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Bill Macfadyen: Best of Noozhawk 11.04.11

Dogs, cops, drugs and crosswalks scramble for attention in this week's Noozhawk recap — along with a road trip to Berkeleyside and an appearance in the Columbia Journalism Review's News Frontier Database

1. What’s An Adopted Dog Look Like? Yours

As part of Adopt-a-Dog Month, Noozhawk invited readers to send in photos of their adopted and rescued dogs. Nearly 60 of you shared pictures of these truly blessed animals. Next week, we’ll have you vote for your favorite one. Thanks to the generosity of La Cumbre Feed, 3652 Calle Real, the winning adopted dog will be dining on $100 worth of free dog food from WellPet.

2. Santa Barbara Council Members, Candidates Respond Cautiously to Police ‘Excessive Force’ Allegations

Repercussions continued to reverberate this week from an Oct. 21 Santa Barbara police traffic stop that ended with an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence and multiple eyewitness allegations of “excessive force” by the arresting officers. Throughout Noozhawk’s coverage of the story, readers had been asking what candidates in Tuesday’s City Council election thought about the situation. So we asked. What did the candidates — and current council members — have to say?

Although Police Chief Cam Sanchez rejected the witness accounts and has decided his officers did nothing wrong, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident.

3. Carpinteria Cares for Youth Forum Tackles Prescription Drug Misuse, Abuse

Inspired by Noozhawk’s recent Prescription for Abuse series, the nonprofit Carpinteria Cares for Youth hosted a public forum on Nov. 3 to address the growing problem of the misuse and abuse of prescription medications — especially among young people.

Among the speakers were sheriff’s Sgt. Sandra Brown, supervisor of the Coroner’s Office, and Dr. Chris Lambert, director of Cottage Health System’s Frequent Opiate User Program, both of whom figured prominently in the Noozhawk series.

Even the Los Angeles Times was there to cover the event, which drew a packed audience at Carpinteria’s City Council chambers.

4. Mesa Architects Propose ‘Scramble’ Intersection for Cliff Drive at Meigs Road

An innovative diagonal pedestrian crossing — also known as a “scramble” — has been proposed for the busy intersection of Cliff Drive at Meigs Road on Santa Barbara’s Mesa. To get the details, Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper caught up with proponents Jeff King and Dennis Thompson of the Mesa Architects, a group of architects, planners and Mesa residents who are working to improve the neighborhood.

Under the plan, the “scramble design” stops all vehicle traffic and allows pedestrians to cross in every direction at the same time. Pedestrians aren’t allowed to cross when vehicles have the right of way, enabling motorists to make right turns without worrying about pedestrians. What do you think of the concept? Better than bulb-outs?

5. Santa Barbara Police Arrest 4 Suspects in Series of Residential Burglaries

Santa Barbara police detectives trying to solve a lengthy string of residential burglaries caught a break in the case with the help of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s Gang Unit. The tip led to the arrest of four suspects — including two alleged Ventura County gang members — shortly after a Goleta burglary.

Santa Barbara police and the Santa Barbara County and Ventura County sheriff’s departments are continuing the investigation to identify more victims. Santa Barbara police Lt. James Pfleging said authorities will contact victims as property is recovered.

                                                                  •        •        •

Earlier this year, I discovered Berkeleyside at about the same time that Berkeleyside discovered Noozhawk. We were both struck at how similar the local news sites are in their approach to and roots in professional journalism. We’ve been talking regularly ever since and, last Friday, I spent the day with Berkeleyside’s three co-founders: the husband-and-wife team of Tracey Taylor and Lance Knobel and Frances Dinkelspiel.

We had a blast swapping stories and experiences, sharing strategies and information, and discussing accomplishments and aspirations. As New Media pioneers, it was an exciting opportunity for the four of us to get together and we hope it will lead to some collaboration between our two organizations. After all, Berkeley and Santa Barbara have a lot more in common than UC campuses in their midst. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Journalism Review’s News Frontier Database recently featured both Noozhawk and Berkeleyside as part of its ongoing series on hyperlocal news sites.

It’s rewarding to be recognized by our journalism peers, and it doesn’t hurt when they’re prestigious ones like the Columbia Journalism Review. I’m grateful to CJR’s Paige Rentz for the comprehensive article. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Noozhawk needs and welcomes your support. Just as you might subscribe — or formerly subscribed — to a favorite newspaper to keep up with your community news, please consider becoming a voluntary paying subscriber to Noozhawk, for as little as $5 a month, or becoming a member of our Hawks Club.

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Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

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