Just curious: Do law schools actually teach lawyers constitutional law?

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1. Armendariz Speaks Out About DUI Arrest, Says He’ll Finish Council Term But Won’t Seek Re-election

If there’s been a theme weaving its way through 2011, it’s got to be driving under the influence. Carpinteria City Councilman Joe Armendariz became one of the latest locals to be ensnared in DUI hell, and it could have been much, much worse when he crashed his car on Highway 101 on Dec. 2. Armendariz was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, cited and released to the care of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, which treated him for numerous injuries. No one else was hurt in the wreck.

On Dec. 12, at his first City Council meeting since the incident, a still-bruised Armendariz told Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli that he would finish out his term next year but will not seek re-election.

Joe’s been a friend for many years and we wish him well on his journey to recovery.

2. Santa Barbara’s Alison Riede Tastes Sweet Victory on Food Network’s ‘Cupcake Wars’

Born to bake, Alison Riede two years ago started Sugar Cat Studio, an online custom cupcake catering company in Santa Barbara that produces about 300 of the tasty treats each week. Thanks to her recent victory on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, she’s gonna need a bigger oven.

After her winning episode aired Dec. 11, she told Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik that she plans to use the $10,000 prize to help expand her business. Opening her own shop one day would just be icing on the cupcake.

3. Hutton Parker Foundation, Noozhawk Join Forces on Nonprofit Media Grants

Noozhawk and the Hutton Parker Foundation are pooling their resources and expertise, and in 2012 will be providing four South Coast-based nonprofit organizations with $5,000 grants for advertising, marketing and social media. The foundation will be announcing more details next week, but the story already is the talk of the nonprofit community. As of Friday, the Noozhawk announcement had been forwarded nearly 300 times.

4. 445 Animals at Shelter After Raid on Santa Barbara Home

Last weekend, Santa Barbara County Animal Services officers raided a West Camino Cielo home and seized 445 animals being held there by the owner. Authorities were tight-lipped about the conditions they found on the property, but they’re appealing for the public’s assistance with the care and feeding of the animals now that they’re at the county Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road. Specifically, you can help with donations of chicken scratch, wild bird feed, turkey food and lay crumbles or pellets. Click here for more information, or call 805.681.5285.

5. Parisse Family Honors Wife, Mother with Gift to Cancer Center of Santa Barbara

For more than 60 years, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara has been a rock of support for patients and families in the throes of cancer. Earlier this week, one grateful family — Richard Parisse of Goleta and his children, Robin, David and Michael — helped dedicate the Toby Ann Parisse Memorial Education Fund, which will provide funding for the continuing education of the center’s physicians, nurses and staff. Toby Parisse died in June after a 21-year battle with breast cancer. She was 72.

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Death claimed a dear friend of my family’s this week: Nick Morton-Smith, who defied medical expectations and enjoyed a full and remarkably active life of 26 years in spite of the debilitating Moebius syndrome. As a result of the rare congenital neurological disorder, Nick had facial paralysis and was unable to move his eyes from side to side. He may not have been able to smile on the outside but the warmth and love he had on the inside were quite evident to those who were blessed to have known him.

Our prayers go out to his dad, Dr. Bill Morton-Smith, and siblings Tim and Emma. The funeral service is at 11 a.m. Saturday at our beloved All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito — in the same sanctuary where we bid farewell to Nick’s mom, Rho, who also died too young, in 2002. That mother and son are now joyously reunited in heaven is indeed a time for rejoicing.

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If you haven’t yet participated in Noozhawk’s newest public-engagement project, Let’s Talk Westside, I’d like to invite you to join the conversation today. The virtual town hall is a joint project with the nonprofit Just Communities and it’s intended to develop ideas to improve and enhance Santa Barbara’s Westside as part of the larger THRIVE Westside initiative.

Top sponsors of Let’s Talk Westside are MarBorg Industries, Wells Fargo, Southern California Gas Co. and Paul Cashman of State Farm Insurance.

Additional Let’s Talk Westside sponsors include the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate-Do, Business First Bank, El Zarape Mexican Food, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Meridian Group, Paper Moon Printing, ParentClick.com, Presidio Sports, Santa Barbara Community Housing Corp., Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center and the South Coast Community Youth Cultural Center.

Click here to register or wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com of Let’s Talk Westside.

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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.

Click here to make a donation online, or mail your check to Noozhawk, P.O. Box 101, Santa Barbara 93102. Email wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com to set up recurring credit-card transactions through our PCI-compliant payment gateway. Personal contributions to Noozhawk are not deductible as charitable donations.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.