Noozhawk’s mission is local news, and we don’t regularly venture beyond the borders of Santa Barbara County. We certainly don’t cover France, but I’m going to go there today because the Jan. 7 terrorist attack on the Paris headquarters of a satirical magazine does have local implications — or will have soon enough.

As you know, three masked gunmen armed with AK-47s, pump-action shotguns and a grenade launcher stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine with military precision, killing everyone in sight.

A dozen people died, including editor Stéphane “Charb” ​Charbonnier, several of the magazine’s most well-known cartoonists — Jean “Cabu”​ Cabut, Bernard “Tignous”​ Velhac and Georges Wolinski — and two police officers, one of whom was executed in the street while in the #handsup #dontshoot position.

Charlie Hebdo has a long history of courting controversy, with often crude caricatures lampooning Islam and other religions. But unlike, say, Christians and Jews, many Muslim clerics can’t take a joke, preferring to issue fatwas calling for death to the infidels. The magazine was firebombed in 2011; this time it was decimated.

As a general rule, Noozhawk tries not to publish offensive or insulting material. It’s not out of some deference to political correctness but rather our sense of propriety and respect for our readers. We’re also not a satirical publication, at least not intentionally so.

In the context of the Paris massacre, however, I think it’s important to stand in defiant solidarity with the victims of this latest Islamofascist atrocity, and with the bedrock principles of free speech and free expression that they championed when others cowered in fright.

There is no place in our civilization for such barbaric behavior, but those waging war on the West don’t care. We can pretend our foes are on the run and that these attacks are the work of “lone wolves,” but they are not. Similarly, we can say that speech codes, censorship and disengagement from the war on terror are healthy and enlightened, but they are the tip of their spear.

Longtime Noozhawk readers have heard me preach that just because you can say anything you want, doesn’t mean that you should. But just because you say something that offends me, doesn’t mean I can shoot you dead.

The Charlie Hebdo attack is yet another reminder that Islamic fanatics are not interested in debate, persuasion or words, but in submission, dominance and fear. And if a few cartoonists — or a few thousand Americans — are killed for the cause, well, “Allahu Akbar​!”

We must not give in and we must not back down, in Paris or Santa Barbara. Our liberties and our lives depend on it.

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There were 80,046 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What’s my take on your top stories? I’m glad you asked.

Coming this winter: Indoor-outdoor drinking at the Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar in downtown Santa Barbara. (Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar rendering)

Coming this winter: Indoor-outdoor drinking at the Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar in downtown Santa Barbara. (Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar rendering)

1. BizHawk: Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar Gets Facelift

The Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar in downtown Santa Barbara is close to unveiling a brand-new layout and design, our Gina Potthoff reported on New Year’s Day.

The restaurant and bar at 514 State St. has been undergoing renovations since December, and will sport a new “open air bar” when it reopens for business later this month, a company spokesman says.

In other BizHawk news, The French Press has signed a lease for part of the old Bicycle Bob’s at 250 Storke Road across from Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta.

The space will be the popular coffee shop’s third location on the South Coast, joining two stores in downtown Santa Barbara, at 528 Anacapa St. and 1101 State St.

Bicycle Bob’s moved last year to 320 S. Kellogg Ave. in Old Town Goleta.

Better check those pockets for a jail key. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

Better check those pockets for a jail key. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

2. Suspect Arrested in Rape of German Tourist at Santa Barbara Motel

A German tourist was sexually assaulted in her Santa Barbara waterfront motel room Jan. 3, but the woman reported the attack immediately and a suspect was arrested soon after.

Felipe Martinez Gallegos

Felipe Martinez Gallegos

According to Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood, the 52-year-old woman was attacked around 6:30 a.m. after a man entered her room at the Ala Mar Motel, 102 W. Cabrillo Blvd. The woman fought back, and the suspect bolted when he realized others may have been alerted to his deeds.

The suspect was quickly located a few blocks away in the 200 block of Bath Street.

“Felipe Martinez Gallegos was positively identified as the suspect in this case during an in-field show-up, and was subsequently arrested,” Harwood said.

He said Gallegos was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of burglary, assault with the intent to commit rape, penetration with a foreign object (digital penetration), and dissuading a witness.

A subsequent investigation determined that Gallegos allegedly gained entry to the room with a key he had kept from a previous stay at the motel, Harwood said.

And I know what you’re thinking: In this day and age, who still uses old-school keys at a beachside motel in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations?

Apparently, that would be our old friend, Dario Pini, owner of the Ala Mar Motel. Surprised?

The rape survivor was assisted during the investigation by an advocate from the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

A very long road to recovery starts here for one family. (Urban Hikers photo)

A very long road to recovery starts here for one family. (Urban Hikers photo)

3. Fund Set Up for Mother, Daughter Badly Hurt In Highway 101 Crash

A mother and daughter from Apple Valley were badly injured when their out-of-control SUV crashed into trees and a sound wall along Highway 101 near downtown Santa Barbara on Dec. 20. The wreck, on the last Saturday morning before Christmas, tied up traffic around Carrillo Street for hours as firefighters extricated them from the mangled vehicle.

Maddy Baca

Maddy Baca
Karen Michaels-Baca

Karen Michaels-Baca

Because of that high profile, we asked Josh Molina to see how the victims were recovering from the crash, which also killed one of the family’s two dogs riding with them. Rachael Vaughn, a family spokeswoman, was kind enough to talk to Noozhawk.

Vaughn said Karen Michaels-Baca and her daughter, Maddy, were driving to Santa Maria to spend Christmas with Maddy’s grandparents. She said neither has any recollection of what happened next.

The California Highway Patrol says the Cadillac Escalade veered off the freeway for unknown reasons, but the crash investigation is ongoing.

Michaels-Baca suffered a severe crush injury to her right hip and right femur, said Vaughn, a cousin of Michaels-Baca’s husband, Carmen Baca. She said Maddy suffered fractures to her pelvis, vertebrae, right femur, left tibia, and right ankle and foot.

They were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after the crash, and each has undergone multiple surgeries.

“Both have a very long and difficult road ahead of them,” Vaughn said.

Michaels-Baca is still hospitalized, but Vaughn said she eventually will be transferred to an acute rehabilitation facility, likely in San Luis Obispo County.

Maddy has been released from the hospital and is staying with her grandparents in Santa Maria. Vaughn says the teenager will need to learn to walk again.

“She is the most optimistic 14-year-old I have ever known in my life,” Vaughn told Josh. “I am so impressed with her optimism. She is motivated to get better. She is in a lot of pain.”

Carmen Baca, a truck driver, has taken a leave of absence to care for his wife and daughter.

As is often the case in these situations, family and friends set up a GoFundMe recovery account to help pay medical expenses beyond what insurance will cover.

Ninety-nine times out of 100, that simple act of charity and convenience goes unremarked in Noozhawk stories. Not this time.

For whatever reason, a handful of readers has seized on the fact that Michaels-Baca is a deputy district attorney in San Bernardino County — and a former 14-year veteran of the Santa Barbara County Probation Department — as well as a Cadillac Escalade owner. From what I can infer, it’s evidence of some kind of deception or fraud. Seriously.

Thankfully, other readers have risen in defense, pointing out that the family’s health-care expenses are likely to soar into six figures, and the fund is voluntary anyway.

Click here to make an online donation. If you want. If not … just don’t.

Ashley Brianna Kerr, 1989-2014. R.I.P. (Tiffany McCoy Photography photo)

Ashley Brianna Kerr, 1989-2014. R.I.P. (Tiffany McCoy Photography photo)

4. Memorial, Benefits Set for Woman Killed in Highway 101 Crash

Family and friends of Ashley Kerr packed Waller Park’s Lakeside Terrace in Santa Maria on Jan. 4 to honor the memory of the 25-year-old woman. The aspiring model and makeup artist was killed in a fiery crash on Highway 101 the night of Dec. 28.

Kerr, a Costco pharmacy technician in Goleta, was trapped in the backseat of the vehicle and died of burns and major head trauma. The crash severely injured the driver, Travis Dashek, 22, and another passenger, Kurt Hixenbaugh, 21. All three are from Santa Maria.

Dashek was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and may face other charges after he recovers from his injuries.

Kerr’s friends have started a memorial fund to help her family with funeral arrangements. Click here to make an online donation. If you want. If not … just don’t.

A benefit barbecue will be held beginning at 11 a.m. Jan. 10 in the parking lot of CVS, 4852 S. Bradley Road in Orcutt. Another benefit is planned that evening at Break Time, 5977 Encina Road in Goleta.

5. Hundreds of New Statewide Laws Taking Effect in 2015

There ought to be a law …

And Gov. Jerry Brown and the pass-happy Legislature are only too happy to oblige. In fact, more than 900 new laws will go on the books this year in California.

As best I can tell, not one law will be taken off the books in 2015. Apparently, our esteemed elected representatives cannot — or will not — identify a single law that has outlived its usefulness or no longer applies.

I’m sure all of these new laws are vital to the health and well-being of Golden State citizens — and their pets. But let’s take a closer look at that 900 number.

By simple arithmetic, it means the Legislature was passing nearly three bills a day every day of the year. But although the Legislature technically is “in session” year-round, legislators don’t work anywhere close to a 24/7 schedule. By private enterprise standards, a politician’s job is practically a vacation — in spite of what they tell you.

Which makes the prolific pace of legislative production all the more … exasperating. And don’t forget that 900 is just the number of bills that Brown signed into law — most of them in a span of, what, about three hours?

In general, there are 130 legislators in Sacramento representing 38 million-plus Californians. I say “in general” because several ran afoul of some of those pesky laws last year, were charged with felonies and had to cede their seats. But 900 laws means each legislator — in general — was responsible for nearly seven laws apiece, one law almost every other month.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, was a way above-average legislator last year, with 18 of her bills signed into law, according to the Legislative Counsel’s Office.

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, was right behind her, with 16 new laws to his name. Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian​, R-San Luis Obispo, could muster only 11, which is still better than the mean feat.

Yaaaaay … California. Happy new year!

                                                                 •        •        •

Bear with me. This is worth it.

YouTube video

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

Bill Macfadyen

William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

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