Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 10:40 am | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

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Bill Macfadyen: Noozhawk Readers Put Up a Bite on Aggressive Dog Story Comments

NoozWeek’s Top 5 orders an art deco pizza parlor, wrangles over Obamacare, helps a teacher look for a kidney donor and is back on a party bus — but first, a few words about Rob Kuznia

Noozhawk had 88,185 readers this past week, and I want to call out a very special one: Rob Kuznia, who can now replace “former Noozhawk staff writer” with “Pulitzer Prize winner.”

If he wants to, that is.

Rob helped us launch Noozhawk back in 2007 and was our lead reporter for more than two years during that tumultuous start-up phase. He was instrumental in establishing our credibility as a comprehensive, professional news organization — and he did it with a remarkable equanimity and wry sense of humor.

Rob Kuznia, a Noozhawk original.
Rob Kuznia, a Noozhawk original.

He was versatile and relentlessly productive for us, his reporting was perceptive and fair, and his writing was concise and clean. Noozhawk would not be the force it is today without the strong foundation and leadership Rob provided for his colleagues and for those who would follow in his footsteps.

Of course, I was disappointed to lose him to the Daily Breeze in Torrance, but I always knew he was destined for great things. Richly deserved is his Pulitzer, which was earned with fellow journalists Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci for their investigative project exposing corruption in the Centinela Valley Union High School District in Lawndale.

Further, the accolades being heaped on Rob now are especially gratifying to me because, knowing how humble he is, I am certain he did not seek this honor himself.

I am enormously proud of and excited for him. From all of us at Team Noozhawk and Noozhawk Nation, congratulations on a job well done.

Now, for Rob, and for the rest of you, here were your top stories:

1. Aggressive Dog Shot and Killed by Sheriff’s Deputy During Arrest in Montecito

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies were called out to a Montecito home the morning of April 18 to follow up on a report of a neighborhood disturbance. So far, so relatively routine.

While at the residence in the 800 block of Coyote Road west of the Westmont College campus, they discovered that one of the parties involved in the alleged disturbance had four outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrants related to alcohol charges. A little less routine, but not unheard of.

According to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, when deputies tried to talk to the subject — 46-year-old Serena Elaine Schoepp — she instead ran to a nearby mini-van. Not unheard of, but unusual nonetheless. With a low probability of a successful escape.

“As the deputies approached, she opened the sliding rear door and called her dog out in what appeared to be an attempt to have the dog intercept the deputies,” Hoover said.

Now that’s just plain stupid. And cowardly. But maybe she didn’t have a baby she could toss at them.

At first, the dog — which Hoover described as a 65-pound mixed breed — wisely decided to sit it out. But as Schoepp’s struggle to avoid detention escalated to a full-fledged fight with a deputy, she said, animal instincts took over and the dog charged.

“The now-loose dog became agitated and began attacking the deputy,” Hoover said.

She said a second deputy tried to intervene but the dog kept lunging in spite of the officer’s attempts to kick it back. As the dog continued to attack, the deputy shot and killed it.

Hoover said Schoepp eventually was taken into custody on the outstanding warrants, with an additional charge of interfering with a peace officer in the performance of duty.

The second individual, who was not involved in the altercation with deputies, also was arrested on outstanding warrants.

As soon as our Tom Bolton posted the story, Noozhawk readers were wading in with comments. Even though it’s been almost a week, the controversy is ongoing as they debate over use of force and other aspects of the case.

For me, however, Hoover said it best: “The sheriff’s office is saddened by this incident, and concerned that an owner would negligently put their pet in such a situation.”

Now that’s not something you see every day. (Allen Construction rendering)
Now that’s not something you see every day. (Allen Construction rendering)

2. BizHawk: Rusty’s Pizza Headquarters Going Up on Calle Real in Goleta

As far as I know, Goleta isn’t widely recognized for its art deco architecture. So — to me — the stylish new flagship restaurant and headquarters of Rusty’s Pizza may be atypical for the commercial neighborhood just west of the Calle Real Center.

The former site of Takenoya, a sushi place that closed two years ago at 5934 Calle Real, has been cleared for the Rusty’s take off. The project of Allen Construction is expected to be completed this fall.

​Scott Jacobs, manager of Allen’s commercial division, told our Gina Potthoff that Rusty’s founder Roger Duncan and his family, who live locally, settled on the art deco design as a legacy and a gift to the Goleta community. Duncan opened the first Rusty’s in Isla Vista in 1969, and the regional chain now has eight restaurants.

Once the new Rusty’s is open, a nearby store will be relocated from across the street from the Fairview Center.

News of that move sent our Josh Molina on a wistful trip down memory lane. According to Josh, he was a videogame phenom there during high school.

3. Lou Cannon: Obamacare Again Faces Crucial Legal and Political Tests​

With a U.S. Supreme Court ruling expected in June in a lawsuit challenging a key pillar of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, our Lou Cannon provided readers with an update on Obamacare.

For anyone wondering why the law is so persistently controversial, I give you Exhibit A: Noozhawk’s comments section on Lou’s column.

Exhibit B might be me: As someone who liked my insurance and repeatedly was assured I could keep it, the “new and improved” version has been an absolute pain in my ass and is far less comprehensive than what I had.

And although it was proclaimed far and wide that the insurance premiums for my average family of four would fall by $2,500 a year, that figure headed sharply in the other direction.

Other than that, I’m sure my unicorn will be delivered any day now.

Ashley Somics, ever the educator. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)
Ashley Somics, ever the educator. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

4. Santa Barbara Teacher Ashley Somics Hopeful a 2nd Kidney Donor Will Emerge to Help Save Her Life

For the second time in her life, Ashley Somics needs a new kidney.

The popular teacher at La Cumbre Junior High School has suffered from kidney disease for most of her 30 years. When she was 14 and fighting an uphill battle against Lupus and kidney failure, her mom, Tori Somics, gave her one of her organs.

It worked for more than a decade, but Somics contracted H1N1 swine flu and pneumonia in 2011, triggering a new battle.

The wait could be eight to 10 years for a cadaver organ for Somics’ O blood type so she recently turned to social media in an attempt to locate a new kidney donation.

A Go Fund Me campaign also has been launched to help raise $50,000 for medical bills, which include the cost of dialysis.

Somics is upbeat about her plight, however.

“I want to have a family,” she told our Josh Molina. “I want to do something with education. I still have so much I want to do.”

She also says she hopes people who hear about her story will educate themselves about organ donation.

Click here to make an online donation.

5. Santa Barbara Party Bus Driver Charged in 2nd Incident

A driver for Santa Barbara-based D&D Limo Bus seems to be stuck in a loop these past few months. According to authorities, it’s because he’s making nothing but wrong turns.

Alonzo Houston, 49, of Santa Barbara, was charged last week with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, and violating the California Vehicle Code section pertaining to having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle’s passenger area.

The District Attorney’s Office filed the charges after investigating a February incident in which police boarded Houston’s bus and allegedly found underage foreign exchange students with alcohol.

For Houston, it was the second time to face such charges. There’s an earlier case against him stemming from a November 2014 incident with allegedly similar circumstances — involving 62 underage students — on the Santa Barbara High School campus.

D&D Limo Bus could not be reached for comment on the latest charges.

Authorities are not sitting idly by. On April 20, the Santa Barbara Police Department and the California Public Utilities Commission announced plans to create a joint training program for local charter bus companies that aims to prevent underage drinking on the vehicles.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web: The Surprisingly Complex Design of the Ziploc Bag.

                                                                 •        •        •

This was me this week. In the car.

HT to Natalie Tran for acting out my frustration with pokey pedestrians. I realize this will all be moot when Santa Barbara eventually bans motor vehicles from downtown.

(communitychannel video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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