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Bill Macfadyen: Swimming Horse Yields Wave of Readers of Hard-to-Believe High Seas Tale

Best of Noozhawk 05.18.12 starts with a proud dad, includes proud UCSB alum Jeff Henley's $50 million gift and segues into snickers over SBPD's plans for a fleet of Segways

Before I begin, permit me some self-indulgence so I can congratulate my son, Colin, who graduated this week from Parsons The New School for Design. His mom and I are very proud of him and excited to see what his future holds.

The world of design has been evolving at lightning speed, and I’m grateful to Parsons for emphasizing to its students the importance of entrepreneurship. Anyone who hasn’t slept through one of my talks to college classes knows I continually harp on schools to teach students how to become entrepreneurs. To take advantage of an opportunity, you need to know how to identify it and what to do next. Time will tell if Colin’s learned those skills but I like his chances.

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Horse Rescued After Swimming Miles Out to Sea Off Summerland

You can lead a horse to water, but it’s best not to spook it during a photo shoot at the beach. One such modeling session went awry at Summerland Beach the evening of May 15, when an Arabian horse panicked, tossed its rider and headed out to sea. Swimming.

Incredulous onlookers watched as the horse dog-paddled away from shore. By the time a Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol vessel and water-rescue personnel from the Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District caught up with the Seabiscuit of The Deep, the horse was 2½ miles from land.

The animal was safely tied to the side of the Harbor Patrol boat and brought slowly back to shore, a process that took about two hours, authorities said.

A veterinarian checked out the horse and found it none the worse for wear. Nevertheless, the horse likely won’t be on the beach for a while — at least without a lifeguard with a lasso on duty.

2. UCSB Alum Jeff Henley’s $50 Million Gift Earmarked for Science, Engineering

Oracle’s Jeff Henley and Wife Give UCSB a $50 Million Gift

Making the largest single gift in UCSB history, Oracle chairman Jeff Henley donated $50 million to his alma mater May 12 — money that is intended to provide more prominence to UCSB’s quiet growth in the fields of science and engineering.

The gift from Henley and his wife, Judy, will support the College of Engineering and the Institute for Energy Efficiency, including the construction of Henley Hall, the new $30 million home for the institute that Henley helped found.

“We want to continue the upward trajectory of engineering and science,” Henley told Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper.

Chancellor Henry Yang said it’s hoped that the Henleys’ donation will inspire others to support UCSB’s $1 billion capital campaign goal. Click here for more information on the Campaign for UCSB. Click here to make an online donation.

3. Montecito Motors Owners Headed to State Prison After Plea Deal

The December indictment of Montecito Motors owners Chester Lee Taylor, 72, and his son, Chester Adam Taylor, 41, was one of the most heavily forwarded Noozhawk stories of 2011. So it’s no surprise that the Taylors’ May 17 no-contest pleas ended up in Noozhawk’s top five stories this past week.

The Taylors were accused of scamming about $1.2 million from more than two dozen victims, and falsifying income- and sales-tax documents for years at their now-defunct business in the 500 block of Chapala Street. In a plea deal with the Santa Barbara County District Attorneys Office, the pair agreed to enter no-contest pleas to dozens of felony charges for grand theft and tax evasion.

As part of the plea arrangement, the elder Taylor will serve 13 years in state prison and is on the hook for about $98,000 in restitution to the Franchise Tax Board for unpaid taxes, reimbursing the investigation and penalties.

The son will serve 11 years in state prison and was ordered to pay $2.28 million for unpaid business sales tax, $2.9 million for unpaid business income tax, about $103,000 for unpaid personal income taxes, and investigation costs.

Jennifer Taylor, 66, the elder Taylor’s wife, and daughter Sarah Taylor Swing pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax evasion, and were ordered to pay restitution, interest and fines.

4. State Accuses Owners of Santa Barbara Environmental Firm of Fraud, Overbilling

Julie and Kurt Hayden, owners of Santa Barbara-based Hayden Environmental Inc., were arrested earlier this month on charges of grand theft after the state Attorney General’s Office accused them of overbilling the State Water Resources Control Board’s Cleanup Fund for reimbursements.

According to authorities, the Haydens’ company has received reimbursements totaling more than $12.9 million from the Cleanup Fund since 1995, with $6.5 million coming in the past five years. An audit of three sites in 2008 determined the state water agency had overpaid and was the victim of overbilling, which included padding labor hours, equipment overutilization and excessive vehicle charges.

5. Santa Barbara Police Test-Driving Segways as New Way to Patrol

The jokes almost write themselves: Santa Barbara police officers will be tooling around downtown on Segways as part of a seven-week pilot program to test the ... the ... what is the generic term for those things? Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman, says the department is looking at the $7,000 Segways as a segue between “foot patrol and bicycle patrol.” Sorry to be such a skeptic but I suspect they’ll do more for punchlines than crime fighting — especially with pursuits and car chases. Post your wisecracks on Noozhawk’s Facebook page.

                                                                  •        •        •

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