Santa Barbara-Goleta, Friday, November 28, 2014

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Carpinteria Community Gets in the Holiday Spirit with Festival of Trees

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Trees decorated by businesses and nonprofits will be raffled off, with proceeds benefiting the field restoration project for the Carpinteria High School softball team

Walking back and forth, solo or in pairs, local residents inspected each Christmas tree closely Friday, picturing its decorations — and piles of gifts — safely nestled in their own homes.

After much consideration, or more of an impulse for some, Carpinteria residents carefully placed raffle tickets in the slot of a box accompanying the tree of their choice, saying a silent prayer before heading back into the sunny morning.

The fifth annual Festival of Trees brought out much of the Carpinteria community and visitors on the day after Thanksgiving to peruse 26 pre-lit, six-foot artificial Christmas trees decorated by businesses and nonprofits and bought by event organizer, the Carpinteria Lions Club.

That’s more than have ever participated, all to raise proceeds for the Carpinteria High School girls softball team field restoration project.

Friday marked the first day of festivities at 700 Linden Ave., where tree themes varied from blue-and-white wonderland and wine (Plan Members Services of Carpinteria) to children with a mountain of books and camping gear (Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning).

Each organization or business mustered its own decorations, ornaments and holiday gifts, valued at $300 or more — most closer to the $1,000 range.

Festival Trees
Visitors peruse pre-lit artificial Christmas trees decorated by businesses and nonprofits for Carpinteria's Festival of Trees. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Raffle tickers were just $1, and they sold quickly as locals learned that the contest had started back up or heard about it for the first time.

“You’ve got to scatter them all around,” a mother said, watching her young son drop a handful of blue raffle tickets into a box for the Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main School tree. “You can’t put them all in at once.”

Another pair of parents commented on the excitement of the raffle fundraiser and the difficulty with choosing a first or second favorite tree.

The public can wander through the isles of trees between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through Saturday, Dec. 13, with the raffle drawing set for noon Sunday, Dec. 14.

Organizers hope to collect at least $14,000, the annual average that so far has benefited several programs at Carpinteria High School, including the FFA, culinary arts and architectural design, according to Richard Abney, a past president of Carpinteria Lions Club and co-chair of the event's planning committee.

“It makes a big difference,” Abney said, noting there were typically just 18 trees.

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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Volunteer-Driven River Bend Bike Park Taking Shape in Lompoc

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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The project's leader says manpower and funding are still needed to wrap up construction of the park, featuring a pump track, skills loops and more

After three years, two more children, hundreds of truckloads of dirt and thousands of hours of volunteer labor, Dave Baker’s biggest baby is nearly ready.

But before riders can officially take to the skills loop, pump track, large jumps and other features at the River Bend Bike Park, Baker said more work by volunteers and funding from donors is needed to finish off the final projects.

Baker, a captain with the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District and Lompoc resident, leads the committee working to ready the park. Those involved grew up riding bikes, building jumps and seeking “legal” places to practice their skills.

Two proposed grand opening dates have come and gone. So, when will it open?

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Baker said. “This project is 100 percent volunteer driven so it depends upon the volunteers. Unfortunately, we’re still raising money for last-minute things. We just need help out here.

“If we get all the manpower and finances that we need we could have this open in a month.”

The park project's leaders regularly ask for volunteers on the park's Facebook page. A month ago, 100 people showed up to work at the site. On a Saturday in November, about six people were helping.

Some of the remaining work includes fencing and benches, he noted.

“At this point, we are in the final stretch,” Baker said. “We need help with manpower, with landscaping and building some of our final features. We need financial support …”

The park is at the east end of McLaughlin Road near River Bend Park. It’s being done under the umbrella of the Lompoc Valley Parks, Recreation, and Pool Foundation and spearheaded by the River Bend Bike Park Committee.

bike park
Volunteers dig holes for posts to build wood features for riders at the River Bend Bike Park in Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“There’s nothing like this park in Southern California, so it’s going to be a destination location for bicycles," Baker said. 

Other areas locally have BMX competition tracks, but the Lompoc site is intended for recreational use, with people allowed to ride for free.

Baker, a father of three, said the bike park supporter began the project in 2011, getting through the necessary city approvals, permits and fundraising to start construction in 2014. Since then, he noted, he and his wife, Teresa Martinez-Baker, have had two additional children.

The intent is to give Lompoc — and those in the wide cycling community — a safe riding environment.

“When I started this, he was about 3 years old,” Baker said of his oldest son, “and I wanted to provide something for my kids and other kids in the community so they could grow up and have just one more option, instead of getting in trouble.” 

While most communities have soccer and baseball fields plus basketball courts, spots for safely riding bicycles are much more limited.

“It’s just another activity to keep kids safe, active and healthy,” Baker added.

Local contractors donated dirt from projects, bringing some 500 truckloads to help build the various features and forms that make up the park.

For the park to be built, they needed to line up a professional designer and connected with Nat Lopes of Hilride Progession Development Group .

Lopes has built parks of all sizes and complexities throughout the United States.

“His job is to keep the park safe and design it fun and challenging, as well. There’s something for everybody at our park,” Baker said.

Lopes is more than a designer, showing up every few weeks to supervise and help with construction working alongside the core of volunteers putting their sweat into the project.

“This is a big-scale project especially for a volunteer build,” he said of Lompoc’s seven-acre park. “Our footprint here is probably about 50 percent of that seven acres so we literally have about three-and-half solid acres of terrain that’s been sculpted including a number of pump tracks, a dirt jump zone and what we’re working on today is the skills trail. All of this elements designed make it a progression based bike park.”

That means young or new riders can show up to hone basic skills while advanced riders can be challenged on bigger jumps, jump tracks and skills features.

He said he really likes projects like Lompoc’s because it combines the different types, attracting mountain bikers, BMX riders, jumpers and racers. 

“It mixes all the different disciplines together, which is really fun,” he added. “It’s not just the BMX hard-core scene, it’s families.”

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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Rain Likely to Begin Falling Saturday, Followed by Heavy Showers Early Next Week

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Rain could begin falling in Santa Barbara County on Saturday night, but a second storm early next week will bring the best chance of a significant drenching.

Locals might get excited about a low-pressure system moving through the county late Saturday into Sunday — bringing a 30-percent and 20-percent chance of rain, respectively — but showers most likely won’t make a more impressive showing until Tuesday, according to Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service office in Oxnard.

Monday will be dry, Seto said, but a second system Tuesday night through Wednesday increases rainfall chances to 70 percent.

The wet stuff could continue to fall into Thursday evening, he said.

“The second one will be bigger,” he told Noozhawk. “It’s going to be pretty much cloudy most of the next week. If you haven’t cleaned out your gutters or anything, you should do that because it’s going to be a pretty good wetting rain. If you have something outside you don’t want to get wet, put it inside.”

Accumulation totals for Saturday night through Thursday were expected to register between one and three inches, with coastal areas a bit dryer than the mountains.

Snow could fall at higher mountain elevations, although Seto said it wasn’t as likely. 

Temperatures will remain relatively normal for this time of year, with highs hovering around 70 degrees and overnight lows of 55.

“This storm is not very cold,” Seto said, noting winds weren't expected to pick up either.

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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Louise Palanker: Warring Parents, Cousin Crushes and Leaving Home

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Tiffany Y.

My parents sometimes fight. One time my dad was drunk and came home and almost killed my mom. My sister had to go through this and she’s 6. They sometimes fight and my mom cries and I feel bad for them.

My mom told me if they divorce I have to live with one of them, and I feel pressure because I love both of them, but if they divorce I would have to choose between them. What should I do?

Weezy

The children of divorcing parents should never have to choose where they will live or with whom.  The adults must be the adults. It is their job (sometimes with help from the courts and therapists) to make decisions based around what is in the best interests of the child.

Joint custody is often a good option. This means you would spend an equal amount of time with both parents. The child’s opinion and experiences are often taken into account while these decisions are being made. In other words, should the child express a concern that one parent is dangerous, the judge will listen to that.

So, if for example, your father is often drunk and violent. It may be better for your mom to have legal custody and for your dad to have supervised visitations.

Nothing is set in stone. Arrangements can change as you grow older and/or if your father were to receive help for his alcohol problem.

Remember that you did not ask to be put in this situation. This is your childhood. It matters and it must come first. The grownups need to figure out how to put their differences aside and put you first.

If your parents are asking you to choose. You can say, “I need to spend time with both of you. Please figure out a schedule that works for everyone. I will not choose between my parents. I love you both too much to do that.”

                                                                 •        •        •

Amber L.

I have a crush on my cousin and he is way older than me. Every time I see him it’s really awkward. Any advice?

Weezy

Cousin Crushing is pretty common. But cousins are off limits, as are way older guys. So you should go ahead and place this infatuation in its proper category. It is a crush. It is meant to inform your romantic instincts. What type of man do you find attractive? Somebody like your cousin. That’s all.

Enjoy your time with him. Develop a special bond. If he is a man of character, look for this type of man as you continue down your path toward love.

                                                                 •        •        •

Brandon W.

It is just a few more weeks until I’m leaving my parents for my studies and this scares me. The thought of it makes me unable to sleep at night, because things will never be the same again after I leave my parents. I’ll finish my studies and then get a job. Eventually, I’ll have my own family and live elsewhere. I still think I’m too young to leave them and I don’t want to, but I have to and I’m scared. What should I do?

Weezy

Many kids feel this way. Other young people cannot wait to leave. Here is the good news for you. Not wanting to leave means that you enjoy a wonderful relationship with your parents. This is a blessing.

Sometimes, life moves on when we are absolutely beyond ready. Other times, we need to give ourselves a little push.

Don’t think too far down the road. Concentrate on the next task that lays before you and do it well. You will still be home for holidays and summers. Your room and your parents will be there waiting for you, and it will stay that way until you no longer need these comforts of home quite so often.

The only thing that never changes is that everything changes. We are in constant motion. That is what makes life so interesting and exciting. Go greet your next adventure!

                                                                 •        •        •

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. The opinions expressed are her own.

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SBCC Baseball Team Holding Youth Camp, Canned Food Drive on Saturday

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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The SBCC baseball team is holding a Youth Camp on Saturday to help out local families during the holiday season.

The cost is a canned food donation (or several), which will be donated to the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

“This is a great event to help us teach the great game of baseball while helping those in need,” Vaquero head coach Jeff Walker said.

The camp is for kids ages 5 to 13 and will be held at Pershing Park from 10 a.m. to noon. You can RSVP by emailing your name and your kid’s name to Coach Walker at jmwalker1@sbcc.edu.

— Dave Loveton is the sports information coordinator for SBCC.

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City of Santa Barbara to Drill New Groundwater Well in Alameda Park

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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The current well has been out of service since February, when it started pumping sand

The City of Santa Barbara is replacing its groundwater well in Alameda Park to boost water production after the current well failed earlier this year.

The well installed in 1990 started pumping sand in February due to a well structure failure and has been out of service since, according to city staff.

This new one is the same size and will be drilled 100 feet from the current well, on the southeast corner of Santa Barbara and Micheltorena streets near the public restrooms.

Advisory boards including the Water Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission have approved of the plan to relocate five large trees from the well area, including giant bird of paradise trees, king palms and a butia capitata palm.

Some of the resulting groundwater will be used for park irrigation and maintenance, according to city staff.

Alameda
The current groundwater well head, shown here, is located near the Kid's World playground in Alameda Park. It stopped working in February, and the city plans to drill another well 100 feet away. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

The city Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments will negotiate an agreement for use of the park land before construction starts, tentatively scheduled for January.

The Santa Barbara City Council gave approval on Tuesday for the project to move forward.

The city has nine groundwater wells as part of its water supply and has recently done emergency repair work to fix three of them.

The wells be used more as the city’s surface water supplies dwindle with the ongoing drought, including less water coming from Lake Cachuma and the State Water Project.

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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Writer/Philosopher Luciana Salas Gallegos Nominated for Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Writer, photographer, philosopher and philanthropist Luciana Salas Gallegos is the sixth nominee for the Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Gallegos
Luciana Salas Gallegos

The daughter of immigrants who worked in Lompoc’s Bracero Program, a 1940s migrant workers agreement between Mexico and the U. S., Gallegos worked for 30 years for the Santa Barbara County Education Office in a program called Migrant Education, supporting and advocating for the health and education of migrant workers and their families.

After retirement, Gallegos had a close encounter with cancer. The experience stimulated her to write a book for her daughters titled Reflections for the Soul, her philosophical statements illustrated with original photographs of the Central Coast.

“Life is a gift,” states the Reflections, “you just have to untie the bow.”

Gallegos’ energies extend beyond her immediate family. Her interest in helping other families led to the creation of a game called Virtues, which helps families develop communication skills and positive family values.

She sponsors the Cozies program. Her blog, also titled Reflections for the Soul, explains the purpose of the Cozies: “to support children impacted by neglect, homelessness, foster care, severe illness, abandonment, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by offering them a COZIE blanket to find a little comfort.”

Also nominated for the Peace Prize are Sid Haro, Jon Vanderhoof, Lauren Pressman, Bill Carlsen and Jan Martinez.

Nominations can be made prior to Dec. 1 by contacting Allie Kay Spaulding at 805.741.7000 or alliekay31@comcast.net or by submitting a description of the nominee to Peace Prize Committee, Valley of the Flowers Church of Christ, 3346 Constellation Road, Lompoc, CA 93436.

— Allie Kay Spaulding represents Valley of the Flowers Church.

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Lompoc Valley Medical Center Now Offers MyHealth Online Patient Portal

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Lompoc Valley Medical Center is now offering MyHealth Patient Portal, an online tool allowing patients the flexibility of accessing health information and other resources from virtually anywhere.

Patients age 18 or older may use the free portal, at Lompocvmc.com/myhealth, to see their personal visit history and discharge information; review lab and radiology results; see medical allergies; get lists of prescription medications and view any other personal information via a secure online system.

Patients entering Lompoc Valley Medical Center can sign up for their personal account at the time of registration. It is important that patients provide their personal email address to complete the Patient Portal registration process.

“We want patients to have access at home to their lab work and diagnostic results,” said registered nurse Sasha Keller, medical/surgical nurse manager at LVMC. ”They can pull up the results at home and become active participants in their care.”

Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s Patient Portal specialist will assist with the registration.

“The Patient Portal specialist will support and assist the patient through the registration process,” Keller says.

MyHealth also allows a person to access information for family members, or individuals for whom they provide care, if permission is given. Information may be downloaded as well.

Patients registering will need to create a username and password, and also provide a birthdate and email address. A confirmation email will be sent, with a verification link and security code.

Patient information from Jan. 9, 2012, to the present is available on Patient Portal.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center is committed to protecting the privacy of its patients and all email addresses remain confidential.

— Nora Wallace is a public relations coordinator for Lompoc Valley Medical Center.

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Captain’s Log: Ancient Stories Around a Fire Pit — Perfect for Thanksgiving Weekend

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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As a species, we grew up on ancient stories around a fire pit. Before spoken language, there was acting out the hunt for the food the clan was pulling out of the fire and eating while the story was told. After language was developed, it was telling the stories of the elders and the ancestors — stories that were part science and part religion. We later began calling collections of these stories regional mythology.

Nowadays we have individual family dwellings, central heating, and televisions connected to cable or a dish. We’re still getting stories of a sort, but we’ve lost the reality and first-person experience that comes from family and clan members telling stories of our own people. We need that!

So I recommend a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition — a fire pit (make one, buy one or use one at a beach or park) with a crackling fire. We’re in a drought, so be sure to make it safe and don’t let it spread.

When the first cold snap hits, logs hit the fireplace. The first hearth fires of the season have a smell that is just as welcome as the smell of the first flowers of spring will be many months from now. Both smells signal change and usher in a season.

One of my charter boat passengers recently commented that we don’t have seasons in Santa Barbara. He is from the Northeast. I assured him that we do indeed have our seasons, for those keen enough to notice them. We simply choose not to live in places with inhospitable seasons. Guess I couldn’t help but defend our climate — as if it needs defending!

The first comfort fires of autumn bring out an urge to gather ‘round the fire and share — stories, fears, information, gossip and, best of all, jokes. Sometimes a family or clan gathering can last well into the evening, wearing down a stack of firewood.

Sound like fun? Invite a few neighbors, friends or family over for an evening at the hearth, including pizza or other simple foods, drinks and maybe even roasted marshmallows or s'mores.

A ring of lawn chairs around a fire pit is a cozy arrangement that hints at kinship or friendship and good times. Think back to some of your best campfire memories. Often times those memories included a great storyteller. This is the best time of year to dredge your memory for favorite old (and new) stories to tell around a fire.

One way to get some good stories out is to take turns. Have each person tell a story from his or her past. Adventure yarns are the best. Given some time, most folks can recall a harrowing or fun adventure. Swapping tall tales makes for a perfect evening around a fire.

Myself, I enjoy telling fish stories. It puts me in mind of Mark Twain’s sage advice: “Never tell a fish story where people know you. Never ever tell a fish story where people know the fish!”

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Waxing Poetic Summerland Celebrates ‘Poetic Giving’ Fundraisers to Benefit Local Charities

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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With the holidays upon us, Waxing Poetic would like to make a positive impact in the community as a valuable reason for celebrating the season.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, Waxing Poetic Summerland is proud to kick off its first-ever “Poetic Giving” fundraiser event to benefit the Dream Foundation. The second event will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11 and will benefit Santa Barbara Middle School.

The Dream Foundation is the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illness. Since 1994, it has served more than 20,000 final dreams and has never turned down a qualified dream request.

Santa Barbara Middle School was founded in 1976 by a group of students, parents and teachers concerned about the junior high years. The founding members of the school, many of who are still involved, sought to create a school that would combine an innovative, challenging academic program with an environment responsive to the many needs of adolescent students.

Waxing Poetic invites the community to come on an adventure of creativity, intuition, friendship and fun — and to make giving a poetic experience!

The Waxing Poetic Giving Team has created a unique way to support the community by bringing people together to shop, socialize and give back to a local charity embodying the “Poetic Giving” experience. Mingle and jingle with appetizers complimentary of Café Luna, and sip from a selection of wines donated by Santa Barbara Winery along with other local wineries, while shopping for a good cause. Waxing Poetic will give 20 percent of the proceeds back from sales that night, and will extend the shopping for one month from each event date by mentioning the charity in store, or providing a promotional code when shopping online. The Dream Foundation code is DREAM14, and the Santa Barbara Middle School code is SBMS14.

"Waxing Poetic jewelry is about staying connected to what matters most,” said Patti Pagliei-Simpson, founder and CEO of Waxing Poetic. “Over the years, we have had the privilege to be part of a community of people who care and want new ways to express their desire to give. We have had the opportunity to also examine what this means as a business. We started Poetic Giving as an act of thanks, an expression of love and support to the amazing organizations in our community. It is our hope that items purchased through Poetic Giving will touch and inspire others, be a reminder of thanks, and become that much more meaningful to those who wear them."

“We are thrilled to strategically partner with loyal Waxing Poetic customer and beloved community leader Jodi Fishman-Osti to host our first Poetic Giving fundraisers to share with friends, family and our community alike,” said Jacob Richmann, vice president of sales for Waxing Poetic. “We will look at these first events as an opportunity to initiate into a broader giving program at a national level.”

“I’m very excited to be partnering with Waxing Poetic, local organizations and charities in giving back to the community and impacting people in a very enriching and positive way,” Fishman-Osti said.

The Dream Foundation helps enhance the quality of life for individuals and families facing a life threatening illness by granting a final wish. These individuals and families, who sometimes face financially devastating medical expenses, are gifted with a chance to enjoy special time with their loved ones. Dreams range from making long lasting memories with their families, having a faraway friend visit, or taking an international trip. Waxing Poetic is pleased to partner with the Dream Foundation and help fulfill the dreams of adults nationwide.

For over 35 years, Santa Barbara Middle School has worked to fulfill and exceed the goals of cultivating a student’s passion for life and lifelong learning, a deep sense of trust in themselves, strength, and courage to succeed at life’s challenges, and compassion and respect for others.

Join Waxing Poetic for its Poetic Giving events on Dec. 4 and 11 and give back to these deserving charities. Waxing Poetic’s Summerland boutique is located at 2350 Lillie Ave. For details, please call the Summerland Boutique at 805.770.2847.

Waxing Poetic celebrates the potential for transformation in all of us. Our jewelry pays homage to the journey of our lives: where we come from, what our stories are, and how they influence both the world and us. Designed in California and hand crafted by Artisans worldwide, our jewelry taps into the universal truths of life. Click here to visit its website for more information and to view all of these treasures and more, or visit one of its flagship stores in Summerland (2350 Lillie Ave.) and Los Olivos (2477 Alamo Pintado Ave.) You can also find a specialty retail location nearest you. Experience the art of giving, by way of exploration through our inspirational, nostalgic and heartfelt collection of curated jewelry.

— Sydney Gardner is a publicist representing Waxing Poetic.

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Hospice of Santa Barbara Offers Support Programs for Those Grieving Loss During Holidays

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Holidays are traditionally a time of celebration, but can be difficult for people grieving, oftentimes causing anxiety and dread. Hospice of Santa Barbara wants to emphasize that their free services are available to anyone in the community struggling with grief and loss.

Hospice of Santa Barbara provides free professional bereavement support to individuals and families including community organizations, schools, hospitals and senior care facilities.

Holiday Grief Workshops Offered

Holiday Grief Workshop:

In past years, the Christmas holiday season may have been a time of great anticipation and excitement, but this year the prospect of facing the holidays without your loved one may cause anxiety and dread. Our workshops will offer support to help you through the holiday season.

» Mondays in December (Dec. 1, 15 and 29), noon to 1:30 p.m.

» Tuesdays in December (Dec. 9 and 23), 5:30 to 7 p.m.

» First Holiday for Families (bilingual): This workshop is for families with children who will be experiencing their first holiday without their loved one. In the workshop your family will create and decorate an ornament in honor of you family member who has died this year. Dec. 11, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Spanish-speaking workshops:

» Nuevos Caminos: En nuestro seminario “Nuevos Caminos — Como sobrevivir los días festivos” exploraremos la manera en que puede hacer estos días mas fáciles, mientras usted recuerda a su persona querida. En grupo exploraremos cosas que pueden hacer para que los días festivos le sean mas fáciles sin olvidar la memoria de su ser querido. 4 de Diciembre, 5:30 a 7 p.m.

» Días Festivos: Segunda parte de “Nuevos Caminos — Como sobrevivir los días festivos.” Este seminario se enfocara en como continuar las costumbres y a la ves comenzar nuevas costumbres al recordar la memoria de su ser querido. En grupo exploraremos cosas específicas que usted puede hacer con sus hijos en memoria del ser querido. 11 de Diciembre, 5:30 a 7 p.m.

» Holiday Workshops require pre-registration. No drop-ins please. Please call (805) 563-8820.

Light Up a Life Ceremonies Honor Loved Ones

Each year in December, families and friends gather for Light Up A Life in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria for a ceremony celebrating the life and the joy of remembrance of our loved ones. At this time, a memorial tree is illuminated with hundreds of sparkling lights and stars, each symbolizing a tribute to a loved one.

Light Up A Life, and other ceremonies like it, are international hospice memorial events that began over 30 years ago and are celebrated around the world. Stars will be available at each ceremony for a suggested donation of $15 or more for those wishing to personalize a star and hang it on the tree. All proceeds benefit Hospice of Santa Barbara.

Light Up A Life dates and locations:

» Saturday, Dec. 6, 5:30 p.m. — Casa de la Guerra, Santa Barbara
» Sunday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m. — Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta
» Saturday, Dec. 13, 5:30 p.m. — The Seal Fountain at Linden Plaza, Carpinteria

During the Holidays: Twelve Practical Tips for Saying, Doing the Right Things 

While many people look forward to yearly holiday traditions, gatherings with family and friends and the general good feelings associated with the season, some people dread the holidays. For those who have lost a loved one during the past year, the holidays may emphasize their grief.

The holidays, especially the first ones after losing a loved one, are especially difficult for people who are grieving. Often, friends and family members of those affected by a loss are unsure how to act or what to say to support their grieving loved one during the holidays.

Here are some suggestions:

» Be supportive of the way the person chooses to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to change their rituals. Remember, there is no right way or wrong way to handle the holidays.

» Offer to help the person with baking and/or cleaning. Both tasks can be overwhelming for one trying to deal with raw emotions.

» Offer to help him or her decorate for the holidays.

» Offer to help with holiday shopping or give your loved one catalogs or online shopping sites that may be helpful.

» Invite the person to attend a religious service with you and your family.

» Invite your loved one to your home for the holidays.

» Help your loved one prepare and mail holiday cards.

» Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holiday season. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at soup kitchens or working with children, may help your loved one feel better about the holidays.

» Donate a gift or money in memory of the person’s loved one. Remind the person that his or her special person is not forgotten.

» Never tell someone that he or she should be “over it.” Instead, give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.

» If he or she wants to talk about the deceased loved one or feelings associated with the loss, listen. Active listening from friends is an important step to helping him or her heal. Don’t worry about being conversational — just listen.

» Remind the person you are thinking of him or her and the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.

In general, the best way to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to let them know you care. They need to be remembered, and they need to know their loved ones are remembered, too. Local hospice grief counselors emphasize that friends and family members should never be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, because making an effort and showing concern will be appreciated.

*From the National Hospice Foundation and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

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

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

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

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Wine + Beer and The Kitchen Hosting Champagne Tasting at Santa Barbara Public Market

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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Sip and celebrate the season at an exclusive champagne tasting hosted by Wine + Beer and The Kitchen at the Santa Barbara Public Market on Saturday, Dec. 6.

There will be two tasting times offered, at 4:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., where guests will have the chance to taste 11 distinct champagnes, indulge in decadent food pairings, and twinkle in the festive decor of The Kitchen at the Public Market.

Upon arrival, guests will be given their Champagne Passport to guide them along as they indulge in a bubbly selection of 11 of the most coveted champagnes, curated by Sam Doernte of Wine + Beer. Champagnes being tasted include Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve N/V, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose N/V, Chartogne-Taillet "Sainte-Anne" Brut N/V, Henriot Brut Souverain N/V, Henriot Brut Blanc de Blancs N/V, Lanson White Label Sec N/V, R.H. Coutier Brut Grand Cru N/V, Krug "Grande Cuvee" Brut N/V, Dom Perignon Brut 2004, Ruinart Brut N/V and Ruinart Brut Rose N/V.

Guests will also enjoy food tastings by Public Market merchants that pair perfectly with champagne, including fresh-shucked oysters, caviar, and shrimp cocktail by Santa Monica Seafood; cheese and charcuterie by Culture Counter; duck confit by Belcampo Meat Co., and more.

To make spirits even brighter, guests will have the opportunity to purchase the sensational champagnes poured throughout the evening and receive a 20 percent discount on purchases of six bottles or more.

Kick off the holidays in style and taste some of the finest bubbly there is! This champagne tasting is a ticketed event, and costs $60 per person.

Advance tickets are required, please call 805.770.7702 for reservations.

— Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing Wine + Beer.

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Bill Macfadyen: Ferguson Storyline Resonates Here, But Not for the Reasons Some Think

By | Published on 11/28/2014

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NoozWeek’s Top 5 calls rollover rollover, sees a teacher sex offender sentenced, gets a read on The Good Lion, and takes a stab at Mandarin and Orange

There were 73,669 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

1. Santa Barbarans Take to Streets to Protest Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson, Mo., Police Shooting​

Hundreds of people joined a peaceful and circuitous march through downtown Santa Barbara the night of Nov. 25 to show their “solidarity with Michael Brown.”

The demonstration had as many as 500 protesters at one point, but authorities prevented the throng from trying to block traffic on Highway 101 or gathering outside Santa Barbara police headquarters.

Brown, as I know you know, was a black teenager who was shot to death Aug. 9 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., a St. Louis suburb. A grand jury concluded that no charges were merited against the officer, Darren Wilson, who claims he fired in self-defense after Brown attacked him and tried to take his gun.

The incident was widely portrayed as emblematic of America’s increasing racial divide, disrespect of minorities, mistrust of police, mistrust of citizens, police brutality, cultural decline and a thousand other injustices. While I seem to be one of the few who will admit that I don’t actually know what happened that day on that street, I do know there are kernels of truth — and, in some cases, whole ears of truth — in several of the complaints.

But I also believe that if you choose to assault a cop ... whatever happens next? That’s all on you.

And that — that disrespect of authority, that defiance of authority, that hostility to authority — is a fundamental aspect of the Ferguson incident that has received way too little attention. Here and there.

Earlier this year, there was a Saturday night stabbing in Isla Vista. As Santa Barbara County sheriff’s detectives tried to gather evidence at the scene, a crowd grew. Some guy began jumping on a car and inciting onlookers. Deputies gave chase and arrested the knucklehead, but a near-riot developed as more than 1,000 people encircled the deputies and began chanting and throwing bottles. And remember: The stabbing victim was one of their own!

One month later, of course, came the Deltopia rioting. Six officers were injured by rocks, bricks and bottles thrown by “revelers” — including a UC Santa Barbara police officer who was slammed in the face with a backpack full of booze bottles.

At Halloween, meanwhile, I’m aware that during a sweep of Del Playa Drive parties the night before, one officer was cold-cocked by a young man old enough to know better and another officer had to fight off a punk who leaped at him and tried to grab his gun from its holster. Sound familiar? 

Finally, during the Nov. 19 melee at Righetti High School in Orcutt, a school resource deputy was struck by food, containers and bottles thrown by teenagers as he struggled to detain a student during a series of fights on campus.

Yes, no one died here. But these seemingly isolated local incidents, and the Ferguson case, portend a frightening turn and future for our society.

And that’s not a black issue, or a white issue. It’s our issue. We’d better figure out how to deal with it.

Didn’t we just see this picture last week? Oh, wait, that was six blocks away. (Urban Hikers photo)
Didn’t we just see this picture last week? Oh, wait, that was six blocks away. (Urban Hikers photo)

2. Three Hurt in Two Rollover Collisions in Santa Barbara

Two rollover wrecks — within a few minutes of each other — sent three people to the hospital Nov. 23 in Santa Barbara. The crashes occurred between 2:10 and 2:15 a.m. Just sayin’.

In the first wreck, a car apparently ran up on the center median in the 3500 block of State Street near Ontare Road, swerved to the right, struck a light pole and overturned.

Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Lee Waldron said one of the men in the vehicle was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with minor injuries. The other two guys were arrested at the scene. 

Five minutes later and a couple of miles away, a man and woman also were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after their car overturned on the southbound Mission Street exit ramp from Highway 101.

Further details were not immediately available, but Santa Barbara police and the California Highway Patrol are investigating both cases.

3. Former Laguna Blanca Teacher Gets Jail Time, Probation for Sex with Minor

Pssst. Don’t fall for Joseph Beck’s 'casting call.' (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)
Pssst. Don’t fall for Joseph Beck’s “casting call.” (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Joseph Beck, a former part-time drama teacher at Laguna Blanca School, has been sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of sex with a minor.

If that seems like a light sentence — and it sure does to me — he’ll at least be required to register as a sex offender during his subsequent three years of probation, according to prosecutor Hannah Lucy.

Beck, 38, was arrested Jan. 9. He pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor charges: unlawful sex with a minor, oral copulation with a person under 18 and sodomy with a person under 18.

He was sentenced Nov. 20.

Beck left Laguna Blanca in 2012, before the curtain was raised on his activities.

Misty and Brandon Ristaino have just opened The Good Lion bar next to The Granada Theatre. Try ordering a Hindu trader sandwich. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Misty and Brandon Ristaino have just opened The Good Lion bar next to The Granada Theatre. Try ordering a Hindu trader sandwich. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

4. BizHawk: The Good Lion Cocktail Bar Opens in Former Marquee on State Street

A new cocktail bar has opened next door to The Granada Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.

The Good Lion, owned and operated by newlyweds Misty and Brandon Ristaino and named for an Ernest Hemingway short story, has replaced the old Marquee at 1212 State St.

The couple has added lighting, stools and antiques, and is serving a menu heavy on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.

5. Stabbing in Old Town Goleta Sends Man to Hospital

A Goleta man was stabbed in Old Town the evening of Nov. 21, and Santa Barbara County sheriff’s detectives are investigating it as possibly gang-related. They’re also looking for suspects. Know any?

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the incident happened shortly after 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Mandarin and Orange avenues. Side note: If the sound of that intersection doesn’t produce a delicious image in your head, you have no soul.

“There was a confrontation between two males in their early 20s,” Hoover told our Tom Bolton. “One of the males stabbed the other and is still outstanding.”

That’s cop talk for r-u-n-n-o-f-t.

The victim was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and is said to be recovering.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the sheriff’s anonymous tip line at 805.681.4171.

                                                                 •        •        •

Did you survive Black Friday? If you haven’t yet ventured out, watch this ... then just wait for Cyber Monday

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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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Local Communities Encouraging Holiday Shoppers to Support Small Businesses

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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Cities in Santa Barbara County are putting their own twist on national campaigns and reminding residents of the benefits of buying local

While shoppers are consumed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness, Santa Barbara County’s largest cities want to be sure residents remember to shop small and in their hometowns, too, this holiday season.

Local communities are participating in national holiday campaigns and putting their own twist on them to remind shoppers to buy from small businesses.

In early November, the county’s biggest city relaunched its Thanks for Shopping Santa Maria campaign, with advertisements reminding residents the value of supporting local businesses. The campaign continues through December.

“I think we always want to continue to remind people about the importance of supporting local businesses,” said Glenn Morris, chief executive officer and president of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Along with keeping local businesses healthy, shopping local generates sales tax that helps fund police, fire and other city expenses. Additionally, local businesses provide valuable support to nonprofit agencies.

“It’s really a matter of keeping awareness alive,” Morris said.

This holiday shopping season, Santa Maria will unveil its new grant-funded red trolley, designed to carry shoppers between downtown and other shopping areas. The Downtown Trolley, with a carrying capacity of 28 passengers, will be formally introduced during the downtown tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 5. The tree ceremony begins at 5:15 p.m. with the lighting scheduled at 5:40 p.m.

The trolley will go into service carrying shoppers Dec. 7 with rides costing 25 cents for a regular fare and 10 cents for senior citizens, disabled people and those on Medicare. The holiday shopping shuttle will operate Thursdays through Fridays from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m., and weekends from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Meanwhile, Lompoc will hold another Shop Lompoc! Shop Small! on Saturday to promote its hometown retailers.

The Lompoc event falls on Small Business Saturday — nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when online retailers offer dramatic deals. Founded in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. American Express cardholders who spent at least $10 will get $10, up to three times, for purchases made with registered cards at a small business on Saturday.

This year, Downtown Santa Barbara is promoting Small Business Saturday as a way to kick off the holiday shopping season.

“We have such a diverse and unique blend of small businesses downtown,” said Kate Schwab, Downtown Santa Barbara marketing and communication director. “It is a pleasure to support our many small business in downtown Santa Barbara and give them an opportunity to show off great places to shop, eat or visit.”

Participating locations are listed on the Downtown Santa Barbara website. DSB staff will be on hand at Marshalls patio, 900 State St., giving out Shop Small tote bags, balloons and even dog bandanas. 

“We’re encouraging Shop Small customers to post or tweet where they are shopping or dining throughout the day, using #shopsmall and #DowntownSB,” Schwab added.

Lompoc put its own stamp on Small Business Saturday by creating Shop Lompoc! Shop Small! The twice-a-year movement promotes small businesses in the city.

Asked if the efforts have made an impact on businesses, Robin Dunaetz, owner of Surf Connection and Shop Lompoc! leader, responded “most definitely.”

“I hear it from the businesses and I hear it from the community as well. They’re discovering each other,” she said, adding the effort also educates shoppers about the importance of their local businesses.

About 60 businesses, including tasting rooms, will take part Saturday. A day earlier, tasting rooms will hold their own event dubbed “Sip Lompoc!”

While corporate stores play a role in a community, they don’t necessarily give back the way a local business does, she added.

“It’s nice to have a mix in the community and not just be all big-box stores,” she said.

The Shop Lompoc! Shop Small! arose from a series of local Cash Mob events starting in 2012 to give one business a boost each month with a group of residents converging upon the store to spend money.

The retailers expanded upon Small Business Saturday to launch Shop Lompoc! Shop Small!, with events not just tied to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Another event was held in May to promote hometown shopping.

To further boost turnout, shoppers Saturday in Lompoc are encouraged to visit at least six participating businesses listed on a map to get stamps so they will be eligible for prizes in a later drawing. Maps are available at the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce or participating businesses, or by clicking here.

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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SBCC Neighborhood Task Force Addresses Noise Complaints, Other Community Issues

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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President Lori Gaskin spearheaded creation of the stakeholder group this fall

The accumulating trash, the cars speeding down Cliff Drive or the late-night, noisy party calls to police could've tipped the scales, forcing Santa Barbara City College officials to consider the role their students play in the local community.

Most likely, a combination of all three concerns and more compelled college President Lori Gaskin to create an SBCC Neighborhood Task Force this fall, aimed at making students better citizens and keeping neighboring residents happier.

The committee of 18 regular members has met twice a month since October, and includes attendees such as Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, SBCC administrators, faculty, students, Santa Barbara police officers, local landlords and one or two representatives from each surrounding neighborhood, according to SBCC trustee Marianne Kugler, who co-chairs the task force with fellow trustee, former Santa Barbara mayor and current Mesa resident Marty Blum.

A facilitator, Daniel Iacosano, has been contracted to direct dialogue and to keep tabs on issues of most interest.

Overcrowded housing, safety and traffic were just the tip of discussion so far, one Kugler said will conclude until mid-January when the task force delivers a list of recommendations and final report to Gaskin, the mayor and Santa Barbara City Council.

“It’s about anything where there’s a problem between the long-term residents and the shorter-term residents,” Kugler said. “It may be trash cans, cars that are speeding, anything in the neighborhood that makes it difficult in terms of quality of life. We’re gathering information faster still than we’re making decisions. There’s a lot to gather.”

Absentee rental housing landlords fuel problems, she said, but students need to be more aware of their surroundings.

Looking for a successful model has led the task force to San Luis Obispo, where police Sgt. Riley Harwood recently took committee members on a field trip.

Harwood spoke about the task force during a recent Santa Barbara council meeting, indicating the group was considering possibly enacting a noise ordinance similar to one San Luis Obispo established in 2010.

Noise complaints and house parties were bigger headaches in San Luis Obispo until stricter rules — allowing hefty fines for even first-time violators — were laid out for both college students and long-term residents.

Because San Luis Obispo has a university (Cal Poly) and a community college (Cuesta College), Kugler said its solutions might work in Santa Barbara, home to SBCC and UC Santa Barbara.

“San Luis Obispo has been working on their issues a lot longer than we have because they came up earlier,” she said. “They had some student problems in their community about eight years ago.”

Narrowing down the problem area was also difficult, Kugler said, since different neighborhoods experience varied issues. Apartment complexes near East campus and just behind JJ’s Liquor & Deli at Castillo and Montecito streets were two problem-area examples.

Kugler said she hopes the committee could continue in some permanent capacity past its January lifespan.

The group next meets Monday, and Kugler encouraged anyone interested in participating in a subcommittee focus group to call the SBCC main line at 805.965.0581.

“It’s very much more complicated I think than people necessarily realized when people went into this discussion,” she said. “It deals with more than one issue in more than one neighborhood.

“The college really wants to be good neighbors. We want our students to learn about being a part of the community, and many of them are, but we know there are problems, too.”

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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BizHawk: 20-Somethings Open Barbareño Restaurant in Downtown Santa Barbara

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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Santa Maria Inn hires Jean-luc Garon as general manager, ShipHawk launches new shipping tools and Cotton On opens in Santa Maria Town Center

[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 fact that 25-year-old Julian Martinez is now part owner of a restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara hasn’t quite sunk in, but five-star Yelp reviews have helped put the change in perspective.

Striving to serve plates typifying local cuisine, the Santa Barbara native opened Barbareño at 205 W. Canon Perdido St. about a month ago with business partner and college friend Jesse Gaddy, the 24-year-old restaurant general manager.

“It’s all a new spin on it,” said Martinez, who serves as head chef. “We want to be approachable.”

Three other enterprising 20-somethings have pitched in, helping the pair remodel the space at the corner of De la Vina Street, building a wine bar, expanding the kitchen and making other updates to the restaurant that used to house D’Vine Café until it closed after 10 years last April.

Martinez, who is the son of Deckers Outdoor Corp. CEO Angel Martinez, said he and Gaddy had been toying with the idea of opening a California-style bistro for more than a year, after both had graduated from Claremont College near Los Angeles — Martinez with a business degree — and Martinez had spent some time working in San Francisco kitchens.

Barbareño serves only local beer and wine and is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday, although Martinez hopes to extend that to lunch in two months, and possibly even brunch further down the road.

Santa Maria Inn Hires New General Manager

The Santa Maria Inn has hired hospitality veteran Jean-luc Garon as its new general manager, a position he currently has at the Radisson Santa Maria.

Garon has been in the hotel industry for 27 years since moving to the United States from his native France in 1987.

Garon has worked at the Hotel Sofitel in Houston, Capistrano’s Restaurant and Catering in the Mandalay Beach Resort Embassy Suite Hotel in Oxnard, as food and beverage director for Boykin Hospitality in Oxnard and at the Radisson Berkeley Marina Hotel in Berkley.

Over the years, the Santa Maria Inn, which opened on May 16, 1917, has hosted several Hollywood celebrities and a U.S. president.

ShipHawk Launches New Shipping Tools

Santa Barbara-based ShipHawk, a tech startup dedicated to connecting the dots for shippers everywhere, this week announced it has enhanced both its APIs and platform to change how auction providers approach shipping.

Auction platforms can now queue, group and ship items uniquely tied to individual lots and auctions. ShipHawk’s APIs can be configured to navigate both pickup processes, inventory control and shipment tracking to ensure that items are delivered to customers safely, efficiently and at a price they can trust.

Cotton On Opens in Santa Maria

Australian brand Cotton On has opened at the Santa Maria Town Center

Cotton On carries collections that incorporate global trends in ladies’ and men’s wear, with more than 800 stores in seven countries and scattered across five continents.

The brand’s core items best suit shoppers ages 16 to 30, but also have offerings for those who fall off the range.

Jim Glines Retires from Community Bank of Santa Maria

Community Bank of Santa Maria has announced that James Glines plans to retire as chief executive officer on Dec. 31.

Glines, a co-founder and original president and CEO of the bank when it opened March 1, 2001, will remain active as chairman of the bank board, effective Jan. 1.

The bank’s current chairman of the board, William Hares, another co-founder, will retire Dec. 31. He will continue to serve on the bank’s board of directors as chairman emeritus and chairman of the executive committee.

Current bank president and COO Janet Silveria will be appointed CEO, effective Jan. 1.

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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Righetti High School Implements Intervention Plan

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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After altercations, staff talk to students about ‘proper usage' of social media

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District officials have launched an effort to stem students' social media posts after dozens of Ernest Righetti High School teens were tweeting and otherwise putting pictures plus updates online while in the midst of a lockdown last week.

District officials on Wednesday revealed the intervention plan implemented “after a disruption on campus was fueled by inaccurate information that led to an early dismissal the next day." The plan will remain in place throughout the school year.

“Many students have already been spoken to by intervention staff and teachers about the proper usage of social media and asked not to tweet or post anything during class or the school day,” the district statement said. “Parents have received the correct information through recorded calls from Principal Karen Rotondi.”

A series of student fights that escalated to throwing food at Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies and security staff prompted law enforcement members from throughout North County to respond to the campus and a sheriff’s helicopter to circle overhead Nov. 19.

Although in a lockdown, multiple students provided updates — including written posts, pictures and video posted with the various hashtags such as #righetti and #righetto— of the earlier incidents. The posts also occurred once students were released.

In all, nine students were arrested for various criminal charges related to the altercations and taken to Santa Maria Juvenile Hall.

Parents complained last week that they learned more about the incidents at school from media reports and social media posts from students than from school officials

On Nov. 21, school officials released students at lunchtime, saying that unsubstantiated reports were interfering with the educational process. Students and staff had this week off for the Thanksgiving break and return to school Dec. 1.

“We are confident that our intervention plan is helping students and parents understand that unsubstantiated rumor promulgated through the irresponsible use of social media interferes with the educational process," Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson said in a written statement.

In addition to intervention staff, the plan includes proper and responsible social media usage, how parents can help, increased student communication with parents and staff to identify students using social media, a hotline for pressing concerns and interaction with Fighting Back Santa Maria.District officials did not say if any students faced punishments for their social media posts.

The handbook available on Righetti’s website spells out the rules for electronic devices, but not social media use. Cell phones, the policy notes, have proven to be a "major disruption" on campus.

"Their use at school may be detrimental to the academic climate because they take away valuable instructional time and create disciplinary problems," the Righetti handbook said. "Electronic devices are used to cheat on quizzes and tests by storing data in memory, text messaging and camera usage. Additionally, a substantial amount of time is spent by teachers, security, and administrators investigating lost or stolen electronic devices."

All cell phones must be turned off during class time, according to the policy, which also says that any cell phones used, or even visible, during the restricted time will confiscated.

A parent or guardian would have to pick up a confiscated item and all electronic devices must be turned off during testing, the handbook noted.

A Tennessee school district’s new policy restricting social media use prompted objections from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, citing First and Fourth Amendments. The rules infringe up the students’ rights of free speech and privacy, the two groups noted in October.

The social media portion of the policy is overly broad, applying to “virtually all online communication by [Williamson County Schools] students (including adults), regardless of whether the speech occurs on or off campus,” the groups said in a letter to district. They also criticized the policy as being “impermissibly vague” in prohibiting “inappropriate” or “unauthorized” speech.

The Tennessee policy requires students to get permission from a teacher or administrator to post photographs of other students or staff on social media

“The Supreme Court has long held that students do not shed their right to free speech at the schoolhouse gate. By restricting non-disruptive, off-campus student speech across the board, this policy clearly violates students’ First Amendment rights,” said Thomas Castelli, ACLU-TN legal director. 

The groups sought a change to the district’s policy.

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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Montecito Fire District Collecting Food, Toy Donations for Unity Shoppe

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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In conjunction with the “Season of Hope” campaign, the Montecito Fire Protection District is joining with KSBY and other Santa Barbara County fire agencies in collecting nonperishable food items and toys for Unity Shoppe throughout this holiday season.

Suggested food donations:

Peanut butter
Canned fruits and vegetables
Canned stews and chili
Fruit juice
Rice and beans
Baked beans
Soups
Diapers
Coffee and tea
Dried fruits and vegetables
Oatmeal
Whole grain crackers
Low sugar/high fiber cereals
Pasta
Canned tuna and salmon
Canned chicken

Nonperishable food items and new, unwrapped toys for a child or teen can be dropped off at either of our two fire stations, Station No. 1 at 595 San Ysidro Road and Station No. 2 at 2300 Sycamore Canyon Road. (No used toys or clothing will be accepted.)

According to Unity Shoppe, more than 22,000 people are referred each year by more than 300 nonprofit agencies, churches, schools and hospitals. In addition to providing holiday gifts for less fortunate children, Unity Shoppe also operates a year-round “free” grocery and clothing store so people can shop with dignity for their basic needs including food, school clothing, school supplies, household goods, disaster and emergency services. Over 1,700 volunteers help a small staff of 15. Over $2 million in merchandise is distributed annually.

We hope you and your family enjoy a safe and happy holiday season, and hope you will consider bringing a gift into the station for a family or a child less fortunate.

— Geri Ventura represents the Montecito Fire Protection District.

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Cinema in Focus: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjoy — Part I’

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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3 Stars — Powerful

The strength of The Hunger Games rests not only in its excellence in storytelling but also in its political and social commentary. Recognizing that history is resplendent with examples of governments that fence, red-line or marginalize various groups, races or religions, this sci-fi film exposes the experience of being victimized by such oppression.

Written by Suzanne Collins and brought to the screen by director Francis Lawrence, this third film in the series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjoy — Part I, continues the same high standards set by the other films. As “Part 1,” it takes the final novel of the Hunger Games trilogy and divides it at a natural break in the conclusion of the story.

The engaging Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes to find herself in the care of District 13, the hidden rebel base fighting the Capitol. Having destroyed the government’s dome over the forest where tributes fight to the death in order to provide food for their own district, Katniss has become the symbol for the resistance. Realizing she could be used to bring all 13 of the districts together, Rebel-President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and her advisor, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), set out to convince her to do so.

Complicating their attempt is the fact that Katniss’ beloved Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is under the control of the cruel President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Setting Katniss and Peeta against one another in the Capitol’s government-controlled and District 13’s rebel-pirated television waves, each side has its own champion. How this struggle is played out on- and off-camera is the focus of this chapter of the tale.

The familiar characters in the story include the handsome Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), whose love for Katniss is now conflicted with the undefined though deeply bonded relationship she has with Peeta. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) are still working to coach and dress Katniss for public approval, while her beloved sister Primrose continues to need her protective care.

The universal desire for freedom and justice is a clarion call heard most clearly where oppressive regimes exist. The question The Hunger Games explores is: How do we achieve both freedom and justice? As the story increasingly shows that the rebel forces have similar objectives as the oppressive government they are fighting, the issues and even the language can be confusing. It is this struggle that makes The Hunger Games powerful at several levels.

Discussion

» With the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the series will need to find a solution as to how to present his character in the next film. What would you do: recast the character, or remove the character from the story?

» The cruelty of President Snow is shown as a calculated violence. Do you believe this type of violence is the tool or the driving force of oppressive governments? Why do you answer as you do?

» By the time we come to the next and final film, we will discover the solution Collins suggests. What do you think the solution should be?

» How do you think the love triangle will be resolved between Peeta, Katniss and Gale? Who do you believe that Katniss will end up with — or will she be alone? Why do you think so? Who would you choose? Why?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

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24 Custody Deputies Graduate from Sheriff’s Department Academy

By | Published on 11/27/2014

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The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is pleased to announce the graduation of 24 custody deputies from the academy, making it the largest custody deputy class in Sheriff’s Department history.

After 10 weeks of intense training, the graduates received their certificates of completion on Wednesday before a packed group of family, friends and Sheriff’s Department employees.

The traditional ceremony was held at the Lompoc Veterans Memorial Building. The program began with live music provided by the Sheriff’s Pipe and Drum Corps and ended with the graduates reciting the fundamental “Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.”

In Sheriff Bill Brown’s opening remarks, he welcomed the impressive group of custody deputies to the ranks of the Sheriff’s Department.

"We owe our corrections staff a debt of gratitude for the important role they play in keeping criminals in custody and working with offenders to change their lives for the better," he said. "They perform dangerous and difficult work each and every day.”

The graduating class includes Eduardo Cazarez, Eric Cohen, Bryce Cosio, Edgar Enriquez, Joseph Evans, Joseph Favela, Brittany Gerlach, Timothy Graff, Lonnie Green, Jeffrey Koeller, Autumn Long, Timothy Lucas, Javier Medina, Oscar Meraz, Liliana Nunez, Ignacio Rios, Kenneth Rushing III, Dustin Souza, Thomas Stallings, Robert Steele, Robert Thomas, Ian Ur, Flavio Vargas and Dustin Winebrenner.

The Sheriff’s Training Bureau conducts the Custody Deputy Academy, which at 450 hours exceeds the minimum state mandated training hours. Commander Darin Fotheringham of the Custody Operations Division said the training they received will immediately be put to use.

“The 24 graduates have all been assigned to shifts at the Santa Barbara County Jail some of which start bright and early tomorrow morning," Fotheringham said. "I am impressed with the enthusiasm of this class and their eagerness to start the next phase of their career.”

The Sheriff’s Department is continually looking for the best candidates to fill our custody deputy positions. If you are interested in a career as a custody deputy with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, click here and fill out an interest card.

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

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Despite Neighbors’ Concerns, Santa Barbara Council Backs Two-Story Home in San Roque

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Single Family Design Board rejected the project because of its size, but the proposal is approved on appeal

Despite the objections of 20 neighbors, and the denial by an influential design board, the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday approved a two-story house on a vacant lot in the San Roque neighborhood. 

The home is one of four set to go on four parcels of land at 3626 San Remo Drive.

The Planning Commission split the lot into four earlier this year. The 2,652-square-foot house, with a 480-square-foot attached garage, is 30 percent larger than the other houses in the area.

The proposed residence was rejected by the Single Family Design Board because board members said it was too large. Rather than make the house smaller, Jarrett Gorin, agent on behalf of Capital Pacific Development Group, appealed the project to the City Council.

"Square footage alone doesn't really tell you a whole hell of a lot," Gorin said.

Gorin said opposition to the project was arbitrary and not based on city rules. The project, he said, met all city requirements.

The council approved the proposal on a 5-1 vote, with Harwood "Bendy" White opposed.

Councilwoman Cathy Murillo recused herself from the vote because she said a relative owns property in the neighborhood. 

The project sits next to San Roque creek, near Ontare Road. 

White, a former planning commissioner, objected to the size of the second story. He said he preferred that the second story have somewhat of a "wedding cake" feel.

"I think the place where I would disagree with the appellant is the second floor," White said.

He said second floors are increasingly the cause of neighborhood dissent, and that city officials should be cognizant of the design impacts of second floors on neighborhoods. 

Neighbors said the applicant was trying to squeeze too much onto a small piece of land. 

"We feel that this entire development is too large, too dense for the size of the build-able property," said neighbor Shirley Edwards. "We use our backyard all the time. You will find as you age, you don't travel, you stay home and you enjoy your house and yard.

"We are going to have people looking into our yard, and I would hope you would consider this."

Edwards said the developer was trying to make money at the expense of the longtime residents.

"I realize the larger houses are more profitable when they are sold, but I would ask you to consider the quality of life for the already established neighborhood," Edwards said. 

Nearby resident Bob Westwick said that the size of this house will dictate the size of the other three houses proposed as part of the development. 

"Mr. Gorin is a little confused as to why we object to it," Westwick said. "What we object to is the fact that there will be four homes that have been referred to as 'McMansions,' 30 percent larger than the average in the neighborhood."

Gorin, however, was frequently dismissive of the neighborhood concerns, so much so that Mayor Helene Schneider even called him on it.

In response to a neighbor who said that 20 neighbors were opposed to the project, Gorin blurted, "Development in Santa barbara is certainly not a popularity contest."

Schneider praised Gorin for his thorough PowerPoint presentations, but said the second half of his presentation was overly emotional and that it "turned me off a bit."

Schneider warned Gorin that there are still two lots that potentially could go before the City Council for approval, and that she plans to be "really attentive to the neighborhood concerns."

"It is important to try and work with the neighborhood," Schneider said. 

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

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Student Parents Give Thanks for Santa Barbara City College’s EOPS Program

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Volunteers hand out 150 free frozen turkeys and the trimmings to ensure the low-income students and their families can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal

Armed with a whole frozen turkey in an aluminum carrier, a smiling Santa Barbara City College student wearing a backward baseball cap darted toward a girl who had just stepped out of her parked car.

The students exchanged smiles, gratitude and all the Thanksgiving trimmings a small family could wish for Wednesday morning near the Winslow Maxwell Overlook on SBCC's east campus.

The pair didn’t necessarily know each other, but both hailed from the college’s EOPS (Extended Opportunities and Program Services) CARE program, which provides much-needed resources to low-income students, especially those who are single parents.

Like every Wednesday before Thanksgiving for the past 20 or so years, about 25 current and former EOPS student volunteers handed out 150 free turkey dinners to full-time scholars in an all-too familiar predicament.

Those who couldn’t find a ride to campus received special deliveries at home or even elsewhere on campus — no excuses.

“They’re a single parent, so they have a lot of excuses,” said Danny Gonzalez, an EOPS technician at SBCC who’s organized the event the past three years.

Gonzalez had never baked a turkey himself until he received a free dinner eight years ago as a full-time SBCC student and single father of a now 9-year-old son.

Back then, the pumpkin pie and whipped cream didn’t last till Thanksgiving.

SBCC students and alumni of the EOPS program hand out Thanksgiving meals to student parents Wednesday. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The next year he volunteered to help, and now he works for a program he loves.

“For EOPS, for our family, it’s tradition, too,” Gonzalez said of the meals. “I know it’s a good opportunity for them. It’s really going toward a good cause.”

Planning for the giveaway began in September and fundraising started even earlier.

The SBCC Foundation and EOPS threw fundraisers and collected private donations, bringing in the $5,000 needed to buy the turkeys, stuffing, carrots, rolls and more at a discount from Albertsons, with Jordano’s providing pumpkin pies and Lazy Acres Market offering free reusable bags.

SBCC student volunteers like 18-year-old Angel Cuevas proudly distribute them accordingly. Cuevas’ two older brothers were part of EOPS, so he understands a free meal’s value.

Milena Ramirez brought her 3-year-old son to daycare so she could volunteer Wednesday as an EOPS student worker who has also gone home with free food the last four years.

It’s one way the 21-year-old gives back, in addition to counseling other EOPS students just like her as a peer adviser.

“I hear the hardships they go through,” Ramirez said. “It’s a really amazing program. If it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner.”

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.

The son of a SBCC EOPS student pitches in to distribute free Thanksgiving dinners this year. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

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Volunteers Dish Out Meals, Holiday Spirit at Rescue Mission’s Thanksgiving Feast

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Hundreds of people gather to give thanks and gobble up turkey with all the trimmings

Two days of cooking, 68 turkeys roasting and about four dozen volunteers working added up to hundreds of meals going out to those in need of some Thanksgiving spirit on Wednesday.

The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission held its annual Thanksgiving Feast at 535 E. Yanonali St., where hundreds of people lined up to wait for a seat in the festively decorated dining hall.

The Rescue Mission is the only emergency shelter open every night of the year between Santa Maria and Ventura, and offers a residential treatment program for those with substance abuse issues.

On Wednesday, there were about 300 meals served and 40 to-go boxes from the Rescue Mission kitchen, where workers were busily turning out plates of mashed potatoes, turkey, green beans and a half-dozen other sides.

Several dozen volunteers bustled across the dining room to serve the meals restaurant style to patrons, supplementing with rolls, iced tea and pumpkin pie.

"Efficiency takes a back seat to care and concern" as volunteers worked to get the meals out, said Rolf Geyling, president of the Rescue Mission.

He encouraged people to linger and chat and make the meal feel like a family event.

"We really want them to feel cared for," he said.

One of those enjoying the meals was Nancy, who asked that her last name not be used. She's been housed for two years at the El Carrillo Apartments and was a client of the Rescue Mission before finding housing with its help.

She still returns for the Thanksgiving meal every year.

"It's the food, the people and the companionship," she said. "Nobody wants to eat Thanksgiving dinner alone in their apartment."

Doug and Nancy Ranck, along with their son, Landon, were among the volunteers working to serve meals. The Rancks have made serving the meals a tradition for the past 10 years. 

"It's a fun way for us to serve together," Nancy said, adding that the meals are good reminder to the family to be thankful for what they have. "It really brings the awareness that this could be any us."

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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Authorities Investigate Person Using Radio to Impersonate Santa Barbara County Fire Dispatcher

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Santa Barbara County is investigating a person who was impersonating County Fire dispatchers over the radio Tuesday.

It’s unclear where the person was transmitting from, but a man was reading information from County Fire dispatch computers (published as a dispatch Twitter feed @SBCFireDispatch and on the iPhone app ResponseDeck) and transmitting the dispatch information over county frequencies.

County Fire shut down the app and Twitter feed so the person can’t further impersonate dispatchers, Capt. David Sadecki said. The person is transmitting through the frequency used by Fire Channel 1.

“It has the potential to be an issue; we could have a delay, a confusing dispatch could delay services, and there could be the potential for loss of life or loss of property,” Sadecki said. "We actually sent an announcement over the air yesterday about 1:10 in the afternoon announcing it’s illegal to do that, whoever is doing that should stop.”

Dispatch, which is run through the Sheriff’s Department, is working on a solution and trying to triangulate where the transmission is coming from.

“It’s very difficult,” Sadecki noted.

County Fire isn’t missing any radios, but it’s possible someone found a radio and the transmissions will end once the battery dies, Sadecki said.

“We have no missing radios that we know of, so somebody may have purchased a radio and picked up the frequency, and for some reason is doing what they’re doing,” he said.

Incident information is loaded into a computer as the dispatcher is dispatching responding units. As soon as the information is in the computer, it’s published onto the County Fire dispatch Twitter account and the app, Sadecki said.

“As the dispatcher at the terminal is deciding which units are supposed to respond, which is very quick, the person picks up the Twitter feed and dispatches before the dispatcher can dispatch the call," he said. "It’s only seconds, but enough of a delay (for the impersonator) to do what they were doing.”

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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Salvation Army of Santa Barbara Invites Public to Kettle Kickoff

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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With Thanksgiving in the books, The Salvation Army of Santa Barbara is ready to officially ring in the holidays at its first-ever Kettle Kickoff event!

From 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 28, all are invited to join in this free celebration to raise awareness for The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles.

Roughly 550 red kettles occupy Southern California storefronts during the holiday season, and each year through their efforts millions of dollars worth of spare change is donated to help those in need all year through.

This special celebration in front of Kmart at 6865 Hollister Ave. in Goleta on Black Friday will feature festive music from a Salvation Army Brass Band and a performance from the Interfaith Gospel Choir. While Kmart shoppers are out crossing off items on their holiday lists, The Salvation Army’s red kettles will be out in full force, accepting monetary donations, along with unwrapped holiday toy donations for underprivileged children.

Volunteers from community partners, including Uber, will be on hand to give out free coffee and kettle corn from a Salvation Army canteen to help make the arrival of the holiday season that much sweeter!

This event kicks off The Salvation Army Santa Barbara Corps’ Christmas season, when it will be raising money to support those in need through its iconic red kettles stationed at storefronts throughout the city.

Click here for more information on The Salvation Army in Southern California. To help those in need in your community, contribute to red kettles or call 800.SAL.ARMY.

— Kimberly Selman is the media manager for The Salvation Army of Santa Barbara.

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Jeff Moehlis: Chris Robinson’s Heart and Soul

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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The Chris Robinson Brotherhood will play at the Lobero Theatre on Saturday

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood — CRB for short — has been playing regularly in Santa Barbara since their first tour in 2011. (Click here for a review of their first show in town.)

Back then, it wasn't clear what the future held for the band — in particular, was it just a way for Robinson to pass time until The Black Crowes got back together?

Fast-forwarding to the present, it's safe to say that the CRB is where Robinson's heart and soul is at. The band has three albums out, most recently this year's Phosphorescent Harvest. And they're still doing what they arguably do best — playing live shows full of cool original and cover tunes.

The CRB will return to Santa Barbara for a concert on Saturday night at the Lobero Theatre. Tickets are available by clicking here.

Robinson talked to Noozhawk about the band's history in Santa Barbara. The full interview, including Robinson talking about his cameo on The Kids in the Hall and his plan if he leaves the rock 'n' roll world, is available by clicking here.

                                                                        •        •

Jeff Moehlis: I'm glad you're coming back to Santa Barbara.

Chris Robinson: Yeah, yeah, me too. We feel we had a great show with Bobby [Bob Weir] at the [Santa Barbara] Bowl, but we were kind of gypped on time, so we want to come and do our whole thing.

JM: I saw you guys at one of the first shows you did as the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, back at SOhO in 2011. Do you have fond memories of those early shows in Santa Barbara?

CR: Yeah, completely. Because, you know, the whole idea when we put the project together, I was really fascinated with how do we get somewhere without having to do it in any sort of more conventional way. You know, like, you write some songs, you demo them, you send them to a guy who says, "We'll do a deal," and then you make a record, and then you put a band together. I'm not going to do that. That doesn't work anymore either, especially for people like us.

So the idea was to do this nine-week California residency tour where we could play Tuesday nights at little places like SOhO for very little money, and kind of hone our s***, man, you know, like get it together. Get the tunes together and see if we're going to be a band.

Before that pressure is thrust upon you, we would go through that stuff as ourselves.

And as I'm sure you well know, living in beautiful Santa Barbara ... [laughs]. So we played Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego every other week for nine weeks. We must've done, I don't know, four or five nights at SOhO over that period of time. Los Angeles, classically, is always a bummer [laughs]. You know, it's cool for us now, but we'd play this club on a Monday night, no one's dancing. It's like, whatever. It was cool, but then we would pop up to SOhO and it would be packed out, and people dancing and partying all night.

It was, like, wow, know you? Between Santa Barbara and San Diego was where we found our stride, to be honest, especially SOhO. That was when we realized, oh wow, people are here, and people are responding. You know what I mean? It was a great laboratory for us to sort of start to get our s*** together.

JM: I remember you commenting that you were surprised that on a Tuesday night there were people dancing in Santa Barbara.

CR: I know. Well, trust me, man, when you're out in the rest of America [laughs] ... . The only other region where people kind of get down at all on a weeknight is down south. But it's funny, I always laugh, I'm like, "But they're drunk. They're not on other stuff."

You know what I mean? But it's true, man. People have a hard time finding a weeknight to let loose and be a part of something, just for a little bit of time.

We played the Lobero a couple of years ago and had a great gig there as well. Santa Barbara looms large for the CRB.

JM: That's great, we are happy about that! Those early shows were before you had any recordings out. What was it like to "grow up in public" like that as a band?

CR: Like I said, I think, maybe unlike some other people my age who are in the music business, or whatever it's called now, I think this is a great time. The machine is dead, you know? It's gone, at least for rock music or whatever you want to call what we do. What I mean by saying that is I appreciate that now I can get to the real essence of the idea. I don't have to go to dinners with d*****bag dudes from the record company anymore. You know what I mean? I don't have to do that stuff. You know, when I say essence, it's the same thing as being as authentic as possible. I want this to be unadulterated music, what's coming out of our heads and our souls right into your head and your soul.

And I think that in this day and age, we spend a lot of time working on these songs, a lot of time writing these songs, and how do you get them out there, because they're not going to play old hippie stoner music on the radio or anything. So the best way to do it for people like us, and the kind of concert culture we're used to, would be to just be recording shows, writing songs, and getting them out there.

And it's funny because SOhO, the second time we played there, or maybe the third time, I noticed some hard-core fans coming from the East Coast. They were like, "We were just reading the s*** online and heard the tapes, and we had to come see." It might be a small scale, but that worked in my mind. So you had to get on an airplane? I like that.

You know, I had to really kind of grow up in front of people as a kid in the Black Crowes, so this to us ... this is just a real harmonious sort of pursuit. There's a lot of progression and positivity around our band and our family and our business. And that's something that we want to maintain and nurture as much as we can. You take care of that and then the music. ... As with any other thing. The more we just focus on the music and the gigs, that's really the only thing we can control, you know? I think that's what makes it seem that everything is just kind of alright.

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

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Invention by SBHS Robotics Club Members Scores Well at Santa Barbara Startup Weekend

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Last weekend, three of Santa Barbara High School Robotics Club's board members participated in Santa Barbara Startup Weekend #4.

Startup Weekend is an event during which participants have 54 hours to create a business, beginning with 60-second pitches, and finishing with five-minute presentations from the final teams.

Students Makala Hieshima, Max Mercurio and Maria De Angelis chose to join the team of local architect Alex Wyndham to work on a bike helmet built specifically to increase the safety of cyclists at night. Their company, LUX Technology, was completed by marketing strategists Jill Courtenay, Grant Pfund and Allison Antoinette.

The product, deemed the LUXhelmet, is a bicycle helmet encased in glowing LEDs that features a fully automated brake light triggered by deceleration. The three SBHS students were responsible for both the construction and programming of the secondary prototype. The promotional video, as produced by Hieshima, can be viewed by clicking here.

The LUXhelmet won both third place overall and the best physical product award in the final SB Startup Weekend lineup. With prizes for the team including Lynda.com memberships, a financial package and a legal package, LUX Technology is ready to move into the future and begin establishing itself.

Voting for the regionals of the Global Startup Battle began Wednesday, with the LUXhelmet entered in several tracks of the competition.

Click here to view the LUXhelmet pitch page and vote for the team in the Global Startup Battle.

— Makala Hieshima is a member of the Santa Barbara High School Robotics Club.

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1 Injured in State Street Rollover Accident in Santa Barbara

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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An elderly driver gets pinned inside his pickup truck after the vehicle is T-boned and then flips

The driver of a pickup truck suffered minor injuries after a vehicle rollover accident Wednesday afternoon on Upper State Street in Santa Barbara.

At about 12:40 p.m., the truck was driving southbound on State Street and made a left turn into the lot for the Automobile Club of Southern California on the 3700 block, Santa Barbara City Fire Battalion Chief Mike DePonce said.

Another vehicle headed northbound on State Street T-boned the truck, flipping it up on its driver’s side.

The truck’s driver, an elderly man, was pinned in since he was on the bottom side of the truck, DePonce said.

“Firefighters had to extricate him by cutting the roof off the truck, peeling the roof back and then were able to get access to the patient.”

The process took about 25 minutes and both directions of State Street were blocked off, with Santa Barbara police officers routing traffic through the Chick-fil-A parking lot.

The man had minor injuries but will go to a local hospital for further examination to make sure there are no internal injuries, DePonce said.

The driver of the other vehicle was “shaken up” but appeared uninjured.

Police are investigating the accident and taking eyewitness accounts. The northbound lanes of State Street at the 3700 block were still closed as of 1:30 p.m., waiting for the truck to be removed from the scene. 

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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Power Outage Impacts Downtown Santa Barbara Area

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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About 400 customers were without power in downtown Santa Barbara Wednesday morning and Southern California Edison crews weren’t sure how long it would take to repair the problem.

Power was returned to most customers by noon, but as of 3:30 p.m., 96 customers were without power in the area of Anapamu and Bath streets, a mostly residential area. 

Crews identified the equipment problem and were hoping to restore power by 9 p.m., 12 hours after the outage was reported, according to the Edison Outage Center.

“We have crews en route and are analyzing the problem,” Edison spokeswoman Rondi Guthrie said Wednesday morning.

“It looks like the number of customers has gone down, we were able to pick up some loads. There is no estimated restoration time.”

Outage updates can be found on Edison’s website here.

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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Steven Crandell: Who Will You Be for Thanksgiving? Beast of Burden or Philanthropist of Spirit?

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Philanthropy can be more than donating money, more than volunteering time and expertise. Philanthropy can be a way of living.

Here’s my epiphany:

I can “bestow blessings” at any time just through how I interact with others.

At the heart of it all is free will. When it comes to things I have to do, consciousness can change everything. What I choose to characterize as a burden will always weigh me down. What I see as a chosen responsibility will teach me, make me stronger and often bring me joy.

Free will is also the key when I’m the beneficiary of a gift or I receive help from some one.

If I feel I have an obligation to repay generosity, I have chained myself to a transactional way of living. But simple gratitude allows me to acknowledge and still respond in whatever way feels appropriate. Of course, I can do something nice in return, but there is no sense of owing, no sense of a debt to be cleared.

In these days of seeking accountability from donors and grantees, I think it’s worth remembering this:

A gift with strings is not really a gift. It’s a deal, a contract, an exchange.

Of course, deals are good things — they form the foundation of our economy and our society. In philanthropy, donated money is exchanged for social and environmental impact. That’s a good deal.

But most of our lives, we live as philanthropists of the spirit. And here, in the kitchens and hallways and backyards and parks and sidewalks and cafés of our lives, we share with other human beings in ways that often do not benefit from a “deal” mentality. Here, moment to moment, we have many opportunities to choose to give freely — to “bestow blessings” — and to say no to transactional behavior that leaves us resentful or beholden.

That’s why I love the quote at the beginning of this post. It reminds me that I make my life as I make my everyday choices in life. And the most important choice stems from whether I see my days on this earth as filled with burden management or opportunities to give and be grateful.

Full Disclosure: Messages from the Ancestors, Wisdom for the Way is a book published by two friends from Santa Barbara, Dr. David Cumes, a Stanford-trained urologist and sangoma from South Africa, and Maryellen Kelley, a retired educator. Both received all the wise sayings in this marvelous little book via dreams.

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

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SBCC Measure V Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Names New Officers

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Community members Jack Ostrander and Charles “Tobe” Plough recently were elected chair and co-chair, respectively, of the Santa Barbara City College Measure V Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee.

Funds from Measure V, a $77.2 million construction improvement bond issue passed on June 3, 2008, have helped the college do needed renovation of aging buildings and upgrading its infrastructure.

The purpose of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee is to ensure that bond expenditures are properly made for projects consistent with those identified in the bond measure. Members represent different constituent groups based on requirements in the California Education Code.

In addition to Ostrander (business organization) and Plough (taxpayers’ organization), other members include Luis Esparza (community-at-large), Bernice James (community-at-large), Dr. David Doner, Jr. (support organization), Michael Just (senior citizen representative) and Caleb Ranson (student representative).

“In these challenging economic times, Measure V funds have been critical in helping SBCC improve our physical environment to support student learning and community engagement,” SBCC President Lori Gaskin said. “We thank the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee members, and especially outgoing officers Sally Green and Lee Moldaver, for their commitment to the college and volunteering to share their expertise with us.”

The college will use the last $15.2 million of the Measure V bond to construct the new West Campus Classroom/Office Building. Groundbreaking is scheduled for March/April 2015. This new building will house approximately 30 new state-of- the-art classrooms and will allow the college to remove 12 more of the remaining aging modular classroom buildings currently located throughout the main campus. So far, 20 portable buildings already have been removed or are scheduled to be removed by the end of January 2015.

Since 2008, Measure V funds have supported major capital improvement projects at SBCC including modernization of the Drama/Music Building, which houses the Garvin Theatre, renovation of the pedestrian bridge connecting the east and west campuses, resurfacing of the La Playa Stadium track and field, refurbishing the interior of the Learning Resource Center and, most recently, the modernization of the Humanities Building. Funds also have assisted with a wide range of major deferral maintenance projects.

Click here for additional about Measure V.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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Capps to Help Serve at Organic Soup Kitchen’s Community Thanksgiving Feast

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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On Thursday, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, will participate in the sixth annual Community Thanksgiving Feast hosted by Organic Soup Kitchen by helping serve food to area residents.

The Organic Soup Kitchen is planning to cook more than 70 turkeys to provide more than 900 meals in the Santa Barbara community.

“The holidays are an important time to give thanks and give back to our communities,” Capps said. “I look forward to attending the Organic Soup Kitchen’s feast again this year and celebrating Thanksgiving with many of my friends and neighbors.”

Chris Meagher is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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Parents and Students Participating in Intervention Plan at Righetti High

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Parents and students are becoming more actively involved in Santa Maria Joint Union High School District’s Intervention Plan at Ernest Righetti High School.

The plan was launched shortly after a disruption on campus was fueled by inaccurate information that led to an early dismissal the next day. It will continue throughout the year.

Many students have already been spoken to by intervention staff and teachers about the proper usage of social media and asked not to tweet or post anything during class or the school day. Parents have received the correct information through recorded calls from Principal Karen Rotondi.

“We are confident that our intervention plan is helping students and parents understand that unsubstantiated rumor promulgated through the irresponsible use of social media interferes with the educational process," Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson said.

Here is a general outline of the ongoing and proactive SMJUHSD Intervention Plan: intervention staff; proper and responsible social media usage; what parents can do to help; increased student communication with parents and staff to identify students using social media devices; hotline for pressing concerns; and Fighting Back Santa Maria.

Righetti parent Edwin Weaver believes the district’s plan is engaging parents and students.

“My hope is that all parents will communicate directly with the school if they have concerns or are getting information from their child that is concerning," Weaver said. “I also encourage parents to talk with their children about posting and commenting. The community is listening, and it is important that they hear what positive things are happening on campus not when a few choose to disrupt learning. I believe students should use social media, but use it knowing that everyone is watching."

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

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Cancer Center to Hold ‘Art Heals’ Exhibit and Reception to Honor Work of Art Class Participants

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic invites the community to a reception honoring the experiences and art of local cancer patients whose works are featured in the seventh annual Art Heals exhibit.

Many of the works are created by first-time painters who, through participation in the Cancer Center’s classes, discovered art as a means of expression or peace of mind during their cancer journey.

The exhibit, which is a permanent, revolving display in the Cancer Center’s facilities, provides a continual source of inspiration to patients, family members and staff at the Cancer Center. It serves as a visual reminder of the power of the creative process and the role art can play in health and healing.

A public reception to unveil the latest masterpieces will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4 with brief remarks held at 6 p.m. at the Cancer Center, 540 W. Pueblo St.

“Research suggests that art and the creative process can have healing and life-enhancing effect for those touched by cancer,” said Lisa Winebrenner, oncology health promotion coordinator at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic. “We often hear from participants that the classes provide welcomed distraction and enable them to focus on something other than their cancer. For many, the art is a form of expression, and others simply enjoy the time away from medical appointments and procedures.”

The Cancer Center offers the painting classes as a way for people to take a break from cancer, get lost in the creative process and receive instruction on different painting techniques. The class is led by local artist, Rick Stich who has been teaching at the Cancer Center for over 18 years.

The reception will be a valuable opportunity for patients and community members to learn more about all of the supportive programs and classes available to cancer patients in our community, regardless of where they receive their care.

The event is open to the public and light refreshments will be served. Space is limited and reservations are required to attend. Please contact Stephanie Carlyle at stephanie@ccsb.org or call 805.898.2116 to RSVP.

— Liz Baker is a marketing coordinator for Sansum Clinic.

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Rae Largura: Thankful for Our U.S. Education System

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Everyone can agree, our education system has much room for improvement. While it could use repair among many layers, the U.S. continues to educate far more young people than most countries throughout the world. As I learn and compare, I become thankful for our somewhat broken, although comprehensive, diversified and opportunity-filled U.S. education system.

Our universities rank the highest in every international ranking published. We have free and easy access to schools, unlike so many countries. Intentions of leaders have always been to equalize opportunities, create communities and open the learning doors to all. American schools are dedicated to including, not excluding, special-needs and immigrant children. In fact, our special-education system is the benchmark for other countries.

Our commitment to a wide and varied curriculum that includes societal issues as well as academic subjects is practiced, unlike so many other countries. As a female, the opportunities are an astounding difference. Our young women today have far more educational and career opportunities than their peers in other countries.

» In India, less than 40 percent of teenagers attend school.

» In China, the education system is so rigorous and rigid that generations are forming that are not even capable of individual creativity and free thought.

» In Somalia, almost no child attends school, resulting in the first highest country with children not in school.

» In Africa, corruption trumps education in most of its countries.

» In Pakistan, two-thirds of girls — that’s 3 million girls — are not attending school. Pakistan accounts for the second-highest number of children not in school.

» In Mexico, only 68 percent of children completing first grade will complete nine years of education.

» In Afghanistan, only 14 percent of female children are enrolled in primary school, and 28 percent of the population is illiterate.

» In Morocco, approximately 40 percent of females ages 15 to 24 are illiterate.

» In Saudi Arabia, women attend gender-segregated schools and are prohibited from studying architecture, engineering and journalism.

» In South Korea, performance on exit exams is considered so imperative that the high pressure leads to high suicide rates.

» In Germany, children by fifth grade must determine their career path, therefore deciding at this age which trade school to attend for the rest of their education.

Millions of children and young adults across the planet do not get the chance for a quality education. Often times their priorities consist of finding food, obtaining clean water and securing shelter. It is important to keep perspective. Our educational system is far from perfect. The global perspective reveals that the United States consistently provides for more freedoms, opportunities, integration and humanity that any other country in the world.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email rae@leadingedgetutors.com.

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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SCE to Perform Work Saturday Near Hollister/South Glen Annie Road

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Southern California Edison will be doing work this Saturday, Nov. 29, between 6 a.m. and noon at the corner of Hollister Avenue and South Glen Annie Road.

No lane closures or other roadway impacts are expected.

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

Click here for more information on the public improvements associated with this project.

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Two Women Sought as Suspects in Mail Theft Ring

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Dominguez
Sireena Dominguez

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a mail theft ring and is asking for public assistance to help locate the two female suspects believed responsible.

The Sheriff’s Department also wants to notify residents and hotel owners about these suspects in an attempt to notify potential victims and to prevent others from being victimized as well.

On Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies responded to a hotel in the 500 block of McMurray Road in Buellton to investigate a theft of televisions and other items from two hotel suites.

The investigation revealed that 25-year-old Sireena Dominguez, in the company of 25-year-old Ashley Barnett of Santa Maria, rented two hotel suites and used stolen credit card information to pay for the rooms.

When the women left the hotel, two flat-screen televisions, two media charging stations, two alarm clocks, a microwave oven and two baskets were missing from the suites. Sheriff’s deputies found a large bag of stolen mail left behind in one of the suites.

The mail was from numerous addresses in the areas off of Highway 246 between Cebada Canyon in Lompoc and Mail Road in the Buellton area.

Residents in this vicinity are encouraged to check their credit card transactions frequently to minimize fraudulent activity.

Just the week prior, Dominguez was arrested for stealing a BMW in Buellton. She was located by sheriff’s deputies shortly after and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail. She posted bail and was released prior to checking into the hotel on Tuesday.

Barnett
Ashley Barnett

Sheriff’s deputies through the course of their investigation have discovered that Dominguez and Barnett are suspects in similar crimes throughout northern Santa Barbara County and are possibly staying in the area. The women are believed to be driving, or are associated with, a Ford F350 U-Haul that may be embezzled with the “U-Haul” logo faded or removed.

Area hotels and motels are asked to be vigilant, as it is highly probable that the suspects will attempt to rent rooms with stolen credit card information; specifically if the room is rented online.

All residents of the county are encouraged the report any suspicious vehicles parked near mail boxes, specifically in rural areas.

The Sheriff’s Department is working with allied agencies and the U.S. postal inspector on this case.

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

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Safety Project on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara to Begin Monday

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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A project to replace overhead sign panels and light fixtures on Highway 101 from Milpas Street to Fairview Avenue will begin on Monday, Dec. 1.

Motorists will encounter intermittent overnight lane and ramp closures 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. 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 will be 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 signs from Fairview Avenue to Milpas Street will be retrofitted with Inductive Sign Lights and electroliers near the Castillo Street ramps will receive LED lights.

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 will be added to 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 January.

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, 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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SEE International Once Again Joins Giving Tuesday Movement

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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Local nonprofit SEE International is pleased to announce that it will once again participate in Giving Tuesday on Dec. 2.

Taking place the Tuesday after Black Friday, Giving Tuesday will harness the power of social media to create a global time presence around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.

SEE International has joined Giving Tuesday to celebrate the generosity of its supporters and the thousands of lives that have been transformed through SEE’s international efforts to restore sight.

“We are very honored to join this global movement to increase our efforts to restore sight and transform lives around the world," said Randal Avolio, president/CEO of SEE International. "A $100 contribution helps restore sight to one person. It’s an amazingly efficient process and the greatest gift that we can give a child.”

Giving Tuesday began in 2012 and raised over $12 million; in 2013, it raised $27 million — more than double. The long-term goal is to make this day of selfless giving as easily recognizable and widely discussed as Black Friday and more about a time to give back.

SEE encourages all of its supporters, both here at home in California and around the world, to join this unique call to action.

For more details about Giving Tuesday, visit the Giving Tuesday website, Facebook page or follow #GivingTuesday and the #GivingTuesday hashtag on Twitter.

SEE International is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that provides medical, surgical, and educational services by volunteer ophthalmic surgeons with the primary objective of restoring sight to disadvantaged blind individuals worldwide. Click here for more information.

— Stephen Bunnell is a communications coordinator for SEE International.

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Fifth-Grade Students Complete Police-Led G.R.E.A.T. Gang Resistance Program

By | Published on 11/26/2014

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The men and women of the Santa Barbara Police Department are pleased to announce the first graduations of fifth-grade students participating in the G.R.E.A.T. Program.

The G.R.E.A.T. Program, Gang Resistance Education and Training, is a national gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The goal of the program is to teach students to develop positive solutions and to practice appropriate decision making when faced with tough life decisions.

In Santa Barbara, the G.R.E.A.T. Program was introduced in October as a pilot project, a collaborative effort between the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Officer Adrian Gutierrez taught the course to fifth-grade students at Monroe, Harding and McKinley elementary schools, and this group is now set to graduate.

Ceremonies will take place at the following dates and locations.

» Dec. 1: Monroe School, 431 Flora Vista Drive, 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. in the cafeteria

» Dec. 2: Harding School, 1625 Robbins Street, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the cafeteria

» Dec. 5: McKinley School, 350 Loma Alta Drive, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium

— Sgt. Riley Harwood is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.

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Santa Barbarans Take to Streets to Protest Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson, Mo., Police Shooting

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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As many as 500 demonstrators join peaceful march, but police block attempt to reach freeway

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Santa Barbara on Tuesday night as part of a noisy-but-peaceful demonstration to protest a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer who fatally shot a black teenager this summer in a St. Louis suburb.

A night of protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., followed the announcement Monday that a St. Louis County grand jury had rejected charges against police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Scores of people were arrested and more than a dozen buildings were torched in Ferguson in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision.

Wilson is white and Brown was black, and the killing exposed racial tensions in Ferguson between its majority black population and its largely white police department.

Like many across the country, the Santa Barbara protesters said they were demonstrating “in solidarity with Michael Brown.”

They met for a rally at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, and took to the streets shortly after, winding their way through the downtown corridor.

Police officers on motorcycles and bicycles sped around trying to block traffic ahead of the crowd, but made no attempt to stop it.

At the height of the demonstration, police estimated there were about 500 people involved, said Sgt. Riley Harwood, who added that by the time the protesters finished up near the police station on East Figueroa Street, there were about half that many.

Protesters make their way down State Street in Santa Barbara on Tuesday night. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Police made no arrests and no officers were injured, he said.

The Police Department was aware ahead of time of the planned protest, and had a contingent of officers on stand-by.

“When they got to State and Carrillo, they turned toward the freeway, which is always a possibility in these things,” Harwood said. “People getting up on the freeway is not something we are going to permit. It’s very dangerous.”

Police set up a skirmish line at Carrillo and Bath streets, but some of the demonstrators got past, so a second line was set up at Carrillo and Castillo streets, Harwood said.

“The most tense moment was right there at the freeway,” Harwood said. “One person tried to shove some officers ... But once they realized they weren’t going to be able to get on the freeway, they turned around.”

After heading toward the freeway, protesters congregated at the intersection of State and Carrillo streets to sit down and chant messages such as “no justice, no peace, no racist police” and “hands up, don’t shoot.”

The few police officers on motorcycles and bicycles were the only law enforcement presence for about two hours, until the crowd headed toward the police station.

A line of SBPD officers in riot gear blocked the protesters at Figueroa and Santa Barbara streets. The crowd sat down and several speakers stood in front of the riot shields to address those gathered in the intersection.

Demonstrators sit in the intersection of State and Carrillo streets in Santa Barbara on Tuesday night during a march in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Mo. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“I want to see the hands of every person of color who’s ever been mistreated or humiliated by law enforcement — in Santa Barbara,” said David Moore, a local pastor at New Covenant Worship Center.

Hands shot up from all over the crowd.

“Right here, baby — I don’t have enough hands!” one man shouted.

“That’s really what the issue is,” Moore continued.

Moore said he was stopped and questioned in front of his own office, “with the key in my hand,” for no reason, he said.

“I’m glad that we are here tonight and because of our cameras, because of our phones, what we can say is the whole world is watching.”

Many college-aged people spoke, urging others to get involved after the night’s march was over.

“We have to build an alternative culture,” one woman said. “We need to be consistent, this can’t be just one little thing that happens.”

Protesters march down State Street in Santa Barbara. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

The protest ended as peacefully as it began, with people gathered close, listening to speakers.

“This is what peaceful protest looks like — no property was damaged, no police were injured,” one man said. “Let’s show the world we know how to protest.”

Santa Barbara police were assisted by Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol personnel.

“I think we here at the Police Department think it went very well from our perspective,” Harwood said. “We have a lot of experience dealing with this type of thing, and so what you saw was a very disciplined, very professional response that folks her in Santa Barbara can be very proud of.

“Our philosophy is we believe we have a responsibility to help people exercise their freedom of speech," he said. “But we will not tolerate violence, vandalism or other unlawful behavior. That’s where people’s First Amendment rights end.”

Santa Barbara police were assisted by deputies and officers from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol.

At the earlier rally, speakers talked about police militarization, officer-involved shootings and racial profiling by law enforcement.

“I have a black son, I have a grandson, I have a nephew who looks like me and it’s OK to kill us — you don’t even have to be a police officer, you just have to be afraid of us,” Keith Terry said. “We are insurgents in our own country.”

Local activist Martin Leyva called for a moment of silence “to hold Ferguson in our hearts.”

“Racism is not going away — it has new rules and new laws, but racism is alive and well,” he said.

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

A line of officers blocks demonstrators from reaching the Santa Barbara police station on East Figueroa Street on Tuesday night. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

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Santa Maria Driver Dies of Injuries Suffered in Nov. 14 Crash

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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More than 10 days after being critically injured when a classic Mustang ended up crumpled against a utility pole at Broadway and Enos Drive, driver Michael Williamson has died, according to Santa Maria police.

Lt. Mark Norling of the Santa Maria Police Department said Williamson died Tuesday morning at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he was taken immediately after the Nov. 14 crash.

Williamson suffered a major head injury in the wreck.

Police said Williamson was southbound on Broadway in his 1967 Ford Mustang just before 3 p.m. on Nov. 14 and accelerated toward the intersection when he struck a vehicle driven by Margaret Casey as she attempted to make a left turn onto West Enos Drive.

Williamson lost control of the vehicle, which ended up wrapped around a utility pole on the southwest corner of the intersection.

“Based on witness information, Williamson will be identified as the driver at fault in this collision,” Norling said.

An air ambulance transported Williamson to the hospital immediately after the accident.

Casey had minor injuries. A pedestrian in the area also had minor injuries when he was struck by a debris from the wreckage. 

“The Santa Barbara County Coroner's Office will conduct an investigation to assist in determining whether or not alcohol or drugs played a role in this accident based on lab results,” Norling 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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Animals at Santa Barbara Zoo Gobble Up Thanksgiving Treats

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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The public is invited to watch on Thursday as elephants devour pumpkins and other animals munch on holiday food items

Animals who make their home at the Santa Barbara Zoo have some special treats coming their way on Thanksgiving Day.

On Tuesday, the public got a preview of several of those animals enjoying pumpkins and turkey as part of the season's celebration, and zoo officials are encouraging the public to enjoy a few hours at the zoo as part of their own Thanksgiving festivities on Thursday.

The zoo will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

That's when zoo visitors can watch the elephants get a pumpkin treat, as well as the Western lowland gorillas, African lions, turkey vultures, slender-tailed meerkats, Asian small-clawed otters, barnyard animals and others. 

Zookeepers use these activities for "enrichment" for the animals — to stimulate them and give them exercise.  

Parents and children watched as the zoo's two most powerful carnivores — 4-year-old lionesses Neema and Kadi — made a beeline for two 20-pound turkeys left for them in their enclosures.

The lions eat six to 10 pounds of meat a day, so the turkeys were a special treat. On Thanksgiving Day, visitors to the zoo can see the lionesses investigating several pumpkins left with meat inside.

The snow leopards and Amur leopards will also get a turkey to gnaw on Thursday.

Neema, a 4-year-old lioness, enjoys a 20-pound turkey left for her as a treat by zookeepers at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Across the zoo, visitors watched as Sujatha and Lil' Mac, two Asian elephants that make their home there, lumbered towards pumpkins that had been placed around their enclosure. 

Sujatha scooped up three or four pumpkins immediately with her trunk, devouring each entire pumpkin in seconds.

Liz Wilson, elephant manager, was nearby, and watched the elephants enjoy their treats.

"Pumpkins are their absolute favorite food," she said, adding that they were a special treat because the elephants have been put on a special diet to help them trim down.

Sujatha alone weighs 9,515 pounds, and both elephants eat about 200 pounds of hay, fruit, vegetables and other roughage a day, Wilson said.

The public will also be able to catch a glimpse of the two high-profile babies that have been born at the zoo in recent weeks.

The baby giant anteater that was born three weeks ago was introduced to the public on Tuesday, and the baby Masai giraffe, Buttercup, that was born earlier this month has also made his first public appearance and can be seen sauntering around the enclosure with his mother, Audrey.

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 Council Hears from Casa Esperanza Shelter About Efforts to Get House in Order

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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After years of financial decisions that ran Casa Esperanza "into the ground," as one Santa Barbara City Council member put it, the homeless shelter located on the lower Eastside finally seems to be on some solid footing, according to a presentation given by city staff and shelter advocates.

On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara council voted unanimously to release $65,000 of one-time funding it had been holding onto with the condition that the shelter present its plan of financial sustainability.

Tuesday's vote comes as no surprise, considering the positive meeting the shelter had last month before the city's Planning Commission.

There, Acting Interim Director Joe Tumbler, who has been working on a volunteer basis while the shelter gets its affairs in order, outlined progress the shelter had made with neighbors, who said that many of the problems around the shelter had disappeared when the shelter made the decision to cut its day programs and lunch program. 

The shelter has also made cuts to staffing, including laying off its two highest positions in March.

On Tuesday, City Council members got more details on just how bleak the shelter's financial picture had looked before a plan of action had been established.

The shelter had borrowed about $2.5 million over six years to cover operating expenses, primarily from the Gildea Foundation, and currently has a debt on its building of $1 million, according to Sue Gray, community development business manager for the city.

After restructuring its balance sheet and developing a new budget — and reducing operating costs by $1 million — the shelter ended the 2014 fiscal year with a slight excess after years of operating at a deficit, she said.

The shelter is also in discussions with the group People Assisting the Homeless, or PATH, an organization based out of Los Angeles, about a possible merger. The organization operates 22 facilities in Southern California.

Jessica Wishan, who formerly worked with PATH in San Diego, has been hired as the new managing director and told the council she's excited about the direction of the shelter's mission.

Tumbler also reiterated the need for people to move into housing, which the shelter has been working on.

"We wish to be more than a shelter for people to live for a long period of time without the sense of urgency to improve themselves," he said, adding that the shelter just helped two clients to Lompoc where they are employed and where they've found an affordable place to live.

Councilman Bendy White said he'd not gotten the full picture of how far the organization "had been run into the ground" until Tuesday's report.

"I had placed more trust in the board," many of which are well-known in the community, but had allowed the organization to falter, he said.

Councilman Frank Hotchkiss agreed.

"I hope they'll look in the mirror and realize they failed and that can't happen in the future," he said of the organization's board.

To hear there was a plan going forward was welcome to White and other council members.

"A lot of good news today," he said.

Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, who serves on the Milpas Action Task Force, which had had friction with the shelter in the past, said she was glad for the improved relationship but that others had suffered from the program cuts.

"I also heard from the churches on the Eastside that a lot of working people who couldn't make ends meet" were cut out from the lunch program, she said. "I'm not celebrating that. It's a tough town and you miss a rent payment and you're evicted. It is our responsibility at the city to take care of all of our residents."

Councilman Gregg Hart said he felt the board deserved some credit for recognizing it couldn't keep all of its programs and changed course.

"I think that's something that should be applauded for everybody's participation in," he said, and earlier in the meeting had called the turnaround at the shelter "extraordinary."

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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Nine Busted in Raid on Santa Barbara ‘Drug Den’

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Nine people were arrested or cited — and a missing 15-year-old girl was located — when Santa Barbara police served a search warrant on a residence they described as a "drug den."

The arrests and citations occurred late last week in a home in the 1400 block of Almond Avenue, according to police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Over several months, police had received citizen complaints about drug-related foot traffic and gang activity centered around the home, Harwood said.

"Subsequent investigation … revealed that a portion of the property was under construction, and had been rented to tenants who were involved in drug activity," Harwood said. "They, in turn, allowed other drug users to congregate there."

Twenty-five people were at the home last Thursday afternoon when detectives served the search warrant, Harwood said.

Rodolfo Garcia

Three people —  Rodolfo Garcia, 28, Julio Jose Ochoa, 23, and David Calixtro-Fuentes, 25, all of Santa Barbara — were arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on outstanding felony warrants, Harwood said.

Garcia and Ochoa, who were charged with probation violations, were being held without bond, while bail for Calixtro-Fuentes was set at $5,000 on a failure-to-appear warrant, he said.

Misdemeanor citations were issued to the following:

» Kathleen Deanna Lino, 26, of Santa Barbara, for possession of methamphetamine and possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

Julio Jose Ochoa

» David Toscano Gregorio, 43, of Santa Barbara, for possession of methamphetamine and possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

» Efrain Ward Lopez Jr., 27, of Santa Barbara, for possession of methamphetamine and possession of a knife in plain view in public.

» Luz Maria Zapian, 23, of Santa Barbara, for possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

»Tamme Anne Dishion, 47, of Santa Barbara, for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

» Evette Ann Vargas, 38, of Lompoc, for resisting or delaying an officer.

David Calixtro-Fuentes

Harwood noted that Lino, Gregorio, and Lopez would have been arrested for felony possession of methamphetamine and booked into County Jail, rather than being cited, prior to November's passage of Prop. 47.

The missing teenage girl was reunited with her family, Harwood said, and the property owner was warned about maintaining a public nuisance.

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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Jim Hightower: Thanksgiving, from the White House to Walmart

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Thanksgiving — a time of grace and family sharing — will start with an extra-graceful act from the White House this year.

Just as every president since Abraham Lincoln has done, President Barack Obama will grant clemency to two turkeys that otherwise could've become the main entree for the First Family's holiday dinner. This traditional presidential pardon of the gobblers provides a bit of good PR for the National Turkey Federation, the lobbying group that arranges for one of its members to supply the birds.

Therein lies this year's extra touch of grace: Obama will be pardoning hard-core Republican turkeys!

Well, who knows whether the fowls themselves have any deeply partisan views, beyond anti-hatchetism. But even if any turkeys did try to vote in the Nov. 4 midterm elections, surely they would've been stopped by the razor-sharp voter ID laws that GOP officials have been imposing on our democratic process, ironically attempting to repress the Democratic vote.

However, guess who did vote Republican in the midterms with thousands of their special interest dollars: the turkey industry lobbying group, plus the very corporate farm that shipped the two birds to Obama. The Turkey Federation pumped nearly $160,000 into this year's anti-Obama congressional candidates, and Cooper Farms of Ohio chipped in more than $46,000 to GOP candidates, plus some $66,000 to the federation's Republican electioneering effort. The turkeys in the Cooper coop also donated to the failed effort by Sen. John McCain to defeat Obama in 2008, and to Mitt Romney's ill-fated 2012 effort.

Yet, the Democrat in the White House will shun the chance for partisan retribution, exercising unilateral executive action to spare the lives of the two Cooper turkeys. Now, we'll see if the GOP speaker of the House, John Boehner of Ohio, will sue Obama once again for executive overreach. This time for sparing turkeys without congressional approval.

Everyone from the Obama family in the White House to my little family in Texas will take a deserved pause from the unrelenting, daily intensity of work on Thanksgiving Day. But let's take a moment to consider those millions who'll not be allowed to enjoy this pause.

Of course, there are firefighters, police, hospital workers and others who must stay on the job, but at least they know that they're providing essential services for our society. Yet Walmart, Target, Macy's, Radio Shack and other retailers are also requiring their low-paid workers to report. Why? There is nothing essential about buying gewgaws, gizmos and garments from these mass marketers of consumer excess that warrant them forcing their employees to give up their family meals on this one day of Thanksgiving.

These giants already exploit the day after Thanksgiving, which they've appropriately dubbed "Black Friday," as a dark day of retail profiteering. The chains open as early as one minute after midnight on this Friday morning, yet even that's not early enough to satisfy some of the plunders of consumer pocketbooks. So they've moved their Black Friday start back into Thursday, during the family mealtime of Thanksgiving Day itself, opening their doors at 6 p.m. or earlier. Some are even starting at 6 a.m. on Thursday, essentially wiping out this day of family grace for every employee they require to be at work. Show up ... or lose your job. Thanks, boss.

A mall outside of Buffalo has gone even more extreme, requiring its 200-plus stores to open on Thanksgiving Day or pay a $200-an-hour fine. What we have here is the insatiable excess of what Pope Francis recently condemned as "unbridled consumerism." Yet a Walmart PR flack claims to be doing consumers a favor by staying open on a spiritual day to "provide what consumers need."

Bovine excrement! Walmart has nothing that needs to be bought on a holiday, and any of the stuff it sells can be bought the very next day from companies that respect their employees' and America's values. Click here to see what major retailer closed on Thanksgiving.

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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Former NBA Player Don Ford Joins Page Youth Center Board

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Don Ford
Don Ford

The Page Youth Center is proud to announce that former NBA basketball player Don Ford has joined its Board of Directors.

Ford graduated from Santa Barbara High School, where he played varsity basketball for two years. He then attended UCSB, where he also played basketball.

Following his graduation he joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an NBA player and later went on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Ford lives in Santa Barbara and has continued to be a UCSB basketball radio commentator for the last 19 years.

He has been a real estate professional for 28 years and is a broker associate with Sun Coast Real Estate.

Ford's wife, Anne Rizzoli, owns and operates Louie's California Bistro in the Upham Hotel.

He has two daughters, Brooke and Brie, who both live in Italy with their families. His son, Bryce, is a police officer with the Santa Barbara Police Department.

— Wana Dowell is the development director for Page Youth Center.

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John Daly: How to Create an Effective Elevator Speech

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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An elevator speech sells an idea, promotes your business or markets you as an individual. It’s as essential as a business card and allows you to say who you are, what you are, what you do or are interested in doing, and how you can be a resource to your listener. Its purpose is to give people enough material to make them want to learn more about you. You can even use it at the beginning of an interview to give the other person enough info to make sense of you.

Here’s an example. “Hi, my name is John Daly, and I teach etiquette, protocol and social skills, mostly to teens. What it does is turn their direction to a path of success. I’m teaching it in all the Santa Barbara Unified School District high schools, but I’d like to see this taught in every school in America. Might we discuss how this can make a difference in your school?”

According to Pepperdine University: Elevator speeches evolved during the early days of the Internet explosion when web development companies were courting venture capital. Finance firms were swamped with applications for money, and the companies that won the cash were often those with a simple pitch. The best were those that could explain a business proposition to the occupants of an elevator in the time it took them to ride to their floor. In other words, an elevator speech that worked was able to describe and sell an idea in 30 seconds or less. Today, if you don’t have an elevator speech, people won’t know what you really do.

To write a solid elevator speech, Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and Management recommends that you know your audience, know yourself, outline your talk and then finalize it.

Know Your Audience

Before you do anything else, research your audience. An elevator speech needs to clearly target the people to whom you are going to speak. Generic pitches are doomed to failure.

Know Yourself

If you want to convince anyone, you have to specifically define what you are offering, what problems you are capable of solving and what benefits you bring to prospective contacts or employers. So, answer the following questions:

» What are your key strengths?

» What adjectives come to mind to describe you?

» What are you trying to sell or let others know about you?

» Why are you interested in the company or industry the person represents?

Outline Your Talk

Start with bullet points. No detail is necessary at this juncture. Just write notes to help you remember what you want to say. Address points like 1) Who am I? 2) What do I offer? 3) What problem can I solve or contributions can I make? 4) What do I want the listener to do after hearing my speech?

Finalize the Speech

Take the outline and expand on your notes by writing out each section. Take each note you wrote and turn it into a sentence. Connect each sentence together with additional phrases to make them flow. Review what you have written and change long words into conversational language. Cut out unnecessary words. Try to target your speech to not exceed 90 words.

Elevator Speech Examples

» Do you remember about 10 years ago when the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed on re-entry? It turns out the engineers tried to warn NASA about the danger. But the PowerPoint slides they used were a complete mess and no one understood the danger.

That’s what I do. I train people how to make sure their PowerPoint slides aren’t a complete disaster. Students who attend my workshop can create slides that are 50 percent clearer and 50 percent more convincing, based on scores students give each other before and after the workshop.

I’m not sure if my training could work at your company. It really depends how much you use PowerPoint and what’s at stake. Might we discuss it? Click here for more information.

                                                                  •        •        •

» Hi, I’m John Doe, and I help businesses reduce their tax liability. Last year, after reviewing the books of one company, my suggestions reduced their federal and state taxes by 25 percent. I’m sure I could help your business save money as well. While some of my competitors charge an hourly rate, I use a flat fee so my clients know exactly what their costs will be. I am currently accepting new clients; may I send you some additional information? Click here for more information.

                                                                  •        •        •

» It’s so good to meet you. My name is Mary Smith. I have been helping women find their inner beauty for 15 years. The products I sell are only available through independent consultants and are not sold in stores. Our products pamper you and can make you look years younger. I have one client who is 67 years old and all her laugh lines disappeared after using our products. Can I interest you in a product brochure? Click here for more information.

Here’s the Pitch for Your Elevator Pitch

(Howcast video)

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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Small Business Saturday to Kick Off Holidays in Downtown Santa Barbara

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the relatively new retail holiday, Small Business Saturday (Nov. 29).

Founded in 2010 by American Express, the day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, Downtown Santa Barbara is promoting Small Business Saturday as a way to kick off the holiday season.

“We have such a diverse and unique blend of small businesses downtown,” said Kate Schwab, Downtown Santa Barbara's marketing and communication director. “It is a pleasure to support our many small businesses in downtown Santa Barbara and give them an opportunity to show off great places to shop, eat or visit.”

Participating locations are listed on the Downtown Santa Barbara website. DSB staff will be on hand at Marshalls Patio at 900 State St. giving out Shop Small tote bags, balloons and even dog bandanas.

“We’re encouraging Shop Small customers to post or tweet where they are shopping or dining throughout the day, using #shopsmall and #DowntownSB,” Schwab added.

Next up in Downtown Santa Barbara is 1st Thursday on Dec. 4, which also introduces a new downtown event, Hometown Holiday NITES. Participating venues will be offering a value added aspect to customers’ shopping experience on Thursday evenings (Dec. 4, 11 and 18). Be on the lookout for special performances, a free gift wrapping station and more while shopping in Downtown during Hometown Holiday NITES.

The 62nd annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade Presented by Consumer Fire Products Inc. heads down State Street on Friday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m. sharp. This year’s Parade Prince (Felix Itier-Bina, age 9) and Fairy (Mikayla Bohn, age 8) will kick off the parade, lighting the Downtown Christmas Tree in a new, memorable fashion. Grand Marshal Alan Thicke presides over huge balloons, gorgeous floats, marching bands, performance groups and, of course, Santa Claus.

For more information about the Holiday Parade, call Downtown Santa Barbara at 805.962.2098 x804. For more information about Small Business Saturday or Hometown Holiday NITES, call 805.962.2908 x802.

— Kate Schwab is the marketing director for Downtown Santa Barbara.

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CALM’s Adopt-a-Family Program Helps Spread Holiday Cheer

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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‘Tis the season to celebrate, rejoice and be merry. But for families who are struggling, especially those with young children, the holidays are often a difficult time of year. Each year, with the help of the community and volunteers, Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM) provides hundreds of children and families in Santa Barbara with holiday cheer by delivering gifts, basic supplies, food and festive decorations during the holiday season through the Adopt-a-Family Program.

The Adopt-a-Family program identifies families that CALM serves who could use the extra support, and then coordinates with staff to determine each particular family’s needs. Last year, CALM supporters adopted more than 250 families in Santa Barbara. Once again this year, CALM has received wish lists from struggling families in both North and South Santa Barbara County.

With the support and generosity of the local community, CALM is hoping to reach those families and possibly even more dealing with the devastation of child abuse and neglect. Wish lists are modest and help meet the family’s basic needs. One family who needs to be adopted requested a pair of shoes and some clothes for the two year-old, books and a doll for the 6-year-old and a warm coat for the 23-year-old mother. CALM’s Adopt-a-Family is a unique way to give back to the community and support families in need. CALM encourages those interested to join together with friends, family, classmates and even co-workers in the spirit of giving, and make a difference this holiday season by adopting a family.

Participating individuals or groups can purchase gifts from an assigned family’s wish list, or leave the shopping to CALM. Any contribution is appreciated and warmly welcomed. CALM is requesting that all gifts be turned into CALM by Tuesday, Dec. 9 to allow therapists the time to deliver the gifts to the families before the holidays. Through the community’s help, the children and families CALM serves will feel the sense of belonging and care from our community.

For more information on how to Adopt-a-Family, please contact Nicole Ballas at 805.965.2376 or nballas@calm4kids.org, or click here.

CALM was founded in 1970 to reach stressed parents before they hurt their children. CALM continues to be the only non-profit agency in Santa Barbara County focusing solely on preventing, assessing, and treating child abuse and family violence through comprehensive, cutting-edge programs. CALM offers children, families, and adults a safe, nonjudgmental, caring and strength-based environment to heal and increase family well-being.

For more information about all of CALM’s services, please call 805.965.2376 or click here.

— Jennifer Zacharias is a publicist representing CALM.

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Cynder Sinclair: Santa Barbaran José Cofiño Finds Opportunity in Challenge of ALS

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Recently I happened upon one of those rare, eternally optimistic individuals who routinely looks for opportunity hiding beneath every rock of adversity. And his overriding confidence is not just for show. He really lives and breathes this approach to life every day — it seems to be part of his DNA.

His hopefulness has nothing to do with the particular troubles or good fortune he encounters; rather, it comes from his way of looking at the world and expecting opportunities to emerge. And they do — consistently. Like others who meet him, I found myself wanting to watch and learn how he does this so effortlessly. So, I arranged for an interview with him at the French Press this week.

My research revealed that hundreds of business and civic leaders filled the Beverly Hilton Hotel last month to get a glimpse of this extraordinary Santa Barbara resident, José Cofiño, as he received the Courage Award from Augie’s Quest at a fundraiser benefiting the Cambridge-based ALS Therapy Development Institute.

Cofiño was diagnosed with ALS three years ago, but he refuses to let his disease define him. In fact, he says he feels lucky that being diagnosed with a disease for which there is no cure allowed him to know what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“Out of adversity, comes opportunity,” Cofiño said.

Adversity Plagued Cofiño from His Earliest Years

Born in Cuba, Cofiño was only 6 weeks old when Fidel Castro rampaged through Havana creating chaos and disaster for so many, including Cofiño’s family. Eighteen months later his family lost everything and found themselves in Mexico starting over. His dad set up a poultry shop and Cofiño went to work in the shop plucking chickens at 5 years old. When he was 6, his beloved father died. A year later, to the day, a truck ran a stop light and killed his older brother as he was riding his bike home from school. With admiration, Cofiño relates watching his mom, now a widow and single parent, deal with all this adversity alone. His mom started teaching secretarial skills and foreign language.

In 1968, thinking that a single woman with a young child would fare better in the U.S. than in Mexico, she sold everything and moved to Washington, D.C., with only $200 in her pocket. She and Cofiño lived with relatives until she had enough money to rent an apartment. Cofiño recalls they had two lamps, two beds and a cardboard box for a table. His mother paid a pittance to the parish priest for Cofiño to attend a private elementary and high school. After graduating high school, Cofiño attended Georgetown University, working full-time with a full class load. Earning his way as a dishwasher in a hospital kitchen provided his first step into food service, which would later serve him well.

Cofiño Sees Everything Through the Lens of Opportunity

Here’s a glimpse into how Cofiño transformed these adversities into opportunity. He reports matter-of-factly that had Castro not ravaged Cuba and destroyed his family’s livelihood, he would not have left Cuba. Had his father and brother not died, his family would have stayed in Mexico. Had his mother not made such sacrifices to give him a parish education, doors would not have opened to even greater opportunity — like his undergraduate degree from Georgetown and his MBA from Stanford. Cofiño insists that the key to his optimistic outlook is expecting opportunity to emerge from every adversity.

After leaving Stanford, Cofiño was flying high — driving fast cars, access to private planes, plenty of stock options. He had it made. But in the back of his mind there was always the thought that there must be something more. He felt empty in spite of his noteworthy accomplishments.

While at Georgetown he wanted to be president of an overseas subsidiary. He did it by becoming president of Pepsico restaurants in Brazil (KFC, Pizza Hut) while still only in his 30s. But the feeling that something was missing from his life persisted.

Adversity Brings a Potentially Knock-Out Blow

Then three years ago when he was in the best physical shape of his life — hiking or biking everyday — adversity pounced on him like an angry tiger. While at his Stanford business school’s 25th reunion, he went hiking up a hill and started getting more and more tired. Thinking he just wasn’t in as good of shape as he thought, he continued to push himself. He went on a bike ride the next day near Palo Alto, borrowing a bike to ride in true Stanford MBA style. Cofiño was surprised that it was harder for him to pedal as he got to the top and he blamed it on the borrowed bike. He came to an incline and couldn’t pedal anymore. He climbed off the bike, put his left foot out and fell right on his butt. His leg didn’t work at all.

When he got home, a friend told him to go to a neurologist. He did. The diagnosis came back: ALS. Cofiño’s online research told him his disease is terminal without treatment or cure. He found that, on average, people die between three to five years of diagnosis. Some after six months. A few, like Stephen Hawking, live for 50 years after diagnosis.

The realization was too much. Cofiño and his partner, Ben Trust, escaped to Savannah and cried the entire weekend. Determined to find opportunity in the latest adversity, they decided to find clinical trials to take power from the disease. They had no idea how clinical trials worked, but they knew they had to do something.

Clearly, there is no greater adversity than being told you have a limited amount of time to live. You’re done. The bullet has been fired; it just hasn’t hit you yet. Cofiño remembers that when he got the call with his diagnosis, he put the phone down and told Trust, “I’m sorry — we were supposed to grow old together.”

Modern-Day Science Fiction at Work

About a year ago, Cofiño was at a fundraiser for the ALS Therapy Development Institute when he met Dr. Steven Perrin, CEO and chief research officer. Perrin told Cofiño they were going to launch research that sounded like science fiction to Cofiño. They were taking blood from ALS patients to map their genome; then taking a skin sample to create a clean line of stem cells to produce different nerve cells against which they would test thousands of chemicals and medicines to see if any of them would slow down or reverse whatever is causing the individual’s ALS. Perrin explained if they find something, they can actually perform a clinical trial for Cofiño with protocol and tests.

All this was very exciting. Even more exciting was that if the scientists conducting the Precision Medicine Program find something that works, the genetic makeup starts to create a database with genetic markers that might match other patients. Cofiño beams as he describes how the magic of science might actually unlock the mystery of this disease. And he jokes that no mice were hurt in the making of that trial.

“Even though so many opportunities came my way out of adversity,” declares Cofiño, “ I always felt there was something missing ... until my diagnosis three years ago. I immediately knew what was missing — a sense of purpose. I thought my reason for living would be about earning lots of money or a having big house or having a prestigious degree or being president of a major company. I consider myself a lucky person. Most people go their entire lives without a clear sense of purpose; without knowing where they can make a mark. I have that now. It all goes back to adversity bringing opportunities. We all have a choice of how to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to us. Seeing opportunities in the midst of adversity has the potential to change anyone’s life from a worst nightmare to a highest calling.”

Cofiño’s Message Gives Hope to Thousands

Cofiño founded Beyond ALS with two meanings. First, don’t look at me as the disease because there’s a lot more there; and secondly, let’s all work toward a time when someone diagnosed with ALS is no longer gripped by the fear that they’ve been given a death sentence.

By now, you can see why I am so impressed with this incredible human being. Everyone who meets Cofiño has the same question: how can he be so positive in the face of such adversity? If you want to hear Cofiño deliver his powerful message in person, visit his website and watch his personal video and then invite him to speak to your next Rotary meeting or professional group. You can also donate to ALS research at his website.

Biographical Information for José Cofiño

José Cofiño, a seasoned franchising executive and successful entrepreneur and business leader, has turned to consulting and investing in emerging companies. To date, clients have come from the technology, entertainment, retail, hospitality and restaurant fields, among others. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses by developing brands, processes and systems that are scalable, consistent with their concept’s core identity. A particular area of focus is franchising, where clients have included H&R Block and KFC.

Prior to this, Cofiño was president and COO of ADIR Restaurants Corp., where he was charged with leading the master franchise for Pollo Campero, the phenomenally successful Central American brand.

A results-driven corporate leader, Cofiño was vice president of the Disneyland Resort, responsible for the development of the operational aspects for Downtown Disney, a 300,000-square-foot retail, dining and entertainment complex in Anaheim.

Cofiño developed expertise in all aspects of successful franchising and operations of brands as an executive at PepsiCo. As president of PepsiCo Restaurants International in Brazil, he planned and executed a complete turnaround plan resulting in increased sales in the KFC and Pizza Hut brands by 35 percent, leading to a commitment by franchisees to resume development. He had several executive positions at the Taco Bell division of PepsiCo, including VP of the Northeast Zone where he was responsible for the operation of 500 restaurants representing $400 million in revenue; VP of Taco Bell Express where he led the development and expansion of non-traditional licensed outlets system-wide; and VP of the GoldenWest Zone where he expanded the region from 180 to 320 points of distribution while increasing same-store sales by 25 percent. He has also held leadership positions at Holiday Corporation in the Harrah’s and Holiday Inn brands in Reno, Memphis, San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Cofiño served on the Board of Directors of the International Franchise Association and on the board of the IFA’s Diversity Institute. He attained a Certified Franchising Executive qualification. He is past member of the Board of Directors for the California Mentor Foundation, and the past chairman of the Board of Athletes and Entertainers for Kids.

Drawing on his experience, Cofiño has spoken nationwide on topics such as minority franchising and expansion of franchises internationally, Service Excellence, and the connection between personal goals and professional achievement. He has been featured in a number of magazine articles, including the cover story in Franchise Times (June 2008).

Cofiño was born in Cuba, raised in Mexico City, and immigrated to the United States in 1968. He earned a bachelor science degree in international economics from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an MBA from Stanford University. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. He currently resides in Santa Barbara.

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

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After 36 Years in Prison, Ventura Man’s Murder Conviction Overturned

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Work by California Innocence Project and DNA evidence lead to Michael Hanline's release

After 36 years behind bars, Michael Hanline — no longer a convicted murderer — walked out of Ventura County’s main jail Monday afternoon into bright sunshine and a bank of news cameras.

“It feels like I’m out in front of a missile going through space, and stuff is flying by,” said Hanline, 68, in answer to a question from one of the dozen or so journalists on hand for his release. “It’s incredible.”

He wore the blue sweatshirt of the California Innocence Project, which has worked on his case since 1999, bearing the image of a license plate reading: “XONR8.”

Hanline’s first-degree murder conviction was vacated Nov. 13 at the request of Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten’s office after new evidence, including DNA analysis, undermined prosecutors’ confidence in the 1980 verdict.

He could be retried when Totten’s office finishes its investigation of the 1978 murder of Ventura resident J.T. McGarry, also known as Larry Michael Mathers.

During a short hearing before noon, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Donald Coleman set bail at $2,500. Hanline will wear an ankle bracelet that monitors his whereabouts 24 hours a day. He is forbidden from having contact with five people, including the former prosecutor.

A pretrial conference was set for Feb. 27, with a trial, if any, by May 29. He remains charged with murder as he was before the original trial, prosecutors said. They have also indicated they are looking into the possibility someone else committed the crime.

Hanline’s longtime wife, Sandee, awaited her husband’s release with a pair of brown leather cowboy boots she’d held onto for 36 years. She told reporters she brought the boots “so he can have something to wear when he goes home.”

But Hanline ultimately left in white tennis shoes because the boots wouldn’t slip over his ankle bracelet. He later referred to the monitoring device as “my little buddy.”

Hanline was arrested in late 1978 on the murder charge. Prosecutors successfully argued he and an accomplice kidnapped McGarry, fatally shot him and dumped his body off Highway 33. But prosecutors now say new evidence undermines that theory.

Recent DNA analysis found material from an unidentified man, not Hanline or the alleged accomplice, from evidence at the scene where McGarry’s body was found. They now concede information in sealed police reports was improperly withheld from the defense. Some of that evidence indicates others may have been responsible for McGarry’s death.

The withheld evidence has also taken on new weight as more information comes to light, according to the DA’s office. The case is being investigated by Special Assistant District Attorney Michael Schwartz’s conviction integrity unit.

For the California Innocence Project, based at the California Western School of Law in San Diego, the overturning of Hanline’s verdict was a major victory.

“Finally, today, this nightmare is over,” Justin Brooks, the group’s director, told reporters outside the courtroom. Brooks and other CIP staff members in 2013 walked 700 miles to Sacramento to bring attention to the so-called “California 12,” of which Hanline is the first to have his conviction tossed.

Alex Simpson, an attorney with the group who has worked on Hanline’s case for a decade, said as of three weeks ago, “Hanline thought he was going to die in prison.”

At least a dozen law students who work in the group’s clinic, as well as former students who had worked on Hanline’s case, were on hand for his release. Simpson credited the students with doing the “grunt work” of investigating cases.

Michael and Sandee Hanline were married in court in 1980, after he was convicted and before his sentencing, by trial Judge Steven Stone. The two had previously dated in the 1970s. She testified during his trial.

“I’ve always believed in his innocence,” Sandee Hanline told reporters, thanking the California Innocence Project for “working diligently” on his case.

After his release late in the afternoon, Hanline walked slowly out of the jail facility as photographers snapped pictures and news cameras rolled.

He stood before a bank of microphones and read a statement, saying he was thankful to be out of prison.

“I lost half my life behind bars,” he said. “I was always hoping this day would come, and I can’t believe it’s happening now.”

He thanked Sandee for standing by him and spoke of the vastly changed world he was headed to, with cellphones and other new technology.

“I’m a dinosaur,” he said.

He walked to the parking lot using a cane, arm in arm with his wife.

[Click here for updates to this story from the Ventura County Star.]

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Laurie Jervis: Local Winemakers Share Thanksgiving Food-Wine Pairing Favorites

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Thanksgiving, the day on which we honor food, drink and one another, is nigh.

This year, I asked a few winemakers to share their holiday food traditions and offer a few pairing suggestions.

Grenache and pinot noir typically pair quite well with turkey and various sides, as do white wines such as sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc or viognier.

I asked the winemakers to describe for me the side dish that has become part of their Thanksgiving tradition, and share what wines they would pair with the food — be it theirs or another wine.

Lompoc residents Sashi Moorman and Melissa Sorongon are co-owners with Peter and Amy Pastan of Piedrasassi Wines and New Vineland Bread in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. The two couples, longtime friends and chefs, live and breathe good food and wine.

The culinary skills of Peter Pastan and Moorman have been showcased in several food publications over the years, and the December issue of Food & Wine features two entrees from Moorman and his sister, Akiko Moorman, now a restaurant consultant in Chicago.

Moorman makes Piedrasassi wines, and is consulting winemaker for several other wineries, among them Stolpman Vineyards, Pence Ranch Wines, Sandhi Wines and Domaine de la Côte, which he produces with Raj Parr of Sandhi.

Moorman and Sorongon have a young daughter, Juliet, who already knows her way around the family kitchen and likes to help with the prep. 

Sorongon described her family's Thanksgiving:

"We always start with Champagne (and sparkling apple juice for the kids in those plastic wine glasses)."

Come dinner, "we often have some Ridge Vineyards Geyserville (vineyard) or Monte Bello (in the Santa Cruz Mountains) on the table with the turkey — Ridge is the quintessential classic American winery, and including it on the table has been a family tradition since Sashi and I spent our first Thanksgiving together 20 years ago in New York," she said.

"The Geyserville particularly is an important Thanksgiving ritual for us, since zinfandel is such an American wine, and Sashi wrote his senior thesis on zinfandel in California."

As far as a side dish, Sorongon sticks with tradition: "The cranberry sauce recipe from Julia Child's "The Way to Cook" is another tradition since that Thanksgiving in 1994," she said.

"It's a great recipe and we make it the day before. We get our kid to help out with juicing the lemons and oranges."

The wheat for their New Vineland bread is grown, harvested and milled locally, and the couples relish the importance of family farms, Sorongon noted.

"We also love having Lompoc yellow beans, which you can get from Lompoc Valley Seed and Milling. We just serve them very simply, cooked with mirepoix and a bit of pancetta. 

"They are Sashi's favorite beans from Santa Barbara County, and the dish represents our farmer neighbors and the bounty of the land around us."

From out in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara came word from Bradley Long, the new winemaker at Grassini Family Vineyards.

Long, according to winery manager Katie Grassini, hails from "the foodie capital of the South — New Orleans."

Sounds to me as if Long will head home for the holiday, where he said he'll serve the 2013 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, both staples from Grassini Family Vineyards.

While I suggested "thinking beyond the stuffing" when it comes to side dishes, Long begged indulgence.

"I know you said to think beyond the stuffing, but being from New Orleans I cannot think past my grandmother's oyster stuffing. I look forward to it all year, and cannot wait to have it with the Grassini Sauvignon Blanc," he said.

"Also, it would not be Thanksgiving in New Orleans without my mother's dirty rice and yeast rolls."

Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, enjoy the time with family and friends, and good wine and food.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via winecountrywriter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are her own.

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Ron Fink: Choosing How to Fill Unexpired Seat a Thorny Issue, Not Just for Lompoc

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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When Lompoc Councilman Bob Lingl was elected mayor, it left two years of his council term to be filled.

State law requires that empty seats be filled within 60 days if a seat is left vacant for any reason, and it gives elected representatives wide discretion. In 2012, the Santa Maria City Council faced the same dilemma that faces the Lompoc City Council today, and Santa Maria had a lot of trouble reaching a consensus.

In Santa Maria, the third-place finisher missed the seat by two votes, so the choice to fill the remaining term of the mayor should have been obvious. Then political animus reared its ugly head — you see, this race had been contentious and some of the recently elected council members were still harboring grudges from a hard-fought campaign.

The Santa Maria council ultimately chose someone who hadn’t even run for the office. In the 2014 election, this same appointed person was soundly defeated by guess who — the same council candidate those voters had judged third best in the previous election but the council had passed over.

In 2009, the Lompoc City Council had to fill a vacant mayor’s seat when a long-serving mayor passed away while in office. But this case was a little different since it had been several months, almost a year, since the previous election.

Many people felt that the council should simply appoint the next-best vote getter in the last election; but although expedient, it would not have allowed the council to consider all their options. In this case, three votes — not thousands — would be the only ones that counted and with the council sharply divided on many issues reaching consensus for this type of appointment would have been difficult.

In 2009, one council member pointed out that the election cycle is designed to allow newly-elected members to have time to become familiar with how the city really works prior to budget hearings and union contract negotiations. It doesn’t matter what someone’s perception is during an election campaign, the reality once elected is much different! So, appointing someone mayor who is unfamiliar with the process or the status of current issues wouldn’t be the best choice.

The council brooded for some time before they hatched a scheme to select the replacement. Then aided by the city staff, they promptly established an application and evaluation methodology to level the playing field for the applicants.

Of the council members who applied,one was judged the most experienced and the best choice for the job. He had extensive knowledge of the regional, state and federal political infrastructure, had been serving for nearly 20 years and had publicly stated that he didn’t want to run for mayor when this term was complete.

This action caused another empty seat, that of the just appointed mayor, and ultimately the council chose a person who was well known because of his volunteer work but had never run for office in the past. You see, even though many of the applicants had either previously served as council members — one had been mayor — or had run for the job in earlier elections, they all had a little political baggage.

In 2014, the process should be much simpler, but one thing I have learned is that nothing in politics is ever simple. There is an old cliché that if you give a young GI (military member) a ball bearing he could break it. Well, the same thing may be true with four council members — at least it was in neighboring Santa Maria.

The election of three weeks ago is still fresh on everyone’s mind and the results are clear. Voters knew there was a strong potential that there would be an empty seat to fill when they elected a sitting council member as their new mayor and all the council candidates did, too.

Of course, the council could exercise any option that they choose but ignoring the will of the voters could cause problems for them in future elections. For example, if they spend precious General Fund dollars for a special election when those dollars are needed to provide critical services it would be irresponsible and if they randomly chose someone they could make the same mistake that Santa Maria made.

One idea that’s being floated is to appoint the outgoing and soundly-defeated mayor to the seat since he got more votes than any of the remaining council candidates. This is flawed reasoning since he was in a two-person race, and the council had eight contenders for the same number of votes.

There are other options. For example, they could use an application/questioning process but just one council member could derail the scoring process by giving very high or very low marks to a particular candidate. Whatever method they choose must pass the smell test in the court of public opinion.

Memo to council members — newly elected and veterans: Don’t break the ball bearing. Selecting the person who came in third and received over 2,000 votes is both equitable and respects the choices made by voters on Nov. 4.

— 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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Tom Donohue: Congress Has the Opportunity to Guide U.S. in New Direction

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Americans sent the clear message to lawmakers on Election Day that they want a new direction. The 114th Congress, which will convene in January, has the opportunity to show them that it can get things done — and do the right things for our economy and our country.

Trade would be a good place to start. President Barack Obama and leaders in Congress have signaled that trade is ripe for bipartisan progress.

Priority one should be passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would strengthen the hand of U.S. negotiators and help them get a good deal for American companies and workers.

We need to be ready for the major trade deals that are moving forward, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. These deals would boost our economy and add millions of jobs for U.S. workers — but we won’t be able to secure them without TPA. Congress must also extend the Export-Import Bank’s charter so that more businesses can sell their goods abroad.

Energy should be another area of focus. It has been one of the few bright spots in our economy. Congress and the administration should take the needed legislative and regulatory steps to produce more American energy in all forms and in an environmentally responsible manner — and sell this energy around the world.

The long fight for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline hit the six-year mark this fall. Last week the House passed a bill to force the president to authorize the pipeline, but the Senate defeated it. The incoming Senate majority has vowed to revive these efforts, and we’re counting on these lawmakers to finish the job.

Writing and passing a fiscally responsible budget would also help restore Americans’ confidence in the ability of lawmakers to govern. It’s one of the most basic but important duties that Congress holds. The next budget should lay the groundwork for entitlement reform, tax reform, and long-term surface transportation and aviation bills.

Lawmakers can smooth the way for a new direction in the next Congress by addressing some immediate priorities during the lame-duck session now under way. They should take a government shutdown off the table by passing appropriations bills to fund government operations. And they should move quickly to renew critical policies that are due to sunset at the end of the year, including expiring tax provisions and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.

Unless lawmakers heed the voters’ call for responsible action on the right policies, they will deepen public distrust and squander a rich opportunity to do good things for our country. It’s time to get down to business.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Montecito School of Ballet Presents ‘The Night Before Christmas’

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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The 23rd annual production of the Montecito School of Ballet's original production of The Night Before Christmas and Les Patineurs (The Skaters) will be performed at the Marjorie Luke Theatre on Dec. 13-14.

This year the production will include 10 male dancers, bringing energy and dynamic dancing to the Marjorie Luke Theatre stage. Joining the dancers from the Montecito School of Ballet will be dancers from the community, from UC Santa Barbara and from Santa Barbara City College.

Male dancers include Patrick Pieng, Mason Teichert, Rigoberto Sanchez, Jeff Schultz, Anthony Gomes and  Diego Topete as Santa Claus. The ballet The Night Before Christmas is based on the famous poem by Clement Moore and is narrated during the performance by Stephen Sherrill.

A beautiful Victorian party scene opens the ballet, and after the guests leave, the family settles down "for a long winter's nap." Sugarplums dance, toys come to life during the night, and we even see a visit from eight tiny reindeer and their driver, jolly St. Nick.

Guest dancers will also be featured in the production of Les Patineurs (The Skaters). Patrick Pieng, Rigoberto Sanchez, Mason Teichert and Louisa Vanhecke will join the students from the Montecito School of Ballet in this production. Les Patineurs is inspired by the famous ballet choreographed by Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet of England, and portrays the strength, grace and humor of skaters on the ice. The ballet is choreographed by Carla Moseley and Delila Moseley to music by Meyerbeer.

There will be two performances, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Marjorie Luke Theatre.

Ticket prices are $18 for general admission, $16 for students/seniors and $12 for children. Tickets are available by clicking here.

— Delila Moseley represents the Montecito School of Ballet.

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Winifred Lender: Planning for Thanksgiving — Five Tips for Less Stress

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Thanksgiving day is near. It is supposed to be time for celebration, family and gratitude. However, research suggests that Thanksgiving is also a time of stress, depression and family discord.

For many, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday period of anxiety, financial pressure and a never-ending to-do-list that continues until the new year. Advertisers add to the pressure by regaling us with images of the perfect Thanksgiving full of family harmony and devoid of stress — a goal we can never fully achieve. While there are certain features of Thanksgiving you can’t change, such as long lines in airports, crowded highways, and stores full of frantic shoppers on Black Friday, you can effect change in the way you approach the holiday to set yourself up for a more positive experience.

Often it is the stress of the days of planning for the holiday that leads us to feel overwhelmed and depleted even before Thanksgiving arrives. Taking time now to adopt proactive strategies aimed at decreasing stress on Thanksgiving can lead to a more successful experience. Utilizing some simple planning techniques now, can put you in position to reap the benefits of the Thanksgiving with fewer negative feelings.

Consider adopting these strategies when planning for Thanksgiving to decrease your stress and increase your enjoyment:

» Plan ahead: Stress often comes from feeling as though we have too much to do and too little time to do it. Organize a list of the tasks now you need to complete to be prepared for the holiday. Evaluate whether the list is “doable” for you. Consider rearranging tasks or omitting tasks that seem too overwhelming (i.e., setting the table the day of Thanksgiving and cooking may be too much to do all one day, going to the store where you like to by flowers so they are “fresh” the day before thanksgiving and fighting all the traffic may be one to omit).

» Ask for help: When you start planning in advance you can ask for help or delegate tasks to others. People like to help, especially when you ask them in advance, and can experience a greater sense of connection to the event when they are involved in assisting with it. Carefully consider what tasks you can delegate and to whom. For guests coming from out of town, consider tasks they could be involved in around keeping children occupied during final preparations, helping with cleanup and organizing games for the family.

» Avoid perfectionism: We may want to create a “perfect” holiday gathering and in doing so may rob ourselves and others of the joy of the experience. Look for instances in your planning where you are being perfectionistic and try to adopt a less rigid view of how things should be. Adopt a mantra of “good enough” as opposed to “perfect.” For example, ask yourself if you really need to have four dessert options as opposed to one option and if you could use paper napkins instead of cloth to speed up your cleanup time.

» Change “traditions” that don’t work: Holidays are often stepped in tradition. We do things certain ways because we have done it that way for years and often don’t stop to consider whether there is a better or more enjoyable way to do them. Challenge yourself to examine your holiday traditions and see if some should be altered. While there may be some family resistance to changing traditions, you can talk about trying out “a new plan” for the day and let others know you will evaluate “how this plan works.”

» Practice gratitude: Keep in mind the focus of Thanksgiving and make it a point to show gratitude to those that help you with your planning for the holiday. Take a moment to appreciate the person who helps you in the supermarket, in the airport or at the train station. Focus on appreciating your family and friends and showing gratitude for the help and support they give you as you plan for Thanksgiving. Research has shown that acts of gratitude not only make the recipient feel good, but are good, both emotionally and physically, for those dolling out the gratitude.

— Winifred Lender, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Santa Barbara and can be contacted at drwinifredlender@gmail.com. She is the author of A Practical Guide to Parenting in the Digital Age: How to Nurture Safe, Balanced and Connected Children and Teens available at Chaucer’s and Amazon. Dr. Lender completed her undergraduate work at Cornell University and received her master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is a past president of the Santa Barbara County Psychological Association. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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County Holding Public Meetings to Gather Community Input About Workforce system

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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The County of Santa Barbara and the Workforce Investment Board of Santa Barbara County will be holding public meetings to communicate upcoming changes to the workforce development system and to gather input and feedback from the community.

New federal legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, was passed in July. The county will be transitioning from the existing system, which operates under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

The transition will occur in phases across the next year and a half with full implementation achieved by July 1, 2016. The first phase of transition is focused on information gathering. The county is awaiting further guidance from the federal government and the State of California and will also be looking to workforce development experts, other counties and the local community to identify needs, priorities and best practices.

The county is partnering with local Chambers of Commerce to host public meetings across the county. The first meeting will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Dec. 2 at the Holiday Inn in Santa Maria, 2100 N. Broadway, the second will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Lompoc Chamber of Commerce, 111 South I St. The third meeting will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, 104 W. Anapamu St.

For more information about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act or the community meetings, please contact Jessica McLernon at j.mclernon@sbcsocialserv.org.

— Jessica McLernon is the business services manager for the Workforce Investment Board of Santa Barbara County.

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UCSB Reads Selects ‘Orange Is the New Black’ by Piper Kerman

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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When Piper Kerman began a 13-month sentence at a federal minimum-security women’s prison in Connecticut, the college-educated blue-eyed blonde soon realized that with a supportive family, a good lawyer and a job waiting for her on the outside, she was more fortunate than many of her prison peers.

Piper Kerman
Piper Kerman

Still, as prisoner No. 11187-424 serving time for money laundering, she endured the same humiliation, not the least of which came in the form of “squat and cough” searches, moldy showers and abuse or indifference from prison staff.

In her best-selling memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Kerman chronicles her prison experience, which also included friendships with fellow inmates and relationships marked by generosity, wisdom and acceptance.

The UC Santa Barbara Library has chosen the book as this year’s selection for UCSB Reads.

An annual event now in its ninth year, UCSB Reads engages the campus and the Santa Barbara community in conversations about a key topic while reading the same book. UCSB Reads is presented by the UCSB Library, in partnership with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.

A committee that included faculty and staff members, administrators and student representatives made this year’s selection.

On Jan. 12 starting at 10 a.m., Chancellor Henry Yang and university librarian Denise Stephens will be on hand at the UCSB Library to distribute free copies of the book to registered UCSB students. Associated Students has, in part, funded the book distribution. Copies of Orange Is the New Black will be on sale at the UCSB Bookstore as well.

Orange Is the New Black is also the selection of the Santa Barbara Public Library System’s Santa Barbara Reads program. The event runs concurrently with UCSB Reads, with events at library branches.

Multiple copies of Orange Is the New Black will be available for loan, including e-book and audiobook versions. The Luria Library at Santa Barbara City College is also a partner in the program.

A variety of UCSB Reads events, including faculty panels, book discussions and screenings, will take place throughout winter and spring quarters, both on campus and in the community. All open to the public, these will culminate in a public talk by the author on April 15 in UCSB’s Campbell Hall.

Kerman’s book is the basis for the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, and since her release, Kerman has been called by the U.S. Senate to testify on issues related to female prisoners.

Questions about UCSB Reads can be directed to Rebecca Metzger, assistant university librarian for outreach and academic collaboration, at rmetzger@library.ucsb.edu or 805.893.2674.

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

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Two Seriously Hurt in Crash Near Santa Maria

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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Two people were seriously injured Tuesday in a collision on Betteravia Road west of Santa Maria, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The two-vehicle crash, on West Betteravia Road at Ray Road, occurred shortly after 6 a.m., fire Capt. David Sadecki said.

One of the vehicles ended up on its side, and the occupants fled the scene, Sadecki said.

The other vehicle ended up in a ditch, Sadecki said, and it took firefighters about 15 minutes to extricate two victims from the wreckage.

Both were taken by AMR ambulance to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, where they were treated for serious injuries.

Cause of the crash remained under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

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

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Jamie Wood: Digital Detoxing — Creating the Right Boundaries Around Your Devices

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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With the holiday season upon us, marketing campaigns have kicked into high gear with many advertisers trying to convince us we need a new gadget, or at the very least, update the one we currently have with fun accessories and apps.

It seems to be commonplace thought that no one should live in this modern technological world without some sort of device within arm's reach 24/7.

Actually, according to an IDC Research Report, 79 percent of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours out of the day. This same report stated that 29 percent of cell owners could not imagine living without their phones. There has even been a new term coined called “screen sightedness” due to the increased rates of short sightedness among youth because of smartphone use.

This is just scratching the surface on the endless statistics and reports from all regions of the globe that are singing the same tune: We are simply using our devices too much. So how does one navigate this technological world where everything is literally at our fingertips and more and more communication, whether personal or work related, is expected to be instant?

The answer is boundaries — boundaries at home, boundaries at work, boundaries in social settings and boundaries in nature. Yes, we all may want to take a photo of some inspiring vista at the top of a mountain, but if you didn’t take the time to truly be present to the awe and wonder of that natural setting, was it really worth it? On a physiological level, many doctors would tell you no. You do not experience the same restoring, soothing and stress-relieving effects nature has on your system when you are not being present to it.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to some, but with stress being the main reason for hospital visits, absentee employees and overall diminished quality of life, you may want to rethink the power of getting outside without your devices handy.

These boundaries do not have to be difficult, rather a simple rethinking or rewiring of habitual patterns. The key is to bring awareness into exactly why you are using your devices. When you begin to ask this question each time you check your phone or open up your laptop, you will start to understand your habitual patterns. You will gain insight into not only what you spend your time on, but at a much deeper level, why are you doing it? Fear, anxiety, loneliness, desire, boredom, lack of confidence and aspiration are all emotions that can drive us and can become a source of distraction when we are not creating balance in our lives.

Each of us must learn to manage our phone or computer usage time for what is right for our particular environment and circumstance. What may be easy for some may be almost unbearable for others. Whatever it is, keep a strong dedication to the boundaries you set for yourself and don’t fall into the trap of thinking “you can’t function without it” or “I have to just check this one thing.”

The truth of the matter is, not only can you function without having your devices on and nearby all the time, but you can do so more effectively, efficiently and with less emotional imbalance.

Try one of these basic boundaries for a week and notice what arises.

» Wait at least 15 minutes after you first get up to check your phone or turn on your computer

» Spend time outside everyday without looking at your phone.

» Keep devices out of the bedroom.

» Create a specific charging station in your house for your phone and laptop.

» Buy an alarm clock.

» Set a time in the evening by which you stop using your devices.

If you want to learn more about creating the right boundaries around your devices, join Jamie Wood, owner of Sanga Living, for the annual Digital Detox retreat happening March 22-25 in Bowen Island, B.C. Click here for more information.

— Jamie Wood is the owner of Sanga Living & Sanga Retreats, a company dedicated toward helping people Live Life in Balance.

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MUFG Union Bank Partners with Anthony’s to Provide Free Christmas Trees to Military Families

By | Published on 11/25/2014

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For the seventh year, MUFG Union Bank is partnering with Anthony Dal Bello, owner of Anthony’s Christmas Trees & Wreaths, to participate in the national Trees for Troops program.

Working in concert with local military groups, the bank is providing 175 Christmas trees to pre-selected active military families on the Central Coast and 25 trees to the national Trees for Troops program for shipment to military bases.

In Santa Barbara, 25 local military families will pick up their free Christmas tree on Sunday, Nov. 30.

Known locally as “A Noble Fir for a Noble Cause,” MUFG Union Bank’s support has grown to six locations: Lompoc, Paso Robles, Port Hueneme, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Simi Valley.

Local military families will pick up their trees and celebrate with an event at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30 at Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara.

— Suzanne Crosina-Sahm is a corporate communications consultant for MUFG Union Bank.

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Lompoc Woman Found Competent to Stand Trial in Retired Teacher’s Death

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Rebecca Cristal Sandoval faces murder and other charges stemming from last year's crash that killed Buellton resident Linda Wall

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court jury on Monday unanimously found Rebecca Cristal Sandoval mentally competent to assist in her defense on charges connected with the Santa Ynez traffic accident that killed a retired teacher in December.

The panel deliberated for approximately an hour Monday afternoon in Santa Maria, where Judge Patricia Kelly immediately reinstated criminal proceedings after the mental-competency verdict.

Kelly instructed attorneys to return Dec. 3 for an arraignment hearing. 

Sandoval, who remains in custody with bail set at $1.1 million, stands accused of causing the Dec. 19, 2013, three-vehicle collision on Highway 246 in front of the Chumash Casino Resort.

Buellton resident Linda Wall, a longtime Spanish and French teacher at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School until she retired, later died at a hospital.

A Lompoc resident, Sandoval, 38. is charged with murder, felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, and a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence.

Authorities have said she had a history of inhalant abuse, specifically nitrous oxide.

Two medical experts differed on whether Sandoval was mentally competent to assist in her defense, leading the judge to order the hearing that began last week. The hearing only focused on the defendant’s mental state — not her guilt or innocence in the criminal case.

The forensic psychologists, Dr. James Tahmisian and Dr. Brandon Yakush, testified about reaching different conclusions regarding Sandoval’s mental state.

While Tahmisian deemed Sandoval is mentally competent, Yakush found differently, diagnosing her with a delusional disorder. The issue centered on whether Sandoval could rationally assist in her defense.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Greco noted that Sandoval was able to recite for one of the doctors what charges she faced.

“In fact, she knew them better than most defendants,” Greco told jurors.

Additionally, Sandoval requested a copy of the law enforcement report from the accident.

“I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, this is not the thought process of someone who is not competent to stand trial,” Greco said in his closing argument. 

He added that, while in jail, showed an ability to manipulate the system by undertaking a hunger strike until she could see a doctor.

Greco also noted Tahmisian’s testimony that “you can have a mental disorder and still be competent.”

Deputy Public Defender Patty Dark noted that for a mental-competency hearing, jurors must make a finding of “more likely than not.” 

“Just because Dr. Tahmisian didn’t see delusions doesn’t mean they’re not there,” Dark said.

She noted that Yakush testified that people with delusions often are high-functioning and otherwise normal, and can conceal those delusions, which often aren’t diagnosed until the person ends up in the criminal justice system.

Sandoval had worked for 10 years as a construction manager for the Chumash. 

“She can assist me, but would it be rational when she thinks I am a witch,” Dark added.

Dark said Yakush’s extensive examination included a highly regarded personality test along with his personal interview.

“She meets all the diagnostic criteria for delusional disorder,” Dark said. 

Attorneys also referred to an incident in which her delusions caused Sandoval to show up at Vandenberg Air Force Base due to a belief the installation was in a competition with another military facility to control women and change them into angels.

She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where she believed bones were replaced. The delusions also caused her to report being “energized” by farm equipment and controlled by satellites.

Outside the jury’s presence, the attorneys argued about whether Sandoval’s Native American heritage should be part of the inquiry, with the judge ultimately saying it wasn't relevant. The issue arose after Yakush used the term “spiritual.”

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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Goleta Planning Commission Approval Paves Way for Proposed Cortona Apartments

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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A 176-unit apartment complex is one step closer to construction after the Goleta Planning Commission approved its conceptual development plans Monday night.

The commission voted 2-1 to move the Cortona Apartments project forward for final approval by the City Council, with a stipulation that the council encourage developers to make every effort to use recycled water.

Commissioners Greg Jenkins and Eric Onnen voted for the proposal. Chairman Brent Daniels cast the dissenting vote, saying he disliked mixing residential housing with nearby industrial parks. Commissioner Ed Fuller was absent.

Developers propose to build Cortona Apartments on a nearly nine-acre vacant, triangular parcel at 6830 Cortona Drive, with Highway 101 near the Storke Road exit and railroad tracks to the north and business parks to the east, west and south.

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

Commissioners got their first glimpse at project plans and a final environmental impact report Monday. At the meeting, they allowed an amendment to the city’s general plan regarding environmental designations and recommended council adopt an accompanying statement of overriding consideration related to the site possibly being exposed to hazardous materials because of nearby railroad tracks.

The development, first proposed in 2009, originally contained five fewer units and has since submitted revised plans outlining an affordable housing component.

Bendy White, a land-use consultant and Santa Barbara city councilman who represented applicant John Price of Cortona Corner LP, requested development and setback modifications, which were also granted for the project, which features a recreational building, swimming pool and spa, walking paths, open space and sand volleyball court.

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

The Goleta Design Review Board had already granted unanimous conceptual approval in June 2012, with conditions to study cultural elements and to build eight-foot concrete privacy walls along the east and west property lines instead of the original six feet.

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

Water discussion took priority because of the drought, and since staff said the development was exempt from the Stage Two water restrictions issued by the Goleta Water District, which already had an agreement to serve the site.

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

Commissioners agreed with several public speakers and owners of adjacent business parks, who were concerned the site was awkwardly and uncomfortably close to nonresidential areas, but the majority ultimately somewhat reluctantly sided in favor of creating more much-needed workforce housing.

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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Mark Herrier: Lompoc Theatre Project Still Working Behind the Scenes to Gain Building Title

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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In September 2012, a group of local residents gathered together in an effort to revive previous attempts to restore the jewel of our historic downtown, the Lompoc Theatre.

The group that resulted, the Lompoc Theatre Project, has relentlessly pursued this goal for the last two years, encountering an unprecedented tangle of liens, agencies and issues. To see this local treasure approach 90 years old in such a state of decay has been as frustrating to those of us in the trenches as it has been to everyone in the community.

But at this moment, there is little more that we, the Lompoc Theatre Project, can do.

We can’t pull one weed. We can’t patch the roof. We can’t fix the marquee. We can’t raise the millions needed for renovation and restoration.

Why? Because we don’t own the building!

We reached a milestone last May when the City of Lompoc signed the Memorandum of Understanding that our Board of Directors approved in March. While this did not give us immediate ownership, the agreement gave us the guidelines to untangle the legal mess, and a list of procedures that will allow us to take ownership and bring the theater back to life.

We quickly fulfilled the requirements within our control. We hoped this momentum would race forward like the California wildfires we all grew up with. Instead, the pace has been more like a volcano — a huge eruption of excitement, followed by action moving at the speed of a lava flow, inches at a time.

Luckily, lava does eventually make it to the sea. And we will make it to the finish line, because we are a tenacious bunch. We have not been idly standing by, waiting for the various agencies and officials to work things out. We have been busy.

We have had several successful fundraisers and volunteer meetings. We have strengthened our organizational foundation and are adding quality new members to our board.

We have contracted with a legendary theater restoration company to create a facility that will be the pride of our town. We have hired a fundraiser who will hit the ground running the minute we take title. We have a calendar of events and a yearly operating budget that will be self-sustaining.

We will be the home for every arts group in the city. No longer will they have to rehearse in their living rooms and garages. They will have a state-of-the-art facility that will help them rise to new artistic heights. And they will have it free of charge.

Groups and businesses will have an event center for meetings and special events. Couples will have the perfect venue in which to say their vows.

The young people of Lompoc will have a new source of jobs, a chance to participate in workshops, and the opportunity to meet artists whose performances on that stage will inspire them to reach for the stars. I know. It happened to me.

And residents of the Lompoc Valley will finally have the performing arts center they deserve. 
We just need one thing to make it happen. We need to own the theater!
 Recent developments with various agencies have us optimistic that it will happen by early 2015. After that, the fate of the Lompoc Theatre will finally be in our hands. And in yours.
 Please check out our website at lompoctheatreproject.org. 
Please attend a volunteer meeting and become a member of the Lompoc Theatre Project. And join us on Dec. 12, when we will hold a “Sneak Peek” at Montemar Wines to unveil the plans to make our Lompoc Theatre rise again.

— Mark Herrier is a Lompoc native, a stage and film actor and director, and president of the Lompoc Theatre Project’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at markh@lompoctheatre.org.

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Fashion Retailer Cotton On Opens in Santa Maria Town Center

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Cotton On, the world-renowned Australian brand, opened its doors at the Santa Maria Town Center this weekend.

A one-stop shop for the fashion seekers, Cotton On carries collections that incorporate global trends in ladies’ and men’s wear at affordable prices. With over 800 stores in seven countries and scattered in five continents, the Santa Maria Town Center's Cotton On is the newest launch pad, offering the community another shopping experience that has long enchanted the fashion savvy worldwide.

Cotton On delivers fast and affordable fashion for the style savvy and for the classic relaxed who tone down with on-trend basics. The brand’s core items best suit shoppers ages 16 to 30, but nevertheless have offerings for those who fall off the range. The brand has a wide array of merchandise for both ladies and men that is weekly updated and made available in the stores. Ladies may regularly update their wardrobe with the fresh and diverse merchandise offering that comprises of fashion tops, skirts, denims and accessories, including sunnies, scarves and fashion jewelry.

Shoe brand Rubi makes an addition to the store as it offers footwear from casual sandals to fashion heels and a whole lot in between. This allows ladies to easily mix and match pieces for any occasion. Guys can also look effortlessly cool with casual shirts, bottoms and jackets matched with belts or hats as accessories to complete the outfit.

— Amber Lease is the public relations director for Santa Maria Town Center.

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Travelers to Hit the Roads, Skies for Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Automobile Club of Southern California data show the number of people venturing from home will be the highest since 2007

Most of the millions of people traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend will be driving cars, with the majority venturing onto roads and freeways Wednesday and Sunday.

If you travel either of those days, by car or plane, be prepared for delays, according to AAA.

The number of people traveling at least 50 miles from home in that time frame will be the highest the holiday has seen since 2007, when 4 million Southern Californians took trips, Automobile Club of Southern California data show.

Nationally, 46.3 million people were expected to travel over the holiday weekend, an increase of 4.2 percent from last year.

In California, 85 percent of travelers were expected to drive and 11 percent were expected to go by air.

AAA attributed the traveler increase to declining regular gas prices, which continue to hover below $3 per gallon, and to better personal finances overall.

Those hitting airports to head homeward were encouraged to arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours before international flights, according to the agency.

At the Santa Barbara Airport, officials suggested that anyone departing through Sunday get there 90 minutes early due to the increase in passenger traffic.

“All six of our nonstop destinations show passenger loads greater than normal, so it may take a little longer to park, check in, go through security and find your gate,” airport Director Hazel Johns said. “We want everyone to have an easy travel experience at the airport, and having a little extra time may be the key.”

Anyone on the road can expect to see plenty of police, since the Thanksgiving weekend is a maximum enforcement period for the California Highway Patrol — beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continuing through midnight Sunday.

CHP officers arrested more than 1,200 people statewide for driving under the influence during that time frame last year, said Lt. Kurt Kruse, commander of the Buellton Area CHP Office.

Thirty-three people were also killed over the holiday in 2013 — a 25 percent decrease from 2012, but a number Kruse said was still too high.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday,” he said in a public service announcement. “But if you’re going to be drinking, arrange in advance to have a designated driver who will not be drinking alcohol.”

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

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Montecito Bank & Trust Honors 184 Local Nonprofits with Community Dividends Awards

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Many first-time recipients are among the record number of organizations benefiting from a total of $1 million in grants at the 12th annual luncheon

More nonprofits than ever were recognized Monday at Montecito Bank & Trust's annual Community Dividends Awards luncheon, which focused this year on bringing new organizations into the fold.

The 12th annual celebration of more than 180 nonprofits in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties brought hundreds to the patio just outside La Pacifica Ballroom Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore for an hourlong networking reception before food and recognition were served.

About a dozen hands went up when Montecito Bank & Trust President and CEO Janet Garufis asked who had never before been to the event.

Of more than 300 applicants, the bank awarded 184 organizations a total of $1 million in donations — the largest number of recipients to date.

“Today we celebrate 12 years of making a difference,” Garufis said. “Every year it gets harder and harder.”

The jump came after Montecito Bank & Trust founder and chairman Michael Towbes asked to recognize hardworking organizations and individuals who hadn’t been highlighted before.

The Santa Barbara-based Turner Foundation fit that description, and co-director Rev. Dr. Jon Wilson happily and readily thanked the local bank for helping his nonprofit purchase new property to offer more affordable housing in the community.

“Montecito Bank & Trust to me is a very, very highly regarded bank and trust,” he said.

Montecito Bank & Trust CEO Janet Garufis, left, stands with Cassity Ming, marketing manager for UC Santa Barbara's Technology Management Program, which was a first-time recipient of a Community Dividends grant. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Another first-time recipient was UC Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program, more commonly called TMP and serving a budding population of college entrepreneurs.

TMP marketing manager Cassity Ming accepted the award on behalf of the program, noting the department’s surprise at receiving the honor.

Other new recipients included the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Washington Elementary School and the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association.

“This truly is my favorite event,” Towbes said. “Looking back over the years and the hundreds of nonprofits we have been honored to support, I am always reminded that it’s because of them — and the important work they do — that I was inspired to begin the Community Dividends Awards. Our goal through the Community Dividends, as well as our overall philosophy of giving back to the community, is to make the communities we serve better places to live and work.”

For a complete list of recipients, click here.

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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Festival of Trees Opens Friday, Will Benefit Carpinteria High Softball Field Restoration

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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The fifth annual Festival of Trees, sponsored by the Carpinteria Lions Club with generous contributions from participating local businesses and nonprofits, opens Friday, Nov. 28 and will benefit the softball field restoration project at Carpinteria High School.

The Festival of Trees will be open every day from from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Saturday, Dec. 13 at 700 Linden Ave. (in the old Austin's Hardware store).

A raffle drawing will be held at noon Sunday, Dec. 14. Tickets are $1. While you do not have to be present to win, it is always more fun to have the winners present! If you win a tree, you win everything — the decorations, the ornaments and all the holiday gifts!

This year, 26 local businesses and nonprofits are participating in the Festival of Trees — the most ever! Every participant decorates a 6½-foot, pre-lit, artificial Christmas tree (provided by the Lions Club) with their own holiday theme. Every business, organization and nonprofit must provide decorations, ornaments and holiday gifts for the trees in the amount of $300 or more (most trees average closer to $1,000).

Each year the Lions Club picks an organization from Carpinteria High School to sponsor, where all the net proceeds will benefit. In previous years this event raised about $14,000 selling $1 raffle tickets. This year, the Lions Club has chosen the softball field restoration project to be the recipient of this year's Festival of Trees event. Come help the Lion’s Club break its $20,000 goal for this year!

Come watch the community come together for this holiday event, where everyone is a winner!

» 2014 Tree Sponsors: A Healthy Life, Albertsons Carpinteria, Brotherhood of  Carpinteria, California Avocado Festival, Carpinteria Children's Project at Main School, Carpinteria Education Foundation, Carpinteria High School girls softball team, Carpinteria Republican Club, Carpinteria Masonic Lodge,  Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Carpinteria Women’s Club, Curious Cup, Hollandia Produce, Joy Equipment, Jim and Linda Lash, Hickey Brothers Land Company, Mission Linen, Montecito Bank & Trust, Plan Members Services of Carpinteria, Rincon Cycles, Rotary Club of Carpinteria Morning, Rotary Club of Carpinteria Noon, Seaside Gardens, Slys Restaurant, Union Bank (Leo) and Westerlay Orchid.

» Financial contributors for venue decoration and advertising: California Women in Agriculture, Big Red Crane, Moorhouse Financial, Coastal View News, Richard and Kathy Abney, and Vincent and Josephine Choate.

— Vince Choate represents the Carpinteria Lions Club.

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Santa Barbara County Fire Urges Residents to Sign Up for Red Flag Warning Text Alerts

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Santa Barbara County Fire is encouraging residents to sign up for a free text alert service that sends out weather advisories for red flag warnings, a time of heightened fire risk.  

The warnings are issued by the National Weather Service, and take into account conditions that can create extreme fire behavior such as strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures, according to Capt. David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

"It's for anybody, especially people in those high fire hazard areas just as a way of notifying them," Sadecki said, adding that some high fire hazard areas could generally be considered neighborhoods north of Foothill and Cathedral Oaks roads in the Santa Barbara frontcountry. 

Sadecki said he's found texting to be the fastest way to get information out to the media in his capacity as the department's public information officer.

Elsa Arndt, emergency manager at Santa Barbara County's Office of Emergency Services, said the advisories are a way to keep the public up to date on local advisories and warnings.

"It's a way of enabling local government agencies and business to communicate with residents," she said.

Nixle alerts also deliver general messages about fires or weather information, but residents can get the specialized red flag warning texts with this specific program, she said.

Organizations such as the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, above Foothill Road at 1212 Mission Canyon Road, are signed up for the red flag alerts, she added. 

Arndt said the Office of Emergency Services has used Nixle recently with the Miguelito Fire in Lompoc to issue reverse 9-1-1 telephone calls to residents in the area, and also were able to update people on the boundaries of the fire and impacts in the area.

The county also issued alerts for the winter storm that came through the county over Halloween weekend, issued earthquake and tsunami information and other information like Amber Alerts for missing children.

There are almost 9,000 people currently signed up for the general Nixle alerts and about 550 people signed up for the Red Flag Warning text alert system. The program has been in place since 2009.

To receive general Nixle alerts, residents are asked to text their ZIP code to 888777. To receive the red flag warnings text alerts, residents can text the word "Redflag" to 888777.

The information comes through people's cell phones as an SMS message, so though the service is free, people will still pay for the texts unless they have unlimited text messaging, Arndt 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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SBCC Launching ‘Check Out a Dog and Lower Your Stress!’ Ahead of Finals Week

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Santa Barbara City College will launch its first therapy dog event “Check Out a Dog and Lower Your Stress!” for students from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3 at the college’s Luria Library on West Campus.

“We are always looking for creative and positive ways to serve our students, particularly during finals,” SBCC Library Director Elizabeth Bowman said.

In recent years before finals each semester, students have enjoyed the library’s “Relaxation Station,” which has included a Wii station, rocking chair, art supplies, hula hoop and games.

Partnering with SBCC for its inaugural Therapy Dog event is All for Animals, a local nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of young people through personal interaction with specially trained therapy animals. In all, there will be at least a dozen dogs in attendance, all of whom received specialized training from All for Animals and are certified as therapy dogs by Love on a Leash, The Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy.

Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol — or stress hormone — in people and increases endorphins, known as the “happiness hormone.” Studies also show excessive stress, like the kind students may experience during finals, impairs memory. An activity that relieves stress — such as petting a friendly dog — can improve a student’s ability to retain what they are learning.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Santa Barbara City College for this special event,” said Karen Lee Stevens, founder and president of All for Animals. “We have seen first-hand the calming effect our therapy dogs have on young children who are just learning to read. Now we get to bring our cute and cuddly canines into a college environment where students will have a chance to unwind and pet our dogs. There will undoubtedly be a lot of smiles and laughter!”

Click here for more information on library activities at Santa Barbara City College. Click here for more information or to make a donation to All for Animals.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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Michael Barone: Nobody Is Pushing Piketty’s Policies to Combat Economic Inequality

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Last spring, you may remember, French economist Thomas Piketty was all the rage in certain enlightened circles. His book Capital shot up to the No. 1 spot on bestseller lists, and many economists praised his statistics showing increased income and wealth inequality. Piketty argued that, absent a world war, returns to capital will exceed economic growth, inevitably producing growing inequality in the 21st century.

There are problems with Piketty's — or anyone else's — statistics. Reliance on U.S. income tax returns overlooks the fact that tax cuts encourage people to realize income and misses non-taxable income such as welfare and Social Security payments.

Still, there has clearly been a boom in the incomes and wealth of the top 1 percent here and worldwide. Piketty sees this as a threat to democracy. Liberal economists and pundits hoped that his revelations would finally get politicians to support policies like Piketty's 80 percent tax rate on high incomes and progressive tax on great wealth — and get the masses to vote for them.

So far it hasn't happened here or just about anywhere.

You didn't see any campaign ads calling for Piketty taxes this fall. You didn't even see any ads hailing Democrats for having raised taxes on high earners in early 2013. Democratic candidates in seriously contested races didn't come close to advocating such policies.

You may have heard some Democrats bemoaning income inequality. The idea that the rich get richer while everyone else doesn't gets pretty wide agreement in the polls. So does the Democrats' one redistributionist policy — raising the minimum wage.

As a policy to address inequality, though, it's rather pathetic. About half of minimum wage earners are not in the lowest fifth households in income. Even fewer are their own household's primary earner. Almost all economists agree that when the minimum wage is raised, some employees lose their jobs.

It is only slightly hyperbolic to say that an increased minimum wage is a transfer of income from fast-food customers to fast-food workers minus those who are replaced by kiosks. That's not a very effective way to sock it to the top 1 percent.

Even after the election, some Democrats argue that they didn't hit the issue hard enough. One Democrat's advice to President Barack Obama, according to Politico, "is focus on income inequality, and talk about and propose things, and just be a fierce advocate of addressing the economic divide. That will leave people after two years saying the Democratic Party really stands for something."

"Propose things" — but what? A recent Congressional Budget Office report shows that when you measure federal taxes paid minus federal transfers received (welfare, food stamps, Social Security, etc.), the top 20 percent of earners pay an average of $46,500. The next 20 percent pay an average of $700. The bottom three-fifths get back more than they pay. Plus, the U.S. already relies more heavily on the income tax for revenues than any other advanced economy nation.

In other words, America already has lots of economic redistribution. American voters evidently sense that more redistribution would sap economic growth. They're willing to throw a little to minimum wage earners, but they don't want to kill the geese laying the golden eggs.

Americans are not alone in feeling that way. You don't see much demand for Piketty policies in other countries either.

Even in Brazil, with near-zero growth and much greater inequality than the U.S., incumbent President Dilma Rousseff saw her percentage slip from 56 percent in 2010 to 52 percent this October.

In Britain, facing an election next May, there are calls within the Labour Party to oust leader Ed Miliband, who has called for freezing energy prices and a tax on "mansions," which would hit Londoners hard.

Piketty confesses he has seldom left Paris in his adult years. But even there his policies are in trouble. The job approval of Socialist President Francois Hollande, who imposed a top income tax rate of 75 percent, currently hovers just above 10 percent.

Politicians opposing massive economic redistribution have a hard time coming up with appealing rhetoric. But there seems to be something more powerful working in their favor — a widespread if unspoken understanding that government attempts to "spread the wealth around" (as candidate Obama once told Joe the Plumber) tend to destroy it instead.

Piketty has sold a lot of books. But his policies don't seem to be selling well anywhere.

Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. Click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @MichaelBarone, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care Celebrates Graduates of Interfaith Chaplaincy Program

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Last Tuesday, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care recognized 10 graduates who received their chaplaincy apprentice certificates for completing the VNHC Chaplaincy Apprentice Program.

The Chaplaincy Apprentice Program began at VNHC in 2012, and to date, a total of 43 individuals have been certified in Interfaith Spiritual Care, 18 of which are VNHC employees.

A chaplain is a vital member of the hospice team. A chaplain recognizes that, during a health crisis, spirituality can become crucial to patients and their families. Chaplains offer sensitivity to help the patient cope, offers compassion through conversation, companionship, compassionate listening, and a sensitive, non-judgmental presence.

“Chaplaincy takes a deliberate emphasis to share the gifts of support and understanding,” said Sam Geli, VNHC hospice chaplain. “Whatever the need, the chaplain stands ready to respect, listen, appreciate, and simply be there.”

VNHC is the only organization in Santa Barbara County to offer a Chaplaincy Apprentice Program, an interfaith, 26-week spiritual care-giving program that provides education and skills to those interested in becoming chaplains. It is a 180-hour clinical and didactic program.

— Amy Bernstein is a publicist representing Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.

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Sheriff’s Department Asks for Public’s Help Locating Suspects in Stabbing in Old Town Goleta

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is requesting public assistance to help locate multiple suspects wanted in connection with a stabbing that occurred in Old Town Goleta last Friday evening.

At 5:38 p.m. Friday, a male in his 20s was stabbed following a confrontation at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Mandarin Avenue. The victim was transported to the hospital and is recovering from his injuries.

Sheriff’s deputies searched the area following the stabbing but were not able to locate the suspects.

The case is under investigation, and sheriff’s detectives are requesting anyone who witnessed or has any information about this crime to call our anonymous tip line at 805.681.4171.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the possibility the stabbing was gang related. Due to the active investigation, this is all the information we are able to release at this time.

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

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Letter to the Editor: Habitat for Humanity Offers ‘Hand Up’ for New Homeowners

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County (a locally based affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International) is so pleased about the recent completion and dedication of our 12 homes on East Canon Perdido Street. In hopes of celebrating this recent success with the entire community, I wanted to share with you a bit about what we do, how we do it, and our plans for the future.

We believe in the notion that making homeownership opportunities available to low- and moderate-income families who already live in the Santa Barbara area, and are struggling with difficult housing conditions, is a very positive way to build the fabric and stability of our community. While nothing is wrong with being a renter, our idea is that a homeowner is directly and fully invested in their community through the pride owning a home brings.

We have a rigorous family selection process. For our Canon Perdido development, we had 530 applicants for 12 homes. Habitat for Humanity partners with hardworking families who are legal U.S. residents, have maintained good credit, pay their taxes and have some savings set aside. They work incredibly long hours, and often multiple jobs, to make ends meet.

When they purchase their Habitat home, each of the 12 families pays a sum to cover the closing costs and will assume a zero percent mortgage loan. To maintain our philosophy of offering a “hand up” rather than a “hand out,” Habitat structures the mortgages so that a family’s housing costs do not exceed 35 percent of their total household income. Their mortgage payments then become recycled funds for future builds and the opportunity for more families to own their own home.

Each adult member of the family must contribute 250 hours of “sweat equity” to the building of their home. The Canon Perdido families worked side by side with over 700 volunteers who donated their time to make these homes a reality.

In terms of funding, about two-thirds of the funds raised to buy the land and complete the homes were donations private individuals, charitable foundations and businesses. The other one-third was assistance from the City of Santa Barbara, which become a loan on each home, and is either repaid or ultimately forgiven if the home remains in the affordable housing inventory for 90 years.

Our next projects will be several new homes on Sawyer Avenue in Carpinteria and on East Cota Street in Santa Barbara. The land for the Cota property was recently donated to us by Leslie Meadowcroft-Schipper, an incredibly generous gift to the entire community! In addition to building new homes, we also have ongoing program we call “A Brush of Kindness,” which is essentially renovating existing homes for people who are not able to do it by themselves with donated labor and materials.

We are always looking for volunteers to partner with. If our concept is compelling to you and you would like to be involved with us in the future, I ask you to contact us at 805.692.2226 or mail@sbhabitat.org. We look forward to partnering with you!

Jon Martin, board president
Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County

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Montessori Center School Leader to Host Talk on ‘Defining Montessori for the 21st Century’

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Montessori Center School is hosting an educational evening presentation for interested parents titled, "Why Montessori? Defining Montessori for the 21st Century."

The event will be held on the MCS campus in the school’s Multi-Purpose Building from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3.

MCS Head of School Patricia Colby, Ph.D., will be highlighting the philosophy of Montessori education and will share with the group how the Montessori method, with over 100 years of success, has served children in more than 120 countries all over the world.

MCS looks forward to putting a spotlight on this approach to education that is scientifically designed to help the student follow his or her search for knowledge. In this day and age we know that families are curious about a methodology that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child — physical, social, emotional and cognitive, and we look forward to providing more information for those who would like to learn more.

For anyone interested in attending, please contact Alyssa Morris in the Admission Office at 805.683.9383 x104 or by email at a.morris@mcssb.org. Please note, this event is for adults only. Click here for more event information.

Montessori Center School, at 401 N. Fairview Ave. in Goleta, has provided students ages 18 months through 12 years with creative and compelling education in a supportive, nurturing environment since 1965. MCS implements the internationally renowned Montessori Method of teaching and works to ensure that the school flourishes for today’s children and for generations to come.

— Alyssa Morris is the admissions director for Montessori Center School.

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NCEAS, Bren School Scientists Assess Tipping Points, Strategies for Improved Ocean Management

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Tipping points occur when small shifts in human pressures or environmental conditions bring about large, sometimes abrupt changes in a system. Such tipping points can exist in a human society, a physical system, an ecosystem or our planet’s climate.

The Ocean Tipping Points collaborative research project seeks to characterize tipping points in ocean ecosystems and provide ocean resource managers with practical guidance to help avoid abrupt change. Several associates with UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis as well as the campus’ Bren School of Environmental Science & Management are participating in projects that are part of this joint effort.

“Many scientists before us have studied the complex dynamics of marine ecosystems, highlighting the potential for rapid, dramatic changes in ocean conditions,” said Carrie Kappel, principal investigator of the OTP collaborative and center associate at NCEAS. “However, past science has done little to change the way we manage marine ecosystems. We have an opportunity to change this, as promising new science converges with a paradigm shift toward ecosystem-based management of our coasts and oceans.”

At the midpoint of the four-year project, the OTP collaboration presented its initial findings in five scientific papers, two published last week, in the journals Nature Communications and Scientific Reports, and three appearing today in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. The first two studies analyze the factors that drive differences in the state of the ecosystem.

The paper published in Nature Communications examines predator and prey fish diversity across the coral reefs of the Pacific. Investigators studied differences in the dispersal patterns of predators and their prey and how those differences affect geographic patterns of community trophic structure.

“Our study shows that the ability of predators to disperse long distances allows their diversity to remain relatively high on isolated islands,” said lead author Adrian Stier, a postdoctoral fellow with the OTP project and visiting researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “These results add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that careful consideration of organisms’ movement may help explain how ecological communities are structured across the globe. Given the suite of threats facing reef ecosystems and top predators more generally, a renewed focus on the mechanisms governing community structure is essential.”

The study appearing in Nature Scientific Reports was conducted in British Columbia and analyzed tradeoffs among the harvest of Pacific herring roe-on-kelp for cultural and subsistence uses, the commercial harvest of spawning adult herring for export of their roe and the role of unharvested herring as forage for seabirds, marine mammals and other fish.

“Our work shows that both roe-on-kelp and adult herring fisheries can be managed sustainably, but the two necessarily trade off against each another — there is no scenario that results in high catches for both fisheries,” explained lead author Ole Shelton, a staff scientist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “However, there is a range of harvest rates that can lead to successful fisheries catches for both while maintaining sufficient numbers of herring to support herring predators. Our work points to the importance of jointly considering the risks posed by multiple fisheries and the broader ecosystem value of herring.”

Three additional studies published today in the Royal Society’s special issue titled “Marine regime shifts around the globe: theory, drivers and impacts” address individual topics related to ocean ecosystems. The first evaluates management success in case studies involving ecological tipping points across the globe. The second provides additional guidance for marine managers on how to incorporate the risk of reaching a tipping point into current ecosystem-based management frameworks. The third considers the role tipping points play in changes from coral- to algae-dominated reefs examined throughout the Hawaiian archipelago.

The OTP alliance brings together scientists from a number of institutions, including UCSB, Stanford University, NOAA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Hawaii. The four-year effort is funded primarily by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The group’s mandate is to study changes in ocean climate and the abundance of key species, nutrients and other factors that drive dramatic shifts in ocean food webs, habitats and ecosystem functions that can have direct impacts on people’s well-being.

At two case study sites — the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and British Columbia’s Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site — OTP scientists are characterizing existing ecosystem regimes and developing practical tools to help managers predict, avoid or recover from abrupt ecosystem shifts. Although there have been many critical advances in the science of ecosystem tipping points in recent years, managers still lack practical tools and information to help them anticipate and respond to ecosystem shifts. 

“Ocean tipping points are cause for concern because they are hard to anticipate and can be very difficult to reverse,” Kappel said. “For managers of marine ecosystems, an understanding of tipping points is critical because they change the rules of the game.”

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

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Santa Barbara County Sheriff Hires New Undersheriff

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown has tapped someone outside the department — a law enforcement consultant who lives locally — to become his new undersheriff.

Bernard “Barney” Melekian, 65, will take over the permanent post Jan. 5 after a swearing-in ceremony, assuming the current role of Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson, who officially retired earlier this month but will stay on until Melekian starts work.

The sheriff made the announcement Monday, touting Melekian’s many years of public service at the local and federal level, including a short stint locally with the sheriff’s department from 1976 to 1977.

Melekian, who lives in Santa Barbara with wife, Nancy, is currently under contract doing consulting work for the City of Seattle through Dec. 31, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Bernard "Barney" Melekian starts work as the Santa Barbara County Undersheriff on Jan. 5. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office photo)

"I have been very blessed to have spent my life working in a profession that I love," Melekian said in a statement. "I am grateful to Sheriff Brown for affording me the opportunity to continue to serve.  I look forward to working with the residents of Santa Barbara County and the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office."

Much of Melekian’s law enforcement resume includes posts in Southern California, where his career began in the Santa Monica Police Department in 1973 after four years in the U.S. Army.

After a year with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department, Melekian returned to Santa Monica police, serving as a patrol officer, detective, K-9 officer and on the communications and SWAT teams.

He rose through the ranks there up to assistant chief — earning the Medal of Courage and the Medal of Valor — before he was selected as chief of police for the City of Pasadena, where he stayed 13 years and spearheaded a successful gang violence prevention program. 

In 2009, the U.S. Attorney General selected Melekian to lead the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, which provides grants, training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

He left that job to begin consulting last year, working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and for police departments in Chicago, Baltimore and Seattle.

“Barney Melekian is a nationally recognized law enforcement professional with a history of achieving success, building trust and making a difference wherever he has served,” Brown said in a statement Monday. “He is exceptionally bright and hard working. I can think of no one who is better respected in the law enforcement profession. I am delighted he will be joining our agency and look forward to working with him as my undersheriff.”

Melekian's salary and compensation information were not immediately available, according to the county human resources department.

Melekian, a father of six grown children, earned his doctorate in policy, planning and development from USC and a public administration master’s degree from Cal State University, Northridge.

He’s a past president of the California Police Chiefs Association, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve retiree, and a current board member/commissioner for the national Police Foundation, the State of California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, the City of Santa Barbara’s Police & Fire Commission, and the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. 

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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UCSB Geography Professor David López-Carr Named AAAS Fellow

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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UC Santa Barbara’s David López-Carr has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

David López-Carr
David López-Carr

One of 20 elected for distinguished contributions to the field of geography, he was recognized specifically for advancing the scientific understanding of the coupled process of human population dynamics and environmental change.

Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon scientifically or socially distinguished AAAS members by their peers for efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications. López-Carr, who is the sole AAAS fellow from UCSB this year, joins more than 70 faculty members who have been so recognized since 1960.

“I’m honored to receive this award from my peers,” said López-Carr, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Geography and director of the campus’s Human-Environment Dynamics Lab. “I consider it a reflection on the quality of UCSB and our geography department.”

López-Carr also is currently the systemwide chair for the Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity for the UC Faculty Senate and is an associate director of the UC Global Health Center of Expertise on Migration and Health. He holds affiliate positions in three UCSB interdisciplinary programs: Latin American and Iberian Studies, Global and International Studies and Marine Studies.

“I am delighted that David López-Carr has been recognized as a fellow of the AAAS, the largest scientific society in the world,” said Pierre Wiltzius, the Susan and Bruce Worster Dean of Science. “Being a faculty member in the Department of Geography as well as contributing his expertise to multiple centers on campus makes David an excellent representative of the quintessential interdisciplinary, collaborative scientists at UCSB.”

In 2012, López-Carr, also director of UCSB’s program in Latin American and Iberian Studies, was one of three UCSB faculty members to share in a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures titled “Sea Change: Integrating the Historical Study of Human Cultures and Marine Environments in Three Pacific Regions.” He was also a lead author of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5). GEO-5 represented the United Nations position statement on global environmental change and suggested policy directions for the 2012 Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, a world summit held in Rio de Janeiro.

López-Carr’s work focuses on population dynamics, particularly links between migration and fertility and terrestrial and marine resource use in Latin America and between population and health vulnerabilities to climate change in Africa. His research integrates diverse data sources from United Nations and World Bank socioeconomic and demographic data to remotely sensed imagery with field-based surveys.

López-Carr received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature (with a minor in geology) from Bates College and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of North Carolina, where he also held a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship in biostatistics in the School of Public Health and the Carolina Population Center. In addition to Spanish, he speaks Portuguese, Italian, French and rudimentary Q’eqchí Maya.

López-Carr has received various academic honors including the 2002 Nystrom Award for outstanding paper based on a dissertation in the field of geography. In 2013, he was one of a select handful of geographers and social scientists chosen as Kavli Frontiers of Science fellows.

This year, 401 members were named AAAS fellows. Each new fellow will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin at the 2015 AAAS annual meeting in San Jose, California, in February.

The tradition of AAAS fellows dates back to 1874. The nonprofit organization includes 254 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Its journal Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science publication in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. AAAS is open to everyone and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs and science education, among others.

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

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Brian Burke: About Your Divorce (Letter 99) — Cooties and the Toxic Brainwash

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Dear Pinky and Spike:

Cooties the toxic brainwash.

While recording what I’ve learned from my clients about divorce during the last 30 years of practice, my first priority was to describe the way clients are abused by the divorce industry. I refer to it as the Ugly Divorce Book. You can get the gist from this sentence:

A fee agreement compensating the lawyer (and her partners, associates, assistants and clerical staff) by multiplying the number of hours they record by “standard rate(s),” creates a potential economic conflict of interest between the lawyer and the client that’s usually greater than the potential conflict of interest between the client and his/her spouse.

The second book will be longer and almost entirely positive. First, however, it needs a chapter to explain how and why I’ve been able to largely avoid Toxic Divorces for more than 20 years, and that I had little or no advice or information of use to people involved in a Toxic Divorce. I expected to do it in one chapter, which would take no more than two weeks to write. Two weeks turned into nearly three months and the single chapter turned into three. The work was dreadful, distressing and depressing.

After nearly three months, my wife, Alice, observed that what I was doing had taken a toll on me and I, in turn, was taking a toll on her.

I focused on three cases. Two were real (Marriage of Broderick and Marriage of Swithin) and one was fictional (Gone Girl). I had no professional and no personal involvement with any of these cases. In the last letter (No. 98), I said that while immerged in these lives I may have become depressed and was, at the very least, dysthymic. My subjective condition caused the content of these letters to drift to Stage IV (Depression) of the Kübler-Ross grief model.

                                                                        •        •

This letter was going to use one or two accounts from popular culture to show what it looks like when “hope” causes or permits a person to come out of a bad depression. But given the time and energy spent to learn more about Toxic Divorce, I am going to harvest and publish the “lessons learned,” which usurped all the space available for this letter. “Escape from depression via hope!” should appear just before Christmas.

My research into these three ugly divorces took longer — and took more out of me — than I expected, and it catalyzed six insights. (The list includes links to drafts of two White Papers that will remain posted for the next two weeks. Comments are invited.)

» 1. It was possible to differentiate the terms “Toxic Divorce” and “Ordinary Divorce” with qualitative comparisons. [White Paper I Toxic Divorce: Who cares? Who should care?]

» 2. “Toxic Divorces” are qualitatively different from “Ordinary Divorces.” During an extended client consultation, the client’s personal narrative usually gives me the information I need to assess the probable toxicity of the case. I was able to write an Inventory of 20 questions that elicits the same information directly.

It was possible to work out an algorithm that evaluates the responses to the Inventory questions and provides consistent predictions about the probability that the case is Toxic. [For a beta version of the Inventory, click here. It’s free and comments are invited. See also, White Paper II Toxic Divorce: Identifying the Toxic Divorce – Inventory.]

» 3. We know that these cases represent less than 5 percent of the divorcing population and that they have a vastly disproportionate influence on the development of law, whether it is decisional law from the appellate courts or statutory law from the legislatures. We also know that these cases exhaust nearly all (90 percent) of the judicial resources available to the entire divorcing population.

» 4. When third parties intermeddle — both in good faith and in bad faith — in Toxic Divorces at least two things will happen: (a) The intruder’s action will have an unintended and unexpected effect, and (b) The intruder — especially the one trying to help — will get psychologically blamed.

For example: In an effort to help and support their child, Wife’s parents provide funds for her to pay lawyers to “really stand up for her.” Let’s say the infusion of money comes 18 months post-separation. By this time, the parties have worked though Stage II Anger, or the emotional experience has peaked and is falling toward its conclusion. [Click here for the Yale Bereavement Study chart as modified for divorce.] The money will be used to refill her existing attorney’s war chest or to fill a war chest for a new lawyer. The unintended consequence is that the lawyers will “earn” the fees in reach, the case will heat up because of their activity, and progress toward resolution will slip backwards. This is probably not what the parents had in mind. This is the unintended effect on the case.

From the Husband’s perspective, Wife’s parents are no longer “supporting” their child. They have become participants in the case and they have taken sides against Husband who is the father of their grandchildren. Husband will ensure that his children know his version of the story, told in a way that undermines their future relationship with their mother’s parents. The unexpected psychological effect is that wife’s parents are vilified. Husband will hold them responsible for some of the future ugliness as will their grandchildren if Husband is clever in the way he delivers his story to them.

In other words, Toxic Divorces generate cooties to which the parties have grown somewhat immune. Professionals are paid to compensate for their exposure to them. Third parties attract the Cooties and they will get you.

» 5. By avoiding Toxic Divorces and focusing on Ordinary Divorces for so many years my perspective is unusual, unorthodox and unconventional. I’ve spent most of my professional life seeking an understanding of what happens in Ordinary Divorce. The explanations I entertain don’t have to take into account Toxic Divorce, which will skew and dominate any explanation unless they are deliberately excluded. Of the hundreds of books published on divorce during the last thirty years, a small minority focuses on the Ordinary Divorce. The Good Divorce is one of them; it was written by Constance Aarons, a good and reliable academic researcher.

» 6. When I understood the incidental benefit of studying Ordinary Divorce to the exclusion of Toxic Divorce, I could appreciate the significance of what was obvious. What do the media describe when reporting on the subject of divorce? The cases described on the covers of magazines and tabloids at the market or drugstore are Toxic, as are those reported on television, discussed online and gossiped about “over the back fence.” Why? It’s because they are interesting.

Consider: Frank and Sarah divided all their stuff in two. The kids spend time with each parent and both the parents and the children are experimenting with different arrangements to see which works out best for all involved. Frank and Sarah have been angry and now they are sad. They are reluctant to talk about “their divorce” with friends because they see it as “their divorce” and no one’s business but their own. Similarly, Frank and Sarah don’t want to talk about their friends’ divorces because it’s private — and they think their friends should keep it private. Where’s the story?

The Divorce Discourse — both public and private — is “informed” by Toxic Divorces, which creates expectations of similarities between two disparate sets. These expectations can, and often do, become reality, especially when promoted by divorce lawyers acting well within the Rules of Professional Conduct by expecting and being prepared for the worst.

Divorce is a big event. For most of us, there are few “Self”-defining events — such as births, deaths and major occurrences outside our control. Divorce is both Self-defining and life defining. It has an immediate effect on the nuclear family undergoing the reorganization and a ripple effect on nearly everyone with a connection to that family.

For us as a culture there is a gross misconception about the nature of life- and Self-defining events, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that enriches the Divorce Industry and interferes and corrupts the natural process. I fear that such interference — especially at the hands of professionals who have been trusted and paid to help their clients — reduces the likelihood that the client will complete the process as a “better person” (a term only the client can define) than s/he was at the outset.

We are the objects of mass “brainwashing.” That’s a particularly strong term, so I’ll explicitly strip it of its sinister connotation and any suggestion of conspiracy. Now the term is used to describe a situation in which the media and our own behavior have confused us about the nature of a serious life event, which needs to be well understood to promote a positive outcome.

I don’t think anything can be done to stop the “washing” or to change the shampoo. So what can be done?

The brainwashing can be followed with a brain-rinsing. It’s a do-it-yourself job I’ll explain in the next letter.

Your friend,
Bucky

— Brian H. Burke is a certified family law specialist practicing family law and mediation in Santa Barbara. A researcher and educator in the field of divorce and family conflicts, he is also the creator of the Legal Road Map™. Click here for more information, call 805.965.2888 or e-mail info@burkefamilylaw.com. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Holiday Karaoke Sing-Along Coming to Local Libraries in December

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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The Santa Barbara Public Library System brings Larry Nimmer’s Holiday Karaoke family sing-along to three area libraries in December.

Blending reading and singing in a fun activity, karaoke helps build literacy skills and self-esteem.

Families and children are invited to these free events on the following dates:

» Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 3:30 p.m. at Eastside Library, 1102 E. Montecito St. in Santa Barbara, 805.963.3727

» Thursday, Dec. 23 at 2 p.m. at Carpinteria Library, 5141 Carpinteria Ave. in Carpinteria, 805.684.4314

» Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 3 p.m. at Solvang Library, 1745 Mission Drive in Solvang, 805.688.4214

Space is limited, so early arrival is recommended.

Visit the Santa Barbara Public Library System online at SBPLibrary.org to find out library locations, hours, programs and events. All library programs are free and open to the public.

— Tara O’Reilly is a branch supervisor for the Carpinteria Library.

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Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Issues Statement on Immigration Reform

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, chairman of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, released the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s executive action regarding immigration:

“After years of inaction by Congress, President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration reform is a fair and compassionate first step in fixing our broken immigration system. 1.3 million undocumented Asian Pacific Islander Americans live in the United States today, and of those, at least 416,000 undocumented APIAs live in California. With the successful implementation of our state’s DREAM Act and TRUST Act, California has shown the nation once again that we can include and care for all of our immigrant populations. But at the end of the day, state legislation and executive actions are merely a band-aid to this issue. Congress needs to step up and pass true comprehensive immigration reform to provide relief for families living in the shadows.”

The API Legislative Caucus, currently chaired by Williams, was established in 2001 with the mission of representing and advocating for the diverse interests of California’s API community.

Additionally, the caucus seeks to increase API participation and representation in all levels of government. Click here for more information.

Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.

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The Living, Breathing Ocean: UCSB’s Timothy DeVries Demonstrates Effects of Climate Change

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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The ocean is a complex ecosystem. The ocean carbon cycle is governed by the relationship among carbon, nutrients and oxygen, and the ratio between certain elements is key to understanding ocean respiration.

Timothy DeVries
Timothy DeVries

Phytoplankton — photosynthesizing microscopic organisms inhabiting the upper sunlit layer of the ocean — play an important role in governing carbon, nutrients and oxygen cycles. A new study by UC Santa Barbara’s Timothy DeVries and Curtis Deutsch of the University of Washington reveals a threefold variation across latitudes in the ratio of oxygen consumed to phosphorus released during organic matter respiration. The findings, which appear today in the journal Nature Geoscience, demonstrate how climate change might affect the ratio of carbon, oxygen and nutrients in the subsurface ocean.

Just like trees and plants on the Earth’s surface, phytoplankton take up nutrients and carbon, which are processed and released as organic matter that sinks to the ocean’s subsurface. In this study, DeVries and Deutsch focused primarily on the depth of 200 meters, which is below the photic zone. With no light no photosynthesis can occur. Once again mimicking the biological processes that take place on the Earth’s surface, marine microbes in the ocean consume the organic matter and use oxygen to respire it.

The scientists estimated how much oxygen the microbes used per unit of phosphorus they have consumed, expressed as a ratio, O2:P.

“The interesting thing we see  is that this ratio varies a great deal,” said DeVries, a newly appointed assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Geography and at the campus’s Earth Research Institute.

“We’re not able to determine what varies the ratio, but just based on basic chemistry and biology, we know that it’s probably in large part due to variations in the carbon-to-phosphorus ratio of the organic matter that the microbes are consuming,” DeVries added. “So a high C:P ratio would correlate with a high O2:P ratio of respiration. The more carbon there is in the organic matter, the more oxygen it takes to respire it.

We’re quite confident that the O2:P ratio of microbial respiration that we’re seeing correlates with the C:P ratio of the phytoplankton. There have been measurements of this in the surface ocean and those measurements correlate to what we’re seeing in the subsurface.”

Such ratios, known as stoichiometry, describe the relative quantities of reactants and products in chemical reactions. The ocean circulation model and global climatologies of oxygen and phosphate used by DeVries and Deutsch allowed them to detect strong regional variabilities in the ratios of respired oxygen and phosphorus in the subsurface ocean. Previous analyses were unable to detect these variations because of the highly simplified ways they represented ocean mixing processes. In addition, the researchers said that ratio variations show close correlation with environmental conditions in the surface ocean.

Central to the team’s modeling results is how these spatial variations correlate with different ocean surface biomes or ecosystems. According to DeVries, some surface areas of the ocean contain few nutrients but an abundance of sunlight; other areas manifest the opposite combination: low light and plenty of nutrients.

“One of the reasons this is important is that in an ocean growing warmer under climate change, we expect an increase in regions of the ocean that have more light and are nutrient poor,” DeVries said. “Based on these patterns, we expect that will shift the phytoplankton community to a higher C:P ratio. If there is a shift toward this regime, there’s going to be more carbon stored in the ocean than the corresponding situation in which there is no shift.”

That is actually a good thing, DeVries noted. Phytoplankton taking up more carbon because they are exposed to more light and fewer nutrients could help offset the predicted slowdown of the ocean’s uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “As the Earth’s climate warms, it will cause the oceans to stratify and reduce their capacity to take up CO2, causing warming to accelerate even faster,” DeVries continued. “This shift in C:P ratios that we predict could slow the acceleration slightly, but not halt it entirely.”

A related issue is how oceanic oxygen levels will change in the future.

“As the ocean warms and the water holds less oxygen, low-oxygen regions are going to expand, and this will put a great deal of stress on marine animals,” DeVries concluded. “How much they expand and whether we can predict the extent is going to depend on the types of stoichiometric variability we see in this study.”

This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through a grant to Curtis Deutsch.

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

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Caltrans Takes Top Prize at America’s Transportation Awards

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Florida Department of Transportation earned the Grand Prize and the People's Choice awards in the 2014 America's Transportation Awards competition.

A record 73 transportation projects from 36 states and the District of Columbia were nominated in the seventh annual competition. The 10 projects that received the highest number of points in four regional competitions were in the running for the top prizes announced Monday at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Charlotte, N.C.

"There were many projects worthy of recognition in this year's competition," said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director. "But the Caltrans and Florida DOT projects exemplify the best of the best. Their use of innovation and creative problem-solving improved the lives of the nearby communities and their economies. We sincerely tip our hats to all the hard working professionals who helped make these projects a reality."

Caltrans' San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge East Span project received the Grand Prize, determined by a panel of judges. The $6.3 billion project replaced a nearly 80-year-old structure with a new, modern bridge featuring advanced seismic response technology. The bridge, which was constructed to last more than 100 years, is designed to accommodate future expansions of light rail and other modes of transportation.

FDOT's Mathews Bridge Impact and Emergency Response Project earned more than 300,000 online votes, making it the winner of the People's Choice Award. In September 2013, a vessel collided with the Mathews Bridge - causing $3.8 million in damage to the structure. FDOT's emergency repair plan reopened the vital Jacksonville crossing to vehicle traffic only 33 days after the collision and 12 days ahead of schedule.

"AAA congratulates Caltrans and Florida DOT for these two award-winning projects that clearly illustrate the mobility and safety benefits gained from well planned and executed transportation projects," said Jill Ingrassi, AAA managing director of government relations and traffic safety advocacy. "Shining a spotlight on projects like these that are under budget, innovative and add value to the community and quality of life reinforces how important transportation investment is to our daily lives."

All of the projects in the competition were judged in three categories: "Under Budget," "Best Use of Innovation," and a new category this year "Quality of Life/Community Development."

"The Chamber is proud to help highlight the creative and effective work being done around the country to improve America's transportation and infrastructure systems," said Janet Kavinoky, executive director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Projects like Caltrans' and the Florida DOT's are making a real difference in repairing and modernizing our nation's infrastructure. Their positive impacts are evident and should serve as examples of the potential for innovation and improvement in other states and communities."

The Grand Prize and People's Choice award winners were presented with $10,000 cash prizes to be used to support a charity or transportation-related scholarship program of the agencies' choosing.

Learn more about the contest and this year's entries by clicking here.

— Mark Dinger is the media relations manager for Caltrans.

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Robert Bernstein: Flying Karamazov Brothers Bring Their Zany Act to UCSB

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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The Flying Karamazov Brothers performed Sunday at UCSB as I have seen them perform now for about 35 years — with joy, creativity and precision.

I first saw them as street performers in San Francisco in the late 1970s and they were already world famous for good reason.

As an amateur circus performer myself, I can appreciate the amazing precision of their juggling. They can have 12 objects moving among themselves in perfect synchrony. No easy feat.

But that is not what brings the crowds. It is the way they always have a fresh angle that keeps people coming. They combine juggling with music in a variety of ways. Sometimes they use the juggled objects to make music, as when they held out drums and tambourines to be struck while juggling.

They will juggle in the dark with glowing props.

And of course they engage the crowd in a variety of ways.

They play the fool well in the traditional sense: While pretending to be doing slapstick and playing to the children, they also convey little social and political messages about the environment, social justice and war and peace. No one escapes their mocking.

One part of their performance stays fairly constant: The buildup of a list of "Terror Objects" that accumulate on stage. Things that are dangerous like cleavers and hatchets and torches. Objects that are fragile like eggs and musical instruments. And objects that are just unlikely or unwieldy.

And another perennial favorite: Soliciting objects from the audience that they will have to juggle. The items have to follow certain limits and the jugglers are allowed to make small modifications. But the actual items are always a surprise and the stakes are high — a pie in the face if the juggler fails.

At this performance, the juggler succeeded and the price for the audience was to give a standing ovation for his success.

Click here for my photos, which can only begin to capture the joy, skill and creativity of the performance. Really, you have to be there fully to appreciate it!

Watch for their next appearance. They will be back.

Robert Bernstein is a local photographer and frequent Noozhawk contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Santa Barbara Junior High Students Produce Anti-Bullying Video

By | Published on 11/24/2014

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Students in Rich Lashua's fifth-period Acting for Camera class at Santa Barbara Junior High School finished their first project of the year.

The students chose an anti-bullying theme, and did a great job creating their first video.

Click here to view the video.

— Barbara Keyani is a communications coordinator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

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Kimberly Williams-Paisley Relates Heartfelt Story of Mother’s Battle with Alzheimer’s Disease

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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Alzheimer’s Women’s Initiative brings crowd of 500 together for inaugural 'Your Brain Matters' luncheon

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

An estimated 5.2 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly two-thirds of them are women.

The Women’s Initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter is a group of volunteers and community leaders who came together in support of the organization during November’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree was honorary chairwoman for Friday’s inaugural fundraising event at The Fess Parker. Led by co-chairwomen Gerd Jordano and Anne Towbes, the “Your Brain Matters” Luncheon honored caregivers Glen Adams (Spouse Caregiver Award), Susan Stewart (Family Member Caregiver Award) and Lorena Angeles (Healthcare Employee).

“The Alzheimer’s Association is proud to support and recognize these unsung heroes who often sacrifice their own needs to provide care for the people they love,” said Rhonda Spiegel, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter.

The large crowd of more than 500 supporters and guests was graced with a courageous and at times heartbreaking story from celebrity keynote speaker Kimberly Williams-Paisley, an actress, director, writer, wife of country music star Brad Paisley and mom of two boys.

Williams-Paisley has another aspect of her life, however: her mother, Linda Barbara Williams has Alzheimer’s.

A fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Williams was diagnosed in 2006 with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a rare form of dementia that involves a progressive loss of language function, and, over five to six years, the ability to read and write.

During her slow decline the symptoms began to appear, including forgetfulness of daily formalities often taken for granted — how to write a check, understanding numbers, the occasional loss of car keys, forgetting people’s names and repeating a story shared a few minutes before.

At the time of her mother’s diagnosis, Williams-Paisley was pregnant with her first child, and she said she wondered how much time her son would have with his grandmother.

“I thought what was life going to be like without my mom and then the dawning realization that I can barely begin to fathom, what’s life going to be like with mom?” she recalled.

Williams-Paisley went on to describe watching as her once very independent mother began doubting herself. She said she had to rely more and more on her husband as she lost the ability to problem solve and drive her own car when she had become a danger to herself and others.

“One day she barreled past a row of parked cars and across the parking lot and drove her SUV on top of a two-foot high wall,” she said. “We realized how serious things had become.

“She started leaving the house by herself, and an old high school friend of mine saw her walking along the side of the road. She had accidents, stumbling, falling. Once she sliced her arm — blood everywhere — and my dad had to take her to the ER yet again.”

As a picture of her mother was displayed on two projector screens, Williams-Paisley described her mother as frugal, opinionated, funny, compassionate and vivacious — a woman who taught her how to love thunderstorms growing up and who was a great listener and believer in miracles.

“She was my cheerleader when I needed courage, my nurse when I was sick, she was my therapist when I needed to vent,” she said. “For better or worse, my mother made me who I am today.”

Even through the fog of helplessness and the pain of the disease, Williams-Paisley confessed that there were vivid moments of clarity and hope that shone from her mother.

“For a while there were parts of my mom that I actually liked better at times — the open-hearted passion was even brighter at times,” she said. “She couldn’t change my son’s diaper but she’d get down on the floor and play with him for hours.

“She became less judgmental of people and didn’t care much about clothes or manners. She cheered us on more then ever.”

As the years passed, Williams-Paisley said her mother became more agitated, angry and abusive to family members and nurses, and the decision was made to place her in a home that could properly care for her needs.

“She sits in a wheelchair most of the time sleeping, drooling, her head tilted forward,” Williams-Paisley said. “I have to practice loving her in a new way, and I have to accept who she is now and what she can give me now — a wide-eyed look of delight when I walk in the room, a sigh that says ‘I’m glad you are here.’”

The Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter provides professional-level dementia care training for family caregivers in a four-week program. To assist with concerns like daily life and behaviors and communication, the Savvy Caregiver workshop series will be offered in Solvang starting Feb. 3, Carpinteria on April 1, Santa Maria on June 16, and Santa Barbara on Sept. 9.

Additionally, the Confident Caregiver Series is a comprehensive free monthly educational series in collaboration with Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care. The program provides workshops for family caregivers of dementia patients with classes on the second Thursday of the month, starting Jan. 8 and continuing through Nov. 12. Call 800.272.3900 for more information and to reserve space in the program.

For those unable to attend a course, there are online options available, including E-learning courses; Alzheimer’s Navigator with tools and customized action plans; and ALZConnected, an online social networking community.

Dr. Laurel Coleman, a special guest speaker and board member of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, emphasized that the investment of research and the increase in funding by the federal government and the Alzheimer’s Association has led to major advancements in scientific research, including a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease.

“A biomarker is something that allows us to know the progress of the illness or the presence of the disease before the first symptoms start, or are at risk of developing,” she explained.

Coleman also noted that researchers at Harvard University have been able to grow Alzheimer’s cells in test tubes, a development that will present a model in which more compounds can be tested to speed up research.

It is estimated that caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia symptoms will total $214 billion in 2014, and increase to $1.2 trillion by 2050 at today’s rates.

“This is the most expensive disease in the United States right now in health care,” Coleman said. “The time is now that we can make some changes in public policy and research.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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New Law Cutting Penalties for Drug Crimes Has Authorities Scrambling to Determine Local Scope

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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Hundreds of Santa Barbara County felony cases could be reclassified as misdemeanors under Proposition 47 terms

Santa Barbara County authorities are trying to get a handle on a newly approved state law that reclassifies many nonviolent drug and theft felonies as misdemeanors.

The landmark Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, approved by voters earlier this month as Proposition 47, also takes state resources that would have been spent on incarceration and redirects them to mental health and drug-treatment programs.

The new law could potentially reduce the sentences of thousands of prisoners statewide — potentially hundreds of them in Santa Barbara County.

Officials are unsure exactly how many locals will be affected. District Attorney Joyce Dudley said there were 39 county residents in state prison whose sentences could be reduced. Local cases currently in the sentencing process will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

“Prison never did anybody any good,” Santa Barbara County Public Defender Raimundo Montes De Oca told Noozhawk. “I don’t know that you are losing an effective tool by locking them up. We are going to have to find other approaches.”

Retired Superior Court Judge George Eskin, who still substitutes occasionally for other judges, said the new law will streamline the judicial process.

The number of cases scheduled for felony preliminary hearings will be reduced and the number of defendants detained in pre-trial custody on felony bail schedules will diminish, he said. 

The law also creates a new “shoplifting” misdemeanor for those charged with stealing less than $950; in the past, such robberies were often filed as felony commercial burglaries.

“A lot of people think if you commit a crime you should lock them up and throw away the key, but when you have people who have addiction or mental illness, that isn’t going to work,”​ Eskin said.

Santa Barbara County Public Defender Raimundo Montes De Oca believes public safety will be enhanced with the approval of Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. 'Prison never did anybody any good,' he says. 'I don’t know that you are losing an effective tool by locking them up.' (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Santa Barbara County Public Defender Raimundo Montes De Oca believes public safety will be enhanced with the approval of Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. “Prison never did anybody any good,” he says. “I don’t know that you are losing an effective tool by locking them up.” (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Eskin, who was an advocate for Prop. 47, said the law will also eliminate the incentive for district attorneys to overcharge for a crime. He said many prosecutors file felony charges for certain nonviolent drug or theft crimes in expectation that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser charge.

The tactic creates delays in the justice system, he explained, because after a felony case is filed, staff shortages and legal machinations could result in multiple postponements over a span as long as six months.

Eskin said the inability to file an immediate felony charge will save the county money. Typically, he said, there are around 400 cases pending preliminary hearings — half of them languishing for more than three months.

About 100 of the cases have been continued without action for as long as six months, he added.

“The potential cost savings have been estimated by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars (statewide), and that money is to be re-directed to education, mental health and addiction treatment,”​ Eskin said.

With overcrowded prisons and jails, Eskin said arrests for personal recreational drug use should be considered a public health issue, not a criminal justice one.

“What is going on nationally is that people are starting to believe that there has to be a paradigm shift and that crimes committed by people who are addicted or have mental illness represent a public health program not a criminal justice program,”​ he said.

Prop. 47 was strongly opposed by law enforcement, including Dudley and Sheriff Bill Brown.

Dudley said it would be a mistake to reduce penalties for crimes such as gun theft and possession of heroin, cocaine and date rape drugs, noting that it will expose communities to increased criminality.

“By releasing as many as 10,000 felons from our prison system, most of whom have extensive criminal histories, Proposition 47 will also significantly decrease the chances that criminal justice realignment will succeed,”​ Dudley and Brown wrote in an October commentary in Noozhawk.

“Dumping thousands of felons into county jails and onto our streets will only exacerbate the problems of overcrowded jails and diminished frontline resources that are currently faced by law enforcement agencies across California.”

Dudley also worried that Prop. 47 would take away prosecutors’ discretion to file felonies against repeat offenders.

But now that the law has passed, she said, “I roll.”

“My commitment is exactly the same as it has always been,” Dudley said. “We will work closely with the public defender and the sheriff and ensure public safety.”

She said she will work closely with the public defender to ensure the law is properly enforced.

De Oca echoed her commitment.

“Proposition 47 will have short-term and long-term effects,” he said. “The short-term effects most of us will focus upon are the re-sentencings and applications to reduce felony offenses to misdemeanors. These effects will, over time, dissipate.

“The longer-term effects are at this moment harder to anticipate. But, the justice agencies in our county have an excellent collaborative relationship. Now that Prop. 47 is the law, each of us will do our part to make this law work.”

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

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Plans for New Fire Station in Western Goleta Move Back Up the Ladder

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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Goleta, Santa Barbara County fire officials talk details of outer Hollister Avenue site that could be ready in two years

Although the new fire station planned for western Goleta was stalled for several years over funding concerns, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the City of Goleta are again negotiating toward an agreement to design, build and operate the facility.

This station is planned for the city-owned property at 7952 Hollister Ave., across the street from Sandpiper Golf Club and next to The Hideaway residential development.

Western Goleta reportedly doesn’t meet emergency response guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association, and the next closest station to the proposed site is 2½ miles away.

Goleta recently put up a sign at the vacant fire station property to let homebuyers at The Hideaway know about it, said Claudia Dato with the City of Goleta.

The Hideaway at 7900 Hollister Ave. has sold all but 14 of its 101 residences, according to The Chadmar Group,which developed the 14-acre project.

County fire officials are currently working with Goleta staff to create a memorandum of understanding on the design, construction, funding and operation of the new station, Deputy Fire Chief Eric Peterson said. Goleta currently contracts with the county Fire Department for fire protection services.

Previous discussions stalled because of funding concerns about the ongoing operation of the station, Dato said in an email to Noozhawk. Goleta hopes to start the design process next year after working out a memorandum of understanding, she said.

“The main funding concern was just the fact that the economy tanked,” Peterson said. “Now with that turning around, we’re really excited to be able to start talking about doing this thing again.”

Deciding staffing levels and cost-sharing for operations will all be part of the MOU discussions.

The new station will be funded by fire facility development impact fees and other development mitigation fees, according to the city.

Initial design plans depict a 9,000-square-foot building with three engine bays and an emergency generator.

The location will be easily accessible from Highway 101 and is close to the densely populated area of western Goleta and Hollister Avenue, Peterson said.

“We are optimistic that we can get this thing done in two or three years, hopefully closer to two,” he said.

“I think both sides are really anxious to get moving, and get it all written down before shovels hit the dirt.”

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.

 

The City of Goleta contracts with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the new Station 10 will serve western Goleta, situated between Station 11, 6901 Frey Way near Camino Real Marketplace, and Station 18, 17200 Calle Mariposa Reina on the Gaviota coast. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department map)
The City of Goleta contracts with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the new Station 10 will serve western Goleta, situated between Station 11, 6901 Frey Way near Camino Real Marketplace, and Station 18, 17200 Calle Mariposa Reina on the Gaviota coast. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department map)

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Montecito Water District to Consider Drought Rate Pricing to Make Up for Low Water Sales

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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Montecito residents are conserving water, which is good news and bad news for the water district.

The area was at risk of running completely dry by July until the Montecito Water District board implemented rationing in March. With conservation rates on the rise, the district is now worried about the budget deficit from fewer water sales.

For the fiscal year that started July 1, water sales are 49 percent below what they were last year.

The district sold 345.56 acre-feet of water in October, the seventh month with rationing policies and penalties in place. It’s the smallest amount for October since at least 1996, according to the district.

At this rate, the district will end the year $4 million in the red.

Although the penalties have brought in $1.58 million in fines so far this year, the money doesn’t make up for the diminished water sales, business manager Mark Carlson said.

There will be no way for the district to make up for the loss in revenues other than putting a temporary drought rate structure in place, he said.

District directors unanimously approved hiring Berkeley-based Bartle Wells Associates to review the rate and penalty structure and develop drought rates.

Neighboring Santa Barbara implemented drought rates in July and customers have had bigger water bills as a result. Those rates are structured to encourage conservation, with higher rates for higher water use.

If Montecito pursues a rate increase, it must go through a Proposition 218 process, which requires research justifying the need for the utility rate increase and public hearings. 

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

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Goleta to Add Water to Lake Los Carneros in Bid to Offset Drought Impacts

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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With low lake level raising water temperatures, City Council OKs $10,500 infusion to ease risks to ecosystem

The warm, oxygen-depleted water in Lake Los Carneros puts local wildlife at risk and the Goleta City Council has voted to add water on a temporary basis.

Without a creek that runs into it, the lake relies on surface runoff and upward percolation from the groundwater below, but California’s severe drought has resulted in low lake levels, public works director Rosemarie Gaglione said.

The lake is 7-feet deep at the deepest point and temperatures are uniform throughout the lake, instead of having cooler spots at the bottom, she told the City Council last week.

That and the debris in the lake, which uses up oxygen, endangers fish and other wildlife. Migratory birds, which visit twice a year, could stop coming, Gaglione said.

Council members called the lake a jewel and a treasure, and they unanimously supported the attempt to help the ecosystem survive the drought.

Lake Los Carneros could potentially become a public health hazard if conditions continue, and the city will have to re-evaluate the situation after it adds water, Gaglione said.

“If there’s no rain this year, there are going to be casualties, and the lake may be one of them,” Councilman Tony Vallejo said.

Council members approved adding a temporary construction meter so the city can add water to the lake. Gaglione proposed adding 500,000 gallons at a time — which should raise the water level about a foot — and monitoring the progress.

The city can’t use reclaimed water but could start trucking in recycled water to use on medians, which would help offset the use of potable water in the lake.

Goleta is calling in the California Conservation Corps to remove dead tule reeds and other debris while levels are low. Local Native Americans will be contacted to see if they want the tule, Gaglione said.

Not counting some equipment and monthly fees, the operation will cost $10,576 for 1 million gallons of water from the Goleta Water District.

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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Michelle Malkin: The Truth About Obama’s ‘Temporary’ Ebola Amnesty

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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When it rains, it pours. Just before unveiling his colossal administrative amnesty for millions of “undocumented” aliens and foreign tech workers Thursday, President Barack Obama separately ordered up to 8,000 more executive pardons and special work passes for Liberians, Sierra Leoneans and Guineans illegally in this country.

Strange, isn’t it? The same administration that refused to enact travel bans from Ebola-plagued West African nations to protect Americans is now granting “temporary protected status” (TPS) to West Africans on American soil so they don’t have to go back.

It’s not really about public health, of course. It’s about political pandering and electoral engineering.

Here’s the dirty open secret: There’s nothing “temporary” about TPS benefits. Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the program has become an endless, interminable residency plan for unlawful border-crossers, visa overstayers and deportation evaders from around the world.

TPS golden ticket holders live here, work here, travel freely and are immune from detention or deportation. They are eligible to apply for an “adjustment of status,” which puts them on the path to green cards and eventual citizenship.

In theory, TPS is a short-term humanitarian program built on good intentions. The homeland security secretary “may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.” Those conditions include hurricanes, environmental catastrophes, civil war, epidemics, and other “extraordinary and temporary conditions.”

In October, the White House extended TPS status and employment permits for an estimated 90,000 illegal alien Hondurans and Nicaraguans “for an additional 18 months, effective Jan. 6, 2015, through July 5, 2016.” Who are these TPS winners? Well, they’ve been here since 1998 — when Hurricane Mitch hit their homeland. That was 16 years ago. Their “temporary” status has been renewed a dozen times since the Clinton administration first bestowed it.

Last October, the Obama administration extended TPS to an estimated 3,000 Syrian illegal aliens; the status will be up for renewal next March. At least 3,700 Liberians who have been here since 1991 on TPS won deferred deportations in September before securing renewed TPS status last week. And several hundred Somalis remain in the country with TPS first granted in 1991, along with some 700 Sudanese who first secured TPS benefits in 1997. TPS for both the Sudanese and Somalis was extended in September and lasts until May 2016.

An estimated 250,000 illegal aliens from El Salvador first won TPS golden tickets after an earthquake struck the country in January 2001. Their latest extension was granted last May and lasts until March 2015.

In addition, 60,000 illegal alien Haitians received TPS after earthquakes in their homeland in 2010. Their “temporary” status was renewed in March and extended “for an additional 18 months, effective July 23, 2014, through Jan. 22, 2016.”

As I’ve reported previously, TPS beneficiaries are supposed to provide proof that they arrived here on an eligible date, committed no more than two misdemeanors and no felonies, and maintained a continuous presence in the country. But the feds’ past experience with amnesties dating back to 1986 shows that the programs are dangerously rife with unchecked document fraud.

A Homeland Security Department source pointed out to me recently that the agency is still failing to check biometric records (or, even worse, ignoring them) before granting immigration benefits to aliens who had been put into removal proceedings but then gamed the system by using new, unvetted aliases. Moreover, after more than two decades, the federal government still doesn’t have an entry-exit database in place to track legal short-term visa holders.

The dictionary informs us of the origin of the term “amnesty.” It comes from the Greek word “​amnestia,” which means “to forget.” And that is exactly what America is suffering from when it comes to learning amnesty history lessons. There is no such thing as a “temporary” pardon from immigration law-breaking.

Each new infusion of indiscriminate, unskilled foreign labor begets more of the same — all while backstabbing politicians bemoan stagnant wages, high unemployment and the beleaguered plight of American workers paying a steep price for D.C.’s bottomless “compassion” for the rest of the world.

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

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David Sirota: 2014’s Big Election, with Little Local Journalism

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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On a warm October night toward the end of the 2014 campaign, almost every politician running for a major office in the swing state of Colorado appeared at a candidate forum in southeast Denver. The topics discussed were pressing: a potential war with ISIS, voting rights, a still-struggling economy. But one key element  was in conspicuously short supply: the media.

This was increasingly the reality in much of the country, as campaigns played out in communities where the local press corps has been thinned by layoffs and newspaper closures. What if you held an election and nobody showed up to cover it? Americans have now discovered the answer: You get an election with lots of paid ads, but with little journalism, context or objective facts.

Between 2003 and 2012, the newspaper workforce decreased by 30 percent nationally, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. That has included a major reduction in the number of newspaper reporters assigned to cover state and local politics. Newspaper layoffs have ripple effects for the entire local news ecosystem, because, as the Congressional Research Service noted, television, radio and online outlets often “piggyback on reporting done by much larger newspaper staffs.” Meanwhile, recent studies from the University of Chicago and the Federal Reserve Bank suggest the closure of newspapers can ultimately depress voter turnout in local elections.

Colorado is a microcosm of the hollowing out of local media. In 2009, the state lost its second-largest newspaper with the shuttering of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News. The state’s only remaining major daily, The Denver Post, has had rolling layoffs.

According to Denver Post editor Greg Moore, in the 2014 election cycle the paper had only seven reporters covering elections throughout the state — a 50 percent reduction in the last five years. Challengers in districts that the Post decided not to cover say the media’s decisions about resources may help determine election outcomes.

“It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Martin Walsh, the Republican congressional candidate who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver. “When the local press assumes a race can’t be close, then they don’t cover it, and then that suggests to voters a candidate isn’t credible.

“Ultimately, that guarantees that the race won’t be close.”

Even stories that do get published may have less of an impact without other journalists around to track reaction or do follow-up stories.

“With so many newspapers and news outlets in general having fewer resources, there’s no pressure or incentive for candidates to engage with the press and there’s no echo chamber that makes candidates feel like they have to respond to anything,” Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols said. He noted that Sen.-elect Cory Gardner, R-Colo., for example, rarely appeared in unscripted settings with journalists, preferring instead to simply blanket the airwaves with ads.

Andrew Romanoff, the Democratic candidate in Colorado’s closely contested 6th district, said that what little campaign coverage there is often ends up being about the candidates’ ads, because that requires minimal time, travel and expense to cover.

“It’s not quite a Seinfeld episode,” he said. “It’s not a show about nothing, but the coverage has become a show about a show.”

The trouble, of course, is that the show should be about important issues like economic policy, climate change and national security (to name a few). And with a more vibrant local media doing more than just regurgitating poll numbers and reviewing ads, it can be. But that vibrancy requires two things: a genuine commitment and willingness to do the hard work of serious journalism and enough resources to succeed.

Both of those factors are in short supply. That means the most basic ingredients of a functioning democracy will probably remain in short supply, too.

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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Randy Alcorn: Obama’s ‘Common-Sense Immigration Reform’ Is Neither

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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President Barack Obama defends his use of executive fiat to protect 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation and to grant them work permits as common-sense immigration reform. He stresses that his edicts are not amnesty, but rather a temporary reprieve that is limited mostly to those illegal immigrants with children and who have managed to avoid deportation for five years or more.

Although Obama presents his actions as common-sense reform, the arguments he makes to support them are emotional, and, as is so often the case, emotion is the enemy of reason.

As much of the media are fond of doing, Obama recounts sad stories of illegal immigrant families threatened with separation of parents from children. There are young children of illegal immigrants brought to the United States who know no other country, and there are children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents.

In both cases, when the parents are deported the children suffer. Either the children are banished to a foreign land, or those born here remain in the United States and are separated from deported parents and siblings.

The plight of these children is the source of much of the emotion in the immigration reform issue and the impetus for reform. The empathetic concern over these children, however, overrides the better judgment of some people, including Obama, whose calls for immigration reform are really calls for more amnesty of one sort or another.

Amnesty is not reform. It is capitulation that, as we have seen, only perpetuates illegal immigration.

Before we can have common-sense immigration reform, we must have common sense. That requires objective reasoning, not emotion.

First, illegal entry into the United States is a crime for which there is no statute of limitations. You don’t get the privilege of permanent residency here simply by avoiding deportation long enough.

Next, Americans are not responsible for or to blame for the plight of the children of illegal immigrants. People who have children before they can support them, and parents who enter this country illegally are responsible for the plight of their children.

The need to support one’s family is no more exoneration for illegal immigration than is stealing money to feed one’s family.

Most illegal immigrants are from Mexico, which has a vast wealth of natural resources, but a huge, impoverished population and a corrupt elite that uses the United States as a dumping ground for that potentially troublesome population. Mexico will never reform itself if it is allowed to export its problem population to the United States.

The children of illegal immigrants currently living here are no more entitled to stay here than are the thousands of Guatemalan children who recently showed up at the U.S. border looking for a better life, or the millions of impoverished and endangered children around the world who would come here if they could. America cannot be the world’s day-care center.

If, as emotional immigration reformers argue, keeping families together is the justification for reform, then common-sense immigration reform would repeal that portion of the Constitution’s​ 14th Amendment that grants citizenship to anyone breaching the womb on U.S. soil.

Then, children born in the United States of foreign nationals would no longer be U.S. citizens any more than mice born in a chicken coop are chickens. The problem of families separated by legal status would disappear because the entire family would be illegal residents.

Common-sense reform would address the root of the illegal immigration problem, namely selfish, greedy employers who hire illegal immigrants because those immigrants accept very low wages and are not prone to demand higher pay or join unions.

Common-sense immigration reform would insist that employers access a national electronic database to verify the residency status of all job applicants, and it would severely punish employers who did not comply.

Granting work permits to illegal immigrants, as Obama will do, rewards those guilty employers.

Greedy employers along with pro-immigration forces like to warn that large sections of the U.S. economy would collapse if illegal immigrants were removed from the labor force. Really?

The urban myth that illegal immigrants do the work that Americans will not is debunked by simple empirical evidence that finds Americans doing that work when and where illegal immigrant labor is unavailable. Massive illegal immigration has lowered wage scales and replaced American workers in certain industries like construction and packing.

Illegal immigrant labor benefits employers, but not taxpayers who subsidize it with public education, health and welfare services, and law enforcement.

In the absence of cheap foreign labor, employers would have to pay more for legal workers. That would help alleviate the wage stagnation and the persistent high unemployment among America’s working class. There would be less pressure to impose minimum-wage increases if employers could no longer take advantage of low-wage illegal immigrant labor and had to pay market rates for legal workers?

To fortify his emotional appeal, Obama resorts to the hackneyed canard that America is a nation of immigrants. It is not. It is a nation of citizens bound together by a common culture, language and code of law. America can no longer be the refuge for the world’s huddled masses. There are simply too many of them.

America’s immigration system is broken only to the extent that immigration law has not been diligently enforced. The only reforms needed are a few enhancements that promote enforcement, not a massive overhaul that, once again, forgives lawbreakers and keeps the flood gates open.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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Three Hurt in Two Rollover Collisions in Santa Barbara

By | Published on 11/23/2014

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Early morning crashes — on State Street and on Mission Street offramp from Highway 101 — occurred minutes apart

Three people were hospitalized early Sunday after two rollover wrecks occurred within minutes of each other in Santa Barbara.

The first crash was reported at 2:10 a.m. in the 3500 block of State Street, Santa Barbara Fire Battalion Chief Lee Waldron said.

The car was southbound when it appeared to have hit the center median then swerved to the right, striking a light pole and overturning, Waldron said.

Three men were in the vehicle at the time. One was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with minor injuries, and the other two were arrested, he said.

Their names and details on their charges were not available.

About five minutes later, a second rollover was reported on the southbound Mission Street exit ramp from Highway 101, Waldron said.

He said a man and a woman were in that vehicle, and both also were taken to Cottage Hospital with minor injuries.

The causes of the crashes remained under investigation by Santa Barbara police and the California Highway Patrol.

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

Two people suffered minor injuries early Sunday in a rollover crash on the southbound Mission Street exit ramp from Highway 101 in Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers photo)

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Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson Officially Retired, But Not Quite Ready to Move On

By | Published on 11/22/2014

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After 30 years in Santa Barbara County law enforcement, veteran officer still on the job while search for replacement continues

The time to retire has arrived at last, and Santa Barbara County Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson says he’s ready to leave the Sheriff’s Department in able hands.

Patterson, 59, officially retired Nov. 8 but agreed to stay on as an hourly employee with no benefits until Sheriff Bill Brown picks a permanent replacement to fill the seasoned veteran’s shoes.

While Patterson said that announcement could come as early as this week, he wasn’t sure if he’d be staying on until the end of the year or even into early 2015. It all depends on when a yet-to-be named undersheriff could start work.

The Sheriff’s Department would not confirm whether the new hire was from within the department or from outside the area, and spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said the search, which began Sept. 22, was still ongoing last week.

Patterson said he was never tempted to take the permanent post since retirement plans were in the works for a year or so. He said he aimed to be done before he turns 60 in June.

“I’ve had so many people ask me to stick around,” said Patterson, who has spent 30 years in law enforcement. “If I was five years younger, I’d be staying, but it’s time for me to leave. It’s a very difficult decision for me, but I’m a firm believer that the hardest decision is the right one.”

A San Diego native, Patterson received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Long Beach State University before he was hired as a deputy with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and then transferred to Santa Barbara County two years later, in 1979.

He worked as a patrol deputy and a member of the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team before he left the department for five years to earn a master’s degree, help launch Goleta’s CMC Rescue School and to work as a private consultant.

Santa Barbara County Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson in a patrol car not long after he started at the Sheriff's Department in 1979. (Patterson family photo)
Santa Barbara County Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson in a patrol car not long after he started at the Sheriff's Department in 1979. (Patterson family photo)

In 1997, Patterson returned as a sheriff’s reserve deputy before quickly working his way up to deputy, sergeant and lieutenant. Patterson was the first chief of police for the newly incorporated City of Goleta in 2002, before he was promoted to commander, chief of law enforcement operations and then acting undersheriff last year when Undersheriff Jim Peterson abruptly retired.

He fondly remembers assisting the Secret Service while on the Special Enforcement Team protecting former President Ronald Reagan at Rancho Del Cielo west of Goleta.

Helping arrest multiple-homicide suspect Kevin Cooper was another highlight. Cooper, an escaped prison inmate from San Bernardino County, was captured on a boat in the Santa Barbara Channel in 1983 after an intense manhunt following four murders at a home in Chino Hills. He was convicted of the crimes and is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

Patterson will be missed at the department, where he earned the sheriff’s Meritorious Service Award for his leadership and service as the Law Enforcement Branch director on four major wildfires, including the Zaca Fire in 2007, the Gap and Tea fires in 2008 and the Jesusita Fire in 2009.

“Don Patterson has had a long and distinguished public safety career,” Brown said in a statement. “His reliability, dedication, department knowledge and keen intellect are second to none. Don’s even-tempered personality and his remarkable understanding of organizational management make him a model team player and collaborator, both inside and outside our agency.

“For the past year he assumed the difficult and demanding role of undersheriff, and he has done an absolutely superb job. I will always be grateful for the dedication and loyalty Don has shown to me, to the Sheriff’s Office and to the people of Santa Barbara County.”

Patterson said he was happy to be saving the county about $8,000 a month by working while a search continues for a new undersheriff, who he could help during a transition.

His next challenge: taking a month off from all work to decompress at his Goleta home on request from his wife, whom he met on a call years ago.

Patterson plans to go back to teaching at Chapman University in Orange and elsewhere, focusing on emergency and fire response training.

“I really want to get into the training aspect of it,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

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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DMV Opens Second Lompoc Office to Help Issue Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

By | Published on 11/22/2014

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Under new state law, as many as 1.4 million licenses expected to be provided to previously ineligible drivers

A second Department of Motor Vehicles office is now open in Lompoc in anticipation of the start of a new law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain California driver’s licenses.

The new Lompoc site at 1601 North H St. is one of four temporary driver’s license processing centers the state opened to meet the needs of Assembly Bill 60, which takes effect Jan. 2. Signs outside this office, which opened Monday, note only driver’s license transactions can be handled there.

Lompoc’​s DMV field office remains open at 209 W. Pine Ave., and can deal with the full range of DMV services. Other field offices in Santa Barbara County are located in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.

In October 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 60 into law. The bill, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, requires the DMV to issue driver’s licenses to individuals who can prove identity and California residence plus meet all other licensing requirements, such as passing the driver license knowledge test and behind-the-wheel driving exams.

In anticipation of the new flood of customers, DMV officials recently announced the extension of office hours and added appointment opportunities to support the issuance of original driver’s licenses, including those under AB 60.

“DMV is committed to providing excellent customer service to all Californians,” said Jean Shiomoto, DMV director. “Customers with appointments have much shorter wait times, and now all customers seeking new driver licenses will have extra appointment opportunities.”

The state agency anticipates processing approximately 1.4 million additional driver license applications during the first three years after implementation of AB 60.

Some of the additional services the DMV will be offering include extended Saturday office hours by appointment for all new driver’s license applicants at up to 60 DMV field offices. These include the Lompoc driver’s license processing facility plus the DMV field offices in San Luis Obispo, Oxnard and Ventura. Their Saturday hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting Jan. 3.

New driver’s license applicants will be able to schedule appointments with the DMV up to 90 days in advance, double the current 45-day window.

Starting Dec. 1, all first-time driver’s license applicants must make an appointment to visit their local DMV office.

However, four new driver license processing centers will continue to offer walk-in (and appointment) service. In addition to Lompoc, those new DMV offices are in Granada Hills, San Jose and Stanton. Appointments are recommended.

These additional services will be available to all customers seeking a first-time driver’s license, whether under AB 60 or otherwise.

Customers applying for an original driver’s license will need to provide a Social Security number, proof of identity and legal presence in the state or proof of identity and California residency under AB 60.

The DMV recently posted the list of documents that applicants must bring to the DMV to obtain a new driver’s license under AB 60.

People should be prepared to take the driver’s license exam, complete the application form, pass a vision test and, when applicable, a road sign test. Additionally, customers must give a thumb print, have a picture taken and schedule a future appointment for the behind-the-wheel driving test.

Applicants under 18 applying for an original driver’s license will also need to submit proof they’ve completed driver’s education.

Those issued a driver's license under AB 60 or people under age 21 will receive a vertical card, while others will continue to receive the tradition horizontal card, DMV officials said.

Click here for more information about the DMV or to make an appointment, or call 1.800.777.0133.

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 Police Performing More Homeless Camp Cleanups

By | Published on 11/22/2014

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Locals walking past freeway exit ramps in Santa Barbara may have seen large pink or orange signs announcing that the areas have been slated for a cleanup.

The postings denote a 72-hour warning for anyone living or fraternizing in a lesser-used public or private area — typically hidden from sight by fences or shrubbery — to remove their belongings.

If they don’t, Santa Barbara police and a team from the city Public Works Department will remove items for them, likely sendito the dump.

Since February, police have assisted in 26 such homeless camp cleanups, sometimes referred to by law enforcement as “raids.”

That’s 10 more than the annual target of 16, but the increase is the result of a backlog from 2013, according to Lt. Brent Mandrell.

Contract negotiations between the municipal departments and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Work Alternative Program (SWAP), which assigns those convicted of crimes to work sites throughout the county instead of spending time behind bars, slowed cleanups, he said. SWAP crews typically clean with police protection and public works oversight.

Mandrell said 16 cleanups was a department goal, not a requirement, just as the traffic division aims to reduce collisions by a particular number.

Because most of last year’s 18 cleanups occurred late in the year, Mandrell said crews have been making up for lost time.

“Sometimes we do one at a time,” he told Noozhawk. “If there’s four or five or six, we’ll do it in one day. The more you let them go, they just blow up. This is trash. This is needles. This is drug paraphernalia, used condoms, feces. This is really health hazard stuff.”

Years of practice have taught police to post 72-hour warnings, something Mandrell said the department didn’t do until more recently.

Once crews have identified a problem camp, they collect and throw out tons of trash at a time, keeping any items worth more than about $50 and any identification documents so people can pick it up from police property.

Sometimes patrol officers pick the places, Mandrell said, and more often than not the camps are found along Highway 101 on Caltrans property, near Union Pacific Railroad-owned land or in city parks, where trees and bushes are trimmed.

For example, Mandrell said, 800 pounds of trash were cleaned up recently on West Gutierrez Street, another 1,000 pounds of debris were picked up near the Garden Street freeway exit ramp, and camps are always reappearing along the railroad tracks near Las Positas Road and on certain Eastside streets.

“Some of them are just homeless folks, but some of them are narcotics dealers,” he said. “Camps do have an impact on State Street and areas of town. It’s important that we keep up the camps.

“It’s like the broken-windows theory. If you break one window of the house, everyone thinks they can do it.”

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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Taylor Reaume: 7 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

By | Published on 11/22/2014

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There is no denying the importance that a first impression can make. And in today’s tech-driven world, in which impressions can be made in an instant, it’s vital that you are using content that is making a positive and lasting mark on your audience.

If you notice that you aren’t getting the type of traffic that you’d like, it might be time to evaluate the quality of your website. In your evaluation, ask yourself:

» Does the site look physically appealing for viewers?

» Does the site load quickly on different browsers and platforms?

» Does the site offer content that attracts people and sticks in their minds long after they’ve left?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, it’s time for an overhaul of your content marketing strategy.

The good news is that there are plenty of options from which to choose when trying to improve your strategy. The bad news is that the multitude of options makes it hard to narrow down the choices that might be best for you. To help with the process, here are the top seven ways to improve your content marketing strategy for your brand, product or service.

View from a Customer’s Perspective

Before you start doing anything with your new content marketing strategy, it might be time to look at your entire approach from a different perspective.

There is the possibility that you’ve been looking at your content strategy for too long as a member of the business. This may lead you to become biased or judgmental to certain parts of your website. In doing so, you’ll lose out on the perception that your viewers and customers have.

To do a better job of viewing your website from a customer’s perspective, be sure to ask plenty of questions and be open to honest feedback from others. If you fail to realize that your audience isn’t interested, or maybe it simply isn’t seeing your content, then you will have an incredibly difficult time trying to maximize your marketing strategy efforts.

Know What You’re Getting Into

If you plan to improve your online content strategy through blind luck, you may want to think again. Instead, you’re going to want to ensure that you put in plenty of research into your content marketing strategy before you get yourself too deep into anything. Reading this article is a great start, but there’s plenty more that you can do as well.

For beginners, look up the keywords that you plan to use and how you think those will be most useful with your specific site. By using a program like Google AdWords Keyword Tool, you’ll be able to create strings of keywords that are likely to bring back the best results for your website.

The more likely it is that someone is going to put in the string of keywords that you have, the higher likelihood that you’ll get visits to your site. Therefore, do enough due diligence beforehand to ensure that you know what you’re getting yourself into before starting your content marketing strategy.

Look for Cohesiveness Across Platforms

Remember earlier when we asked if your site looks good across platforms and on different browsers? Well, if it doesn’t, now is your time to get this figured out. You never know where your audience is coming from when it’s viewing your content. Visitors may be looking with their phones, their tablets or their computers, and there are also plenty of Internet browsers that they could be using as well. This is important because each browser works and functions differently, which may affect how your site runs.

Therefore, you should look for cohesiveness across all platforms for your website. The more smoothly your site runs on multiple browsers, the more likely it is that people will trust that they can visit your site no matter where they are coming from.

Allow Customer Feedback

Your customers want to let you know how you’re doing. If you don’t listen, you’re missing out on a prime chance to learn how to improve and make your company better. Therefore, a great way for you to improve your content marketing strategy is by letting others provide you with feedback.

Not only does feedback give you a better idea of how you can improve your image and what you can do better, but it also will help your SEO rankings. Finally, by having updated content in the form of customer feedback, other people will see that you make a diligent effort to provide the best service that you can for your clients.

Have A Personal Blog

A personal blog is another great way to improve your content marketing strategy. Since search engines like Google give priority to sites that are regularly updated, a blog is a great way for you to continually update your content. In addition, a blog is an ideal way for you to connect with potential clients who are looking to learn more about your business.

Get Social

Social media also take a big piece of the pie when you are looking for important factors for content marketing.

If you have Facebook and Twitter profiles, that’s a good start. However, do something about it and keep your account as active as possible.

Interacting with clients through social media will help to generate traffic to your site, and it’ll also boost your online web presence in the process.

Always Build Trust

No matter what you’re doing, your goal should always be to build trust with your clients. Every blog post, status update and change to your website should have your clients and customers in mind. Your content marketing strategy should be geared for the long run, which is going to require a lot of trust between you and your audience. Therefore, make sure that you continue to do the right thing in the eyes of your audience, and you’ll notice more loyalty on their behalf.

Content is king in today’s online world. But instead of just throwing any type of content out there, you need to have a precise strategy that will work. With the seven tips, you’ll be able to improve your content market strategy and build strong relationships with your audience.

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

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Diane Dimond: Are We Asking the Right Questions About Police and Race?

By | Published on 11/22/2014

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As the nation continued to watch for the grand jury announcement out of Ferguson, Mo., USA Today last week released a disturbing analysis of arrest records from across the country. After pouring over FBI records from more than 3,500 police departments, the newspaper found that blacks are far more likely to be arrested than people of other races — and for all sorts of crimes — from murder to marijuana possession.

USA Today called the racial divide in America’s 2011-2012 arrest rates a  “staggering disparity” with at least 70 police departments from Connecticut to California arresting blacks at a rate 10 times higher than people of other races.

But before you jump to any conclusions, the paper also quoted experts who said the lopsided nature of arrests didn’t necessarily prove racism or racial profiling. Read that sentence again, please.

My worry is that some people will choose to glom on to the arrest numbers alone and ignore the very important questions these statistics raise.

Of course, it was the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson that once again reignited the discussion about racial tensions and perceived police bias.

So let’s look at the FBI’s stats on Ferguson. Police there arrested black residents not quite three times more often than whites. But look deeper. More than 67 percent of Ferguson’s population is black; only 29 percent are white. It’s not difficult to understand, then, why more blacks might be arrested there.

Census Bureau statistics show the largest sector of Ferguson residents are between the ages of 15 and 19 — prime age for committing crimes.

This is not to say there was no police bias at play in Ferguson or any of the other areas cited in this latest report.

USA Today’s analysis concluded that at least 1,581 other police departments arrested blacks at rates even higher than in Ferguson, including cop shops in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco.

It was mindboggling to learn that in 2011 and 2012 in areas around Detroit — the poorest and blackest of America’s major cities, according to USA Today — arrest rates for blacks were up to 26 percent higher than for people of other races. Yet police there insist no one is targeted for their race.

“Our officers aren’t being told to look for any particular demographic,” former Dearborn police Officer Gregg Algier told the paper. “We come across what we come across.”

Police at the Virginia shore were quoted saying, “We’re arresting folks based on who’s committing the crime.”

Which begs the question: Is the black community doing all it can to produce law-abiding citizens? Does it do enough to help promote education, healthy family-oriented lifestyles and self-discipline? If the complaint is that police officers need to restrain themselves, doesn’t that also apply to the citizens they encounter on the job? Tensions can’t always be laid at the feet of the police, right?

Statistics can sometimes be startling. But don’t be swayed by mere numbers. We need to keep asking questions and seeking answers.

What societal pressures affect today’s racial equation? What can be done to help at-risk young people? Why are so many police departments predominantly staffed by whites, even when they are in majority black communities? Why aren’t more candidates of color stepping forward to serve? If drug arrests are high, what kind of public resources are earmarked for drug rehab programs? I guarantee the amount will surely be less than the cost of incarcerating those arrested on drug charges.

I cringe when I hear activists calling for their brand of justice on young Brown’s behalf. They have no idea what evidence was presented to the secret grand jury, yet they are positive the only just end is to find Wilson guilty. That’s not the way the system works. Do we need to revive high school civics courses so people understand that?

There are reasons the arrest rate for blacks is higher than for whites. I want to understand what they are and take steps to fix them. What no one should want is mob rule, fueled by inconsistent and often incorrect media reports, blindly telling us who is guilty and who is not.

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

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