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Talking Law: Tax Inversions — Unpatriotic Loophole or All-American Response to Overtaxation?

By | Published on 01/25/2015

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President Barack Obama recently called corporate tax inversions an “unpatriotic tax loophole.” The multinational American corporations that are the beneficiaries of the loophole responded by saying that, if the United States had a lower corporate tax rate and a simpler tax code, fewer companies would pursue inversions. Although tax inversions have been around since the early 1980s, tax inversions were in the news in 2014.

What, exactly, is a tax inversion? How much do tax inversions actually affect corporate taxes? Is the tax inversion loophole different than other tax loopholes? How soon are tax inversions going to be shut down by Washington?

According to Wikipedia, a tax inversion, or corporate inversion, is a largely American term for the relocation of a corporation’s headquarters to a lower-tax nation, or corporate haven, usually while retaining its material operations in its higher-tax country of origin.

An article from The Economist in September 2014 provides a concise explanation about the benefits of inversions:

The incentive is simple. America taxes profits no matter where they are earned, at a rate of 39 percent — higher than in any other rich country. When a company becomes foreign through a merger, or “inverts,” it no longer owes American tax on its foreign profit.

How much do tax inversions affect corporate taxes? A December 2014 bloomberg.com article posted by Zachary R. Mider describes the results of data compiled on 15 companies that inverted between 1994 and 2009. According to the article, these businesses effectively lowered their average tax rate to 15.7 percent from 33.5 percent.

The downside to tax inversions is, obviously, less tax revenue to the Internal Revenue Service. Mider states that American companies that have already carried out inversions are likely to lower the amount of revenue collected by the federal government by $2.2 billion or more in 2015. This is is twice the amount of revenue the IRS lost to inversions in 2014, and we know the IRS revenue lost to inversions will increase in the future. An exerpt from Mider’s Bloomberg post frames the potential future impact of tax inversions pretty well:

... That doesn’t include the impact of companies that shift their legal addresses abroad in the future, which one congressional study pegged at about $2 billion a year over the next decade. Since the first inversion in 1982, the deals have cost more than $9.8 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars ...
— Zachary R. Mider, bloomberg.com

The federal government stands to lose quite a bit of revenue through tax inversions. Congress agrees as a whole that something should be done, but is deadlocked on what to do and how to do it.

Right now, tax inversions legally lower taxes owed to the IRS, so there is no practical difference between tax inversions and any other legal tax mitigation strategy. In fact, some midmarket companies may start following the lead of the large multinationals in seeking foreign corporate mergers. Whether this is a reasonable business tax strategy depends on a lot of variables, including how committed the organization seeking the tax inversion is.

Tax inversions are dependent on the acquisition of a foreign company. This is, at best, a resource-heavy executive and administrative effort that could take years to consummate. We also know that the laws will eventually change, we just don’t know when or how.

Although the split in federal government power and ideology means there is no real risk of the tax inversion loophole closing any time soon, the risk grows greater as federal tax revenue goes down because of it.

Corporate tax inversions are interesting as much for the real impact they have on taxes as they are for the political positioning we observe due to their high-profile existence. Any future changes in corporate tax law to manage tax inversions will likely affect companies of all sizes, not just the big multinational ones. They are worth paying attention to.

— This article was written by the Tax & Business Law Teams at Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell LLP of Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are their own. This article is not intended to provide legal advice. For legal advice on any of the information in this post, click here for the form or phone number on the Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell Contact Us page.

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Congregation B’nai B’rith Celebrates Rabbi Stephen Cohen for Community Commitment

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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More than 500 fans gather at Bacara Resort & Spa to celebrate his 30 years of service at CBB, Santa Barbara Hillel

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The “Celebrating a Commitment to Community” Gala on Saturday honored Santa Barbara’s Rabbi Stephen Cohen for three decades of community service.

Congregation B’nai B’rith recognized Cohen’s many accomplishments at an elegant gala attended by more than 500 people at Bacara Resort & Spa in Goleta.

Honorary committee co-chairs included Mandy and Daniel Hochman, Sara Miller McCune and Anne and Michael Towbes. Event co-chairs Bethy Fineberg and Liat Wasserman led a committee of 50 dedicated volunteers.

The celebration also marked Cohen’s 10th anniversary as senior rabbi of Congregation B’nai B’rith, where he has inspired hundreds of individuals to affect the lives of others — locally and globally. One of Cohen’s special projects with Rwandan genocide survivor Frederick Ndambaryie was the financing and founding of a preschool in Rwanda that serves more than 100 children, including orphaned genocide survivors.

Cohen has participated actively in anti-poverty, hunger and homelessness initiatives, and has advocated for interfaith community building between Congregation B’nai B’rith and other faith organizations. He helped to increase CBB membership to 800 households from 450.

“Rabbi Cohen’s warm presence, distinguished teaching and gracious leadership have touched not only our members, but thousands of people in Santa Barbara, and throughout the world,” said Deborah Naish​, CBB’s outgoing executive director.

Prior to arriving at Congregation B’nai B’rith in 2004, Cohen spent nearly 20 years as executive director of Santa Barbara Hillel. Under his leadership, Hillel at UCSB grew into a dynamic, thriving organization (with the largest Jewish population of any of the University of California campuses) that regularly welcomed more than 200 students to Friday night services each week.

Notably, he spearheaded the creation and funding of the Milton Roisman Jewish Student Center, which opened at UCSB in 2001. While with UCSB Hillel, he led the creation of the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival, which commemorates Israel independence with a day of music, arts, crafts, food and celebration. He and his wife, Marian, co-founded the Isla Vista Minyan, a lay-led, family-friendly community that provides a strong sense of connectedness and spirituality for many families with children.

Congregation B’nai Brith is located 1000 San Antonio Creek Road in Santa Barbara. Click here for more information, or call 805.964.7869.

Check back with Noozhawk for complete iSociety coverage of Congregation B’nai B’rith’s Celebrating a Commitment to Community Gala.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at rrose@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Feeling ‘Blessed,’ Michael Young Reflects on Accomplishments and Career at UCSB

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Retiring student affairs administrator will miss ‘superb’ colleagues, extraordinary students but is proud of foundation he’s leaving behind

Strolls past the folding tables that pop up outside the Davidson Library at UC Santa Barbara don’t happen as often these days, but, when they do, Michael Young makes a point of glancing at the faces of as many college students as he can.

Student organizations are always mobbing the Arbor or the front lawn of the Student Resources Center for campus causes, and Young is somehow fueled by their call to action, compelled to take notice as UCSB’s longtime vice chancellor for student affairs.

“I find that energizing,” Young said on a recent morning, recalling a 25-year career on the eve of retirement. “Every one of these young people is somebody’s baby. They’re not just students.

“The downside of this job is you lose some.”

The realization reminds Young, 67, of his responsibility to take on a sort of parental role when young adults are away at college.

Not surprisingly, the veteran administrator has earned a nickname as “Santa Barbara dad,” lending a helpful ear or advice to students and staff who seek his counsel.

Truthfully, Young said he views student leaders as his colleagues — making retiring at the end of January all the more bittersweet.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said, sitting inside his corner office on the fifth floor of Cheadle Hall. “I wish I could take this view with me. (But) it feels like time.”

The Chicago native said he’s been blessed with superb colleagues from the 25 departments within his Student Affairs purview, and thousands of extraordinary students he has made a point of talking to directly, respectfully, clearly and honestly.

Young’s division handles admissions, financial aid, career services, student health and a wealth of other nonacademic programs essential to any college tenure.

He said he thinks he’s leaving a solid foundation for a successor, who will be chosen by a search firm long after Young heads into a retirement that will feature travel with his wife, a host of improvement projects on his Santa Barbara home and more.

In a talk with Noozhawk, “blessed” was a word Young often used, especially since he kind of fell into his job after college graduation. School administrator wasn’t on the radar until Young went back to his alma mater — Wisconsin’s Beloit College — as a counselor.

Once the revelation came about, and Young had his doctorate, he became the associate dean of college and registrar at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

Eleven years later, Young ventured to UCSB in 1990 with his family of four — he has two grown children who still reside in California — and began instilling a lasting culture bolstered today by his friendly, playful sense of humor.

“Back then, I knew it was time to leave, too,” he said. “In the early days, it was much more important that I be hands-on. It’s the same job title (now), but it’s a different job. It’s still wonderful.”

Young has taken a step back from daily problem-solver to focus more on the big picture as a sounding board, department go-between and finder of resources.

He said he was particularly proud of his division after the May 2014 Isla Vista massacre, with everyone across campus offering assistance or counseling.

“I really felt proud to be a Gaucho,” Young said. “At our darkest moment, we achieved some of our greatest triumphs. We’re a team. We’ve hung together as a family through some very difficult times. I’m proud of our relationship with students.”

Young wasn’t sure he deserved all the love he’s received from campus colleagues since his retirement plans got out, but the seasoned administrator seemed certain that Student Affairs would maintain its important connection with the young people the division serves.

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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Surf Set Finally Takes to the Waves at 2015 Rincon Classic

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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After several weather delays, hundreds of surfers — of all ages — compete for the ride of their lives during three-day tournament

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Sunny weather greeted the hundreds of surfers and spectators who turned out for the 2015 Rincon Classic held at Rincon Beach this weekend.

The annual event expanded to a third day for the amateur and professional surfing competitions, running Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It has divisions for all ages, from the 12 & Under “Gremlins” to the 55 & Up “Legends.”

The popular tournament was delayed several weekends while the organizers waited for the right weather and waves.

There will be an awards ceremony and fundraiser at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum on Sunday evening to show off highlights of the events and recognize the winners.

This year’s event is sponsored by Hurley and Channel Islands Surfboards

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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Motorcyclist Seriously Injured in Highway 154 Crash Near Cold Spring Canyon Bridge

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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A motorcyclist was seriously injured Saturday in a crash on Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Emergency crews were dispatched at about 10:20 a.m. to a report of a collision involving a motorcycle and a minivan on Highway 154 between Paradise Road and the Cold Spring Canyon Bridge, Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.

Once on scene, he said, firefighters determined that the wreck involved only the motorcycle, and the male rider was being treated by a U.S. Forest Service fire crew.

The victim was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with major injuries, Eliason said.

His name and details on his injuries and condition were not available.

The crash was being investigated by the California Highway Patrol.

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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Santa Barbara School District Resumes Outside Transfers, But Elementary Spots in Short Supply

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Outside students will be allowed to transfer into the Santa Barbara Unified School District next year but it’s unlikely many will be admitted to the elementary schools.

The Board of Trustees approved a new interdistrict transfer policy that allows up to 100 students for the 2015-2016 school year, with no more than 50 seats allocated for elementary schools on a space-available basis.

District officials stopped accepting outside transfers several years ago for financial reasons, but have decided to open it up on a small scale.

Open Alternative School is granted up to 25 seats for out-of-district students under the new transfer policy because of its unique situation of being located outside elementary district boundaries. The K-8 school is located on the campus of La Colina Junior High School, 4025 Foothill Road, and nearby families can’t attend OAS without an interdistrict transfer, which makes it difficult to recruit students, according to parents and staff.

Even with the opportunity for interdistrict transfers, availability is always an unknown, said Mitch Torina, Santa Barbara Unified School District director of pupil services.

“We can project that students will move from one grade to another, and estimate from a variety of sources what kindergarten population might be coming in,” he said in an email to Noozhawk.

“But we cannot take into account families that move in or out, which home residence school they move in to, and therefore we are not able to know what will be available for next year. The impact has continued to be our own resident students being placed in their home school.”

The transfer application period for in-district and out-of-district students ends Feb. 17.

SBUSD receives state funding on a per-student basis as part of the Local Control Funding Formula now, but in the past has been funded by a basic-aid model in which all funding comes from local property taxes. Under that model, transfer students coming from outside district boundaries wouldn’t contribute any funding to the district.

The financial impact of interdistrict transfers will depend on where the students go, according to Meg Jette, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services.

“We are funded by grade span so that will make a difference,” she said in an email.

If the district added 100 students — which is very unlikely — it could mean an additional $700,000 cost, but that is just an estimate, she said.

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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Letter to the Editor: Obama, Carbajal Trying to Have It Both Ways on Fee to Trust for Indian Tribes

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam recently brought up the issue of re-examining the Fee to Trust for Indian tribes. It is nice to have a representative who is saying what most of the constituents in Santa Barbara County are thinking.

The federal government established Fee to Trust to help impoverished Indians get off the welfare rolls, not to help wealthy Indians get off tax rolls. Unfortunately, that process has become a financial drain on states. Our local Chumash Tribe is asking the federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is run by Indians, to allow them to bring the 1,400 acres known as Camp 4 into Fee to Trust.

The Chumash are a tribe that would classify as being in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of income in the entire United States, yet they want to remove this acreage from the tax rolls, which places a financial burden on the rest of the taxpayers in this county. This land would not be subject to any local rules, regulations or taxing if brought into Fee to Trust. The tribe would be allowed to build anything they desired on the property without having any county oversight.

President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, stated; “That’s what middle-class economics is  —  the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We don’t just want everyone to share in America’s success  — we want everyone to contribute to our success.”

Supervisor Salud Carbajal wrote a letter to the editor of Noozhawk that stated in part; “I personally think President Barack Obama outlined a bold vision to continue building on a strong rebounding economy by expanding support for the middle class ...,” however for some reason he has found Supervisor Adam’s remark about Fee to Trust “appalling.”

The president thinks everyone should do their fair share and play by the same rules, but has said he wants to place more than 500,000 acres of land into Fee to Trust before he leaves office. Which is it, Mr. President? Fair share and same rules or different rules for different classes of citizens?

And Supervisor Carbajal, do we just apply the fair share and play by the rules to the rest of the citizens in this country and not tribal members?

It is past time to re-examine the Fee to Trust process and stop this granting of land to tribes that do not need financial assistance. We are all citizens of the United States and we should all be treated equally. Most of the members of the Chumash are living off the reservation and have assimilated into and are part of the community where they live.

Mike Hadley
Santa Ynez

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Taylor Reaume: Can I Sue Someone for Leaving a Bad Yelp Review?

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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For a small business, Yelp reviews can have a huge impact on your local reputation. In a world where everything is sociable and shareable, many people look to Yelp to find out information about the quality of small businesses in their neighborhood.

For those that have a bevy of positive reviews, this can build confidence among consumers and lead to an abundance of new sales. However, for a business that has bad reviews on Yelp, the results can be disastrous for their reputation.

When small business owners see that a person has left a negative review on Yelp, a variety of different emotions are likely going to run through their minds. Thoughts that range from “That person doesn’t know what they’re talking about” to “It must be one of my competitors trying to slander my company” — they are all likely.

As your blood starts to boil and you only get more angry, it’s also likely that you consider what sort of legal action you can take against the person who has left a negative review.

One of the first reactions is to take the reviewer to court and sue them for leaving a bad Yelp review.

Cases like this are popping up all over America, with mixed results for both business owners and reviewers. Here is a look into whether a business can sue someone for leaving a bad review on Yelp, and what is needed on behalf of each party to stay legally protected.

Reviewer Is Protected Under the First Amendment

It’s important to understand that, under the First Amendment, a customer does have the right to leave a review based on his or her experience at a particular business. The First Amendment protects citizens and allows them to speak freely, which can include both positive and negative experiences.

While the First Amendment does ensure free speech, it doesn’t prevent false or untruthful comments that hurt a company’s reputation. This means that the comments made by a reviewer on Yelp must be proven as truthful or honest, based off their experience with a particular business.

For example, in the Arizona case above, a woman went online to share her experience with a vehicle repair company. Kendra McConnell claimed that after leaving her Jeep with Premier Coach Works in El Mirage, they failed to do an adequate job of repairing her vehicle. In her review, she stated that the company failed to return phone calls, overcharged for services and did not properly repair the vehicle as promised.

This sort of situation can certainly be a challenge for both parties. For the consumers, they feel as if they’ve been cheated and have the right to leave a review based on their experience. But for Premier Coach Works, the company feels victimized by the impact that a negative Yelp review can have on its business. 

Business Must Provide the Burden of Proof

In deciding whether a company can sue reviewers for their negative comments online, it comes down to the ability of that company to prove the statements made were untrue. For example, in the Premier Coach Works case, it was up to the company to prove that McConnell was not being factual in the comments she made.

As a consumer, knowing that you can be taken advantage of by a company can be a scary thought. Luckily, we now live in a time in which nearly everything can be recorded and used as justification for improper services. For example, a customer can use emails, text messages and legal tender to prove the commitments were not upheld by the company they used.

If the evidence proves that the comments on Yelp were factual and honest, there are no grounds for the reviewer to have to remove the post. In addition, the business cannot sue the reviewer for those comments.

While businesses may hear this and think they are now at the mercy of their customers, this isn’t necessarily the case. Just as consumers can use evidence to argue their reasoning for a negative review, the company can use the same information to defend the reputation of their business. In the event that the case moves to a courtroom, the same information can be used to persuade a judge to have the review on Yelp removed if the post is not truthful.

Both Parties Can Come to an Agreement

Yelp was created with the intention of being a platform on which consumers could state their insight and experiences with local businesses. The truth is that this helps to protect consumers, and it also holds businesses to a higher standard to ensure that they’re providing the best service possible to their customers.

Because of the damage that negative Yelp reviews can cause, however, there is now concern for customers making untruthful comments about their experiences at a given business.

In the case of McConnell and Premier Coach Works, the two sides came to an agreement outside of court. In many instances, this could be what ideally occurs for businesses and Yelp reviewers.

If you want to prevent the headache that comes from a negative Yelp review, there is a simple solution: Make sure you give great service to every customer who walks through the door. However, if you’ve done all you can and you still feel you’re receiving unjustified negative reviews on Yelp, it’s important to know that your business is protected.

Evidence is everything when it comes to these sorts of cases on Yelp. So whether you are a business or a customer, make sure you are prepared to defend yourself and the actions you take online.

— Taylor Reaume is an e-Business coach and founder of Search Engine Pros. He can be contacted at taylor@thesearchenginepros.com, or 1.800.605.4988. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Living in Faith: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Much More Than a Pretty Façade

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Although a dramatic locale for destination weddings, generous and vibrant parish family celebrates the stages of life centered around beloved church

You may pass several lovely churches if you drive around Montecito, but none is quite as breathtaking or as prominent as Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church at the busy intersection of East Valley and Hot Springs roads.

The current church building, completed in 1939 at 1300 East Valley Road, showcases the best of both Pueblo Indi

an and Spanish Colonial architecture in its façade. And not only is there a great view of the mountains from the succulent-filled campus, but the church provides a sense of intimacy and quiet suitable for a destination wedding that can only be found in the heart of Montecito.

Weddings are quite popular at this particular church, with around 24 booked at the parish office every year, according to church secretary Maribel Jarchow.

“I remember one priest who loved to do weddings,” she said. “That’s sort of how we became a wedding chapel and a popular spot for destination weddings.

“But we also do a lot of baptisms, too,” she added.       

Jarchow has been a parishioner at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church for more than 50 years. Among the many weddings and baptisms she’s witnessed are the weddings of her own three children and the baptisms of her children and grandchildren.

Her kids also attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, the church’s kindergarten-through-eighth grade parish school, which is rooted in Catholic elementary education.

“There are many people who come in looking to celebrate these different stages in their life,” Jarchow said. “From baptism to confirmation to marriage.” 

Baptism, confirmation and marriage are all sacraments in the Roman Catholic church. If raised in the Catholic tradition, one would receive them as a newborn, a teenager and an adult, respectively.

While Catholics receive these rites as individuals or couples in marriage, Father Steven Downes, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, sees them differently.

“They help us come to know Jesus more and more and how we walk together as a community,” he told Noozhawk. “We are all brothers and sisters, and celebrating sacraments and living our faith together is very important.”

Fr. Downes became pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in 2009, and he has seen the community live out that faith during these stages of their life in different ways.

While schoolchildren learn and grow at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and through the church’s religious education program, Sister Kathleen Patrice, director of Religious Education, points out that many families participate in several of the outreach programs she directs.

“Whenever kids are helping out (in a program), I like them to bring their parents,” she explained. “I think in this parish, young people have so much given to them, so what I’ve tried to do with these families is have them reach out to the people who are economically poor.”

Sr. Kathleen directs many outreach programs that benefit those in need. Of these, the most beloved programs at the church seem to happen during the Christmas season. The Giving Tree is a long-running program in which families buy Christmas presents for children in need. The church also holds a Santa’s Workshop for adults and teens to refurbish and wrap gently used toys for children in need.

Along with these programs for children and families, adults are invited to explore their faith in Bible study and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes with Fr. Downes.

With all that is going on, it’s a wonder that anyone gets any praying done, but Fr. Downes assures that the parish grounds are as peaceful as they seem from the outside.

“It’s a very beautiful place and it’s a very prayerful place,” he said. “People come and go at all hours of the day to pray in the church.”

The church setting is definitely a quiet and reflective space, well worth a look around if you are driving by with some time on your hands.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church

» Location: 1300 East Valley Road, Montecito
» Denomination: Roman Catholic
» Year Established: 1856
» Congregation Size: 1,200
» Service Times: 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon Sundays

Noozhawk contributing writer Frankie Victoria 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.

Father Steven Downes, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Montecito, with, at right, Sister Kathleen Patrice, director of Religious Education, and church secretary Maribel Jarchow. 'It’s a very beautiful place and it’s a very prayerful place,' Downes says of the church at one of Montecito’s busier intersections. 'People come and go at all hours of the day to pray in the church.' (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)
Father Steven Downes, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Montecito, with, at right, Sister Kathleen Patrice, director of Religious Education, and church secretary Maribel Jarchow. “It’s a very beautiful place and it’s a very prayerful place,” Downes says of the church at one of Montecito’s busier intersections. “People come and go at all hours of the day to pray in the church.” (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)

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Enjoy This Weekend’s Weather Because Rain May Be On the Way

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Santa Barbara County will be basking in sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures this weekend. But enjoy it while you can because the National Weather Service says it’s not likely to last.

The weather service said the combination of high pressure and an offshore flow were expected to push daytime temperatures well above normal Saturday and Sunday.

Santa Maria recorded a high of 82 degrees Saturday, matching a record for the date set in 1935, the weather service said.

Highs in the upper 70s are forecast along the South Coast and possibly into the 80s in the foothills, while temperatures in the 80s are expected in much of the North County.

That’s all likely to change Monday, however.

A low-pressure system pushing into the region from the south will be bringing increasing clouds and cooler weather, with a chance of rain late Monday through late Tuesday, the weather service said.

More rain could accompany another storm system that is expected to arrive Thursday or Friday.

According to the forecast, Monday’s daytime highs will be in the mid-60s to low 70s on the South Coast, with overnight lows in the 40s to 50s.

There is a 30 percent chance of showers Monday night and Tuesday, with Tuesday’s highs in the low to mid-60s. 

» Click here for the complete National Weather Service forecast.

» Click here for the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services. Click here to sign up for the OES’ messaging service. Connect with the OES on Facebook.

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

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Fire Reported at Ralphs Supermarket in Downtown Santa Barbara

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Blaze in discarded Christmas trees damage a nearby storage trailer behind store

Santa Barbara firefighters responded early Saturday to fire at a downtown supermarket.

The blaze was reported at about 6:30 a.m. at the Ralphs at 100 W. Cabrillo St., Battalion Chief Robert Mercado said.

On arrival, he said, fire crews found black smoke showing from the delivery area behind the market on De la Vina Street.

“It appeared to be Christmas trees that had been discarded and accumulated and caught on fire,”​ Mercado said, adding that store employees were attempting to put out the flames.

Firefighters quickly douse the blaze, which did not get inside the building, he said.

No injuries were reported.

A nearby trailer used to store merchandise was scorched by the heat and flames, Mercado said, estimating damage at $10,000.

An investigator was called to the scene, but the cause has not been determined.

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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Louise Palanker: Bullying, Talking to a First Crush, Boyfriend ‘Likes’ a Girl’s Selfie

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Question from Johnny V.

I Am 12 And I Have A lot Of People Bullying Me. I Am Really Depressed And Upset. Can You Please Give Me Some Advice?

Weezy

Start with one good friend and recruit that person to help you. Bullies are cowards and if two or more people stand up to them and make a fuss, they do not like it and they will usually back down. Bullies would love to continue bullying you slyly and covertly while everyone else cowers in fear. A bully is often someone who is being bullied at home or someone with a history of being bullied. For example, an eighth-grade bully may have been a fourth-grade victim.

I don’t believe that ignoring the bully works. The problem is that you may try, but you won’t really be able to truly ignore horrible words and deeds. You will flinch. Your shoulders will sink. Your face will reveal that this is getting to you.

Instead, make a plan with your friend to turn, face the bully and say, very loudly, “Really? This is a thing you need to be doing with your time?” Or, “Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.” Then have your friend add, “Yeah! Cut it out already!” Both of you need to be nice and loud. Draw attention to the behavior of the bully.

99 percent of the kids at your school are very uncomfortable with your being bullied. They don’t like it, but they are too afraid to do something. All you need to do is turn the tide.

There are far more nice people in the world than there are bullies. Do not let the bullies run your school. Kindness will always win. Give people a chance to do the right thing and they will. It starts with one bystander. One voice. Recruit that person and stop the bullies.

Watch what one kid did to turn the tide toward kindness at his school:

(WestJet video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Valerie T.

Should I tell my crush that I like him and I miss him? I don’t want things to get too awkward?

Weezy

If you and your crush are friends, then your liking him is already making things awkward. The truth just helps both of you gain the information you need to move forward accordingly.

If you are not yet friends, make it your goal to become better friends. But for the sake of this conversation, let’s assume that a friendship is already in place. Once one friend has a romantic interest in the other friend, then the friendship has already gone out of balance. He may see the two of you as just friends, while you will always be trying to read something into his every word and action. He may find your emotional investment confusing. For example, your feelings could be hurt very easily and that will be uncomfortable for him.

Once you state your truth, he has the information he needs to understand your behavior. Since you have now been honest and vulnerable, you can back up and give yourself space to heal if your feelings are not reciprocated. On the other hand, if he does like you as more than a friend, you have given him a clear path to tell you his truth.

How and when you tell him about your feelings is up to you, but I recommend that you do it face to face. You can say, “The truth is that I kind of like you.” Let him take the conversation from there.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Marissa D.

Do I have the right to get mad because my boyfriend “liked” this girl’s selfie on Instagram?

Weezy

You have a right to get mad if you feel mad. Are you justified in being mad? Let’s take a closer look.

I really love this question because it’s extremely valid and timely. It’s not a problem that existed 100 years ago. Although I am certain  it would have been outrageously vexing to watch your suitor admire another woman’s portrait painting.

Things change, but people really don’t. If your new boyfriend was used to “liking” his friends’​ selfies before he had a girlfriend, then maybe you should let him continue doing that. It’s sort of like him saying, “Hey, I like your photo.” It is not necessarily him saying, “Hey, I think you are more beautiful than my girlfriend.” If he were to post flirty comments, that would be a different story.

First, you need to speak with your boyfriend about your expectations of behavior within this relationship. While you talk, explore what seems reasonable. You currently feel uncomfortable with your boyfriend “liking” a girl’s selfie. OK, that is understandable.

But where are you going to draw the line? Can he “like” a group shot of girls? Can you “like” a group shot of boys? What if one of his buddies is in the photo with the girls? What if it’s a photo that the girl took? What if it’s a picture of her cat? Come on, cats are adorable and they pretty much own the Internet.

The two of you need to talk this through and think it through. You will both continue to have friends. You will both continue to use social networking. What will make each of you feel safe and loved within this relationship while still allowing each other to interact with your peer group? Only healthy conversation will bring you the answers.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at news@noozhawk.com and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (Family Band: The Cowsills Story is currently airing on Showtime Networks), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Our Place, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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UC Santa Barbara Student Stabbed in Isla Vista; Suspect in Custody

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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Kevin Ruiz

A 21-year-old UC Santa Barbara student was hospitalized early Saturday after being stabbed during an altercation in Isla Vista, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies arrested a suspect in the case, Kevin Ruiz, 18, of Reseda, sheriff’s Lt. Craig Bonner said.

He said a UCSB police lieutenant on patrol came upon a fight in progress at about 2:45 a.m. in front of a fraternity in the 6700 block of Sueno Road.

“As he approached the location, the lieutenant noticed four subjects who were covered in blood and fleeing the scene,” Bonner said. “These subjects were detained and SBSO deputies arrived in the area to assist in handling the situation.”

The stabbing victim, who had wounds to his chest and head, was located at the fraternity, Bonner said, as was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Details on his condition were not available.

Bonner said an investigation determined that Ruiz was the suspect in the stabbing, and he was booked into County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

Ruiz had minor wounds to his hands, and was treated prior to booking.

Bail was set at $30,000.

Investigators have asked that anyone with information about the incident contact the Sheriff’s Department at 805.683.2724, stop by the Isla Vista Foot Patrol office at 6504 Trigo Road, or leave an anonymous tip at 805.681.4171.

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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Gerald Carpenter: Betty Oberacker Leads Santa Barbara Music Club’s Saturday Performance

By | Published on 01/24/2015

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The next free concert of the Santa Barbara Music Club takes place at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Faulkner Gallery of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.

The Music Club program, typically varied and brilliant, will consist of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Italian Concerto, BWV 971, played by the inimitable pianist, Betty Oberacker; Aaron Copland’s Duo for Flute and Piano, performed by flautist Mary Jo Hartle and pianist Christopher Davis; followed by soprano Deborah Bertling and pianist Davis, performing — under the motto “Music – Words – Action,” Giuseppe Concone’s “Allegretto amabile,” Sergei Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise” and the aria from Heitor Villa-LobosBachianas brasilieras No. 5.

The afternoon’s entertainment concludes with clarinetist Chad Cullins and pianist Davis playing Claude Debussy’s Premiére rhapsodie.

These works are all self-explanatory, like all real music, and relatively undemanding, though by no means “lite.” The Bach, not actually a concerto in the sense that most of us think of the form, is one of his most popular pieces, and deservedly so. It manages to be dramatic and exuberant at the same time.

The Villa Lobos has been sung, and recorded by a remarkably diverse group of singers, including Victoria de los Angeles, Salli Terri (formerly married to the composer John Biggs, best known for her work with guitarist Laurindo Almeida), and Joan Baez.

Concone (1801-1861) was an Italian composer and educator, to whom trumpeters are especially grateful for his series of Lyrical Studies

— 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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Oversight Board Sets Stage for Lompoc Theatre Ownership Switch

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Efforts to revive the dilapidated Lompoc Theatre cleared another hurdle Friday morning when a panel took a step toward removing a $700,000 lien and transferring ownership of the property to the community group leading the restoration project. 

There still are several other milestones before the Lompoc Theatre finally is untangled from the legal web stemming from the collapse of the nonprofit Lompoc Housing & Community Development Corporation (LHCDC) and complicated by the state’s elimination of redevelopment agencies.

On Friday, the RDA Oversight Board — a panel to handle property that belonged to the old Lompoc Redevelopment Agency — adopted a resolution that essentially agrees to eventually forgive the loan and lift the lien for a fee of $1. Eliminating the lien then sets the stage for LHCDC to hand over ownership to the community group.

“We are exhilarated,” said Mark Herrier, president of the Lompoc Theatre Project, a group working to revive and renovate the old facility. Herrier grew up in Lompoc and appeared in the Porky’s series of films in the 1980s.

But he tempered the excitement, noting Friday’s action was one of several still needed before the nonprofit group finally takes possession of the property.

“That doesn’t mean it’s over,” Herrier said. “We still have to work out some details and a lot of times the devil is in the details.”

The LHCDC acquired the old theater building in the 100 block of North H Street in 2006 for $850,000 and had plans to restore it, city officials said in a staff report. But the plans fizzled amid allegations of financial mismanagement for the now-defunct nonprofit organization.

In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the elimination of redevelopment agencies with special oversight boards created to handle transferring property for the successor agencies. Redevelopment agencies were formed to direct property taxes to special government organizations to remove blight in cities. Typically, a city council also served as redevelopment agency board.

In its resolution adopted Friday, the Oversight Board determined it “would be in the best interest of the taxing entities to release liability in the property.”

The panel cited a Sept. 18, 2014 appraisal that claims the property actually has a negative value.

If empty, the land would be worth $700,000, according to the report by Santa Maria-based Reeder, Gilman & Associates.

“However, the subject property is not vacant and unimproved, and the existing improvements require demolition and removal,” the appraisers said. 

Demolition of the structure would cost $800,000, creating a final value of minus $100,000, the appraisal report noted. 

“The existing structure has no economic value,” the appraisers’ report said. “In fact, it has a negative value of demolition.”

The appraisers contend the costs of a new theater building at about $220 per square foot would run approximately $2.3 million. However, the community group’s proposed renovation plan equates to $440 per square foot, according to the appraisal report.

Last month, the Lompoc Theatre Project unveiled plans to restore and expand the existing structure for $5 million, money they intend to get through donations, fundraisers and grants. They ambitiously hope to mark the building’s 90th anniversary in 2017 with the completion of renovations.

While the negative appraisal could be viewed as daunting, Herrier said they see as a sign of just how well-developed the theater building is based on a demolition estimate.

Demolishing a building with historical status wouldn’t be simple, he noted. 

“Luckily for all of us, the only viable option is that it remain a theater there,” Herrier said. 

In the resolution adopted Friday, the Oversight Board said restoration plans actually would be positive for other agencies that receive property taxes.

“Should the property be transferred to an organization willing to assume this liability and rehabilitate this property, the property’s value would increase and the taxing entities would receive increased property tax revenues and potentially, increased sales tax revenue due to increased activity in the downtown area,” the Oversight Board noted.

While the California Department of Finance has blessed the steps needed for eliminating the lien and transferring the building to the Theatre Project, the matter still must return to the state agency for final approval, Herrier said. He expects to get the state’s approval within 90 days.

However, the Oversight Board wants some matters addressed, such as how the property title will be given to the defunct LHCDC and then handed over to the new owners.

Lompoc Theatre Project members were not deterred by those final questions Friday.

“The bottom line is we’re going forward,” Herrier said. “This was a big one and we got past it.”

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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Benjamin Moore Goes Guilford Green for Its 2015 Color of the Year

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Shade of silvery green leaves a versatile impression and plays well with other hues

Choosing a paint color can be overwhelming. There are endless choices and the longer you stare at them, the harder it gets.

To help us with our paralysis, paint companies go out on a limb to identify color trends for the year. Trained in the art of knowing exactly what your eye will be thirsty for, it is amazing how on target these trends spotters can be.

Benjamin Moore, a reliable paint brand known for its consistency and quality for many years, has selected a serene green for its color of 2015: Guilford Green HC-116.

Sure enough, looking at this color feels like a sort of renewal or trip to the spa, and what is paint for if not renewal?

It’s interesting that Guilford Green is in Benjamin Moore’s Historical Colors collection. Once again, what is old is new again.

With the catchy phrase, “Ground yourself in green,” Benjamin Moore’s website displays Guilford Green used in a number of different ways.

Ellen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore’s creative director, describes the color perfectly: “A neutral that’s natural. A silvery green that works with, well, everything. No worries. No second thoughts. Just a brush, dipped in a can, whooshed on a wall, and a whole lot of happily ever after.”

It’s a color that would freshen up an entry or a breakfast room beautifully. Benjamin Moore matches it with an entire palette of other colors, and this is where things get really exciting. The classic Guilford Green is paired with yummy plums, fuchsias and blues for 2015.

Sounds like canceled plans for the weekend and a trip to the paint store …

Noozhawk contributing writer Hilary Doubleday 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 High Student Stricken by Paralysis

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Gracie Fisher's family is planning to seek treatment for her at specialized hospital in Denver

It was at 3:15 p.m. on Dec. 21 when Gracie Fisher first noticed the numbness in her hands, as well as a pain in her neck.

The numbness soon spread to her feet.

Gracie's mother, Debbie, thought it would pass, but her daughter asked to go to the hospital, and by the time the two arrived at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital's emergency room, the numbness had already spread to her waist. 

Hospital staff had to put the 17-year-old Santa Barbara High Student into a wheelchair when she arrived because she could no longer move.

"The first day was filled adrenaline and energy, and that was necessary as it was a such a rapid decline," Debbie Fisher recounted.

 By 10 that night, less than seven hours after first showing symptoms, Gracie was intubated because she was having trouble breathing, and most of her body was paralyzed.

Since that time — it's been almost five weeks since Fisher was first hospitalized — doctors have diagnosed the teen with acute flaccid myelitis, and an outbreak of the condition has affected a significant number of children in recent months.

Since August 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has verified reports of 107 children in 34 states with the condition. The organization is continuing to investigate the cases, and a possible cause, which is unknown at this time.

The Fisher family is finding strength together as they try to help 17-year-old Gracie Fisher overcome acute flaccid myelitis, which has left her paralyzed. (Contributed photo)

The cases recorded indicate that the children developed a sudden onset of weakness of limbs and were hospitalized, with some put on breathing machines. MRI scans of those children showed an inflammation of the nerve cells in the spinal cord, according to the CDC.

Though Grace is no longer intubated, she has a tracheotomy to help her breathe with a ventilator, and has been awake and responsive, though unable to speak.

Fisher, who spoke to Noozhawk from her daughter's hospital room this week, said it's been a difficult time for the family.

"I have to keep myself in a constant state of prayerfulness and mindfulness," she said.

Fisher and her husband, Bill, are both physical therapists and own Via Real Physical Therapy in Carpinteria.

Fisher said she's had to use all the techniques she knows to keep calm physically and emotionally throughout her daughter's ordeal. 

The family is planning to seek treatment next week in Colorado, with Gracie being transported to Craig Hospital in Denver, which specializes in brain and spinal cord injuries.

"We really believe it's the right place for Gracie to start her rehabilitation," Debbie said.

The family will leave as early as Monday, when Debbie and Gracie will travel via air ambulance to the hospital and Bill and Gracie's younger sister, Emily, will follow shortly after.

Debbie said that when they gave Emily the choice to stay with her grandparents in Santa Barbara while Gracie was moved to Colorado for treatment, the 14-year-old was adamant about staying with her sister.

"We are stronger as a family of four," Debbie said, adding that Emily, a freshman as Santa Barbara High, has continued going to school during her sister's hospitalization, but that it's been hard for her to focus.

Still, "she definitely feels the support of the community," Debbie said.

The family knew Gracie's rehabilitation would have to take place outside of the area, but expressed that it would be hard to leave family and friends who have supported them since finding out about her condition.

"I know your prayers will continue to support us, and I look forward to continuing to share Gracie's progress," Debbie wrote on the website that she's been using to update the community, along with family and friends.

It's unclear, however, whether the family will be able to move to the hospital and still be covered by their insurance.

A post on Fisher's website Friday stated that the family had been denied coverage at Craig Hospital, even though the family has a Blue Shield PPO insurance plan and the hospital is a Blue Shield Provider. 

Clinton McGue, spokesman for Blue Shield, said that a decision on the case may come Monday.

"Blue Shield PPO members are able to receive out-of-state care through our Blue Card program," McGue wrote in a statement to Noozhawk Friday. 

"We can’t discuss this specific case because of HIPAA rules, but we are aware that our clinical team is still reviewing the case and working with the family."

To benefit the Fisher Family, a luncheon will be held on Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara.

The first seating at 11:30 am is already full, Fisher said, but tickets are still available for the 12:30 p.m, and 1:30 p.m. seatings. Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $10 for children 10 and younger.

Lunch will be donated by Via Maestra 42 and tickets can be purchased by calling the church 805.963.3579 or via email at office@fumcsb.org.

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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Three Plead Guilty in Killing of Santa Barbara-Area Homeless Man

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Jonathan Andrade

The three men charged with murder in the death of a Santa Barbara-area homeless man have pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and will be sentenced in March, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Carlos Medina, Jonathan Andrade and Roman Romero, all of Santa Barbara County, were arrested in November 2013 for the fatal attack on Richard Alden Boden.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to an area known as Granny’s Field, an open area west of San Simeon Drive and San Angelo Avenue in unincorporated Santa Barbara County, on Sept. 16 and found an unconscious assault victim who was later identified as Boden.

Carlos Medina

Boden suffered major injuries and never regained consciousness, according to authorities.

On Oct. 14, he was taken off life support at the request of his family, and he died a short time later, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

All three suspects were charged with murder and conspiracy and initially entered not guilty pleas.

They all pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter this week, Deputy District Attorney Anthony Davis said.

Medina’s sentencing is scheduled for March 10 and he will get six years in state prison, Davis said.

Roman Romero

Andrade and Romero will both be sentenced on March 9.

They each face up to six years in state prison, Davis said.

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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Multiple Felony Charges Filed Against Lompoc Murder Suspect

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Noe Herrera

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office on Friday filed multiple felony charges — including murder, attempted murder and sexual penetration with a foreign object — against a Lompoc man arrested this week in connection with two separate violent attacks before he allegedly committed a third assault in custody.

Noe Herrera, 28, appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Lompoc on Friday afternoon, and was ordered to return to court Jan. 29, according to Paul Greco, chief deputy district attorney.

Herrera faces one count of murder plus special allegations of a second-strike offense, use of a deadly weapon, and having committed a prior serious felony, according to the District Attorney’s Office filing.

His prior offense involves an armed-robbery conviction in 2005.

He is accused of fatally stabbing Salvador Juarez Hernandez, a 57-year-old transient in Lompoc. 

Herrera was in custody for an assault when he allegedly told investigators about stabbing a man, and directed police to the body behind businesses in the 900 block of North H Street.

The attempted-murder charge stems from allegations Herrera brutally assaulted a relative in a residence in the 400 block of North L Street, police said.

He also faces a special allegation for committing great bodily injury.

The third count involves sexual penetration by a foreign object. If convicted, he would be required to register on a sex offender.

The fourth felony count contends Herrera made criminal threats to his assault victim.

And the fifth felony count of assault causing great bodily injury reportedly is related to Herrera’s attack of a cell mate while in custody at the Lompoc Jail.

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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City of Goleta Sues State Lands Commission Over Venoco Project Approval

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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The city is challenging the adequacy of the plan's environmental assessment

The City of Goleta is suing the California State Lands Commission over its approval of restarting Venoco’s oil-production facility at Haskell’s Beach.

The commission voted to re-certify the environmental documents in December and allow Venoco to resume oil production from its PRC 421 pier and process the oil at the Ellwood Onshore Facility.  

Goleta filed suit in Santa Barbara County Superior Court alleging the commission violated the California Environmental Quality Act by certifying an inadequate environmental-impact report.

The suit claims there are problems with the project descriptions, mitigation of environmental impacts and analysis of alternatives.

Goleta city leaders don’t want the oil from the pier to be processed at the Ellwood Onshore Facility, and the suit argues that the other alternatives — such as processing at Las Flores Canyon instead — should have been analyzed in the environmental review.

Challenging the EIR means the project timeline will be put on hold, Goleta City Attorney Tim Giles said.

“(The SLC approval) is the first in a series of approvals Venoco would need," Giles said. "They also need approval from the city allowing processing to be done at PRC 421, and permits for the lines needed in the city jurisdiction between the well and the EOF.

"Those decisions come later, and until this lawsuit is resolved they won’t move forward with those.”

Venoco could also face closing its Ellwood Onshore Facility.

The Goleta City Council adopted an ordinance Tuesday that establishes non-conforming use termination procedures, which can put an expiration date on certain zoning uses.

Council members are split on the issue, which allows the city to terminate a legal nonconforming use — one that is no longer in compliance with land-use or zoning rules.

The ordinance could force Venoco’s Ellwood Onshore Facility to shut down, and the city is already planning a hearing to discuss it.

Mayor Paula Perotte and councilmen Jim Farr and Michael Bennett voted to adopt the ordinance, while councilmen Roger Aceves and Tony Vallejo opposed it.

Venoco vice president Ian Livett asked the council not to adopt the ordinance, saying the company has legal objections.

“The city has already admitted that the purpose is to target Venoco with the ordinance,” he said. "Laws adopted for the purpose of discriminating against and compelling discontinuance of a particular business are illegal."

A comment letter submitted by Venoco’s attorneys at Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray expressed similar concerns, saying there will be an “expensive legal fight” that could be avoided if the ordinance is revised before adoption.

“One thing is certain, however – the five year or less amortization timeframe the City Council is  binding itself to in the initial termination hearing is arbitrary and unreasonable on its face, absurd as applied to Venoco, and subjects the ordinance to certain legal challenge,” they wrote. “With a five year order to terminate the EOF, Venoco will suffer severely and have no choice but to fight to survive.”

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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David Harsanyi: Republicans Surrender to Infanticide

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Evidently, Republicans don't feel competent enough to make a case against infanticide. Why else would the GOP pull its 20-week abortion limit bill?

Here's a short list of things that are less popular than banning late-term abortions: "Acting" on climate change. "Free" community college. Taxing the wealthy. Building the Keystone XL pipeline. President Barack Obama. Future President Hillary Clinton. Every Republican who's thinking about running for president.

A new Marist poll finds that 84 percent of Americans favor some level of further restrictions on abortion. And regardless of their feelings about the legality of the procedure, 60 percent believe it to be "morally wrong." If you aren't keen on that poll — it was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, after all — you can take your pick of others.

A Quinnipiac poll found that 60 percent of women support limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. A CBS News poll found that 60 percent of Americans think abortion "should not be permitted" or available only under "stricter limits." A CNN poll found that 58 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal only in a "few circumstances" or "always illegal."

Yet the GOP caves on a bill that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks and promises instead to pass another worthless ban on taxpayer-funded abortions — which we all know can be ignored by hiring an accountant.

Polls change. Polls don't make you right. I know. But this week marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And while the media continue to treat every Obama non-starter and crowd-pleaser as a genuine policy idea, the 20-week abortion ban was predictably framed as another divisive play by zealous conservatives. Controversial. Republican leaders helpfully confirmed this perception by abandoning the only bill their party has come up with in years that has been widely supported.

Before the GOP pulled the bill, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank had argued that Republicans were needlessly reviving the culture war, pulling a bait-and-switch on the electorate — because abortion is not a high priority for voters and it was "rarely" campaigned on as an issue during the midterms.

Now, I can't find a corresponding piece from Milbank griping about the left's obsession with climate change, an issue that is also consistently one of the lowest priorities among voters, but I'm sure it exists somewhere. What's truly absurd, though, is the idea that the GOP alone is responsible for any "revival of the culture wars." The culture war never ended. Some of you probably remember the Democrats' gynecocentric 2014 campaign to paint every GOP candidate as a misogynist.

A big part of that attack was focused on abortion. It stopped working. So someone needs to inform House Republicans of this. Because the most mystifying aspect of the GOP's retreat on the 20-week ban is that the 20-week ban is not new. Most of these same Republicans voted on the same legislation before the midterm elections, including some of the same representatives who reportedly withdrew their support for the bill. Nearly every GOP candidate running in the midterms publicly backed the idea, even in high-profile races in which Democrats made abortion the central issue of their campaign.

Yet at the same time, Obama continues to support unrestricted abortion on demand for any reason at any time by anyone. There is no one to moderate his position. No one to make him veto a bill. No one to ask him about it. The president has no compunctions about supporting infanticide — which, by any moral or scientific standard, is what we're talking about.

It often seems as if the only time the Obama administration opposes government's coming between a woman and her doctor is when the latter is extracting a dead human being from the former. (Though, to be fair, occasionally those humans are terminated after extraction.) More than 18,000 viable or nearly viable babies do not have a chance to confer with a physician about the excruciating pain they may be experiencing. The House has better things to do than confront that situation.

This is about politics. Tragically incompetent politics. Even though a veto was imminent, you have to wonder: If the party representing the pro-life position, a party with a sizable majority, can't pull together a vote on an issue as unambiguous and risk-free as this one, what are the chances of it coming to a consensus and offering compelling arguments on issues such as health care and tax reform? Very little, I imagine.

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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Michelle Alferez Joins United Way of Santa Barbara County as Education Services Tutor

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Michelle Alferez
Michelle Alferez

United Way of Santa Barbara County is pleased to announce the addition of Michelle Alferez as a new educational services tutor.

Alferez graduated from UCSB with two bachelor of arts degrees, in global studies and feminist studies. She is trilingual in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

During her studies, Alferez was committed to volunteer work and spent six months studying abroad in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where she taught English in an underdeveloped community.

She also volunteered as a reading tutor for America Reads America Counts (AR/AC), a program that promotes literacy and mentorship with college students and young children. This program sparked her interest to work in the education field.

Prior to taking on the role of education services tutor, Alferez served as a program leader and math teacher for United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Fun in the Sun program as a special education instructional assistant at St. Andrews Preschool and as an A-OK (After School Opportunities for Kids) site coordinator at Adelante Charter School.

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing United Way of Santa Barbara County.

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New Residents Buying Into Downtown Santa Barbara’s Alma del Pueblo Project

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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The mixed-used development on West Victoria Street finds apartment buyers in locals and out-of-towners despite subcontractor lawsuits

Nearly half of the 37 residential units within Alma del Pueblo have been claimed since it was completed last summer — a number the developer of the downtown Santa Barbara project said she’s pleased with.

The first residents of the mixed-use development at 34 W. Victoria St. moved in last June, and the total number sold is estimated at 16, said Marge Cafarelli, president of the Urban Developments real estate investment company in charge of the project.

A busy sales season boosted numbers in late 2014, which is about the time Cafarelli brought on local PR firm JZPR to help get the word out about the units — costing $840,000 to $2.6 million — and the Santa Barbara Public Market, a cornerstone of the project that opened last April.

Seeing some of the units occupied on the second and third stories was a good sign for locals who feared the development would remain empty amid clashes with subcontractors claiming they hadn’t been paid.

Two subcontractors filed lawsuits last fall, and at least one of them has reached a settlement with developer Victoria Street Partners LLC and general contractor Build Group.

Santa Barbara’s Katz-Moses and Calle Construction settled for an undisclosed amount — the suit asked for $55,000 for materials and services — but a second breach of contract suit filed by Wilmington-based plumbing and mechanical contractor AMPAM Parks Mechanical hadn't yet been resolved this month.

Build Group has filed its own breach of contract suit against Victoria Street Partners LLC, alleging the developer failed to acknowledge extra work that was done and asking for more than $1.2 million for work and to pay subcontractors.

Cafarelli, who said she wasn’t involved with the lawsuits, called the litigation “messy” and noted the subcontractor lawsuits were nearly all resolved.

Alma del Pueblo
About 16 units have sold so far at Alma del Pueblo, with this show condo serving as a popular layout. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

She showed off some of the units during a tour recently, saying all but one of five multilevel apartments were spoken for and five middle-income units also had been sold.

Residents of the gated community have taken to renting one of the project’s two on-site guest rooms and to enjoying a homeowners lounge and rooftop patio, she said.

“We’ve got people moving in all the time,” Cafarelli said. “It’s primarily local with a few people from out of town.”

Local Riley Ramirez scored one of the middle-income, multilevel units and has been enjoying the one-bedroom apartment with his wife and toddler since September.

Ramirez, who works for Santa Barbara Honda, said he’s seen a lot more neighbor activity the last couple months. A handful have a place as their second home, he said, but some are just fellow, full-time natives enjoying the downtown lifestyle.

“I love it,” said Ramirez, who barbecues on the rooftop. “It’s pretty neat living in the center of town.”

Just a handful of cosmetic touches remain for the project — except for opening yet-to-be named retail and restaurant pieces fronting Victoria Street.

Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos was set to be the anchor restaurant last year, but owner Clark Staub said he was forced to pull out of the deal in absence of enough financing.

Cafarelli hoped to announce what would fill the last pieces by the end of January.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Cafarelli said. “This is a lifestyle. It’s not just buying a unit. We’re all over the boards with what’s selling, so it’s good. We’re just happy that it’s up and running.”

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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Review: Rod Lathim’s ‘Unfinished Business’ Returns with Renewed, Deeper Focus

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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When Santa Barbara audiences last saw Rod Lathim’s autobiographical play, Unfinished Business, in 2012 and then again in 2013, it was a heartfelt portrayal of his experience of his mother’s death, with liberal doses of humor among the poignancy.

Running at the Lobero Theatre through Sunday, the current incarnation of the play, written, directed, and produced by Lathim, retains all of this but has been restructured and expanded, with additional scenes and characters. As before, audience seating on three sides transform the Lobero stage into an intimate black box.

Many of the actors reprise their previous roles here, well-known and well-loved locals including Brian Harwell as David, Ann Dusenberry as the spirit of his mother, Marion Freitag as Grandma, Katie Thatcher as eccentric neighbor Sally and Solomon N’dungu as the mysterious man in white. Laura Mancuso is to be commended for again playing the role of the mother’s earthly body, who mostly just lies in the bed, but even so brings the necessary presence to the proceedings.

All are excellent, this time around seeming to have deepened their embrace of the characters and commitment to the material.

Jenna Scanlon capably steps into the role of Sis, an interesting acting challenge, as she and Harwell are romantic partners in real life, here playing siblings.

The earlier versions dramatized the earthly happenings surrounding the mother’s death, as well as delving into the world unseen by most, as David finds he is able to feel, and finally see, spirits gathering to help his mother cross over to the other side.

The new production takes it a step further, with a multi-layered approach. Each scene takes us deeper into other realms.

Added to the cast is a chorus of six characters — Are they angels? Spirit guides? Other? — played by Laurel Lyle, Leslie Gangl Howe, Jay Carlander, Cali Rae Turner, Luke Mullen and Dillon Yuhasz.

In the second act, which is all new material, we see not only the loved ones and guide who appear at the time of crossing over, but this chorus observing and (mostly) cheering them on, embodying presences with consciousness and wisdom beyond those of us “earth jockeys.”

Mullen, a student at La Colina Junior High, is a standout here, with a charm reminiscent of a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Yuhasz delivers some very funny lines with his usual grace, and Laurel Lyle is confident and steady as the apparent leader of the group.

Award-winning scenic and lighting designer Patricia Frank’s contribution is notable as well, in subtle ways enhancing the atmosphere.

Local agencies addressing death and dying in our community are represented with information tables in front of the theater before the show, providing practical support in addition to the spiritual and metaphysical questions raised by the play.

For those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, and  for those who have not yet done so, this production offers laughter, tears, comfort and some possibilities perhaps not yet considered. Take this chance to see an entirely unique view of the end of life, while there is still time.

Tickets are available for the Sunday 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. shows. Purchase online by clicking here or call the Lobero box office at 805.963.0761.

— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Capps Announces Reintroduction of Campaign Finance Reform Bills

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Friday announced that this week, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, she is joining several of her colleagues in reintroducing two campaign finance reform bills to help break the dependence on big money in elections and protect the voices of everyday Americans.

Capps is an original cosponsor of both bills.

The Government By the People Act of 2015 (House Resolution 20) would help break the influence of big money in elections, and the DISCLOSE Act would require more disclosure of political spending from corporations, lobbyists and outside groups.

“Fair, open elections are critical to our democracy, which is why I have been a longtime supporter of commonsense campaign finance reform,” Capps said. “Big money has too much influence in our elections, so I am proud to be an original cosponsor of  the DISCLOSE Act and the Government By the People Act, two pieces of legislation that will level the playing field and allow the voices of everyday Americans to be heard.”

The DISCLOSE Act would:

» Increase disclosure of political spending by corporations and outside groups to the federal election commission

» Require corporations and outside groups to stand by their broadcast ads

» Require corporations to disclose their expenditures to their shareholders and organizations to disclose their expenditures to their members

» Require lobbyists to disclose their campaign expenditures

The Government by the People Act (H.R. 20) would:

» Encourage everyday citizens to participate in congressional campaigns by providing a My Voice Tax Credit for campaign contributions

» Create a Freedom from Influence Matching Fund to ensure parity between low-dollar donors and wealthy donors

Capps, who has long supported commonsense campaign finance reform, has expressed disappointment in recent Supreme Court decisions, including the McCutcheon and Citizens United decisions, which have given the wealthiest Americans even more power in our political system. She has previously supported both the Government by the People Act and the DISCLOSE Act, which passed the House in 2010 but ultimately stalled due to partisan opposition in the Senate.

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.

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San Luis Obispo Police Identify Suspect in Online University Threats

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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A Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo student is suspected of posting threats against the university on a social media site and is being investigated by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office.

Stefan Hall, 23, allegedly posted threats on the localized Yik Yak social media site that mentioned the Cal Poly Mustangs, guns and other statements that caused a lot of concern, San Luis Obispo Police Capt. Chris Staley said.

Hall is a current Cal Poly economics student according to the university’s directory.

He could face terrorist threat charges but is not being held in custody or under arrest while the case is under review by the District Attorney’s Office, Staley said.

Authorities alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and UCSB Police since the post account was called “UCSB psycho,” but the threats don’t appear to specifically mention UCSB or Isla Vista, Staley said.

KEYT reported that threats were not substantiated but caused law enforcement to step up security near UCSB last weekend. 

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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Santa Maria Teacher Arrested on Child-Porn Charges

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Michael David Smith

A Santa Maria High School English teacher and assistant varsity basketball coach has been placed on leave while being investigated for alleged possession and distribution of child pornography.

Michael David Smith, 53, of Santa Margarita was arrested at approximately 6:30 p.m. Thursday at a residence in Santa Margarita, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office said. 

On Jan. 14, the Sheriff's Office received information that child pornography was being downloaded and distributed from a computer at a residence located in the 22000 block of I Street in Santa Margarita. 

Detectives with the sheriff's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) team served a search warrant at that location on Thursday, seizing computers, laptops, external hard drives, memory cards and DVDs. 

“On one external hard drive alone, there were multiple images of pre-pubescent children engaged in sexual acts,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “At this time, there is no evidence the manufacturing of child pornography was being conducted at the residence.

"The images appear to have been downloaded from the Internet and then distributed. The rest of the seized electronics will be forensically analyzed for child pornography. “

Smith was arrested on suspicion of one count of possession of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography. 

Detectives were working with the Santa Maria Police Department and school officials “and at this point there is no indication these crimes were committed on school grounds,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

"If you prey upon the youngest members of our society, we will find you and we will arrest you," said Tony Cipolla, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

Smith reportedly taught Introduction to Literature, Journalism and Publications (Yearbook) in addition to serving as assistant coach for varsity boys' basketball, according to the school's website.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District said in a statement released Friday that officials learned of the investigation Thursday night. 

“The employee was arrested in SLO County for alleged penal code violations. The district has placed the employee on leave ...,” the district’s statement said. “We are cooperating with law enforcement and will continue to do so during the investigation."

Smith's mid-season arrest is reminiscent of the arrest of Orcutt resident Brian Hook, the girls basketball coach at Pioneer Valley High School in 2014 as the team entered the first-round of playoffs.

The former social science teacher at Pioneer was arrested in February for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a student, whose name wasn’t released because she’s a minor, police 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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City of Goleta Accepting Grant Applications

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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The City of Goleta is accepting applications for grant funding through its Goleta City Grant Program (formerly the Community Project Grant Program) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.

Applications for grant funding are available starting Friday and must be submitted to Goleta City Hall, 130 Cremona Drive, Suite, B, Goleta, CA 93117, no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19.

For fiscal year 2015-16, up to $100,000 in funding is available for civic services, community projects, cultural activities, educational programs and special events that are of benefit to the residents of the City of Goleta. Federal CDBG funding must be used to provide public services to the homeless and low- to moderate-income residents of Goleta.

Grant Funding Requirements

» 1. All services and/or projects must benefit Goleta residents.

» 2. Services and/or projects must be sponsored by nonprofit organizations.

» 3. Categories of services and projects eligible for grants include: civic projects or services sponsored by Goleta community organizations, cultural activities (e.g. music, art, dance, recreation, etc.), educational programs, special events, regional projects of benefit to Goleta residents, and public services for low- to moderate-income people (e.g. senior services, youth programs, health services, etc.).

In order to benefit a range of activities in the community, individual grants under the Goleta City Grant Program are limited to a maximum of $3,500. CDBG Program grants have no maximum, but require recipients to follow strict federal regulations and reporting requirements.

A single application form is used for both programs and may be obtained at City of Goleta City Hall, 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B, Goleta, CA 93117, or at www.cityofgoleta.org. Questions regarding grant funding and/or requests for applications may also be directed to Claudia Dato, Neighborhood Services and Public Safety Department, at cdato@cityofgoleta.org or 805.961.7554.

The application can be found by clicking here.

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

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Westmont Theater, Music Departments Join Forces to Offer ‘One-Act Opera Classics’

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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The Westmont College theater and music departments, which won three national awards for the 2013 co-production of Pirates of Penzance, combine forces for “An Evening of One-Act Opera Classics” at 7 p.m. Jan. 30-31 and at 3 p.m. Feb. 1, all in the Porter Theatre.

Nathanson
Soprano Christine Nathanson. (Westmont College photo)

Tickets, which cost $15 for general admission and $10 for students/seniors/children, can be purchased by calling 805.565.­7140 or online by clicking here.

John Blondell, Westmont professor of theater, stages the operas that are directed by Celeste Tavera, adjunct professor and Music Drama Workshop teacher.

The evening includes La Serva Padrona (The Servant Turned Mistress), an opera buffa by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, a libretto by Gennaro Antonio Federico composed in 1733 and The Old Maid and the Thief. A Grotesque Opera in One Act, composed by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti to his own libretto in 1939.

The operas feature singers Wendy Kent, Robert Huff and Matthew Maler in “La Serva;” and Emmalee Wetzel, Serena Lee, McKenna Kleinmeier and Walter Dyer in “Old Maid.” “The singers have beautiful voices,” says Tavera, a Metropolitan Opera National Council winner who has taught voice at Westmont for nine years.

Two separate, live orchestras, conducted by Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship, accompany the singers. Designers include Westmont professors Yuri Okahana (scenery), Miller James (costumes) and Jonathan Hicks (lighting).

“The operas couldn’t be more different,” Blondell said. “Where La Serva is bright, comic and whimsical, Old Maid is more overtly psychological, and emotionally and musically demanding.

"We have worked hard to present the rich detail of each opera, and to unify them in such a way that creates a vivid and compelling evening of great music theater.

"The student performers are doing a fantastic job, and the theater and music faculty hope that this will be just the beginning for an exciting tradition of opera at Westmont.”

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

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Dr. Anabel Ford to Speak Sunday at Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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You are cordially invited to attend the seventh annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25 at the Santa Barbara Public Library.

Dr. Anabel Ford will present on the Maya traditions of conservation and development at El Pilar.

Admission to the event is free. Come and find out about Chaya, the Maya tree spinach with more protein, vitamin C and calcium that common spinach! All you need to do is to plant a stick on the ground and — wow! — you have Maya Chaya.

Click here for more information on the event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

— Dr. Anabel Ford represents the Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap.

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Goleta Chamber Holding ‘We Love Our Members’ B2B Breakfast

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold a "We Love Our Members" Business-2-Business Breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3 in Earl's Place at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara.

Join us as we celebrate you — our members!

Renew by Jan. 30 to be entered to win amazing prizes from Goleta Chamber prize sponsors and receive $5 admission. You do not need to be present to win.

Attendees will be provided an opportunity to introduce themselves and their business in a 20-second elevator pitch to the crowd.

A hot breakfast from Georgia's Smokehouse, piping hot coffee from Zizzo's Coffee and refreshing water from Team Cashman, State Farm will be served promptly at 7:30 a.m.

The cost is $5 for renewed members, $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers.

Click here to register. For more information or for sponsor opportunities, contact David Hunt at 805.967.2500 x5 or david@goletavalley.com.

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Bill Macfadyen: Was Downtown Burglary Binge a Feat of Physical Fitness, Dumb Luck, or Both?

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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NoozWeek’s Top 5 squares off over worker’s comp, meets a repeat DUI offender, jams with Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, and takes one last shot at ‘Illegals’

There were 79,606 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

1. Dozen Santa Barbara Businesses Recovering from Overnight Burglary Spree

More than a dozen businesses in and around downtown Santa Barbara were hit in an hours-long burglary spree in the middle of the night early on Jan. 17.

Two local teenagers were arrested, but a third suspect apparently has not yet been taken into custody.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Bryan Jensen said the perps may have caused as much as $100,000 in damage as they brazenly roamed about.

“The first call was at 2:45 in the morning, and then we basically were chasing these crooks around the city,” he said, referring to the first security alarm to be triggered.

Jensen said the party apparently started with a break-in just after midnight at La Bella Rosa Bakery, at 1411 San Andres St. on the Westside.

From there, the alleged juvenile delinquents hit Super Cucas Restaurant, 626 W. Micheltorena St.; Mobil Gas, 402 W. Mission St.; Paradise Tobacco, 1926 De la Vina St.; Fuzion Gallery & Boutique, 1115 State St.; Dahlia’s Beauty Salon, 1021 State St.; Instant Klasick, 811 State St.; South Coast Deli, 10 E. Carrillo St.; Ashtanga Yoga, 1213 State St., Suite J; Sabrina Full Service Salon & Boutique, 1305 Chapala St.; and several businesses inside the Santa Barbara Public Market in the Alma del Pueblo complex at 38 W. Victoria St.

There also were attempted break-ins at Carrillo Market, 626 W. Micheltorena St.; The Game Stop, 803 Chapala St.; and Saks Fifth Avenue, 1001 State St., as well as a vandalized vehicle at Ayers Repairs, 1301 Chapala St.

Two suspects, ages 17 and 16, were apprehended about 4 a.m. Saturday near the MTD station in the 1000 block of Chapala Street, said Jensen, who added that a large amount of cash and loot was recovered.

Perhaps even more incredibly, police think the dynamic duo was on foot throughout most of the burglary binge. Oh, well. There go those cross-country dreams — a month too soon to be inspired by McFarland, USA.

I’m hardly alone in wondering how two adolescent pedestrians could ransack so many businesses over such a wide swath of the city during such a long period of time without being detected — even if it was in the dark of night. Could it really have been dumb luck that they managed to mostly avoid businesses with security systems? 

The teens were booked into Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall. Names were not released because of their ages.

2. Owners of Santa Barbara Paving Company Arrested in Worker’s Compensation Fraud Case​

A prosecutor with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has cracked down — hard — on what he contends is a clear-cut case of worker’s compensation fraud.

Al Rodriguez is to be arraigned next week on worker’s compensation fraud charges. His attorney has indicated he’s not yet begun to fight. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)
Al Rodriguez is to be arraigned next week on worker’s compensation fraud charges. His attorney has indicated he’s not yet begun to fight. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

According to a statement issued Jan. 16 by District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling has charged the owners of a local paving company and one of their employees with 42 felony counts in the case.

United Paving owners Al Rodriguez and his wife, Maria, and longtime employee Bryon Duran were arrested Jan. 14 after a months-long investigation by Gemberling, the California Department of Insurance’s Fraud Division, the Franchise Tax Board, the Employment Development Department and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Among the charges: worker’s compensation premium fraud, fraudulent denial of worker’s compensation benefits, wage theft and violations of the California Unemployment Insurance Code.

“If you were employed by United Seal Coating, United Seal Coating and Slurry Seal Inc., Santa Barbara Paving or United Paving within the past four years and believe you were a victim of wage theft or denied worker’s compensation benefits, you are encouraged to contact the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office at 805.568.2300,” according to the statement.

Not so fast, says the trio’s legal counsel, Ron Bamieh of Bamieh & Erickson.

“The district attorney has capitulated to several years of pressure from labor unions in deciding to file charges against Al Rodriguez’s business,” he said.

Bamieh added that organized labor has long complained about the “nonunion business,” a frequent contractor on lucrative UC Santa Barbara jobs.

The family-owned company “was able to provide construction more efficiently and economically than union companies on construction jobs on the UCSB campus,” he said, asserting that the charges against Maria Rodriguez and Duran were brought only to put more pressure on Rodriguez himself.

The Rodriguezes and Duran are to be arraigned Jan. 30 in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

3. Woman With Multiple DUI Convictions Arrested Again on Suspicion of DUI

Is the drive-through criminal justice system working for Linda Mendoza? (Santa Maria Police Department photo)
Is the drive-through criminal justice system working for Linda Mendoza? (Santa Maria Police Department photo)

The night of Jan. 17, Santa Maria police arrested a woman on suspicion of felony DUI. Not terribly surprising for a weekend roundup.

But as our Tom Bolton discovered, it apparently wasn’t this woman’s first rodeo.

It turns out that the cops arrested Linda Grace Mendoza, 50, of Santa Maria, who has a history of drunken-driving convictions — three in the last 10 years, in fact.

According to police Lt. Dan Cohen, officers found Mendoza behind the wheel of a car parked — thankfully — in the 1600 block of North Broadway.

She was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for that, as well as the charges of driving with a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent, driving while on probation for DUI and driving with a suspended license.

Local legends Kenny Loggins, left, and Michael McDonald were happy to lend their distinctive sounds to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. (SOhO Restaurant & Music Club photo)
Local legends Kenny Loggins, left, and Michael McDonald were happy to lend their distinctive sounds to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club. (SOhO Restaurant & Music Club photo)

4. Jeff Moehlis: This Is It — Loggins and McDonald to Perform at SOhO

SOhO Restaurant & Music Club is spending 2015 celebrating its 20th anniversary in downtown Santa Barbara.

As part of the festivities — and to help the club raise money for much-needed tenant improvements at the fraying Victoria Court location — the club turned to a couple of Santa Barbara’s best-known musicians: Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.

The pair performed Jan. 18 before a packed crowd at the club at 1221 State St., Suite 205.

Before the gig, Loggins, my former neighbor, was kind enough to talk to our Jeff Moehlis about the importance of SOhO as a venue — to the community as well as to his own family.

5. Bill Macfadyen: Lesbians, ‘Illegals’ and The Oddest Daily Newspaper in Southern California

Since my last column, friends have been bombarding me with questions about the latest controversy involving Santa Barbara’s daily newspaper. “You must really be enjoying this, right?” they ask.

Actually, no. While the bumbling may be modestly beneficial for our traffic, Fossil Media are largely irrelevant to Noozhawk. I would much rather spend our time and resources on more important matters for our readers.

But that’s just my opinion.

                                                                 •        •        •

Natalie Tran has perfect timing for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

(communitychannel 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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Santa Barbara’s Sales Tax, Transient Occupancy Tax Growth Continues

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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The City of Santa Barbara received $5.5 million in sales tax for the quarter ended Sept. 30, representing the first sales tax quarter of the current fiscal year.

Since sales tax is received quarterly from the state and one quarter in arrears, the first full sales tax payment of each fiscal year is not received until December. Sales tax growth for the September quarter was 6.9 percent higher than receipts in the same quarter of last fiscal year.

Sales tax results for the December quarter, including sales during the holiday shopping season, will be available in March.

Click here to view the sales tax table.

The transient occupancy tax (TOT) collected in November was 16.9 percent above the amount collected in November 2013, with one fewer weekend day this year. In addition, TOT collected in December was 11.1 percent above the amount collected in December 2013.

TOT continues its strong growth, posting overall growth of 12 percent through December.

Good weather continues to be a factor in these strong results, but it is also due to hotels coming back on line after major renovations. Year-to-date, over $9.9 million in TOT has been collected. The fiscal year 2015 TOT budgeted is $17,641,400, which is 4.9 percent higher than fiscal year 2014.

Click here to view the transient occupancy tax table.

— Robert Samario is the finance director for the City of Santa Barbara.

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Jeff Moehlis: Catch Patti Smith at the Granada

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Lenny Kaye, the group's longtime guitarist, talks about the upcoming show

Patti Smith first rocked the world 40 years ago with her fusion of poetry and primitive three-chord rock. Her 1975 debut Horses is regularly ranked as one of the most influential rock-and-roll albums of all time, and she went on to release other acclaimed albums — and to continue to thrill audiences — throughout the decades, all the while growing as an artist.

Smith will be performing next Tuesday night at the Granada Theatre, a show presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures; tickets are available by clicking here.

Smith's secret weapon throughout most of her musical journey has been guitarist Lenny Kaye, who provided accompaniment at her first public poetry reading in 1971, was in Smith's band during her 1970s heyday and rejoined when Smith returned to action in the mid-1990s. In a parallel life, Kaye also put together the well-regarded Nuggets compilation, which rescued a smokin' set of 1960s garage rock gems from obscurity.

Kaye talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming show. The full interview is available by clicking here.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at the upcoming show?

Lenny Kaye: [laughs] Well, that's a question we always ask ourselves.

We try to make each show unique to where we're playing and the mood of the crowd, and the vibrations of the night. It's going to be a special show for us because our drummer, Jay Dee Daugherty, is from Santa Barbara, so the town has been part of our universe for the past 40 years.

We do a mixture of songs that people hope to hear — when I go to a concert I like to hear my favorite hits — but we also have some challenging songs that allow us to stretch and improvise. It's going to be not very much Horses based, because we'll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of our debut album later this year. So we're going to be dipping into stranger corners of our catalog and seeing what comes. But always it's the audience and the venue and the stars above that determine the shape of the night.

JM: I saw the show back in 2009 that Patti did here with Philip Glass, and you and Jay Dee came out for part of that show. That was a very cool evening, but I'm guessing it was very different from what we'll be hearing next week.

LK: Oh yeah, totally. I mean, this is our first full band show in Santa Barbara. With Philip it was a little more of a special occasion, and it was acoustic-based if I'm not mistaken. This will be amps turned up and people rocking. But when we speak of a rock show, one of the things I love about our band is that we have a very wide range of how we approach our music. You know, we can go from the most tender, intimate and quiet things to full roar and rebellion. In the course of the show we will visit all these facets of our personality.

Patti is always wanting to make sure that we are not bound by definition or convention. We believe that all of music is there to be explored and understood and elevated. In the course of what we do, we try to approach it with a sense of freedom and no boundaries. It's one of the reasons why we are so long-lived as a band — that we continually try to move forward, and not be captured by who we were in the past. This doesn't mean that we deny where we come from, but it also means that we don't want to be trapped. We don't particularly feel like our music belongs to any particular era or time. We always try to point forward in our sense of creation.

JM: You said that the upcoming show isn't going to focus on Horses, but with the 40th anniversary coming up, it's in people's minds. What are your reflections on that album?

LK: For me, it's a very young band. We're a bunch of colts straining at the bit, trying to channel all of these ideas that we had into the grooves of an actual record. For a band that was very much of the moment, all about improvisation, all about capturing the mood of the night, to make a record is a different animal. I hear us as very young, but certainly with our ideals intact, and on a mission to preserve the spirit of rock-and-roll in the same way that it inspired us when we were young.

The sense of empowerment within the music was so real to all of us who were kind of mutants in whatever social universes we came out of. We found it within the music, especially in its grand flowering in the late '60s, which was a remarkable moment culturally, and especially with music leading the artistic charge, it was very inspirational. And in a sense what we wanted to do was provide that same sense of inspiration.

As we made our first tours around America with Horses, we would find whatever city we would get into that there would be a core of musicians waiting for a rallying cry, waiting to create their own sense of creation, their own sense of growth, and to plant the flag where ideas that were off the mainstream could flourish. I feel like we attempted to celebrate the virtues of the music that had set us free, as well.

What I'm always, of course, most happy about is that no matter how influential Horses was in terms of giving people a sense of possibility, that none of them really sounded like us. It was more a sense that, "Yes, we could find our own voice and become who we need to be." And the artists who took notice of this — Michael Stipe of R.E.M., or Morrissey from The Smiths, or any of the artists who have come up to us over the years and said how inspirational Horses was — that they all had their own way of expression, that they didn't become Patti. But nobody can become Patti. She's a unique individual, and certainly has a sense of creative vision and artistic awareness that is unique to her, and yet can also inspire that same sense of creativity in those who partake of our music.

JM: Do you want to set the record straight on anything about your career, or something about Patti Smith?

LK: I always think that people look at one perspective of what we do.

In some ways, Patti is the Godmother of Punk. But what exactly does that mean? I would hope that everybody would approach our music in the same sense of expansiveness and adventurousness that we do, that we are beyond definition, that really what happens is that we are dealing with the enlightenment of the human spirit. That's a beautiful place to be within the realm of art.

Just remember that that comes with a sense of responsibility, and that comes with a sense of obligation to one's audience and to oneself. To keep that balance going is the trick of any artist who is not tied to a particular moment in time. Other than that, sometimes misconceptions are great because even if they don't get it right, it gets into their world, and that's always a good path to self-knowledge.

— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Colby-Sawyer College Names Krista Peace of Santa Barbara to Dean’s List

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Colby-Sawyer College has named Krista Peace of Santa Barbara to the Dean's List for academic achievement during the 2014 fall semester.

To qualify for the Dean's List, students must achieve a grade-point average of 3.50 or higher on a 4.0 scale while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours in graded courses.

Peace is majoring in health promotion and is a member of the class of 2015.

Colby-Sawyer College is a comprehensive college that integrates the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation. Founded in 1837, Colby-Sawyer is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire.

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Cooper Allebrand of Santa Barbara Earns Dean’s List Honors at Roger Williams University

By | Published on 01/23/2015

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Cooper Allebrand, a resident of Santa Barbara, has been named to the fall 2014 Dean's List at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

Allebrand is a foreign languages major.

Full-time students who complete 12 or more credits per semester and earn a GPA of 3.4 or higher are placed on the Dean's List that semester.

Roger Williams University, with its main campus located on the coast of Bristol, R.I., is a forward-thinking private university with 45 undergraduate majors spanning the liberal arts and the professions, where students become community-minded citizens through project-based, experiential learning.

With small classes, direct access to faculty and boundless opportunity for real-world projects, RWU students develop the ability to think critically while simultaneously building the practical skills that today's employers demand. In the two years since launching its signature Affordable Excellence initiative, the University has established itself as a leader in American higher education by confronting the most pressing issues facing students and families - increasing costs that limit access to college, rising debt and the job readiness of graduates.

In addition to its 4,000 undergraduates, RWU is home to more than a dozen graduate programs, a thriving School of Continuing Studies based in Providence as well as Rhode Island's only law school.

— Lynda Curtis represents Roger Williams University.

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SEIU Members Ask Santa Maria Council for ‘Fair’ Wage Hike

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Santa Maria workers who keep city vehicles running, operate the water plant, maintain city streets and fill assorted other jobs are urging the City Council to give them “a fair and equitable contract” as salary negotiations continue.

The workers, who are represented by SEIU Local 620, showed up in force at Tuesday night's council meeting to plead their case.

Union representatives referred to what they say was a “wildly inaccurate” salary survey conducted by city negotiators.

“We will continue our relentless pursuit of the truth as far as we need to ensure our members receive a fair and equitable contract,” said Darryl Scheck, SEIU Local 620 field representative. “In the meantime, I encourage you to look within and ask yourself, 'Is it fair that one group should be so disparately treated compared to other labor groups in the city?'”

The union action came before the City Council's scheduled discussion in closed session about negotiations. The council didn’t take any reportable action during those conversations, City Manager Rick Haydon said. 

Both sides were to talk again this week.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll come to terms of agreement with them,” Haydon told Noozhawk.

Employees reportedly are seeking a 3.5 percent salary hike, akin to the 3.6 percent public safety groups received. 

“We are hopeful that we can secure better terms in our negotiations with the city since Tuesday night's action,” Scheck said Thursday.

The union’s “last, best and final offer” is still less than other labor groups accepted, Scheck added. 

Sporting purple shirts with the words “Stronger Together,” Local 620 members rallied in front of City Hall and then flooded into the council chambers Tuesday night.

Doug Shearer, a union member and landfill employee, noted that the city offers free day-passes that allow utility customers to dump items for no cost, adding up to approximately $240,000 in lost revenue for coffers.

“But you guys don’t even blink an eye to that,” Shearer said. “And, why? Because it’s good politics. It’s sexy. It’s got good meat for your constituents.

“I know this bargaining unit isn’t sexy, and we’re probably not as popular as some of the other organizations in the city, but all we ask is a fair shake for our families and our friends."

SEIU Local 620 represents approximately 264 employees, officials said.

The city has about half the number of miscellaneous employees per capita as either the cities of Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo, union officials contend.

The union members agreed to unpaid furloughs in recent years to help the city through bad financial times, and worked for the passage of a measure to boost sales taxes to fund public safety.

“We’re the jack-of-all-trades, the worker bees,” said Michelle Ruiz, a city employee and union member. “We’re a collective group of different individuals with different responsibilities who keep the city functioning.”

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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Lompoc Police Release Identity of Homicide Victim

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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The victim of an apparent homicide in Lompoc has been identified as Salvador Hernandez, a 57-year-old transient, Lompoc police Capt. Ed Lardner said Thursday.

Hernandez's body​ was found Wednesday in tall vegetation behind the Valero Gas Station in the 900 block of North H Street.

An autopsy on Hernandez was conducted Thursday, but the results were pending toxicology and other reports, Lardner said.

He previously had said Hernandez suffered multiple stab wounds.

On Wednesday, police booked Noe Herrera, 28, of Lompoc on suspicion of murder in Hernandez's slaying. 

Herrera already was in custody because he was arrested in connection with an assault with a deadly weapon at about 9 p.m. Tuesday in a residence in the 400 block of North L Street, police said.

The brutal assault reportedly involved a relative. 

Noe Herrera

While investigators interviewed Herrera about the assault, he told them about the homicide, Lardner said, and directed police to the body, which was found Wednesday afternoon.

Police said the suspect and the slaying victim were acquaintances, but Lardner would not expand on how they knew other.

Since he has been in custody this week, Herrara reportedly also has attacked a cell mate.

After reviewing police reports, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office expects to file formal charges against Herrera as soon as Friday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Lompoc.

Police officers in Lompoc reportedly have had prior contact with Herrera.

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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Toll from Weekend Break-ins Raised to 14 Businesses in Santa Barbara

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Two teens have been charged in the case, and police are seeking a third suspect in the spree that caused thousands of dollars in damage

Santa Barbara police say more businesses than originally reported were affected by a string of overnight break-ins last weekend, and a third suspect in the case remained at large.

The crime spree involved 14 businesses — not 11 — and one vehicle vandalized outside Ayers Repairs at 1301 Chapala St., according to police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

He told Noozhawk police were still seeking a third suspect after apprehending the two local teenagers authorities believe to be responsible for the nearly four-hour burglary spree that caused thousands of dollars in damage to businesses.

The two suspects, whose names were not released because they are minors, were booked into the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall.

Because the investigation was ongoing, Harwood couldn’t share many details this week, but he did say the teens — ages 16 and 17 — were from Santa Barbara and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they carried out a series of crimes that began at 12:20 a.m. last Friday night.

Harwood said estimates showed $20,000 in property damage and $13,000 in losses, although police recovered about $8,000 worth of stolen merchandise.

Police believe the break-ins began on the Westside at La Bella Rosa Bakery, 1411 San Andres St.

From there, suspects moved downtown, Harwood said, using a brick or rock to break some windows and likely traveling on foot.

Police weren’t sure in what order the break-ins occurred, since some of the businesses didn’t have active alarm systems, he said. An alarm alerted officers to the break-ins about 2:45 a.m.

Affected businesses included Santa Barbara Public Market, 38 W. Victoria St., Mobil Gas, 402 W. Mission St.; Paradise Tobacco, 1926 De la Vina St.; Fuzion Gallery & Boutique, 1115 State St.; Super Cucas Restaurant, 626 W. Micheltorena St.; Dahlia’s Beauty Salon, 1021 State St.; Instant Klasick, 811 State St.; and South Coast Deli, 10 E. Carrillo St., Harwood said.

Sabrina Full Service Salon & Boutique at 1305 Chapala St. and Ashtanga Yoga at 1213 State St., Suite J were added to the list this week.

There were attempted break-ins at the Saks Fifth Avenue department store at 1001 State St., Carrillo Market, 626 W. Micheltorena St. and The Game Stop, 803 Chapala St. — where Harwood said responding officers saw the suspects.

Patrolling Mission Security guards also spotted them outside the Public Market.

“One of our officers saw the suspects trying to get into a taxi cab,” Harwood said. “When the cab started to drive away, the officers basically pounced on them.”

The teens were apprehended at about 4 a.m. Saturday near the MTD station on Chapala Street, he said.

Harwood said the difference between a break-in and an attempted break-in was whether suspects passed the threshold with an intent to commit theft or a felony.

“You don’t have to actually steal something for the burglary to be complete,” he said. “It does kind of fit the pattern of how burglaries happen. We don’t have a lot of burglars (locally), but you have a small number of active people, and they commit a lot of burglaries before they get caught.

“These guys were obviously rather brazen or careless. We’re dealing with juveniles here as well. A number of places had video, and that has been helpful in this investigation.”

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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Bagpipers Treat Elephants to Birthday Serenade at Santa Barbara Zoo

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Asian elephant Sujatha received a birthday bagpipe serenade on Thursday by members of the Santa Barbara Sheriff Pipe & Drum Corps at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Sujatha turns 44 years old on Friday. Her companion, Little Mac, turns 44 next month. Both elephants have lived at the Santa Barbara Zoo since they arrived from India in 1971 as part of a trade with the Mysore Zoo, in return for California sea lions.

Sujatha was born to a working mother in an Indian logging camp, and Little Mac was discovered nearby in the forest, apparently orphaned.

In the response to the bagpipes, the two pachyderms trumpeted, made low humming sounds, swayed from side to side and touched each other with their trunks. Instead of a birthday cake, Sujatha was presented with a carved-out pumpkin, her favorite treat, filled with apples and mashed pumpkin.

Why perform for an elephant? Elephants are high intelligent animals and respond to changes in their environment. At the zoo, keepers provide daily “enrichment” by moving logs and sand around in the elephant enclosure, suspending branches and food from a 30-foot-tall umbrella-shaped hoist, hiding food treats and even sprinkling scents in different areas. The goal is to provide stimulation and variety for the pachyderms. Elephants can live up to 70 years, but usually average 55, making the zoo’s pachyderms roughly middle-age.

The Pipe & Drum Corps is a volunteer element of theSanta Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. Formed in 2007, it is the only law enforcement pipe band between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It supports the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Honor Guard in its ceremonial duties and in department activities such as graduations, promotions, holiday events, fundraisers, retirements and others.

— Julia McHugh is the director of public relations for the Santa Barbara Zoo.

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Santa Maria Elks Recognize Valley’s Top Firefighters During Appreciation Night

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Honorees of the 37th annual event include Gary Helming, Patrick Youngern, Daniel Haynes, Ryan Mack and Derek McLeod

U.S. Forest Service firefighter Gary Helming was surprised to hear his name called Wednesday night as one of the winners of the top firefighter awards handed out in the Santa Maria Valley.

The 37th annual Firefighters Appreciation Night attracted approximately 250 people to the Santa Maria Elks Lodge, where Exalted Ruler Steve McGehee introduced those giving out the awards for the five agencies.

While some winners knew ahead of time about the awards, Helming was shocked to hear his name announced by Santa Lucia Ranger District Division Chief Nathan Rezeau as the agency’s winner. 

Helming served as the incident commander for the 500-acre Branch Fire in southeastern San Luis Obispo County in 2013 and with limited resources led the force that battled the remote and challenging blaze.

“Above all, he’s a great mentor, teacher and leader,” Rezeau said. “Through all this, he maintains a very level head and positive attitude.”

Helming, who was accompanied to the podium by his son, Riley, expressed appreciation to the Elks for the recognition night and ongoing support of the community.

“To the other firefighters, I hope this serves as that message to us that we need to continue to up our game and continue to earn the trust of the people we serve and protect whether it be from a land-management agency perspective or an all-risk, all-hazard perspective,” Helming said.

His wife, Andrea, also works for U.S. Forest Service as air tanker base manager in Santa Maria.

“We do it as a family love,” Helming said.

Elks firefighters
Derek McLeod, a firefighter/instructor, was recognized with the top award for the Allan Hancock College Fire Safety and EMS Programs during the Santa Maria Elks' Firefighters Appreciation Night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Maria Fire Chief Dan Orr presented his department’s award to Patrick Youngern, a fire engineer who also is an acting captain. The annual award winner is nominated and selected by the department’s members.

“There is no higher honor than to be recognized by your peers,” Orr said.

The mechanically-gifted Youngern — “Pat was born with a wrench in his hand,” the chief noted — was one of the masterminds in designing what features should be included on the city’s two new fire engines, Orr said. 

“He spent an unbelievable amount of time thinking about how these engines were going to be built,” Orr said, adding the department is proud of its newest additions. “Pat gives 110 percent every single day to ensure the citizens and visitors of Santa Maria received absolutely the finest service that he is able to provide.”

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department award went to Daniel Haynes, a firefighter/paramedic who works at Station No. 21 in Old Orcutt. He also serves as a field training officer for other paramedics and instructor for the agency.

Haynes goes “above and beyond” as he serves compassionately, Division Chief Ray Navarro said. 

While accepting the award, Haynes paused to recognize two of his colleagues.

“The job of a firefighter isn’t individual,” Haynes said. “The job of a firefighter requires teamwork. We use teamwork on every single call we go on …”

Guadalupe Public Safety Director Gary Hoving presented the award to Ryan Mack, a fire engineer. This winner also was chosen by department members.

Mack, who joined the department in 2011, holds associate’s degrees in firefighting and emergency medical services. The chief said Mack recently succeeded in obtaining nonprofit status for the Guadalupe Firefighters Association.

The Allan Hancock College fire safety and EMS programs recognized Derek McLeod, a firefighter/instructor who also works for the Santa Maria Fire Department. 

Fire Academy coordinator Andy Densmore noted the vital participation of full-time firefighters who serve as part-time instructors. 

The program survives “largely through the initiative and selflessness of our part-time staff,” Densmore said. 

“It’s a special breed of character that through personal initiative, identifies a need, a shortcoming or a problem in some area and then makes himself and his personal time available to effect solutions and remedies,” Densmore said. “We’re fortunate to have such people on our part-time staff. Our Allan Hancock College honoree is one of those people.”

The honorees also were given certificates from representatives of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara; Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo; Fifth District County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino; Fourth District County Supervisor Peter Adam; and more.

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 Face

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Santa Barbara Association of Realtors: Real Estate Year in Review, 2014

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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We all expected that the real estate market would continue to recover in 2014, but I don’t think anyone anticipated that the median home price for our area would rise so rapidly, especially after the gains we saw in 2013.

Kalia Rork
Kalia Rork

The median price for houses on the Santa Barbara South Coast increased by a whopping 18.6 percent last year. The selling price for houses started the year at $945,000, and ended the year at $1,120,500, topping $1 million for the first time since 2008. Just two years ago, the median price for a house here in this beautiful coastal area stood at $795,000. At the end of 2013, median selling price was $945,000. That is an increase of 41 percent in just two years, and that’s a tremendous and newsworthy recovery, and a big jump in median price. The median is the number in the middle, and median home price reflects appreciation in home values as well as the mix of homes for sale.

Home values have appreciated, plus more high-end homes have sold in 2014, causing this significant increase in the median. If we exclude Montecito and Hope Ranch (two of our highest-priced areas) from the statistics, the median price increase is 9.2 percent for all the other districts combined (Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria/Summerland). Therefore, we can estimate that about half of the overall gain in median price reflects home appreciation.

An interesting side note, however: the year-to-date increase in median price was higher at the end of the third quarter (23.5 percent), and we thought we might be on our way to a record year in price appreciation. But, the median price dropped by 4.6 percent over the last three months of the year and we ended up at “only” 18.6 percent. Although it’s normal for things to slow down toward the end of the year, it’s not too common for a trend to reverse this significantly. This could signify that the jump in median price was too much for buyers to accept and next year our prices may not rise as quickly.

But let’s discuss a few other trends of 2014 before gazing into the 2015 crystal ball.

Record-Breaking Year

Although 2014 did not break the record for biggest jump in prices for one year — that record still stands at 24.3 percent in 2005 — we did break a record in 2014. We broke the record for the fewest homes listed for sale! (At least since 1991; I don’t have records for new listings prior to that.)

There were only 1,495 homes listed for sale in all South County, and 71 percent of those (1,056) homes closed escrow last year. About 70 percent of listed homes selling is fairly normal, and fewer homes closed escrow during the weak market (2006 to 2011), but the dearth of homes available to buy now — the number of active listings — is certainly slowing things down.

If you were searching for a home to buy in 2014, at some point you said, “There’s nothing for sale!” Statistically, there were 6.9 percent fewer homes for sale last year than in 2013, which was also a year of low home inventory.

Seller’s Market?

During years of rapid price appreciation like we had in 2013 and 2014, it’s not unusual for sellers to wait on the sidelines a few months if they can. Why not wait, if I can get 10 percent more for my house next year?

Remember, 10 percent translates to $100,000 or more in Santa Barbara real estate dollars. However, now that prices are starting to level out, it would be wise for those who want to sell but have been holding off, to list their properties for sale this spring.

Rork Table
Table 1.

In Table 1, you will see the Months of Inventory for each of our districts. Months of inventory is the time it takes to sell all the homes currently listed at the current pace of sales, if no new homes were to hit the market (active listings divided by sales pending). Generally, less than four months is considered a “seller’s market” because fewer homes for sale favors sellers. If there is more than 6 months of inventory, that would favor buyers as there would be more homes to choose from and less competition. Overall, the South Coast has just 2.8 months of inventory, which is normally a very strong seller’s market. However, as mentioned above, home values are not likely to rise as much in 2015, and buyers are becoming more discriminating.

Homes that are not well priced compared to their neighbors are sitting on the market with no offers. Despite the low inventory, the average days that a home is marketed before getting an offer is 71. Well-priced homes are selling within the first few weeks. Overpriced homes can sit on the market for months, bringing up the average. Unless your property is very unique or priced over about $3 million, if you haven’t received an offer after two months of good marketing, your house is overpriced. There are plenty of buyers out there who want to buy, and if dozens have seen your house, with no bidders, it’s time to drop the price, make repairs and improvements, or stage the house to get it sold.

As you see in Table 1, the Months of Inventory number is different for our various districts, and we are seeing some unusual trends. Our most affordable district, Goleta, is the strongest sellers’ market with only 1.4 months of inventory. Low inventory (supply) and lots of buyers (demand) leads to higher prices, right? Nope. Not this time. Even though our inventory is very low in Goleta, this is where we had our weakest price appreciation. Prices increased just 3.7 percent year over year, compared to double digits for all other districts except Carpinteria, which posted over 8 percent gain (see Table 2 below).

And let’s look at Montecito (with a year-end median selling price of $2.7 million), where there is a 10-month supply of homes. Greater supply usually puts downward pressure on price, but not in this case. Montecito posted 12.5 percent gain in median price in 2014, even with over six months of inventory as we entered the year. One might venture that this signals a coming change: With low inventory in Goleta, prices are bound to come up a little more in 2015.

Will that be my crystal ball prediction? No. Inventory in Goleta was really low at the end of 2013 too (just 1.5 months), and that didn’t lead buyers to pay more. Also, I think the lessons of the recent boom and bust in real estate are still fresh in people’s minds, leading buyers to be cautious. And will the higher inventory in Montecito cause prices to level out in that district? Again, I think we’ll continue to buck the rules in 2015. As the economy improves, I predict prices at the top end of our market will continue to rise more than the other segments, and prices toward the lower end will continue to level out. Overall, however, we predict a modest median price increase in 2015.

Table 2: Increase in median price by district, with 2013 numbers followed by 2014 and percent increase.

Houses — $945,000, $1,120,500, 18.6%

Carp/Summerland — $852,500, $922,500, 8.2%

Montecito —- $2,400,000, $2,700,000, 12.5%

Santa Barbara — $903,250, $1,075,000, 19.0%

Hope Ranch — $2,375,000, $2,812,500, 18.4%

Goleta — $775,000, $803,500, 3.7%

Condos — $507,500, $560,000, 10.3%

Total — $820,000, $900,000, 9.8%

One other tidbit about the differences in our market segments. Only 257 homes closed escrow in Goleta in 2014 (see Table 1), compared to 363 in 2013 — that’s 29 percent fewer homes. Montecito, on the other hand, had 192 homes sell last year, only 7.7 percent fewer than the year before.

Foreclosures and Short Sales

The other news in 2014 is what didn’t make headlines: distressed sales. In 2014, about 2.7 percent of our total sales were some sort of distressed sale (foreclosure or short sale). In 2013, that number was about 9.8 percent. The number of foreclosures (trustee’s deeds) recorded in the whole county is down one-third from 2013 and stood at 231. Remember, this number is for north and south county combined. In 2013, our entire county recorded 343 foreclosures, and in 2012, there were 896. At the worst, 2008, the county recorded 1,858 trustee’s deeds. We are down almost 90 percent from that record number. One doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that distressed sales won’t play much of a part in 2015 real estate in Santa Barbara.

The best news in all of this is that homeowners who owed more on their mortgage last year than their home was worth (which is sometimes referred to as “being underwater”) may now have some equity. That means they may be able to refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage or sell without doing a short sale, for example. Plus, it’s simply less stressful to know that your house is not underwater anymore.

Rork Table 3
Table 3.

The bar graph in Table 3 shows a good visual representation of this. Someone who purchased a home between 2005 and 2007 lost significant value in that home by 2009. You can also see in that bar chart that the median home price in 2014 is nearly up to 2006 levels.

It’s also interesting to see how the number of recorded foreclosures in inversely correlated to median home price in Santa Barbara — not surprising.

Rork Table 4
Table 4.

Table 4 shows the median price of a house in Santa Barbara since 1991 (in thousands) as well as the actual numbers of recorded trustee’s deeds in the entire county for the same time period.

2015 Predictions

In 2015, expect buyers to be eager to buy well-priced homes, especially in the spring and summer, and to turn away from homes overpriced for their current condition. It’s more important than ever to showcase your home in its best light when listing it for sale. We predict that the number of sales will increase a bit in 2015 as more homes come on the market with sellers realizing that the biggest gains are likely behind us for a few years.

If mortgage interest rates rise, then the pace of sales will slow in the fall and winter, but expect it to be lively this spring. Prices, yes, they’ll continue to rise, but in the single digits, says the 2015 fortune teller, knee deep in historical statistical trends.

— Kalia Rork is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara and a member of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors Statistical Review Committee. She may be reached at kalia@liveinsb.com or 805.965.1098, and by clicking here. The opinions expressed are her own.

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David Sirota: Big Tax Bills for the Poor, Tiny Ones for the Rich

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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American politics are dominated by those with money. As such, America's tax debate is dominated by voices that insist the rich are unduly persecuted by high taxes and that low-income folks are living the high life. Indeed, a new survey by the Pew Research Center recently found that the most financially secure Americans believe "poor people today have it easy."

The rich are certainly entitled to their own opinions — but, as the old saying goes, nobody is entitled to their own facts. With that in mind, here's a set of tax facts that's worth considering: Middle- and low-income Americans are facing far higher state and local tax rates than the wealthy. In all, a comprehensive analysis by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest 20 percent of households pay on average more than twice the effective state and local tax rate (10.9 percent) as the richest 1 percent of taxpayers (5.4 percent).

ITEP researchers say the incongruity derives from state and local governments' reliance on sales, excise and property taxes rather than on more progressively structured income taxes that increase rates on higher earnings. They argue that the tax disconnect is helping create the largest wealth gap between the rich and middle class in American history.

"In recent years, multiple studies have revealed the growing chasm between the wealthy and everyone else," said Matt Gardner, executive director of ITEP. "Upside-down state tax systems didn't cause the growing income divide, but they certainly exacerbate the problem. State policymakers shouldn't wring their hands or ignore the problem. They should thoroughly explore and enact tax reform policies that will make their tax systems fairer."

The 10 states with the largest gap between tax rates on the rich and poor are a politically and geographically diverse group — from traditional Republican bastions such as Texas and Arizona to Democratic strongholds such as Illinois and Washington.

The latter state, ITEP reports, is the most regressive of all. Four years after billionaire moguls such as Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer funded a campaign to defeat an income-tax ballot measure, Washington now makes low-income families pay seven times the effective tax rate that the rich pay. That's right, those in the poorest 20 percent of Washington households pay on average 16.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while Washington's 1-percenters pay just 2.4 percent of their income. Like many of the other regressive tax states, Washington imposes no personal income tax all.

"The problem with our state tax systems is that we are asking far more of those who can afford the least," concludes ITEM's state director Wiehe.

By contrast, the states identified as having the smallest gap in effective tax rates are California, Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont — all Democratic strongholds and all relying more heavily on progressively structured income taxes. Montana is the only Republican-leaning state ITEP researchers identify among the states with the least regressive tax rates.

Of course, if you aren't poor, you may be reading this and thinking that these trends have no real-world impact on your life. But think again: In September, Standard & Poor's released a study showing that increasing economic inequality hurts economic growth and subsequently reduces public revenue. As important, the report found that the correlation between high inequality and low economic growth was highest in states that relied most heavily on regressive levies such as sales taxes.

In other words, regressive state and local tax policies don't just harm the poor — they end up harming entire economies. So if altruism doesn't prompt you to care about unfair tax rates and economic inequality, then it seems self-interest should.

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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Allan Hancock College Professor Jim Read to Appear on ‘Jeopardy!’

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Allan Hancock College English professor Jim Read recently put his trivia knowledge to the test and will appear on the popular television game show Jeopardy!.

Read is contractually bound not to give away the results in advance.

His appearance will air on Friday, Jan. 30. Locally, the episode can be seen at 7 p.m. on the NBC affiliate KSBY-TV.

“I have been a fan of the show since the early 1990s,” said Read, who said Trivial Pursuit was his favorite game in college. “What I love about the show is that it’s less about luck and more about what you actually know than other game shows.”

Read said the process started with a timed 50-question test online. A few months later he received a follow-up phone call and took another 50-question test in Los Angeles with about 20 other applicants. After tests were graded, half of the room was dismissed while the other half participated in a mock game. After having passed the test twice in the past but not getting called to play, the third time proved to be the charm for Read and he earned a spot on the show. The taping took place at the Sony Studio in Burbank last December.

“Appearing on the show is something I wanted to do for years. Whatever else I accomplish in life, I know that I’m part of a very small minority of people who have been on Jeopardy!,” Read said, adding that he studied for weeks to prepare. “I watched the show every night to prepare and plowed through books of history and trivia, particularly in areas in which I was weak, like vice presidents.”

The longtime Hancock professor said much of the show and clues remained a blur, but he remembered doing well in the category of foreign films. He added the one clue he could not stop thinking about was the final question.

Read said host Alex Trebek was very cordial and exactly like he appeared on television.

“In between tapings we were surprised to find what a great sense of humor he has. He took questions from the audience during every break,” Read said. “We learned that he hates email, rarely turns on his computer, and when asked what he listened to on his iPhone, he replied, ‘What’s an iPhone?’”

Read also appeared on the show Win Ben Stein’s Money in the 1990s.

“I beat the other contestants, but I lost to Stein in the final round," he said.

Ultimately, Read hopes to inspire his students and colleagues who are fans of the quiz show.

“I hope others who have always watched the show will be encouraged to try out for themselves," he ;said. "I’ll be challenging my students to try out for the rest of my teaching career.”

— Gina Herlihy represents Allan Hancock College.

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Santa Barbara, San Marcos to Face Off on Super Soccer Saturday

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Day-long event at Peabody Stadium is a fundraiser for local high school programs

This Saturday isn’t just any Saturday.

With six games on the schedule, it’s Super Soccer Saturday at Santa Barbara High School's Peabody Stadium.

All games are regularly scheduled league games between Santa Barbara High and its cross-town rival San Marcos High School.

Girls frosh/soph opens the action at 10 a.m. with boys varsity closing out the night at 7 p.m.

“This is our second annual event, and we are excited to build off our success from last year,” said Jill Wolf, girls’ soccer coach and one of the event organizers from Santa Barbara High. “Fundraising is crucial to the success of our program, and we are very pleased to receive the financial support from so many local businesses this year.”

The money raised during this one day “Soccer Showdown” is used to purchase equipment and uniforms and to help pay for coaching stipends.

To be competitive, both the boys and girls programs compete in tournaments to prepare for league play.

“We are very lucky to live in a community that embraces youth sports the way Santa Barbara does," Wolf said. "I can’t say enough about how much it means to the athletic department and the coaching staff to know that our community values the relationship between athletics and education.

"Budgets are tight everywhere, so having the financial support from the community allows us to continue building on the success of our sports programs.”

There is a small gate fee to attend the games on Saturday, and the snack bar will be open for business. The community is encouraged to attend.

Super Soccer Saturday Schedule

» 10 a.m.: Girls Frosh/Soph

» 11:30 a.m.: Boys Frosh/Soph

» 1 p.m.: Girls JV

» 2:30 p.m.: Boys JV

» 5 p.m.:  Girls Varsity

» 7 p.m.: Boys Varsity

All games will be played at Santa Barbara High School's Peabody Stadium.

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UCSB Physics Professor Ruth Murray-Clay Awarded Top Astronomy Prize

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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The American Astronomical Society has awarded UC Santa Barbara’s Ruth Murray-Clay the 2015 Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy for her theoretical studies of star and planet formation.

Presented annually in recognition of a significant contribution to observational or theoretical astronomy during the five years preceding the award, the Warner Prize is given to an astronomer who is under 36 years of age in the year designated for the award, or within eight years of receiving his or her Ph.D.

“We are proud of Ruth for winning the 2015 Warner Prize,” said Philip Pincus, chair of UCSB’s Department of Physics, where Murray-Clay is a newly appointed assistant professor. “We were delighted for her to join our faculty. She brings a wealth of expertise to UCSB, not only in the area of planet formation, but also in the evolution of their atmospheres and how they migrate.”

“I feel very honored to win the Warner Prize,” said Murray-Clay. “I really like doing this work partly because there are all sorts of different physics involved. What really drew me to this subject is that it’s about where we came from and how the Earth formed — and, by extension, how we came to be.”

The prize committee also cited Murray-Clay’s substantial contributions to numerous other areas of astrophysics. Her citation states that she has advanced models of planet formation by clarifying the role of gravitational instabilities, illuminating how orbital migration leads to short-period “hot Jupiters” and exploring photoevaporation of close-in exoplanets.

According to the AAS, Murray-Clay follows up testable predictions of her theoretical models by delving directly into the observational data. The committee noted that she also has made outstanding contributions to the theoretical interpretation of G2, an ionized gas cloud plunging toward the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

In addition to planet and star formation, Murray-Clay is interested in the extrasolar planetary systems recently discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft and by ground-based direct imaging. “One place where we can really learn a lot about planet formation right now is by studying planets that orbit far from their stars — farther than our most distant planet, Neptune,” she explained. “In particular, there is the first directly imaged planetary system, HR 8799, which has at least four very large planets with very wide separations. We know that this kind of system is the tip of an iceberg. Is it the tip of star formation on a small scale? Or could it be that the processes that we think formed Jupiter and Saturn, our giant planets, actually do work at very large distances and that we haven’t figured out how yet?

“This is an exciting place to be looking because there are several big direct imaging surveys ramping up now,” Murray-Clay continued. “So we’re really going to be able to study these giant planets and their wide separations, which will help us distinguish between different types of models.”

Murray-Clay received her bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University in 2001 and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in astrophysics from UC Berkeley in 2004 and 2008, respectively. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Theory and Computation from 2008 to 2010, at which time she became a federal scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and an astronomy lecturer and then an affiliate of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy. She is a Kavli fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

At UCSB this past fall, Murray-Clay taught a graduate seminar on magnitude estimation; in the spring quarter, she will teach Astronomy 1. “I’m excited to be at UCSB and on the faculty of an excellent physics department,” she said.

Murray-Clay is UCSB’s second recipient of the Warner Prize. Lars Bildsten, director of the campus’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, received the award in 1999.

— Julie Cohen represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Bicyclist Struck, Hurt by Unlicensed Driver in Santa Maria

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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An unlicensed driver in Santa Maria on Thursday morning struck a bicyclist who was taken by air ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment of major injuries.

Jorge Perez Lopez, 30, of Santa Maria was driving a Chevrolet pickup south on College Drive, north of Betteravia Road, and attempted to make a left turn onto a farming road when he collided with the bicyclist, according to Lt. James Ginter of the Santa Maria Police Department.

The 59-year-old Santa Maria resident, whose name wasn’t released, was northbound on College on the east shoulder of the road when he was struck by the truck.

Santa Maria police and fire departments responded to the incident along with crews from AMR and CalStar.

“The bicyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision, protecting him from even more serious injuries,” Ginter said.

Perez Lopez reportedly told police he didn’t see the cyclist before beginning to turn onto the farming road.

He was cited for driving without a license and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days, Ginter 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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Steven Crandell: Mary Conover Mellon — The Woman Who Decided to Save the History of the Human Soul

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Mary Conover Mellon was only 33 when she first heard a speech by Dr. Carl Jung, a pioneer in psychology and one of the great thinkers of the 20th century.

Her response at the time revealed not only her humility but also her courage to let intuition inspire her giving:

“Though I don’t know what he means, this has something very much to do with me.”

At that moment, she began to consider a new philanthropic direction — one that would result in the creation of the Bollingen Foundation (named after Jung’s home in Switzerland) and the publication of Jung’s collected works in English.

Of course, it helped that her husband was Paul Mellon, son and heir to the fortune amassed by Andrew Mellon, industrialist, investor and treasury secretary in three different administrations.

But if the money came from Paul, a man who was already a remarkable philanthropist in his own right (the National Gallery of Art in Washington owes its founding and much of its growth to the Mellon family), the leadership for Bollingen came from Mary.

Paul called her the “founding nurturer.”

As chronicled in William McGuire’s book Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past, she negotiated the project with Jung directly. The philanthropy took shape as World War II shook the very roots of all assumptions about decency, democracy and the staying power of benevolent imagination.

“The world is such a mess that it becomes all the more important to me to do what I can to keep alive and make available such works as yours, and those of others who can contribute real, scholarly and imaginative books about man, and the history of his soul.”

The foundation created the Bollingen series of books, which now has more than 250 titles, including the 20 volumes of Jung’s collected works and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. * 

The philanthropy not only supported leading scholarship, it created culture:

“Never before in the history of publishing has there been an author list as distinguished as that of Bollingen, nor has a publishing program had a more telling impact on the thought of its time.” — Jean Martin, Wilson Library Bulletin

Before the foundation was wound up in 1968, it also granted 300 fellowships, providing funding to poets like Marianne Moore and artists like Isamu Noguchi.

Mary Mellon was the editor of the series until her death at the age of 42, following an asthma attack in 1946.

“What one senses in Mary Mellon’s ambitions for Bollingen is the overwhelming importance of Jungian ideas and the international intellectual network that centered on Jung,” wrote professor Thomas Bender in a New York Times book review. “Without her determination and energy — and her husband’s fortune — it would not have happened.” **

Which brings me to the theme of this post:

The “best” philanthropy, many donors attest, comes from objective analysis, theories of change, rigorous research and strategic planning. They believe success is proven with measurement and numbers. No doubt, these are all valuable tools. But they will never replace the qualities Mary Conover Mellon brought to her philanthropy — intuition, heart and personal commitment.

Earlier this year, John Kania, of FSG, shared with me the wisdom of William O’Brien, past president of Hanover Insurance Companies: 

“The success of the intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.”

I believe we separate our interior and exterior philanthropy at the risk of diminishing the potency of our giving. Can there be a more empowering “intervention” than to act on the passion, compassion and truth we know deep within? Giving is so wonderful, in part, because it can connect us with this deeper self.

Philanthropists often seek to transform the outside world, but they miss a big opportunity if they ignore this fundamental truth — that giving can change the giver as much or more than the recipients. This is a story often overlooked in philanthropy’s quest for measurable impact. And I’m grateful to be able to tell Mary and Paul’s story here as a way to honor their kind of inside-out philanthropy.

But the last word is best reserved for the man who inspired the philanthropy in the first place. His seminal work in analytic psychology always pointed to the transformational power to be found within.

In 1916, he wrote the following to his patient, Fanny Bowditch:

“Dear Miss Bowditch,

It is understandable that, as long as you look at other people and project your psychology into them, you can never reach harmony with yourself ...

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.

Without, everything seems discordant; only within does it coalesce into unity. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes.

With best regards,

Yours sincerely, Dr. Jung”

_______________________________________________________________

 * The series is now under the direction of Princeton University Press. In recent years, more of Jung’s work has surfaced and been published, including The Red Book in 2009. The Philemon Foundation works to further the original goal of the Bollingen Foundation in publishing these hitherto unpublished works.

 ** In fact, the Bollingen experience inspired further philanthropy by Paul: “The Yale Center for British Art holds one of the world’s greatest collections of the work of William Blake thanks to the enthusiasm of its founder, Paul Mellon, for Blake’s art and ideas ... It was the interest of his first wife, Mary Conover Mellon, whom he married in 1935, in the thought and methods of Carl Jung that helped transform Paul Mellon into a major collector of Blake’s work.”

Photo credits (fair use): Vassar Quarterly (Mellon); Henri Cartier-Bresson (Jung)

— Author and writer Steven Crandell helps integrate story and strategy for organizations, with nonprofit foundations a particular focus. “Thinking Philanthropy” aims to provide practical, thought-provoking ideas about giving. This article was cross-posted on Tumblr. Steven can be contacted at stevencrandell@noozhawk.com, or follow him on Twitter: @stevencrandell. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Lodging & Restaurant Association Honors Industry Leaders at Membership Luncheon

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Drew Wakefield receives the Hospitality Employee Star Award, and Kathy Janega-Dykes is named Hospitality Star of the Year

The Greater Santa Barbara Lodging & Restaurant Association held its Annual Membership Luncheon & State of Hospitality in the sun-drenched La Pacifica Room at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

Nearly 150 attendees enjoyed viewing the high surf and beautiful waves on the Coral Casino patio before the luncheon and program.

After a warm welcome by association board president Warren Butler, the “state of hospitality” was analyzed by top leaders of Goleta and Santa Barbara County.

The assembled crowd was eager for the annual awards, which culminated the program.

The ever-popular Drew Wakefield of Ramada Santa Barbara was presented the Hospitality Employee Star Award. He was lauded for his tireless volunteerism for many organizations, including Lions Clubs, UCSB Athletics and the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“I credit my grandparents for my positive attributes," he said. "I thank God, my big voice and my sharp mind for my success. I am also thankful to the Goleta Valley Chamber for allowing me to chair the beer booth at the Lemon Festival each year!”

GSBLRA
From left, Greater Santa Barbara Lodging & Restaurant Association board member Nino Martinez of the Chumash Casino Resort, scholarship winner and SBCC student Alexandria Karnazes, and Dean Karnazes. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

Kathy Janega-Dykes from Visit Santa Barbara was tapped as the Hospitality Star of the Year for her leadership of the team that attracts so many tourists to greater Santa Barbara. Association board member Nino Martinez from the Chumash Casino Resort presented an association scholarship to Alexandria Karnazes, who is enrolled in Santa Barbara City College’s restaurant and hospitality program.

“I am so impressed by Alexandria’s enthusiasm," he said. "She will surely succeed in this industry.”

The Greater Santa Barbara Lodging & Restaurant Association is comprised of hotel, motel and restaurant owners and operators. It represents establishments throughout Santa Barbara County.

For more information, call 805.881.3385, email admin@gsblra.org or mail to P.O. Box 40260, Santa Barbara, CA 93140.

Check back with Noozhawk for a complete report and more photos from the event.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at rrose@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Catholic Church of the Beatitudes: Celebrating the New Birth

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Tensie, my wife, was reading a book recently called The Changing Faces of Jesus by Geza Vermes, a highly respected biblical scholar and historian. What a challenge when intellectuals set out to set us straight on the sometimes incorrect perception of Jesus that many Christians have held for millennia. Some of those perceptions may, or may not, be true based on history or what we have learned about the Jewish culture at the time Jesus lived.

It seems that some of the stories in the New Testament possibly either didn’t happen, or happened differently than we may have believed. Or maybe our long-held interpretation of some passages doesn’t fit what we’ve learned of the culture of Jesus' time. And how unsettling it can be when these new understandings cause us to question beliefs that have formed the very foundations of our value systems and possibly even of our decisions about how we choose to live out our lives.

When our religion, or our beliefs, or our spirituality are based solely on the stories in the gospels, we are already in trouble. Why? Because a foundation based only on Bible stories can be shaky if we find that the story itself may not be historically true. But when our values are based on the lived experience of that which the gospels teach us, the foundation is one that cannot be shaken.

For example, to those of us who have had the experience of being the “prodigal son” in our own lives, it matters little if the story is real, because the truth behind the story is unquestionable. For those of us who have experienced the redemption offered in love to the prostitute in the gospel, we could care less about whether that story happened or not. The reality of the unspeakable gratitude that comes from being forgiven, humanized, loved unconditionally makes the story true whether it happened historically or not.

And when we accept the grace to be the forgiver — the one who accepts the “sinner,” the betrayer, the one who has hurt us, what an incredible gift of deliverance it is from the pain and suffering that comes with our holding on to our own hurt. The stories (and the truth behind them) that we find in the gospels transcend all intellectual discussion about their historical accuracy. There is an archetypal truth in the gospels that can save us from the greed, the materialism, the militarism and the self-absorption of our own time and place — our own culture.

So what about the Christmas story? Did it really happen? Don’t know. Is it true? Absolutely.

I remember when I was growing up we had a friend of the family who was a priest and we went to a Mass at which he gave the homily on Christmas Day. I don’t remember the specifics but it was something along the lines of Christmas not being about singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus but rather a celebration of a new covenant, a new way of being in this world, brought to us in the person of Jesus. I went up to Father Nick afterwards and told him that it was about the worst sermon I had ever heard, and why would he want to ruin everyone’s Christmas? If I knew where Father Nick was today, I would apologize to him.

But here is the point. The Christmas story is not only one of the most beautiful in all of the gospels, it is absolutely true for anyone who has birthed a child in poverty. It is also true for anyone who, because of their belief in the gospels, has accompanied, assisted, or taken in a mother who has birthed her child in poverty.

Over the years we have been blessed to enter into so many peoples’ lives! The stories of the gospels have come to life through the people whom we have come to call “the beatitude people.” Jesus said “blessed are the poor” in a world where poverty was looked down on (and still is). Jesus said blessed are the hungry and thirsty and we still, 2,000 years later, have a hard time understanding what he meant. But the treasure in the field, or the pearl of great value is to be found in the entering into (and joining to the extent we are able) the lives of those who are utterly dependent on God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, God’s redemption and God’s love — and by extension, ours. Because when we are well enough off that we don’t know we need those things, we are missing the intimacy with God to which Jesus invites us in the gospels.

We recently moved (through the incredible generosity of supporters) to a new house from which to do our work in Guadalupe. But we are in relationship with the same people and are exposed to the same lives and gospel parallels as we were in the previous house. We are still challenged to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, shelter the homeless and accept — and offer unconditional love to — those whose life circumstances (and the biases of our culture) have caused them to be marginalized by society.

Our move to a new house feels a little like a new birth. It is far from a birth in a manger, but still it offers us the opportunity to continue to both experience and live a life that brings the gospel stories alive and proves the truth of their lessons. We are celebrating this new birth. We are living in gratitude for the Christmas story which is, as Father Nick tried to teach us, “the story of the new covenant, a new way of being in this world, brought to us in the person of Jesus.” We are happy. We might almost be persuaded to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

Dennis Apel, together with his wife, Tensie Hernandez, and their colleague Jorge Manly-Gil, serve residents of limited means in Guadalupe through their Catholic Worker House, called Beatitude House. The Catholic Church of the Beatitudes supports their work and sponsors this column. Readers are welcome to join us for Mass on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara, 2101 State St. Click here for more information, or call 805.252.4105. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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NAWBO-SB Opens Nominations for Inaugural BRAVO Awards

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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The National Association of Women Business Owners-Santa Barbara (NAWBO-SB) is proud to announce its call for entries for the inaugural BRAVO Awards.

NAWBO-SB’s BRAVO Awards seek to recognize women business owners in the Santa Barbara area who have demonstrated outstanding entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation.

The inaugural NAWBO-SB BRAVO Awards will celebrate the achievements of businesswomen in the Santa Barbara community by honoring women in eight distinct categories, including Woman Business Owner of the Year, Entrepreneur to Watch, Philanthropic Champion, Innovator of the Year, Education Advocate of the Year, NAWBO-SB Member of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The entry deadline is 5 p.m. Jan. 30. Nominations are open to all members of the community, not just NAWBO-SB members. Winners will be announced at the NAWBO-SB BRAVO Awards luncheon on March 12 at the University Club. Honorees must attend the luncheon. Complete nomination details are available by clicking here.

Founded in 2007, NAWBO-SB has grown to more than 75 members and is dedicated to advancing the economic development of female entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara by providing networking opportunities, support and education as well as allowing business owners to create economic strength, strategic alliances and business growth.

Click here for more information about NAWBO-SB.

— Marjorie Large is a publicist representing the National Association of Women Business Owners-Santa Barbara.

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Fire Destroys Small Barn in Santa Ynez Valley

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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No injuries were reported in blaze on Ballard Canyon Road

No one was injured early Thursday when fire destroyed a small barn in the Santa Ynez Valley, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Firefighters were dispatched at about 3:45 a.m. to the blaze in the 1600 block of Ballard Canyon Road, said fire Capt. David Sadecki.

The first units on scene found the 30-by-50-foot structure engulfed in flames, Sadecki said.

It took three engine crews about 45 minutes to completely knock down the flames, Sadecki said.

Both the barn and a motorhome that was inside declared were a total loss.

Cause of the fire remained under investigation.

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: Whose Side Is President Obama On?

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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Why has President Barack Obama hurriedly increased the release of Gitmo detainees? Recently, he released five detainees who are from Yemen, where a strong, modern al-Qaeda base is located. Isn't this the same location the attackers on Charlie Hebdo came from?

And most recently, the presidential palace in Yemen was attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists.

By the way, whatever happened to the Bowe Bergdahl investigation? Why are we not learning about the details? What is being covered up?

America, isn't it the job of President Obama to protect our country? Why is he releasing and bolstering the number of terrorists in the Middle East, who will kill our soldiers?

What are his motives? Is he naive, trying to appease the Muslim world, or trying to carry out his agenda by closing Gitmo and possibly handing over the entire naval base to the Castro communist regime by some backhanded way? Whose side is our president on?

America better wake up. We are losing the war against radical Islam, and our leadership is not fighting to win.

Diana Thorn
Carpinteria

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PacWest Bancorp Announces Results for Fourth Quarter, Calendar Year 2014

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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PacWest Bancorp on Thursday announced net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2014 of $71 million, or 69 cents per diluted share, compared to net earnings for the third quarter of 2014 of $62.3 million, or 60 cents per diluted share.

Net earnings for calendar year 2014 are $168.9 million, or $1.92 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $45.1 million for calendar year 2013, or $1.08 per diluted share. The significant increase in annual net earnings is largely the result of the CapitalSource merger that closed on April 7, 2014.

When certain income and expense items described below are excluded, adjusted net earnings are $68.2 million, or 66 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2014 and $67.2 million, or 65 cents per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2014. Adjusted net earnings are $220.4 million, or $2.50 per diluted share, for calendar year 2014 and $77.5 million, or $1.86 per diluted share, for calendar year 2013.

"2014 was truly a transformative year for the company with the completion of the CapitalSource merger on April 7," President/CEO Matt Wagner said. "We more than doubled our asset size and combined a national lending platform with our California-based deposit franchise. Our teams originated $3 billion of loans and leases in 2014 and increased core deposits by $700 million, of which $265 million are new accounts from CapitalSource division borrowers.

"Our 2014 net earnings almost quadrupled to $168.9 million from $45.1 million in 2013, and our adjusted net earnings for 2014 almost tripled to $220.4 million from $77.5 million in 2013. These strong operating results allowed us to distribute more than $114 million of cash dividends to our stockholders in 2014, with last quarter's regular cash dividend being increased 100 percent to 50 cents per share.

"Our loan and lease portfolio has been diversified along product and geographical lines, and overall credit quality has improved as demonstrated by a 1.09 percent nonperforming asset ratio and a 92% coverage ratio on nonaccruals. The company's capital position remains quite strong, with tangible capital at 12.2 percent. We steadily improved tangible book value per share, which increased $4.44 per share during the year and reached $17.17 per share at year end. Overall, the company and the bank are well positioned for continued success."

Vic Santoro, executive vice president and CFO, stated, "Our fourth-quarter results are equally as good as those for the full year. Reported and adjusted net earnings of $71 million and $68.2 million resulted in returns on tangible equity of 16 percent and 15.4 percent. Our core net interest margin remains quite strong at 5.52 percent, and our NIM, when adjusted for all the effects of purchase accounting, increased to 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter. We continue to closely control operating expenses as shown by the adjusted efficiency ratio, which declined to 42.3 percent in the fourth quarter. Our focus in 2015 will continue to be on loan and lease growth, core deposit growth and expense control."

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Sheriff’s Department to Begin Issuing Citations for Sidewalk Parking in Isla Vista

By | Published on 01/22/2015

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As part of an ongoing community effort to improve pedestrian safety in Isla Vista and to best utilize newly installed sidewalks, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department on Feb. 15 will begin issuing citations to vehicles that are illegally parked on or are blocking a sidewalk.

This means that residents and visitors are no longer allowed to use the sidewalk as an extension of their driveway. In order to give the community advance notice of the enforcement, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol in December began placing warnings on cars that were in violation of California Vehicle Code §22500(f), which prohibits sidewalk parking.

In November, letters were sent to Isla Vista property owners and managers asking for their cooperation and assistance in notifying their tenants and visitors of the upcoming sidewalk safety enforcement.

The goal of eliminating parking on sidewalks is to provide better visibility for the thousands of pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and motorists in Isla Vista and therefore decrease their risks of being involved in an accident. Due to the large number of student renters in the area, many residences have more vehicles than can fit in the designated driveway and therefore use the adjacent sidewalk as an additional parking spot. This practice forces pedestrians to have to go around the cars, onto the street and potentially into oncoming traffic. Additionally, it is especially dangerous for individuals with physical limitations and disabilities that need to use the sidewalk as a safe path.

In October, the Public Works Department completed the first of a four-phase sidewalk safety project co-designed by Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr’s office. Sidewalks were installed all along the 6500, 6600 and 6700 blocks of Del Playa Drive. Additional funding is needed to complete the next phase of the project, which would include new sidewalks along El Nido, Trigo, Seville and Madrid roads as well as for the 6500, 6600 and 6700 blocks of Sabado Tarde. 

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department appreciates the cooperation of everyone involved and for your support in helping to promote safety in Isla Vista. For information on the Isla Vista Pedestrian Plan, contact the Public Works Department at 805.568.3094.

— Kelly Hoover is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

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Montecito Planning Commission Grants Conditional Approval of Miramar Resort

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Divided planners allow the beachfront development to move forward after an eight-year process

The developers of the Miramar Beach Resort & Bungalows can finally see construction of their Montecito project move forward, albeit with several substantial asterisks.

Wearing exhausted expressions and signs of irritation after an all-day hearing, members of the Montecito Planning Commission voted 3-2 to approve the most recent resort plans while tacking on conditions that Los Angeles developer Caruso Affiliated must meet in order to continue.

The same concerns that caused commissioners to delay a final decision in December — lack of parking, water supply and traffic safety — took up much of the eight-hour discussion, but a new issue ultimately divided commissioners.

Chair J’Amy Brown and Commissioner Jack Overall voted no, voicing support for setting the main building back further from Jameson Lane.

After leaving last month’s meeting a bit perturbed by the delay, developer Rick Caruso of Caruso Affiliated returned with some placating changes, letting his executive vice president of development, Matt Middlebrook, do all the talking.

“We’ve worked very hard, as you can see from your stack of materials that you’ve received this week,” Middlebrook said. “We know that parking is something that worries people, and we’re cognizant of that. It is in everybody’s interest over time that the hotel is successful.”

The privately-held real estate firm has waited eight years for the right combination of financing and approval after buying the 16-acre property overlooking Miramar Beach and the Pacific Ocean in 2007.

Miramar received initial project approval in 2008, and revised plans — approved in 2011 — allowed Caruso Affiliated to demolish the existing hotel in 2012. The original Miramar Beach Hotel, which was established in the late 1880s, had been vacant since 2000.

Developer Rick Caruso, left, takes notes Wednesday during an all-day public hearing before the Montecito Planning Commission. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Caruso hoped to begin building on the former hotel site in June, with completion in summer 2017 — a timeline developers plan to stick to. 

The company has already raised more than $200 million in financing for the project.

The scaled-back project design was brought before commissioners in late 2014, featuring 170 guest rooms instead of 186, including 27 oceanfront rooms and suites, and a freestanding presidential suite.

Visibly frustrated at Wednesday's meeting, Middlebrook went over proposed changes and patiently listened to commissioners question the accuracy of nine total (and different) parking studies.

He proposed moving the Miramar Club from the west side of the property to the east, widening Miramar Avenue, angling Eucalyptus Lane parking stalls, adding more spaces on residential roads and revising the public beach access route.

Commissioners could also limit beach club membership to 200 instead of allowing for an additional 100 in the future, Middlebrook said, alleviating some of the 436 total on-site parking spaces for the anticipated peak demand of 401 spots.

He offered to monitor parking of Miramar’s 102 employees, and noted the resort’s parking stall to room ratio of 2.6 was much higher than that of the nearby Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore or El Encanto, both of which he said experience neighborhood parking overflow.

Two years after the project is built, if commissioners still find parking issues, Middlebrook said operators would try to find up to 50 off-site parking spaces — although commissioners were worried he didn’t yet have any idea where that could be.

Montecito Association President Cindy Feinberg spoke Wednesday in support of the Miramar Resort development. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

“I guess the problem here is that we have to feel confident that your parking is adequate,” Overall said.

A staff-conducted water analysis showed Montecito Water District agreed to provide 45 acre-feet of water, with the resort buying water needed for landscaping at a higher rate.

Overall said he doubted supplies accounted for the 400 guests that would visit the hotel for events, which Middlebrook guessed would happen twice a week.

Water was an issue other commissioners wanted to leave up to the water district to prevent micromanaging.

“My only concern here is the safety of the kids in our neighborhood,” a Montecito resident said during public comment, showing a picture of how crowded the surrounding streets got last weekend. “Even going five cars over, having that kind of overflow, is really a challenge for us.”

Speakers asked commissioners to weigh the needs of hotel guests with those of neighbors, who worried visitors would use street spots in lieu of paying a valet parking fee — a figure Middlebrook said hadn’t yet been determined.

All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church Senior Warden Chip Nichols said all issues his congregation previously had with the nearby resort had been resolved.

One neighboring property owner applauded commissioners for taking their time, and another longtime resident said delays jeopardized the entire project.

“I think some of the hypotheticals are exaggerated,” she said. “There was a hotel there before. At some point, you have to take a leap of faith. I know it’s in good hands.”

Commissioners liked the project’s aesthetics and design, but Brown said parking and water were serious concerns.

“The problem is this project is for 100 years,” she said. “We want to make sure that there’s soluble solutions to it.”

Commissioner Michael Phillips made a motion, asking to initially limit club membership to 100 instead of 200 and allowing up to 300 event guests instead of 400 — both decisions that could come back for commission review after a certain period.

The majority also voted in favor of implementing a keycard system to track parking, limiting location and idling of excursion buses transporting guests from Santa Barbara Airport, expanding the parking monitoring area, requiring club members to RSVP for special events and adding more vegetation screening.

Developers were not in favor of setbacks or limiting the club membership, but Middlebrook didn’t say whether the conditions would force Caruso to appeal the decision to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

“(Beach memberships) are important to the economics of the hotel,” he said. “And we think the buildings are setback much further than they were in the previous iteration.”

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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Goleta Council OKs 176-Unit Cortona Apartment Complex

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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More affordable rental housing is slated to be built in the Goodland after the Goleta City Council granted approval this week to the developers of the Cortona Apartments.

In a unanimous vote lauding a need for more workforce housing, council members green-lighted plans for the 176-unit apartment complex on a nearly 9-acre vacant, triangular parcel at 6830 Cortona Drive.

The property, which is near the Storke Road exit of Highway 101, is surrounded by railroad tracks to the north and business parks to the east, west and south.

A timeframe for construction — and completion — was not available, city staff said.

The City Council placed no added conditions on approval, although the Planning Commission recommended officials encourage developers to use more recycled water when it passed the item through late last year.

The Cortona Apartments will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units — 66 one-bedrooms, 100 two-bedrooms and 10 three-bedrooms — within four two-story buildings at the front of the site and four three-story buildings at the rear.

The affordable rental housing development, first proposed in 2009, originally featured five fewer units and less of an affordable-housing component.

Applicant John Price of Cortona Corner LP presented the development as including a recreational building, swimming pool and spa, walking paths, open space and sand volleyball court.

A total of 330 total parking spaces, including 178 carport spaces, were planned, with access from Cortona Drive.

City staff went over environmental mitigations for potential noise, air quality, aesthetics and traffic, which required an expanded bus stop on eastbound Hollister Avenue at the Kmart Commercial Center.

Staff said the development was exempt from the Stage Two water restrictions issued by the Goleta Water District because the district already had an agreement to serve the site.

Mitigation measures were also developed so a Chumash tribal representative could monitor excavation for archaeological deposits.

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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Multi-Agency Task Force Takes Aim at Vehicle Thefts in Santa Maria Valley

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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The new collaboration includes Santa Maria and Guadalupe police, CHP, the District Attorney’s Office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau

A new task force formed to put the brakes on the skyrocketing number of stolen vehicles in the Santa Maria Valley got to quickly prove its worth earlier this month when surveillance efforts conducted following a tip led to the arrest of two suspects.

In addition to grand theft-auto, the pair may be linked to series of armed robberies in the community, according to Chief Ralph Martin of the Santa Maria Police Department.

“These are the results we expect when you have officers dedicated to a specific mission such as auto-theft recoveries,” Martin said. “And it is our goal to reduce auto thefts in the city of Santa Maria by 25 percent in the year 2015.”

Flanked by colleagues from other agencies, Martin on Wednesday unveiled the new Santa Maria Valley Auto Theft Task Force. 

The task force also includes the California Highway Patrol and the Guadalupe Police Department in addition to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. 

Last summer, Martin reported crime statistics for Santa Maria from 2013, with a huge spike in vehicle thefts recorded that year.

The trend continued in the first six months of 2014, leading to a series of meetings and letter of agreement to create the multi-agency task force.

“Following that press conference, we were determined to address the problem head-on,” Martin said. 

The city logged more than 700 vehicle thefts in 2013, and 883 last year. By comparison, approximately 400 were stolen in 2012.

vehicle thefts
Honda automobiles account for most of the stolen vehicles in Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“I do know that our numbers are, on average, four times higher than other cities,” Martin said. “If you do a comparison to the city of Santa Barbara, they had approximately 140 auto thefts with a population of 90,000 and we were probably four and a half times that.”

Older Honda Accords and Toyota pickup trucks are the top stolen vehicles, authorities said.

The CHP has formed similar task forces in other communities throughout the state, Martin said. 

“They saw a real need here with the numbers that we have in our city and surrounding areas,” Martin added.

Many of the local thefts are consider opportunistic crimes, such as a drug user getting into an open vehicle and using it for transportation. 

The agency recovers about 70 percent of the vehicles within the city limits, Martin said. Typically, those vehicles are recovered with a few days.

Others cases apparently are connected to professional criminals involved in  “chop shops,” already affected by the increased attention on vehicle thefts, the chief said.

Guadalupe Public Safety Director Gary Hoving said the turning point for his agency’s involvement came after a recent middle-of-the-night case involving a suspicious man found with dozens of shaved keys.

"But not only that — he had a loaded revolver and it was cocked, ready to fire,” Hoving said, noting the links between different crimes. “We can’t focus just on auto theft. They steal cars now. They use drugs later. They’re going to burglarize your house because it’s the same group of people.”

Guadalupe’s numbers are low, Hoving said, adding, “I want to keep them that way.”

On average, a car is stolen every three minutes in California, said Reggie Chappelle, chief of the CHP’s Coastal Division. 

“Crime does not know jurisdictional boundaries,” Chappelle said. “When crime happens, everyone wants to be able to work together so that we can find a way to combine the resources. We share information, we all benefit, and this task force will be a hub between our agencies.”

While there’s no grant to fund the task force, the National Insurance Crime Bureau is supporting the campaign by providing surveillance vehicles and other equipment to support the effort.

Task force representatives gathered Wednesday at the Santa Maria police training facility, but Chappelle said one participant was not represented — vehicle owners. 

“This task force will do its part to catch the professional car thief and disrupt organized criminal activity, but each of us can also do our part by making it more difficult to become a victim,” Chappelle said, adding he is confident they can reduce the rate. 

Mayor Alice Patino reminded vehicle owners to take simple precautions to avoid falling victim to car thieves. They include not leaving the car engine running and using a steering wheel locking device.

“Even if your vehicle is not stolen, we are all victims,” Patino said. “Your insurance rates are higher due to other vehicles being stolen in your neighborhood and in our community. I ask all Santa Maria residents to take the time to secure your vehicles at all times.”

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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Stroll Through Ellwood Mesa During City of Goleta’s ‘Walk with a Cop’ Event

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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The City of Goleta invites you to participate in our “Walk with a Cop” event from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 with community resource deputy Dave Valadez.

Enjoy strolling on the beautiful Ellwood Mesa while getting to know your local law enforcement better. You may even see a Monarch Butterfly when passing through the Goleta Butterfly Grove.

This family-friendly event is open to the public. This opportunity should not be missed by those wanting to learn more about their community or have an interest in law enforcement. Be sure to bring plenty of questions. “Walk with a Cop” is a twist on past events such as “Coffee with a Cop” and the goal is to create connections between the community and local law enforcement.

The meeting location is the Ellwood Mesa parking lot, across from Ellwood School)

Please bring comfortable walking shoes; sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen, water; and questions, comments and laughs.

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

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Paul Mann: Matt Armor Brings His Own Brand to SOhO in Santa Barbara

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Matt Armor brought his own brand of authentic California country roots rock to the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara on Jan. 14.

The former frontman of one of California's premier psychobilly bands, Blazing Haley, brought a group of veteran musicians together to perform songs from his latest solo album, as well as some old classics from the Haley days.

Armor handpicked the opening act, Holdfast Rifle Co., to perform at this very special concert. This Santa Barbara-based band of accomplished musicians is the real deal, performing traditional country rock and bluegrass music so flawlessly that they could easily be mistaken for a band right out of Nashville.

After a well-received set lasting just over and hour, Armor took the stage with his new group of musical friends, including Upright bassist Jeff Roffredo (Aggrolites, Tiger Army) Barney Tower on lead guitar (Nate Latta, Deer Leg Band) and drummer Steve Hoke (Revolution Smile, Bonafide).

Armor sang with the same passion as in his Blazing Haley days, but his new music has taken a more traditional American roots turn, with a more polished sound.

Halfway into their 90-minute set, fans of the more hard-core pyschobilly sound were in for a treat when original Blazing Haley drummer Chris Story showed up to help Armor bring back the classic sound. Story helped the band play two balls-out classics from the Haley catalog.

Switching gears, Armor then invited Becca Sampson, lead singer of openers Holdfast Rifle Co., to sing a duet on some of his new bluegrass drenched cuts. The band ended with a medley of blues, rock and country music all penned by Armor, including a reworked version of the Blazing Haley classic “Vegas.”

If you missed the show and are feeling a bit bummed, not to worry. Starting Jan. 25, Armor and friends will be the resident band every Sunday at Whiskey Richards from 4 to 6 p.m. It will be billed as Americana Sunday's with Matt Armor and Friends.

You can be sure that some of the best musicians in town will be in the audience and may join the band for an impromptu jam.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

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State Board Rejects Allan Hancock College’s Proposal for 4-Year Degree

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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15 community colleges are approved to offer bachelor’s degrees under pilot program

Allan Hancock College’s proposal to offer a four-year degree for vineyard management was not included in 15 pilot programs approved by the California Community College Board of Governors.

Hancock was among the 34 colleges that submitted applications to the Chancellor’s Office last month.

“I can’t say we’re not disappointed. We believe we put together a very solid application,” Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said. “The selected degrees represent the ability of the community college system to create more opportunities and increase access for students to complete their education.”

Santa Barbara City College didn’t apply due to the stipulation that community colleges couldn’t propose a program already offered at a California State University or University of California campus, spokeswoman Joan Galvan said.

The Santa Maria-based college had proposed offering a bachelor’s degree in applied viticulture, a non-traditional field that focused on vineyard management, Hancock officials said.

“Our degree was more about using applied technology to build a sustainable vineyard that maximized water resources and adapted to climate change. They are all important topics for the agriculture community,” Walthers said.

Completion of Hancock’s application was a faculty-driven process led by academic dean Paul Murphy, agribusiness instructor Eric Shiers and agribusiness/viticulture program director Alfredo Koch, among others, college officials noted.

Sites picked for the pilot program include dental hygiene programs at Foothill and West Los Angeles community colleges and respiratory therapy programs at Skyline College and Modesto Junior College.

The closest community college to the Central Coast selected for the pilot program was Bakersfield College, which applied to offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial automation. 

Among the other colleges selected were Antelope Valley College (airframe manufacturing technology), Cypress College (mortuary science), Feather River (equine industry), Rio Hondo (automotive technology), Crafton Hills (emergency services and allied health systems), MiraCosta (biomanufacturing), San Diego Mesa (health information management), Santa Ana (occupational therapy), Santa Monica (interaction design) and Shasta College (health information management).

State officials said lower-division coursework would cost $46 and upper-division coursework would cost $84 under the new program, with an estimated total cost of about $10,000 to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

The pilot program is the result of Senate Bill 850 that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in September. The law allowed up to 15 community colleges across the state to start bachelor’s degree programs unavailable in either California State University or the University of California. 

Applicants were required to describe the pilot programs, evaluate student interest and community support, research the labor market and labor demand, research and avoid duplications of UC and CSU majors, and illustrate upper division coursework and identify resources to demonstrate college capacities. 

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris said the quality of the application, labor market demand and geographic distribution helped to distinguish the applicants from one another.

“These colleges are embarking on a new mission for the California Community Colleges that will expand opportunities in public higher education,” Harris said. “Students will have a range of programs from which to choose to earn high quality, affordable and in-demand degrees. California employers win too, as they will have improved access to highly qualified candidates in these fields.”

The law requires the new programs to begin as early as next fall and no later than 2017-18 with degrees completed by the 2022-23 academic year.

Harris and his staff will begin to meet with the selected colleges, as well as with members of the UC and CSU systems before bringing the item back to the Board of Governors for final review in March.

California joins 21 other states that allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees.  

Walthers said Hancock College will continue to explore partnerships with the California State University system and Cal Poly to offer four-year degrees in the area. 

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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Police Arrest Lompoc Man on Murder Charges

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Victim's body found, with multiple stab wounds, in the 900 block of North H Street

Noe Herrera

A 28-year-old Lompoc man was arrested on murder charges Wednesday after confessing to investigators that he had stabbed an acquaintance and telling them where to find the body, according to the Lompoc Police Department.

Noe Herrera already was in custody for an alleged assault that occurred at about 9 p.m. Tuesday in the 400 block of North L Street when detectives conducted a follow-up interview on Wednesday, said police Capt. Ed Lardner.

Herrera told investigators about the stabbing, Lardner said, and directed them to the body, which was in an area surrounded by tall vegetation behind the Valero Gas Station in the 900 block of North H Street.

Officers located the body at about 1 p.m., Lardner said, adding that the victim had suffered multiple stab wounds.

"Today, detectives were doing follow-up and re-interviewing him, and during that interview, he disclosed that he'd committed a homicide and gave us the location," Lardner said.

Herrera remained in custody, and the incident remained under investigation.

The victim's name was not released pending notification of relatives.

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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Crane Country Day School Hosting Annual Open House and Art Show on Sunday

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Crane Country Day School is hosting its annual Open House and Art Show from 2 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 25, at 1795 San Leandro Lane in Montecito.

From 2 to 3 p.m., the classrooms will be open to meet teachers and see samples of student work. Fifth- and eighth-grade tour guides will be available to customize the experience. The library will feature videos of a variety of Crane performance opportunities.

At 3 p.m., a presentation will take place in Crane’s theater, Cate Hall, which will include a song from the fourth-grade play, The Wicked Wiz of Oz, a performance from the Upper School xylophone group, Vibes!, and a slideshow of Crane activities and events. At 3:30 p.m., the campus will come to life with a variety of activities, including math games, science experiments, art projects and garden tours.

Crane’s Open House coincides with the all-school art show, which showcases nearly 1,000 pieces of student artwork. The art theme this year, “Heart & Soul,” takes an unconventional look at the classic phrase. The kindergarteners’ clay Dover sole fish show their unique personalities through texture and composition. Fourth-graders will display their “artificial hearts” inspired by the Tin Man, which use metal, clay and a variety of discarded medical parts. Eighth-grade unique “heartfelt” shadow boxes in the style of Joseph Cornell are sure to delight children and adults alike.

Crane offers the Open House as an opportunity for the whole family to visit the campus, meet the teachers, and experience the unique programs and curriculum that the school has to offer. Stop by on Sunday and take a look! The Open House and Art Show event is rain or shine.

For more information, call Crane’s Admission Office at 805.969.7732 or email admission@craneschool.org.

— Julia Davis is the associate director of admission for Crane Country Day School.

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Santa Barbara County Holding Lifeguard Tryouts

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Santa Barbara County Parks is inviting the community to try out for a lifeguard or junior lifeguard instructor position on either Jan. 31 or Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. at Goleta Beach Park.

At tryouts, candidates must swim 1,000 meters in under 20 minutes and pass an interview on a separate date. By summer, you will have received certifications including a U.S. Lifesaving Association Open Water Lifeguarding, American Red Cross Pool Lifeguarding, CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Advanced First Aid.

Course dates are March 21 and 22, April 11, 12, 18 and 19, and May 2 and 3.

Santa Barbara County beaches include Jalama Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach and Goleta Beach. Programming includes the Hendry’s Junior Lifeguard Program at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park. The starting pay for beach lifeguards and junior lifeguard instructors is $14 hourly.

We are hoping you come to try out for a position or just stop by Goleta Beach Park to show your support for county lifeguard Class of 2015. These lifeguards are not just fast swimmers; they are also dedicated leaders that are working to serve the Santa Barbara County coastal community.

Pool Lifeguards

During the summer, pool lifeguards can work full time hours at the Lake Cachuma Pools and pay starts at $11.50 hourly. Pool lifeguard candidates do not need to attend ocean tryouts but must possess an American Red Cross Pool Lifeguarding Certificate, be 16 years of age, and submit an application by April 1 to 123 E. Anapamu St., 2nd Floor, Santa Barbara 93101.

If you are interested, please click here and download an application. For more information, contact Jon Menzies at 805.729.7508 or jmenzies@sbparks.org.

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Goleta Water District Pursuing Lawsuit Over Slippery Rock Groundwater Proposal

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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The Goleta Water District is taking legal action against the owners of Slippery Rock Ranch, who have proposed selling and banking water for water agencies in the region with the ranch’s large groundwater basin.

Last week, the district's board of directors unanimously voted in closed session to initiate litigation, General Manager John McInnes said.

He could not discuss details of the litigation.

The owners of the Slippery Rock Ranch believe they have a groundwater basin under the property that is as large as 200,000 acre-feet, which rivals the capacity of Lake Cachuma.

Mark Lloyd, representing the owners, has presented it as an opportunity for water supply and water banking storage for southern Santa Barbara County water agencies, including the Goleta Water District, the City of Santa Barbara, the Montecito Water District and the Carpinteria Valley Water District.

The Montecito Water District is particularly interested in pursuing the basin as a future long-term water supply, since it has very few groundwater supplies.

However, the Goleta Water District came out with concerns early in the process, saying there needs to be more study to determine whether the district’s groundwater basin and the ranch’s basin are connected.

Goleta’s firm position is that the groundwater basin is “not open for discussion” as a possible regional water supply opportunity, Montecito Water District staff said earlier this month.

Montecito General Manger Tom Mosby and directors Richard Shaikewitz and Douglas Morgan spoke during public comment at the recent Goleta board meeting, where directors voted to pursue litigation against the Slippery Rock Ranch owners.

“We implore you to work with us to find a solution to our common money and water problems,” Shaikewitz told the Goleta board.  

The proposed test program would pump out water from the so-called “Chalice Basin” for about six months and then increase pumping to find the full sustainable safe yield, which would determine how much water could be pumped out on a long-term basis.

Goleta district staff believe the ranch, in the Goleta foothills, needs to conduct more studies to determine the environmental impacts of pumping, and see if the basins are connected, according to a staff report from the Oct. 28 Water Management and Long Range Planning Committee meeting.

“While Slippery Rock consultants refute potential impacts, it is clear that the district must, in the interests of the adjudicated Goleta basin, maintain the sole discretionary authority to terminate any future pumping activities related to exportation of water,” the staff report says.

Montecito wants to pursue the test program, which would require a host of state and local approvals and review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

There were several letters exchanged between McInnes and Mosby late last year, in which McInnes made it clear that Goleta is “extremely concerned” about the Slippery Rock Ranch proposal.

“It is imperative that the relationship between the water source proposed for extraction and the adjudicated Goleta Groundwater Basin be determined before any water from the Slippery Rock Ranch is transported for use off site,” McInnes wrote.

There should be a full environmental impact report conducted before increased pumping and water removed for use outside the ranch, he wrote.

In response, Mosby wrote that Montecito would never advocate for water extraction that would have a significant adverse impact to the environment or Goleta’s adjudicated groundwater basin.

Montecito was hoping water agencies could work together to explore the possibility of a regional water supply opportunity, he added.

“The Slippery Rock Ranch may be one of those rare opportunities where a new local supply could be developed in tandem with the establishment of a local groundwater banking program to the benefit of the Goleta Water District and the other South Coast water agencies,” he wrote.

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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Zoe Taylor to Lead New Economic Vitality Team for Santa Barbara County

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Zoe Taylor
Zoe Taylor

Longtime chamber of commerce executive Zoe Taylor has been selected as the new director of economic development at The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, chamber president and CEO Ken Oplinger has announced.

Taylor, who served as the interim CEO at the Santa Barbara chamber prior to Oplinger’s arrival last year, previously served as president and CEO of the Ventura and Burbank chambers of commerce.

She began her new duties Jan. 12 and will be charged with helping coordinate the new Economic Vitality Team of Santa Barbara County (EVT), which received funding from Santa Barbara County at the end of 2014.

“Zoe is well qualified to help us start the first private sector-led economic development agency in Santa Barbara County,” Oplinger said.

“Her extensive background in economic development — coupled with her well-known experience in bringing people together to solve problems — will ensure the EVT gets off to a fast and successful start.”

The EVT is made up of the key chambers of commerce throughout the county, and includes participation from every economic development practitioner in the region.

For more information or to participate in the work of EVT, call Taylor at the chamber office, 805.965.3023.

Click here for more information about The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region.

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George Runner: Falling Gas Prices Mask Hidden Tax

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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So why is it that while other states are now enjoying gas prices of less than $2 per gallon, California is still paying higher prices?

George Runner
George Runner

Due to high taxes and costly regulations, our state’s gas prices are higher than other states. It’s been that way for years.

But what’s new is that the gap between California’s and other states’ gas prices has grown.

To get a sense of the change, compare California gas prices with those of the nation as a whole. According to GasBuddy.com, even while overall prices have fallen, the gap has grown from about 32 cents per gallon just a month ago to as much as 47 cents this January.

That’s a 15-cent increase in just one month!

The likely culprit is a new “hidden gas tax” that took effect Jan. 1. The new regulation expands the state’s cap-and-trade program to include transportation fuels. The expansion is the latest in a series of sweeping and costly regulations developed by the California Air Resources Board as it implements the California Global Warming Solutions Act.

Luckily for the governor and his Air Board appointees, gas prices barely budged when the new rule kicked in; in fact, prices have continued to fall, masking the rule’s true impact and ironically causing the new “hidden gas tax” to be even more hidden.

Just a few years ago gas prices were soaring dangerously near $5 per gallon. Imagine public outcry if the government had caused gas prices to soar then!

When government imposes higher costs on fuel providers, California consumers inevitably pay the price in lost jobs, income and opportunity.

As economist Severin Borenstein notes: “Every analysis of cap-and-trade — or of a gas tax or, for that matter, of movements in the price of crude oil — finds that a change in the cost of selling gasoline, up or down, is quickly and fully passed through to consumers.”

We’d likely all be paying 10 to 15 cents less per gallon if not for the new regulation. Depending on the auction price of emission credits, some fear the cost could grow far higher in future years.

Concern about the economic impact of high gas prices led to a bipartisan effort last year to postpone the planned cap-and-trade expansion. Unfortunately, Assemblyman Henry Perea’s legislation (AB 69) died when Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg refused to authorize a hearing.

Republicans have already announced a repeal effort this year in the form of SB 5 and AB 23, but it’s hard to imagine their bills will fare better.

Of course, with hidden taxes, exactly how much more we’re paying is anyone’s guess. That’s just one of many reasons hidden taxes are such a bad idea. Taxes should be transparent, straightforward and easy to understand. You shouldn’t need to hire an economist to know how much money you’re sending to Sacramento — or Washington, D.C. — each year or how it’s being used.

We do know that 25 percent of the billions in new revenue the State of California collects from its cap-and-trade system is being used to fund the state’s costly and controversial high speed rail project. Yet even with this funding source, the project — which recently broke ground in Fresno — still lacks the necessary funding to finish the job.

So next time you fill up at the pump, remember you’re helping pay for a train you won’t be able to ride until the year 2029 — assuming it ever gets built. (Even then you’ll still have to pay to ride the train.)

Maybe that’s why politicians try so hard to keep taxes like these hidden.

George Runner represents more than 9 million Californians as a taxpayer advocate and elected member of the California Board of Equalization. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Western Collegiate Model United Nations Announces New Board of Directors

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Over the past 22 years, the Western Collegiate Model United Nations held at Santa Barbara City College has given hundreds of college students the unique opportunity to simulate an actual United Nations session, providing them with the scenario to be part of the world of debate, discussion and diplomacy.

Now eight former participants — all current working professionals — will help shape the program’s future moving forward.

“Previously the board has been made up of faculty from participating schools,” said Dr. Peter Haslund, president of WestMUN’s Board of Directors for the past 18 years and SBCC professor emeritus of political science.

Most of the new members of the Board of Directors represent former students from SBCC who participated in earlier WestMUN conferences.

“Each has said they benefited enormously from the experience and now find that much of their current success in life can be related to the Model U.N.,” Haslund said.

Along with Dr. Haslund, who also serves on the SBCC District Board of Trustees, the new board members are:

» Frank Cuykendall, Santa Barbara attorney (board president)

» Lisa Runyen, Santa Barbara attorney for nonprofit groups (board vice president)

» Chris Morales, Montecito Bank & Trust wealth management advisor (board secretary)

» Dave Morris, SBCC professor of history (board treasurer)

» Ilya Ahmadizadeh, SBCC political science adjunct faculty

» Nathalie Gensac, Youth Interactive ( a local nonprofit supporting at-risk students) founder and president

» Gregg Hart, Santa Barbara City Council member

» Hamoud Salhi, California State University Dominguez Hills professor and associate dean

“The board will move forward with revitalized goals of increasing student learning through the development of critical thinking skills, awareness of global affairs, their ability to see global reality from the point of view of others, and the honing of diplomatic skills,” Dr. Haslund said.

The 23rd annual Western Collegiate Model U.N. will be held on the SBCC campus during the spring break, April 2-4.

For more information on the Model United Nations, contact Dr. Haslund at 805.895.3268.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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Rona Barrett: Wacky Weather, Wacky Bodies and Everything Hurts

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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With the weather being as strange as it is — summer one day, winter the next, spring in bloom, then winter once again — we who are advancing through our senior years have a tougher time dealing with this wacky weather than our younger brethren. Let me tell you the kind of phone calls I get from my many friends.

“Is your body going wacky?” a girlfriend said the other morning. “Do you wake up in the middle of the night, three or four times, and have to run to the easement room because your bladder can’t stand it another minute?”

Another barely said hello before she lamented, “I just don’t know what’s wrong with me. I went to the doctor but he couldn’t find a thing wrong. He wasn’t looking in the right places! How can you go to sleep at night feeling fine and the next morning you have this huge lump on your behind? It must be cancer! What am I going to do?”

And still another: “I hurt all over. My knees are just killing me. I can’t stand the thought of having a knee replacement, but it’s so difficult for me to get on my horse these days.”

And this happened just the other day to a friend who is a fine author: “How are you, my friend?”

“Don’t ask. I went to the doctor yesterday and he tells me I’m borderline diabetic. Can I help it if I like ice cream? How could I be diabetic? I only weigh 140 pounds and I’m 4’11”. Do you think I’m fat? And my poor Henry, he woke up yesterday morning and two of his big toes were swollen. The doctor says he has gout.”

“But how’s your new book coming along?

“Oh, thanks for asking," she says. 'It’s the only thing that keeps me going. Except I think I’m going to have a heart attack!”

“A heart attack!” I say. “Then what about the book?”

“Oh forget that, I’m too worried about my diabetes.”

In speaking to another person before I could ask how he was he blurts out, “I think I’m going blind. I had cataracts removed and I still can’t see a thing. What’s going on with me?”

What’s going on, my friends, is that we’re advancing in our senior years, and whether you’re a young 65 or mature 85, these are the ailments that begin to happen to all of us — even if we haven’t been sick a day in our lives.

Who am I to say don’t worry about your aches and pains? I have mine. But what I do know is that once you realize you are not alone in your advancement through your senior years, you just say to yourself, “You know what? I’m still here this morning and I’ve survived another night!”

Give yourself a big slap on the back because surviving is the name of the game.

I think Bette Davis said it best: “Getting older ain’t for sissies.”

And for the weather be glad you’re living in the West.

Until next time … keep thinking the good thoughts.

— For more than 30 years, Rona Barrett was a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer. Since 2000, she has focused her attention and career on the growing crisis of housing and support for our aging population. She is the founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, the catalyst behind Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable senior housing, the Golden Inn & Village. Contact her at info@ronabarrettfoundation.org. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Jackson, Williams to Announce Emergency Drought Funding for Lake Cachuma

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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At 10 a.m. Friday, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, will be joined by representatives from the Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board (COMB) and its member agencies to announce the receipt of state funding for the Lake Cachuma Emergency Pumping Facility Project.

The announcement follows months of collaboration between Jackson, Williams, the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board, local agencies and Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

The press conference, to be held at the COMB offices at 3301 Laurel Canyon Road in Santa Barbara, will include an update by Randy Ward, general manager of COMB, on lake levels in the midst of California’s ongoing, historic drought and when emergency pumping is expected to start.

Lake Cachuma serves as the primary water source for approximately 200,000 Santa Barbara County residents. A decline in the lake level due to the severe drought has jeopardized the gravity-fed system that delivers this water supply to residents, schools, hospitals and businesses.

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

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You Are Not Alone: UCSB’s CARE Program Is Designed to Assist Survivors of Sexual Assault

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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She tried for so long to handle it all on her own.

There was the criminal complaint. Was it moving forward? Had it stalled? She had no idea; it was almost impossible to get anyone to update her. And classes? She couldn’t keep up, failed a few. She feared she might soon have to leave UC Santa Barbara for good. But the greatest challenge of all? Trying to will herself back to some semblance of emotional wellbeing after a traumatic assault.

After nearly a year, it had become too much to bear.

And then she asked for help.

“Once she came to us, right away it was, ‘OK, from this point forward you don’t have to do any of this alone,’” Jill Dunlap, director of UCSB’s Advocate Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Misconduct, also known as CARE, recalled of one student (unnamed for confidentiality) who recently sought their services. “We will get you on the phone with law enforcement. We will get you academic accommodations, medical referrals. We will accompany you to hearings, legal proceedings. We are your best friends through these processes. Whatever you need. We will get you on the path, going in the right direction.”

The case is emblematic of the all-in, round-the-clock support services that CARE provides. With survivor advocacy its primary focus, the program also offers education and training for students, staff, faculty and the community at large. All are welcome at the office where CARE is more than a name; for Dunlap and her team, it’s an ethos.

Which is what makes CARE, in so many ways, the locus — and heartbeat — of UCSB’s response to sexual assault. And now it’s being used as a template for sister campuses across the University of California.

The advocacy model developed at UCSB has been adopted systemwide. As part of UC’s ongoing efforts to combat sexual assault and bolster its own response, every campus now has an advocacy office and at least one full-time advocate position (UCSB has five). In addition, UCSB, the other nine campuses and the UC system at large have each launched a dedicated website to provide key information about university support services and the steps UC is taking to address sexual violence. 

“The University of California is actively engaged in efforts to combat sexual violence, including a systemwide task force on sexual assault and sexual violence, established by President Napolitano, to address this critical issue,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “UC Santa Barbara has a robust sexual violence education, awareness and prevention program on campus that we are continually working to strengthen and grow. In the past year we have launched many new initiatives and added new resources and training for faculty, staff and teaching assistants under our CARE program. This will equip our campus to better communicate with our community about the issue, and to better serve community members who have been victims of interpersonal violence. We have also provided permanent funding to our Counseling and Psychological Services to hire an additional licensed counseling psychologist with specialization in interpersonal violence. 

“We have made important progress, but we recognize that much remains to be done,” Yang continued. “Across the nation and especially on college campuses, sexual assaults are underreported, and our efforts to reach out to students and to raise awareness about this important issue will result in more students having the confidence and trust to report incidents, thus allowing authorities to take action.”

Reporting is already on the rise at UCSB, according to Ricardo Alcaino, Title IX coordinator and director of the campus’s Office of Equal Opportunity & Sexual Harassment/ Title IX Compliance (OEOSH/TC), where formal reports of sexual assault are filed and investigated. OEOSH/TC now receives about 48 reports of sexual assault per calendar year, he said, up from just six reports five years ago. CARE saw about 50 new cases in the fall 2014 quarter alone.

“The number of reports is up exponentially — and we want reporting to continue,” said Alcaino, whose office is getting a new response coordinator position through the UC initiative. “To me, success is closing the gap between the percentage of respondents who reported in the recent UC Climate Survey that they’ve experienced unwanted sexual contact, and those who actually make a complaint. The closer we get to that percentage, the better job we’re doing.”

A major difficulty in getting students to report incidents of sexual assault stems from a lack of understanding of the complaint and resolution processes — and the people who are part of them. It’s largely for that reason, according to Alcaino, that he and his team regularly advise survivors to speak with a confidential CARE advocate to discuss their concerns and review their options without triggering a report before they are ready.

“We depend on CARE a lot to make sure nobody falls through the cracks, because that’s the important part — that nobody is left out there feeling that they have nowhere to go, or feeling helpless,” he said. “We want them to know there is a resource, there is a recourse and that they have some control over the situation. That’s CARE. They’re experts in that area. They’re trained. They’re certified. And they’re great.

“When complainants come to my office, we often recommend they go to CARE first so they can fully unpack their concerns before deciding what they wish to do to address their situation, and whether to come back here or not,” Alcaino added. “We want to make sure their immediate issues are addressed, as personal safety is sometimes the most pressing concern. Our part comes later.”

For those who do file a formal complaint with the campus, part of that recourse is adjudication through the Office of Judicial Affairs. Anyone assaulted by a UCSB student can pursue a case with Judicial Affairs — whether they are affiliated with the campus or not. Any sanctions imposed on perpetrators found responsible for the allegations against them are academic in nature, according to Angela Andrade, UCSB’s associate dean of student wellness services.

“They all relate to whether a student is allowed to continue in school and if they are, whether restrictions are put on them,” Andrade explained. “A sexual assault is a really serious violation both of our rules and of an individual. And in these cases the entire UC is considered one campus, so a suspension or dismissal is from the system, not just UCSB.”

It is also the responsibility of the Office of Judicial Affairs to ensure the due process rights of any student accused of sexual assault or any other conduct code violation. 

The increase in reporting is also translating into bigger numbers for Judicial Affairs. It’s a trend that Andrade attributed not only to growing trust in the process, but also, as the issue gains widespread attention, to decreasing stigma around sexual assault.

“It’s on the national discussion board, and that’s great,” Andrade said. “Nobody asks to be sexually assaulted. It’s not a survivor’s fault. How outrageous is it that someone who is the victim of a crime should feel shame? That paradigm has to be shifted and that’s what we’re working on.

“For students, this is probably the most important issue we have right now,” she added. “This is an area that can impact mental health because a survivor is impacted on so many levels. I think this is the next big, difficult issue on our plates, and I think we’re up to the task.”

This should help: New for UCSB this year — and unique across the UC — is the location of a UC Police Department detective, full-time, in the CARE office. The female investigator is based at the advocacy center, providing a consistent point of contact to survivors tracking criminal cases, and offering an accessible means of reporting for those who might otherwise find the prospect frightening or overwhelming.

UCPD Chief Dustin Olson and CARE director Dunlap, who is on the UC president’s task force, worked together on a grant to pay half of the detective’s salary; Olson’s department is picking up the rest of the tab.

“That’s our commitment to help CARE, the students and all the survivors who show up there,” Olson said. “We are pioneers in this to some degree. We’ll evaluate next year to see if we were able to be more effective in response, evidence gathering, prosecution and being more survivor-oriented as well. Trying to keep the survivor from having to retell the events over and over — that’s one piece of it — and I’m hopeful it will be a benefit in many ways we haven’t even thought about. The UCPD wants to make sure we get it right. If there are things we can or should be doing, we certainly want to know.

“The piece that Jill brought along, and helped us see is so important to survivors, is making sure students understand the services and system here on campus,” Olson added. “She’s been very accommodating. She and her staff will respond, come meet with survivors on weekends, nights. It makes complete sense for us to call CARE on these cases. And it’s worked out well. Jill has been an exceptional colleague. She’s just amazing and very good at what she does there. She’s made a lot of strides in a positive direction.”

The collaboration between UCPD and CARE is indicative of the “we’re all in this together” approach that permeates the myriad departments, offices and people within the UCSB community working directly to respond to issues and incidents of sexual assault.

It’s that very spirit, Dunlap said, that will foster true progress toward prevention.

“When there is enough attention focused on it that students recognize it’s a problem and are taking proactive steps to be part of the solution — that’s when I’ll know we’ve turned the corner,” she said. “When everyone recognizes it’s a community problem and we all share responsibility for ending it, when we all admit that we all play a role in stopping it.”

On a middle shelf of the jam-packed bookcase that occupies one corner of her office, tucked alongside some paperbacks, Dunlap keeps a modest stack of thank-you cards she has received from former CARE clients. In her seemingly tireless advocacy for sexual assault survivors, and education for everyone else, there are days when she needs to be reminded why she does it.

“When I’m having a particularly hard day I will look through those cards, open them up and remember: I was there for that person and I made a difference for them,” she said. “And that’s what keeps so many of us going. We celebrate the accomplishments and progress that our students make and sometime they thank us and that can make your whole week. We do it because that’s what we do, but when students thank you for it, it’s like YES. I’m so glad they feel good enough about what we do for them that they circle back to us and tell us that.”

— Shelly Leachman represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Rae Largura: Seven Facts About Bullying

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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You often won’t know when your child is being bullied.

Just because you don't hear or see it, doesn’t mean it isn't happening. Statistics are not able to get accurate percentages on this often hidden and silent concern. Many kids don’t speak up because it will lead to more abuse, because they’re ashamed or because of the strongly upheld unwritten code against tattling.

Bullies come in all sizes.

It is often stereotyped that bullies are the big kids who can mentally and physically push kids around. Someone who bullies is insecure and wants power. They compensate their powerlessness (whether real or perceived) and immaturity with bullying, which gives them a temporary feeling of strength and control. Insecurities come in all sizes.

Fighting back doesn’t work with a bully.

Although fighting back will give a temporary satisfaction, it will always lead to escalation. Even a simple eye to eye “attitude” will lead to escalation. Getting back at the bully behind his or her back will end up in escalation. This increase in anger is never a good thing and can lead to someone getting physically hurt.

Ignoring a bully does work.

Bullies want a reaction. They want to see and feel the power they have over someone else. If a bully doesn’t get a reaction, when the victim does not acknowledge them in any way, the bully will move on. What if every child could let a bully “role off his back”? What if every ego of a bully starved? Could that in itself create a bully extinction?

Parental attitudes have a big influence.

If parents talk in judgment of others, their children will learn the same. When parents talk with respect to differences in others and that all people have equal value, their children will believe the same. When parents deal with the act of bullying with zero tolerance, their children will do the same.

Cyber-bullying is just as hurtful.

As we know, much will be said by cyber that would not have normally been said in person. And contrary to belief, cyber bullying almost always happens after a face to face bullying. In a then-escalated situation, the harassment and hurtful verbiage gets damaging and even viral, very fast. The victim will often not be with his or her support group when reading the bullying, thus adding to the harm. The devastation to the victim is often deeper and more consequential when done through the cyber way. Cyber-bullying is on the rise, and it it should be taken seriously. How nice would it be to have a non-bully culture — a culture whereas anyone would defend and speak up against the bully?

Do not rely on your school's “no bullying” policy.

The reality is that very little is brought to the attention of teachers and administrators. Most bullying happens at school, and the fact is most episodes do not get reported. When bullying does get reported, schools are often too bogged down to deal with each one individually. It is surprising how often teachers and counselors turn their cheeks, or parents tell their children to “toughen up.” This dismissal of the problem is part of the problem. Our “no bullying” responsibilities fall on teachers, parents and administrators. The peer secrecy is not going to change. It is our job to have our eyes wide open, to be defenders and advocates.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email rae@leadingedgetutors.com.

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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UCSB Professor Craig Carlson Named 2015 Recipient of Hutchinson Award

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Craig Carlson, chair of UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, has received the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

Carlson
Craig Carlson

This is the second major award for Carlson, who was honored with the inaugural American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Early Career Award in 2002.

“Microbial oceanography is a fascinating area of research with many outstanding scientists and colleagues who continue to push the cutting edge of this discipline,” said Carlson, who is also a member of UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. “When I look at the list of previous recipients of the Hutchinson Award, whom I have long respected, I am truly humbled and am honored to have been named this year’s recipient.”

The G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award has been presented annually since 1982 in recognition of excellence in any aspect of limnology (the study of inland waters as ecological systems) or oceanography. In lending his name to the award, Hutchinson asked that recipients be scientists who had made considerable contributions to knowledge and whose future work promised a continuing legacy of scientific merit.

Carlson was cited for accurately mapping variation in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and linking it to the dynamics of microbial communities. His work established scientific concepts now considered vital to understanding the ocean carbon cycle and assessing its impact on future planetary health. In February, Carlson will travel to Granada, Spain to receive the Hutchinson Award at ASLO’s international meeting.

Prior to Carlson’s involvement, DOC was considered a large but staid reservoir of carbon. He married the biogeochemistry of carbon to microbial dynamics to an extent never before accomplished. Thanks to his pioneering work, today DOC is recognized for its quantitatively significant and dynamic role in the cycling of ocean carbon.

Investigations in the Carlson Microbial Oceanography Lab at UCSB focus on the role that marine microbes play in the cycling of elements through oceanic dissolved organic matter (DOM) and the biogeochemical significance of DOM in the marine carbon cycle. Carlson’s team employs a variety of oceanographic, microbiological and molecular approaches to quantify and characterize both DOM composition and the microbial composition that grow on these substrates. The ultimate goal of Carlson’s research is to gain a better understanding of the role of DOM in ocean biogeochemistry and how microbial community structure responds to and transforms DOM quantity and quality in the world’s oceans.

Carlson earned his bachelor’s degree at Colby College in 1986 and his Ph.D. in marine science at the University of Maryland in 1994. As a postdoctoral scholar at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), he focused on the biogeochemistry of DOM in ocean systems. Carlson joined the BIOS faculty in 1996 and remained there until 2001 when he came to UCSB. He is lead principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on several federally sponsored projects in microbial oceanography and serves as chair of the U.S. Ocean, Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scientific Steering Committee.

For more than 50 years, ASLO has been a leading professional organization for researchers and educators in the field of aquatic science. Best known for its highly rated research journals, its interdisciplinary meetings and its special symposia, the society also supports programs in public education and outreach and public policy.

— Julie Cohen represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Students Take Musical Journey Through Santa Barbara Symphony’s Concerts for Young People

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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Last Thursday, nearly 2,600 elementary school students from all over Santa Barbara County took a musical journey with the Santa Barbara Symphony as a part of its Concerts for Young People.

Guest conductor Dirk Brossé and guest trumpet soloist Jon Lewis explored the influential role of the trumpet on many genres of music, including jazz, mariachi, liturgical and symphonic.

Students traveled through the history of music in a live performance conducted by Brossé. The two one-hour concerts were provided free by prior arrangement and were performed at the Granada Theatre.

For over 50 years the Santa Barbara Symphony has been introducing fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders to the wonders of the orchestra through Concerts for Young People. This program is child-friendly and allows for interaction between students and the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra. Concerts for Young People are free to both students and teachers.

For more information or to help support the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Music Education programs, click here or call Amy Williams at 805.898.8785.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Symphony.

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Paul Nelson Aquatics Center in Santa Maria to Close for Upgrades

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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The Paul Nelson Aquatics Center at 600 S. McClelland St. in Santa Maria is about to receive a few improvements during a month-long update.

Starting on Monday, Feb. 16 to Tuesday, March 17, the pool will be closed as it undergoes several renovations. Normal swim hours will resume on Wednesday, March 18.

The 50-meter pool will receive new boilers and pool grates. The deck will also see some improvements and portions of the pool’s shell will be patched. All of the improvements will create a more enjoyable swimming experience for the community.

The Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center will remain open during the pool’s closure.

Questions may be directed to the Recreation and Parks Department at 805.925.0951 x260.

— Dennis Smitherman is a recreation supervisor for the City of Santa Maria.

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Free ‘Understanding Medicare’ Seminar Planned for Feb. 6 in Carpinteria

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program) will sponsor a free seminar for people interested in better understanding Medicare benefits and recent changes.

The "Understanding Medicare" presentation will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6 at Carpinteria Community Church, 1111 Vallecito Road in Carpinteria.

“HICAP is offering this presentation to help people with Medicare and their caregivers better understand this comprehensive health care program and current changes,” said Jim Talbott, president of the Board of Directors for the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens.

Topics will include a general overview of 2014 Medicare changes and recent changes related to the Affordable Care Act.

HICAP is pleased to partner with Carpinteria Community Church in presenting this important information to the community.

HICAP offers free and unbiased counseling and information on Medicare issues. HICAP does not sell, recommend or endorse any insurance product, agent, insurance company or health plan.

The presentation is a service of the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, HICAP with financial assistance, in whole or in part, through a grant from the Center for Medicare and Medical services, the federal Medicare agency.

To reserve a seat and for more information about the ”Understanding Medicare” seminar, contact HICAP at 805.928.5663 or seniors@kcbx.net, or RSVP online by clicking here.

— Bill Batty represents the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program.

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Girsh Park Breaks Ground on Fieldhouse

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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The Foundation for Girsh Park is very excited to announce the groundbreaking of Phase I of the Fields Forever 3 Capital Campaign.

Fields Forever 3 will build a very important fieldhouse to support the 4,000-plus families in our youth sports programs who use Elings Fields at Girsh Park.

Phase I will build a fieldhouse with much-needed restrooms, storage, proper ADA sidewalks, major drainage improvements, utility upgrades and the out-of-date playground will be replaced. The restrooms are vitally important for programs such as Dos Pueblos Little League and AYSO Region 122. Most of all, children of special-needs in the adaptive sports programs desperately need accessible restrooms to make their experience more pleasant when they come out to play ball. These programs include DP Challengers, AYSO’s VIP Program, Challengers Flag Football as well as Special Olympics soccer tournaments.

Ryan Harrington, Girsh Park’s executive director, said, “Operating this facility without proper restrooms for the last 15 years has been a challenge for our programs. It is the most basic need for a facility like this, and we will finally have a facility that will properly serve the needs of our users.”

Over the years, MarBorg Industries has been very generous by donating the use of portable toilets and an ADA restroom trailer.

”These donations allowed us to operate until this point," Harrington said, "and we are very happy to have a permanent solution.”

Girsh Park has raised $600,000 of its $900,000 goal over the last 20 months. Major funding partners include Ruelene Hochman, The Girsh and Hochman Families, Allen Associates, Camino Real Marketplace, Hutton Parker Foundation, Williams-Corbett Foundation, Dos Pueblos Little League, AYSO Region 122 and the Towbes Foundation. Each of these donors believes that Girsh Park is a critical facility for our community, and these investments will benefit many generations to come.

Daniel Hochman of the Girsh and Hochman families said, “Each improvement at Girsh Park validates my family’s desire to help create a privately owned, public use, park in Goleta. We are overjoyed that FF3 is under way, and invite the entire community to join us by investing in our youth, our families, and our community!"

Phase II of the campaign will build new batting cages, a group picnic area, a new playground, and a finished concession stand in the fieldhouse.

“We are looking for community heroes to complete our campaign,” said Del Rudeen, president of Girsh Park, adding that the naming opportunity for the fieldhouse is still available, along with several other dedication opportunities. "All donations make a difference, and get us closer to our goal. The 350,000 people that use Girsh Park each year will greatly appreciate your contribution to this very important community project.”

With the community’s support, the Foundation for Girsh Park successfully completed Fields Forever 1 and 2. With your help, Fields Forever 3 will be a homerun!

Please make a donation today by clicking here or calling 805.968.2773 x3.

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Central Coast McDonald’s to Celebrate Herb Peterson Day with $1 Egg McMuffins

By | Published on 01/21/2015

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On Tuesday, Jan. 27, Central Coast McDonald's will celebrate the creation of the Egg McMuffin with $1 sandwiches during breakfast hours.

Invented more than 40 years ago by the late local franchisee owner, Herb Peterson, each Egg McMuffin order is made with a freshly cracked Grade A egg, lean Canadian bacon, melty American cheese and a toasted English muffin.

“Herb Peterson and his innovative Egg McMuffin are a special chapter in the story of McDonald’s,” said Dana Cook, local owner/operator and Central Coast co-op president. “We are proud of this history and that it happened here in our backyard. This little sandwich changed the course of the food-service industry.”

In 1968, Peterson opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in Santa Barbara and later expanded his business to become the owner/operator of the six McDonald’s restaurants in Santa Barbara and Goleta. At the time, no other quick service restaurant offered breakfast, and Peterson asked a local blacksmith to make an iron ring to keep eggs round and tidy as they were cooked for a hand-held sandwich.

Modeled after Peterson’s personal breakfast favorite, eggs Benedict, he presented his breakfast product idea to McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, and in 1972, the Egg McMuffin became the first McDonald’s breakfast item. Click here to learn more about the birth and legacy of the Egg McMuffin.

The first Herb Peterson Day took place Jan. 5, 2009, what would have been Peterson’s 90th birthday and just months after his passing. Today, it is an annual tradition for the Central Coast.

The Egg McMuffin is just one of the Wholesome Starts breakfast items offered by McDonald’s, and at 300 calories a serving, it can be part of a balanced meal. Forty years after revolutionizing the American breakfast menu with the introduction of the Egg McMuffin sandwich, breakfast at McDonald’s continues to evolve, with a variety of choices including Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and a full line-up of McCafé® beverages.

In addition, McDonald’s launched in 2013 the Egg White Delight McMuffin® breakfast sandwich nationally, an alternative to the legendary Egg McMuffin that was developed locally in Central Coast. It is made with freshly grilled 100 percent egg whites, extra lean Canadian Bacon, and white cheddar* on an English muffin also made with 8 grams of whole grain.

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Witness Recounts Torture, Murder of Anthony Ibarra

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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With Anthony Ibarra severely injured from two separate gang-related assaults inside a house in northwest Santa Maria, one of the alleged attackers later walked out of a back room, blood on his face and arms, and said, “It’s done.”

That was part of the testimony Tuesday from a man who lived with his sister at the rented house where 28-year-old Ibarra was tortured and murdered on March 17, 2013, allegedly because he had failed to pay his debts from selling drugs.

Six men are on trial for the death of Ibarra, who was attacked in the house in the 1100 block West Donovan Road.

Ibarra's naked body was later found in rented U-Haul truck parked on a residential street in Orcutt.

Angel Escobar took the witness stand Tuesday, on the fifth day since opening statements occurred last week. Escobar is an admitted methamphetamine user, like his sister and many others in the case.

Before Ibarra showed up at the house March 17, lured there on the pretense of selling drugs to the residents, the man considered the shot-caller, Ramon Maldonado, complained that Ibarra owed money and called him “a piece of s***,” Escobar said. 

In addition to Maldonado, known as Crazy Ray, the other five defendants now on trial are his father, David Maldonado, Reyes Gonzalez, Santos Sauceda, Anthony Solis and Jason Castillo. 

They are charged with first-degree murder in addition to lying in wait, kidnap, torture and gang involvement, in addition to a special allegation of being involved in a crime for the benefit of criminal street gang.

Ramon Maldonado

Ramon Maldonado, 37, also faces two counts of witness intimidation.

Ibarra’s arrival at the house was quickly followed by an assault in the entryway involving a group of men, some of whom wore black cotton gloves over blue latex gloves. 

As the assault continued, the victim yelled in pain and begged, “Let me explain,” Escobar testified.

The attack then moved to the back bedroom, he said.

“They were just surrounding him like a mob,” Escobar said. 

“How did you know Anthony was being hit?” Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen asked.

“I could hear it,” Escobar said, recalling Ibarra’s cries of pain during the violent attacks.

Escobar testified he was told to provide a plastic bag for Ibarra’s clothes, which he was to burn in the backyard.

But before he could ignite the items, one of the defendants asked for the bag back, apparently to check the clothes for drugs or cash.

When Escobar re-entered the house, he recalled seeing one of the defendants mopping the floor, including in the entryway where Ibarra initially was assaulted. Another defendant entered the kitchen to retrieve a knife.

Anthony Ibarra

After a brief trip for food, beer and cigarettes, Escobar recalled overhearing talk about Ibarra feeling like he was about to pass out, and conversation about putting him in the shower.

Escobar testified that when he next saw Castillo, he came out “all bloody.”

“What did he say at that point?” Bramsen asked.

“It’s done,” the witness answered, adding that the suspects talked about how to handle "it."

Later that night, Escobar testified, he left the house, tossing a bag one of the defendants had handed him into the bushes in the front yard. He later denied looking in the bag.

He said he didn’t notify authorities due to concerns for his sister’s safety and uncertainty about her whereabouts.

Escobar said he never saw Ibarra alive again.

“I assumed he was dead because he never came out of that back room,” Escobar said.

Like his sister, Escobar has been placed in the California Witness Protection and Relocation Program, but also admitted under cross examination that he returned to Santa Maria on his own for two weeks.

While they testified as Jane and John Doe to the grand jury, both he and his sister are being referred to by name in the courtroom where the defendants’ family and friends are sitting in the audience.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Michael Scott, Escobar said he told police he would not talk until authorities removed warrants for his arrest and a no-contact order involving the mother of his child and a woman involved in his domestic violence case.

The day began with his sister, Marissa Escobar, still on the witness stand, undergoing re-cross examination from David Bixby, continuing defense attorneys’ efforts to spotlight the inconsistencies in her testimony.

“Isn’t it true that you’ve lied?” Bixby asked.

“Yes,” she said.

Later defense attorney Adrian Andrade asked if she had told the grand jury she had smoked methamphetamine before testifying. She said she hadn’t admitted it during her appearance before the panel in May 2013.

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial before Judge Rick Brown and a jury of 12 plus six alternates will resume at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Santa Maria Juvenile Court, where it’s being held due to the large number of defendants.

In addition to the six men now on trial, Ramon Maldonado’s son, 16-year-old Ramon Maldonado Jr., will be tried separately as an adult for Ibarra’s death.

Four other defendants — Pedro Torres Jr., Carmen Cardenas, Verenisa Aviles and Robert Stan Sosa — accepted pleas in the case and are expected to testify for the prosecution.

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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Letter to the Editor: Supervisor Carbajal Reaction to State of the Union Address

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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I personally think President Barack Obama outlined a bold vision to continue building on a strong rebounding economy by expanding support for the middle class via increasing the minimum wage, encouraging job growth in various sectors, providing tax credits for child care and education, expanding sick leave and by making a community college education available to all Americans at no cost.

He also laid down a strong challenge to this Congress by requesting that they promulgate legislation to address important matters that have long been bipartisan issues, like infrastructure, immigration reform and tax code reform (but without loopholes for corporations).

I was heartened that the president stated his resolve to continue his efforts on immigration reform, climate action and affordable health care for all.

Salud Carbajal
First District supervisor
Santa Barbara County

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Capps Releases Statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Tuesday released the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address:

"Tonight we heard President Obama explain how, over the last several years, we have made progress and laid the groundwork for the economic foundation for the future. The economy is steadily growing. Gas prices are dropping. Health-care costs are rising slower than in the past. And jobs are being created.

"But we know that there are hard working families who are still struggling, so there is more we must do.

"Unfortunately over the past two years we have witnessed one of the least effective Congresses in history. It is clear that we must redouble our efforts to find common ground and work together for the good of the American people.

"Together we can help middle-class families achieve economic security by helping to provide the opportunities they need to be successful.

"We can do this by holding big financial institutions accountable to Main Street by stopping efforts to repeal the protections included in Wall Street reform.

"We can do this by acting on bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. Our current immigration system is broken and holding our country and our economy back.

"We can do this by making higher education more accessible and affordable for students and families.

"And we can do this by supporting policies to improve the economic wellbeing of all American families, making sure women get equal pay for equal work, increasing the federal minimum wage, and making sure the best jobs in the world are created in the United States. The president’s child care and paid sick leave proposals are an important step in the right direction for middle-class families and one that the private sector should follow.

"But as we continue to prepare our economy for the future, it is important not to forget some of the other policy issues that our nation continues to struggle with. Lacking from the president’s speech was a discussion of how he intends to reduce gun violence in our country. We are only two years removed from the State of the Union where President Obama took the dais — weeks after the Newtown massacre — and vowed action. Since then, dozens of people have been killed in mass shootings — including right here on the Central Coast — and thousands have died from senseless gun violence, while no substantial legislative changes have been made.

"We have witnessed how these tragedies impact people like Richard Martinez, my guest for the State of the Union whose son, Christopher, was killed in Isla Vista in May. I am honored to have him join me here tonight because he is not giving up the fight to make sure not one more tragedy occurs and neither will I. That’s why earlier today I reintroduced the Pause for Safety Act, which would help empower families and law enforcement with new tools to prevent a tragedy if someone poses a threat to themselves or others. This is exactly the type of common sense policy that elected officials — no matter what their party — should come together and support in good faith.

"The president has set out his vision, and now it is up to Congress to work together to get things done for the American people. The president spoke of finding common ground tonight, and I know my Central Coast constituents demand the same. We, as members of Congress, must live up to this challenge, and I look forward to getting back to work."

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.

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Letter to the Editor: Wendy McCaw’s Contention Over Use of ‘Illegals’ a Deflection

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Wendy McCaw may have a degree in history, but whose version of events did she study?

As she and her staff insistently dig heels over their right to use the word "illegal" in reference to a vulnerable population, they lose what dignity and credibility may have remained in them.

In 2013, the Associated Press pulled the word from its manual citing the dehumanizing effect of its usage. The word is synonymous with "criminal" and "felonious," but immigration proceedings are heard in civil courts.

McCaw's contention that this is about accuracy is a deflection, a distraction from her overt efforts to propagate an ideology disdainful of a perceived underclass. 

Colin Loustalot
Santa Barbara

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Direct Relief Throws a Party to Celebrate Volunteer’s 107th Birthday

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Edythe Kirchmaier continues her nonprofit work after more than 40 years

Edythe Kirchmaier sat smiling from a chair at Direct Relief’s Goleta headquarters on Tuesday, watching her great-grandchildren scatter across a room full of pointed party hats and supporters gathered in her honor.

Guests stood in a circle around her, going in for hugs one at a time and drawing inspiration from one of the nonprofit organization’s longest-serving volunteers.

Kirchmaier, who turns 107 years old on Thursday, spent the day like any other Tuesday — visiting the humanitarian-aid organization where she’s spent 40 years of her life in service to others.

She even proudly drove there herself until a few months ago.

But instead of Kirchmaier dutifully visiting once a week to handwrite thank-you notes to Direct Relief donors, family and friends offered her thanks and recognition at her birthday party.

“I just enjoy the people I’m working with,” Kirchmaier told Noozhawk. “Direct Relief is very important in my life.”

Volunteer work has long been important to Kirchmaier, who was born Jan. 22, 1908, in Springfield, Ohio. She lived several places before moving to Lompoc and then into a Santa Barbara home, where she still lives today, in 1948.

After retiring from the Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County, Kirchmaier and her late husband, Joe, served two 18-month stints teaching abroad in Taiwan for Direct Relief. Even when Joe passed away seven years ago, Kirchmaier never stopped giving.

Edythe Kirchmaier sits with her great-grandchildren Tuesday during a reception celebrating her 107th birthday at Direct Relief headquarters in Goleta. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

She gained international fame two years ago after she told Direct Relief that her 105th birthday wish was to raise awareness for the nonprofit’s work by getting 105,000 people to “like” Direct Relief’s Facebook page — a goal she surpassed while amassing thousands of her own followers as the world’s oldest Facebook user.

Kirchmaier appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show, The Tonight Show and the Today show to share her cause, all the while retaining an admirable, humble aura.

“We are her fan club,” said Ann Pless, a friend and fellow volunteer who’s become part of a tight-knit group including Kirchmaier.

Admirers took turns thanking Kirchmaier at the party, praising her “invaluable voice,” warm hugs and beautiful penmanship.

Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe emphasized the importance of volunteers, especially one “putting the fuel in the tank” to motivate like Kirchmaier.

She nibbled a scone and sipped coffee while Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez praised her spotless driving record and named her a model citizen and “police chief for the day.”

In honor of her birthday, Decker’s Outdoor Corporation offered to match the first 107 donations made this week to Direct Relief in Edythe’s honor, up to $10,700.

Direct Relief officials also vowed to name a portion of a planned new facility after Kirchmaier, who plans to volunteer as long as she’s able.

Kirchmaier enjoyed the bustle of the party, but she said for her actual birthday Thursday, “I’m just going to stay home and relax.”

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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Montecito Plans to Increase Water Rates for All Customers

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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The Montecito Water District Board of Directors plans to increase water rates for all customers, with the water-shortage-emergency surcharge taking effect April 1, if formally approved after a public hearing.

The move is the latest in a long line of attempts by the district to encourage customer conservation while trying to bolster its water supplies during the drought.

Left without much groundwater to pump during the ongoing drought, the district has turned to buying supplemental water, exploring building a desalination plant, and implementing rationing with penalties for all water use.

The proposed surcharge would be temporary, put in place until the district’s water supply is normal again and it has recovered its water-shortage-emergency expenses, which include buying supplemental water.

Water sales, to customers in Montecito and Summerland, have decreased 50 percent compared to the 2013-14 water year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, according to a report from consultant Bartle Wells Associates, which specializes in water rates.

The increased rate would be a surcharge per 100-cubic-feet of water, or 748 gallons, for all customers. District rates are already tiered, so customers who use more water in Tier 4 are paying more money per HCF than the low users in Tier 1.

Rationing and penalties from Ordinance 93 are still in effect, general manager Tom Mosby noted.

Single-family residences were the highest users before rationing went into effect, and the penalties have had an effect on water sales.

In addition to the drought-related expenses, the district needs to increase fees to make up for the fact it is selling less water, according to Bartle Wells.

In a presentation to the board Tuesday, Bartle Wells consultants said 30 percent more customers are in the Tier 1 category, using zero to 25 HCF per month, than before rationing began.

That has a big impact on conservation and the district’s bottom line, which is why the board approved moving forward with the maximum surcharge allowed by law, 40 percent. For district customers, that’s $4.16 per HCF added to water bills.

There will be a Proposition 218 public hearing before final approval.

The directors got some good news on the supply front, as it seems the Central Coast Water Authority has brokered a deal for purchasing water from the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency.

Montecito wants to buy 2,700 acre-feet of water and could get the whole amount in just one deal if this goes through, Mosby said.

This exchange agreement would have Montecito return the same amount of water over a 10-year period and pay $500 per acre-foot now, Mosby said.

The cities of Santa Barbara and Solvang, and La Cumbre Mutual Water Co. are also looking at buying water from Antelope Valley in this agreement, he said.

Mosby plans to use this water for the 2015-16 water year, when the district is looking at a shortfall, but wants to move the water into Lake Cachuma as soon as possible instead of banking it at another reservoir.

There is risk with this investment, since there’s always a chance that Lake Cachuma will spill over the dam if the area gets a lot of rain. The purchase is estimated to cost $3.9 million including delivery and treatment costs, Mosby said.

“We have several million dollars at stake that could be lost with a big-time rain,” director Richard Shaikewitz said. “The first water over the dam is purchased water.” 

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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Goleta Council Supports Expanding Halloween-Inspired Parking-Permit Program

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Parking restrictions the City of Goleta used to deter attendance at Halloween festivities in nearby Isla Vista last year may be expanded for use during similar events, such as April’s Deltopia street party.

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday directed staff to pursue plans to enact parking restrictions in neighborhoods around Isla Vista for certain events through a resident-only permit-parking program.

The temporary program, which officials deemed a success for Halloween in 2014, involved Goleta mailing permits to residents, who had to post them in the windows of cars parked on the streets in the restricted area.

Officials agreed that the program seemed to deter young visitors from parking on residential streets, but Councilman Michael Bennett cautioned staff that it might be difficult to come up with a Deltopia-specific parking plan.

Because the all-day, alcohol-fueled event can pop up on Del Playa unannounced — typically on a weekend in early April — Bennett worried that issuing parking permits weeks in advance wouldn’t work. This year's unsponsored event is set for the first weekend in April.

“Planning ahead would be difficult because the date could change,” said Bennett, who also recommended increasing the cost of parking tickets and the number of vehicles towed.

Vyto Adomaitis, director of neighborhood services and public safety, briefly reviewed the impact of last year’s restrictions before offering the plan up for discussion.

He said Santa Barbara county sheriff’s deputies and city staff who patrolled the area during Halloween saw significant decreases in the number of vehicles parked on streets in the restricted area, which included parcels south of Hollister Avenue between Cannon Green and Storke Road.

A mere 12 vehicles were either cited for not displaying permits or towed — an impressive figure that may have been aided by rain deterring visitors.

The cost of increased law enforcement for Halloween came in below budget and lower than in 2013, Adomaitis said, with the city paying $10,212 instead of $12,500.

He said implementing the parking program — printing, mailing, postage, posting of no parking sings, etc. — cost Goleta approximately $14,400.

Even more encouraging was a city-conducted online survey, in which 85 percent of responding residents within the restricted parking zone (76 total) said they would support a similar parking program for future events.

A future program would fix glitches in last year’s efforts, including a database issue forcing staff to hand-deliver permits to individual units at certain addresses.

Adomaitis said staff also had to mail a second permit to homes because only one went out initially, and he said the city would work closely with AYSO soccer participants, who could be affected when parking on weekends along Pacific Oaks Road near Girsh Park.

Making future restrictions more time-specific — effective 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., for example — was also discussed.

Council members lauded the program, but said they worried rain could’ve been the determining factor on last year's Halloween.

They ultimately decided that whether to expand the program to more neighborhoods should be up to law enforcement.

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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Insurance Enrollments ‘Skyrocket’ in Santa Barbara County After Affordable Care Act Rollout

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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The number of people signing up for health insurance in Santa Barbara County has "skyrocketed" since Affordable Care Act enrollment went into effect in 2013, according to one county official who spoke Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.

County supervisors got an update on the massive effort county departments have put in preparing for an influx of patients, and the department heads of Public Health, Social Services and Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Departments all gave an update at Tuesday's meeting.

The supervisors voted unanimously to receive and file the report.

The law was signed into effect in March 2010 and requires U.S. citizens and legal residents to have health insurance coverage, either through a state-run exchange, like Covered California, or a private exchange, or pay a penalty.

Since the rollout of the ACA, about 8,000 people have chosen the county as their medical home for care, according to Public Health Director Dr. Takashi Wada.

Open enrollment for 2015 is now open and lasts until February.

Because of that, the county's caseload is still growing, and county staff are expecting an additional 17,000 enrollments by July of this year.

Daniel Nielson, director of the Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services, said 114,000 people in the county are served by Medi-Cal, which serves low-income families, seniors, people with disabilities and others. More than 34,000 of those people were enrolled since October 2013, he said.

The Department of Social Services has been the primary engine of enrollment in the county, and Nielson said the county is exceeding the state's projections of enrollment.

Due to tech glitches from the state's Covered California exchange, the county was facing a backlog of 10,000 applications of people trying to sign up, but those have since been worked out and the county is now down to 400 applications waiting verification, Nielson said.

Wada said the department has also seen a decrease in patients who self-pay for services, which is important to the mix of patients that the county sees. That number of patients has reduced from 28 percent to less than 13 percent, he said.

Alice Gleghorn, the newly hired director of ADMHS, was also on hand Tuesday to talk about how the enrollments have affected her department.

In 2014, 1,500 people were enrolled in mental health programs, substance abuse programs or both, she said. The department has been working to get more people enrolled, including doing outreach to the homeless, Spanish-speaking populations as well as Oaxacan families.

The Department of Social Services also had a point person working in the jail during the last enrollment period and was able to sign up those in custody before they were released. 

"It was a successful effort," Nielson said. 

However, none of the medical costs for people in the jail are Medi-Cal reimbursable, and ACA doesn't change that.

Health-care renews annually, so the county needs to make sure it keeps those patients it has enrolled coming back year after year, Gleghorn said. Making sure there are enough staff and making sure they are getting the word out into marginalized populations will also be a challenge.

The supervisors, including Supervisor Salud Carbajal, praised staff for their work on the rollout.

"I'm really happy to see we've been able to enroll so many residents," he said. "To see that it's actually working is really refreshing. I never thought we would be at this point where we are enrolling thousands of people that didn't have insurance before.

"As somebody who had Medi-Cal when I was a kid, I just think it's really cool."

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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Montecito Bank & Trust Reports Strong Growth in 2014

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Janet Garufis, president and chief executive officer of Montecito Bank & Trust, on Tuesday announced the bank’s 2014 performance.

“2014 represented another strong growth year for Montecito Bank & Trust with growth in loans, deposits and assets," Garufis said.

Total gross loans grew from $534.2 million to $609.2 million, up 14 percent year over year. Total deposits grew 11 percent from $951.8 million to $1.053 billion, and total assets grew 11 percent from $1.07 billion to $1.19 billion. Total risk-based capital remained very strong, ending the year at 14 percent, well above the 10 percent regulatory minimum required to be considered well-capitalized. At $13.1 million, net profit for the year was virtually unchanged from 2013.

“We saw significant increases in loan demand in 2014, which resulted in the largest loan production year ever for MB&T," Garufis said. "Our substantial loan growth is a reflection of improving confidence of both businesses and consumers, and there is strong momentum as we head into our 40th year of providing financial solutions to the communities we serve.

"We are especially pleased to expand our ability to serve customers in Ventura County with the opening of our Camarillo Financial Services Center. As the oldest locally owned community bank in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, it is rewarding to welcome so many new customers to the bank and continue to earn the support and trust of so many local residents and business owners.

For the second year in a row, MB&T was recognized as the "Best Bank in Town' by The Independent’s Reader’s Poll, and for the first time as the Santa Barbara News-Press Reader’s Poll BEST BANK.

"Our associates work hard for our customers every day," Garufis said, "and I’m tremendously proud that they have received this level of community support!”

Continuing the bank’s commitment to giving back to the communities it serves, Garufis also noted that “we celebrated our 12th annual Community Dividends event, contributing $1 million to 184 nonprofits throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The event was created for the sole purpose of ‘investing in the community,’ and as Mr. Towbes frequently notes in his annual remarks, ‘the hope of encouraging others to follow suit.’"

Over the last 12 years, Montecito Bank & Trust has invested more than $12 million in nonprofit community partners. Community Dividends combined with the Anniversary Grants program and a multitude of sponsorships for local nonprofit events are some of the ways Montecito Bank & Trust works to make its communities better places to live and work.

"Accepting local deposits, funding loans to local businesses and individuals and reinvesting in the community is the value of community banking," Garufis said.

Montecito Bank & Trust, an S Corporation, is a locally owned community bank founded in 1975, with branch offices located in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang, Montecito, Carpinteria, Ventura and Westlake Village. The bank opened a Financial Services Center in Camarillo in 2014 furthering its ability to serve customers in Ventura County. The bank offers a variety of competitive deposit and lending solutions for businesses and consumers, including business loans and lines of credit; commercial and construction real estate finance; SBA loans; consumer loans; credit cards; merchant services; and online services, including mobile banking and cash management. Its Wealth Management Division, with locations in Montecito, Solvang and Ventura, provides full investment management as well as trust services for all branch office markets.

— Andy Silverman is a communication specialist for Montecito Bank & Trust.

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Jonathan Johnen Named Partner at Farr & Associates

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Jonathan Johnen has been named a partner at Farr & Associates, an insurance and financial advisory firm established in 1985 with offices in Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Johnen
Jonathan Johnen

“We couldn’t be more pleased with Jonathan becoming a co-owner and partner of our firm,” said co-founder Glen Farr, CLU, ChFC. “For nearly nine years, we have benefitted from Jonathan’s efforts on our behalf, and more importantly, on behalf of our valued clients. He has always embodied our ‘It’s all about service’ approach, and has done a great job in acquiring the knowledge, and credentials that make him a very skilled insurance and financial services advisor.”

Johnen is a certified financial planner specializing in life and disability insurance. Through his broad knowledge of estate, tax, investment and retirement planning, he is able to educate clients on the important role insurance plays in the foundation of a well-rounded financial plan.

Johnen, 32, received a bachelor of arts degree in business economics at UC Santa Barbara in 2006. He joined Farr & Associates in January 2006 as a licensed life and health insurance agent. His primary focus is on assisting individuals and business owners with life and disability insurance solutions.

He has true passion for providing his clients with greater peace of mind, while also improving their financial well-being. In addition to managing his own clients, Johnen supervises the selection and implementation of all life insurance recommended for the clients of Farr & Associates.

A native Californian born in Camarillo, he attended Rio Mesa High, Moorpark College, then UCSB and has been working fulltime since age 17, fitting in school and work at the same time.

Married with two young children (ages 4 and 1), Johnen enjoys playing golf, surfing and spending time with his family.

“Things couldn’t be better right now," Johnen said. "Being a business owner, contributing back to the community I grew up in, and having such a wonderful family ... life is terrific."

Farr & Associates is a service-oriented company specializing in life insurance, estate and business succession planning, employee benefit planning, and health and disability insurance for individuals and families. The Ventura-based insurance and financial advisory services firm, with offices in Ventura and Santa Barbara, serves local and regional clients with unique and complex needs. The firm has earned the trust of, and regularly receives referrals from, other trusted advisors such as CPAs, property and casualty insurance brokers, estate planning attorneys and assets managers.

For more information, click here or call 800.350.2611.

— Jennifer Goddard Combs is a publicist representing Farr & Associates.

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Jim Hightower: How Tacky Can the Golden Arches Get?

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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McDonald's is scrambling, and I'm not talking about eggs. You know your business has what image consultants call "quality perception issues" when you have to launch a PR initiative that publicly addresses such questions as: "Does McDonald's beef contain worms?"

Thornier yet for the world's largest burger machine is its boneheaded response to the remarkable, ongoing rebellion by fast-food workers, who're demanding a $15-an-hour wage and the freedom to unionize without corporate retaliation. The overpaid and clueless executives at McDonald's responded by — guess what? — retaliating against hundreds of the employees who joined the protests. Big Mac managers illegally reduced the hours (and therefore the pay) of those who joined the "Fight For 15" campaign, spied on them, interrogated and threatened them, and imposed restrictions on their freedom even to talk about unions or working conditions.

The corporation now faces federal charges on hundreds of labor law violations — as well as rising customer anger over its ham-handed tactics. Naturally, McDonald's responded by apologizing and raising workers' wages.

Ha! Just kidding. Instead, it's running a new series of TV ads that, astonishingly, tries to tap into people's emotions about such tragic events as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing, as well as linking its logo to people's positive feelings about veterans, birthdays and even "love." McD's corporate marketing director explains that the ads are all about the Golden Arches shining bright in every community, being with us through the good and the bad. As she puts it, "Who better to stand up for lovin' than McDonald's?"

What a joke. For over a decade the burger behemoth has pushed its product with an advertising slogan that exuberantly proclaims, "I'm Lovin' It."

But it turns out that putting words of praise in customers' mouths doesn't sell more burgers — in fact, customers have been putting fewer Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets and other McEdibles in their mouths, causing sales to sag. This decline in affection has to do with the corporation's boring burger, unappetizing news reports that some of its suppliers have been repackaging expired meat, its corporate-wide policy of paying poverty wages, its ruthless anti-union tactics and its cynical strategy of having tax payers subsidize its labor costs by directing employees to go on food stamps and Medicaid.

Not to worry, though, for new CEO Don Thompson (the second replacement in the top slot in only two years) is all over these boo-boos. Is he offering real improvements in quality, wages and benefits, and corporate attitude?

Come on — get serious! This is McDonald's, and its investors and bankers don't fritter away profit-taking on real solutions. Instead, Thompson is doubling down on that McLovin' feeling.

McD's new ad campaign is specifically designed to link the corporate brand to the healing power of love. The ads show Batman and the Joker breaking bread together over a Happy Meal, a mailman and a dog finding peace under the Golden Arches, and — how's this for seriously clever? — a blue donkey and a red elephant sharing common ground at a McDonald's formica table. Each ad closes with the lovely thought that you, I and everyone everywhere should "Choose Lovin'."

Get it? Choose McDonald's, for it's the source of love, and you'll truly be "Lovin' It." Not for nothing is CEO Thompson, who is paid $9.5 million a year, plus full health coverage, a platinum pension and private use of the corporate jet. Where else but America can you be so enriched for preaching Lovin' while directing your corporate lobbyists to kill any increase in the poverty wages of your employees?

Just ask protesting workers about the "love" they're getting from McDonald's. Oh, to be fair, the bosses did make one change for workers — new uniforms, supposedly to buff-up the corporation's public image. That's not just boneheaded, it's pathetic! I forgot to mention that most of these low-wage employees were forced to buy the uniforms themselves. How's that for McLove?

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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Cindy Young, Luis Chaidez Join Staff of United Way of Santa Barbara County

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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United Way of Santa Barbara County is pleased to announce the addition of Cindy Young as director of finance and administration and Luis Chaidez as the Fun in the Sun project leader.

Cindy Young
Cindy Young

Luis Chaidez
Luis Chaidez

Young graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a bachelor of arts degree in public administration and political science, and also holds an MBA in organizational behavior and finance from the University of California-Irvine. She is a licensed CPA and has spent most of her career in private industry.

Prior to joining United Way of Santa Barbara County, Young served as controller for Nusil Technology, as senior accountant for the Channel Islands YMCA, as controller-interim for Santa Barbara City College and as a consultant for the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.

She serves as treasurer on the C3 Board at Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties and sits on the Finance Committee at Girls Inc. of Carpinteria.

Young lives in Santa Barbara with her fiancé and their two dogs, a cat, a horse and a tortoise.

Chaidez has had a lifelong passion for using his management and programmatic skills to engage underrepresented community members. He received dual degrees in business economics and Spanish from UCSB.

Before joining United Way, Chaidez was a supervisor for Cottage Health System and also completed his service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where he oversaw multiple community development projects in the areas of financial empowerment, health and education.

United Way of Santa Barbara County has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local nonprofit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership priorities help children, families & seniors with a focus on education, income and hHealth.

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing United Way of Santa Barbara County.

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John Daly: Conflict Resolution — How to Solve Disputes, Part 1

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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[Noozhawk’s note: First of two articles on solving conflict resolution.]

Conflict happens. Different people with different goals and needs get into disputes that often result in intense personal animosity. On the other hand, disputes can often lead to personal and professional growth if they are resolved effectively.

Often, disputes are created by underlying problems, so look at them as an opportunity to solve the more deep-seated issues that create conflict. In addition, according to MindTools, if conflict is resolved effectively it can create:

» Increased understanding: The discussion to resolve conflict expands people's awareness of the situation, giving them an insight into how they can achieve their own goals without undermining those of other people.

» Increased group cohesion: When conflict is resolved effectively, team members can develop stronger mutual respect and a renewed faith in their ability to work together.

» Improved self-knowledge: Conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals in close detail, helping them understand the things that are most important to them, sharpening their focus and enhancing their effectiveness.

If conflict is not handled effectively, the outcome can be very damaging, dissolving into personal dislike, a breakdown in teamwork and wasted talent when people disengage from their work. This becomes a vicious downward spiral of negativity.

To prevent this from happening, you need to understand two theories behind effective conflict resolution.

The Theory of Conflict Styles

In the 1970s, Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) to help identify which style of conflict resolution you tend toward.

» Competitive Style: People who tend toward this style take a firm stand and know what they want. They usually operate from a position of power (position, rank, expertise or persuasive ability). This style is useful when there is an emergency and a quick decision needs to be made; when the decision is unpopular; or when defending against someone who is trying to exploit the situation selfishly. However, it can leave people feeling bruised, unsatisfied and resentful when used in less urgent situations.

» Collaborative Style: People with this style try to meet the needs of all people involved. These people can be highly assertive but, unlike the competitor, they cooperate effectively and acknowledge that everyone is important. This style is useful when you need to bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution; when there have been previous conflicts in the group; or when the situation is too important for a simple trade-off.

» Compromising Style: People who prefer this style try to find a solution that will at least partially satisfy everyone. Everyone is expected to give up something, and the compromiser also expects to relinquish something. Compromise is useful when the cost of conflict is higher than the cost of losing ground, when equal strength opponents are at a standstill and when there is a deadline looming.

» Accommodating Style: This style indicates a willingness to meet the needs of others at the expense of the person's own needs. The accommodator often knows when to give in to others, but can be persuaded to surrender a position even when it is not warranted. This person is not assertive but is highly cooperative. Accommodation is appropriate when the issues matter more to the other party, when peace is more valuable than winning, or when you want to be in a position to collect on this “favor” you gave. People may not return favors, however, and overall this approach is unlikely to give the best outcomes.

» Avoiding Style: People tending toward this style seek to evade the conflict entirely. This style is typified by delegating controversial decisions, accepting default decisions and not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings. It can be appropriate when victory is impossible, when the controversy is trivial or when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. In many situations, however, this is a weak and ineffective approach to take.

Once you understand the different styles, you can use them to think about the most appropriate approach (or combination of approaches) for the situation. You can also think about your own instinctive approach, and learn how you need to change this if necessary. Ideally you can adopt an approach that meets the situation, resolves the problem, respects people’s legitimate interests and mends damaged working relationships.

The Theory of the “Interest-Based Relational Approach”

The second theory respects individual differences while helping people avoid becoming too entrenched in a fixed position.

In resolving conflict using this approach, you follow these rules:

» Make sure that good relationships are the first priority: Be calm and try to build mutual respect. Be courteous to one another and remain constructive under pressure.

» Keep people and problems separate: Recognize that often the other person is not just “being difficult” — but that real and valid differences can lie behind conflictive positions. By separating the problem from the person, real issues can be debated without damaging working relationships.

» Pay attention to the interests that are being presented: By listening carefully, you’ll most likely understand why the person is adopting his or her position.

» Listen first; talk second: It’s imperative to understand where the other person is coming from before defending your own position.

» Set out the “Facts”: Agree and establish the objective, observable elements that will have an impact on the decision.

» Explore options together: Be open to the idea that a third position may exist, and that you can get to this idea jointly.

By following these rules, you can often keep contentious discussions positive and constructive. This helps to prevent the antagonism and dislike that so often causes conflict to spin out of control.

Next week, I’ll discuss using these tools to resolve conflict.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. If you have questions about business or social etiquette, just ask John at johnkeyclass@gmail.com. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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UCSB Hosts Inaugural California Higher Education Food Summit on Food Insecurity

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Shouldn’t food be a right, not a privilege? And what is the difference between being fed and being nourished?

With a central theme of food justice, such subjects were explored during the three-day, inaugural California Higher Education Food Summit held at UC Santa Barbara. Founded by a multicampus team of University of California staff and students, the first-of-its-kind conference is part of the ongoing UC Global Food Initiative.

The gathering convened some 150 students, staff and faculty from UC, California State University and community college campuses, and community and food agency leaders at large, to dissect and discuss the environmental, social and economic pressures that create barriers to food access, security and justice.

“All too often, the struggle students face in accessing affordable, nutritious food is marginalized,” said Katie Freeze, student chair of UCSB’s Associated Students Food Bank, which helped organize the conference. “Bringing these issues to light will enable the UC community to better address student hunger.”

And beyond.

In a wide-ranging and rousing talk addressing the “complexity and significance of food justice,” keynote speaker Nikki Silvestri said, “When we talk about justice, we are actually talking about everyone, from beginning to end.

“Locate yourself in the fight for food justice,” urged Silvestri, a noted thought leader in creating social equity and former executive director of People’s Grocery in Oakland. “Who are you? Who are your people and what is your fight? And allow yourself to be surprised by the answer.”

For Colin King, a fifth-year student at UC San Diego, the fight centers on food access for college students who are struggling with hunger. Working with his campus’s Associated Students staff, King is part of the team launching UCSD’s first food pantry.

“Nourishment costs more than simply feeding yourself,” said King, who got involved after witnessing a friend fall on hard times. “He was sleeping in his car and couldn’t afford food. Seeing what he went through is what inspired me initially. Coming to this conference has been so valuable for gaining a better understanding of food insecurity UC-wide, and for the tangible things we’ve learned to take home with us, to make our own pantry and food insecurity initiatives the best that they can be.”

A similar hope coursed through the conference on behalf of the broader UC Global Food Initiative (UCGFI), which is designed to coordinate resources systemwide to help ensure adequate nutrition — starting with access to food — for all. Unveiled by UC President Janet Napolitano in July, the UCGFI is working to harness the UC’s collective excellence in research, outreach and operations in a sustained effort to develop, demonstrate and export solutions — throughout California, the U.S. and the world — for food security, health and sustainability.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and extremely bright people who want to see changes that will improve people’s health on our campuses, in our community and beyond,” said Joanna Ory, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz and among the recently selected UCGFI fellows in attendance at the summit. “It’s a really important issue and great to see so many people who care.”

More than two-dozen workshops held over the course of the conference tackled subjects from culinary medicine to new models for student dining, the health implications of food insecurity and the role of higher ed in the greater food system. There were also presentations on the “Swipes for the Homeless” program that UCSB and UCLA have adapted to aid food-insecure students, how to build partnerships between university campuses and local farms, and the transformational potential of campus gardens.

To that latter end, UCGFI fellow Alyssa Billys, of UCSC, is working to help coordinate the amount of produce from the student farm that is sold to campus dining.

“We have the farm right here,” Billys said of her campus. “Why can’t we access that (produce)? Having good brought to you by students, for students, is really empowering.”

Empowerment was the prevailing spirit of the first-ever summit.

“We define food justice as communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy food that is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate, grown locally, with care for the land, for people and for animals,” said panelist D’Artagnan Scorza, founder and executive director of the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood. The UCLA alum and former UC Regent added, “One way we work to empower our community members is first by listening. It’s important for us not to speak for people, but to ensure they can speak for themselves.”

— Shelly Leachman and Alec Rosenberg for the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

food summit
The California Higher Education Food Summit, a multicampus collaboration and part of the UC Global Food Initiative, was held at UCSB. (Sonia Fernandez / UCSB photo)

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Hospice of Santa Barbara Appoints Evie Vesper as Board President

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Evie Vesper
Evie Vesper

Hospice of Santa Barbara is pleased to announce Evie Vesper as its new board president.

Vesper has served on the Hospice of Santa Barbara board since 2013.

Vesper received her master’s degree in social work from the University of California-Los Angeles. She also holds a certification from the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara as a leadership and transition coach. During her career as a hospital administrator for Southern California Kaiser Permanente she brings experience in hospice and continuing care to HSB.

In addition to serving on Hospice of Santa Barbara’s board, Vesper is on the board of LifeChronicles and is a member of Music Academy of the West Women’s Auxiliary.

Additional HSB board officers include Eric Bowers, vice president; Jackie Marston, secretary; Richard Aberle, treasurer; and Sam Capra, past president.

Hospice of Santa Barbara “volunteers” its free professional counseling and care management services to more than 600 children and adults 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 local middle and high school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

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

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing Hospice of Santa Barbara.

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Rod Lathim Play ‘Unfinished Business’ Rebirths at Lobero Theatre

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Death. The topic can turn the liveliest of party chit-chat into a dull lull. Bring in the topic of afterlife and the quiet lull often turns into glazed stares.

Rod Lathim, award-winning theatrical director, producer, writer, artist and social activist, isn’t afraid of the challenge of speaking about death, or even about presenting it. In fact, taboo topics are what Lathim seems to tackle best. He has made a career of turning social awkwardness into performance art — art that confronts the status quo; art that leaves people questioning their own beliefs.

Lathim tackles death in a big way in his play Unfinished Business that opens at the Lobero Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 22 and runs for five performances through Sunday, Jan. 25. By masterfully integrating the very essences of drama — with an emphasis on humor — Lathim tells the story of his mother’s death seven years ago and the mystical experiences he experienced as his mother transitioned to the next realm.

The play, now in its third “reincarnation,” previously ran in 2012 and 2013 to sold-out audiences. This time the story of the death of Lathim’s mom and the spirits that attend her death is told in two acts on three different levels — the physical plane and two parallel planes.

“Even for those who have already seen it, the new version of Unfinished Business is so expanded and different that it will be a whole new experience,” Lathim said. “The structure of the play has changed substantially and is now akin to a three-layered cake. It starts in the physical world and then goes into different perspectives from two higher planes of reality. I revised the play because, intuitively, I knew it was time to dig deeper into my characters and to be bolder. I held back on my original version because of its autobiographical nature.

“It was awkward, initially, for me to expose my gift for seeing ‘the other world.’ Since Unfinished Business’ last production, I have gained the courage and the confidence to tell my story in much greater depth, with greater insight.”

Perhaps it was Lathim’s time at Arthur Findlay College in Essex in the United Kingdom that gave him the final boost of confidence he needed to bring the audience his entire experience and not just a slice of it. According to its website, Findlay is “a residential centre where students can study Spiritualist philosophy and religious practice, Spiritualist healing and awareness, spiritual and psychic unfolding and kindred disciplines.”

“Findlay actually helped me hone my gift of seeing the spiritual world and be able to understand it better. My time there enabled me to put better parameters around the messages that were coming in to me,” Lathim said. “I guess in a way it also helped me gain courage to share the complete experience of Mom’s death.

“The truth is that we all need to be more courageous in talking about death, end-of-life issues and what comes next. It is the only way we will be fully able to embrace the sacredness and sanctity of life and, when our time comes, to be able to depart in more peace. It’s the best gift we can give to ourselves and our loved ones.”

In order to expand the story, Lathim added six additional characters and even heavier doses of humor. The cast includes many professional local favorites, including Brian Harwell, Jenna Scanlon, Marion Freitag, Katie Thatcher, Solomon Ndung’u, Laurel Lyle, Leslie Gangl Howe, Jay Carlander, Cali Rae Turner, Luke Mullen, Laura Mancuso and Dillon Yuhasz. Designer Patricia Frank has created new scenery and lighting, new sound design has been added by acclaimed composer/designer Michael Mortilla and Lisa Lange is designing costumes.

The format of the show is also different in that the entire audience will sit on stage of the Lobero in an intimate, U-shaped formation around the central stage.

Lathim has long been noted for affecting social change through art. In 2012, he received the Leadership in the Arts Award by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the Arts Commission for significant contributions to the arts and culture of Santa Barbara County. He has also been recognized for his award-winning international tour of Storm Reading featuring Neil Marcus. Storm Reading was a pioneer in the accessible theater movement.

At Thursday's evening show, Unfinished Business will offer wheelchair accessibility onstage, a special assistive listening “T coil” system, and audio description for patrons who are blind or partially sighted.

Tickets may be purchased for $29 on the Lobero Theatre’s website by clicking here or through the Lobero ticket office at 805.963.0761. The Lobero Theatre is located at 33. E. Canon Perdido St. in downtown Santa Barbara.

Nancy Shobe is a Noozhawk contributing writer. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow her on Twitter: @shobebiz. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Ron Fink: Lompoc Councilman Jim Mosby May Have Negatives But Should Do Well

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Jim Mosby didn’t appoint himself to the Lompoc City Council. From all outward appearances, two of his old friends engineered the appointment. But let’s look at Mosby not as a controversial appointment, but rather from the perspective of what to expect in the next two years.

Mosby has one issue that has been festering for the last year or so: He is known locally for his efforts to operate a private recreation facility in the county and currently has a lawsuit pending against the county concerning the Board of Supervisors' denial of a permit to operate the same recreation facility.

I asked him about this and he said that neither the city nor county was able to accommodate all of the recreational needs in Lompoc, so he took it upon himself to offer part of his property as a recreational venue. He says he received county parks verbal approval to operate it because of its “benefit to the public.”

The other issue seems to be a perception that he was very close to ousted Mayor John Linn and that somehow this association would have an influence on his decision-making process.

He told me that while Linn was mayor he supported his efforts, but now that Bob Lingl is mayor he intends to give him the same level of support for his agenda. We’ll see how this plays out as time passes.

When Linn was elected mayor in 2010, Mosby was chosen to take the reins of the Lompoc Valley Park & Recreation Pool Foundation by its members.

He found that it needed help. Records were disorganized, and there didn’t seem to be any coherent leadership team. Mosby changed all this, donated office space he owned and established bank accounts so that the various committees could be autonomous and have a place to meet and store their records.

He reorganized the foundation leadership and established proven decision-making policies that were practiced by other successful nonprofit groups.

Mosby is also a parks commissioner for the county. His biggest concern is how the available funds are allocated and the enormous backlog of maintenance at parks facilities. He says the county parks budget is about $13 million a year; $10 million is allocated to the south county and the remainder to the north.

With the help of county staff he was able to get some monies redirected to provide restrooms accessible for the disabled at Miguelito Park, soon provide a bike/foot path to Lookout Point and perform some long-overdue maintenance at Ocean Park.

Mosby also served as an appointee to the Lompoc Utility Commission. He does his homework and has taken in-depth tours of all of the enterprise fund facilities that are under the prevue of the commission. He asks a lot of probing questions.

What he discovered was that much-needed revenue wasn’t being collected because the city couldn’t account for all of the services that were being provided. He questions why user rates were raised before a full accounting was complete.

One example was the solid waste division where they are supposed to charge users for each trash container that they use at their home or businesses. When an audit was performed, the city found that fees for many containers weren’t being collected. The city is in the process of resolving this and many other enterprise fund revenue issues.

Mosby has attended all but a couple of council meetings for the last four years, remaining there long into the night — something very few people would have the patience for. So, he should be well informed.

I asked him what he hoped to accomplish in the next couple of years. The budget hearings will start in a couple of months, so naturally the budget was on his mind. He is a strong advocate for what’s known as a “zero based budget,” meaning that each department starts with no funds and must fully justify each request.

I have observed budget hearings for the last two decades, and it appears that the approach has always been “well, we used this amount last time, so let’s just increase it a few percent.” This is a poor approach to fiscal management and I believe that he will find that the other council members will be in agreement that there is a better way to manage tax dollars.

Concerning the budget there is a steep hill to climb, and his priorities are public safety staffing and effective use of available monies even if it means some serious changes to how funds are allocated.

So, Mosby may have a couple of negatives, but on balance I think that he could become an asset to the City Council and the people of Lompoc.

If he approaches his council appointment with the same level of enthusiasm he had for his other appointments then he should perform well. If he doesn’t, well, there is an election in a couple of years and people will be the judge of his efforts as they are with all other elected officials.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at news@noozhawk.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

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R&B Group Boyz II Men to Perform at Chumash Casino Resort

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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R&B greats Boyz II Men will offer an early start to Valentine’s Day weekend by performing their smash-hit love songs at the Chumash Casino Resort’s Samala Showroom at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12.

Tickets for the show are $35, $45 and $55.

Boyz II Men, which started as a quartet of classmates from the Philadelphia High School of the Performing Arts, became the best-selling R&B group of all time and shattered records on the Billboard charts.

The quartet, featuring Wayna Morris, Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary, stayed tight until McCary had to quit the road to deal with his serious scoliosis in 2003. The resulting trio has soldiered on ever since, performing their pile of hits and cover versions of other R&B hits.

Here’s a brief look at the group’s greatest accomplishments:

» Boyz II Men’s 1995 collaboration with Mariah Carey, “One Sweet Day,” spent an unprecedented 16 weeks at No. 1. That topped their 1994 “I’ll Make Love to You,” which saw 14 weeks at No. 1 (a feat shared with five other artists in recording history) and 1992’s “End of the Road” and its 13 weeks at No. 1.

» They’re one of only 10 acts ever to have one of their own songs — in this case, “I’ll Make Love to You” — knocked out of No. 1 by another of their songs (“On Bended Knee”).

» All told, the group’s tunes have spent 50 weeks at No. 1, fifth on the all-time list among folks like Elvis and The Beatles. Their last trip to No.1 was with 1997’s "4 Seasons of Loneliness."

Boyz II Men redefined popular R&B and continues to create timeless hits that appeal to fans across all generations.

Don’t miss an opportunity to see this legendary group perform some of the best-selling love songs from the 1990s when it takes the stage in the intimate, 1,400-seat Samala Showroom.

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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Stephanie Boumediene Joins PathPoint as VP/Director of Development

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Boumediene
Stephanie Boumediene

Stephanie Boumediene, MPH, has joined PathPoint as the nonprofit’s vice president/director of development.

Founded in Santa Barbara in 1964, PathPoint provides support services that empower people with disabilities, economic disadvantages and mental illness to live and work as valued members of their communities.

PathPoint celebrates the potential of over 2,100 people throughout San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern and Los Angeles counties.

Boumediene is responsible for the planning and implementation of a comprehensive annual fundraising plan for the growth of each of the six PathPoint divisions located throughout Southern and Central California, with a focus on major gifts fundraising.

Boumediene received her master's degree in public health from UCLA, where she is currently completing her doctoral work in public health policy and management.

Raised in Santa Barbara, she has spent the bulk of her professional career working internationally in the nonprofit human services field. From her first position at the United Nations in Geneva, she went on to work for humanitarian organizations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Returning to California to raise her family, she continued to support the nonprofit industry, working for the American Red Cross and a medical research institute before becoming a part of the wonderful PathPoint team.

— Corinne Hayhurst is the communications manager for PathPoint.

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UCSB Sociologist Finds Most Young Women, Men Prefer Egalitarian Relationships

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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When it comes to dividing work and family responsibilities, the majority of young men and women today say they would prefer egalitarian relationships in which they and their partners assume equal roles, if that possibility were available to them.

Thebaud
Sarah Thébaud

So finds a new study conducted by Sarah Thébaud, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara, and David Pedulla, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Their research will appear Jan. 29 in the online edition of the American Sociological Review. The print version of the article will be published in the journal’s February issue.

In a survey experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample of unmarried, childless men and women ages 18 to 32 in the U.S., the researchers asked respondents how they would ideally like to structure their relationships with future spouses or partners in terms of balancing work and family life.

The study found that when the option was made available to them, the majority of respondents — regardless of gender or education level — opted for a relationship in which they would share earning and household/caregiving responsibilities equally with their partners. Additionally, the study found that if workplace policies that support work-family balance, such as subsidized child care, are in place, women are even more likely to prefer an egalitarian relationship and much less likely to want to be the primary homemaker or caregiver.

“This research highlights an important disjuncture between the ideals and preferences of young men and women and the workplace policies and practices that are currently standard in the United States,” said Thébaud, also a faculty research associate at UCSB’s Broom Center for Demography.

The researchers’ findings also shed light on the factors contributing to persistent gender inequality and the ways in which government and organizational policies could be redesigned to improve the lives of young men and women.

“These findings offer new insights that may be useful in guiding policymakers and organizations that are interested in reducing gender inequality and improving the work and family lives of young men and women,” said Pedulla, also a faculty research associate in the Population Research Center at UT-Austin.

According to the researchers, the study’s findings also contribute new insights in the context of recent public debates about whether women should “lean in” and whether they can “have it all.”

“A key implication of this research is that men’s and women’s current work-family arrangements are often suboptimal and result from a particular set of unsupportive workplace policies and practices,” Thébaud said. “What our study helps to show is that if we were to change the workplace policy environment, we would likely see changes in how people express their ideal preferences for balancing work and family life.”

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

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Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics Names Anne Kratz Its Director of Development

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, a nonprofit health-care organization and critical community health safety net, on Tuesday announced that Anne Kratz has been named director of development.

Kratz will be responsible for overseeing fundraising, with the creation and implementation of the development strategy for Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.

“Anne brings a wealth of experience and community involvement to SBNC. We are incredibly fortunate to have her join the team, and work to establish long-lasting, rewarding relationships with our supporters,” CEO Trula Breuninger said. “We anticipate critical contributions in support of our mission of meeting the medical and dental needs of individuals and families in Santa Barbara County.”

Kratz has focused her career on the nonprofit sector and has an extensive professional background in fund development. She has served as vice president for university advancement and development for Fielding Graduate University, where she led development, alumni relations and public relations, and spearheaded Fielding's first organized fundraising campaign. She also served locally as the director of development for Cottage Health System and for United Way of Santa Barbara County, as well as director of community services for the American Red Cross, Central Coast Region.

She holds a master of arts degree in organizational management and development from Fielding Graduate University and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stephens College.

"Years ago, a friend of mine was quite ill and avoided going to the doctor because of the expense," Kratz said. "Fortunately, she discovered the SBNC Eastside Neighborhood Clinic. She was promptly diagnosed, with a serious blood disease, in time to get the treatments necessary to cure her. I am proud to be working with the fine staff and board members who ensure that access to health care is available to anyone and everyone in need, without regard to ability to pay."

“Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics has a rich tradition of strategically engaging the community and its donors. To have Ms. Kratz help carry this forward, with CEO and board support, is vital to the future stability of SBNC and the overall community,” said Melinda Staveley, board chairwoman of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics. “We want to mobilize and at the same time appreciate our many supporters’ contributions. The changing healthcare industry presents both opportunities and challenges to implement a proactive approach to achieve long-term sustainability.”

“Anne is an extraordinary addition to our team,” Breuninger said. “I am confident that her significant track record of success will be a key driver in moving SBNC forward and contribute in substantial ways to the overall growth of SBNC that will be a benefit to our patients. That’s what matters most.”   

Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics is a nonprofit 501(c)3, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) providing affordable access to integrated and coordinated primary care, dental, behavioral health services for the entire family in Santa Barbara County, regardless of their ability to pay, in an environment that fosters respect, compassion and dignity. SBNC operates four medical clinics and two dental clinics; combined SBNC health centers are the medical home for more than 17,900 patients.

— Trula Breuninger is CEO of the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.

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Cynder Sinclair: Four Cs to Steer Your Nonprofit Through the White Water of Change

By | Published on 01/20/2015

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Are changes churning with greater frequency all around you? Do you find yourself trying to gain control over all these rapid-fire shifts? How can you effectively lead your nonprofit organization through such turbulence?

It’s not easy. It takes intention. And you can do it — by applying these four Cs.

Create a Culture of Change

Peter Vaill used the metaphor of white water to describe organizational change in 1996. In his book, Learning As a Way of Being, he claims the idea of a smooth-running organization is intrinsically invalid. Change constantly churns around us like white water, rocking our boat and making us feel off balance. Effective leaders, he says, acknowledge the omnipresence of change and plan for it.

Often the fear of change is what actually makes us feel out of control. Creating a culture of change within your organization will diminish the fear factor, giving you a greater sense of equilibrium. Develop a mindset of embracing change and treat it as a rock star to propel your organization to a new level of greatness. Reward employees, volunteers and board members who scan the horizon to find impending change that can lead to new opportunities. Celebrate their ingenuity. Chase the white water of change.

Once everyone in your organization gets accustomed to living in the midst of turbulence — and delighting in it — they will be less fearful and more successful than ever. Innovation will become your group’s mainstay and achievement your trademark. As the leader, be disciplined as you continuously refocus everyone’s attention on the treasures hidden in change.

Communicate Near and Far

For change to result in such positive outcomes everyone must buy into the vision. That takes communication at every level of the organization — staff, volunteers, board members, donors and other stakeholders. As the leader, you will look for and create opportunities to tell others about your unique approach to change. Invite their participation. You will convey the rationale and plan behind each change opportunity you pursue.

As Jim Collins advises, look out the window to continuously give others the credit for good ideas rather than looking in the mirror to pat yourself on the back. People like change when they feel it’s being done by them but not when they feel it’s being done to them. Look for ways to help others feel in control.

Remember that communication is more than just data transfer. Show people something that addresses their anxieties and evokes faith in the vision.

Calculate with Intention

Once you have laid the foundation for a culture of change and communicated this vision to stakeholders you can focus on one specific organizational change. To successfully execute such a change, you must build an able team. As Collins advises, get the right people on the bus. You will want to choose team members who contribute a diversity of ideas, perspectives and credibility within the organization. Building an effective team requires mutual trust and respect as well as a clear sense of direction. All team members must understand the rationale for the proposed change, the expected outcome and the benchmarks along the way. Each member will bring his or her own expertise to the team’s work, embracing each other’s differences.

The team will work together to establish a vision for the change, a case for engagement, and a strategic and tactical plan for execution. Accountabilities, timelines and measurement will be clarified. As the team progresses in their work, they will communicate consistently with all stakeholders to eliminate any surprises along the way.

Intentionality is key to success. The team members can’t take their eyes off the goal. They must stay engaged until completion. Then it’s time to celebrate your success. Applauding your accomplishments further enhances the culture of continuous change.

Carry On with Clarity

Now that you have won and celebrated your victories, it’s time for increased diligence. Teams can let their guard down, organizations can revert to old ways of reacting to fear, leaders can lose their focus on the prize that change brings.

Have you ever walked into a room of unruly kids, calmed them down, only to have them create more chaos as soon as you leave the room? Organizations can display similar behavior. It takes vigilance to maintain your positive momentum.

How do we maintain our focus on finding opportunity in change? It’s not usually as linear a process as the four Cs might indicate — in fact, successful change is often untidy. We keep a change in place by helping to create a new, supportive and sufficiently strong organizational culture. Yet culture alone isn’t enough — culture truly changes only when a new way of operating has been shown to succeed. Successful change can be fragile. To grow and mature, our approach to change must send roots deep into the organization’s culture. Thus, our unceasing dance with change flows continuously between new challenges and new behaviors, creating a more resilient culture.

Planning Your Change Management

For change to be your friend, you need a plan that intentionally incorporates many aspects of change management. You will want to tailor the various approaches to change management to fit your organization’s situation. Click on this link to find a treasure trove of resources on this important topic.

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

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