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Santa Barbara Courthouse Observation Deck Taking Last Steps to Full Accessibility

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Beginning March 15, elevator tower and observation deck to be closed to public while repairs bring them into ADA compliance

It’s arguably the best vantage point in Santa Barbara, with panoramic views of the city, mountains and Pacific Ocean. But the Santa Barbara County Courthouse tower observation deck will be closed to the public for the next three months to make it more accessible.

An estimated 200,000 people a year visit the deck for its sweeping views, but starting March 15, crews will be working to make the elevator tower and observation deck compliant with the requirements of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Currently, the elevator opens to a flight of stairs that must be climbed to reach the observation deck, prohibiting some visitors from accessing the platform.

“Historic structures are often the last frontier of ADA accessibility, yet they comprise the most impressive architectural experiences and views,” Barry Stotts, an access advocate with Community Access Network, said at a news conference outside the courthouse last fall.

“We’re very pleased that the county continues to improve access for residents and visitors. When this is project is complete, everyone will be able to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of this beautiful community.”

County staff said the project will be paid for with a combination of recovery zone economic development bonds, certificates of participation financing and deferred maintenance funds.

The project is expected to take almost seven months, according to Robert Ooley, the county architect.

The elevator structure is original to the courthouse, which was reconstructed in 1926 after it was badly damaged in the devastating 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake. The elevator car and mechanical parts were updated in the 1990s, Ooley said.

The courthouse observation deck and elevator will all be closed in March, but the “observation deck, tower and stairs will reopen July 2015 in time for Fiesta,”​ he said.

Work on the project will continue for about six months behind the scenes, but crews are working to keep the elevator closure to a minimum.

Conservation work is ongoing in the Mural Room, where restoration experts are reconditioning scenes from its famed 1929 mural that had fallen into disrepair.

Ooley said work on the Mural Room “is moving along nicely” and is expected to wrap up during the first few weeks of May.

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.

To reach the Santa Barbara County Courthouse observation deck, visitors take an elevator to the floor below but still must navigate these stairs to reach the top. Starting March 15, the deck will be closed for three months to make the area fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
To reach the Santa Barbara County Courthouse observation deck, visitors take an elevator to the floor below but still must navigate these stairs to reach the top. Starting March 15, the deck will be closed for three months to make the area fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

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For Arianna Lopez, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Is a Home Away from Home — and So Much More

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Carpinteria High senior recognized for dedication and community service, rewarded with $20,000 national Girls Inc. college scholarship

Among the colorful hallways, emblazoned with the mantra that “Girls Are ... Strong, Smart and Bold,” 18-year-old Arianna Lopez has been a fixture at Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria for more than a decade, taking advantage of nearly every program and finding a second home there.

Now, Lopez will be leaving the organization that has nurtured her for so long — with the help of a $20,000 scholarship to help her pay for college, which she expects to begin in the fall.

She is just a few months shy from walking across the graduation stage at Carpinteria High School, and she recently was selected as a 2015 scholarship winner in the Girls Inc. National Scholar Program.

Lopez was one of 31 high school-aged young women who were awarded the scholarship from a record number of applicants.

She also joins an elite club of 18 girls from Girls Inc. of Carpinteria who have been named National Scholars in years past.

Lopez’s scholarship is awarded through The Pearl Fund, established in 2013 by fashion designer Georgina Chapman and JCPenney in partnership with Girls Inc.

Lopez applied last fall, and one day her mother called the family together, and informed them that she had been awarded the scholarship.

“I just started crying,” she recalled.

Lopez plans to attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall, and hopes to transfer to UC Santa Barbara after two years.

She’s interested in pursuing graphic design, photography and journalism during her studies.

Lopez grew up in Carpinteria and attended Canalino Elementary and Carpinteria Middle schools.

She admits she spends more time at Girls Inc. than at home — her mother, Ericka Loza-Lopez, is programming director there — and began attending Girls Inc. in kindergarten.

She remembered the first time she walked through the club’s doors.

“It was so much fun being here,” she said. “The moment you walk in the door, you get to know different types of little girls and what they can teach you.”

Lopez remembers begging one of the teachers to join a drama class, for which she was technically too young, but was granted access and “flourished.”

She has been through her share of challenges, including suffering a head injury from a sledding accident in Mammoth that occurred when she was 5 years old.

When she returned to school after the injury, “kids called me ‘Scar Face’ and said some really mean things,” she recalled.

“I  didn’t really know how to deal with it,” she said.

One thing that made that time easier was the support she received from Girls Inc.

Lopez had to wear a hat as the scar on her forehead healed, so the girls at the club organized a “hat party” at which they all wore different hats in support of Lopez.

“I knew right then and there I was accepted,” she said.

Lopez also has dyslexia, and admits she struggled academically until being able to come up with an individualized education plan that accommodates her learning style.

When the City of Carpinteria was working to ban smoking in public places, Lopez became a community force. She attended city council meetings, taking copious notes and even speaking to the council during public comment to encourage the ban, which took effect in 2011.

The smoking ban efforts earned her a community service award from Radio Disney, and she traveled to Los Angeles to receive a “Hero for Change” award.

Lopez admits she’s still got much to do before the end of her school year at Carp High, but is looking forward to the independence of college life.

“It’s still surreal,” she said.

She’s completed 2,600 community service hours, likely breaking a record at the high school. Among the beneficiaries: the California Avocado Festival and Girls Inc.

Lopez’s family is behind her as she begins to think about her college future.

“They’re unbelievably excited, but not surprised,” she said. “They’re like ‘you can do anything’.”

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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NASA Satellite Successfully Deploys Antenna Made in Santa Barbara County

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Carpinteria company’s creation — launched by Delta II rocket from VAFB — will enable scientists to map and measure earth’s soil moisture from space

A NASA satellite has raised its “arm” and unfurled a huge golden antenna — an antenna built in Santa Barbara County — as the craft continues to meet critical milestones in the weeks since arriving in space.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) craft rode to space Jan. 31 aboard a Delta II rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

For launch, the large boom and mesh reflector antenna were stowed away into a compact package.

Upon deployment, the truss slowly opened, an act NASA officials likened to a camp chair, before reaching its full diameter of almost 20 feet.

“Deploying large, low-mass structures in space is never easy and is one of the larger engineering challenges NASA missions can confront in development,” said Kent Kellogg, SMAP project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“This week’s result culminates more than six years of challenging reflector and boom assembly development, system engineering and an extensive test campaign.”

Now that the milestone has been accomplished, Kellogg said, the team will turn its attention to the routine science operations that are the main focus of the mission.

The SMAP craft will gather data about the amount of water in the soil across the globe.

On Feb. 24, the team sent commands to deploy SMAP’s reflector antenna at the end of the boom.

Astro Aerospace, a Northrop Grumman Corp. company based in Carpinteria with some operations in Goleta, designed and built the boom and antenna for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The satellite’s unique assembly is an advanced, lightweight rotating deployable mesh reflector antenna system to support the collection of SMAP’s radar and radiometric measurements in space.

It is the first-ever spinning and precision mass-balanced deployable mesh reflector antenna, and is the largest spinning mesh reflector ever deployed in space, NASA officials said.

Astro Aerospace experts have preliminarily determined that the deployed natural frequency of the reflector boom assembly in orbit is nearly identical to prelaunch predictions.

“This provides confidence in the health of the deployed reflector and in its performance once spun up,” NASA officials said.

Despite being 20 feet in diameter, the reflector weighs just 56 pounds. With its supporting boom and launch restraints, the entire reflector and boom assembly weighs only 127 pounds.

“The AstroMesh Reflector is a central feature of the SMAP spacecraft, which will be used to help monitor soil moisture and thus provide critical data about the state of our planet,” said John Alvarez, general manager of Astro Aerospace.

“We are proud to have worked with the NASA JPL team to develop and produce this critical piece of hardware.”

In about a month, after additional tests and maneuvers to adjust the observatory to its final orbit some 426 miles high, ground controllers will begin the process of spinning the antenna to nearly 15 revolutions per minute.

By rotating, the antenna will be able to measure a 620-mile swath of Earth below, allowing SMAP to map the globe every two to three days, NASA officials said.

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

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Boy Badly Burned After Playing with Fire in Santa Barbara Backyard

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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A local boy was badly burned from playing with fire Saturday afternoon, according to the Santa Barbara Fire Department.

Around 12:30 p.m., three juvenile boys, all reportedly 13 or 14, were in a backyard in the 700 block of California Street and at least one of them was playing with fire, fire inspector Ryan DiGuilio said.

That boy caught fire himself and was badly burned. He was in critical condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital as of late Saturday afternoon.

The mother of the boy who lived at the residence heard something in the backyard, saw what was going on and called 9-1-1, fire officials said.

“This is a reminder that fire’s very volatile and has a mind of its own,” DiGuilio said. “It can get out of control extremely quickly and overwhelm you extremely quickly.”

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 Barbara Asks for Public Input on Drawing Inaugural Election District Maps

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Lawsuit settlement requires six separate City Council districts, two of which must have a majority of Latino eligible voters

Now that the City of Santa Barbara has settled a lawsuit and agreed to start using district elections beginning in November, the City Council wants input on what those six districts should look like.

Plaintiffs alleged Santa Barbara’s at-large voting system diluted Latino votes and made it difficult for those voters to elect their preferred candidates, City Attorney Ariel Calonne explained at a public engagement meeting on the subject Saturday.

The court case was to go to trial in April but the settlement was finalized last week, making the meeting focus on district boundaries. The city must pay $599,500 in legal fees to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Barry Cappello, but avoiding a multimillion-dollar court payout was one of the reasons for settling, Calonne said.

City Council members and the mayor are elected on an at-large basis now, so candidates can live anywhere and voters can choose any candidates they want.

With six districts — as agreed-upon in the court settlement — at least two must have a majority (over 50 percent) of Latino eligible voters, meaning citizens over the age of 18. In draft maps, those two districts are centered around the Eastside and Westside neighborhoods.

The mayor will still be elected at-large, by all city voters.

For the November 2015 election, three of the new six districts will be implemented for the three open City Council seats. Since Councilman Randy Rowse will be up for re-election, it’s likely the district in which he lives — on the Mesa — will be on the ballot along with the two Latino-majority districts, Calonne said.

The rest of the city won’t be voting in November.

Several people at Saturday’s meeting advocated for changing to even-year city elections as a way of improving voter turnout, including Latino voter turnout, but Calonne said that can only be changed by a vote of the people.

Members of the public are invited to help design district maps and a consultant from National Demographics Corp. explained the complicated online mapping program people can use to draw their own maps of the city. It’s similar to ArcGIS with U.S. Census data, detailed local maps and satellite imaging built in.

The goal is to have six districts with equal populations, of around 14,735 residents each, that keeps neighborhoods and other communities of interest together. All the official neighborhoods from the city’s General Plan are labeled and outlined in the maps.

For people drawing maps at home, the districts should be “reasonably shaped,” contiguous and keep neighborhoods together when possible, said Doug Johnson, president of National Demographics Corp. There are three draft maps that can be used as starting points, or people can start from scratch.

The plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit will be submitting their own district maps for consideration, Cappello said at the meeting. He said he has concerns with one of the draft maps, saying the Westside neighborhood is “diluted” by adding the Pilgrim Terrace Park area, which is largely non-Latino, and the area near Leadbetter Beach that is populated with many Santa Barbara City College students and is traditionally part of the Mesa neighborhood.

That map “violated the spirit of the agreement,” Cappello asserted.

District boundary lines must be submitted to the court by early April and then to the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters by June or July so that office can draw out precincts before the November election.

Public input on maps will only be accepted until March 12.

The mapping tools are English-only but National Demographics Corp. has Spanish-speaking staff members who can work directly with groups, Johnson said. His tutorial during Saturday’s meeting was also interpreted for the video made by City TV.

Click here to submit maps through the online tool, or people can draw them out with pens and paper and submit them to the City Clerk’s Office at 735 Anacapa St. Maps also can be scanned and emailed to gpeirce@santabarbaraca.gov or faxed to 805.897.2623.

Another public meeting and mapping tutorial is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 18 in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The City Council ultimately will decide which district maps to use and is holding meetings at 2 p.m. March 24 and 4 p.m. March 30, both at City Hall.

Johnson provided some tips on using the mapping program and his tutorial will be posted online on Monday, the city said. Once users create an online account, they can read how to use the program in the “learn” tab at the top and then draw maps through the “create” tab and ultimately share or submit them to the city.

Johnson emphasized that the city wants to know the reasoning behind mapping choices so it helps City Council members make their decision.

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: Naples Again

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Today, as I read another article about Naples up on the selling block again, about how this “Mythical Being Wants Naples,” I began to wonder “what is Naples really about”?

In reading about Naples again, it really is not about owner Matt Osgood, about development or about “environmentalists”; something about these words just doesn’t feel right, feels distracting. It doesn’t really have to do with any of these things.

It’s hard to put into words what I do feel. Because it doesn’t have to do with the past, and it especially doesn’t have to do with our old way of thinking. It doesn’t have to do with saying, “I don’t want development here,” “You’re not the right person,” “This land is not your sacred cow, and you’re not going to carve it up like a piece of meat and sell it by the pound.” On a deeper level, it’s really not about any of these things.

Let me try to get to what I am feeling, and what it’s really about. When you walk out on the land you know it’s special; you can feel it. It may sound like a cliché, but, it really does speak to you. The land has this beautiful voice; she speaks with a voice that sounds like the earth would sound if she could speak to you.

And when you hear her voice, your heart opens and you fall in love. She tells you this is the place of the ancestors, the place of ancient wisdom, a place where you can hear the laughter of the children, a place where you are loved, where you can listen to the stories of the elders, where the teachings of healing, and community, and wisdom are alive and embedded here. Where you can come and learn, be healed, be community, be at one with the earth and these teachings; most important, be with one another and at one with the beings who live here.

What it’s really about is more than this place we call Naples. This land is a sacred place, it is a repository of healing and teachings and community, it is a library if you will of wisdom, and it holds the future of our children and our community, and it really is one of the last places on this earth like it.

It lives here as an opportunity to restore our village, to come together as one community, a place where once again we live together as caretakers, where we restore a way of living together that used to be “the old way.” This way of being becomes the “new paradigm.”

We are here to build and live the “new paradigm” here on this land. It teaches us how, and we build it for our community, and as a model for all of those among us who are ailing, who also need to be restored, and we build it for our children, and the future of our community, and for the communities of this earth, because that is what this land, this place we call Naples is really about, and it is what we are about and why we are here.

We are not here to say “No, I don’t want you to build on the land,” we are here to say yes, to say yes to this land, yes to being caretakers, yes to healing a reciprocity, yes to the “old ways,” yes to the new paradigm, yes to the beings who live here, yes to the children and the elders, and yes to each other.

James Smallwood
Santa Barbara

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Letter to the Editor: Israel Has a Right to Exist

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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On March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give a historic speech to Congress, discussing the implications of a nuclear Iran and the dangers of radical Islam. His goal: to inform the American people and the world of these dangers.

The one policy that Netanyahu has never caved to is his policy of accommodating to Iran. (Jerusalem Post) He has openly and behind closed doors warned that President Barack Obama’s plan to forge a nuclear deal with Iran is dangerous. He has made it clear that Iran’s nuclear program, as well as its ballistic missile program, constitutes a threat to Israel’s very existence. And, until Obama took office, preventing Iran from acquiring these weapons has always been the norm.

Sadly, our president is no friend of our ally, Israel. In recent years, Netanyahu has released jihadist terrorists from prison, abrogated Jewish people’s rights in Jerusalem, Judea, + Samara, supported the establishment of a Palestinian state and agreed to give free electricity to the Palestinians in Gaza, while Israel was being attacked by them. All of this was done to accommodate Obama, win over the media and to appease leftists in his coalition.

For the past six years, Obama has undermined Israel’s national security and publicly humiliated Netanyahu.

On another front, Obama shocked the entire Israeli defense community when he supported the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. (Jerusalem Post) Not only was Mubarak an ally to America in the fight against Islamic terrorists, he acted as a guardian of both Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and the safety and freedom of maritime traffic in the Suez Canal.

The result of Obama’s actions: the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks the destruction of Israel and is responsible for jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and Hamas, took over. To this day, Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood.

Recently, the attacks on Israel and Netanyahu have continued by Susan Rice, John Kerry and other Democrats. Obama is coercing Democrats to boycott Netanyahu’s speech and the Congressional Black Caucus has threatened to walk out during his speech. What a disgrace.

The actions toward Israel by this administration are dangerous and disgusting. What is Obama afraid of? The Truth?

Diana Thorn
Carpinteria

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Louise Palanker: Boyfriend Wants Sex with Other Girls, Getting Over a Breakup, Dating Help

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Question from Samantha N.

My boyfriend recently told me that he wants to have sex with other girls. He said it’s a guy thing to think that way. We do have sex but he is out of town for work and he told me this yesterday, and he said he is not going to do it but he wants to. What should I do or say? I already told him that made me feel like crap and he said, “I’m sorry, that’s how I feel.”

Weezy

Is there a jaw drop emoji? :b ? Your boyfriend is tremendously out of line, and I would love to fit him with a sandwich board that reads, “Don’t date me!”

The most honest truth regarding guys and sex is that yes, they are probably thinking about sex off and on, all day, every day. From what I have been told, being a guy comes with its share of distractions. But directly sharing these thoughts with a girlfriend is a a flagrant code violation. Any man who is old enough to be out of town for work has had enough life experience to understand the collaborative essentials of a healthy relationship.

For example: The female should not expect total attention from her mate while recapping an episode of The Bachelor and the male should not list every woman he would like to bang.

In life, we make sacrifices for the greater good. Generally speaking, a guy is going to be sexually attracted to a lot of girls. But because he is in love with one girl, he does not act on those impulses or voice those attractions. The girl he loves is more important than expressing his interest in sex with multiple girls. If your boyfriend is not wiling to make that little effort for you, he should not enjoy the honor of calling you his girlfriend.

I’m so sorry. I know this hurts. I can not think of a good reason for your boyfriend to say these words to you unless he is trapped in a Jim Carrey movie in which he is unable to control his mouth.

Yes, honesty is usually the best policy. But we don’t walk up to people and say, “I hate your haircut” and we don’t behave like your guy. He is either baiting you to break up with him or he has a lot more to learn about women. I would suggest that you let him go and allow life and not you to be his teacher.

More advice from Blimey Cow:

(Blimey Cow video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Jeremy T.

How do I get over a breakup?

Weezy

The only thing you can do is move on, plan activities that are fun and spend time with friends as you “pretend” to have a good time, until eventually, you  suddenly notice that you are having a good time.

Do not text or write or call the person. Do not check his/her Facebook/Instagram/Twitter status or try to find out who she is with and what she is doing.

Keep yourself busy. Find out who you are supposed to be in this world. Work toward becoming and being that person. Send out positive energy; it will attract positive people to you.

One day, you will realize that you really have not thought of this person in a very long time. Give yourself a week or two to cry it out. This hurts like heck, but the only cure for pain is pain. You have to feel this until you build up a callus.

Soon, you will begin to understand what your ex came into your life to teach you. As you heal, you are creating a you who is stronger for having been in that relationship.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Bryan C.

I have a problem of trying to date girls that just end up turning me down. Every girl I try to date says something like, “I just got out of a relationship, I think of you as a brother, or I only like you as a friend.”

I can’t tell the difference between if a girl likes me as just a friend or more than a friend. I’m just oblivious to it. I need advice on how to get a girlfriend.

Weezy

I know that you are very eager to have a girlfriend but remember that you don’t really want to date just any girl who will date you. That won’t make either of you happy.

Your fishing technique appears to be what I call, “casting a wide net.” That’s where you ask out a lot of girls, hoping to catch at least one. This may eventually get you a girlfriend but no matter how often you hear your uncle say, “Hey, there are a lot of fish in the sea,” girls are not fish.

You don’t want the girl who is unfortunate enough to get stuck in your net. You want the girl who swims over to you.

I know, I just told you that girls are not fish so let’s move on to another analogy. You are currently unable to read the room. You can’t tell the difference between a girl who likes you as a friend and a girl who likes you romantically. Here is where I need to be blunt. Thus far, all of these girls are politely turning you down so you need to note that this is how friendship looks.

Rather than going for a girlfriend right now, why don’t you spend a month or two sharpening your attractar. (Attraction Radar ... I just made up a word.)

Here are some tips:

When a girl likes you romantically she will spend more time making eye contact with you. You will look at her and catch her looking at you. She may laugh at all your jokes and touch your arm when you say something funny, or turn a little red when you speak to her, or go out of her way to be around you. She may mention upcoming events to hint at going to an event with you. She may tease you or wrestle with you in a fun way. She may do nice things for you or find an excuse to buy you a little present. She may pick out your future house and name your future children. You get the idea.

If you are not seeing these signs, don’t ask the girl out yet. Just continue being a good friend. If we were talking about one girl, I would say give yourself some space and allow your heart to heal. But I don’t get the sense that you are heartbroken by one particular girl. I think you just feel sad and hurt that none of these girls is wishing to date you.

I promise you that romance will come. Right now, be a good, kind friend. Be there. Listen. Do not undervalue friendship; it’s vital.

You will have one relationship at a time. You will have many enriching and rewarding friendships. If a girl wants you to be her friend, that is a gift. Take it.

Relationships may come and go. Friendships can last forever. They can also lead to romance. But don’t push. Let it unfold naturally and when you see these signs, ask her out.

More tips from The Wing Girls:

(The Wing Girls video)

                                                                 •        •        •

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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Letter to the Editor: More Oil Company Corruption

By | Published on 02/28/2015

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Day after day, week after week, month after month, revelations accumulate as to oil companies’ environmental and moral filth — aided and abetted by California’s government.

Recently we learned that massive amounts of the carcinogen benzene — concentrations “thousands of times more than federal and state regulations consider safe” — are contained in the flowback fluids that California fracking oil companies have illegally stored in wells drilled through aquifers (underground water tables) containing clean water. Any crack or failure in those wells will contaminate water communities use for drinking and agriculture.

It was only the passage of SB4 in 2013, requiring oil companies to test and report on these matters, that brought this particular corruption to light.

Now, in the Los Angeles Times of Feb. 27, 2015, we learn that “oil producers have been dumping chemical-laden wastewater into hundreds of unlined pits that are operating without proper permits.”

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board “revealed the existence of more than 300 previously unidentified waste sites. ... more than one third ... operating without permission.”

Of course the toxic materials stored in unlined pits, many of which are adjacent to agricultural fields, are free to migrate to nearby areas or seep into ground water beneath them.

“State regulators face federal scrutiny for what critics say has been decades of lax oversight of the oil and gas industry and fracking operations in particular. The Division of Oil, Gas and Gerthermal Resources has admitted that for years it allowed companies to inject fracking wastewater into protected groundwater aquifers ...”

This corruption lies directly at the door of Gov. Jerry Brown.

In 2011, he fired California Department of Conservation director Derek Chernow and deputy Elena Miller because they would not comply with his wish to issue oil drilling permits without the thorough review required by environmental law (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 29, 2012).

The obviously intended result of their dismissal and replacement was the proliferation of fracking in the state, eventually followed by Kern County residents begging the governor to come see for himself the devastation to their health, water and crops being caused by fracking. He ignored their pleas.

Over the years, oil companies have contributed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Gov. Brown, much of it in support of several of his favorite ballot measures.

The despicable quid pro quo arrangement between them is obvious.

“‘The state doesn't seem to be willing to put the protection of groundwater and water quality ahead of the oil industry being able to do business as usual,’ said Andrew Grinberg of the group Clean Water Action.”

No kidding!

William Smithers
​Santa Barbara

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Prosecution Rests in Santa Maria Trial of Six Defendants Charged in Ibarra Murder

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Defense attorneys ask the judge to acquit their clients, accused of the gang-related torture-slaying of Anthony Ibarra in March 2013

The prosecution rested Friday afternoon in the Santa Maria trial of six men charged with the gang-related torture-slaying of Anthony Ibarra, and a judge began hearing attorneys’ motions about why their defendants should be acquitted before denying a request for the alleged shot-caller.

After entering approximately 500 items into evidence, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen officially rested her case in the afternoon, culminating  the seventh week for the trial’s testimony stage.

“The People’s case is finished,” Judge Rick Brown told jurors.

Jury selection began Nov. 17 with hundreds of candidates queried before the panel of 12 plus six alternates were selected.

Defense attorneys will now present their cases next week, after Brown finishes hearing the various motions for acquittal.

Six men are on trial for the March 17, 2013, slaying of the 28-year-old Ibarra, a drug dealer who allegedly had debts to the gang. He was brutally assaulted in a house at 1142 W. Donovan Road. His body was found days later inside a rented U-Haul truck parked on a street in Orcutt.

Michael Scott, who represents the alleged shot-caller Ramon “Crazy Ray” Maldonado, said the prosecution’s case lacked corroborating evidence against his client for the charges.

He argued that two prosecution witnesses, a sister and brother who lived at the house, actually were accomplices.

"We do not have any corroboration of Mr. Maldonado doing anything to commit a crime,” Scott said.

Bramsen disagreed, saying there was no evidence the witnesses had the mental state to commit murder.

Instead, she  said, independent evidence proved Maldonado had been working with another defendant in the weeks before the murder to locate Ibarra due to drug taxes he owed the gang.

Bramsen added that plenty of corroborating evidence ties Maldonado to the crime — GPS tracking equipment he wore placed him at the residence the day of the murder, DNA on a beer can retrieved from the house, DNA on a latex glove found on the floor.

“Ramon Maldonado’s acquittal is hereby denied,” Brown said.

Defense attorney Addison Steele argued for why his client, Anthony “AJ” Solis should be acquitted, noting his man was “getting rousted because he owed money for drugs.” Because of this, Steele said, Solis wasn’t lying in wait.

“I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence to convict Mr. Solis,” Steele said, adding the trial lacked evidence Solis intended to kill Ibarra.

Before being interrupted by the end of the court day, Bramsen said she strongly disagreed with Steele’s interpretation of the law and noted evidence that Solis was aware Ibarra was in trouble with the gang.

She said one witness recalled a conversation that Solis had warned one man to stay away from Ibarra. 

“They were looking for him and anyone with him was going to get caught up,” Bramsen said.

In a text message to another defendant, Solis claimed to have found Ibarra.

And, Bramsen said, Solis was arrested with a pair of gloves in his pocket. Those gloves, similar to ones reportedly worn by several defendants the day of the attack, had Ibarra’s blood on them, she added.

Also charged in the case are Maldonado’s father, David “Pops” Maldonado, represented by David Bixby; Jason Castillo, represented by Adrian Andrade; Reyes “Pumpkin” Gonzales, represented by Tom Allen; and Santos “Lil Tuffy” Sauceda, represented by Fred Foss.

The six men are charged with first-degree murder along with several special circumstances including lying in wait, kidnap, torture and gang involvement. They also face an allegation of committing a crime for the benefit of criminal street gang.

In addition, Ramon Maldonado faces two counts of witness intimidation.

Five other people — including the teen son of Ramon Maldonado and grandson of David Maldonado — were charged in connection with the slaying but cases against them have been resolved.

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

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Santa Barbara City College Seeks Car Donations for Automotive Department Classes

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Students in the program learn to repair and maintain vehicles and need donated cars to work on

On Thursday morning, about three dozen students were busily working on vehicles in the cavernous garage that's home to Santa Barbara City College's Automotive Service and Technology Department. 

Students worked in groups and bustled among eight vehicles, ranging from a Ford Mustang to a BMW SUV to a Toyota Sienna minivan, as part of a brakes, steering and suspension class.

The department is in desperate need of donated vehicles to become part of its permanent fleet, which rotate in and out of the garage as students work on their classwork.

About 200 students are enrolled in the SBCC program, which offers classes on everything from Auto 101, a theory class, to more specialized and advanced classes like Principles of Hybrid and Electric Drives.

Students can receive an Automotive Certificate of Achievement in one year or an Automotive Services and Technology Associates Degree in two years. 

Students graduate from the program and go on to work at independent shops, repair shops at car dealerships and tire shops among others jobs, according to instructor Bob Stockero.

The department does not do repairs on vehicles owned by community members, but is looking for donated vehicles.

Stockero, who has been with the program for 29 years, said students work on their own cars, but having "fleet cars is a benefit in so many ways."

The newest car in their fleet is a 2000 Acura.

Fewer and fewer manufacturers have stepped up to donate to the program in recent years, and they are now depending on the community to help out so the students have a variety of vehicles to work on.

SBCC students work on an assortment of vehicles during an automotive department class. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Stockero said vehicles should be running, can't have any major technical issues and no cosmetic damage. 

Hondas, Toyotas and Volkswagens are especially desirable because the students will likely be working on those types of cars when they graduate.

Stockero said he's looking for vehicles that are between 1996 and about 2008, but would also take newer cars.

"We're looking for more mainstream vehicles," he said.

Stockero said that many people are likely to trade in their vehicles when they upgrade, but a tax donation made through the Santa Barbara City College Foundation might provide a greater tax write-off than a trade-in value.

"We're just saying keep us in mind, it's a tax deduction," he said.

Anyone with questions about donating a vehicle to the Automotive Technologies can email Stockero at stockero@sbcc.edu.

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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Vandenberg Beaches to Close for Snowy Plover Nesting Season

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Vandenberg Air Force Base leadership is scheduled to temporarily close sections of Surf, Wall and Minuteman beaches Sunday.

Beach restrictions are enforced annually on all three beaches March 1 through Sept. 30 to protect the western snowy plover, listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and its nesting habitat.

"We protect the snowy plover by employing beach closures, predator management and habitat restoration to offset adverse effects of recreational beach use during the breeding season," said Samantha Kaisersatt, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron biological scientist. "Beach closures include a prohibition on dogs, horses and kites."

Seasonal beach violations are limited to 50 for Surf Beach, 10 for Wall Beach and 10 for Minuteman Beach. Entry into any posted closed area counts as a violation. If the specified violation limit is reached at a particular beach, that entire beach will be closed for the remainder of the nesting season. Violators of beach restrictions can be fined up to $5,000 in federal court. Violators of the Endangered Species Act (e.g. crushing eggs or chicks) can face fines up to $50,000 in federal court and imprisonment for up to one year.

During plover season, the general public can still find plenty of beach access available at a portion of Surf Beach at the end of Highway 246. Recreational beach access is also available at significant portions of Wall Beach off 35th Street and Minuteman Beach on north base for the Vandenberg community.

To ensure continued access to these beaches, observe and read the posted signage to avoid violations and beach closure.

 

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Man Gets 30 Years to Life for Multiple Rape Charges

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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A man found guilty of raping multiple women, one of whom was attacked and raped in a mall bathroom stall, was sentenced to 30 years to life in state prison on Friday.

Raul Antonio Yescas
Raul Antonio Yescas

Raul Antonio Yescas, III, 25, was found guilty in July 2014 of multiple rapes as well as a special allegation that the rapes were committed on multiple victims, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.

The crimes stemmed from two separate incidents, the first of which occurred one night in late 2010, when Yescas raped an 18-year-old female acquaintance, a Santa Barbara County resident, inside her car that was parked in a downtown city parking lot.

Another incident occurred in early 2011, during the midmorning hours, when Yescas broke into a bathroom stall in the women's bathroom of the upper level of the Paseo Nuevo Mall and raped a 19-year-old woman inside the stall.

That woman was a resident of Los Angeles County, and Yescas’ DNA was entered into the State of California DNA felony arrestee database after a burglary conviction and was matched in October 2012 to DNA from the 2011 rape, according to the statement.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley commended the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Department of Justice Criminal Lab in Goleta for their work in investigating, analyzing evidence and assisting Deputy District Attorney Ben Ladinig in the prosecution of the "heinous" crimes. 

Dudley also stated that the women should be commended for their bravery "in making sure that this sexual predator can no longer endanger women."

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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Community Volunteers Help Students Celebrate Dr. Seuss with United We Read Event

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and others head into classrooms at three local schools for a special storytime

Little readers at Franklin Elementary School got a special treat on Friday as two dozen volunteers entered their classrooms for a special storytime.

Volunteers, including Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, invited children to gather around as they brought in their favorite children's books as part of the United We Read event, hosted by United Way of Santa Barbara County's Young Leaders Society.

The event took place in advance of Dr. Seuss Day, which will be Monday, also referred to as Read Across America Day.

Since its inception, the Young Leaders Society has donated more than 650 books and more than $2,000 to local schools through the United We Read program

United Way officials also presented a $200 check on Friday morning to the Franklin School Library for books and supplies.

Those funds were raised by YLS volunteers last fall during their annual Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser.

It's the sixth year the organization has held the event, and sends readers to El Camino Elementary in Goleta as well as Aliso Elementary in Carpinteria, according to United Way's Steve Ortiz.

Sixty volunteers participated at the three schools on Friday, and the organization is always looking for more volunteers, Ortiz said.

The goal is to inspire children to read so they can be successful in their educational journey, Ortiz said.

In addition to having a book read to them, the children are also given a few minutes to ask the reader questions about their lives, Ortiz said.

The event lines up with education goals that the nonprofit has for the community.

"We realized a lot of kids are reading way below grade level," Ortiz said.

The classroom appearances are just one component of the reading outreach done by United Way of Santa Barbara County. For example, many young children in low-income households have no access to books, so the Dolly Parton Imagination Library has a book mailed to more than 1,350 county children under age 5 each month, at no charge.

Brad Smith, who works at Cottage Health System, was another reader who made an appearance in a first-grade class and chose to read Curious George Rides a Train.

"It's one of the most fun things I do every year," he said.

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

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David Harsanyi: There’s Nothing Unpatriotic About Challenging Obama on Iran

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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The Obama administration values a future relationship with Iran more than it values the historic relationship it has with Israel.

Unless there's a reversal in the reported deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, all the superficial talk about this extraordinary friendship between Israel and the United States isn't going to mean much. And the histrionics surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech in front of a joint session of Congress only confirm that there are plenty of people who are happy about it.

First, Americans were supposed to be outraged because Netanyahu engaged in a breach of protocol. Then we were supposed to be outraged because the speech would be given too close to the upcoming Israeli elections. (Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is still using this excuse for his own boycott.) But if the Israeli elections — and President Barack Obama's done about everything possible to weaken Netanyahu's position — are so problematic, then the controversy should be centered on the behavior of the prime minister, not the substance of his argument. That's not the case, is it?

Administration mouthpieces warn us that the once-special relationship between the nations will collapse under the weight of a single speech — and some of those warnings have come with a hint of anticipation. The real victims of Netanyahu? American Jews. Critics suggest that challenging the president while he is in the middle of foreign policy deal-making is both a bit unpatriotic and dangerously partisan.

But the problem isn't protocol, Israeli elections, patriotism or partisanship. It's the fact that Netanyahu is going to make a powerful argument against enabling Iran to become a nuclear power. Many Americans will hear it — or of it. Many Americans will agree.

Devotion to Obama is not the same as loyalty to your country. The opposition party, in fact, has a responsibility to disrupt the president's agenda if it truly believes that it's the wrong path for the nation. This is why we have political parties. And this is why I'm pretty sure many anti-war liberals believe that the Hillary Clintons and John Kerrys of the world failed the country leading up to the Iraq War.

And seeing as I brought it up, Secretary of State Kerry sure did offer us a jaw dropper Wednesday: "The prime minister ... was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush," the former presidential candidate said. "We all know what happened with that decision."

Yes, Netanyahu supported the Iraq War, but he did not send Americans to fight — nor will his upcoming speech. Kerry, on the other hand, engaged in a cynical voted for/voted against charade driven by his own political ambitions. But there is a bigger falsehood — let's call it presumption — here. Critics of Netanyahu act as if opposing Obama's Iranian deal is tantamount to declaring war on Iran. In the long run, allowing Iran to become nuclear might well mean war. We don't know.

We do know some other things. Whereas Obama looks to be comfortable with the expansion of Iranian power with proxies in Syria and Lebanon, our allies in Israel may not feel the same way. Obama may be comfortable with the idea that Tehran can develop powerful centrifuges that put them in a position to build a bomb within a year, but that reality is probably unsettling for the Sunnis and Jews in the area. In fact, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell says that a potential Iran nuclear agreement would limit Iran to the number of centrifuges needed for a weapon but not enough for the imaginary nuclear power program it wants.

So the question is: What does the United States gain from entering a deal such as this?

Netanyahu may mention some of these apprehensions. Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, says the visit is "destructive of the fabric of the relationship." It seems unlikely that Rice would ever use the word destructive to describe Iran's obsession with obtaining nuclear weapons — but "partisanship," now, that's really corrosive. The fact is that the alliance with Israel has never been much of a partisan issue in the United States. Not until now. And even today, only a handful of reliably anti-Israel politicians and a few Obama loyalists are skipping the speech so far. According to Gallup, 70 percent of Americans still have a favorable view of Israel.

So though there is plenty of criticism aimed at the aggressive methods of Netanyahu in Israel, there will also be widespread agreement among nearly all political denominations in the Jewish state regarding the substance of his speech and the warnings about a nuclear Iran. Surely, hearing out the case of an ally that is persistently threatened by Holocaust-denying Iranian officials doesn't need to come with this much angst from Democrats. But if it does, it's worth asking why.

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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Outdoors Q&A: A Right to Fish the Oceans of This Planet Without Permission?

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Q: If I am in need of food for myself and family, would it be a crime to catch fish from the ocean for subsistence without a license, and if so, why? With inland waters I realize that lakes are stocked, policed and maintained and this service has to be paid for via taxes, licenses and fines. That’s understandable.

I am aware of states with coastlines having a mileage limit from shore to international waters, and the area in between is overseen by the Coast Guard. Should it not be a God-given right to fish the oceans and seas of this planet without permission from the powers that be? (Doug P.)

A: In California you can legally fish from public ocean piers without a fishing license. Finfish, crabs and lobsters may be found there in different areas. All regulations must still be followed but you can fish without a fishing license in these locations only. There are also two free fishing days per year (July 4 and Sept. 5 this year), allowing people to fish in ocean and inland waters without a license on those two designated days. In addition, any children in your family can fish without a license and be entitled to legal limits until they turn 16, when a license will be required. Except for the opportunities mentioned above, subsistence fishing without a sport fishing license in ocean or freshwater is not allowed.

California waters extend from the shore (high tide line) out to three miles, federal waters stretch from three miles to 200 miles and international waters begin at 200 miles out. All waters out to 200 miles are still patrolled and managed cooperatively with the federal government. Any fish taken outside of 200 miles must still meet all fishing regulations in order to be brought back into U.S. waters, and all fish landed at California ports must additionally meet all California regulations.

Fisheries in all state and federal waters have regulations and many have strict management guidelines to properly manage the take of various species to assure overfishing does not occur which could collapse those and related fisheries. Regulations and limitations of fishing activities and take is imperative, especially in waters of a state populated by 38 million people.

Scouting for Abalone Out of Season?

Q: I belong to a small group of diving enthusiasts and we recently had a debate come up where there are varying opinions on the subject of gauging abalone. One portion of the group is stating that it is perfectly legal to freedive with an abalone gauge out of season and measure abalone with the intent of coming back during the season to retrieve the abs. I believe this would be pursuing or hunting abalone and would be against the rules. I pointed out that the new 8 a.m. rule specifically states you can enter the water but not “be searching for” abalone prior to 8 a.m. This leads me to believe if it is illegal to search for abs during a time when “take” is not permitted, then it would be illegal out of season as well. Can you help us settle this debate? (Brian M., Antioch)

A: Yes, it would be legal to dive with an abalone gauge as long as you don’t dive with an abalone iron or other means to detach abalone. As long as there is no attempt to take the abalone, and it is not handled or detached from the rocks, it would be legal.

Driving at Night with Flashlights to View Wildlife

Q: My wife and I are outdoors lovers and we don’t want to break the law. We often drive back roads or dirt roads in and around Butte County armed with only a flashlight and no weapons to view and enjoy wildlife that wouldn’t be possible to enjoy in the daylight. Is this legal? (Dan, Oroville)

A: Yes, as long as you do not have a method of take with you. You may, however, attract the attention of wildlife officers that are on the lookout for poachers using spotlights to find game. These officers may pull you over and detain you to inspect your vehicle to ensure you do not have a method of take.  There are also some vehicle code provisions that prohibit the use of a flashlight or headlight on a public highway if it is shone into oncoming traffic or prevents other vehicles from seeing traffic control devices.

Treble Hooks for Halibut?

Q: I’m planning to go fishing for halibut and have read that the rig must not exceed two hooks. Can those two hooks be treble hooks?

A: Yes, you are not limited to two hooks and so treble hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Donna Polizzi: Orcutt a Gem of a Destination Hiding in Plain Sight

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Take an East Clark Avenue excursion to a charming Old Town and some of the best places to wine and dine in Santa Barbara County

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

For those who enjoy the finer things in life, visiting California’s Central Coast is truly an adventure.

For the past 15 years, my family and friends have had a blast seeking out great places to enjoy on the Central Coast. From Carpinteria to Paso Robles, the area offers locals and visitors nearly 150 miles of pristine beaches, freshwater lakes, scenic golf courses, world-class wineries, art museums, historic and spectacular Spanish missions, and of course, simply breathtaking natural scenery with ocean views rivaling any others in the world.

If you want to see rolling hills so green and picturesque that you’ll think you’re in Ireland, now is the time to hop on Highway 101 to take a day trip that’s guaranteed to energize, rejuvenate and entertain you.

There is a sweet spot that I would love to share with you. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Orcutt, a quaint little town about an hour north of Santa Barbara and 40 minutes south of San Luis Obispo, you don’t know what you’re missing. Orcutt, with a population of around 29,000, has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, with an average temperature of 71.6 degrees. But that is just the beginning.

Orcutt can be found by exiting at Clark Avenue on Highway 101 south of Santa Maria. To the east, you’ll discover the breathtakingly beautiful Presqu’ile Winery, 5391 Presquile Drive. The scenic landscape, cozy fireplace and outdoor fire pits are a great place to sip an exceptional locally produced pinot noir and chardonnay while playing a game of horseshoes, or simply sit and enjoy the spectacular views.

Another favorite winery of mine is the Cottonwood Canyon Vineyard & Winery, located only five minutes away at 3940 Dominion Road. It is a beautiful winery with a friendly staff who can show you their wine caves. Oh and the wine ... it’s well worth the drive. Norm Beko, the wine maker is a Master.

If you head west on Clark, you’ll come upon numerous other places to sip, savor and shop.

Old Orcutt, which is about five miles west on Clark, offers several blocks of great restaurants like Ca’Del Grevino café and wine bar, 400 E. Clark Ave., and the Far Western Tavern, 300 E. Clark Ave.

The Far Western is a famous, and rustic, restaurant and saloon that offers up the best steak on the West Coast, according to the California Cattlemen’s Association. It is an obvious favorite local spot to enjoy cocktails in a beautiful bar or upstairs on the terrace.

Also check out a fabulous place called Deja Vu Antiques at the Loading Dock, 315 S. Broadway St. This is an old loading dock packed full of antiques, old signs, chandeliers, beautiful furniture and hundreds of unique items that you won’t find anywhere else.

For a delicious breakfast, check out Kay’s Country Kitchen, 135 E. Clark Ave., or Jack’s, 156 S. Broadway St., which serves up omelets big enough to share and at an incredibly reasonable price.

If it’s authentic Italian food you want, Trattoria Uliveto, 285 S. Broadway St., is another local favorite for a great meal with an elegant but casual atmosphere. Co-owner Alfonso Curti, who treats his guests like longtime friends,  recently served me a “Moscow Mule” in a hammered copper mug that has hit my favorite drink list.

And whatever you do, don’t miss out on Rooney’s Irish Pub & Brewery, 241 S. Broadway St. Tim Rooney brews his own beers on site with friendly service and a motto that says it all: “There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met.”

If you want a great pizza, Patricio’s Pizzeria is a must, at 156 S. Broadway St., Suite E. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had, and they’re known throughout the area for their amazing crust.

All of these hot spots are literally within minutes of each other walking, so get out of your car and enjoy the great weather and friendly people.

Old Town Orcutt has so many wonderful places to visit. Take a stroll in and around the town and you’ll discover a treasure trove of quaint stores and establishments.

For antiques, visit Vintage Veranda Antiques & Mall, 225 Union Ave. For a bar open 24/7, Elmer’s is a local institution at 241 S. Broadway St., Suite 101.

For more great wine tasting, CORE Wine Co., 105 W. Clark Ave., and Lucia’s Wine Co., 125 E. Clark Ave., are known for their great wine and friendly service. Both are owned and operated by award-winning winemakers.​

Orcutt offers a wide variety of things to enjoy. It’s an experience to remember and I bet that you will come back again and again. Hopefully, I’ve enticed you to get out and get here to enjoy this amazing place that is so close to home.

— Donna Polizzi is a regional travel expert and founder of Keys to the Coast, a Central Coast travel resource providing members with a customized list of recommendations on the best places that locals want to go. She can be contacted at news@noozhawk.com. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Sundowner Winds Expected in Front of Weekend Rains

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Gusty sundowner winds were expected to rake parts of Santa Barbara County Friday afternoon and evening in advance of a weekend storm, according to the National Weather Service.

A Wind Advisory was issued and will be in effect from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. Friday, calling for northwest winds of 15 to 30 mph, with gusts to 45 mph.

Saturday's forecast was for a 40-percent chance of rain, increasing to 60 percent by Saturday night.

"The timing the way it looks now is we'll be seeing the precipitation chances increasing during the day tomorrow, and moving south overnight," said Mark Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

Sunday will see showery conditions, Jackson said, and then a break before a weaker system moves through the region on Tuesday.

Most areas should receive between a tenth and half an inch of rain, with some mountain areas getting more, Jackson said.

Snow levels are forecast to drop to around 4,000 feet, which could leave a dusting on local mountains, and affect travel on major routes such as Interstate 5 over the Grapevine north of Los Angeles.

Daytime highs through the weekend are expected in the upper-50s and low-60s, with overnight lows around 50.

Sunny skies and warmer temperatures are expected to return by mid-week, Jackson said.

[Click here for the latest forecast.]

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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Mark James Miller: Obama Must Be Wary When Releasing the Dogs of War

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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On April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. The Falklands — a collection of  dreary, windswept strips of land jutting out of the cold water of the South Atlantic Ocean approximately 300 miles off the Argentine coast — were of no strategic value and had no precious natural resources to speak of.

In 1982, the population (nicknamed “Kelpers,”) numbered less than 2,000. The Falklands were a British possession, a throwback to England’s imperial glory days when it ruled an empire upon which the sun never set.

But to the Argentines, the continued British presence on land it had claimed as its own for 150 years was an affront that could no longer be tolerated. Quickly overwhelming the tiny British garrison, the Argentine forces lowered the Union Jack, raised the Argentine flag, and announced that the Falklands were now part of Argentina and would thenceforth be known by their Argentine name, the Malvinas.

The military junta that ruled Argentina had made the same mistake countless others have made in the past and will no doubt make in the future: By opening the Pandora’s box of war, they had set in motion forces they could not control.

Argentina had calculated that the English would not fight to retake these islands that were 8,000 miles from London and of no use to them. But the nation of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, Horatio Lord Kitchener and Sir Winston Churchill was not going to acquiesce in the face of such naked aggression.

Quicker than you could say John Bull, the British had assembled an armada of more than 100 ships, many of them filled with elite Royal Marines and paratroopers, as well as two aircraft carriers boasting state-of-the-art Harrier jump jets, and set out to recapture the Falkland Islands.

What followed was one of the most one-sided military campaigns of the 20th century. The Argentines, their soldiers mostly poorly trained conscripts, were no match for the well-drilled British troops and naval forces, who, despite being outnumbered 3-to-1 on the ground, seized the initiative and never let it go.

By June 14 the Union Jack flew over the Falklands once more and the Argentine flag was lying in the dirt. The Argentine junta, which had counted on a short victorious war to revive its sagging popularity, fell from power only a few days after the war ended.

The strategy of a “short victorious war” had backfired on the Argentines just as it backfired on Czar Nicholas II of Russia when he determined on war with Japan in 1904. Instead of the quick victory he had hoped for, Nicholas saw his huge but unwieldy military subjected to one defeat after another by the Japanese, who proved to be a much stronger opponent than the Russians had counted on.

Russia’s defeats of 1904 led to the revolution of 1905, which set the stage for the czar’s eventual overthrow in 1917.

A sign in Lithuania makes this point in another way: If you are facing east, the side you see reads, “Napoleon Bonaparte passed through here on June 22, 1812, with 500,000 men.” If you are facing west, the side you see reads, “Napoleon Bonaparte passed through here on December 12, 1812, with 9,000 men.” 

Napoleon had invaded Russia on June 22, leading his Grande Army of a half-million men. But he had made the same mistake as the Argentine junta and Nicholas II — he had set in motion forces he could not control. By letting loose the genii of war he had started something he couldn’t finish. He left behind, in the vastness of Russia, 491,000 dead men, a testament to the unintended consequences war can bring.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for authorization to wage war in the Middle East against the Islamic State. It is unclear, as of this writing, whether Congress will approve Obama’s request for “limited” action.

But as Americans, this should give us pause, for it is eerily reminiscent of a similar request to use force made by President Lyndon B. Johnson in August 1964. Johnson asked Congress to approve military action in the Gulf of Tonkin in response to reported attacks on U.S. naval forces by the North Vietnamese.

Johnson’s request called for a response to these incidents only; it was assumed, though not completely clear, that if wider intervention was called for, he would return to Congress and ask for approval to do so. But the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress, led to the Vietnam War, which did not end until 1975.

In his speech making this request for war authorization, Obama said, “I’m convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war.”

Let’s hope he means it. But we should keep in mind Johnson’s words from his 1964 presidential campaign: “We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”

Barely six months later, he ordered the first ground combat troops into South Vietnam, and there was no turning back.

No doubt the Islamic State is evil. No doubt only force will be needed to stop it. But war and the pressures it brings about can take on a force and logic of their own, and no one knows where they will end.

Let’s not forget that before and following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, supporters of the war proclaimed that we would find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, and once that was established, they justified the war by saying the world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein in it. Now these same people are telling us that the world is not only less safe but is even more dangerous than it was in 2003 and that another war is necessary.

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war,” proclaimed Marc Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. But in letting those dogs loose, we need to be sure they won’t turn around and bite us.     

— Mark James Miller is a teacher and writer, and has been a part-time English instructor at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria since 1995. He is president of the Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College, California Federation of Teachers Local 6185, and is an executive board member of the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Drs. Steven Barkley and David Fisk: Fear the Disease, Not the Vaccine

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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One simple action could save your child’s life. It could save your friend’s child. Your neighbor. Or someone across town, someone you’ve never met but might sit next to one day at a concert.

Our work revolves around protecting and caring for our community. With this in mind, we urge you to make sure you and your family have current vaccinations.

As the number of immunized children and adults decreases, we’re now seeing more cases of certain highly infectious diseases that hadn’t appeared in the U.S. in decades. It’s a dangerous trend. At the same time that we’re fighting to cure new diseases, we’re refighting battles against ones that our parents’ generation had all but eradicated for us. Their good work is being undone.

Vaccines are a lifesaving invention that can protect us from once-rampant diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and whooping cough. These diseases have caused thousands of deaths and can have complications that include blindness, paralysis, infertility and brain injury.

It takes a 95 percent vaccination rate to protect a community. Many of Santa Barbara’s elementary schools are reporting vaccination rates of less than 80 percent, with some hitting an alarming low of 50 percent. With that many unvaccinated children, it is no surprise that we’re seeing outbreaks of disease.

You could make the difference for those who are most fragile, those who are at greatest risk if we don’t get vaccinated. Today, most deaths from whooping cough occur in infants less than 3 months old. These infants aren’t yet old enough to be vaccinated, so their safety relies on others getting vaccinated. Every family member and caregiver in contact with an infant must be vaccinated in order to cocoon the baby from potential exposure to whooping cough.

You could make the difference for those with weakened immune systems, and for patients on chemotherapy who can’t receive certain vaccines. Their health, too, depends upon the rest of us getting our immunizations. We can protect them by getting current vaccines, including vaccines for flu and pneumonia. A high rate of immunization is our best defense against these illnesses that can lead to serious complications for people of any age.

Imagine having to tell a person that their loved one died of an entirely preventable disease. As physicians, we are sometimes placed in that heartbreaking situation because our community, or even the person’s own family, did not have the vaccinations to provide protection.

If you are a parent of a young child, chances are you were vaccinated. We urge you to give your child that same protection. It’s an important decision, and there’s a lot of misinformation circulating. If you or your child hasn’t been vaccinated, see your doctor, get your questions answered and get the facts you need about risks and benefits of vaccines.

People sometimes tell us they worry about an autism link. The report that created this fear was falsified, and the British medical journal that published the report in 1998 retracted it two years later. In all the years since then, the rigorous research has been very clear: There is no link between autism and vaccination.

Today’s vaccines are closely monitored; they are safe and highly effective. Millions of Americans receive the recommended vaccines every year, and serious side effects are extremely rare.

Some people say they don’t want to take the risk. The truth is, the very real risks from disease far outweigh any remote risks of adverse reaction from vaccines. Two in a thousand people who get measles will die from the disease. One in a million will have a severe allergic reaction from the vaccine.

Santa Barbara is a vibrant community filled with parents who want to make healthy choices for their families. We see this every day. And as doctors and parents, we follow the same advice we give to our patients: We get vaccinated, and our families do, too.

As a community, by getting vaccinated and vaccinating our children, we can protect the next generation, today’s infants, and the most vulnerable. And for that reward, the risk and effort that fall on us are stunningly small. Let’s do this together.

— Steven Barkley, M.D., is the medical director of NICU an the chief pediatric medical officer at Cottage Children’s Hospital, and David Fisk, M.D., is the medical director of infection prevention and control and co-medical director of antibiotic stewardship for Cottage Health System and an infectious diseases physician for Sansum Clinic.

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Gerald Carpenter: New West Symphony Plans Three Performances of ‘Rachmaninov’ Program

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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The New West Symphony, conducted by music director Marcelo Lehninger, will play one program three times this weekend: at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 in the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center Oxnard, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks and at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 1 in Barnum Hall in Santa Monica.

Lehninger
Marcelo Lehninger

The guest soloist will be rising star pianist Sean Chen.

The program, bearing the name "Rachmaninov," will consist of three works: Igor Stravinsky's Suite No. 2 for Small Orchestra (1915), Camille Saint-Saëns' Concerto No. 2 in G-Minor for Piano & Orchestra, Opus 22 (1868) and Sergei Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 in E-Minor, Opus 27 (1907).

As you can see, calling the concert "Rachmaninov" and promoting the evening with a picture of a brilliant young pianist is something of a bait-and-switch, since the Rachmaninov work is a piano-less symphony, and the pianist will solo in a concerto by Saint-Saëns. Yet, on the whole, I find it very easy to forgive this sleight-of-hand — the Saint-Saëns concerto is one of his most beautiful works; the Rachmaninov symphony is a flood of beautiful tunes and emotional catharses — and I only wonder why they bothered.

The Stravinsky Suite, composed in 1915 for piano and orchestrated in 1921, is a kind of mini version of L'Histoire du soldat. A sardonic neo-classicism is the pervasive mood. The composer wrote two sets of piano pieces in 1915, called Three Easy Pieces and Five Easy Pieces (Jack Nicholson fans will say "Hmmm!"). The Second Suite was arranged first, using the Three Easy Pieces and No. 5 of the Five Easy Pieces. The other four were arranged in 1925, as the Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra. Stravinsky got a lot of mileage out of his smaller works, writing them on piano usually, then arranging them for small ensembles, and sometimes, renamed, for larger ensembles.

Saint-Saëns was as famous a pianist-composer in his day as Rachmaninov was in his, writing five brilliant piano concertos and a number of shorter works for piano and orchestra. All were premiered by the composer, and all were hits, when first performed — hits with the public, that is, rather than the critics.

As a social being, Saint-Saëns was not popular with his contemporaries, tending towards sarcasm and arrogance when he was dealing with his less intelligent or talented colleagues — that is to say, most of them. He lived a long time, beginning as a radical and ending (in the eyes of his peers) as an old fogie. He lived in the country in his later years, only coming to Paris, as he wrote to a friend, "to speak ill of Debussy."

The Second Concerto is by far his most popular, though this puzzles me, somewhat. To be sure, it is perfectly gorgeous — full of unforgettable tunes — and a dazzling showcase for the soloist. But the Fourth is equally beautiful, though in a different, spiritually majestic way. The Fifth, known as "The Egyptian," remains my favorite, probably because I heard it first, in a recording by Sviatoslav Richter, when I was a teenager. The other two are also worth reviving.

Tickets to this concert are $29 to $102. They can be purchased at one of the three venues, from the New West Symphony at 805.497.5800, or online by clicking here.

— 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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Santa Barbara Dr. Douglas Mackenzie to Hold Free Seminar on Options for Nonsurgical Rejuvenation

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Mackenzie
Dr. Douglas Mackenzie

Dr. Douglas Mackenzie will be holding a free seminar on options for nonsurgical rejuvenation at 6 p.m. March 5 at the Chase Palm Park Center, 236 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.

The focus will be on fractional lasering and the SmartSkin Microablative CO2 laser.

This customizable, fractional CO2 laser treats aging, sun damage, and laxity of the face, neck, chest and hands.

With a few days of downtime, years of damage and aging can be reversed. The SmartSkin CO2 can also improve surgical scars, acne scars, and stretch marks.

Special event-only pricing will be offered. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served, and a demonstration of the Intraceuticals Oxygen Facial system will be given by esthetician Sara Chavez.

This is an RSVP-only event. Guests are asked to call 805.898.0700 or email info@pacificps.com to sign up.

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‘Spring Friendraiser’ at Granada Books to Benefit Coalition Against Gun Violence

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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The Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence and Granada Books will present a "Spring Friendraiser" to benefit the Coalition Against Gun Violence from 5:30 to 7 p.m. during First Thursday, March 5 at Granada Books, 1224 State St.

Enjoy books, music, food, wine and friends.

This year the Coalition Against Gun Violence is celebrating 20 years of activism working to keep Santa Barbara a safer place to live. We invite friends and partner organizations to support CAGV by buying books from Granada Books. Browse while enjoying wine and cheese and live music.

Granada Books will donate 5 percent of its bookstore sales from 4 to 7 p.m. to the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

Please consider bringing a friend or family member and have them sign up to become a member of CAGV.

On display will be a collection of CAGV’s Gun Violence Prevention Books written by leading authors dealing with many aspects of the issue of guns in America.

All funds raised during this event are going toward CAGV’s second annual Gun Buyback on Saturday, June 13 at Earl Warren Showgrounds.

For further information, contact Toni Wellen at 805.684.8434.

— Danny Fitzgibbons represents the Santa Barbara Coalition Against Gun Violence.

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Bill Macfadyen: Flurry of Collisions Gives Road Worriers Pause in Santa Barbara County

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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3 fatalities and 5 major wrecks crash NoozWeek’s Top 5, which also says goodbye to Dr. Erno Daniel and sports a bikini line

There were 95,659 people who read Noozhawk this past week. As you’re about to see, things were pretty much a wreck around Santa Barbara County, or multiple wrecks. Five major crashes to be exact.

So, provided that my column is cool with the commissars at the Federal Communications Commission, AKA the government Министерство информации и печати, and their clandestine new “General Conduct” rules regulating what I can write on the Internet and what you can read, here’s my take on your top stories:

1. 13 People Injured in Collision of Passenger Van, Car on Highway 154 in Los Olivos

A Cadillac CTS collided head-on with a GMC passenger van on Highway 154 near Los Olivos the night of Feb. 21, leaving 13 people with a range of injuries. The 25-year-old Cadillac driver died of his two days later.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the Cadillac was traveling east at about 65 mph just before 10 p.m. when the driver turned left at Roblar Avenue — right into the path of the westbound van.

The vans’s driver — Blue Dascomb, 21, of Santa Ynez — braked and swerved but was unable to avoid a collision, the CHP said. The van veered off the roadway and overturned.

Authorities said the Cadillac’s driver — Austin Troy Bartoo, 25, of Santa Ynez — was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered major injuries in the collision.

Bartoo was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, as were six others from the van.

Six more were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

CHP Sgt. Don Clotworthy told our Tom Bolton that Bartoo was driving while intoxicated at the time of the crash. He declined to reveal Bartoo’s blood-alcohol level, pending completion of the crash investigation, but noted it was above the 0.08-percent limit at which a driver is presumed drunk under California law.

“The cause of the accident is going to be driving under the influence of alcohol,” he said. “It’s sad, and it points out once again the danger of drinking and driving.”

Clotworthy said Bartoo was declared dead Feb. 23 and his organs were harvested for transplant.

You’d best use caution when driving through the intersection of Highway 154 and Roblar Avenue in Los Olivos these days. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
You’d best use caution when driving through the intersection of Highway 154 and Roblar Avenue in Los Olivos these days. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

2. Major Injuries Reported in Head-On Crash on Highway 154 Near Los Olivos

Less than two days after the previously mentioned head-on collision in Los Olivos, a second occurred at the same intersection of Highway 154 and Roblar Avenue. Three people were seriously injured in that wreck, which was reported at 5:15 p.m. Feb. 23.

CalStar helicopter transported one victim to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki.

The other two victims were taken to the hospital by an American Medical Response ambulance.

Sadecki said one person was trapped in the wreckage and had to be extricated.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, and the CHP has not released additional details.

3. 2 Dead, Several Injured in Multiple Highway 101 Crashes

Two people were killed on Highway 101 the night of Feb. 22 in three separate crashes — two of which occurred within 40 minutes of each other.

According to authorities, a GMC pickup truck traveling north plunged into the creekbed between the northbound and southbound lanes near the Gaviota tunnel around 8 p.m. It took rescue personnel about 90 minutes to locate the vehicle in the rain and amid thick vegetation.

A passenger — a 64-year-old Lompoc woman — was declared dead at the scene, the CHP said. The driver, Mario Orellana, 52, of Lompoc, suffered moderate injuries, and was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The CHP blamed the wreck on excessive speed and slick pavement.

Just south of Orcutt about 8:40 p.m., a northbound Chevy SUV hurtled off the roadway near the top of the Solomon Grade, rolling over for about 100 feet.

Lindsey Marie Swallom, 32, of Santa Maria, died after being ejected from the vehicle, according to the CHP. She was not wearing a seatbelt, authorities said.

The driver — Raymond A. Fear II, 41, of Santa Maria — was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center with a broken clavicle and other injuries.

The CHP said Fear later was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.

Meanwhile, three people suffered minor to moderate injuries earlier in the evening in a crash on southbound Highway 101 near the Highway 1 exit, north of the Gaviota tunnel.

All of the crashes are under investigation by the CHP. Light rain was falling throughout the region at the time of the incidents.

4. Renowned Santa Barbara Dr. Erno Daniel Dies at 68

Dr. Erno Daniel, a beloved, longtime Sansum Clinic physician specializing in internal medicine and geriatrics, died unexpectedly at his Santa Barbara home on Feb. 21. He was 68.

Dr. Erno Daniel would always see you now. (Daniel family photo)
Dr. Erno Daniel would always see you now. (Daniel family photo)

The son of professional musicians, Daniel was born in Hungary in 1946 and survived the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, which was ruthlessly crushed by Soviet troops in one of the darkest chapters of the Cold War.

He immigrated to the United States in 1960 and became an extraordinarily proud U.S. citizen in 1964. That same year, he graduated from Santa Barbara High School, then earned a chemistry degree from Caltech, a master’s and a Ph.D. from UC San Diego, and attended UCLA Medical School.

After graduating from UCLA, he joined Sansum and the rest, as they say, is history. In fact, Daniel had a particular fondness for Sansum and its history, and last year he completed Noticias: The Legacy of Sansum Clinic, a book he wrote in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Daniel took an active interest in research into Alzheimer’s disease and received national acclaim for a book he wrote called Stealth Germs in Your Body. In his 35-year career, he went above and beyond providing TLC to thousands of patients, many of them multiple generations of families.

Daniel is survived by his wife of 38 years, Martha; their children, Kristina, Michael, Mary and Monica; and a half-dozen grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 28 at our Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 1300 East Valley Road in Montecito. A celebration of his life will follow at The Fess Parker, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.

Memorial donations may be made in his name to Sansum Clinic. Click here to make an online donation.

R.I.P.

Sew what? For Danielle Rocha, it’s only swimwear. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Sew what? For Danielle Rocha, it’s only swimwear. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

5. Dos Pueblos High Grad Danielle Rocha Launches Her Own Bikini Line

Danielle Rocha is my kind of girl. And it’s not because the young entrepreneur has her own bikini company.

It’s actually because she has her own company.

Rocha, a 20-year-old alumna of Dos Pueblos High School, founded Rocha Swim last year after attending De Marcos Fashion Academy, which is run by my old friend, Jodi De Marcos.

A girl in a bikini ... because. (Rocha Swim photo)
A girl in a bikini ... because. (Rocha Swim photo)

She told our Gina Potthoff that her love of fashion and her favorite pastime of hanging out at the beach gave her the inspiration to start the company, which sells handmade Brazilian-inspired swimwear, mostly through an online store.

Rocha’s dad provided some seed funding, which enabled her to buy a couple of nicer sewing machines. A three-month Women’s Economic Ventures course helped her learn the business side.

Her swimsuits — tops, bottoms and one pieces — sell for $60 to $70 apiece. She launched her first line late last spring and a second line made its debut in January, with some styles already nearly sold out.

Although her online store isn’t the easiest to navigate (Don’t judge me; I was asked to do it by a friend), Rocha has hopes of winning a capital infusion from a FedEx small-business grant contest. Ten of the competition’s entrants will be awarded grand prizes of $25,000 each.

Rocha is up against 1,500 other businesses from around the nation, but Noozhawk readers can help her achieve her goal by voting for Rocha Swim — once a day until the contest closes at 9 a.m. March 17. Click here to vote.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web (Read it and try not to weep): She Takes Her Dying Pet Dog on a Bucket List Adventure.

HT to my friend, Kelly Gilfillan, CEO of Brentwood Home in suburban Nashville.

                                                                 •        •        •

Venture out on the ocean and you’ll often be chased by dolphins frolicking in your wake. Occasionally, orcas want to get in on the action, too. Think anyone on the boat needed a change of swim trunks after this?

(This Blew My Mind 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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Homeless Man Found Slain on Santa Barbara’s Eastside

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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Victim's bloody body was discovered Friday in a building alcove at Quarantina and Yanonali streets

The bloody body of a 40-year-old homeless man was found Friday just off an Eastside street, and Santa Barbara Police Department investigators have confirmed he was a homicide victim.

Officers were called out shortly before 7 a.m. to Quarantina and Yanonali streets after the body was reported by an employee of a business in the area, said Sgt. Riley Harwood​.

The remains were found in an alcove, up against a building owned by Marborg Industries, in an area frequented by transients, Lt. Brent​ Mandrell said.

The victim has been identified, Harwood said, but his name was being withheld while the investigation was continuing.

Harwood said the man definitely was a homicide victim, and "the manner appears to have been violent."

Blood was visible on the building wall at the crime scene, and around the victim's body.

The cause of death had not been determined, Harwood told Noozhawk in the early afternoon.

Crime-scene investigators from the state Department of Justice were on scene and assisting on the case.

A passerby reported the body to a Marborg employee, who called police, Harwood said, adding that investigators were still trying to locate the passerby.

Investigators confer at the scene of a homicide in Santa Barbara on Friday. A 40-year-old homeless man was found dead near Yanonali and Quarantina streets. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Harwood noted that homeless people sometimes camp in the location where the body was found.

Police have no suspects in the slaying, and it was unclear when the man died, Harwood said.

Anyone with information about the death is asked to contact Detective Andy Hill at 805.897.3716 or ahill@sbpd.com, or call anonymously to 805.897.2386.

Noozhawk Staff Writer Lara Cooper reported from the scene.

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.

Santa Barbara police were investigating a homicide on the city's Eastside on Friday. The bloody body of a 40-year-old homeless man is hidden by the shrubbery in this photo. (Urban Hikers photo)

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Dos Pueblos Boys Varsity Tennis Team Wins First Match of Season

By | Published on 02/27/2015

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In Thursday's boys varsity tennis season opener, the Dos Pueblos Chargers celebrated a nice win, 10-8, versus the visiting Thousand Oaks Lancers.

The focus and mental toughness were quite apparent on all of the courts.

In singles, we got three sets, thanks to Patrick Corpuz, who made use of his rocket serves to sweep in commanding fashion, giving up only four games.

Quinn Hensley was the last to finish and had three long sets. Unfortunately, the sets did not go his way; nonetheless, he kept his audience captivated with the long rallies.

Also showing good efforts in singles were Ryan Daniel, Christian Hodosy and Ryan Hodosy.

In doubles, the Chargers took seven  of nine sets. The team of Miles Baldwin and Vincent Villano played efficiently and powerfully, allowing  only three games in their sweep. Mason Dochterman and Bryce Ambrose moved brilliantly and also snagged three; and Garret Foreman and Chris Lane took one, using a variety of unusual shot selections. Also, Ameet Braganza and Ryan O'Gorman played an intense match in the third round.

We coaches are very proud of the team's performance in their first match of the season. We appreciate the wonderful group of spectators — family, friends and members from the JV team. Way to go, Chargers!

Next up for the Chargers is a road trip to play Campbell Hall next Thursday.

— Liz Frech coaches boys’ tennis at Dos Pueblos High School.

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BizHawk: Renovations of Farmer Boy Restaurant Pave the Way for June Reopening

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Sandbar Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar reopens, The Drunken Sailor pops up in Old Town Goleta and Hoffmann Brat Haus adds outdoor patio

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

The renovation of the temporarily closed Farmer Boy Restaurant will begin next month, putting a reopening date for the San Roque staple in June.

After receiving proper permits, the eatery’s new owner — Santa Barbara’s Bennett family — will now send crews in to give the longtime restaurant a modern update.

Farmer Boy Restaurant, which opened at 3427 State St. in 1958, closed in October after the original proprietor, Ralph Karleskint, decided to sell the joint last spring.

“It’s going to be a fresh take on a classic diner,” serial proprietor John Bennett said. “We’ll keep the name and we’ll keep the nostalgia.”

The Bennett family already owns Brophy Brothers Restaurant, On the Alley, the Cliff Room, part stake in Arch Rock and the recently opened Benchmark Eatery at 1201 State St.

Farmer Boy Restaurant plans to update the menu and hire back as many of the same staff as possible, Bennett told Noozhawk.

Sandbar Reopens

The Sandbar Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar reopened at its downtown Santa Barbara location this week, unveiling its new “open air bar” concept.

The restaurant and bar at 514 State St. had been closed since last December for the extensive renovation before reopening Wednesday.

Sandbar Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar, which opened in 2006, is owned by the same purveyors of the Baja Sharkeez brand, which has a location just across the street at 525 State St.

The Drunken Sailor Launches

A new local pop-up restaurant called The Drunken Sailor has begun offering wood-fired pizzas and more as late-night grub in Old Town Goleta.

The Drunken Sailor, which bills itself as a seafood restaurant/pizza place/breakfast and brunch restaurant on Facebook, began operating out of the Goodland Kitchen patio at 231 South Magnolia Ave. in Goleta this month, making wood-fired pizzas, sides and desserts from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

The pop-up has also partnered with nearby Mercury Lounge, where customers can bring its food in to eat.

Future Drunken Sailor plans include bringing a Baja seafood menu to Sama Sama Kitchen for lunch in Santa Barbara and offering pizzas at the Goodland Kitchen on Saturdays for dinner, according to Facebook.

Hoffman Brat Haus Finishes Renovations

Santa Barbara’s German-inspired Hoffmann Brat Haus Restaurant has finished its outside patio remodel, complete with newly installed gas lamps and a new large fire pit.

The restaurant at 801 State St. offers beers from Germany and Belgium, including a second beer from the oldest brewery in the world: the Weihenstephaner Original Lager.

Hoffmann Brat Haus also now offers a “Drink the Tour” challenge, featuring 27 German beers. Customers receive a card that will be punched with each beer purchased, getting the 27th beer for free.

Armada Wine Celebrates One Year

Armada Wine & Beer Merchant will celebrate its one-year anniversary Saturday with food and drink specials.

The tasting room at 1129A State St. in Santa Barbara is inviting patrons for an event from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring food from Savoy Cafe & Deli, wine from Refugio Ranch Vineyard and beer from Telegraph Brewing.

Santa Barbara Public Market Offers Pairings

Merchants at Santa Barbara Public Market at 18 W. Victoria St. will offer free “perfect pairings” Saturday and Sunday, collaborating to create inventive food samplings from 4 to 7 p.m. each day.

For complete details, click here.

The public market is part of the Alma del Pueblo mixed-use project, which recently achieved a LEED Platinum certification.

Developers of the 37-unit mixed-use project implemented strategies contributing to the certification, including increased building density, drought tolerant landscapes, energy efficient design and systems, indoor water conservation measures, and education and outreach programs for building owners and the community.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, just 6 percent of the total LEED certified projects have attained a LEED Platinum certification.

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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Testing Equipment Focus of Testimony in Santa Ynez Valley DUI Trial

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Testimony in the trial of a Santa Ynez Valley man charged with drunken driving, causing a crash that critically injured his passenger who later died, centered on the equipment the California Highway Patrol used to measure the driver’s blood-alcohol content.

Benjamin Bettencourt, 39, faces two charges related to driving while under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher in addition to a pair of enhancements of causing great bodily injury.

Bettencourt, a paraplegic due to injuries he received in another fatal accident in which he driving years ago, was driving Nov. 24, 2012, when his specially equipped van went off Highway 246 between Buellton and Solvang. The van struck a tree, critically injuring Jennifer Clark, 39, of Los Olivos.

The local teacher and volleyball coach died of her injuries several days later at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

One witness, California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Williams, spent Thursday in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial in Santa Maria testifying about the policies and practices of maintaining and operating equipment used to measure drivers’ blood-alcohol levels.

In addition to routine accuracy tests, the machines also are calibrated.

Defense attorney Darryl Genis asked the CHP officer about the procedures used to confirm the system’s accuracy and practices for calibrating the machine used to conduct field sobriety tests. Genis asked Williams when the machine was previous calibrated, but the CHP officer said he couldn’t say since his records only go back to January 2013.

“You cannot tell this jury this device was calibrated before it was used on my client?” Genis asked.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Duffy asked what happens if accuracy doesn’t come within the acceptable ranges during tests. 

At that point, Williams said, the machine would be calibrated. 

“It doesn’t happen that often,” Williams said of the number of times inaccurate readings occur.

Positive alcohol test readings are possible with a “swish and spit” of alcohol, Genis said, calling that a classic mouth alcohol while demonstrating with a sip of water he spit into a cup.

Genis asked if Williams knew that eating white bread, white rice or soy sauce can lead to field breathalyzer tests of 0.10.

“I did not know that,” Williams said.

Genis said that if the prosecutor had made the device available in the courtroom he would demonstrate, drawing an objection from Duffy.

“My point is, if there were a device here, I’ve got white rice and soy sauce. We could do the Pepsi challenge,” Genis said.

“This is not the Pepsi challenge,” Judge Rogelio Flores said, ordering the defense attorney’s comment to be stricken.

Under questioning from  Duffy, the CHP officer said a 15-minute observation period helps ensure a suspect hasn’t recently eaten food, taken a drink or otherwise done anything to affect a breath test.

“So in an abundance of caution you almost double it?” Duffy asked.

“Correct,” Williams said.

Post-crash breathalyzer tests results said Bettencourt’s blood alcohol content was 0.126 and 0.129. Tests on blood taken more than an hour later revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.088, Duffy said.

In pre-trial motions, Genis fought to get blood evidence banned from being presented to the jury. During the defense portion of the trial, Genis is expected to have an expert testify alleged flaws regarding the lab that performed the blood tests.

Earlier this week, testimony came from employees of establishments where the defendant and victim drank alcohol and ate food in the hours before the crash along with a friend who was with the pair at those locations.

The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday. It’s expected to stretch at least into mid-March, according to some estimates.

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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UCSB’s Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity Forced to Close

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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For the second time in three months, a fraternity at UC Santa Barbara has been shut down for violating the policies of its national chapter.

The Phi Sigma Kappa National Fraternity this week suspended the charter of its UCSB chapter at 6547 Cordoba Road in Isla Vista in a decision backed by university officials.

That move comes on the heels of another fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, losing its charter in December, allegedly due to disciplinary violations that culminated with alcohol hazing that sent two members to the hospital.

In this week’s case, the national Phi Sigma Kappa organization didn’t elaborate on what the “violations of policy inconsistent with the fraternity’s founding principles” were.

But executive vice president Michael Carey told Noozhawk they were “damaging enough that we thought the only recourse we had was to close the chapter.”

According to a statement from UCSB, the closure was prompted because of “unsafe new-member education practices,” creating a dangerous environment for Phi Sigma Kappa members and the entire UCSB Greek community.

The local Phi Sigma Kappa chapter was founded in 1966, closed in the 1990s, and reopened again in 2006, said Carey, who wasn’t sure why it closed previously.

“Over the years, they’ve been a relatively good chapter,” Carey said. “It was unfortunate that we had to close the chapter, but we hope to come back and be part of the Greek community.”

Undergraduates still living in the Phi Sigma Kappa house can stay through the end of the current academic year, assuming they fulfill lease obligations and conduct themselves appropriately, said Daryl Lu, president of Signet Housing Corporation, which owns the Isla Vista property.

What would become of the house after that wasn’t yet finalized, Lu said.

“For nearly five decades, the UCSB Phi Sig chapter has been a positive member of the campus community, providing leadership in student government, the Interfraternity Council, and other campus organizations; engaging in numerous philanthropic activities; and promoting scholarship, sportsmanship, and the personal and professional development of its members,” Lu said in an apologetic written statement.

“The reputation that we earned and valued has been seriously damaged by the failure of the chapter to abide by our principles.”

A fraternity typically must wait at least four or five years to regain a charter, Carey said.

Prior to this academic year, the last time UCSB had to close a fraternity was two years ago, when the national chapter shut down Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

It’s been a tough year for Greeks on campus, but UCSB Inter-fraternity Council President Carl Provenzano said sororities and fraternities plan to stay around a long time.

“The men in Phi Sigma Kappa are a phenomenal group of guys,” Provenzano said in an email. “They are leaders on campus and in the community. Many of them are and will remain close friends of mine.

“This is not the first time a Greek chapter has closed on our campus, and it probably will not be the last. IFC is always open for expansion, and we plan to continue to grow in the future.

"The (Phi Sigma Kappa) charter can be reinstated one day, but that day will probably not be for many years.”

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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Gerald Carpenter: ‘The Insect Comedy’ Opens Friday at Westmont

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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The Insect Comedy, or The World We Live In (1921), by the brothers Čapek (Karel and Josef), will be the beneficiary of a new production in Westmont College's Porter Theatre, opening this Friday, Feb. 27, and running through March 7.

It is directed by John Blondell with sets by Danila Korogdsky, costumes by Miller James, lighting Jonathan Hicks, choreography by Victoria Finlayson, and starring nearly a score of the most talent actors and dancers at Westmont.

The premise is fairly simply: A tramp goes into a forest, falls asleep and dreams that he encounters three different insect societies — butterflies, dung beetles, ants — who demonstrate their particular resemblance to a corresponding human society — lovers, capitalists, proletarians. The points the play makes about humans, through the interactions of our insect avatars, are obvious, though none the less powerful for being easy to grasp.

A quarter-century later, George Orwell would make similar points with his fantasy Animal Farm. (Doesn't this sound like it was destined to be a John Blondell project, even though it was written well before there was a John Blondell?)

The great literary critic Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris "The Capital of the 19th Century." There is quite a strong case to be made for dubbing Vienna — or the Habsburg trinity that also includes Prague and Budapest — "The Capital of the 20th Century." This is not particularly good news, of course, since the typical Central European solution, to the insoluble problems of modern life, was suicide. Still, wherever Freud and Kafka and Schoenberg — and the Čapeks — looked, they seem to have found the future.

It was seldom pretty. Though not Jewish, the Čapeks were strongly and vocally anti-Nazi, and had Karel Čapek not died of double pnuemonia on Dec. 25, 1938 (age 48) — just after the Nazis had annexed the Sudetenland, just before they swallowed up the rest of Czechoslovakia — it's likely that he would shared the fate of Josef, who died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April, 1945, just before the Nazi surrender ended World War Two in Europe. Even if they had both lived through the war, they would have found themselves in a Czechoslovakia firmly under the thumb of the totalitarian Soviet Union, where it remained for the next forty years.

"Today," Blondell says, "the play seems downright prophetic considering the time of its writing and the madness that was to grip Europe still 15 or so years in the future. Though written in a decidedly different time and place, the play appears completely timely, pertinent and relevant — by turns, the play depicts scenes about the perils and pitfalls of romantic love; the desire for security and safety in a perilous, hectic modern world; and the larger global threats to personal and communal living.

"Though all this sounds very serious, the play is indeed a comedy, and we are working hard for it to be at once fantastic, human and funny. [It] has been at times exciting, harrowing, confusing and thrilling to stage. The trick is to find the humanity in the situations, to create moments that feel and seem potent and recognizable, all the while hanging onto the notion that the Čapeks read human life through that of the lives of insects."

The Insect Comedy plays at 8:30 p.m. Fridays Feb. 27 and March 6, at 8 p.m. Saturdays Feb. 28 and March 7, and at 2 p.m. March 7. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and children, and they can be purchased at the door or online by clicking here.

— 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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Cox Communications ‘Disappointed’ by FCC Passage of Net Neutrality Proposal

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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The following statement from Cox Communications can be attributed to Dave Bialis, senior vice president and region manager for California.

“Cox is disappointed in today’s FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a Title II utility-style service using 80-year-old telephone regulations. Enacting Title II is an unnecessary government overreach that goes beyond net neutrality protections and is a risk to the Internet, which has been an ever increasing robust engine of commerce, communications and learning since its creation.

"The adoption of Title II regulations leaves open the distinct possibility of new taxes and increased costs for consumers. The FCC decision is sure to be challenged in court causing a great deal of uncertainty that will have an impact on future investments and innovation.

"To be clear, Cox fully supports the net neutrality principles of no blocking, nondiscrimination and transparency. We have abided by the original net neutrality rules even after they were overturned by the court.

"Our commitment to broadband in the 'light' regulatory environment allowed Cox to be an innovator and to invest in our broadband network to the tune of more than $15 billion in the last 10 years.

"It’s time for congressional action to deliver permanent net neutrality protections that we all support.”

— Ceanne Guerra is a public relations manager for Cox Communications.

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David Sirota: Private Equity’s Private Math — Investments Come at Steep Price

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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To the casual observer, the investment returns recently announced by the California pension system might seem like cause for celebration. The state's investments in firms that buy private companies generated a 20 percent return in 2014.

California's $30 billion worth of private equity investments did not come cheap, incurring almost $440 million worth of annual management fees paid to financial firms. But the double-digit gains helped the system generate some of the best overall pension returns in the nation — positive news for taxpayers and for state workers who rely on the system in retirement.

Across the United States, similarly robust returns have proven key elements in the Wall Street sales pitch that has persuaded state and city pension overseers to entrust vast sums of money to private equity managers. The private equity industry has successfully portrayed itself as no less than a savior for underfunded pension systems. By one estimate, $260 billion of public money is now under the management of these firms.

But as Congress now considers reducing regulatory scrutiny of private equity firms, one problem complicates the narrative: A lot of the gains the private equity industry purports to have achieved are of the on-paper-only variety. Far from cash in the bank, they are instead estimates of the value of assets that have yet to be sold. Not only that, the estimates are largely self-reported by the private equity firms themselves — and new research suggests that the firms may be embellishing those estimates.

That is the conclusion of a paper by investment banker Jeffrey Hooke and George Washington University researchers. They essentially created a portfolio of publicly traded companies that they say closely resembles the kinds of privately owned companies that private equity investors buy. They then weighted their portfolio's returns to reflect the same level of debt that private equity firms typically impose on their portfolio companies.

The researchers argue that their portfolio should show roughly the same returns as the private equity industry. Yet the private equity industry's stated returns were noticeably less volatile than the publicly traded companies' returns. The researchers assert that this suggests the private equity industry uses its latitude to self-value its own portfolios in order to make its returns look "smoother" than they actually are.

"Investors may have been unfairly induced into placing monies into these investment vehicles," they conclude.

None of this should be particularly surprising. After all, allowing Wall Street firms to self-value their investments is akin to a homeowner being invited to make up her home value estimate when applying for credit. And unlike a professional home appraisal, private equity firms' estimates are difficult to verify — as the California Public Employees Retirement System notes on its website: "There are no generally accepted standards, practices or policies for reporting private equity valuations."

Considering the new research, the situation would seem to warrant more objective scrutiny of the investment industry. Yet, that's not the direction of today's legislative debate. House Republicans have criticized increased government oversight of private equity firms and lately have been pushing legislation to exempt those firms from Securities and Exchange Commission oversight that could more seriously scrutinize self-reported valuations.

Of course, if this were just an issue affecting rich investors, then perhaps it would be an example of the wealthy bilking the wealthy. But this is about billions of dollars worth of public money. If the books are indeed being cooked, then untold numbers of public employees could see their retirement savings evaporate, and taxpayers could be on the hook for some of the losses.

As the Enron debacle and the 2008 financial crisis proved, failing to strengthen oversight in the present could set the stage for a disaster in the not-so-distant future.

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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Ken Williams: America’s Promises Ring Hollow for Disabled Soldier Denied by V.A.

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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The following story highlights the frustrations of many veterans in their interactions with Veterans Affairs.

A friend of mine who served in Vietnam and received an honorable discharge has just been denied his V.A. disability claim for a life-threatening bone marrow disorder caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

If that wasn’t enough, the ingredient in this witch’s brew that links his rare disease to Agent Orange — benzene — is also one of the three main chemicals that compose napalm. This is pertinent as he spent time in combat inhaling this deadly chemical.

The V.A. instructed him, per protocol, to see a doctor for an evaluation of this condition. When he called to ask for a phone evaluation with this doctor instead of the scheduled face-to-face visit, as he had just spent 10 days in the hospital due to complications from his condition, he was informed that he had to keep the appointment in person or reschedule for God knows when.

Sensing that time was of the essence, and in need of the financial support to fight this disease, he kept the appointment. In his weakened condition, he was shocked when the doctor stated that he was confused as to how exactly he was to evaluate my friend’s condition. Blood pressure was taken along with a few other cursory, non-helpful and non-invasive tests. In all, he was with the doctor for less than 10 minutes.

My friend ended up feeling sorry for the doctor as he was put in an extraordinary and untenable position of trying to establish a condition with which he was completely unfamiliar. In fact, he whispered under his breath these same sentiments.

My friend's oncologist had previously established the life-threatening condition by multiple blood tests and an unpleasant bone marrow biopsy, as had doctors at Stanford University Medical Center. Did the V.A. really think a 10-minute exam by a doctor who was totally unfamiliar with this rare disorder could verify the medical condition?

The V.A. sent my friend correspondence stating that any new evidence be mailed to the address they said was included in the attached pamphlet. Unfortunately, no such pamphlet was attached. Repeated phone calls failed to find anyone with such an address. Finally, he was able to hunt down the address on his own. And what was the nature of the evidence he wished to submit? Two additional doctor statements tying his condition to exposure to Agent Orange and napalm. Already part of his case was a statement from a V.A. doctor stating that in all likelihood napalm and Agent Orange caused his condition.

Rep. Lois Capps’ office was finally able to submit the new evidence. Regrettably, his case was denied. It is unknown if the new evidence was considered before the case was denied. He is waiting for the written denial to see exactly what was considered at the time of denial.

In the meantime, bimonthly blood transfusions are needed to keep him alive. His bitter relationship with the V.A. keeps sliding further into a black hole. He waits for the written denial knowing that three doctors, independent of each other, including one with the V.A., have come to the same conclusion as to the probable cause of his deadly disease.

“Welcome home. Thank you for your service,” the V.A. proclaims. These statements ring rather hallow to this man. He is simply another veteran to be discarded once his service to his country was completed.

Somehow in his naivety, he assumed his country would have his back if and when the price of combat came due. I guess some would say my friend was a sap to ever really believe that.  But that was what got him in trouble in the first place — believing his country and government when they said the nation was facing dangers overseas and needed young men such as himself to defend our way of life. He learned the hard way that lies were built on top of lies. He also learned the value of the promises made so long ago by his country to take care of war-related disabilities.

There was more than angry bullets in a faraway land that he should have been careful about. Broken promises at home hurt much more than the actions of the enemy. Betrayal by citizens of one’s own community is so much crueler and has a unique pain all its own.  I’m at a loss of words as to what to tell my friend. “Thank you for your service” definitely won’t be part of the conversation.

Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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No Charges Yet Against Truck Driver in Oxnard Train Crash

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez remains in custody in suspicion of hit and run, with bail set at $150,000

[Click here for updates to this story]

Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez

Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten announced Thursday that no charges will be filed at this time against Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez, the driver of the truck involved in Tuesday's commuter train crash in Oxnard that injured 30 people.

The ongoing investigation is complex and involves numerous local and federal agencies, including the Ventura County District Attorney's Office, the Oxnard Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The DA must wait until the investigation is completed before making a formal decision regarding filing charges, according to a statement released by Totten's office.

"While the charges will not be filed at this time, the arrest of (Ramirez) by the Oxnard Police Department was clearly appropriate and lawful," the statement says.

A federal team leading an investigation into this week’s commuter train crash in Oxnard said they expect to know much more on Thursday about what happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigators have started reviewing data from video cameras recovered from the train.

"We can confirm that the forward-facing video camera did record data. We can also say that the forward-facing cameras did record the accident sequence. It recorded the actual collision," said NTSB member Robert Sumwalt.

Sumwalt said the train’s recorders were flown to the agency’s lab in Washington, D.C., where they were being reviewed.

Preliminary information from the data recorders show the train was traveling under the speed limit of 79 mph. But much more was expected to be known by later Thursday and released at a media briefing.

"We are very early in the investigation, but I do think by tomorrow we should have some good information," Sumwalt said Wednesday.

A few minutes after leaving the Oxnard Transit Center at 5:39 a.m., Metrolink Train 102 crashed into a truck abandoned on the tracks near Fifth Street and Rice Avenue, authorities said.

Three cars flipped in the crash, the truck pulling a trailer burst into flames, and 30 people were injured, four critically.

Police said Ramirez, 54, of Yuma, Arizona, mistakenly turned onto the tracks instead of the road.

Sumwalt said the truck made it 80 feet down the tracks, where it was when the crash happened.

The driver, a mechanic with The Growers Company, Inc., of Somerton, Arizona, got out of the truck as the train headed toward it. He was later found walking and disoriented about a mile and a half from the crash scene, police said.

Late Tuesday afternoon, he was arrested on suspicion of felony hit and run with multiple injuries, police said.

Ramirez was scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon. He was being held in Ventura County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail.

His attorney, Ron Bamieh, said he has filed a motion to have Ramirez released on his own recognizance.

Ramirez mistook the tracks for a road, Bamieh said, and continued driving. When he realized his mistake, he kept going, looking for a way off the tracks.

That’s when he saw the bright lights of the train 200 to 250 yards away, Bamieh said, so he ran.  

Bamieh said Ramirez tried to get help after the crash. The attorney disputed accounts that his client was found a mile and a half from the scene.

Of the 30 people injured and assessed at local hospitals Tuesday, eight were admitted. Six remained in the hospital Wednesday night, two still in critical condition.

The two in critical condition, including the train's engineer, were at the Ventura County Medical Center. The engineer's heart stopped Wednesday morning, but doctors were able to revive him, officials said.

This was not a traditional grade-crossing accident, Sumwalt said Wednesday.

The vehicle was not stuck at the grade crossing, either trapped between the gates or somehow bottomed out on the crossing itself, he said.

“What happened after it traveled westbound, why it remained there, is what we intend to find out,” Sumwalt said. “Why was that truck there? That’s a key question. And, once it was there, why did it not move?”

He said investigators likely will learn more about those issues after speaking to the truck driver and watching the video recorded from the train.

“We want to learn anything that we can from his perspective to help explain how that vehicle ended up driving down a railroad track,” Sumwalt said.

NTSB officials have reached out to Ramirez through his attorney, asking to talk to him about what happened Tuesday.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to interview the driver of that truck,” Sumwalt said.

But as of Wednesday, he didn’t know when that would happen.

Wednesday was the NTSB investigators first full day on the scene. As part of their investigation, team members are examining the interior and exterior of the train cars, which were moved to a Metrolink yard in Moorpark.

Investigators also are examining road markings and signage, traffic signals at the grade crossing and testing those signals.

In addition, investigators will look at street lighting to see if the grade crossing was adequately illuminated, and are working with the city of Oxnard to obtain traffic counts and road maintenance information.

Along with reviewing records and interviewing staff at both Metrolink and the Arizona company considered the operator of the truck involved in the crash, the NTSB team will look at 911 records and emergency response logs.

On Thursday, investigators were expected to start 3-D laser scanning of the train cars, the truck and the grade crossing. Those 3-D representations will help them continue their work once they leave Ventura County, Sumwalt said.

Marjorie Hernandez is a reporter with the Ventura County Star. Contact her at mhernandez@vcstar.com.

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Roberta Heter Joins Family Service Agency Board

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Family Service Agency is pleased to welcome Roberta Heter to its Board of Directors.

Heter
Roberta Heter

Heter, a Lompoc resident for 50 years, comes to FSA with extensive experience in education and the nonprofit community.

She worked for the Lompoc School District for 30 years in various capacities as teacher and administrator, most recently as principal of Lompoc High School. She is also a current board member and past president of the Region XIII of the Association of California School Administrators, having served in this capacity since 1985.

She received the 2013 State Retired Administrator of the Year award and is an active mentor for current administrators. She is also a member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education.

Additional board involvement includes terms with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Lompoc Library Foundation, Lompoc Little League, Lompoc Youth Football and Lompoc Babe Ruth Auxiliaries.

Heter and husband Tom have four children, 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling and dirt track racing, where they regularly serve on the pit crews for a car they own and one they sponsor.

The Family Service Agency has long been regarded as one of Santa Barbara County’s most reliable and effective nonprofit organizations. Established in 1899, FSA continues to improve the health and well-being of the community’s most vulnerable children, families and seniors through their transformative and essential programs: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Senior Services, Family Support Services, Youth & Family Behavioral Health and School Counseling Services. Their programs combine clinical expertise, bilingual and bicultural staff, and close collaboration with other agencies. At FSA, all services are provided free or on a sliding fee/donation scale and no one is denied assistance because of an inability to pay.

For more information, visit fsacares.org or call 805.965.1001.

— Melinda Johansson is the marketing manager for the Family Service Agency.

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Assistance League Volunteers Help Assemble Smile Kits for Dental Clinics, Health Fairs

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Volunteers from the Assistance League of Santa Barbara assembled more than 1,200 Smile Kits and other tools to teach brushing, flossing and nutrition to be used at the Eastside Dental Clinic Education Center.

Volunteers staff health fairs where our community partners request our participation; distribute Smiles Kits, play games and answer questions on  nutrition at these fairs.

The Assistance League of Santa Barbara is a nonprofit all volunteer organization that develops and implements projects to benefit children and adults in the Santa Barbara County since 1947.

— Mary Heron is the public relations chair for the Assistance League of Santa Barbara.

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UCSB Assistant Professor Jon Schuller Receives CAREER Award from National Science Foundation

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Light: It’s all around us and is an integral part of our daily lives. Yet it continues to surprise us with its distinctive properties, such as how its various wavelengths can be utilized for imaging things invisible to the naked eye, or how it can store and transmit massive amounts of data, or how it can generate energy.

Schuller
Jon Schuller (Ian Barin photo)

Such beneficial manipulation of light is the purview of Jon Schuller, UC Santa Barbara assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study how light interacts with certain materials, particularly those with complex and asymmetric molecular arrangements, such as plastics.

“Getting the CAREER Award is a great honor,” Schuller said. “It’s a great validation for me and my work as a young researcher.”

The award, which amounts to $500,000 over five years, will allow Schuller and his research group to examine the interactions between light and possible alternative semiconducting materials.

Whereas conventional photonic (light-manipulating) materials such as silicon crystals tend to exhibit uniform optical behaviors in all directions (isotropic), other materials, including plastics, have optical properties that differ by direction (anisotropic).

Schuller’s research group will focus on examining the complex optical properties of organic (carbon-based) materials such as plastics.

Their findings could in turn lead to developments that could enhance the performance of organic photonic devices. Additionally, the research could open new doors to the manufacture of low-cost, lightweight and flexible semiconductors that can harness and manipulate light for various applications.

“As optical engineers, we’ve been limited for the last 200 years to this very small subset of materials that nature gives us,” Schuller said. “And so what we try to do is build materials that have properties that are not found in nature.”

The potential applications for these not-found-in-nature materials could be found in the field of very high-resolution imaging, next-generation telecommunications technology and energy production and storage.

In addition to supporting scientific research, the grant will fund various associated educational and outreach-oriented efforts, including an ongoing initiative called “The Art of Science,” an annual competition that encourages researchers to express the beauty that can be found in scientific investigations. Already in its second year, the contest features the work of students who have displayed their art at the UCSB Library and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

— Sonia Fernandez represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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Radius Report: South Coast Logs Record 103 Commercial Sales in 2014

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments has released its 2014 South Coast Commercial Real Estate Year-End Report, and we thought it couldn’t get any better.

In 2014, more commercial properties were sold in the South Coast than ever before, totaling 103 transactions and just under half a billion dollars in sales volume ($425,899,476 to be precise).

Consider that it was not long ago in 2009 when the market, in the midst of the Great Recession, sunk to a measly 35 sales. Still, perhaps it is even more impressive that at 103 deals, we not only crushed the previous record of 85 sales set in both 2005 and 2012, but we did so on the heals of a very strong 3-year stretch from 2011 to 2013 (71, 85 and 83 sales respectively).

So Are We At the Peak?

As 2014 proved, records are made to be broken. It was a record breaking year not only for Radius but for the commercial real estate market as a whole, and we really see no signs of a slowing market. Already this year there are some very large properties in escrow, the pool of buyers remains strong and there are several large properties slated to come to market. Not to mention interest rates have fallen, enticing investors to both purchase properties with leverage as well as refinance and pull more money out to look for new investments.

Radius
Last year’s 103 sales easily smashes previous records set in both 2005 and 2012 for most commercial sales in a year. How will 2015 shake out?

While we may be at the peak number of transactions due to limitations on our inventory, it does not necessarily mean prices will fall or cap rates will increase.

National Trends

According to a recent Bloomberg article, in some larger markets such as New York and Los Angeles, residential real estate markets are seeing the impact of the oil crisis and the strengthening US dollar affect home prices as foreign investors simply do not have the same buying power. Locally, it is doubtful that we will see the same impact as the number of foreign buyers is extremely limited. However, we could see a slowing in the number of transactions to be more in line with the 17-year average of 64 sales per year.

What Drove Sales?

In the fourth quarter, there were several large 1031 exchange transactions and several buyers who took their gains from other investments, but the primary factor that contributed to the swath of sales in 2014 was increased investor confidence and a general easing of the financials markets.

Simply put, banks are doing loans at or near historically low interest rates. While it is true that many buyers bought properties without loan contingencies, it was not uncommon that the money used to purchase property came from refinancing other assets, meaning that interest rates still played a large role in influencing sales.

Local Economic News

The unemployment rate in Santa Barbara County has fallen to just 5.7 percent, as reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics on Dec. 30, 2014. Industry sectors such as farm, leisure and hospitality, construction, financial activities, professional and business services, and educational and health services combined to add 5,600 jobs in Santa Barbara County in April 2014 alone.

radius
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2015.

The accompanying graph tracks the unemployment rate in Santa Barbara County since 2006, and it has not been this low since October 2008, the beginning of the Great Recession.

According to a recent Noozhawk article, Santa Barbara County’s unemployment ranking in April, compared to the other 57 counties in California, positioned the county in ninth place behind Sonoma, Santa Clara and San Luis Obispo counties. In fact, the unemployment rate in south Santa Barbara county in particular is very low, around 3 percent, versus the state average of 7 percent.

Development

Big news: Entrada De Santa Barbara has broke ground! The developer received their grading permit, allowing them to level the parcel adjacent to Mountain Air Sports (previous home to Wheel Fun Rental & Hot Spots Coffee). In addition, the creek widening project at Cabrillo Boulevard where Rusty’s previously was located has also broke ground.

Several other projects are slated for development in the State Street beach front area including the children’s museum and the extension of the Harbor View Inn. Look for the lower area of State Street to be congested for the next several years as these construction projects take off.

What to Look for in 2015

You may recall, in our previous quarterly reports from 2014 we anticipated smooth sailing until interest rates inevitably rose due to the Fed abolishing quantitative easing in Oct. 2014. We suspected this would be the catalyst for slowing the current bull market.

What we did not foresee was that interest rates would actually decrease amidst the current oil crisis and the effect of the strong US dollar which deters foreign investment in the U.S. The realization we came to is something we already knew, that the market is much more dynamic than we give it credit and the future is impossible to predict.

What’s next is very difficult to say. We still believe interest rates will rise at some point, but the reality is our financial system is very complex so when rates will rise and to what degree is unknown. Rising rates will drive rising cap rates which may slow and turn the market, but until then, hold on.

Click here to download the complete report online.

— Vince Coronado is the marketing director for Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments.

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Pioneer Valley Student Athletes to Share Joy of Reading at Elementary School

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Pioneer Valley High School student athletes plan to make a point that reading is important at nearby Oakley Elementary School on Friday.

The uniformed athletes and few staff members will arrive at the school about 10:30 a.m. The community outreach effort is part of the National Education Association’s “Read Across America Day” program.

The students and staff will read with the youngsters and share stories about how they developed a love for reading.

“I feel honored to be able to spend time with the students and interact with them," said Ashley Ando, a senior cheerleader. “I’m probably more excited than they are."

Assistant Principal Greg Dickinson believes that community service is an important part of being a student athlete.

“We want to encourage youth from our feeder schools to get excited about reading," Dickinson said. “It’s important to teach our students the importance of giving back to local schools and the community."

The athletes represent the baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and cheerleading programs.

— Kenny Klein is a public information officer for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

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Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening to Blow Up His Montecito Home

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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David William Tallman is sentenced to 5 years of probation for July 2014 incident

David William Tallman

A Montecito man who threatened to detonate an explosive device in his home in July 2014 pleaded guilty to three felony charges this week.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced Thursday that David William Tallman, 66, pleaded guilty to arson of an inhabited structure, criminal threats and resisting a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of violating a court order.

Dudley said she did not offer any plea bargain in the case.

Superior Court Judge Michael Carrozzo sentenced Tallman to five years of probation, in addition to the time he has already spent in custody.

If Tallman violates probation, he could serve up to 10 years and four months in state prison, Dudley said.

Tallman has been in custody since July 7, 2014, when Dudley said he threatened to blow up his Montecito residence using acetylene gas.

The incident began about 3:15 a.m. at a home on the 1300 block of Virginia Road, when Tallman called 9-1-1 and told dispatchers he had several acetylene tanks, firearms and ammunition, and was threatening to use them to blow up his house, according to county sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Dudley said Tallman was a jeweler, and used the acetylene tanks to make jewelry, releasing the gas and igniting it with a flame device.

He also made threats against two sheriff’s deputies who had recently taken him into custody on a mental health hold, Dudley said.

Numerous emergency personnel responded to the scene, and he was ultimately apprehended by deputies after about six hours.

Responding firefighters from the Montecito Fire Protection District found evidence of a small fire in the defendant’s residence, she said.

Dudley said Tallman was required to undergo a mental health evaluation upon his release from custody Tuesday. He also must reside in a sober living home and register as an arsonist for life.

“Arson is rarely a victimless crime,” Dudley said in a statement. “Therefore, we will continue to prosecute arsonists as we would any other violent offender.”

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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Transient Injured In Jump Off Santa Maria Rooftop

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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A transient was critically injured Thursday when he jumped from the roof of a Santa Maria restaurant, according to the ​Santa Maria Fire Department.

Crews responded to the single-story Shaw’s Steakhouse in the 700 block of Broadway about 8:30 a.m., Acting Battalion Chief Thomas Crakes said.

The man was taken by helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment of head and leg injuries, Crakes added.

His name and age weren’t available but he reportedly is a transient who was one of two people sleeping on the roof.

A worker who heard the noises on the roof yelled for them to get off, leading to the jump

Santa Maria police are looking into the incident, but it appears to be an accident, Sgt. Alfredo Ruiz 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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Allan Hancock College Invites Students of All Ages to Take ‘Campus Cruise’ Tours

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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Allan Hancock College has experienced a recent spike in requests for campus tours from teachers of elementary to high school students, which helps prove no one is ever too young to go to college. Hancock administrators are encouraging parents and teachers of children of all ages to register for a tour, recently branded as the “Campus Cruise.”

“I think it is important to expose students to college at an early age,” said Vice President of Student Services Nohemy Ornelas, M.A.

Recently, four third-grade classes from Tunnell Elementary School in Santa Maria viewed the millions of dollars in upgrades and renovations made possible by Measure I, which community voters approved in 2006. Their one-hour tour included visits to classrooms, labs, Joe White Memorial Gymnasium, and other stops around the 105 acre park-like campus.

The Campus Cruise evidently impressed the young visitors.

“My favorite part was going inside of the science class because I like science a lot and I want to be a scientist when I grow up,” 9-year-old Javen Claborn said.

“My favorite part was seeing the beautiful murals and the bookstore because there were a lot of clothes, pencils, keychains and other cool stuff,” added 8-year-old Jericho Laya.

The tour is intended to inspire visitors and showcase the college, its more than 100 areas of study, as well as the state-of-the-art facilities.

“The Campus Cruise provides our community not only with an opportunity to learn about our programs, but also a chance to begin to conceptualize their futures and picture themselves as college students,” Ornelas said.

Not only did the third-graders draw pictures of what they saw on the tour, many of them said they planned to return one day as a Hancock student.

“I plan to go to Hancock because I want to have a good job,” third-grader Mikaylah Perez Cantu said.

“I want to go to Allan Hancock College because my mom and my uncle went there,” Claborn said. “I plan to go there to be like my mom and I think it is a great college.”

General guided campus tours are free and available on Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Click here for more information or to sign up to take a Campus Cruise. For groups larger than 25 people, email cfreeland@hancockcollege.edu or call 805.922.6966 x3565 to tour the Santa Maria campus, or to visit the Lompoc Valley Center, email jadams@hancockcollege.edu or call 805.922.6966 x5249.

— Gina Herlihy represents Allan Hancock College.

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San Marcos Thespians Upbeat About Spring Musical ‘Crazy for You’

By | Published on 02/26/2015

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The San Marcos High School Performing Arts Department presents the 1992 Tony Award-winning romantic musical Crazy for You, based on the 1930 musical Girl Crazy with a book by Ken Ludwig and featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin. Crazy for You is directed by Riley Berris.

In this hilarious tale of boy meets girl, Bobby Child (Ryan Ostendorf), the son of a wealthy banking family, struggles to make it in the world of show business. Sent to foreclose a theater in a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, Bobby falls in love with Polly (Lana Kanen), the tough and spunky daughter of the theater owner (Kellen Romano).

After realizing Bobby came to foreclose the theater, Polly rejects him. Bobby attempts to save the theater by putting on a show with his charismatic dancing showgirls (Courtney Morse, Carly Johnson, Emma Inglehart, Kaitlyn Griswell, Sommer Fox, Brooklyn Snyder, Avery Sorenson and Olivia O’Brien) and comedic local cowboys (Geoffrey Lambeth, Ricardo Leao, Ryan Diaz, Adam Childs, Jace Wright, Eli Wright, Kai Kadlec and Nick Slaughter).

Under the guise of the world-famous Hungarian director Bela Zangler (Jason Gonzalez-Larsen), Bobby tries to win Polly’s affection while avoiding the town’s saloon owner, Lank Hawkins (Michael Libera), who will do almost anything to make sure the show does not go on.

With classic Gershwin songs such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Slap That Bass,”  “I Got Rhythm,” "They Can’t Take That Away from Me" and "Nice Work if You Can Get It," this performance’s mix of energetic tap dancing, stunning vocals and eccentric characters makes this show an adrenaline rush not to be missed!

“Having worked under David Holmes on one of the most dramatic and tense musicals of our day last year, I decided to go in another direction to bring light and laughter on to San Marcos' stage," Berris said. "This piece has such an amazing collaborative team of artists. It has been such a blast working with two insanely talented choreographers (who the kids love!), the amazing Carolyn Teraoka-Brady on vocals, and wonderful Michael Kiyoi who conducts the orchestra. This show will be visually exceptional, and is as funny as it is heart-warming. I am so happy to have chosen such a fitting play for our group of students.”

Crazy for You plays at 7 p.m. April 30, May 1-2 and May 7-9 at the San Marcos High School Theater, 4750 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 with a Royal Card. Buy tickets at the door, online by clicking here or by phone at 805.967.4581 x5568.

— Diego Neira is a senior production crew student at San Marcos High School.

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Mayor, Manager Promote ‘Santa Maria Way’ for Keeping City Healthy and Growing

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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A new police station is at the forefront as Mayor Alice Patino and City Manager Rick Haydon give the 'State of the City' presentation

A new police station will provide creative revenue streams for the City of Santa Maria, officials told a group of business leaders Wednesday while also sharing unique solutions to other problems facing the community.

Mayor Alice Patino and City Manager Rick Haydon gave the “State of the City” presentation Wednesday to the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Development Forum.

Approximately 70 people attended the event at the Santa Maria Fairpark, where the city leaders reviewed the goals and provided updates on several projects such as the new police station on West Betteravia Road.

“The new facility comes with a lot possibilities for the city,” Haydon said.

In addition to having space for the department’s computer server, the station will have room to accommodate others seeking the security and reinforced structure required of a police station for housing their computer servers. At least three firms are exploring renting space for their server farms in the city building, according to Haydon.

“We see that as another way of generating additional revenue, thinking outside the box, in order to make our tax dollars go further,” Haydon added.

A new radio communications system will have the ability to link other agencies in the region and will be one of only three in the state boasting the capability, Haydon said. This could provide another moneymaking opportunity for the city.

The first occupants will move into the new police station this spring or early summer, Haydon said, and emergency dispatchers will move in this fall. 

The 70,000-square-foot facility cost the city $30 million. Santa Barbara is seeking a new police station that is expected to be 40,000 square feet, or half as big as Santa Maria’s, but cost nearly twice as much, or $65 million.

“Why is that? Because that’s the Santa Maria way,” Haydon said. “We try to be creative in what we did rather than purchasing and starting from the ground up and getting the land and building the facility.”

As for the current station, the city is exploring whether Santa Barbara County Probation Department officials or Santa Barbara County Superior Court representatives are interested in acquiring the Cook Street facility, Haydon said.

Haydon
Santa Maria City Manager Rick Haydon presents slides during Wednesday's state of the city presentation. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Funding from sale of that building would be used to renovate the old library building to house the staff from the planning, building and recreation and parks departments, some of whom currently are sheltered several blocks away from City Hall. The intent is to create a one-stop shop for residents.

Santa Maria has taken measures to battle some local issues, such as launching a task force to tackle the growing number of auto thefts in the city, officials noted.

To stem panhandling, the city has installed special parking meters at several key locations where panhandling is more prevalent, officials said. People are encouraged to put their donations into the special meters, with funding from the pilot program going to three nonprofit groups that provide bedding, food-related services, and treatment programs for homeless residents.

Haydon said the Police Department is acquiring five surveillance cameras that will be portable, with footage sent to police supervisors. The gear will be capable to reading license plate numbers.

“What we plan on doing it deploying them in certain areas of the city,” Haydon said.

For instance, one will be positioned on North Blosser Road, where street racing is a problem. Others could be deployed to target areas of prostitution, something a local business person complained about to the mayor.

“I think it’s really interesting because people don’t realize there’s trafficking going on in Santa Maria, there’s trafficking going on in Santa Barbara County. ... It’s becoming more and more of an issue,” she said.

Technology has changed prostitution with websites set up to connect prostitutes with clients, she said, adding local police are working to stop the crimes.

The city’s annual budget is $150 million, spending about $400,000 daily providing services to the community, city officials said.

“Measure U was a saving grace from the public safety standpoint for the City of Santa Maria,” Haydon said.

Before voters approved sales tax hike known as Measure U in 2012, the Police Department had a number of vacant positions and the city could staff two new fire stations, Haydon said. The additional $4 million received annually primarily pays for police and fire personnel.

During the recession, the city lost $11 million in revenue, eliminating jobs, putting employees on furloughs and getting rid of contracts. Even with Measure U, the city revenue is lagging behind the pre-recession numbers, he noted. 

The city workforce of 483 employees adds up to slightly more than four per 1,000 residents. By comparison, San Luis Obispo has eight employees per 1,000 residents, Lompoc has 7.5 and Santa Barbara has 10. The Santa Barbara comparison eliminates the marina and airport staffs.

The city plans about $2.9 million in street and road projects this year, but slightly less next year due to lower revenues blamed on falling gas prices, he said.

Patino also provided a peek at part of a business climate survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce, revealing many local employers plan to expand their workforce or remain the same.

“We’re seeing a lot of optimism out there,” Patino 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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Letter to the Editor: America a Nation of Hypocrites?

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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ISIS is disgusting and demonic in its nature and methods. The world is aghast at the barbarism we see on a daily basis.

While we, as Americans, find their actions deplorable, we should look at ourselves, first, as a nation of "civility."

Since Roe vs. Wade, there have been around 50 million abortions performed here with little outcry. We look the other way, and allow the atrocities to continue from both sides of the globe.

Randy Rosness
Solvang

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Santa Barbara Parks Commission Considering More Off-Leash Dog Areas

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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MacKenzie Park and Ortega Park are among four locations listed in a feasibility study presented to the public

Santa Barbara could gain more off-leash dog park areas, and four possible locations were presented to the public Wednesday.

Dwight Murphy Field (near the Santa Barbara Zoo), Ortega Park (near Santa Barbara Junior High), MacKenzie Park on upper State Street and the Sheffield Reservoir Open Space near Mission Canyon have made the short list of contenders, according to a Draft Off-Leash Dog Areas Feasibility Study prepared by the Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department.

Locals got their first glimpse of the study Wednesday during a regular meeting of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.

Commissioners unanimously voted to recommend further evaluating those four sites plus Plaza Veracruz Park, a small downtown park they agreed was underused.

The draft study was commissioned last fall to identify possible new locations within city parks and city-owned property after residents petitioned for more off-leash space, Assistant Parks & Recreation Director Jill E. Zachary said.

Since no funding exists for adding another off-leash area, Zachary said, the department would prepare reports for future budget cycles.

And since only one public speaker showed up to the meeting, commissioners didn’t think staff should be in any hurry.

The study targeted areas that could accommodate a fenced-in, off-leash dog park, especially in areas that didn’t already have one.

After evaluating and visiting 49 parks and open-space areas, as well as the Sheffield Reservoir Open Space, which is owned by the city Public Works Department, parks staff asked to focus on the remaining four, which would involve developing conceptual designs for improvements, meeting with neighborhood residents and proper permitting.

The areas met neighborhood-compatibility and size requirements — at least a third of an acre available, but ideally up to one acre.

Dogs are currently allowed on leash in all 350 acres of accessible city park land, minus Plaza de la Guerra and the beach from the Shoreline Park Steps to the easterly city limit.

Canines are permitted off-leash in about 305 acres of unfenced recreation areas within the Douglas Family Preserve, the beach between Arroyo Burro Estuary, and the Shoreline Park Steps, Hale Park and Elings Park.

Parks staff discussed management considerations, including loss of vegetation, parking, dog aggression and neighborhood opposition.

Any new off-leash area would also need amenities such as bathrooms, depending on location, and require turf and overall park management — costs staff hadn’t yet calculated.

“Fencing is key,” said City Animal Control Officer Jeff Deming, going so far as to suggest separate areas for large and small dogs.

Commissioners were least excited about the smaller Ortega Park, where traffic is high and parking is scarce.

The eastern corner of MacKenzie Park (away from the ball fields) and Sheffield Reservoir Open Space were lauded as ways to bring an off-leash park to the northern end of town, taking pressure off the crowded Douglas Family Preserve.

Local dog owner Bob Cunningham, who takes his pet to Elings Park, suggested the commission consider finding more off-leash beach areas, possibly at East Beach.

“I’m a little hesitant to take on the additional maintenance,” Commissioner Jim Heaton said. “But (the study) does give us something to point to. I think it’s a good thing to move forward with at this point.”

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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Guadalupe Council Declines Action on Farr’s Request to Oppose Refinery Rail Spur Proposal

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Saying they needed more information from both sides on the controversial Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery rail spur project, the Guadalupe City Council declined to endorse or otherwise take action on a letter recommending San Luis Obispo County officials reject the project..

Mayor John Lizalde brought the matter to the council after receiving a letter from Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr opposing the rail spur project and asking the city to take a stand against the rail spur proposal. Lizalde said Tuesday night he sought other council members’ opinions about the letter, not the actual refinery project.

“She specifically was hoping either that council would endorse her letter or send their own letter,” City Administrator Andrew Carter said. “It is really your call what you want to do with this.”

Farr’s letter urges the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission to reject the proposal that would involve rail cars full of oil traveling through the heart of her district, which includes Guadalupe, Goleta and the Gaviota Coast.

“The proposed project is of great concern, due in part to the volatility of Canadian tar sands, and the proximity of the proposed route to highly populated areas. An accident would have catastrophic consequences for my constituents, as well as the sensitive environment of the Central Coast,” Farr said in the letter.

The Phillips 66 Santa Maria Refinery, which has operated on 1,600 acres on the Nipomo Mesa in southern San Luis Obispo County for nearly 60 years, has proposed to add 1.3 miles of new track, an unloading facility and pipelines at the site to transport the crude oil to processing.

“I don’t think we should take this lightly. I think if we’re going to do anything we need to do it on our own based on facts,  and there’s tons of information on the pros and cons of it,” Councilman Ariston Julian said. “I would like this community to know more about what’s happening with that,” Julian said, noting officials in Moorpark and Ventura County have opposed the project.

Both Lizalde and Councilwoman Gina Rubalcaba agreed that more information is needed. 

“It’s a big thing right now, and maybe they need to come let the community know more about it,” Rubalcaba said.

A number of groups opposed the project including the year-old Mesa Refinery Watch Group.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Guadalupe resident Jorge Gil noted that the entire city of Guadalupe is within the blast zone for the trains if an explosion occurs..

“Trains go through Guadalupe all the time. If you recall not too many years ago we had a blast zone of Corona beer,” resident Shirley Boydstun said. “Maybe nicer than oil, but things happen. … There’s a lot of what ifs.”

Saying he has mixed feelings about the project Councilman Jerry Beatty noted the refinery long history of operating safely on the Nipomo Mesa, but also expressed concerns about potential risks if a derailment did occur.

“With all due respect to Ms. Boydstun, if a Corona beer rail car derails you bring the lime and salt and have a party,” Beatty said. “If an oil tanker derails you bring a hazmat team in here, you shut the city down for weeks so there are some definite problems. I also don’t see any positive financial benefit to the community,” he said, noting the increased rail traffic could add noise for the planned DJ Farms residential development.

The proposed project involves up to five trains a week with approximately 80 tanker cars stretching 1.5 miles each via the Union Pacific Railroad.

A draft environmental impact report drew some 11,000 comments, according to the San Luis Obispo County Tribune.

Refinery officials note that the changing industry is requiring them to seek oil from other sources with rail being the only way to get the product to the site since it doesn’t have an ocean off-loading facility.

The facility already processes California crude oil received via an underground pipeline. 

The transportation of oil via rail has sparked concerns in the wake of a Quebec oil train explosive derailment that 47 people in July 2013. Last week, another oil train derailed in West Virginia, with the fire burning a house and sending oil into a nearby river and water treatment facilities.

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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Golden Inn & Village Project Raises $525,000 of $800,000 Fundraising Goal

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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With the support of the community, the Rona Barrett Foundation’s Golden Inn & Village has raised $525,000 toward the construction of the first affordable senior housing and residential care “aging in place” facility in Santa Ynez Valley that is designed to serve the community’s most vulnerable residents.

“I’m thrilled with the response,” said Rona Barrett, president of the Rona Barrett Foundation, which is championing the project. “We have received donations large and small. The most heartwarming are checks from individuals, who may only be able to afford $50 or $100 but who understand what we are trying to achieve and want to help. We love the large donations, too!”

As a condition of receiving the $23 million in tax credits that will allow the construction to begin for the GIV, the Rona Barrett Foundation must raise the remaining $275,000 by this Sunday, March 1. The foundation thanks its community partners and individual donors for donations so far toward a critical $800,000 funding goal.

The tax credits also mean that for every $1 a supporter donates to the Campaign for the GIV, an estimated $23 will be returned as community dividends in the form of local jobs, local salaries and local expenditures for equipment, transportation and supplies.

Construction for the GIV is slated to begin in March with a completion date in the fall of 2016. The Golden Inn & Village is a mixed use development in a neighborhood setting that will provide approximately 150 affordable units for low-income seniors to reside in a comfortable, supportive environment that meets their needs as they age. Services will range from independent to assisted living and memory care to hospice all on one campus. The programs and services provided will be coordinated in collaboration with multiple community partners and engage the broader community at large, avoiding duplication and leveraging strengths, while multiplying benefits to all.

The Golden Inn & Village was conceived specifically to address the needs of our senior loved ones, parents, friends, neighbors and especially orphaned seniors — those who have no one left to care for them. It is for seniors who live within our area but, with resources dwindling, are forced to survive on little more than Social Security.

For more information about or to donate to GIV, click here.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing the Rona Barrett Foundation.

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Ron Fink: Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Immigrants the Tip of the Iceberg

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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It all started so innocently with Democrats proposing to make our highways safer.

One thing I will give liberals credit for is always having a plan. They start slow and make their schemes sound innocent. For example, they sold most people on the idea that offering driver’s licenses to illegal aliens was a good idea because it would somehow make the roads safer.

Well, who could argue with that logic? The benefit to liberals was that no one could prove if their plan made the roads any safer or not. Or, did they have another more sinister goal?

So, what was the result? There is early DMV data.

According to CBSLA.com, “The Department of Motor Vehicles is so overwhelmed with requests for new driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations that it can take up to three months to get an appointment or a half-day wait in the lobby.” A DMV spokesman said the DMV is working to address the problems, but some people have to take a day off of work to handle a 15-minute transaction.

According to a Tribune News report tabulating the first month totals on Feb. 5, only 57,000 out of 415,000 tested could pass the driver’s test successfully.

OK, so hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens can’t pass the test. What’s missing here is a comparison of test results for a one-month period for legal residents. That would put this in perspective, but the reporter apparently didn’t ask that question.

Not discussed anywhere is how much this is all costing us legal citizen taxpayers. Surely the $33 fee doesn’t cover all the administrative costs.

And, what about those 358,000 who couldn’t pass the test. Are they still driving?

Keep in mind that the liberal goal has always been to circumvent the naturalization process for millions of people they call “undocumented immigrants.” So driver’s licenses were chosen in California as the entry point for their amnesty plan; but driver’s licenses are only the tip of the iceberg. What happens after the person who entered our country illegally gets a license?

This is where the Obama administration doubled down and has apparently determined that illegal aliens could be granted quasi legal status by fiat.

Let’s start with Social Security numbers. I bet you thought you had to be a citizen to get one of these, didn’t you? Well, according to a Fox News report, “Illegal immigrants who apply for work permits in the U.S. under President Obama’s new executive actions will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare, the White House says.”

A Social Security number gives you the right to work, thus millions of formerly undocumented workers can replace American citizens in the work force. You have to wonder what impact this has on the unemployment figures for citizens of the United States.

What about taxes? Some say it’s only right for a person who pays in to the system to receive benefits. I would agree with that. But Townhall.com reported that President Barack Obama’s IRS commissioner confirmed in recent Senate hearings that “the newly quasi-legalized-by-fiat immigrants (would) also be able to claim retroactive refunds for up to three years — even if they didn't file or pay taxes at the time.” Wow, talk about freebees!

Then there is the core issue — voting rights. You would think that you have to prove that you are a citizen to register to vote. You would be wrong.

Once again Townhall.com reported that during a House of Representatives’ committee hearing earlier this month that the secretaries of state from Kansas and Ohio pointed out to the committee that “for an estimated 4 to 5 million noncitizens, the president’s executive actions provide access to Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. These are the same documents that federal law requires the states to recognize as valid forms of identification for voter registration.  Under federal law, anyone with a valid Social Security number or driver’s license number can register to vote, provided they attest that they are a U.S. citizen.”

Federal law applies to California, too, and I’ll bet that during voter registration drives no one ever checks whether the applicant is a citizen.

I think it’s a really bad policy to create a situation that would allow foreign nationals to vote in our elections, but I guess this doesn’t trouble democrats as long as they vote for them. But sometimes political necessity can adversely impact good judgment.

So now the liberal agenda item to gain more voters has been fully completed — not only could they claim they made our roads safer (a claim that cannot be verified) they have also converted millions of people to legal status, provided them with all the benefits that are afforded to citizens of the United States and created millions of new Democrat voters.

So were illegal alien drivers’ licenses a good idea after all?

— 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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Take the ‘Polar Plunge’ with Special Olympics Saturday at Leadbetter Beach

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Show off your plunge power and join Special Olympics Southern California-Santa Barbara County Region’s inaugural Polar Plunge this Saturday, Feb. 28, to raise funds for local Special Olympic athletes.

Santa Barbara County law enforcement, Santa Barbara county and city of Santa Barbara firefighters, Union Bank, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, the Hutton Parker Foundation, KEYT, Cox Communications, school groups, community groups and supporters of all kinds will run, walk or “creatively enter” the 50-degree waters of Leadbetter Beach to raise money for local Special Olympic sporting events and programs.

Each Plunger will receive a t-shirt with a minimum of $50 raised. Additional incentives are available for those who raise more. Are you “Too Chicken to Plunge?” You can still register as a chicken, raise $50, but stay dry while your friends go in! People are encouraged to create their favorite costume whether they come alone or plunge with friends. Although the best costumes may be rewarded, crowds of people will cheer on participants braving the waters in costume or a swimsuit.

“Taking the Plunge is a unique way for individuals, groups, and corporations to support our athletes,” said Gina Carbajal, regional director of Special Olympics Southern California-Santa Barbara County Region. “Our ocean has frigid February waters for Santa Barbarians, so brave souls can cross this off their bucket list and raise money for Special Olympics at the same time.”

KEYT’s one and only John Palminteri will be emceeing the event and we will have our Polar Plunge mascot “Chilly” the Polar Bear (aka First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal) welcoming guests and taking pictures. We will also have our very own Santa Barbara County firefighters cooking up a delicious pancake breakfast for all our participants and sponsors.

Special thanks go out to the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Special Olympics’ largest grassroots fundraising program, for hosting the Polar Plunge. Officers representing a variety of law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California have raised over $1.3 million in 2013 through Tip-A-Cop dinners, Plane Pulls, 5K/10K runs, raffles, car shows, bike rides, Polar Plunges, Adopt-a-Cop programs, golf tournaments and other special events.

For more information or to register, click here or contact Carbajal at gcarbajal@sosc.org or 805.884.1516 x103.

— Gina Carbajal is the regional director for Special Olympics Southern California-Santa Barbara County Region.

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Therapist Laura Hout Offering Free Phone Consultations During National Eating Disorders Week

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Laura Hout, MPW, LMFT, is offering free phone consultations during National Eating Disorders Week, Feb. 22-28, for anyone needing information about eating disorders resources on the Central Coast area.

She is a member of the Binge Eating Disorder Association, a former board member of the International Association of Eating Disorders and writes frequently about the challenges of living in an obesogenic environment.

Hout is a licensed marriage and family therapist who helps individuals and families struggling with binge eating disorder, bulimia and obesity, as well as relationship/couples issues.

She created the workshop Beyond Overeating to help women and men seeking evidence-based skills and support as they overcome overeating. Workshops for March are currently forming. Click here for more information.

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Man Gets 22 Years in Prison for Stabbing Stranger with Scissors in Santa Barbara

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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A man was sentenced to 22 years in state prison Wednesday for hate crimes including an attempted murder and mayhem charge, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Ryan Christopher Zietlow-Brown, 28, attacked a man walking down State Street with a pair of scissors on Aug. 12, 2011, stabbing him multiple times in the head.

According to the District Attorney's Office, Zietlow-Brown attacked the victim, a black man, after seeing him walking down the street with a white male co-worker singing lyrics to a well-known rap song.

Zietlow-Brown fled the area but later turned himself in to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

He was sentenced to 22 years and four months in state prison for the felony charges of attempted murder and mayhem, a special allegation of using scissors as a deadly weapon, and committing the offenses for the benefit of and in association with neo-Nazi Skinheads, a white supremacist gang, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

He pleaded no contest to the charges Jan. 6 and also admitted to the acts being hate crimes. 

“Superior Court Judge Brian Hill said today there was no doubt in his mind these acts were hate crimes and the defendant’s actions constituted premeditated attempted murder. The victim addressed the court and indicated he had never seen the defendant prior to the attack which nearly cost him his life,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Zietlow-Brown told the court he was a “changed man” but admitted to being a Skinhead and affiliated with White Power at the time he committed these crimes, authorities said.

“A dangerous, violent man imbued with racist beliefs and ideologies has been removed from the streets for a very long time,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Siegel said in a statement.

These convictions constitute two strikes under the Three Strikes Law.

“Hate-motivated crimes affect not just crime victims and their loved ones, but our entire community,” District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement. “It is incumbent upon all of us to insist that racism, in any form, not be tolerated in Santa Barbara County.” 

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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CHP: Driver Killed in Wreck Near Los Olivos was Drunk

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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A 25-year-old Santa Ynez man was driving while intoxicated Saturday night when he was involved in a collision on Highway 154 near Los Olivos that injured 13 people, the California Highway Patrol said Wednesday.

Austin Troy Bartoo was behind the wheel of a Cadillac CTS, headed east on Highway 154 at about 65 mph when he turned left into the path of a westbound GMC 15-passenger van driven by Blue Dascomb, 21, of Santa Ynez, according to the CHP.

Bartoo was critically injured in the crash, and was declared dead Monday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, CHP Sgt. Don Clotworthy told Noozhawk on Wednesday afternoon.

“The cause of the accident is going to be driving under the influence of alcohol,” Clotworthy said. “It’s sad, and it points out once again the danger of drinking and driving.”

Clotworthy said he could not release Bartoo’s blood-alcohol level, but noted it was above the 0.08-percent limit at which a driver is presumed drunk under California law.

The collision occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday at Roblar Avenue, the CHP said.

Seven people were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital following the crash.

They included Bartoo, who was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered major injuries, the CHP said.

Bartoo's organs were harvested for transplant, Clotworthy said.

Family and friends were expressing their condolences for Bartoo on his Facebook page.

According to the CHP, Dascomb braked and swerved to the right, but was unable to avoid a collision. Authorities say the van went off the north side of the roadway and overturned, while the Cadillac came to rest blocking the westbound lane.

Five other victims went to the hospital with moderate injuries and one had minor injuries, officials said.

Six others sustained minor cuts and bruises, but were treated at the scene and were not hospitalized.

Three people were seriously injured the next night in a head-on collision at the same location.

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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UC Santa Barbara to Pitch In Funding for Permanent Fencing Along Isla Vista Cliffs

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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The safety barrier will consist of a three-rail wooden pole fence covered with chain link on the side facing land to help prevent falls

Permanent protective fencing soon will go up along the bluffs in Isla Vista after UC Santa Barbara agreed to pitch in $70,000 to get the project done.

The fencing should be up by early May, about two months after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors accepts the university funding, which is expected to happen at Tuesday’s meeting, according to Chris Henson, chief of staff for Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who oversees Isla Vista.

UCSB will pay for construction, while the county and the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District will maintain the fence that will be built on six county-owned coastal parks along Del Playa Drive, protecting students from all-too-frequent (and sometimes fatal) cliff falls.

The 54-inch-tall safety fence — approved by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission last October — will be a three-rail wooden pole fence covered with a small-space coated diamond chain link on the side facing land to prevent climbing or sitting on it.

The sturdier option will replace temporary orange construction fence that UCSB paid to put up in May 2014.

“This contribution is another example of the university’s longstanding and ongoing commitment to the Isla Vista community,” said John Longbrake, UCSB associate vice chancellor for public affairs and communications. “Students, parents, faculty and staff members and many Isla Vista residents have advocated for this project as a way to enhance community safety. We want to acknowledge their efforts and the work of the county in securing the permits and overseeing the community design process and construction of the fence. 

“We are also grateful to our donors who have contributed generously to support safety enhancements for our students in Isla Vista, as well as for Supervisor Doreen Farr’s commitment to this project. The fence will help protect not only our students who are residents of Isla Vista, but also the thousands of Santa Barbara City College students who live in Isla Vista, as well as visitors to the community.”

University officials expect the one-time funding to cover the entire estimated costs for fence installation. If it’s more than enough, the county could use the rest for maintenance. 

The contribution is one in a long line of continuing university support for the densely populated unincorporated area of the county, where many of its students call home.

UCSB committed $2 million toward future infrastructure improvements in IV as a part of its Long Range Development Plan, $220,000 to the county to for IV street lighting and sidewalk projects and $9,000 to install temporary video cameras during Deltopia.

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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Author Lydia Davis, in Residence at UCSB, to Give Public Reading

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Lydia Davis, a fiction writer, essayist and literary translator of such works as Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust and Gustav Flaubert’s Madam Bovary, will spend three days at UC Santa Barbara as the 2015 Diana and Simon Raab Writer-in-Residence.

Lydia Davis
Lydia Davis

During her time at UCSB, Davis, recipient of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, will give a reading from her latest collection of short stories, Can’t and Won’t.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 in the Corwin Pavilion. It is free and open to the public.

Made possible by a gift from Diana and Simon Raab, the writer-in-residence series gives undergraduate writing and literature students at UCSB a unique opportunity to engage with masters of the craft. The series is co-presented by the campus’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC) and by the UCSB Writing Program.

“Lydia Davis is a multitalented and precise short-story writer, novelist and translator who is perceptive of the internal and external worlds,” said Diana Raab, the award-winning author of nine books that include memoir, nonfiction, poetry and journalism. “Like those she admires and translates, such as Flaubert and Proust, she is in a unique category of her own. Her writing is compelling, addictive and thought-provoking while inspiring a profound inner dialogue with her reader. We are honored to bring her to Santa Barbara.”

The writer-in-residence series invites creative writers, humanities scholars, journalists and filmmakers to UCSB to deliver public lectures or readings for the Santa Barbara community. While in residence, writers meet with students in a classroom setting to explore the craft of writing.

“What’s wonderful about Lydia Davis is that she is both a translator and a creative writer,” said Susan Derwin, director of the IHC. “She’s a great fit for the campus because she straddles these two worlds. The influence of her attuned translator’s ear is evident in her creative writing, and her fine literary sensibility guides her translations. There’s a beautiful cross-pollination between her translations and her works of fiction.”

In addition to the public reading on March 3, Davis will participate in two classroom discussions, one with students in the campus’s translation studies program and the other with students from the writing program.

“The meetings with the students will have a pedagogical focus,” noted Derwin. “Diana Raab is interested in supporting a program that will enable students to meet with accomplished practitioners of the writer’s craft. Writers speak at UCSB all the time, but students don’t often have the chance to learn from them directly. That interaction is really what Diana had in mind. It can be very inspiring for students.”

Linda Adler-Kassner, director of the writing program, called it a “privilege” for students to spend time with Davis.

“Her attention to the craft of language and the process of writing can serve as outstanding models for students, whether they are focusing on writing for civic, professional or academic contexts,” she said.

Davis has published one novel, The End of the Story, and six collections of short stories, including Can’t and Won’t, which came out last spring. Earlier collections, Varieties of Disturbance and Break It Down, were finalists for the National Book Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, respectively.

In addition to Proust and Flaubert, she has translated works by Maurice Blanchot, Michel Foucault, Michel Leiris and Pierre Jean Jouve from the French, as well by Dutch writer A.L. Snijders.

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

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Santa Barbara Author Svetlana Meritt to Speak at Women’s Day Event

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Meritt
Svetlana Meritt

Santa Barbara author Svetlana Meritt will discuss “Feminine Wisdom in Action: Remarkable Women in the Ancient and Medieval World” at the March 7 Women’s Day Signature Event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Butler Event Center, 3744 State St.

Meritt is the author of the recently released book Meet Me in the Underworld: How 77 Sacred Sites, 770 Cappuccinos, and 26,000 Miles Led Me to My Soul, best described as a spiritual travelogue.

The March 7 presentation honors five extraordinary women who made outstanding contributions despite living in the male-dominated world: philosopher and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria; Byzantine empress Theodora; Hildegard Von Bingen, a writer, composer and mystic; Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Queen of France and England; and Christine de Pizane, the first professional woman writer in the Middle Ages.

For 15 years, Meritt worked as a foreign correspondent for the Serbian magazine Illustrated Politics. She interviewed such figures as the Dalai Lama, Yoko Ono and Allen Ginsberg.

After leaving her job as a journalist, Meritt and her late husband, Dwight Johnson, traveled to historic sacred sites in Europe, Africa and Asia for six years. Meritt describes her journey as a search for her creative mission in life.

Meet Me in the Underworld takes the reader on a journey from the oracles of Greece and Egyptian temples, through remnants of the Etruscan civilization in central Italy, to sites in Brittany and power centers of the Knights Templar in southern France.

Meritt teaches at Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara. She is also a professional photographer whose work has appeared in exhibitions in Belgrade and Santa Barbara.

Meritt will sign copies of her book and read an excerpt at 5:30 p.m. March 13 at the Tecolote Book Shop, 1470 E. Valley Road in Montecito.

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Williams Introduces Bill to Expand Comprehensive Crisis Care Services for Youth

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, on Wednesday introduced Assembly Bill 741, which would ensure that mental health services for children and youth experiencing a crisis is available and accessible.

Services include mobile crisis support teams, crisis intervention, crisis stabilization, crisis residential treatment, and rehabilitative mental health services.

AB 741 is supported by the Steinberg Institute on Advancing Behavioral Health Policy and Leadership, the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services and the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“It is imperative that families have access to these critical mental health services and receive the necessary follow up support needed,” Williams said. “The absence of these effective services combined with the dwindling number of inpatient psychiatric facilities for children (less than 100 beds for children 11 years old and under) has created an urgent need for a comprehensive response.”

Currently, there are only a handful of counties that provide these alternative services and no single county provides the full continuum of crisis mental health services for children or youth.  Too often, the children are sent to local emergency rooms that are not equipped to provide ongoing mental health treatment. The crisis becomes compounded when these children are placed on a waiting list for the next available inpatient hospital bed that are located hundreds of miles away from their families, as the only option.

This is true in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, where there are frequently no crisis beds available for youth experiencing a mental health crisis. In these cases, they are often sent to Kern or San Bernardino County, creating a hardship for the families to visit and participate in their child’s treatment. There needs to be a long term solution to provide appropriate resources and treatment for children in crisis, AB 741 seeks to provide that solution.

"Assemblymember Williams' leadership and efforts on this issue will do so much to improve the lives of children in crisis," Steinberg said. "The Steinberg Institutes mission is to inspire more elected officials to be leaders on mental health and advance long overdue legislation to fill in the gaps of mental health services in California. Assemblymember Williams and this bill exemplify what we are trying to accomplish."

It is our responsibility to ensure that every public and private health plan makes this level of crisis care available as a covered benefit to California children and youth.

— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.

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Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation Unveils Progress of Mural Room Restoration

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Donors to the Mural Room restoration project at the Santa Barbara Courthouse on Friday got a rare look at restoration in progress, as the murals in the Mural Room are being cleaned, restored and brought back to their original glory.

Jeff Greene and his team from EverGreene Architectural Arts Inc., and Robert Ooley, Santa Barbara County architect, explained the painstaking process involved to those present — part art and part technology — using recognized museum conservation standards and documentation along with modern technology to assess, preserve and restore each of the panels.

The Mural Room, a masterpiece of the courthouse interior and painted by Daniel Sayre Groesbeck in 1929, represents 6,400 square feet of scenes from early California and the community’s past. Due to age, and the environmental impact of the elements including light, heat and most recently smoke damage from an electrical fire in 2010, it had fallen into disrepair.

The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit, through a bid process contracted EverGreene Architectural Arts, a conservation firm, for the project. The restoration is 75 percent complete.

"This is really exciting to be able to share the restoration with our donors, the docents and the community so they can see the impact of the work being done and their contribution to this effort," said Bill Mahan, board chairman for the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

The Hard Hat Party, to thank the many donors to the project, was conceived by board members Sue Adams and Rodney Baker, co-chairs, along with board members Carol Fell and others and to share the restoration in progress, normally not seen by the public.

Next on the agenda is the restoration of the ceiling, painted by John B. Smeraldi and lighting of the Mural Room. Greene and EverGreene Architectural Arts will also be completing that phase, and Ann Kale Associates has been contracted to do the lighting design. As participants at the party learned, there is insufficient illumination for the murals coming from the two chandeliers currently lighting the room.

The restoration is a culmination of a two-year fundraising campaign by the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation, whose mission it is to fund conservation, preservation and restoration projects at the Santa Barbara Courthouse so that current and future generations can enjoy this important community treasure. The Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation, founded in 2004 and working in conjunction with the County of Santa Barbara under an MOU and five-year project plan, provides funding and oversight for restoration, preservation and documentation of the historic elements of the courthouse to federal government landmark standards, for which tax dollars are unavailable, according to Mahan.

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a Spanish Moorish building designed by William Mooser Jr. in 1929 following a destructive earthquake in 1925. It was designated a local landmark in 1982, and in 2005, designated a National Historic Landmark, which is the highest level of federal recognition. The Mural Room is closed due to the restoration and is scheduled to be opened by June.

Click here for more information regarding the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

— Bill Mahan is board chairman for the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

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Wine + Beer Partners with JONATA, The Paring and The Hilt for Tasting Event

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Wine + Beer has lined up an extraordinary tasting event with JONATA, The Paring and The Hilt — a rare opportunity to taste a trifecta of some of the most exciting (according to Robert Parker) wines coming from Santa Barbara County.

The cost is $30 a person. Small bites will be provided by Culture Counter.

To make your reservation or more information, click here or call 805.770.7701.

What we'll be pouring at the event:

» The Paring Chardonnay 2012 — A Tropical fruit driven nose of pineapple and tangerine with a touch of light toast. Plush and velvety with great acidity. The wine achieves great density with perfectly balanced ripeness and acidity. A true testament to terrior, grape growing, and winemaking in a great vintage.

» The Hilt “The Vanguard” Chardonnay 2011— 95 points Robert Parker Crystal-clear and focused, with classic brioche, white flowers, white peach and searing minerality, this beauty flows onto the palate with laser-focus, no fat and clean, integrated acidity. Give it another year or two and enjoy through 2019.

» The Paring Pinot Noir 2012 — Ripe black cherry, tobacco, and baking spices on the nose lead as mushroom and earthiness emerge from the background and envelope the glass and intrigue. Tart red fruit on the palate finishes with beautiful length and light dusty tannins.

» The Paring Red Wine 2012 — Spicy notes of cinnamon, cardamom, Tahitian vanilla, and nutmeg lead a core of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, and scorched earth. The palate is gentle and generous with a nice core of fruit and acid with a light tannic grip and a lengthy finish.

» Jonata “El Corazon de Jonata” Red Blend 2005 — 94 Points Robert Parker "The 2005 El Corazon de Jonata is denser, richer, and more perfumed than its 2004 counterpart. The overall impression is one of a sensual/seductive wine boasting an inky/blue/purple color as well as copious amounts of blue, red, and black fruits interwoven with truffle, charcoal, and graphite scents. This full-bodied, powerful 2005 offers both significant flavor authority and elegance. It will last for 15 or more years."

» Jonata “La Tiera de Jonata” Sangiovese 2005 — 93 points Robert Parker “The 2005 La Tierra de Jonata continues Jonata’s penchant for producing the finest Sangiovese in California. A deep ruby/purple hue is accompanied by a sumptuously rich nose of strawberries, new saddle leather, licorice, roasted herbs, and spice. Expansive, round, and medium-bodied with terrific fruit purity and intensity, this amazing wine should drink beautifully for five to six years.”

— Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing Wine + Beer.

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Rain Expected in Santa Barbara County This Weekend

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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A storm system expected to move through the region this weekend should provide a small measure of drought relief to Santa Barbara County, but is unlikely to add much to seasonal rainfall totals.

"We're not expecting it to be an intense storm with a lot of really high rainfall rates, but we should see at least some rain throughout the area," said John Dumas, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

The storm should hit in two waves — Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon and evening, Dumas said.

He added that forecast models have not been in agreement on the exact timing.

Rainfall amounts in most areas are expected to be relatively light, between a quarter and half an inch, Dumas said.

This weather system will be colder than other recent storms, with snow levels dropping to about 4,000 feet, he added.

Overall, Santa Barbara County has received only 64 percent of normal rainfall for the rain season that began Sept. 1., according to the Santa Barbara County Flood Control District.

February typically is one of the wettest months on the Central Coast, with the city of Santa Barbara getting an average of 3.86 inches of rain.

However, with the month's end just days away, Santa Barbara has received only 0.8 inches of rain in February.

That lack of precipitation is mirrored in communities throughout the county.

Forecasters were calling for sunny skies through Thursday, with highs in the upper 60s and lows in the mid-40s.

Clouds are expected to beginning moving into the region Thursday night in advance of the storm.

Dry conditions should return next week after the storm moves through, Dumas said.

[Click here for the latest forecast]

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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Laguna Blanca School Hosting ‘A Celebration in the City’ for Annual Gala & Auction

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Laguna Blanca School is pleased to present its annual Auction & Gala at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14 at Bacara Resort & Spa.

This year’s theme for Laguna’s party of the year, "A Celebration in the City," promises to be an unforgettable evening of New York style and glamour.

Auction chair Sherry Hlavaty is leading a stellar auction committee of Laguna parents to produce a fabulous event that raises critical funds to support the school and brings the community together to celebrate.

This elegant event will not only celebrate the many accomplishments of the school’s students and faculty, but will inspire guests to continue supporting the academic advancement at Laguna Blanca School.

The Santa Barbara community is invited to join Laguna Blanca for a spectacular evening that will benefit the innovative programs and outstanding instruction at Laguna Blanca, ensuring the best possible learning experience for its students.

Guests can look forward to a live auction, featuring auctioneer Zan Aufderheide, a dynamic auctioneer with KLM Auctions who travels the country entertaining crowds and raising funds for organizations. Aufderheide is a graduate of Reppert School of Auctioneering and a nationally recognized stand-up comedian. She will bring a new flair of energy and enthusiasm to more than 10 live auction packages, including a one of a kind painting by internationally acclaimed artist and Laguna parent Russell Young. Sure to be a draw, Young generously donated his time and materials to work with each class in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, creating unique class art projects that will be available for bid in the silent auction.

This year’s event will also feature a special video, produced by Laguna parents Dewey and Stephanie Nicks.

A sneak peak at a few of the live auction items includes Surf Retreat on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, Beachfront Estate on Aliomanu Bay on the Serene Island of Kauai, four tickets for the most exclusive experience in the Dodger Stadium Dugout Club with round-trip private plane service from Santa Barbara to Burbank provided by Sunwest Aviation and much more.

Another important tradition at each year’s Auction & Gala is the Faculty and Staff Appreciation Raffle, where guests can support those Laguna Blanca teachers and administrative staff who have gone above and beyond to make their child’s experience at Laguna memorable and meaningful. The raffle gives the faculty and staff the chance to win trips, spa treatments, special dining experiences and more.

Bacara Resort & Spa has generously offered Laguna’s gala guests a special rate of $225 per night for rooms that evening (March 14). To reserve a room, call the Bacara Resort & Spa at 877.422.4245 and mention the special Laguna Blanca rate.

For more information about "A Celebration in the City," please contact Marcy Jacobs in the Development Department at 805.687.1752 x201 or mjacobs@lagunablanca.org.

— Sydney Gardner is a publicist representing Laguna Blanca School.

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Four High School Teams Advance in Countywide Mock Trial Competition

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Ten teams from eight public and private high schools throughout Santa Barbara County competed in the 32nd annual Mock Trial competition on Satuirday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

The Mock Trial competition is designed to provide an educational experience for high school students regarding key concepts of the law, the Constitution and our legal system.

On Saturday, two rounds of competition resulted in four high school teams progressing to the semifinals and finals that will be held this Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. The first round of competition begins at 9 a.m. and the second round at 1 p.m.

The winner of the local competition will represent Santa Barbara County at the State Mock Trial competition in Riverside March 20-22. The winner of the state competition will then move on to the national competition.

Participating schools this year are Cabrillo High School, Carpinteria High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Laguna Blanca High School, Pioneer Valley High School, San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara High School and Santa Ynez High School.

The competition is sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office and the Constitutional Rights Foundation. It is coordinated by Ammon Hoenigman from the Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Judges of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court for the competition include Judge Thomas Anderle, Judge Michael Carrozzo, Judge Donna Geck, Judge Brian Hill, Judge Patricia Kelly, Judge Kay Kuns and retired Judge George Eskin; local attorneys include Stephen Amerikaner, Jeff Chambliss, Brian Cota, Sam Eaton, Thomas Hinshaw, Jerry Howard, Benjamin Ladinig, Susan McCollum, Raimundo Montes de Oca, Adam Pearlman, Catherine Swysen, Paula Waldman and retired Commissioner Edward DeCaro.

Students have prepared their cases with the help of teacher advisors and attorneys who volunteer their time as coaches. Local attorneys and judges volunteer their time to serve as scorers and presiding judges hearing the case. Students portray each of the principal characters of the case, People v. Shem, and in doing so, develop skills in public speaking, collaboration and critical thinking.

— Kris Bergstrom is the communications director for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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Body’s Transformers: UCSB Researchers Examine Shape-Shifting Protein in Brain

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Like the shape-shifting robots of Transformers fame, a unique class of proteins in the human body also has the ability to alter their configuration. These so-named intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) lack a fixed or ordered three-dimensional structure, which can be influenced by exposure to various chemicals and cellular modifications.

A new study by a team of UC Santa Barbara scientists looked at a particular IDP called tau, which plays a critical role in human physiology. Abundant in neurons located in the nervous system, tau stabilizes microtubules, the cytoskeletal elements essential for neuronal functions such as intracellular transport. Lacking a fixed 3-D structure, tau can change shape so that it forms clumps or aggregates, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The researchers’ findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In the brain, these proteins need to change shape very rapidly to adapt to different conditions,” said co-author Joan-Emma Shea, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “It’s important to understand the relationship between protein shape and function and how can you change the shape. So we used these external agents, small molecules called osmolytes, to affect the shape or conformations of these proteins.”

The researchers not only conducted biological experiments but also ran computer simulations to understand how these small molecules change the shape of tau and, when they do so, how it affects the protein’s ability to aggregate. They found that tau’s structure — whether extended or compact — was associated with how easily it bound to other tau proteins to promote the aggregation process.

“Continual aggregation of tau can, over time, result in an accumulation of pathological aggregates known as neurofibrillary tangles,” said lead author Zachary Levine, a postdoctoral scholar in UCSB’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Physics. These tangles have long been known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“In our computer simulations, we looked at certain chemical interactions called hydrogen bonds,” Levine explained. “We found that IDPs containing a large number of hydrogen bonds tended to take on smaller, more compact structures, but when we chemically removed them, we could create more extended protein structures. This allowed us to fine-tune what conformations tau could adopt. That’s really attractive if, say, you wanted to design a drug that intervenes in the pathological folding of IDPs.”

In order for aggregates of tau to develop, extended forms of the protein must stick together in a long sheet. The researchers exposed tau fragments to the osmolyte urea, which binds to the extended structures and prevents two of them from coming together. They were able to show that urea stopped aggregation, but the reason it did so wasn’t clear. However, subsequent computer simulations were able to reveal the interaction of urea with the tau protein, exposing underlying chemical interactions that decreased the likelihood of protein aggregation.

“The chemical structure of urea is quite similar to the backbone of tau,” Levine said. “Urea mimics the protein structure and binds to the surface, stopping other pieces of tau from binding to one another because the binding sites are already occupied by urea.”

The scientists also experimented with another osmolyte, trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which had the exact opposite effect. They found that TMAO-exposed tau formed helical structures, which have been shown in other studies to accelerate aggregation.

“With TMAO, you can see fibrils form, but with urea you don’t,” said co-author Nichole LaPointe, a researcher in UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI) who conducted the experiments described in the paper. Fibrils are the beginning stages of harmful clumps or aggregates of tau. “So the predictions from the simulations are actually carrying forward into something pathologically relevant, which is the formation of these big aggregates.”

Only in recent years has technology advanced to the point where it can shed light on such microcellular functions. One of the interesting things to come out of this paper, according to co-author Stuart Feinstein, an MCDB professor and a co-director of the NRI, is the idea that various normal and pathological regulatory mechanisms alter the percentage of time proteins are spending in any one of these structures.

 “The other great thing that comes out of this sort of collaborative research is the training of young students,” said Feinstein. “In bioengineering, physics or physical chemistry, you have a lot of established people who are trying to learn biology; on the other hand, there are a lot of established biologists who are trying to learn the more physical sciences, but in both cases, it is a retrofit. The people who intuitively understand both worlds are those trained in both disciplines in their 20s and 30s. And that — along with good science — is what comes out of a collaboration like this.”

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

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Installation of Sign Panels on Highway 101 to Continue from Santa Barbara to Goleta

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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A project to replace overhead sign panels and light fixtures on Highway 101 from Milpas Street to Fairview Avenue will continue on Sunday, March 1 with the following lane/ramp closures, weather permitting:

» Intermittent overnight lane and ramp closures will occur at various locations Sunday night through Friday morning on northbound Highway 101 from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. and on southbound Highway 101 from 8 p.m. until 7 a.m.

» These ramp closures will not exceed two to three hours while lane closures on Highway 101 will occur intermittently in various locations. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at any time unless it is necessary to ensure worker safety.

All overhead sign panels from Fairview Avenue to Milpas Street are being replaced with reflective signs to increase visibility in wet or foggy conditions. To further increase nighttime visibility and reduce energy consumption and replacement costs, all of the lighting fixtures on these overhead sign’s from Fairview Avenue to Milpas Street will be retrofitted with Inductive Sign Lights and electroliers near the Castillo Street ramps will receive LED lights.

These new electroliers will be tested for 24/7 for a five-day period. These LED lights will use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, last 40 times longer while producing the same level of light.

This project will add 12 additional lights to improve nighttime visibility on southbound Highway 101 from the Ortega Street pedestrian bridge to the southbound Highway 101 on-ramp at Castillo Street.

Reflective strips have been installed on the median barrier and metal beam guard railings to improve nighttime delineation in select locations, while “no pedestrian crossing” signs will be added at on/off ramps to deter pedestrians from accessing Highway 101.

These improvements are intended to reduce the pattern of nighttime collisions along this section of Highway 101. The contractor for this $555,000 safety project is Traffic Development Services of Moorpark. This project is expected to be completed in April.

Caltrans reminds motorists to move over and slow down when driving through highway work zones.

For traffic updates on other state highway projects in Santa Barbara County, motorists can call Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at 805.568.0858 or visit the District 5 website by clicking here.

— Jim Shivers is a public information officer for Caltrans.

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Village Properties Teacher’s Fund Awards $94,0000 in Grants in 2014

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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The Village Properties Teacher’s Fund continues its philanthropic support of Santa Barbara-area schools with a whopping $94,0000 awarded in grants to area teachers and classrooms in 2014.

Started in 2002 by Village Properties, the Teacher’s Fund is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Its goal is to fund as many teacher requests as possible for the most basic materials, from books, art supplies, dictionaries, classroom rugs, science, math and reading materials to digital electronic equipment like computers, software and iPads. The Teacher’s Fund supports public and private K-12 schools.

“When we help our children receive a better education, we’re making an investment in all of our futures,” said Renee Grubb, who co-founded Village Properties in 1996. “The Teacher’s Fund is a way for all of us to enrich the lives of children through education, and to support our teachers and thank them for their tireless work in educating our children.”

One hundred percent of all donations to the Teacher’s Fund goes directly to fulfilling teachers’ requests. Additional monies to the nonprofit come from fundraisers, such as the fourth annual Teacher’s Fund Gold Tournament held last fall, which raised $73,000 in a single day.

Click here for more information about the Teacher’s Fund.

— Jennifer Goddard Combs is a publicist representing Village Properties.

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Reyne Stapelmann: What Do All Those Initials Mean After a Realtor’s Name?

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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The acronyms after a Realtor's name indicate that the Realtor has invested time and money in furthering his or her real estate education through coursework, experience and skill development.

These committed professionals go the extra mile, on top of the required coursework required for license renewal.

Below are a few of the designations recognized by the National Association of Realtors.

The e-PRO certification program teaches members how to effectively use real estate technology to grow their business and make it more efficient.

» Advanced training in using the latest technology and social media to promote your property or find your next home.

ePro

» A clear understanding of the ways that e-office strategies, rich media and social networking can benefit today's consumer in a real estate transaction.

» Excellence in adopting, implementing and promoting technology best practices.

» Ethics with commitment to use technology in a fair and responsible manner.

» Professionalism by completing an education program designed to keep one’s technical knowledge and skill sets up-to-date.

CRS

The Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers and brokers.

» The CRS designation recognizes professional accomplishments in both experience and education.

» Only 3 percent of all Realtors hold the CRS designation.

CIPS

A Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designee has undergone specialized training to complete international transactions seamlessly and with reduced risk.

» The CIPS designation is the only international designation recognized by the National Association of Realtors. Only Realtors who have completed the coursework and demonstrated considerable experience in international business can call themselves a CIPS designee, and use the name and logo.

ABR

The Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) designation is designed for real estate buyer agents who focus on working directly with buyer-clients at every stage of the homebuying process.

» Valuable real estate education that elevates the agent’s skills and knowledge in the eyes of homebuyers.

» Ongoing specialized information, programs, and updates that keep the agent knowledgeable on the issues and trends facing homebuyers.

SRES

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation is for Realtors who want to be able to meet the special needs of maturing Americans when selling, buying, relocating or refinancing residential or investment properties.

» By earning the SRES designation, Realtors are prepared to approach mature clients with the best options and information for them to make life-changing decisions.

The Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation is one of the most recognized designations in the real estate industry. The GRI is a 92-hour program that provides the real estate tools and knowledge for Realtors to meet the 21st century.

GRI designees:

» Have pursued a course of study that represents the minimum common body of knowledge for progressive real estate professionals.

» Have developed a solid foundation of knowledge and skills to navigate the current real estate climate — no matter what its condition.

» Are recognized nationally.

» Act with professionalism and are committed to serving their clients and customers with the highest ethical standard.

SFR

The Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) certification is for Realtors who want to hone the skills that will allow them to help buyers and sellers of distressed properties.

v Direct distressed sellers to finance, tax, and legal professionals

» Qualify sellers for short sales

» Develop a short-sale package

» Negotiate with lenders

» Tap into buyer demand

» Limit risk

» Protect buyers

Information taken from the National Association of Realtors.

Reyne Stapelmann is a broker associate with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, California Properties and the 2015 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at reynestapelmann@cox.net or 805.705.4353. The opinions expressed are her own.

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UCSB’s Sam Sweet Guides Reptiles/Amphibians Outing at Arroyo Hondo Preserve

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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reptiles
A visitor takes a closer look at some of the amphibians and reptiles discussed during a talk with UCSB professor Sam Sweet at the Arroyo Hondo Preserve. Click here for more photos. (Robert Bernstein / Noozhawk photo)

Arroyo Hondo Preserve is a very special place along our coast managed by The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. Sam Sweet is a professor of evolution and ecology at UCSB, specializing in the amphibians and reptiles of our region.

Access to either one of these local treasures (Arroyo Hondo or Sweet) is a rare treat. But to have both together for a reptile and amphibian outing was an opportunity not to miss. Sweet donated his time to this fundraising event for the Land Trust and Arroyo Hondo.

Full disclosure of my passion for this event with Sweet: In high school I volunteered at the Division of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. I originally planned to make a career of it until I changed life course. Sweet did not disappoint, educating me in many new ways.

We think of cold-blooded animals as more primitive than warm-blooded ones. But Sweet pointed out cold-blooded animals have many evolutionary advantages that allow them to occupy many special niches, quite literally.

Warm-blooded animals tend to be roughly spherical in shape to conserve their heat. They do not tolerate getting wet. Lizards, snakes and salamanders do very well with their long, slender shapes allowing them access to tight spaces. And they don't mind getting wet. Their energy goes for growth and reproduction instead of for maintaining body heat.

Sweet warned us that this outing would not be like bird watching.

We might see nothing at all. Reptiles and amphibians generally hide and have no evolutionary need to be visible. We were very fortunate with a group of excellent observers, some of whom were avid bird watchers. Sweet was very deft in catching what the spotters found.

His first catches were fence lizards, often called a Blue Belly. (He even noose-caught a few before our outing in case we had no more luck.)

He showed us a gland at their cloaca (combined port for reproduction and excretion). This gland secretes a waxy substance that is only visible in ultraviolet light to mark the male's territory. It also is full of pheremones.

As he held the lizards in his hand he explained: Hold them gently on top of your hand, gripping their feet in between your fingers. This way they feel like they are "king of the hill" and will not feel threatened or distressed.

Most female herps (herptiles are reptiles and amphibians) stop growing when they start to reproduce to direct their energy to reproduction. Males just keep on growing.

Sam told us that legless lizards are the most common vertebrate in our area. But they are seldom seen. They are typically buried in leaf litter where there is no clay in the soil. We saw none.

He showed us that alligator lizards and fence lizards often have ticks on them. And that these two animals are unique for being able to detoxify the lyme disease virus! He theorized that lyme disease is less of a threat here than back east because we have an abundance of these lizards. Interestingly, Sam grew up near Old Lyme, Connecticut where the disease was first named. He suspects that early exposure may give him some extra immunity.

Thanks to a self-described novice Audubon bird-watcher, we soon got to see a rattlesnake. She said she just spotted its bright skin glinting in the sunlight through the grass. Sweet brought it out with a potato rake for us to see. (Make sure the rake is forged, not welded, as welds break, he advised us.) As long as you don't actually injure the snake it will not feel threatened enough to bite. Biting wastes precious venom that it wants to conserve.

Then we moved to a wetter area near a stream and spotters in the group began to find California newts. (The first one was a dead one spotted by Sweet in the grass. It had been killed by a lawn mower and buzzing flies attracted his attention.)

A new lesson: Almost nothing eats these animals because their skin can be toxic. The toxin is closely related to the powerfully deadly alkaloid toxin of the puffer fish. In every species known, that toxin is generated by either a plant that is eaten or by a bacteria that symbiotically lives with the animal. In captivity, most animals lose their toxicity.

But not so for newts. They become more toxic in captivity. No one yet knows how they generate this toxin!

Turning over logs yielded some tiny slender salamanders. (Always be sure to gently put the logs back exactly as found!) They first appear to be earthworms until you look closely and see their tiny legs. They have no lungs nor gills and respire through their skin. There are many different species and they are genetically enormously diverse. They are far more different from each other than we are from other apes.

At the stream, Sweet spotted a California pond turtle and brought it up with a net to show us. He showed us the slightly concave plastron (lower shell) and the long, slender tail that show that it is a male.

One of Sweet's pet peeves is the introduction of non-native plants and animals. Many such species are so common we think of them as native, yet they are not. One example is the so-called "wild turkey."

One member of the group asked how he could help with local reptile and amphibian research. Sam's answer: Be willing to hike into places that take two to three days to hike in and count animals. He said he has a long list of such places that he would love to get help with.

Robert Bernstein is a local photographer and frequent Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.

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In-N-Out Burger’s ‘Cover to Cover’ Reading Program Begins March 7 at Local Libraries

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Beginning on Saturday, March 7, children ages 4 through 12 are invited to participate in In-N-Out Burger’s “Cover to Cover” reading program at Carpinteria Library, Eastside Library and Santa Barbara Central Library.

Children may register at a participating library, where they will receive a reading log to list books they read.

For every five books that a child reads, he or she will earn an “Achievement Award,” which is good for a free cheeseburger or hamburger at any In-N-Out Burger. For children who cannot read independently, they can list the books that are read to them.

“This is a great way to keep students excited about reading during spring break,” senior youth services librarian Gwen Wagy said.

Children can earn up to three awards during this program. Families can participate in the program through Saturday, April 18.

For further information about the kids’ and teens programs, visit SBPLibrary.org. All library programs are free and open to the public.

— Jayne Lee is the youth services outreach coordinator for the Santa Barbara Public Library System.

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Two-Time Hit-and-Run Suspect Nabbed in Santa Maria

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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Alvaro Venegas

A 25-year-old man already wanted in an earlier incident was arrested on hit-and-run and other charges Tuesday night after being pursued by officers, according to the Santa Maria Police Department.

Alvaro Venegas of Santa Maria was taken into custody at about 9 p.m. near the 2100 block of North Western Avenue, Sgt. Robert Morris said.

The incident began when officers were called to the 800 block of West Creston Street on a report of a hit and run.

Witnesses directed investigators to the suspect vehicle, a brown Honda Civic parked a few doors away.

"As officers approached the vehicle, it sped away," Morris said. "By the time officers returned to their vehicles, the Honda was no longer in sight."

A search of the surrounding neighborhood revealed fresh damage to a fence, and signs a vehicle had gone over an embankment and into a drainage ditch.

A few blocks away, officers located the Honda driving with flat tires and fresh damage.

"They attempted a traffic stop and the vehicle fled," Morris said. "A vehicle pursuit was initiated. The slow-speed pursuit reached speeds of 25 mph and traveled less than a mile before the suspect vehicle lost control and crashed into a curb."

Venegas then fled on foot, but was quickly apprehended.

He was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, driving under the influence, and hit and run, Morris said.

Venegas was the suspect in a vehicle pursuit on Feb. 15, when officers attempted to make a DUI stop.

The vehicle fled and led officers on a high-speed chase that was discontinued for safety reasons.

Officers found that vehicle a short distance away after it had crashed into another vehicle, injuring its occupants.

The driver fled on foot and was not captured.

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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Granada’s ‘Upstairs at the G!’ to Welcome Return of Country Music Star Philip Claypool

By | Published on 02/25/2015

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The Granada Theatre’s “Upstairs at the G!” series is pleased to welcome the return of Nashville recording artist Philip Claypool to the McCune Founders Room at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 7.

Claypool
Philip Claypool

Fresh on the heels of his latest country album Come On Back Home, Claypool will be sharing the spotlight with Paraguayan born and Bay Area music legend Carlos Reyes, whose prowess on the violin and harp has received worldwide acclaim.

Claypool and Reyes meld their versatile talents that covers many genres, all the while creating a sound uniquely their own. The evening promises to deliver classic Claypool original songs and vocals alongside Carlos Reyes’ masterful instrumentals.

Claypool lived in Santa Barbara for a number of years, and has returned from Nashville with his new single release “Strong One.” With this new single, Claypool has again begun climbing the country music charts nationally.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., Claypool considers himself a “Southern” singer/songwriter. While he is adept at many musical genres, he concedes that the Mississippi Delta continues to run deepest throughout his musical influences.

With his first CD, Circus Leaving Town, Claypool garnered national critical acclaim, including USA Today’s Top 10 Country Album of 1995.

This special performance is presented by the Granada Theatre Concert Series, and sponsored by Sarah and Roger Chrisman.

“Upstairs at the G!” performances are part of a special concert series held in the McCune Founder’s Room with popular contemporary artists in an intimate setting limited to 120 seats, offering an up-close musical experience unlike anything else in Santa Barbara.

Ticket price is $53 and is available through the Granada Theatre’s Box Office. Please click here to purchase, or call the box office at 805.899.2222.

For all sponsorship opportunities, please contact Kristi Newton, director of development, by phone at 805.451.2932 or via email at knewton@granadasb.org.

— Sydney Gardner is a publicist representing the Granada Theatre.

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Guadalupe Council OKs Garbage, Wastewater Rate Hikes

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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With Guadalupe sewer and garbage funds short of money, the City Council reluctantly agreed Tuesday to hike the fees, approving increases, some of which will take place over several years, in an effort to stem financial woes.

The approval of the rate hikes came after the council held two hearings, neither of which gathered the required number of protests but still attracted several speakers in opposition. More than 100 written protests were submitted, far short of the needed number of 867 for parcels or 980 for ratepayers.

“It’s a tough one,” Councilman Ariston Julian said, adding the council and staff understand the city’s residents don’t have a lot of money. “It’s a use-based charge — we use it, we have to pay for it.”

The garbage hike passed on a 3-0 vote. Councilman Jerry Beatty recused himself since he works for the city’s garbage collection contractor, Waste Management; Councilwoman Virginia Ponce was absent.

The wastewater increase was adopted by a 4-0 vote.

The city garbage rate will rise 19 percent spread out over more than four years with the first boosts planned June 1 and Aug. 1 of this year. The wastewater rate will climb 30 percent, effective June 1. 

“The reason is that the fund balance for the garbage is in the negative, in the red.” City Administrator Andrew Carter said, later echoing similar status for the city’s wastewater fund.

The separate rate hikes are blamed on a number of problems most of which originated several years ago including a catastrophic collapse of an underground sewage line, a loan that must be repaid to the state and the prior staff’s failure to pass along several years of increases from the trash contractor.

The shortage in those special accounts is in addition to the money woes affecting the Guadalupe general fund, that put the future of the small city in doubt until voters approved in November three measures to generate revenue. 

On Tuesday night, Miguel Hernandez from Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) called for the council to consider fair and equitable rates, based on the amount of wastewater or trash generated. Others noted the small city’s high number of poor residents unable to shoulder increases.

“Take into consideration where we are and who resides here and then decide the rate increase,” said Jorge Gil, a local homeowner.

As of June 30, the trash fund had a negative balance of $280,000, Carter said, explaining the debt can be traced to 2002 and auditors annually spotlight the problem. Even with the increases the fund balance won’t return to zero until June 30, 2020, Carter said.

The garbage rate hike is needed for several reasons, including that previous city officials failed to pass along to customers when Waste Management implemented an annual increase, according to Carter. 

“Unfortunately in the past, the city did not always increase the rates on an annual basis but waited,” he said.  

Complicating Guadalupe's situation is that it hires Waste Management to collect garbage but the city handles billing.

This has led to a big discrepancy in the number of customers the city bills compared to the number of customers Waste Management said it collects garbage from in the city.

And thirdly, the city borrowed money $180,000 from the affordable housing fund from 2002 through 2007. That’s also caused the balance to go negative.

The proposal calls for a 6 percent hike followed by 3 percent increases for the next four years and a 1 percent hike.

These increases would be in addition to normal Consumer Price Index hike called for under the city’s contract with its contractor, Waste Management Inc.

The current rate for a 15-gallon can is $14.78 a month and climb to $15.67 June 1. Five addition increases are planned Aug. 1, beginning this year and continuing until Aug. 1, 2019 when the rate would rise to $19.17.

Carter said that annual increase is included in the proposed rates shown.

Over the last eight years, the CPI adjustment averages 1.2 percent “so it’s pretty low,” Carter said. 

The wastewater increase is due to the 2013 failure of a critical sewage line that collapsed, requiring expensive repairs.

Additionally, the former city staff borrowed money from another fund, a loan the state has insisted must be repaid, Carter said.

If the city didn’t take steps to solve the money problem, the fund balance would climb to negative $710,000 by June, according to Carter.

With the increase the monthly wastewater rate would go to $34.97, up from current rate of $27.28, he said. 

In addition to the huge debt, some critical sewer lines needs to be upgraded and expanded. One line is at risk of spilling out of the manholes, which if that happened would cause huge fines.

"Not only do we need to correct the current negative fund balance we need to start saving money to make these improvements," Carter said.

Even with the increase the sewer rates will still be blow the average for northern Santa Barbara County, Carter added.

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

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Santa Barbara Council Designates Direct Relief Development a ‘Community Benefit Project’

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Plans for airport property the nonprofit is purchasing from the city call for building a facility that includes a 100,000-square-foot warehouse

Direct Relief will have more room to build a new facility if needed now that the Santa Barbara City Council has deemed the development a “community benefit.”

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the council gave the go-ahead to craft a resolution finding the proposed development at 6100 Hollister Ave. a Community Benefit Project per city code, allocating 80,000 square feet of nonresidential floor area to the project and reserving an additional 30,000 square feet for future development.

The resolution will come back to the council for final approval.

Goleta-based Direct Relief, which directs efforts and medical assistance to people around the world who have been affected by poverty, natural disasters or civil unrest, is set to pay the city between $6.5 million and $8.5 million for six to eight acres of Santa Barbara Airport land, depending on final development plans.

The parcel would be subdivided, with the northern 8.5 acres going to the nonprofit to build a facility that would quadruple the space of its current headquarters at 27 S. La Patera Lane.

As operator of the largest charitable medicines program in the country, Direct Relief is in need of more warehouse space.

Santa Barbara’s Nonresidential Growth Management Program ordinance— approved by the city in 2013 — limits total new nonresidential growth to 1.35 million square feet over 20 years, of which 600,000 square feet is reserved for Community Benefit Projects.

Because Direct Relief isn’t a for-private agency, and since it falls within three qualifying categories of “community benefit,” the council approved the designation.

Those three categories are community priority projects, economic development projects and development plan-new automobile sales projects.

“This is not just a benefit for people overseas in horrible situations,” City Councilman Dale Francisco said, but a vital backup asset for local emergency-response services.

The project involves building a facility to include a 100,000-square-foot warehouse (with a potential increase to 130,000 square feet), an attached two-story 25,000 square-foot administrative office building, a truck yard loading area, 152 parking spaces, and approximately 4,970 square feet of outdoor dining area.

Direct Relief would also add a public street to run east to west between the newly subdivided parcels, and the existing on-site six main buildings and five outbuildings would be demolished.

Of the project’s proposed 155,000 square feet, 110,000 square feet would be community benefit, or 19 percent of the 581,310 square feet available for these projects over the next 18 years.

To date, the council has allocated 18,690 square feet from the community benefit category to two projects: the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and a proposed Tesla Inc. dealership.

Associate city planner Kathleen Kennedy said Direct Relief could still acquire fewer than the maximum 8.5 acres or decide to build the extra 30,000 square feet of warehouse space at another time, depending on fundraising.

Direct Relief CEO Thomas Tighe, who was on hand to explain the nonprofit’s benefits nationwide, previously told Noozhawk construction could begin in 2016.

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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‘American Horror Story’ Actor, SBCC Graduate Ben Woolf Dies from Head Injury

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Ben Woolf, a graduate of Santa Barbara City College who gained fame as an actor on the American Horror Story TV series, died this week from head injuries suffered in an accident near Los Angeles.

Ben Woolf (American Horror Story Facebook photo)

Woolf, 34, died Monday while recovering from being struck by a car while crossing a street in Hollywood last week, according to news reports and IMDB.

He was remembered Tuesday by former colleagues at the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County, where he worked for seven years as a preschool teacher at Goleta Head Start after graduating from SBCC’s early childhood education program in 2003.

Woolf had since moved to Los Angeles, where he played Meep on American Horror Story: Freak Show and was also a preschool teacher.

The CAC posted a message about Woolf’s passing on its Facebook page.

“We are very saddened to hear about the passing away of Ben Woolf today,” the organization wrote late Monday. “He was recently honored in Moscow for his acting and unfortunately was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles. We send our condolences to his family and friends.”

Woolf, who was 4-foot-4, was diagnosed at a young age with pituitary dwarfism, a diagnosis he called a “challenge” during a recent video interview about his role on the popular FX network show.

In the video, Woolf said he enjoyed being a preschool teacher because kids were fun, while adults sometimes didn’t treat him as a peer.

“I love it because when you’re with children, you kind of live in a different world that doesn’t have any rules,” he said. “It’s more imagination.”

Woolf was beloved by his Head Start co-workers, who recruited him out of SBCC and were sad to see him leave in September 2010, CAC Executive Director Fran Forman said.

She said the last anyone had heard about Woolf was earlier this month, when he was honored for his acting in Moscow, Russia.

“He was a wonderful and loving teacher,” Forman told Noozhawk. “I knew he was a nice, warm, loving teacher who loved the kids, and the kids loved him. I know that he was a very loved person.

“I think he’s so not a ‘horror’ person; he’s a very kind person. I really felt good that he was in our classroom. He had just gotten his break, so that’s why it’s so sad.”

A memorial service is reportedly planned for somewhere in Santa Barbara in coming weeks, but no details were available Tuesday.

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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CHP Identifies Driver, Passenger in Fatal Highway 101 Crash

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Raymond A. Fear II has been identified by the the California Highway Patrol as the driver of a vehicle that rolled over Sunday night south of Orcutt, killing a female passenger and landing him under arrest.

The passenger, Lindsey Marie Swallom, 32, of Santa Maria, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which occurred on northbound Highway 101 near the top of Solomon Grade, the CHP said.

Fear, 41, of Santa Maria was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment of a fractured clavicle following the crash.

Upon his release from the hospital, Fear was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

The CHP said the 2001 Chevrolet SUV Fear was driving crashed at about 8:30 p.m.

Fear freed himself from the wreckage, but Swallom was ejected. She was not wearing a seat belt, the CHP said.

Fear was determined to be under the influence of alcohol, the CHP said.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office has filed one count of gross vehicle manslaughter while intoxicated against Fear, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Paul Greco.

The crash was one of a series within a short time frame in northern Santa Barbara County Sunday night as a rain storm passed through 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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Santa Barbara MTD Unveils New ‘Bendy Bus’ to Help with SBCC Passenger Load

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Local students make up a large portion of the passengers riding the 15x line, and the extra-long buses will help meet growing demand

Over a million bus trips were taken by students enrolled at Santa Barbara City College last year, and on Monday, Santa Barbara's Metropolitan Transportation District unveiled a new articulated, or "bendy," bus to help with that passenger load.

MTD now has three bendy buses, including the one that was introduced on Monday morning at its business office, each capable of hauling 112 passengers during each trip.

All three of the extra-long buses run on the 15x line, which is an express line that runs from SBCC to Isla Vista, with stops on both SBCC campuses and then alternately stops on El Colegio in Isla Vista as well as Storke Road in Goleta.

Last year, 262,000 trips were taken by SBCC students on the 15x.

"We just ran out of capacity is what it was," MTD General Manager Jerry Estrada said.

Two of the buses have been running since Jan. 20, according to Estrada, and had great success since.

"It's been fantastic," he said, adding that the new buses add a 40 percent capacity increase to each bus.

The district has seen demand "growing over the years," he said, adding that in 2012, the district brought in a bendy bus to do a month-long trial to see how it would fit into the community.

"We're really pleased to be able to provide this," he said.

All three articulated buses cost the district about $2.2 million, which was spent by the district from its capital fund.

SBCC students pay $30 a semester when they enroll, granting them a special pass and unlimited trips on any MTD line with a student identification card.

Estrada said he met on campus with students last week and they were "overwhelmingly appreciative."

As for the future and whether ridership will continue to increase, "we think three (buses) is enough for now," he said, adding the district is always trying to evaluate demand.

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

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Santa Barbara Agrees to Settle District Elections Lawsuit

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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The City of Santa Barbara could begin conducting by-district elections this November, under terms of a tentative court settlement announced Tuesday.

Santa Barbara City Council members unanimously voted in closed session Tuesday afternoon to approve the partial settlement of a lawsuit that alleged the city was violating the California Voting Rights Act by holding at-large City Council elections, according to City Attorney Ariel Pierre Calonne.

The case, which was brought by several Latino registered city voters who allege the at-large system dilutes their votes, had been set to go to trial April 6 before Superior Court Judge Donna Geck.

Under settlement terms, City Council retains the power to draw the new district electoral boundaries and plans to host a series of workshops to collect public input, beginning this Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Faulkner Gallery at the Central Library at 40 East Anapamu St.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Barry Cappello, points to the lack of Latino representation on the City Council despite that fact that 38 percent of the city’s population is Latino or Hispanic.

Council members previously decided to put the issue on the November 2015 ballot, letting voters decide whether they support an election voting system with six council districts and one at-large mayor. If approved, district elections could’ve taken effect for the November 2017 election.

Plaintiffs requested a nonjury trial, and soon, so they could potentially get a judgment before this year's at-large election in November.

According to a statement from the city, all but one of five plaintiffs — Cruzito Herrera Cruz — is involved in the tentative settlement, which is pending further assurances from plaintiffs and their attorney.

Plaintiffs still involved include Frank Banales, Sebastian Aldana Jr., Jacqueline Inda and Benjamin Cheverez.

Cappello will ask a judge to remove Cruz from the lawsuit on Friday for reasons the attorney didn’t wish to share Tuesday.
 
“It’s a watershed moment in the history of the city,” he told Noozhawk. “A large percentage of the city will now have an opportunity to have adequate representation. It settles a huge dispute.”

City Council will host another public workshop March 18 before conducting hearings to finalize geographical district boundaries on March 24 and March 30.

After that, the city will ask the Santa Barbara Superior Court to issue a final judgment approving the plans.

Cappello said he and the plaintiffs will attend the hearings, presenting a district-drawing expert’s plans focused on creating two districts where Latino voters will make up the voting majority, all while complying with federal and state voting rights law.

The districts would likely be on the city’s east and west sides, where he said that population is concentrated, encompassing about 14,500 people in each, along with the other four districts.

In 2021, the city plans to appoint an Independent Redistricting Commission of three retired state or federal judges to draw a redistricting map, which would be in effect through 2031. 

The City Council would take over redistricting thereafter.

If both parties disagree on what a final map should look like, the Superior Court would resolve the districting dispute.

If they agree, and a judge certifies the map before June, Cappello said the new system would take effect in November, when three council seats are up for election. Three more seats are up in November 2017.

“The Council is pleased that the crucial process of designing electoral districts will be conducted in open and public hearings during February and March,” Mayor Helene Schneider said in a statement. “With a robust website and at least four public hearing opportunities, we believe the settlement respects and protects key democratic principles guaranteeing the whole community’s ability to have a voice in the district mapping process.”

The city will pay the plaintiffs’ attorney fees, amounting to $599,500, and will create an interactive website to facilitate and encourage public participation in the districting process, hopefully available before Saturday.

In a statement, the city said those fees “represent a small fraction of the city’s potential liability if the case had gone to trial,” since other cities have paid as much $3.5 million.

Additional attorneys’ fees and costs will be paid at the end of the district-mapping process.  

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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Jim Hightower: The KBParty of Plutocratic Rule — What the Supreme Court Wrought

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Shouldn't America have at least one major party that isn't beholden to the corporate elite?

Well, don't look now, but such a party has recently popped up, raring to roar into the 2016 presidential race.

Called the KBParty, it has the funding, political network and expertise needed to bypass the establishment's control of the election system. But don't rush to sign up: KB stands for Koch Brothers.

Yes, Charlie and David — the multimillionaire, far-out, right-wing industrial barons who already own several congress critters, governors, political think tanks, PR outfits, academics, astroturf campaign machines, front groups, etc. — now have the equivalent of their very own, private political party.

And their party is not beholden to the corporate elite, since it is the elite. The Koch boys have rallied roughly 300 like-minded, super-rich corporate oligarchs to their brotherhood of plutocrats, and this clique is intent on purchasing a president and congressional majority to impose their version of corporate rule over America.

Won't that be awfully pricey, you ask? Ha — that's not a question that acquisitive billionaires ever ask. For starters, at a secretive retreat in January for KBParty funders, the 300 barons ponied up some $900 million for the campaign they are launching. That's nearly $200 million more than the combined expenditures of the Republican and Democratic parties in last year's elections, and it's way more than either of those parties will have for 2016.

This means that, in our nation of 350 million people, a cabal of only 300 of America's wealthiest, self-serving corporatists will wield predominate power over the elections. This tiny club will have the wherewithal to narrow the choice of candidates presented to the rest of us, the range of policy ideas that are proposed to voters, the overall tone of the campaign year, and — most important — the governing agenda of those who get elected.

The KBParty of Plutocratic Rule is brought to you by the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United edict. After the court's 2010 democracy-mugging decree that corporations would henceforth be allowed to dump unlimited amounts of their shareholders' money into our election campaigns, a guy named Larry sent a hot email to me that perfectly summed up what had just been done to us: "Big money has plucked our eagle!"

The black-robed corporatists' freakish Citizens United ruling has already let the KBParty amass their unprecedented electioneering fund, setting them up as the godfathers of Tea Party Republicanism. Supposedly proud candidates for governor, Congress and even such presidential wannabes as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are shamelessly scurrying to the money throne to kiss the Koch ring, do a song and dance, grovel and pledge fealty to the brotherhood's extremist plutocratic agenda.

But big money is plucking our eagle not only because it corrupts candidates but also because it is used to deny crucial information to voters and greatly diminish their participation in what has become a farce. First of all, the biggest chunk of cash spent by the KBParty will go right into a mind-boggling squall of television ads, none of which will explain who they're for and why. Rather, they will be nauseatingly negative attack ads, brimming with optical trickery and outright lies to trash the candidates they're against. Worse, voters will not even be informed that the garbage they're watching is paid for by the Koch cabal, since another little favor the Supreme Court granted to the corporate plutocrats is that they can run secret campaigns, using their front groups as screens to keep voters from knowing what special interests are behind the ads — and why.

We saw the impact of secret, unrestricted corporate money in last year's midterm elections. It produced a blight of negativity, a failure of the system to address the people's real needs, an upchuck factor that kept nearly two-thirds of the people from voting, and a rising alienation of the many from the political process and government owned by the few. The Koch machine spent about $400 million to get those results. This time, they'll spend more than twice that.

To help ban the corporate cash that's clogging America's democratic process and killing our people's right to self-government, go to DemocracyIsForPeople.org.

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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George Runner: California Needs a Simpler Gas Tax, Not a Higher One

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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With prices at the pump heading back up, news of a cut to the state’s gas tax will surely cheer California drivers.

George Runner
George Runner

On Tuesday, the State Board of Equalization approved a 6 cent-per-gallon cut to the state’s gas tax. The change, which will take effect July 1, is based on a complicated formula enacted by the Legislature in 2010.

While California drivers will surely welcome news of a cut, there are some who would rather see gas taxes go up. They think you should be sending more dollars, not fewer, to Sacramento.

But let’s be honest, government already has more than enough of your dollars. Californians pay about 64 cents per gallon in taxes and fees — the second-highest rate in the nation. In reality, we have the nation’s highest gas tax once you include the new hidden gas tax imposed by regulators to help fund the state’s anti-global-warming efforts.

Californians must even pay taxes on their taxes. That’s double taxation — and it’s wrong.

California’s gas tax is so confusing and complicated that even news reporters don’t understand it. Recent media reports have painted an incomplete and misleading picture of state gas tax revenues. One story erroneously claimed that “state gas tax revenues that pay for roads have been falling for a decade.”

The truth is that while consumption has slipped somewhat, California’s revenues from gas and diesel sales have grown in nine of the past 10 fiscal years. California’s fuel tax revenues have grown nearly every year.

During the past 10 fiscal years, sales and excise tax revenues from fuel sales grew by nearly 35 percent — from $6.5 billion to a record $8.7 billion.

Breaking these numbers down, gas-tax-related revenues grew from $5.5 billion to a record $7.4 billion, while diesel-tax-related revenues rose from $1 billion to a record $1.3 billion between fiscal year 2004-05 and 2013-14.

California doesn’t need higher taxes; instead we need a simpler gas tax that is easy to understand and administer. And, most importantly, we need to ensure our gas tax dollars are invested wisely and cost-effectively, rather than wasted on bureaucracy and bullet trains.

The gas tax used to be straightforward. A sticker on the gas pump told consumers how much they were paying in federal and state taxes. The revenue collected paid for vital transportation needs, like improving roads and highways.

Unfortunately, revenue-hungry politicians starting raiding the state’s unprotected transportation fund in order to plug budget holes or fund their pet projects. Voters responded by passing Propositions 42 and 1A, in an effort to stop the Legislature from stealing transportation dollars.

Runner

In 2010, legislators got creative and had their budget wonks devise a bizarrely complex system that would allow them to grab a billion dollars from the highway fund.

Dubbed the “fuel tax swap,” the new law raised the excise tax while lowering sales tax on gas purchases. To guard against revenue loss, the law required the state Board of Equalization to annually adjust the state’s excise tax rate.

One thing is certain: California consumers have no idea who is determining the state’s gas tax rates or why. They also don’t know where their money is being spent or why California has the worst roads in the nation when we’re paying the most in taxes.

Following Oregon’s lead, the California Legislature has ordered Caltrans to create a “Road Usage Charge Pilot Program” to be implemented in 2017. The goal of the program is to study mileage-based alternatives to the gas tax.

At first blush, a mileage tax might seem simpler and fairer. But do we really want government officials to know where we’ve been and how many miles we drive each year? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a government auditor in my car.

Taxes should be simple and clear. Unfortunately, in California “tax reform” is nearly always code for taking more of people’s money to grow government.

So while Californians may deserve a simpler tax system, I’m not holding my breath we’ll get one anytime soon.

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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Los Padres National Forest Seeks Public Comment on OHV Grant Application

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Los Padres National Forest officials on Tuesday announced that recreation managers are seeking public comments on proposals for the State of California Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) grant program.

Los Padres is proposing to submit four grant applications, including projects for ground operations, law enforcement, OHV route maintenance planning and Ballinger Campground toilet replacement.

The state is using an Internet-based “Online Grant Application” process as the means to apply for grant funding. Preliminary applications are due March 2.

This will open a month-long public review and comment period that runs from March 3 to April 6. The final grant applications are due May 4.

Forest officials are encouraging interested parties to discuss and provide input into the development of the grant applications and provide comments.

An OHV public open house will be held Saturday, Feb. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Ballinger Campground at the Mount Pinos Ranger District. Ballinger Campground is located at the end of Ballinger Canyon Road three and a half miles east of Highway 33.

After May 3, preliminary application will be available for public review and comment online by visiting the California State OHV Grants and Cooperative Agreements program by clicking here. Hard copies may be requested by contacting Jeff Bensen at 805.961.5744.

Written comments should be submitted via email (click here) or mailed to Los Padres National Forest at 6755 Hollister Ave., Suite 150, Goleta, CA 93117.

The State of California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Los Padres National Forest have maintained a successful partnership for more than 27 years, with funding assistance for well-managed OHV recreation on National Forest lands.

— Andrew Madsen represents Los Padres National Forest.

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Williams Co-Introduces Bill to Help Reach Governor’s 50% Renewable Energy Target by 2030

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, and Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, on Tuesday introduced Assembly Bill 645, which aims to help achieve Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change goals by implementing a renewable energy target of 50 percent by 2030.

California leads the nation in developing and implementing successful clean energy policies. The California Renewables Portfolio Standard has been a tremendous success and we are now on target to achieve 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.

"Thanks to the governor's leadership, we are now poised to raise our goals to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our energy system cleaner and more sustainable.  Getting half of our energy from renewable energy is an essential part of that effort,” Williams said. “Local people want to improve the world with their energy sources, not make it worse. This legislation will help make that possible.”

“AB 645 represents the beginning of a discussion on how California will achieve 50 percent of our energy use from renewable sources,” said Rendon, joint author of AB 645. “I look forward to working with Assemblyman Williams and our Assembly colleagues on developing a comprehensive plan to tackling our climate change challenges.”

Few industries in the U.S. are growing as fast as renewable energy. As a result, renewable energy jobs are growing rapidly in everything from manufacturing to installation to maintenance. This emerging industry has created thousands of jobs while reducing harmful air pollutants, lowering carbon pollution, and creating a more diverse resource in our energy supply.

— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.

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John Daly: How to Get Employee Commitment

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Are you part of a business setting in which employees don’t follow directions well? Are you a boss or team leader frustrated by employees who don’t make your assignments happen?

Case in point: A business owner I know held a large meeting with his employees. At the end of the meeting, he invited everyone to dinner to thank them for their hard work. Unfortunately, he left the office and never told his employees where to go for dinner. He assumed they knew where to go.

To try to guess where he meant, his employees went to several places the boss usually goes. However, he wasn’t there.

They all ended up frustrated and angry with the boss, while he sat in the restaurant waiting for them and thinking they blew him off. He became angry, and everyone went home upset. The moral of the story: If you do not tell people where you want them to go, you can’t expect them to get there.

To obtain employee commitment and follow-through, managers must communicate to their team why they need to do things instead of what they should do.

Instructing employees on what to do generally results in their trying to follow your directions without understanding the mission. In addition, they may not even be aware that they are going in the wrong direction, since all they’re doing is following instructions.

The Solution — Provide Goals and Objectives

It is much easier to have your team achieve your goals and objectives if you coach them on why they are supposed to do certain tasks. Tell them your goals and objectives for specific tasks.

It makes it so much easier for employees to figure out what to do to get there because they are actually closer to the action. They most likely will find better ways to do things rather than you having to try to micromanage them with blow-by-blow instructions.

You will build a feeling of trust and commitment if you let them devise how to get things done. Even if they require guidance on what to do, it will be based on a specific objective.

Finally, it is imperative that companies provide and emphasize their mission statements to employees. A mission statement is at the core of any business’ existence. It should be on the walls, in the employee manual and the purpose of every goal and objective.

So, to get employee commitment and meaningful action, management must always direct employees as to why things have to be done rather than just what employees should do.

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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Letter to the Editor: Support Petition to Preserve Historic Gas Station in Goleta

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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We would like to encourage the Goleta City Council to support the efforts by Tom Modugno and his petition to designate the 1927 Barnsdall-Rio Grande filling station at the western end of Hollister Avenue as a city landmark.

We have tried for years to protect this historic landmark. A GVHS sign was placed at the station about 30 years ago. The history is described in my book titled Looking Back published in 1991.

The present golf course owners do not seem interested in maintaining it. The prior owners had renovated the structure and used it as a sales office for their real estate development project. However, they have left long ago.

It is in the middle of developments on west Hollister and is an outstanding example of Goleta early history in that area.

Please give this petition your serious consideration.

Justin and Ann Ruhge
Goleta

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Capps Reintroduces Bill to Ensure Equal Benefits for Federal Firefighters

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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On Tuesday, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan  of Pennsylvania reintroduced the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, legislation that would help ensure federal firefighters could obtain the disability benefits they deserve if they were harmed through the hazards of their service.

It will bring parity to federal and nonfederal firefighters who serve our communities.

Numerous studies have found heart disease, lung disease, certain cancers, and other infectious diseases to be occupational hazards of firefighting. Most municipal firefighters are automatically able to get disability coverage when they are diagnosed with such illnesses. However, current law requires federal firefighters — those who protect national forests, military installations, nuclear facilities and VA hospitals, and are regularly exposed to toxic substances, biohazards, temperature extremes and stress — to overcome a higher burden of proof to receive coverage by pinpointing the precise incident or exposure that caused the disease. This is not feasible and leaves many federal firefighters sick and without the care they have earned.

“Our firefighters risk their lives to protect our families and communities, and often suffer serious injuries and illnesses as a result,” Capps said. “This bill will go a long way toward ensuring every firefighter — including federal firefighters such as the Vandenberg Hot Shots and National Forest firefighters in Los Padres — receives the care that they need and deserve.”

“Firefighters have dangerous jobs, and every day they put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” Meehan said. “But current law treats federal firefighters differently when it comes to disability benefits. Federal firefighters face the same risks and dangers as our local first responders, and they should have the same protections under the law as well. This legislation ends the inequity and ensures they are treated fairly.”

“I applaud Reps. Capps and Meehan for reintroducing the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act," said Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Firefighters. “By creating a rebuttable presumption that federal fire fighters who become disabled by occupational illnesses contracted such illnesses as a result of their job, this important legislation will go a long way to help such fire fighters receive their hard-earned benefits.”

Capps, along with four other members, first introduced a similar bill in 2001. In 2005, Capps was the co-lead sponsor on the bill, and since 2007 Capps has introduced the FFFA each Congress, along with several Republican co-leads.

The bill is supported by the International Association of Firefighters, the Congressional Fire Services Institute and the National Fire Protection Association.

Currently, 42 states have some presumptive disability laws for municipal or state firefighters. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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

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Renowned Santa Barbara Dr. Erno Daniel Dies at 68

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Dr. Erno Scipiades Daniel died suddenly and unexpectedly at his Santa Barbara home on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. He was 68 years old.

Erno Daniel
Dr. Erno Scipiades Daniel

Dr. Daniel was a loving husband, father and grandfather, and will be missed dearly by his loving wife, four children and their families.

Dr. Daniel was born on Dec. 15, 1946, in Budapest, Hungary. He was the son of professional musicians Dr. Erno and Katinka Daniel. Dr. Daniel was a young child during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and its aftermath, the events of which transpired mere blocks from his childhood home in Budapest. To celebrate his 60th birthday, his entire family joined him for an unforgettable trip to Hungary and Romania.

As a teenager, Dr. Daniel immigrated to the United States in 1960 with his mother and sister where they were reunited with his father who had fled Hungary a decade earlier. Dr. Daniel became a United States citizen in 1964. He was a proud American who believed deeply in American ideals and held strong convictions about the great freedoms and responsibilities we enjoy as American citizens.

Dr. Daniel was a graduate of the Santa Barbara High School class of 1964, and in 1968 he received an undergraduate degree in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Daniel received a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego, writing his thesis on magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In 1975, he completed his M.D. at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, and he completed his residency training in internal medicine at UCLA in 1978.

Dr. Daniel met the love of his life, Martha Peaslee, at the UCLA Medical Center, where she was a registered nurse. In a true love story, they married in Martha’s childhood hometown of Stillwater, Minn., on Aug. 14, 1976, less than six months after their first date. At the time of his death they had been happily married over 38 years.

Being a husband and father were the greatest joys of Dr. Daniel’s life. Erno and Martha have four children: Kristina, Michael, Mary and Monica. Dr. Daniel had an unwavering commitment to his family and his greatest happiness was being with them.

Professionally, Dr. Daniel was a renowned physician who practiced since 1978 at the Sansum Clinic (formerly the Santa Barbara Medical Foundation Clinic) in Santa Barbara. Early in his career, Dr. Daniel pursued an interest in the developing medical specialty of geriatric medicine, and was among the first physicians in the United States to be board certified in the specialty. He had special interests in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and he lectured across the country and was the author of textbook chapters, papers and a variety of educational materials on the topics.

For his work, Dr. Daniel was recognized by the Alzheimer's Association's Santa Barbara chapter with its 2001 Leadership Award. At the time of his death, Dr. Daniel also served as the medical director of the Vista del Monte Rehabilitation and Care Center and was on the medical and scientific advisory board of the Center for Cognitive Fitness and Innovative Therapies of Santa Barbara. In 2008, Dr. Daniel published a book, Stealth Germs in Your Body, which received national attention.

Dr. Daniel was a special kind of doctor whose story is best told by the numerous patients and families whose lives he touched. He was a master diagnostician who remembered every medical and personal detail about his patients. He will be greatly missed by his many colleagues at the Sansum Clinic and Cottage Hospital, his loyal patients whom he treated as family, and their families.

Dr. Daniel is survived by the love of his life, Martha Peaslee Daniel, and their four children and their families: Kristina Daniel Lawson and her husband, Matt Lawson, of Walnut Creek, Calif.; Michael Peaslee Daniel and his wife, Erica Lash Daniel, of Truckee, Calif.; Mary Daniel Gullett and her husband, Randy Gullett, of Foster City, Calif.; and Monica Ann Daniel and her boyfriend, Andre Shevchuck, of Pleasant Hill, Calif. Dr. Daniel was the proud grandfather of Katherine Lawson (10), Graham Lawson (5), Tyler Daniel (3), Molly Daniel (1), Jonathan Gullett (5) and Evan Gullett (1). Dr. Daniel was thrilled to be expecting his seventh grandchild — a boy — who is due to be born in the summer of 2015.

Dr. Daniel is also survived by his sister, Alexa Maland, her husband, Lynn, and their two children, Daniel and Sarah of Salt Lake City, Utah, and by his first cousin and lifelong best friend, Dr. Peter Patkos, and his family, of Budapest, Hungary. In recent years, he enjoyed a special friendship with his sister-in-law, Ann Bunce, and her husband, Dr. Brian Bunce, of Stillwater, Minnesota. He was incredibly fond of his West Highland Terrier, Ollie.

Dr. Daniel was predeceased by his parents, Erno and Katinka Daniel, and by his in-laws, Ernest and Mary Peaslee.

A funeral Mass is planned for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 at our Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 1300 East Valley Road in Montecito. A celebration of his life will follow the Mass at The Fess Parker Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.

As he wished, Dr. Daniel will be buried at a later date in Stillwater, Minn., alongside Martha’s family.

Dr. Daniel spent his entire professional career at the Sansum Clinic and loved practicing medicine in Santa Barbara. The family extends special thanks to Dr. Thomas Beamer, Dr. Thomas Jones, Dr. Joseph Aragon and Dr. Kurt Ransohoff.

Memorial donations may be made to the Sansum Clinic in the name of Dr. Erno Daniel.

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Transitions-MHA Receives Grant from Women’s Fund to Help Launch New Social Enterprise

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Transitions-Mental Health Association has received a $25,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County to help launch a new social enterprise, Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts in Santa Maria.

The grant opportunity was specifically intentioned for mental wellness, substance abuse and job training.

Grant funding will allow the new Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts retail store to employ mental-health services consumers for the positions in retail store management and coordination, and retail sales. Grant funds will provide wages for these positions. The grant is also responsible for our ability to launch the store, making it a reality.

In addition, the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation donated $40,000 in November to the Growing Grounds Vocational Advocates Program in Northern Santa Barbara County. Of those funds, $2,500 will be devoted to the Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts store’s operations budget in 2014-2015, leveraging the Women’s Fund donation.

“This grant opens up a wonderful opportunity for head of household women to do healing craftwork at a time that suits their family needs and can bring in some additional income,” said Frank Ricceri, TMHA’s associate director for Northern Santa Barbara County. “The Women’s Fund has made a leap of faith in funding TMHA’s fourth social enterprise. We are all so grateful for their generosity and trust.”

Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts is a project conceived of by mental health consumers from TMHA's Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs) in Lompoc and Santa Maria. The gallery and gift store occupies a small retail space in Rancho Hermosa, a mixed-use development in Santa Maria, where the Santa Maria RLC is housed. The gallery and gift store is run entirely by TMHA client-employees and displays and sells artwork and handcrafted items produced exclusively by members of the Recovery Learning Communities. Items are sold on consignment from the maker.

Growing Grounds Gallery & Gifts provides traditional employment opportunities to staff members who have the opportunity to develop retail experience and a consistent source of income. Members also educate the public about contributions of persons with mental illness by interacting and engaging with community members through the gallery. Work has long been recognized as beneficial to mental health and is seen as an important element in recovery. The gallery provides a source of empowerment and a means towards self-determination and increased self-esteem so essential to the recovery process.

For handcrafted jewelry, soaps, books and fine art, visit the gallery and gift store at 225 E. Inger Drive, Suite 101B in Santa Maria. It is open from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call the store at 805.623.5027.

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara County has awarded 64 grants totaling $4.7 million to local nonprofit agencies, since 2004. The grants benefit thousands of women, children and families within the greater Santa Barbara area. To learn more about the organization, call 805.963.1873 or click here.

— Shannon McOuat is the community outreach manager for the Transitions-Mental Health Association.

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Santa Barbara High School Sailing Team Places Third in Weekend Regatta

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Members of Rotary Club of Goleta Help Restore Eyesight in Mexico

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Members of the Rotary Club of Goleta returned home this week from a humanitarian trip to Morelia, Mexico, where they worked to help restore eyesight to people in need.

The group, led by Martin Senn, included Evelyn Senn and fellow Rotarians Jay Wright and Catherine Remak. They represented eight local Rotary groups who together raised funds to donate a new Faco machine used for cataract surgery to a hospital in the state of Michoacán in central Mexico.

SEE International donated the supplies for 100 life-changing procedures that the Rotary team transported.

During their week in Mexico, the group teamed with a sister Rotary Club from Morelia, the Camelinas, and helped facilitate the free cataract surgeries to underprivileged adults. In many cases, people who were nearly blind when they came to the hospital, walked out the next day with no assistance.

The State Health Minister of Michocan, Dr. Carlos Estaban Aranza Doniz, visited the hospital to thank the traveling Rotarians and officially accept the donated Faco machine.

For more information on Rotary or upcoming humanitarian trips, contact Martin Senn at 805.857.6376 or msenn88@gmail.com.

— Catherine Remak is a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta.

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Cottage Health System Recognized as American Heart Association Fit-Friendly Worksite

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Cottage Health System has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association for helping employees eat better and move more. Cottage has earned the Platinum award each year since 2009.

“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Cottage, and we are committed to providing the best workplace environment possible,” said Patrice Ryan, vice president of human resources at Cottage Health System. “We are honored to receive the Platinum award for the sixth year.”

Platinum-level award, employers must exhibit the following:

» Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace.

» Increase healthy eating options at the worksite.

» Promote a wellness culture in the workplace.

» Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture.

» Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness.

Here are a few ways Cottage encourages employees to eat better and move more:

» Weekly Farmers Market at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital offering fresh, organic, locally grown produce

» Access to onsite fitness center for low fee

» Online Wellness Portal creates personalized health assessments that highlight health risks and offer education to improve health

» Option to participate in six-month health improvement program paid for by Cottage

» Outside fitness programs/activities reimbursed under the Wellness Benefit plan

American employers are losing an estimated $225.8 billion a year because of healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity, and those numbers are rising, according to the American Heart Association. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of regular physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone.

— Maria Zate is a spokeswoman for Cottage Health System.

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Tom Donohue: Unemployment of Young People Hinders Their Success and Nation’s

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Generations of Americans have been able to get ahead by working hard, earning an education or learning a skill, taking risks and sticking it out even in the face of adversity. One of our nation’s greatest responsibilities is to ensure that this bargain remains available. But for too many young people today, the American Dream seems to be slipping away — and it poses a threat not only to their prospects for success and stability but also to our nation’s economy and competitiveness.

More than 6 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of work and out of school and are at risk of being shut out of our economy. Those who get sucked into the opportunity gap are more likely to face a lifetime of struggles, including long-term joblessness, poverty, health problems, substance abuse and incarceration.

Young people who slip through the cracks also miss out on opportunities to contribute to our nation’s economic strength and competitiveness. The Urban Alliance estimates that every young adult who drops out of the economy will cost the country more than $700,000 in his or her lifetime by failing to contribute to economic growth and pay taxes, as well as increasing government spending through aid programs.

This is clearly a challenge that we can’t afford to ignore.

The key to solving youth unemployment is to equip young Americans with the skills they need to compete in the modern workforce. There are, after all, 4.8 million jobs sitting vacant because employers can’t find qualified candidates. We need to build bridges between young Americans who want to work and employers who need to hire people.

The business community, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is teaming up with nonprofit organizations to help build those bridges. It is working to highlight the value that young employees bring to the workplace, including fresh ideas, technological know-how and insights into emerging customer segments. It is helping employers develop strategies for recruiting, training and grooming young workers to contribute to a company’s long-term success. It is partnering with organizations to teach youth the soft skills, such as teamwork and communication, that are crucial to success. And it is leading efforts to address one of the fundamental drivers of the challenge — shortcomings in our public K–12 education system.

The foundation and its partners will shine a spotlight on the issue of youth unemployment at the National Opportunity Summit in Washington, D.C., this week. If we work together, we can give all young Americans the tools and the opportunity to participate in our economy, be productive members of society and pursue their dreams.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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UCSB Researchers Receive Funding to Study Effect of pH Variability on Kelp Forest Rockfish

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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As ocean acidification and warming continue to increase due to climate change, how will California fisheries respond? UC Santa Barbara’s Gretchen Hofmann is looking to answer that question. She is one of seven recipients of a California Sea Grant Core Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hofmann
Gretchen Hofmann

Hofmann’s research focuses on the impact of ocean acidification on the early life stages of cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus), a bottom-dwelling rockfish that inhabits California’s coastal kelp forests. Cabezon are fished for their delicious flavor.

To date, no studies in California examine the vulnerable early life stages of this highly prized fish. By studying how acidic conditions impact their early development the researchers expect to get an idea of how the community as a whole will be impacted in the future.

Scientists expect that coastal regions such as the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem will be highly vulnerable to ocean acidification in the future as the resident animal and plant life within kelp forests face an environment with inadequate oxygen and low pH. Hofmann’s project will examine the organism-environment interactions of cabezon eggs and larva and their relationship to levels of CO2 in the blood as well as oxygen levels and temperature in the kelp forest habitat.

Umihiko Hoshijima, a second-year graduate student in the Hofmann Lab, has already deployed SeaFET sensors in the Santa Barbara Channel to record pH levels and monitor the natural variability that arises from episodic upwelling. This type of event occurs when winds bring cold water up from ocean depths where the oxygen has been replaced by carbon dioxide (CO2).

“The pH of the water is directly related to the amount of CO2 in it, and the higher the CO2, the lower the pH,” said Hofmann, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “We want to explore the effect of pH variability on the really early life stages of this species. Do they hatch at different times? Do they grow at different times, at different rates? Do they use their yolk stores at different rates under different pH conditions?”

The sensors will document conditions within the kelp at an existing Santa Barbara Coastal Long-Term Ecological Research Project site at Mohawk Reef off the city’s Mesa area and at Arroyo Quemado between Refugio and Gaviota state beaches. Subsequently, Hoshijima will collect egg masses to rear in the laboratory under varied parameters based on sensor measurements. He will then track the growth, energy usage, oxygen consumption, temperature tolerance and survival capability of cabezon eggs.

“We’re able to co-locate sensors with biological experiments so that we are getting the physical data about the ocean using these oceanographic sensors but we’re also doing biological experiments that directly tie to that oceanographic work,” noted Hofmann. She is currently a Fulbright scholar to New Zealand, where she is collaborating with the local marine science community.

The project will also explore the importance of genetics and impacts on gene expression. For example, Hofmann and Hoshijima want to ascertain whether the genetic makeup of certain cabezon make them more resistant to pH change.

“I hope to get a better understanding of how cabezon might undergo change in the future as well as the mechanisms by which they are impacted,” said Hoshijima, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. “I want to delve not only into what’s happening but also why it’s happening on the biological level.”

Headquartered at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the National Sea Grant College Program is a network of 33 university-based programs dedicated to enhancing the understanding, conservation and sustainable use of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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

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Mindfulness Program Easing Student Stress at Kermit McKenzie Junior High

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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The sound of silence is reducing student stress and discipline issues at Kermit McKenzie Junior High School in Guadalupe.

Since school started this year, students have been using a stress-reduction strategy called the Mindfulness Program. The technique, which is catching on in school districts and elsewhere throughout the nation, uses breathing and concentration to decrease and curb behavioral issues and allows students to focus on learning.

And it's working: While the school has more than 400 students, disruptions have dropped by more than 200 incidents in several months at the campus, according to Principal Gabe Solorio.

"Overtime, we hope to see the results continue,'' Solorio said. "It's too soon to tell if the majority of the drop in incidents is completely from Mindfulness. Time will tell. It helps our students get focused and in the moment. It makes it easier for them to learn. Face it, kids come to school with a lot of distractions.''

Two times a day — in the morning and after lunch — students take five minutes to get "Calm, Alert and Ready to Learn" inside their classrooms. Teachers participate, too.

They begin with school counselor Luis Mendoza's voice over the intercom system. Mendoza instructs them to sit up straight, put their hands on their lap, close their eyes and relax for five minutes. He also tells them to control their breathing if their minds begin to wonder.

Sixth-grader Krystal Cervantes is a believer.

"It helps me relax and calm down from whatever,'' she said. "It makes it easier to learn for me and my friends. I like it.''

Teacher Terry Bauer agrees.

"They are better able to focus on the here and now,'' he said. "They are focusing in at the task at hand. Learning is why they are here.''

The Guadalupe Unified School District Board of Trustees approved use of the technique earlier this year.

— Kenny Klein is a spokesman for the Guadalupe Union School District.

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Truck Driver Arrested in Oxnard Metrolink Crash That Injured 28

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez is facing felony hit-and-run charges after allegedly leaving collision scene

A 54-year-old truck driver is facing felony charges stemming from a collision involving his vehicle and a Metrolink commuter train in Oxnard early Tuesday that sent 28 people to the hospital.

The crash occurred at about 5:40 a.m. at East Fifth Street and South Rice Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The driver, Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez of Yuma, Arizona, was arrested by Oxnard police on suspicion of felony hit and run with injury, said Assistant Police Chief Jason Benites.

"Given the circumstances, it's unusual that a person would go 1.6 miles away from an accident," Benites told reporters at an early evening press conference.

Responding to a question, Benites said, "I believe it is safe to say it was not a deliberate act."

Ramirez remained in custody Tuesday night.

The Ford F-450 truck and trailer that Ramirez was driving were abandoned on the railroad tracks prior to being struck by the train, which was heading south with 51 people on board, including crew, Benites said.

The train had left the Oxnard Transit Center a few minutes earlier. Officials said they did not know how fast the train was traveling, but the speed limit in that area is 79 mph.

Ramirez was found about 45 minutes later, walking along a road more than a mile and a half from the crash scene, Benites said.

He would not discuss statements Ramirez made to police, or whether investigators believe alcohol was involved.

Aftermath photos showed four train cars derailed, with some lying on their sides, as well as the charred wreckage of the F-450, which burst into flames after impact with the train.

Passengers, many wrapped in blankets, milled around while emergency personnel tended to the injured.

Battalion Chief Sergio Martinez of the Oxnard Fire Department said 28 people from the train were transported to local hospitals.

As of Tuesday evening, all but eight had been released, although four of them remained in intensive care, Martinez said.

Among the most seriously hurt was the train's engineer, whose name was not released.

The remaining 23 people on the train either were uninjured or were treated at the scene and released, Martinez said, adding that two of them subsequently sought treatment at local hospitals.

Thirteen ambulances were used to transport the victims to five Ventura County hospitals.

Crews examine the wreckage of a truck and trailer that were struck Tuesday by a Metrorail commuter train in Oxnard. (Kelsey Gerckens / KEYT News photo)

Ramirez was not injured, Benites said.

Ramirez was driving a work vehicle at the time of the crash, but Benites said he did not know whether he was working at the time. He also would not name the company that owned the truck, which was mostly empty at the time of the collision.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were on scene Tuesday afternoon, Martinez said.

Clean-up crews were standing by to deal with the wreckage once investigators finished their work, he added.

Several road closure were reported in the area, and train traffic was shut down.

A spokesman said railroad officials were hoping to move the damaged rail cars and repair the tracks Tuesday night so that train service could be restored by Wednesday.

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.

Passengers stand outside a Metrorail car Tuesday after the commuter train collided with a truck and trailer. At least 28 people were reported injured. (Juan Carlo / Ventura County Star photo)

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Montecito Fire District Promotes Three Employees, Hires Two Chief Officers

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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Montecito Fire
From left, Montecito Fire Protection District Division Chief Kevin Taylor, Battalion Chief Alan Widling, Captain Drue Holthe, Engineer Jordan Zeitsoff and Captain Scott Chapman. (Montecito Fire Protection District photo)

The Montecito Fire Protection District recognized the recent promotion of three employees and hiring of two new chief officers with a ceremony on Monday afternoon during the regular meeting of the Board of Directors at fire district headquarters.

Jordan Zeitsoff was promoted to engineer. He began his career in emergency services in 2002, when he worked as an EMT for American Medical Response in Los Angeles. In 2004, he was hired as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, where he worked on an engine, a Hotshot Crew and a Helicopter Rappel Crew. In May 2008, he was hired as a firefighter by Montecito Fire.

In addition to his wildland firefighting skills that come from his experience with the Forest Service, Zeitsoff has a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in Spanish and an associates of science degree in fire technology, and has completed the California State Fire Officer Certification.

Zeitsoff and his wife, Jessica, live in Santa Barbara with their two children, Mylia and Dennen.

Scott Chapman was promoted to captain. Prior to being hired by Montecito Fire in May 2006, Chapman spent one year as an EMT with American Medical Response in Hollywood and five years with the Forest Service as a Los Padres Hot Shot from 2001-05.

Chapman has served on the Apparatus and Equipment Committee, as well as the Promotional Committee. He was also the president of the Montecito Firefighters Association for two years.

Chapman has completed his California State Fire Officer Certification and will be earning his associates of science degree in fire technology this semester.

He and his wife, Ashley, live in Santa Barbara with their son, Samuel, and daughter, Emery.

Drue Holthe was promoted to captain. Holthe was hired by Montecito Fire in August 1988 and promoted to engineer in June 1991. Prior to being hired by Montecito Fire, Holthe developed his firefighting and EMT skills while working with the Orange County Fire Department, Medic Ambulance Service, Anaheim Fire Department and General Dynamics Fire Department.

During his tenure at Montecito Fire, Holthe has completed his California State Fire Officer Certification, served on the Equipment and Apparatus Committees, was the department representative for DMV Commercial Drivers testing and was an instructor for NAPD (National Academy of Professional Driving) Driver Training Program and the Department All Steer Training Program.

Holthe lives in Ventura with his wife, Kelly, and daughter Ella.

Alan Wildling was hired on Feb. 1 as a shift battalion chief. Widling recently left his position as battalion chief with the Santa Maria Fire Department to accept his new position at Montecito Fire. Widling began his career in emergency services in 1986 as a private ambulance company paramedic. He became a reserve firefighter for the Santa Maria Fire Department in July 1987, and in 1989 he became a full-time firefighter with the Montecito Fire Protection District. Two years later, he left Montecito Fire to work full time with the Santa Maria Fire Department, where he promoted through the ranks, eventually reaching the position of battalion chief.

Over the course of his career, Widling has responded to many significant events both in the local area and across the state, including structure fires, wildland fires, earthquakes, mudslides and the civil unrest associated with the Rodney King trial in Los Angeles.

Widling has been an adjunct instructor with the Allan Hancock College Fire Academy for many years. In 2000, he was recognized by the Tri-County Fire Chiefs Training Officers Association as its Fire Instructor of the Year. He has completed California State Fire Marshal Certification as a senior instructor for confined space rescue and Chief Officer Certification. He also holds a bachelor's degree in occupational studies/vocational arts.

Widling and his wife, Anna, raised their three children, Bethany, Stephen and Michael, in Santa Maria and have two grandchildren, Anthony and Annabelle. The Widlings will be relocating to Solvang in March.

Kevin Taylor was hired on Feb. 1 as a division chief of operations. Taylor comes to Montecito Fire after spending 24 years with the Paso Robles Fire Department, where he held the ranks of firefighter/paramedic, fire captain/paramedic and, for the last 12 years, battalion chief.

Taylor is an experienced chief officer. He was the incident commander for the San Simeon earthquake and several greater alarm incidents in Paso Robles. He also participated on California Team 9 and was a founding member of the San Luis Obispo County Type 3 incident command team.

Taylor was an active member of the San Luis Obispo County Operational Area representing the San Luis Obispo County Fire Chiefs on several fire and EMS committees. He also has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration and will complete his master’s degree in emergency services management early next year.

Taylor and his wife, Jo, will celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary this June. Their son, Jake, is a senior at Paso Robes High School. Taylor has relocated to Montecito, and his wife will join him after his son graduates from high school.

— Geri Ventura is a spokeswoman for the Montecito Fire Protection District.

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Dos Pueblos JV Boys Open Tennis Season with Win

By | Published on 02/24/2015

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It took a team effort to make Monday's JV boys tennis match happen at Dos Pueblos High School's courts. After more than two hours of squeegeeing, the players and coaches were ready to greet the Bishop Garcia Diego High School Cardinals led by a wonderful friend, coach Debbie Ekola.

Dos Pueblos got the win, 16-2.

In singles, the Chargers took seven of nine sets, led by Chris Lane, who swept without losing a game. Ryan Daniel and Ryan Mintzer swept their two, giving up only a few games, and opening the door for two subs, Eddie Park and Lorenz Chen, to play. Park and Chen went all out in their sets.

In doubles, the Chargers swept and gave up only three games, thanks to Christian/Ryan Hodosy, Jeffrey McDaniel with Jason Lee and Landon Brand, Michael Soto/Davide Gerli and Ameet Braganza/Ryan O'Gorman.

That was a fine effort for an opening match. The players did indeed hit with purpose. They have been training hard and their effort showed.

Way to go, Chargers!

— Liz Frech coaches boys’ tennis at Dos Pueblos High School.

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Isla Vista Community Focuses on Moving Past 2014’s Deadly Rampage

By | Published on 02/23/2015

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A memorial park is among efforts under way to help residents continue the healing process after Elliot Rodger's attacks that left seven dead and 14 injured

Members of the Isla Vista community have taken positive steps forward since a devastating shooting and stabbing rampage last May, but even the brave found reason to pause last week after the release of a long-awaited investigative report on the incident.

In the 68-page report, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department provided a moment-by-moment account of the events of May 23, 2014, when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s attack left seven dead, including himself, and 14 people injured.

Fearing tragedy details might negatively impact students at nearby UC Santa Barbara, where the six victims killed were students, the university made counselors available.

UCSB Associated Students officers wrote personal messages on social media reminding students of the resources available should they feel “retriggered” by the report. 

A helper to facilitate the healing process was how Ali Guthy, a UCSB senior and Associated Students president, described her role as a student leader.

“Everyone grieves in their own way,” Guthy said. “Some students don’t even know the report is out yet.”

Instead of focusing on the report, Guthy highlighted positive steps taken since the heartbreak began.

Two weeks ago, a special Associated Students committee hosted an Isla Vista Week to focus on issues that matter most to residents.

Associated Students last week passed a resolution in support of AB 3, a bill proposed by Assemblyman Das Williams to create a Community Services District that could govern the densely populated unincorporated area of 23,000 residents.

Along with attending workshops to keep the self-governance conversation going, the UCSB student group is currently undertaking a major update to its own strategic plan.

Associated Students spends more than $500,000 annually in the campus-adjacent community, and Guthy hopes a survey of students and residents will better determine where Isla Vista funding is needed most.

Project IV Love has broken ground on a memorial planned for People's Park in Isla Vista. (Project IV Love photo)

While students continue gathering community responses in a survey, she said preliminary results show 54 percent of student responders felt unsafe or uncomfortable in Isla Vista on a daily basis.

The community is also working on a memorial for the victims of the stabbings and shootings. To honor victims as the one-year anniversary nears, Isla Vista Recreation & Park District crews broke ground on a new memorial at People’s Park in the heart of Isla Vista in January.

Jordan Killebrew, a 2010 UCSB graduate who created Project IV Love to build the memorial, said the organization raised $8,000 to install a self-guided botanic tour with a central sculpture element and memorial benches designed by students in UCSB art professor Kim Yasuda’s open lab class.

Supporters plan to gather at the site on May 2 for a “planting day,” and anyone who wants to donate plants or money can attend upcoming fundraising events or email Killebrew at ivlove805@gmail.com.

“The university wants something done in May to coincide with anniversary,” he said. “It’s coming slowly. I’m just overwhelmed with the amount of support. This park has become a pretty big deal.”

As the community seeks solace, UCSB reminded locals that victims’ families remain in the same search. 

“The tragic events in Isla Vista last May profoundly affected our entire university family,” the university said in a statement. “As a community, we grieve for the students who were taken from us. Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those students who lost their lives, and we offer our continued support for those who were injured or affected by this tragedy in Isla Vista.

“We appreciate the work of the Sheriff’s Office, our own UC Police Department, and the many law enforcement officials who have worked so diligently on this investigation. We also echo their concern for respecting the privacy wishes of the families who have suffered such a great loss or were victims of this tragedy.”

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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Unattended Backpacks Causing a Stir on UC Santa Barbara Campus

By | Published on 02/23/2015

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Police say they're just erring on the side of caution, with two incidents this month highlighting the need to keep track of belongings

"Suspicious packages" have been in the news lately at UC Santa Barbara, leading some to wonder if campus authorities are responding to some new threat.

UCSB police say no — they are just erring on the side of caution in the interest of public safety.

It all started Feb. 4 with an unassuming, unattended backpack.

A campus employee with an office window facing a bunch of oxygen and nitrogen tanks near Harold Frank Hall noticed a black backpack leaning against a fence when he got to work.

When the backpack remained two hours later, he called UC Police to take a look at what authorities deemed a “suspicious package” in a UCSB alert sent out a short time later, asking people to stay away from the area.

Seeing that the backpack was full, and based on where they found it, responding officers and Santa Barbara County Fire Department personnel decided to call in the county sheriff’s bomb squad.

What they found was a bag full of video-game console equipment, likely left behind by someone loading up a vehicle, according to UCSB Police Sgt. Rob Romero.

Barely three days later, another campus alert went out, and a dorm was evacuated just after 12:30 a.m. when a "suspicious package" was reported near the psychology building and De La Guerra Commons dining hall.

It was another backpack, this time belonging to a student who was there to claim it.

So, what exactly makes a lonely book bag suspicious?

“A lot if it has to do with common sense,” Romero said. “It could’ve been something harmful. Not only does the officer put themselves in danger, they’re putting other people in danger. They made the right call.”

A combination of where a package is found, what it’s next to, and whether it’s leaking or has wires sticking out of it guides UC Police, Romero said, noting that the campus hasn’t received any threats that would heighten its alarm or response.

Obviously, if a backpack is found unattended in the library, police wouldn’t be called, since that happens all the time, he said.

“We don’t want to cry wolf every time we see a package,” Romero said. “Then again, we want to make sure we’re doing everything safe.

"We’re always trying to learn on these notifications, too, how to get the most information with the least amount of writing or causing a panic. Those are things we’re always trying to tweak.”

Once law enforcement agencies call for evacuations and secure an area, officers conduct an initial investigation, trying to locate the owner of the package, luggage or parcel and determine if a threat is involved, said Kelly Hoover, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman.

If so, the sheriff’s bomb squad calls officers on scene for details, deciding whether to respond.

“The bomb squad will normally respond and err on the side of safety,” Hoover said. “The bomb squad would rather respond and find nothing than not respond and have a dangerous incident occur.”

She said there’s no charge to the initial agency to request the bomb squad, since it’s a Sheriff’s Department responsibility.

The most recent incidents at UCSB could serve as a reminder to people to make sure they know where their belongings are, Romero said.

“We appreciate the community letting us know about these things,” he said. “These things ebb and flow. Yeah, we’ve had a few lately, but then we may not have one for a few months. We’re not seeing an increase or certain time of year.”

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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Police Detective’s Testimony in Ibarra Murder Trial Focuses on Gang Culture

By | Published on 02/23/2015

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The Santa Maria court case with six defendants enters its seventh week

A crime such as the alleged torture-slaying of a drug dealer would boost the reputations of gang members involved, a police detective said Monday in the seventh week of testimony for the six men charged with the death of Anthony Ibarra in 2013.

Under questioning by Senior Deputy District Attorney Ann Bramsen, Detective Michael Parker from the Santa Maria Police Department identified the six men now on trial as being either gang members or associates of gang members.

The men were charged in connection with the March 17, 2013, torture-slaying of the 28-year-old in a house on West Donovan Road in Santa Maria. Ibarra’s body was found a few days later in a U-Haul rental truck parked on an Orcutt street. 

“It enhances that gang’s reputation for violence … ,” said Parker, who was testifying as a gang expert.

The prosecution’s presentation of evidence in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial reportedly is winding down, with the defense then expected to begin calling their witnesses in the trial. Among those expected to be called on behalf of the defense is their own gang expert.

In addition to enhancing the reputation of the gang and its individual members, Parker said a violent crime also increases a community’s fear about gangs and their reputation for violence.

“Nobody’s afraid of the Girl Scouts because the Girl Scouts don’t have a reputation for violence,” Parker said. 

Earlier, the police detective pointed out the significance of the various gang-identifying tattoos Maldonado sports as large photos were displayed for the jury’s view.

Parker also called Maldonado a top leader in the gang.

“I would identify him as a shot-caller based on his leadership position in the gang,” Parker said.

Ibarra trial
Ramon Maldonado, Anthony Solis and David Maldonado (Ramon's father) are three of the six defendants. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Other defendants allegedly claiming gang membership include Santos Sauceda, 35, and Reyes Gonzales, 43, Parker said, adding he used jail classification reports and other interactions with police to reach the conclusion.

In addition to explaining the meanings of the defendants’ tattoos, the police detective identified the photos showing some defendants giving gang signs.

“It’s just another way of showing their allegiance and their loyalty and their mindset,” Parker said.

Parker described the other defendants, Ramon Maldonado’s dad, David Maldonado, 57, Anthony Solis, 30, and Jason Castillo, 31, as gang associates. 

Santa Barbara County has 2,000 members of gangs affiliated with the Sureños, Parker said, adding the number of associates isn’t available since they are not as well tracked.

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Michael Scott, who represents Ramon Maldonado, the detective said it’s not illegal to belong to be a gang.

Scott asked if Parker knew of any document that spelled out gang rules.

“There’s no gang constitution in written format that I’m aware of,” Parker said. 

The attorney also questioned Parker about gang members’s reactions to being disrespected.

“In the gang world it’s expected you have some sort of violent response in order to maintain your reputation,” Parker said.

Later, defense attorney Addison Steele, who represents Solis, asked if his client had ever been linked to gangs before the current case.

Parker noted the large number of gang members compared to a handful of detectives in gang suppression unit.

“It is not uncommon for people to fly under the radar at all,” Parker said. 

Steele also asked if the police officer knew whether Solis was familiar with any of the gang members in pictures Parker used in his gang presentation. Parker said he did not know if Solis knew anyone in the pictures.

Defense attorneys’ cross examination of Parker is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning in Santa Maria Juvenile Court, where the trial is being held due to the large number of participants.

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

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Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s, Mental Health Departments Face Multimillion-Dollar Budget Shortfalls

By | Published on 02/23/2015

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The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors got an extensive financial status report last week, but the picture was not an entirely pretty one.

According to county fiscal and policy analyst John Jayasinghe, who provided the second-quarter update on the fiscal year that began July 1, most of the county’s 68 departments are doing fine. Three, however, are facing alarming shortfalls.

The Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services is running a $4.6 million deficit, he said, while the Sheriff’s Department is short $2.2 million.

He projected a $345,000 shortfall at the District Attorney’s Office, which is due to recording fees and salaries and benefits, but the department has sufficient general fund revenues that they could use towards their shortfall.

Sheriff’s Department

As it stands, Jayasinghe said, the Sheriff’s Department is over budget by more than $2 million in salaries and benefits.

However, he added, within salaries and benefits, overtime is actually projected to be $3.5 million over budget, while nonovertime costs are expected to be $1.3 million under budget — offsetting the total to $2.2 million.

As vacancies are filled, Jayasinghe explained, overtime pay among existing staff and regular salaries of new staff are incurred simultaneously during the training periods.

In prior years, he said, vacancies were limited and created salary savings that offset the additional overtime required.

Supervisor Janet Wolf noted that the board first heard about the shortfalls last quarter, and she said she had been surprised by the $2.2 million figure at the Sheriff’s Department.

Supervisor Peter Adam asked Sheriff Bill Brown, who was present at Tuesday’s meeting, when the unfunded costs would stop.

Brown responded that the problem is a short-term one, and within the next year and half, more staff will be available and overtime won’t be as large an issue.

He cautioned, however, that once the North County jail is built, the county must maintain custody levels or it could face similar circumstances.

Brown said much of the current situation is a by-product of the recession, when the department kept open vacancies in the anticipation of possible layoffs. He said layoffs were averted as a result of negotiated concessions.

A large number of Sheriff’s Department retirements during that same timeframe exacerbated the problem, he said.

“It’s very difficult in an organization our size to stay staffed,” said Brown, who added that in the eight years he’s been sheriff, it’s only happened once.

Adam lamented the budget shortfalls, and said the circumstances were similar to when the Sheriff’s Department’s financial report had come before the board after the first quarter.

“It's like déjà-vu all over again,” he said. “We keep talking about overtime and having to throw more money at it.”

Brown said overtime costs for public safety have been underfunded historically, and that “it’s a challenging situation to try and maintain a trained staff with a lot of different training requirements.”

Five custody deputies were sworn in last week, and he said their addition will help close the gap.

“I don’t anticipate that we’ll have as drastic a problem next year,” Brown added.

Wolf said she had the same concerns as Adam.

“When we have our budget discussions, we expect that our department heads are going to give us as close to the estimate of expected costs as possible,” she said. “This puts us in a very difficult position as we’re moving forward,” she added, noting that remedies would be limited.

“I would strongly urge you to make some additional cuts in your department so that we don’t see this when we come back to budget,” Wolf told Brown.

County CEO Mona Miyasato said her office will be working with the Sheriff’s Department on the numbers.

“We don’t want to be in the position where we’re looking at the same position midyear next year,” she said.

County Budget Director Tom Alvarez said the county is working to develop a more realistic overtime budget for 2015-2016.

“We believe we’re, hopefully, at the tail-end of this phenomenon,” he said.

“A budget is an estimate, it’s not cast in stone,” Brown pointed out, adding that there have been years when millions of dollars have been returned to the county’s general fund.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said every department head in the county is held to “different sets of rules.”

“We have to have a stronger, harder number earlier on in the fiscal year,” he said. “We’re going to hold people to the number they came in with.”

Brown will be back before the board March 17, when the supervisors are to receive an update on overtime numbers as well as any money available that could help reduce the deficit.

Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services

Meanwhile, the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services also reported budgetary woes last week. The agency’s mental health services fund is looking at a deficit of $4.6 million, almost 80 percent of which is coming from the cost of inpatient contract beds at its Psychiatric Health Facility, or PHF, officials say.

According to ADMHS staff, the department is seeing a significant increase of patients that are desginated “Incompetent to Stand Trial.”

The county is not paid anything for the time those individuals spend in the PHF, which is located at 315 Camino Del Remedio in Santa Barbara.

One day in the PHF costs about $1,650 per bed, so when a person who cannot stand trial comes into the PHF, the county must foot the bill and while being required by law to provide services.

Santa Barbara is not alone in the increase. Statewide, Alvarez told the supervisors, IST referrals in 2014 were up 26 percent from the year before.

“This a new phenomenon we’re not prepared to deal with, and I’d like to know what our plan is,” Lavagnino said.

The county will be researching why there has been such a large increase in IST designations over the last six months. One theory is that there has been a reduction of “step-down” facilities in the county, according to Miyasato.

Lavagnino said the increase sounded like another unfunded mandate, and encouraged the county’s legislative team to look into the issue.

ADMHS Director Alice Gleghorn said there is no single solution to the challenge, but she observed that a reduction in things like supportive housing beds has increased pressure on the PHF unit.

Proposition 47, which was passed by voters last fall and requires misdemeanor sentences instead of felonies for certain drug and property offenses, also could be having an effect.

The county is working on opening a crisis stabilization unit on the South Coast this summer. A second facility in the North County could take another year or 18 months to open.

When those services are up and running, Gleghorn said she’s hopeful that individuals will be diverted from the PHF.

“The fact is we are lowering the amount of days for people we would normally refer to the PHF,” Wolf said. “They’re being taken for ISTs.”

As a result, more patients are sent to other PHFs in Ventura County.

PHF Medical Director Leslie Lundt said that if a doubt arises about the mental capacity of an individual accused of a misdemeanor — those accused of felonies are taken to state hospitals — the person is ordered to the PHF for a professional evaluation as to whether he or she can stand trial.

There’s a waiting list and it can take months for a person to even be admitted to the PHF, she said.

Once they’re admitted, an evaluation is started.

About a dozen times over the past year, a PHF psychiatrist will make a recommendation to the court,  and “it’s not uncommon where the court rejects our findings,”​ Lundt said.

The length of stay for patients declared incompetent to stand trial is three and half times longer than other patients.

Even if a person is deemed incompetent by both PHF officials and the court, the person will often have to stay in the PHF unit until other housing becomes available, even if the charges have been dropped.

“There is a feeling that the public defenders are using this as a way to get treatment for some of their clients if they feel there’s no other way to get them treatment,” Lundt said.

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

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Santa Barbara’s Transient Occupancy Tax Revenue Up 16% in January

By | Published on 02/23/2015

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The City of Santa Barbara received $1,167,245 in ongoing transient occupancy tax (TOT) for the month of January, which is a 16.2 percent growth over the previous January.

This large increase is due to several factors, including continued good weather, one more weekend day this January versus last January, and an increase in occupancy rates compared with last January.

The average room occupancy rate for hotels citywide increased nearly four percentage points to 68 percent — a historically high number for the month of January. Revenues from vacation rentals also contributed to the growth.

Through the first seven months, over $11.1 million in TOT has been collected, which represents a 13 percent growth rate compared with last year. TOT continues to exceed original estimates and is expected to exceed the current budget for TOT of $17,641,400.

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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Jackson, Women’s Caucus to Announce Plans for Equal Pay Legislation

By | Published on 02/23/2015

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At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 317 of the state Capitol, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, chairwoman of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, will be joined by members of the Women’s Caucus to announce plans to introduce legislation to address the wage gap that women face.

In 2013, a woman in California working full time made a median 84 cents to every dollar a man earned, according to Equal Rights Advocates, a national civil rights organization based in San Francisco.

This gap is significantly greater for women of color. Latinas in California make only 44 cents for every dollar a white man makes, the most significant Latina wage gap in the nation.

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus is a bipartisan group of female legislators who advocate on behalf of women, children and families in California.

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

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