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Bill Macfadyen: Mike deGruy’s Circle of Friends to Bid Him a Heartfelt Farewell on Sunday

Best of Noozhawk 02.10.12 includes a community's tragic loss, a taxing proposition, a ballot bonanza and a steak-out at Chuck's of Hawaii

1. Santa Barbara Filmmaker Mike deGruy Killed in Australia Helicopter Crash

Mike deGruy died Feb. 3 in a tragic helicopter crash in Australia. That it was international news is not surprising; he was an Emmy Award-winning cinematographer who captured some of the greatest mysteries of the ocean on film.

But as well-regarded as he was in Hollywood circles, his notoriety there paled in comparison to the respect he had at home in Santa Barbara — not for what he did but for the kind of man he was. He counted among his friends just about anyone who crossed his path, and the feeling was mutual. With an electrifying smile and a personality that could light up a room, he gave tirelessly and enthusiastically to his family, to his friends, to the schools, to his causes, to our community.

Mike deGruy, 1951-2012
Mike deGruy, 1951-2012 (Lori Rafferty / Noozhawk file photo)

Santa Barbara Middle School, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival were among his favorite projects as they allowed him ample opportunity to share his joy for his profession with others.

DeGruy, 60, is survived by his wife, Mimi, and their two teenage children, Max and Frances.

A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, and will be followed by a private Circle of Friends tribute on the beach across the street.

Memorial contributions can be made to Santa Barbara Middle School, Heal the Ocean or Mobile Baykeeper in his native Alabama.

Click here for more Mike deGruy photos on Noozhawk’s Pinterest page.

2. Schneider Unveils Santa Barbara Ballot Initiatives Calling for Pension Reform, Sales Tax

3. Questions Surface About Implications of Schneider’s Proposed Ballot Initiatives

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider called a news conference Feb. 7 to announce that she was placing on the November ballot a sales tax hike, a nonbonding proposal to split the tax revenue with the Santa Barbara Unified School District, a bar business license fee and a proposal to modify pension packages for future city employees.

Schneider told reporters she had been working on her plan for nearly a year, but she apparently kept her intentions and many of the key details to herself. None of her City Council colleagues was at her hastily called news conference, although she later picked up the notable endorsement of Councilman Frank Hotchkiss.

Of course, public-employee union officials expressed surprise and skepticism, and the public’s response has been underwhelming. Except for the pension reform element, which actually does nothing to solve the bigger problem of unfunded liabilities to which our elected officials have so generously committed the rest of us.

Despite the magnanimous promise of sharing an undefined portion of the sales tax revenue with the schools, it’s the school district that likely is the biggest loser. Just two weeks before, school trustees voted to put their own parcel tax renewal on the June ballot.

Several months separate the two elections but it seems unlikely that beleaguered taxpayers would approve two tax measures in the same year. Throw in Gov. Jerry Brown’s own massive tax hike proposal and we’ll all be Ron Paul voters before you know it.

4. Local Election Maps Have a New Look Even If Many of the Candidates Are Familiar Faces

Competing tax measures won’t be the only source of confusion come Election Day. As a result of redistricting, voters will discover that many of the same names they always see running for Congress and the Legislature will be in different sections on the ballot.

Meanwhile, California’s new open primary means that the top two vote-getters for each seat in June will earn a place on the Nov. 6 ballot. Rather than a Democrat vs. a Republican in the fall, voters actually could face a choice of two Democrats or two Republicans. The hope is that the change will result in the election of more centrist politicians, although I suppose we’ll believe it when we see it.

5. Chuck’s Steak House of Hawaii Still Sizzling After 45 Years on State Street in Santa Barbara

Occupying an unassuming office building at 3888 State St., Chuck’s of Hawaii may not appear to be your typical Santa Barbara hangout. But once inside, even first-time diners realize it’s about as local as it gets.

The steakhouse that Larry Stone opened in 1967 celebrated its 45th anniversary last month. Known for its meats, the place has an easy-going vibe that makes it as popular for families as it is for date nights — and you get the same warm welcome if you’re wearing a starched white button-down or the preferred Hawaiian shirt. Although the prices most certainly have risen in the last five decades, you still feel like you’re getting a good deal. In Santa Barbara, that’s not always the case, as many of you know.

Notable alumni recently got together for a Chuck’s reunion, and Stone welcomed back former employees like Beachside Bar-Café‘s Dave Hardy, Chuck’s Waterfront Grill’s Steve Hyslop and Paradise Café owner and City Councilman Randy Rowse.

Now that I type this, I realize I could use a Teriyaki ribeye. See you at Chuck’s.

                                                                  •        •        •

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