West Carrillo Street crash
This head-on collision is even worse than it looks. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

The last two years have brought all of us more challenges than we ever imagined, but they’ve also brought Noozhawk more opportunities than we had expected.

Appropriately in this season of Thanksgiving, we at Team Noozhawk are both excited and grateful to announce the promotion of Sheridan Taphorn to our newly created position of sales manager.

Sheridan joined us in 2018 as a news side intern from UC Santa Barbara. She continued on after graduating that summer with a communications degree, and by the fall had made the transition into the job of online advertising consultant so she could pursue her passion for sales and marketing.

She was good at reporting, but she is exceptional at sales, and has succesfully modeled herself after Noozhawk partner and business development vice president Kim Clark. Kim — like executive editor Tom Bolton, our third partner — has a knack for developing talent, and Sheridan has been her best example yet. It’s astonishing how like-minded they are.

Sheridan Taphorn

Meet Sheridan Taphorn, Noozhawk’s new sales manager. (Noozhawk file photo)

In her spare time, Sheridan is an ambassador for the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce and volunteers at PATH Santa Barbara. Earlier this year, she was recruited to serve on the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation’s Community Gifts Committee.

She’s also one of the nicest people you’ll meet — and my Alaskan malamute, Sadie, adores her. Sadie’s a good judge of character.

As sales manager, Sheridan will play instrumental roles in the ongoing development of our sales and marketing team, sales and promotions initiatives, revenue growth and ongoing product development.

I’m proud of how Sheridan has grown as a professional businesswoman in her short career and I’m confident that she’ll succeed in this new job, just as she has in all of her previous opportunities with us.

But don’t take my word for it. Email her about your advertising and marketing needs at staphorn@noozhawk.com and see for yourself.

This past week, Noozhawk had an audience of 101,586 readers, according to our Google Analytics. What follows is my take on the Top 5 stories you were reading during that period. And by “my take,” I mean my opinion. This, you see, is an opinion column and not a news story.

Once again, I’m afraid, we’ve had a run of horrible news. For that, I’m sorry.

1. Santa Barbara Man Arrested on Suspicion of DUI, Manslaughter after Fatal Carrillo Street Crash

One Santa Barbara man died and a second was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after a horrific head-on collision on Santa Barbara’s West Carrillo Street the night of Nov. 14.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, Santa Barbara fire Battalion Chief Michael Hoose said the two cars collided around 8:20 p.m. on Carrillo Hill, about 200 yards below the Miramonte Drive intersection.

Both drivers were injured in the wreck, one severely, had to be extricated by firefighters and then were transported by American Medical Response ambulances to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale told Tom that investigators with SBPD’s Critical Accident Reconstruction Team believe the driver of a Nissan sedan — later identified as 24-year-old José Fermin Lopez Jr. — was traveling up the hill “at a high rate of speed and without headlights on” when he crossed into the oncoming lane and slammed into a Mercedes-Benz sedan. The posted speed limit along that stretch of roadway is 40 mph.

Ragsdale said the Mercedes driver — identified Nov. 17 as 71-year-old Steven Doyle Carlson — died of his injuries at the hospital.

Lopez, he said, was arrested at the hospital on suspicion of felony driving under the influence causing death and vehicular manslaughter.

“Officers believed Lopez was under the influence of alcohol, and a DUI investigation was completed,” said Ragsdale, who added that a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge approved search and arrest warrants.

According to the criminal complaint filed against him Nov. 17, Lopez is facing four felony counts: murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or more.

Two special allegations of causing great bodily injury also are listed.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Lopez was arraigned at the hospital, but he did not enter a plea. His arraignment was continued until Nov. 22.

Once he’s released from the hospital, he’ll be booked into County Jail with bail set at $2 million, Dudley said.

Funeral services for Carlson were pending.

2. Santa Barbara Unified Teachers Blast Superintendent Hilda Maldonado in Internal Survey

Hilda Maldonado

Santa Barbara Unified School District Hilda Maldonado has her work cut out for her. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk file photo)

Public education seems to be one calamity after another these days, and the Santa Barbara Unified School District has contributed its share.

Into that mess walked brand-new Superintendent Hilda Maldonado in the summer of 2020, with COVID-19 chaos already in full swing.

The veteran Los Angeles Unified School District administrator and first-time superintendent replaced the ineffectual Cary Matsuoka, who had abruptly announced his retirement before the pandemic hit.

All she needed to do was be … not him — especially in the areas of communication, engagement and building consensus.

How’s that working out? Not well, according to a confidential new Santa Barbara Teachers Association survey of teachers and certificated staff.

In a Noozhawk exclusive, our Josh Molina reported that more than 300 union members responded to the “Superintendent and District Perception Survey,” and those responses were brutal.

According to the survey, some 60% strongly disagree with the statement that Maldonado builds quality relationships with staff, parents and community members, with another 22% merely disagreeing. If my math is correct, taken together that’s a staggering 82%.

Another statement — that Maldonado demonstrates empathy, genuine listening and is able to manage conflict — drew a total of 57% saying they strongly disagree.

The crystal-clear message from respondents was that Maldonado is neither visible nor present at schools and with staff, does not work collaboratively with colleagues, and has not earned respect.

I regularly hear from parents and teachers, and this survey’s results — and the open-ended statements that were part of them — are consistent with the sentiment they’ve been sharing with me for more than a year.

Maldonado told Josh that she gets it.

“I appreciate the feedback offered by some teachers, and will use that information to build better relationships going forward,” she said.

“As a former teacher, I feel the weight on their shoulders as they have been asked to pivot in so many ways both during remote teaching and to in-person teaching. The information will be used to inform us about areas in our school district where we can make their jobs easier.”

School board president Kate Ford acknowledged the board’s own responsibility.

“The board shares the burden with Hilda and the leadership team to find immediate, tangible and meaningful solutions to truly show support and respond to the challenges that teachers are facing and how unhappy many feel,” she said.

The teachers union had every right to conduct the survey, which SBTA president Joyce Adriansen said was only intended as “constructive criticism” — notwithstanding the harsh verdict and scathing rebuke.

But if you’re going to do it, you own it. After the fact, Adriansen lamely expressed regret that the survey had been shared with Noozhawk and that she had not scrubbed “some of the cruel comments before she (Maldonado) saw it.”

That just doesn’t pass the smell test, but at least she didn’t say the dog ate her homework.

3. Multivehicle Collision Snarls Traffic on Highway 101 in Montecito

Highway 101 crash

Tough going on Highway 101 in Montecito. (Montecito Fire Protection District photo)

A three-vehicle wreck on Highway 101 in Montecito shut down the freeway in both directions Nov. 15, creating gridlock on the community’s already congested roadways.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, the California Highway Patrol said the midday collision happened on the northbound side of the freeway, just west of Sheffield Road.

One of the vehicles, an SUV, flipped over in the crash and landed on its roof. According to Montecito Fire Protection District spokeswoman Christina Favuzzi, the driver suffered serious injuries and had to be extricated from the wreckage.

The victim was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but his identity and medical condition were withheld.

Two people in a second vehicle were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The freeway was closed for nearly two hours as emergency personnel tended to victims and cleaned up the mess. The CHP is investigating the circumstances of the collision.

4. BizHawk: Husband-Wife Team Opens Goodland Yoga Studio in Goleta

Sathya and Brian Fennell

Sathya and Brian Fennell grab a nonyoga pose at their new Goodland Yoga Studio in Goleta. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

A new yoga studio is open in El Encanto Heights in western Goleta to help locals center their bodies, minds and spirits.

As our Josh Molina was first to report, Sathya and Brian Fennell have opened Goodland Yoga Studio at 7394 Calle Real, Suite G, above the 7-Eleven west of Glen Annie Road.

The studio is open Monday through Thursday, and classes include hatha yoga, slow yoga, pre-natal yoga and vinyasa yoga. Kundalini yoga will be added to the lineup next month.

“I was called to open this studio for the Goleta community,” Sathya Fennell told Josh. “We don’t have anything like this here. And now, especially coming out of the pandemic, people are searching for that community again, that family setting, easy going.

“We just want everybody to feel safe, but be happy and be feeling lighter and enlightened.”

Fennell’s husband, Brian, converted the studio, adding wall mirrors, a water fountain and the rest of the calming décor.

A longtime massage therapist, Fennell also owns Spathya Day Spa across the hall for further pampering.

“I have become a much calmer person in just handling daily situations,” she said of her yoga experience. “My mind just feels clearer of all the nonsense chatter that goes on in our brain … I am just really excited to share that with the community.”

5. Bill Macfadyen: Another Grim Week for Death and Destruction, with a Charlie Munger Sideshow

Starting with Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon standing small, last week was a disaster.

With the exception of Goodland Yoga Studio, I’m not sure this week was much of an improvement. Hey, Sathya, got room for one more?

•        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? State Moves Santa Barbara County to Most-Restrictive ‘Purple’ Reopening Tier.

•        •        •

Americans Held Hostage: Day 81

It’s been 81 days since Americans were abandoned to the ruthless Taliban in Afghanistan, and the U.S. government is fine with that.

•        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Want people to leaf you alone this time of year? Leaf Hut Reflects on Fleeting Beauty of Life.

•        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

Things were kind of quiet in my Instagram feed this past week, so I went with the can’t-miss @sadiethealaskanmalaute.com.

•        •        •

Watch It

Let’s end this week on an upbeat note.

YouTube video

(Brendan Kavanagh video)

•        •        •

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Yes, I’ll set up a monthly donation today!
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Yes, I’ll set up a monthly donation today!
If you value dependable local reporting, will you support Noozhawk today?
Yes, I’ll set up a monthly donation today!
Yes, I’ll set up a monthly donation today!
Yes, I’ll set up a monthly donation today!
Yes, I’ll set up a monthly donation today!
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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.