for this team is in order?

[Click here to see more photos and a time-lapse video of the sailing rocks of the Playa Racetrack in Death Valley]

If you are interested in reading a more scientific version of this fascinating phenomenon, here’s the link to PLOS ONE.

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Bill Cirone: Budget Reserve Decisions Should Remain with Local School Districts

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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For as long as I can remember, the common wisdom was that school districts should be run more like businesses.

The arguments against this are many and persuasive: To use the language of business, school districts have no control over their “raw materials,” over the length of time each “unit” remains in the production line, over the regulations that govern how they operate and so on.

But one way that schools seem to surpass business practices year after year is their agility in dealing with rapidly changing and daunting budget constraints. One tool districts utilized to adapt so quickly to changing circumstances was the careful creation of budget reserves that proved critical in dealing with cash flow issues and emergencies.

Many districts worked long and hard to build up sufficient reserves beyond the minimum required by the state so that they could continue to react to changing needs. Most people agree that building and retaining reserves for emergency purposes and cash flow issues is essential, and should be rewarded and applauded. It is simply good business practice.

The reserve restriction included in budget trailer bill SB 858 turns that wisdom on its head. It is bad legislation that needs to be changed. In essence, it restricts school districts’ reserves and chips away at the whole premise of local control — having local school boards make the decisions critical to the well-being of the district of which it is their responsibility to help manage. I agree with those experts who warn that it actually puts fiscal solvency at risk. Reducing reserves is certainly a poor way to run a business.

The language that creates this change was inserted into this year’s state budget, enabling legislation at the last minute, and was therefore never discussed in budget subcommittees where public analysis and discussion could take place. It was not a part of the governor’s May Revision and did not appear in the final budgets adopted by the Senate and Assembly.

It’s not clear why or how this language became part of the budget, but the rationale is tied to the Public School System Stabilization Account, sometimes referred to as the “rainy day fund.” If the state deposits money into that account for schools, the theory is that those funds will be sufficient to cover district needs in times of hardship. The way the language is written, however, means that even if a small deposit is made by the state into that fund, districts statewide would have to spend down billions of dollars in the reserves that they worked so hard to build.

The reality is that it will take years for our state to build enough funds in that stabilization account. But in one year, districts would be forced to spend down their reserves and ending balances to levels many believe could jeopardize their fiscal solvency.

The ironies should be clear to all: If voters approve a measure on the November ballot to establish a very worthwhile rainy day fund for the state, statutory changes would bind school boards statewide from exerting that same form of fiscal responsibility.

The language of this bill ignores the critical role that budget reserves play in the ability of districts to maintain fiscal solvency, and it ignores how districts have used their reserves during the recent recession to avoid even greater cuts to education programs and staffing.

What kinds of numbers are we talking about? The state’s minimum reserve requirements are based on the size of a district and usually are set at 3 percent of the overall budget. Well-managed districts have generally felt more secure carrying more than that in reserve because a 3 percent reserve represents between six and eight days of payroll for an average district. The new requirement transforms this minimum reserve into the maximum allowable for districts.

Some more numbers: Between 2008 and 2011, school districts had to manage $6 billion in ongoing revenue reductions, including $2.85 billion in unexpected midyear cuts. Many districts would not have been able to stay solvent without the prudent fiscal management of healthy budget reserves. That was their safety net.

People ask what factors determine what level of reserve a district considers healthy. Those factors include the district’s size, its source of revenues, the trends of those revenues, projections for student attendance, pending litigation, state cash deferrals and many more. School boards and district administrators always try to identify the key priorities for the district, the students and the staff. One size does not fit all.

We all know that our state’s revenues are volatile and often uncertain. Those uncertainties directly impact school districts, because the major portion of their funding comes directly from the state. Strengthening the state’s rainy day fund is a worthy goal. It simply makes no sense that that same prudence would be undermined for school districts.

I join those urging the governor and legislature to rethink this problematic mandate on such a crucial portion of school district budgets, and return budget reserve control to local school boards who know best the economic uncertainties facing their local districts. It is the right thing to do.

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Jackson Bill to Allow Voter Pre-Registration at Age 16 Heads to Governor

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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A bill by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, that would allow voter pre-registration beginning at age 16 passed off the Senate floor Tuesday and is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The vote was 21-12.

Senate Bill 113 would not change the voting age, which is 18, but it would allow young people to fill out the necessary online or paper application to get ready to vote beginning at age 16. They could pre-register online, by mail or at the DMV when they get their driver’s licenses. Pre-registration could also become a part of high school civics classes, taken when students are 16 and 17 years old. Once they turn 18, their registration would become active.

“It’s clear we must do more to get young people voting, and one way is to do that is to give them sufficient time and ample opportunity to get ready to vote,” Jackson said. “Studies show that pre-registration is a powerful way to encourage young people to become lifelong, engaged voters — which is what we need for a healthy democracy.”

Youth ages 18 to 24 stand out as an age group that is registering at far lower rates than any other age group. Even in the presidential election year of 2012, while nearly 80 percent of all Californians registered to vote, only 62 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were registered.

The bill is contingent upon the enactment of VoteCal, California’s new voter registration database, which is expected to be launched in 2016.

Thirteen other states allow voter pre-registration before age 18, including Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wyoming. A 2009 George Mason University study found that pre-registration programs in Hawaii and Florida encouraged young people to start voting and keep voting.

The governor has until Sept. 30 to take action on the bill.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

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Cinema in Focus: ‘If I Stay’

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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3 Stars — Thought-provoking

For all of us who have been with someone struggling to recover from life-threatening injuries or illness, we recognize the importance of the individual's "will to live." How powerful this can be as well as the impact of what family members and visitors say to the person to help them choose to stay or to pass is difficult to assess. Although a commonly reported experience in near-death experiences, it is also difficult to understand how the soul and body can separate such that one's soul can view their own body or go to other locations and hear or see friends and loved ones. Although it is useless to use scientific instruments to measure such experiences, our artists give us a different type of insight as they create fictional tales based on actual reports.

This is what director R.J. Cutler provides for us in his emotionally charged love story If I Stay.

Based on a novel by Gayle Forman and adapted for the screen by Shauna Cross, the story focuses on high school student Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz).

Born into a bohemian musical family, Mia's father, Denny (Joshua Leonard), had been in his own rock band, and her mother, Kat (Mireille Enos), had been his most loyal fan. Though their parental guidance is lacking, they are well-intentioned and loving of their children, who also includes a beloved younger brother Teddy (Jakob Davies).

Her dad recognized Mia's genius on the cello at a young age and had willingly sacrificed to encourage her gift. Mia was entranced by the far different style of classical music and lost herself in her music.

It is Mia's beauty and love for music that caught the attention of Adam (Jamie Blackley), also a person who found music to be the defining experience in his life, though in the rock style. It is their young love story that weaves together the emotion of this tale.

Though we won't spoil the plot, it is obvious that the story is about Mia's accident that places her life in the balance. The assumption of the film is one of spiritual continuity of life after death and the ability of each of us to exercise some will in the moment of death.

Christian theology supports the first assumption, and common experience supports the second. But the question the film raises is, why would we choose to stay or to go? What is it that makes life worth living, and what gives us a release from life? Does overwhelming sorrow or loss justify choosing to leave, or does love compel us to stay? And if we choose to go, have we rejected love or chosen love in a new and greater form?

In the final analysis, these are not just theological questions to be debated but rather decisions to be experienced. It is in our own moment of choosing that we will know how we will answer them.

Discussion

» When you have been with a person who was dying, how did you experience their passing? Were you aware of them in ways that did not fit your normal senses?

» With modern medicine, there is a whole new field of near-death experiences. One of the most intriguing is written by a neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander in his book Proof of Heaven. As a person who did not believe in God or life beyond death, his experience convinced him of both. How do you deal with the evidence of NDEs — near-death experiences? Do you believe them to be hallucinations or actual? On what basis do you make your statement?

» The parenting of Mia provided no spiritual guidance and encouraged her to move away from innocence. Do you believe this to be a common experience in the families in your community? What do you believe is appropriate parental guidance, and why do you answer as you do?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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Solvang School Administrator John Karbula Appointed to Committee for Statewide Association

By | Published on 08/27/2014

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John Karbula, superintendent/principal of the Solvang School District, has been appointed a member of the Small School Districts Committee for the Association of California School Administrators.

As a member of the committee, Karbula will work to advocate small school district issues within ACSA and provide the association’s Legislative Policy Committee with information on legislation that could affect small school districts. He will also help provide training and information to administrators in small school districts.

Prior to his position with the Solvang School District, Karbula served as an administrator in Colorado. He was an assistant superintendent in Weldon Valley, a principal in Mapleton and a principal in Fort Collins.

In addition to his active membership in ACSA, Karbula serves on three boards of directors: the Santa Barbara County United Way, the Solvang Rotary Club and Solvang Arts & Music. He is also a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Karbula’s bachelor’s degree was received from the University of Northern Iowa. He has earned both a master’s degree in administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Colorado State University.

The Association of California School Administrators has 29 councils and committees and represents more than 16,000 superintendents, principals, vice principals, classified managers and confidential employees throughout the state. It is a member-driven organization committed to improved student performance and educational leadership in California’s public schools.

— Naj Alikhan represents the Association of California School Administrators.

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