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Bill Macfadyen: With Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Sale, Look for the Union Label

Best of Noozhawk 03.16.12 hovers over Cottage Hospital, the United Boys & Girls Clubs, West Downtown Santa Barbara and a major political debate

1. Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Parent Company to Merge with Union Bank in $1.51 Billion Deal

Capping a remarkable turnaround, Pacific Capital Bancorp, parent company of venerable Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, announced March 12 that it has been sold to Union Bank.

The quoted terms of the $1.5 billion deal were $46 a share, a sweet premium from the previous trading day’s closing price 60 percent lower. By the end of the week, PCBC shares were still trading briskly, finishing at $45.40.

The merger, which is subject to regulatory approval, comes less than two years after Texas billionaires Gerald Ford and Carl Webb rode to the rescue of troubled Pacific Capital Bank with an investment of $500 million.

While the local bank’s health and stock price have been the subject of much speculation over the last few years, right behind them have been the fate of the 52-year-old community bank’s name. Alas, although the institution will live on, “Santa Barbara Bank & Trust” will soon be lost to the history books.

2. Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Officials Field Questions About Noise from New Helipad

A war of words has been building around Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s new helipad as peeved neighbors press hospital and city officials about the noise surrounding emergency flights in the densely populated neighborhood.

Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper attended a March 13 discussion on the topic that was hosted by Cottage Health System CEO Ron Werft.

For now, the two sides seem to be warily circling each other. In Noozhawk’s comments section, however, clear sides have been taken. Click here to add your opinion.

3. Local Companies Step Up to Help United Boys & Girls Clubs Bring In $300,000 in 60 Days

Noozhawk is pleased to join the community campaign to help the cash-strapped United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County raise $300,000 by the end of April.

In a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation, Noozhawk contributing writer Nancy Shobe is bringing to light the vital — and economical — work the Boys & Girls Clubs are doing for some of the South Coast’s poorest youth.

The campaign is off to a strong start thanks to local companies like Deckers Outdoor Corp., Network Hardware Resale and The Brewhouse. In fact, if corned-beef kabobs are your thing, you can head to The Brewhouse this St. Patrick’s Day weekend and have some. Gary Jacobsen, owner of the restaurant and brew pub at 229 W. Montecito St. in Santa Barbara, is donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Click here for more information on the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, or call 805.681.1315. Click here to make an online donation.

4. Santa Barbara Police Beat Coordinators Join Residents for Walk Through West Downtown

With the noticeable re-mergence of gang graffiti around Santa Barbara, a delegation of residents in the particularly hard-hit West Downtown neighborhood welcomed two of the Santa Barbara Police Department’s newest beat coordinators, Officers Kasi Beutel and Jon Reyes, for a March 14 walkabout in the area.

Cooper tagged along — no pun intended — and reported on some of the contradictory circumstances that appear to be conspiring against neighborhood improvements and public safety. Among the most perplexing? Brand-new street lights that were installed thanks to a community development block grant but which can’t be used because the city of Santa Barbara apparently doesn’t have the money to turn them on. They sure look pretty during the day, though.

5. Tam Hunt: A Move Toward Energy Literacy Critical to America’s — and World’s — Future

Tom Watson: Are Americans to Be Governed or Ruled?

Among local columnists, few elicit more story comments than my friends, Tam Hunt and Tom Watson. Both were in fine form this week.

Hunt used a March 11 column to explain, in part, the run-up in oil and gas prices. One of his key points is that all of us — politicians, pundits and the public — would be better off if we were better educated on what he calls “energy literacy.” U.S. and global energy policies are far more nuanced than simple soundbites, says the renewable energy lawyer and policy analyst.

“SB Common Sense,” “AN50” and “wireless” were among the commenters who thought the author could use some schooling himself. What ensued has been a days-long debate between all parties on the finer points of baseload renewables, feed-in tariffs and U.S. energy reserves. The topic may not be electrifying but the intensity sure is! And Hunt certainly has gotten his wish because most of the cogently argued positions are not of the soundbite variety.

Meanwhile, Watson used a March 13 column to make the case that Americans’ fundamental liberties are being slowly and methodically eroded under the guise of government’s good intentions. With the country facing a crushing debt load for as far as our children and grandchildren’s eyes can see, he says that only a return to “limited government, individual liberty, entrepreneurial enterprise and free markets” will avert tyranny.

“AHamilton,” “publius” and “someguyinsb” were only too happy to return fire at Watson, a former Republican congressional candidate who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, in 2010. Making guest appearances in their comments were Karl Marx, Sir Isaac Newton and “blind sheep.”

Many of these commenters are Noozhawk regulars and have — for years — been engaging in long-running debates on any number of mostly politics-related topics. Although the arguments can get heated and insults sometimes fly, it’s been an endless source of entertainment for Noozhawk’s managing editor, Michelle Nelson, and me. We also know it provides a liveliness to sometimes dry subjects. We appreciate that. Keep it up!

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