Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Capps gives superdelegate nod to Obama

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Rep. Lois Capps announced yesterday her coveted superdelegate vote would go to Sen. Barack Obama, who she said was “the best choice” for America’s next president.
“This wasn’t an easy decision for me,” she said in a prepared statement. “But Sen. Obama’s proven judgment, his hopeful vision for America, and his unmatched ability to motivate millions of Americans eager for change made the choice for me.”

Capps, a democrat who prior to being elected to congress was a nurse for the Santa Barbara School District, is one of 794 superdelegates whose endorsements are required to become the democratic presidential nominee.
According to Democratic Convention Watch, a Web site that regularly updates the tally of delegates and superdelegates, Sen. Hillary Clinton is leading the superdelegate race with 261 endorsements compared to Obama’s 242.
Under superdelegates rules, Capps could have endorsed whichever candidate she preferred, regardless of the way her constituency voted in California’s Feb. 5 primary election.
As it is, Capps’ decision to back Obama fell in line with the voters in the 23rd Congressional District, which narrowly favored the Illinois senator by 47.8 percent compared to Clinton’s 46.1 percent.
In Santa Barbara County, which makes up much of Capps’ district, 51.07 percent of the voters chose Obama compared to 41.8 percent for Clinton.
A spokeswoman in Capps’ Washington D.C. office said the congresswoman, “Endeavors to represent the will of her constituents as best she can but ultimately this was a decision of conscious for her and she decided to support Obama’s candidacy and his message of hope and change.”
Former Second District County Supervisor Susan Rose, an organizer for the group Santa Barbarans for Hillary, said Capps called her yesterday morning to inform her of the endorsement.
“I do appreciate that,” Rose said. “[But] of course I’m disappointed. There is a great amount of support for Hillary in the state of California, so I was hoping our congresswoman would have taken that path.”
Clinton convincingly won the state of California by netting 51.8 percent of the vote, while Obama took in 42.9 percent, according to the state’s election Web site.
Rose, who is a delegate for the Democratic Party, said Clinton’s political history and ability to successfully get legislation approved are some of the reasons she’s backed the New York senator.
“I know how difficult it is to effect change and she has done that,” Rose said. “That’s what I want for my next president. We’re looking at who can be the best next president.”
Capps credited Clinton for being a, “champion of those often underserved and forgotten,” and acknowledged the former first lady’s “remarkable record of achievement that inspires us all.”
“Her election would fulfill a life long dream for so many of us who have been fighting for women’s rights,” Capps said. “She would make a great president.”
But Capps said her decision to stand behind Obama was based on a number of things, including his decision to not support going to war with Iraq, his eloquence, and ability to reconnect the American people to politics.
“These are all true and good reasons, but I also believe Barack Obama is the better choice because of something larger and perhaps more important,” she said. “Simply put, he has made a call to the better angels of our nature. He is challenging us to lift ourselves out of the ugliness that increasingly consumes Washington, where the heat of your argument counts for more than the light it should bring.”
Capps has connections to both campaigns. According to the Web site www.politico.com, former President Bill Clinton provided support and raised money for both Capps and her late husband, Rep. Walter Capps. The Web site says Capps’ daughter, Laura Burton Capps, was an advisor in the Clinton White House in the mid 1990s and was later a speechwriter.
Capps’ tie to Obama is more personal. The Web site says Obama’s national press secretary, Bill Burton, is married to Burton Capps.
Obama said in a prepared statement that he was honored to have Capps’ support and credited her work as a school nurse.
“I look forward to fighting alongside her in the months ahead to finally make universal health care a reality, strengthen our economy, and bring about real change for the people of California and for all Americans,” Obama said.
Capps said part of her decision to support Obama is based on a motto her late husband lived by, which was: “We are strongest as people when we are directed by which unites us, rather than giving into the fears, suspicions, innuendos and paranoias that divide.”
“For years I have been waiting for a president that speaks to that vision,” she said. “I believe Barack Obama may very well be that rare leader.”


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Jailed Santa Barbara women released on bail

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A 16-day stint in an Indian jail ended yesterday for two Santa Barbara women after a judge there granted the women’s request for bail.
The women, Monica Bond, 57, and Heather Bond, 37, had their bail request denied two times prior to yesterday’s ruling.
The news sent a wave of optimism back to Santa Barbara where the women’s loved ones had grown increasingly frustrated with the situation.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Sean McGaughey, Heather Bond’s boyfriend. “I’ve been told that they’re OK but I don’t know what OK is.”
As of yesterday at 8 p.m., McGaughey said he had not yet heard from either woman, but was told they were in a hotel.
The women were detained by Indian authorities on April 14 after they attempted to board a flight near Darjeeling, India with a clip of 9 mm ammunition in a piece of luggage.
McGaughey has said the ammunition, which consisted of 11 bullets, belonged to him and was accidentally left in Heather Bond’s bag after a camping trip. He said the ammunition made it undetected through security at four different international airports, including LAX.
As a condition of the bail, the women had to turn over their passports and visas to police and must report to an investigating officer every two weeks, The Telegraph, a daily newspaper in Calcutta, India reported. The bail for each woman was set at 2,000 Indian Rupees, or about $50.
Lawrence Bond, Monica’s husband, said he was relieved when he heard the news and hopes a hearing scheduled for May 2 will be the last.
He said he’s not sure what the conditions were like in the jail, which is located near the city of Siliguri, but he was told they were sleeping upon grass mats on the floor.
The Telegraph reported on April 15 that the women were being held on ammunition related charges under the Indian Arms Act and if convicted, could face three to seven years in prison.
Lawrence Bond said the women’s attorney in India, Abhoy Pada Chatterjee, told him a provision in the Indian Arms Act instructs judges to deny bail, which is likely the reason the request failed the first two times.
“Lets hope it’s all positive from her on out,” he said.


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Sex offender Web site up and running

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Law enforcement officials from throughout Santa Barbara County unveiled the Offender Watch Program yesterday, a Web site that will allow residents to easily access the county’s sex offender registry.
The Offender Watch Program enables anyone to search for the presence of registered sex offenders and predators in proximity to their homes, place of work, schools and day cares, a statement from the County Sheriff’s Department said.


According to the Web site, which is accessible by visiting www.sbsheriff.org, several hundred registered sex offenders reside in the county.
Of the county’s eight incorporated cities, Santa Maria has the highest number of registered sex offenders at 151, while Solvang has the lowest with one. Santa Barbara has 106, Guadalupe has 10, Buellton has eight, Carpinteria has 13, Goleta has 22, and Lompoc has 40.
The Web site also pinpoints how many registered sex offenders reside within a one-mile radius of a specific address.
When one types in the address for Santa Barbara City Hall, 30 registered sex offenders are shown living in 28 locations.
“The purpose of the program is to lessen the anxiety of citizens by proactively alerting them should an offender or predator move within proximity to them, and to enhance the security and safety of Santa Barbara County citizens,” said Sgt. Alex Tipolt, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman. “The program also enables law enforcement to verify that offender addresses do not violate any safety buffers that may be implemented around protected institutions in the county, such as schools, day care facilities and churches.”
The Web site also offers an e-mail alert system, where a person can enter their street address and be notified when and if a registered sex offender moves into the neighborhood.


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Why I Am Supporting Barack Obama

BY LOIS CAPPS
U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN
Today, I am announcing my endorsement of Barack Obama for President.
This wasn’t an easy decision for me. Democrats were blessed this year with many talented and capable candidates, and I believe both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama would make fine presidents. But Sen. Obama’s proven judgment, his hopeful vision for America, and his unmatched ability to motivate millions of Americans eager for change made the choice for me.

I have enormous respect for Sen. Clinton. She is smart, dedicated and a champion of those often underserved and forgotten. She has a remarkable record of achievement that inspires us all. And her election would fulfill a life long dream for so many of us who have been fighting for women’s rights. She would make a great president.
But for me, Barack Obama is the best choice.
There are a number of reasons I could cite. He has promoted smart policies to address our nation’s greatest challenges. He was right on Iraq when so many were wrong. He speaks with an eloquence that most public officials can only dream of and is inspiring millions of Americans to reconnect with politics or connect for the first time. And he can win in November.
These are all true and good reasons, but I also believe Barack Obama is the better choice because of something larger and perhaps more important. Simply put, he has made a call to the better angels of our nature. He is challenging us to lift ourselves out of the ugliness that increasingly consumes Washington, where the heat of your argument counts for more than the light it should bring. He is asking us to stand together as Americans and transcend the traditional lines that have so often divided us by party affiliation, economic status, gender, or race. He is calling on us to rethink our approach to problem solving in the face of the enormous challenges facing our country, like Iraq, economic recession, global warming, record energy prices, and 47 million Americans without health insurance, to name just a few. I believe in his effort to put our country on a new path and want to help him make that happen.
I came to Washington 10 years ago after winning the seat my husband Walter held. In office for a mere 10 months before he died, he had lost none of the idealism and faith in American democracy that propelled his life. Quite frankly, I don’t believe he ever would have and I know that I have tried to keep that fire burning. But I’ll admit it’s hard, when so much of what’s going on around you is less about meeting our country’s challenges and more about demonizing your political opponents.
Walter once said that “we are strongest as people when we are directed by that which unites us, rather than giving into the fears, suspicions, innuendos and paranoias that divide.” For years I have been waiting for a President that speaks to that vision. I believe Barack Obama may very well be that rare leader.


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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

String of Westside gang crime keeps police busy

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A 25-year-old Santa Barbara man was hospitalized yesterday after five men leaped from a vehicle near the 900 block of San Pascual St. and beat the victim in broad daylight just a block from the Guadalajara Market, a Santa Barbara Police official said.
The brazen attack occurred at 4 p.m. and by the time police arrived on the scene the victim had fled. Lt. Ralph Molina said the victim showed up at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital an hour later with serious injuries and had to undergo a CAT scan. He said the victim was not stabbed and the attack was likely gang related.


The attack occurred just a block from where two cars filled with female gang members collided Monday night after a verbal argument erupted.
Molina said police were dispatched to the intersection of De la Guerra and San Pascual just after 9 p.m. Monday to a vehicle accident.
When officials arrived they found a stolen Honda sedan that collided with a tree, but no one was around, Molina said.
He said it was a puzzling scenario, but after a number of hours, police discovered the occupants of the wrecked car got into an argument with a number of people driving a van. The argument escalated when the two vehicles crashed into each other. Molina said the Honda, which was occupied by three women, appeared to have been fleeing when it collided with the tree.
Witnesses told police the occupants of the car fled on foot, but the people in the van got out with bats, bricks and other weapons and began vandalizing the wrecked car.
Molina said the Honda was reported stolen the day before out of Lompoc and an ID found inside the vehicle led them to arrest a 17-year-old girl, who allegedly stole the car from her parents.
Molina said the girl gave police a Lompoc address, but is going to high school in Santa Barbara. He said she did not cooperate with the investigation.
He said the incident could be connected to a string of gang graffiti that has recently sprung up in the Westside neighborhood.
Though local gang fights that make the news rarely involve females, Molina said female involvement is not uncommon.
“There seems to be a little bit of a flare-up with some activity with the females lately,” he said. “We’ve responded to a few fights which have involved females.”


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New S.B. school dress code tabled for being too 'vague'

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Proposed amendments to the Santa Barbara School Districts’ discipline guidelines and dress code were dealt a blow last night by the Board of Education, which sent staff back to the drawing board in the hope of coming up with alternatives that are less “vague.”
One dress code amendment that irked some board members was a proposal to “…prohibit the presence of any apparel that denotes membership in a gang,” which would include hats, jewelry, and haircuts.

Board member Annette Cordero wondered where such a ban would start and stop, and to whom it would apply.
“If the policy is only going to be applied to students who fit the stereotype of a gang member then I’m opposed to that,” she said. “I’m typically not in favor of policies that are selectively enforced.”
For instance, Cordero said she realized shaving a gang sign into one’s hair would be a violation of dress code. But if that is the only clear-cut example of a hair violation, then that is what the amendment should say.
As it is, the language simply says haircuts, “which, by virtue of its color, arrangement, trademark or any other attribute,” could constitute gang affiliation.
The district’s Director of Compliance, Michael Gonzalez, did little to quell Cordero’s concerns when he explained that administrators at each school handle every case differently and interpret what is and is not gang related on a case-by-case basis.
But he ensured the board that, “School administrators are very fair in their treatment of students.”
The school’s current dress code does not make any specific reference to hair, but says: “In all matters relating to individual dress and grooming students are required to exercise good judgment…”
Other amendments to the dress code that weren’t discussed at length by the board but could present similar issues of vagueness include banning white T-shirts when worn in combination with a black or blue T-shirt, baggy pants, and knee length socks when worn with shorts that hang below the knees. These three items are all described in the proposed dress code as being “gang related.”
A number of other amendments specific to dress, such as wearing revealing clothing, belt buckles with initials, house slippers or bare feet, and anything that could be used as a weapon also ended up on the ban list.
Most of these items aren’t mentioned directly under the current dress code, which instead leaves the decisions about appropriate dress up to students and parents.
Though the proposed amendments aim to be more specific and provide uniform standards for all schools in the district, some of the amendments raised more questions than they answered.
Cordero said she wanted specifics about what haircuts would constitute gang membership before she could consider voting on such an amendment.
Board member Kate Parker said she sees lots of kids wearing baggy pants each day and, “It’s hard to differentiate when this is a problem and when this is a fashion statement.”
Gonzalez said banning baggy clothing is a matter of “safety of students and staff” because of the ability of students to conceal weapons.
With an up-tick in gang violence over the past year, School District officials have pledged to do everything in their power to help prevent the violence and keep it out of the schools.
District Superintendent Dr. Brian Sarvis said these amendments are one of the ways the school is attempting to address the problem.
“[The amendments] are a direct result of that effort,” he said before the meeting. “It’s important that we eliminate any vestige of any gang affiliation because we’re serious about school campuses being safe zones.”
Sarvis acknowledged during the meeting that holes in the language needed to be tightened and brought back before the board for a vote.
Also discussed were amendments to the district’s discipline and expulsion guidelines.
Of particular interest to most of the night’s public speakers was an amendment to the school’s substance abuse policy, which currently allows students to be expelled after their second offense. The amendment would change it from a two-strike policy to three strikes — something many at the meeting said is long overdue.
“We need to look at these kids for what they are,” said Tara Haaland-Ford, vice president of the Santa Barbara Teen Legal Clinic. “They are kids. They make mistakes.”
While many community advocates endorsed the change to the substance abuse policy, Gonzalez said the majority of the district’s vice principals, who often are responsible for carrying out discipline measures, are opposed to the three-strike amendment and want it to remain at two.
Board member Bob Noel said he believed some of the discipline guidelines don’t have enough teeth.
He wondered why possession of a knife or other dangerous weapons on campus isn’t grounds for automatic expulsion.
Gonzalez said the discipline guidelines are crafted in such a way as to provide administrators leeway with how they handle certain issues because no one instance is the same. He reminded Noel that the possibility for expulsion exists after one strike, but is not mandatory.
“We judge the merits of each individual case,” he said.
Because the amendments were on the action agenda, the board was expected to vote, but they instead took no action and directed Gonzalez to return on May 13 with revised amendments.


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Weather officials issue gusty wind advisory

DAILY SOUND STAFF REPORT

Weather officials are urging local residents to use caution when driving or sailing due to gusty winds that are expected to hit the region this afternoon and last through early Wednesday morning.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory from 2 p.m. today until 9 a.m. Wednesday. Gusts of up to 35 miles per hour will hit the South Coast and mountain regions of the county early this afternoon, increasing to 40 mph this evening.

“The strongest winds will be below passes and canyons, especially near Gaviota this afternoon and near Montecito later tonight,” according to the wind advisory.
In addition to posing a threat to high-profile vehicles, the heavy winds will create hazardous sea conditions in outer coastal waters, officials said.
Although the northwest gale force winds are expected to weaken Wednesday, weather officials warned an offshore buildup of high pressure might affect the Santa Barbara area again Wednesday night.


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Monday, April 28, 2008

Ancient creatures arrive in Santa Barbara

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Two massive skeletons are already stalking Luria Hall, casting eerie shadows on the newly painted walls.
An even larger bone display of Suchomimus, a 36-foot African dinosaur, will join the two 25-foot creatures on Tuesday as officials at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History prepare to unveil their “Giants: African Dinosaurs” exhibit this weekend.
And while the skeletons are stationary, their poses evoke visions of scaly creatures roaming the Earth up to 135 million years ago, hunting for their next meal.

“You’re going to hear ‘Wow!’ or you’re going to hear ‘Ahh!’” said Brian Weber, the museum’s director of exhibits. “There are going to be squeals.”
Weber and a team from Project Exploration, a Chicago-based nonprofit science organization, are working nonstop to unpack dozens of wooden crates, assemble the three large-scale pieces and arrange dozens of smaller displays.
Shipped in on three semi-trailers from their former display site in Florida, the skeletons are replicas of fossils found in Africa’s Sahara Desert by renowned paleontologist Dr. Paul Sereno and educator Gabrielle Lyon, who co-founded Project Exploration.
In addition to being the West Coast premiere of Sereno’s finds, the display is the museum’s first dinosaur skeleton show. Three previous dinosaur shows have only featured fleshed-out models with robotics, the latest occurring in 2002.
“Those are cool, but how many of them can you have before you get the real thing?” Weber said.
Museum spokeswoman Easter Moorman said the motionless skeletons will also be less likely to frighten children than their moving and roaring robotic counterparts. Assembling the creatures, however, is no easy task.
“It’s literally like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Moorman said.
It took the eight-person exhibit team an hour and a half to put together Deltadromeus, a 90-million-year-old meat-eater found in Morocco, first fitting together about 10 large pieces before fastening each rib in place.
Its full name, Deltadromeus agilis, refers to its status as the speediest large predator that ever lived.
Afrovenator, a 135-million-year-old carnivore from the Early Cretaceous period, took only 45 minutes to assemble as the team’s skills improved. Discovered in Niger, the dinosaur’s long, snaky tail stretches its full length to 27 feet.
The largest of the full skeletons, Suchomimus, also originated from Niger and has long, narrow jaws that lend to its moniker, which means “crocodile mimic.” Technicians will install the 12-foot tall display Tuesday morning before putting the finishing touches on the room during the next few days.
Weber said exhibit technicians Tony Mangini and Mike Carpenter will be instrumental in making the show come to life. Lighting is particularly key in making the skeletons truly stand out, along with recent touchups to the display hall.
“I know we’re going to get a stunning exhibit,” he said. “This is just going to be spectacular.”
Alongside the three main skeleton displays will be smaller showcases, including other skeletal replicas, petrified wood and actual fossilized dinosaur bones.
Dennis Toy, a fossil expert with Project Exploration, carefully opened a heavy-duty carrying case and removed special protective casings from the wing bones of a Pterosaur, a 110-million-year-old flying dinosaur found in Niger.
“This one ate fish,” he said, revealing a long, narrow tooth. “That’s why the teeth are long and skinny, to hook them.”
While there will be a few skeletal remains in the display, such as the Pterosaur, Weber said many of the pieces will be casts of the original bones.
“Fossil material would be too heavy, too fragile and too valuable,” he said, explaining why the large-scale skeletons are replicas.
Many of the originals are safely locked up in Sereno’s collection at the University of Chicago, waiting to be sent back to their countries of origin or undergoing further study.
Among the relatively smaller displays already assembled are two massive femur bones from a Carcharodontosaurus, dubbed Africa’s answer to the Tyrannosaurus rex. Visitors will be able to stand on the display platform, comparing their height to the leg bones of the enormous, 45-foot-long creature.
When the display opens this Saturday at 10 a.m., it will be the only dinosaur bone exhibit between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Weber said.
Admission is free to museum members and included in museum admission for visitors — $8 for adults, $7 for teens and seniors, and $5 for children. The show runs until November 2 and more information is available at www.sbnature.org.
Moorman said the museum is planning to stock the gift store with plenty of dinosaur-related items. Also playing on the paleontology theme is an excavation tank where kids can try their hand at uncovering a fossil, as well as dinosaur footprints throughout the museum.


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Daily Sound starts home delivery

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

For more than two years the Santa Barbara Daily Sound has been free as long as one was willing to walk, pedal or drive to pick it up.
But as of this morning, you might be reading it over a cup of coffee in your bathrobe.
The free daily that now prints 9,000 papers Monday through Saturday landed on more than 350 doorsteps this morning, marking the beginning of the era of home delivery for the paper, which Editor and Publisher Jeramy Gordon said was the “natural next step.”

“This is a milestone,” he said. “From day one readers have been asking for home delivery and now, just two years later, we’ve done it.”
Gordon said he also hopes home delivery will bolster the paper’s viability by attracting more advertisers, which would then enable the paper to broaden its news coverage.
The drive for home delivery has been spearheaded in part by Daily Sound General Manager John Leonard, who has brought on a distribution staff of three.
The Daily Sound’s first edition was printed March 23, 2006 on a shoestring budget and with a skeleton crew. The paper hit racks throughout the South Coast that morning at eight pages and a circulation of 2,500.
The paper fattened slightly less than a month later when it grew to 12 pages. A mass resignation at the Santa Barbara News-Press in July 2006 evoked widespread community outrage and prompted Gordon to nearly double the Daily Sound’s circulation to 4,000 — a number that has steadily increased ever since.
Gordon, a former managing editor at the Palo Alto Daily News, said he developed a fondness for free daily newspapers in that role.
With newspapers across the country facing declines in advertising revenue and circulation due to the influence of the Internet, Gordon said he’s not worried about moving in what some see as the opposite direction of other papers.
He said the free daily model appeals to a wider variety of the population than larger daily papers and its tabloid format makes it easy to read on the go.
The Daily Sound has expanded its Web site in recent months, where much of the paper’s daily content can also be found for free.
At 25, Gordon seems an unlikely candidate to carry the torch for a news medium some say is dying. But Gordon resents the idea the print media is dying and believes it can thrive concurrently with the Internet.
“I’m a strong believer in the Internet,” he said. “I think it’s a very valuable tool, but I think print is in no way dead. It’s evolving; it’s always been evolving. … But death of print is just asinine.”
The Daily Sound will remain free at more than 300 locations. One year of home delivery costs $87.36 — $1.68 per week.
“Our intention is not to switch to a paid model, but rather offer a service to those who request it,” Gordon said. “Our readers have shown such amazing support for the paper, I hope that continues with home delivery.”


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Record-A-Thon for blind and dyslexic kicks off

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

For most of Alexis Hulsebos’ life, she was told nothing was wrong with her. The words that danced around on the page and so frustratingly eluded her were just words and her parents and teachers told her she needed to focus.
She was a smart girl. Could do the math, write the papers and read the map, but she couldn’t read quickly. What took some students one or two hours to read took Alexis seven or eight.

For the majority of her life there was a hurdle preventing Alexis from reaching the goals she set. That hurdle was dyslexia and a disease called Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that destroys glands that produce tears and saliva, which causes the eyes, skin, nose and other parts of the body to become dry.
It crippled Alexis’s ability to read and rendered her unable to reach her potential as a student until mid-2007, when she discovered Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, a national organization with a local office that audio records textbooks and other curriculum for physically and mentally disabled students who have difficulty accessing the written word.
“I couldn’t ask for a lot more,” she said. “I think that this is the only thing that’s really helped me get over the hurdle.”
Now a senior at San Marcos High School, Alexis is on track to graduate with a 4.25 grade point average, a nearly one-point jump in the past year, and has been awarded a full-ride scholarship to the college of her choice.
Alexis’s story isn’t rare. There are currently 650 students in Santa Barbara County who utilize the services provided by RFB&D, and according to Kristen Reed, educational outreach director, the goal is to increase that number five fold in the near future.
A big part of that effort will occur this week during the RFB&D Record-A-Thon, where local teachers, celebrities, journalists and community leaders will step into one of the six, square recording booths, and read aloud anything from a science fiction novel aimed at third graders to a weighty calculus textbook for graduate students.
Reed, 35, who was born with cerebral palsy and suffers from dyslexia and a visual processing disorder, said she began using RFB&D services in the sixth grade. Before that, Reed said she could only read two pages before the words stopped making sense.
“We’re very smart, we’re very bright,” Reed said of herself and Alexis. “We just needed something to help us level the playing field.”
That leveler was made available through services provided by RFB&D, which according to those who have used it, works like a charm.
The studio is located at 5638 Hollister Ave., where six sound booths dominate the room, books and other manuscripts line the walls, and volunteers come and go pretty much at their leisure.
The volunteers do everything from reading to marking the books with symbols that indicate when a reader should make additional remarks about the text.
When the finished product pops out of the CD burner, it’s distributed to students throughout the country, who then listen to it on a special “device,” or portable CD player.
Reed said the listening devices allow students to bookmark pages and jump from chapter to chapter, which saves students a significant amount of time and allows them to peruse the text just like any other person.
So far only Santa Barbara, Goleta Union and Carpinteria Valley Unified School Districts are on board, which leads Reed to believe there is a colossal unmet need.
Many of the students seek the services out separate from their schools, such as Alexis, who said she had difficulty convincing San Marcos High officials to help her. She was eventually given a four-year scholarship through RFB&D to utilize the materials for free.
Reed said RFB&D costs $100 for the first year and $35 for each consecutive year, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. The listening devices cost the most, ranging from $94 to $400. She said the listening device formatted to play RFB&D CDs cost $260.
Ethan Saxton, RFB&D’s production director, said this year’s goal is to complete 183 books and amass more than 4,000 reading hours. At the end of February, the studio had already wrapped up 93 of those books.
The process is time consuming, and almost always requires several different voices to complete one book. But before reading even begins, dozens of hours are spent marking the two different copies of the text, one for inside the studio and one for outside. Then they’re proofread. Of the 14,458 total volunteer hours in 2007, 3,978 were spent reading.
Saxton’s own story is similar to those of Reed and Alexis. He was diagnosed with dyslexia and another language disorder in the fifth grade, which prevented him from being able to take the words from his head and clearly put them on paper.
“Up until then it was hit or miss about whether I was brilliant or severely retarded,” he said. “It’s really that same common story you hear from everyone else.”
Saxton began using the RFB&D CDs and excelled.
Reed fears there are other children currently in need of the programs who simply don’t know about them. She said there aren’t any students utilizing the program in Lompoc or Santa Maria.
Tim Owens, executive director of RFB&D, said he hopes at least 300 people will volunteer during the Record-A-Thon, which aside from being a way to spread the word about its services, acts as a fundraiser. This year’s goal is to raise $60,000.
For Jerry Byrd, there’s no place else he’d rather be than at the Record-A-Thon.
He said he began reading at similar recording studios 40 years ago and traveled to Santa Barbara yesterday from Huntington Beach just for the event.
Byrd, 73, said he can’t remember now why he began reading in small sound booths all those years ago, but when he hears stories like Alexis’s, it becomes clear why he needs to continue.
“Every time I sit down to read a book I see a listener,” he said. “I picture a listener. It’s not just ‘Let's get this book out of the way.’
“It’s a real need. It’s not a nice thing, it’s a necessity.”
More information about RFB&D and how to volunteer is available at www.rfbd.org/sb.


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The ghost of Pattaya and ... Target in SB?

BY JOHN DICKSON
DAILY SOUND COLUMNIST
They're the hottest restaurant in town that never opened. Early last year, in Old Town Goleta, the building at 5918 Hollister Ave (former home of Alex's Cantina) suddenly received a new coat of white paint. It appeared that a new restaurant was planning to open there soon. And then nothing happened. No restaurant opened.

During the Fall of 2007 a big colorful new sign appeared atop the building that read "Pattaya Bar & Grill." I stopped by to try their food, and it appeared nothing had changed since the last time I was there. From what I could see through the window, it was a ghost town on the inside.
Then, in January 2008, a large, expensive colorful advertisement for Pattaya appeared in the Verizon Yellow Pages phonebook. It reads "Sportbar, Banquet, Catering, Live Music. Serve popular street vendor Thai Food under relaxing, friendly atmosphere. Open daily 11am-1am". About the same time, Pattaya launched a professional web site, complete with colorful food photos & menus. I wandered over to the restaurant and, to my surprise; the interior still looked the same. No progress had been made as far as I could tell.
Fast forward to April 2008. While driving through Old Town Goleta at night, I noticed that their big sign was fully illuminated. There were even spotlights brightening up the entrance. With a sudden craving for Pad See Ew, I pulled over to finally give them a try. To my disappointment the inside STILL looked the same and nobody was around. Nobody but 'dem ghosts.

CINCO DE MAYO: Be sure to go to De la Guerra Plaza this Saturday (11am-9:30pm) and Sunday (11am-9pm) to enjoy great Mexican food & music at Santa Barbara’s 17th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. For more information visit cincodemayosb.com.

YOU DON’T KNOW JACK: Jack's Famous Bagels (53 S. Milpas St, 3891 State St, 5050 Carpinteria Ave) is transforming into Jack's Bistro (& Famous Bagels). They now have full menus with sandwiches, gourmet sandwiches, paninis (Capri, Veggie & Baja), wraps, burgers, salads, pastas and homemade soups (Chicken Noodle, Tortilla Soup with Avocado, Tuscan Bean, Split Pea with Ham, Beef Mushroom & Barley, Chili Bean). The Carpinteria location has full indoor/outdoor restaurant seating available and the Santa Barbara Jack's Bistros will be more of an "express" version.

MEDITERRA: Reader Foodie Dan tells me that Mediterra Cafe & Market at 5575 Hollister Ave in Goleta has a new expanded menu. They have added Chicken Lavash Wrap, Gyro Lavash Wrap, Meatball Panini, Meatball Plate and a Salad Plate. Other new arrivals include Bahcivan Aged Kashkaval Cheese, Bahcivan Fresh Kashkaval Cheese, Koska preserves and Eti Burcak biscuits. Call 696-9323 or visit MediterraCafe.com

RUMOR MACHINE: I called the brilliant folks at Make It Work who arrived this morning to fix the Rumor Machine. With a new ink cartridge and some well-placed duct tape, it appears to be functioning normally once again.
The faded print-out from last week mentioned that the owners of Red Fish in Simi Valley are considering opening a restaurant in Santa Barbara. Our first test print-out today had a crisp, easy-to-read update to that story that said the Red Fish owners also operate Spark Woodfire Grill in Studio City, Huntington Beach and Beverly Hills. Spark might actually be the restaurant pondering life on the South Coast.
Our second test print-out read “Target has decided to build a store on the north side of Hollister Ave, immediate across from Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. Estimated opening is late 2009 or early 2010.” Many Targets have a grocery section and even their own brand of boxed wine. As always, these rumors might be completely false or a brilliant forecast of future events. Your call.

MARGARITA MAN: Last month I was at the Santa Barbara Daily Sound 2nd anniversary party and they had rented a couple of very cool automated margarita dispensers. The machines were provided by the Margarita Man, run by local owners Sean Bevan and Angela Miller-Bevan. I loved their business card logo. The man pictured on the front looks like a cross between a cabana boy and Indiana Jones.
The standard package price is $175 and includes setup, pickup, your first mix concentrate, a 5 gallon pre-measured mixing bucket, an integrated cup rimmer with salt, and a festive, grass table skirt for the machine cart. Additional machines are discounted to $150 each. The machines make their own freeze so no ice is required, only power. The mixes do not contain alcohol. You can provide the liquor or can make the drinks non-alcoholic. One machine is usually sufficient for parties up to 100 guests. Call 683-0727 or visit MargaritaManSB.com

BOATHOUSE: Reader Jonathan spotted a new sign at the Boathouse Restaurant which replaces the Brown Pelican at Hendry's Beach. The sign reads: “Our Goal: To create a really nice restaurant for visitors to Hendry's Beach. We will be serving locally caught fresh fish principally from the Santa Barbara, Ventura and Central Coast fisheries. We will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We will have a take-out component, and will serve coffee and sweet rolls for beach walkers. We intend to keep it simple and to keep the quality at the highest level.
The footprint [of the building] will be essentially the same as before. We are adding a deck with a windscreen so the experience on the deck should be comfortable and pleasant. The entire facility will be new and clean. We are working hard for a June opening. The stars will have to line up for us to get everything done that fast, but so far so good! - Tom and Adam White”

WENDY MARRIES ARBY: Arby's roast beef sandwich restaurants is buying Wendy's for $2.34 billion. The chain is represented locally on Hollister Ave in Goleta and in the UCSB UCen. Apparently the Wendy's founders' family is not too happy about the acquisition of the chain which has fallen on hard times in recent years.

John Dickson’s column appears every Tuesday in the Daily Sound. E-mail your restaurant news tips to info@SantaBarbara.com


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Thefts, sexual assault top police blotter

DAILY SOUND STAFF REPORT

Filling the Santa Barbara police blotter this week are several thefts, a sexual assault, DUI checkpoint arrests and drug abuse cases.

April 22 — Police began investigating the theft of approximately $32,000 from the Eastside Boys & Girls Club at 632 E. Canon Perdido St. Detectives learned that the organization had a fundraising auction on April 18 and placed the donations in a locked metal file cabinet until they could be deposited in the bank. Between April 21 and April 22, someone stole the bag of money and officials suspected an employee may have been responsible for the theft.
After several interviews, detectives identified a 39-year-old employee, Mychelle Garcia, as a potential suspect. A search of her residence on April 23 uncovered a large amount of money suspected of being a portion of the stolen donations. After being led to an additional home, officers found checks and credit card receipts from donations given to the Boys & Girls Club. Officers arrested Garcia on suspicion of grand theft.

April 23, 3:10 p.m. — Authorities received numerous calls about a man in a black jacket attempting to steal a car in the 800 block of Chapala Street. Others reported the man appeared to be very intoxicated and was attempting to drive home. When police arrived, the man had left the vehicle and was on the ground between two buildings. Officers noted the man, later identified as a 40-year-old transient, appeared to be extremely intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. He could hardly speak and continually fell asleep as police attempted to question him.
A search of the man uncovered a prescription bottle with numerous types of pills, including morphine, Lorazapam and Seriquel. The suspect only had a prescription for one of the medications. Authorities took the man to the emergency room, booking him into jail on $10,000 bail upon his release.

April 23, 7:25 p.m. — Police arrived at Scolari’s Food and Drug Co. at 222 N. Milpas St. after employees called about a shoplifter. An investigation revealed the suspect, a 49-year-old man, had entered the store, asked for a Scolari’s bag at the register, and proceeded to place a half-gallon tub of ice cream and a 12-pack of Budweiser in the bag as the employee watched. The suspect then exited the store, making no effort to stop at the register to pay for the items. After the employee confronted the shoplifter outside and took the items back, the man admitted to shoplifting in a similar manner on at least 20 other occasions without being caught.
After police arrived, he waived his rights and told them he had a drinking problem. He also admitted to having no money and said he wanted beer. He told officers he knows shoplifting is illegal but didn’t care.

April 23, 11:10 p.m. — Officers arrived at a Santa Barbara home after receiving reports of a stolen vehicle. The victim told police a friend, a 20-year-old local resident, had borrowed a Toyota Camry and said he would be back in a few minutes. The victim called police after an hour had lapsed. Once the suspect returned on foot, officers discovered the man was on active probation. A search revealed codeine elixir in his pocket that was prescribed to someone else. The suspect refused to give the location of the vehicle and police had to search the area to track it down. Authorities booked the man on $30,000 bail for possession of a controlled substance and grand theft auto.

April 26, 12:45 a.m. — Witnesses flagged down police officers after seeing a man sexually harassing women in the 500 block of State Street. Upon arrival, officers found a 24-year-old woman who said the man, later identified as a 51-year-old resident, came up behind her and fondled her underneath her dress. Other witnesses reported that the man had been engaging in similar behavior with other women for approximately 30 minutes. After arresting the man for sexual battery, investigating officers discovered he had also been exposing himself. He was booked into County Jail for felony sexual battery and indecent exposure.

April 26 — Officers conducted two DUI and driver’s license checkpoints in Santa Barbara, netting three arrests and six citations. A checkpoint at 700 E. Canon Perdido St. nabbed a suspect for possession of a controlled substance, providing false information to a peace officer, and driving on a suspended license. Four citations were also handed out to suspects driving without a license. At the 1100 San Andres St. checkpoint, officers arrested two suspects on suspicion of driving under the influence and cited two others for driving without a license. Authorities towed a total of eight vehicles from both locations.


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School officials show off new elevators

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

With rockets from a science class providing an appropriate backdrop on Monday morning, school officials unveiled a recently completed installation of elevators at Santa Barbara High School that will greatly improve disability access on the hilly campus.
Funded by Measure V, a $67-million bond measure to modernize local secondary schools, the $5.4-million project involved installing six elevators throughout the campus. School administrators said they couldn’t be happier with the finished product.

“I’m just really thankful they are here,” Assistant Principal Dave Meister said. “This is one of the most beautiful elevators for a school I’ve ever seen.”
With swipe card access and architecture that blends in with other school buildings, Meister said the elevators serve as a fitting way to help students with disabilities or injuries make their way around the school.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Sarvis, on hand to cut the ribbon yesterday, dwelled on the fact that when launching Measure V, school officials expected to spend approximately $8 million on accessibility upgrades. With many Measure V projects wrapping up throughout the school district, he said that figure has stretched closer to $30 million.
“It’s a symbol of something really big in our district,” he said, “and that is creating disability access across all our schools. … We had kids in wheelchairs who couldn’t get around this campus.”
Johnathon Hoover, a student at the high school, doesn’t have to use a wheelchair but does have a disability that makes walking up stairs difficult. He said the new elevators have made life a lot easier.
“I can actually get to class,” he said. “…On my bad days, these elevators really help me out, because I don’t like climbing up stairs on my bad days.”
Senior Chelsea Yarnell, 18, also has a swipe card that allows her to use the new lifts. After fracturing and dislocating her kneecap about a week ago, she said even with crutches, she couldn’t have made it up stairs in her full leg cast.
“I couldn’t get around,” she said. “I wouldn’t have even gone to class.”
On her first day back at school, Yarnell didn’t know about the elevators until her math teacher brought up the subject.
“I just stood and looked at the stairs,” she said. “People offered to carry me.”
Once she got the pass, she said it’s been much easier to get around. She’ll get privileged use of the elevators until her cast is off in about a month or so.
Meister said a rotation of approximately 15 to 20 cards are typically in use, including by staff or teachers who just need to move heavy items around campus.
Carl Mayrose, the project manager, highlighted a few of the challenges of working on the hilly campus, including running into underground storage tanks that had to be remediated.
Mayrose and David Hetyonk, director of facilities and operations, also ran down a list of other Measure V-funded projects at Santa Barbara High School, including water and electrical infrastructure upgrades and a renovated pool.
“I wish I were an elephant and could remember all of them,” Mayrose said, “because we’ve done a lot of projects on this campus.”


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Changing mascot is good idea

BY LORETTA REDD
Change is hard. A mascot is, after all, a symbol designed to bring good luck. Over time, such symbols take on almost superstitious powers, inferring even that scoring more points on a football field, or successfully coaching a debate team, is somehow connected to the icon chosen.

The Carpinteria Unified School District voted last week to remove the Indian symbol from its High School out of respect for an offended attendee, leaving the ‘unified’ part in jeopardy.
The history of banned Indian mascots began as far back as 1969, when Dartmouth College’s Board of Trustees decided to change from the Indians to Big Green. Here, in California, Stanford followed in 1972, replacing their beloved Indian moniker, Prince Lightfoot, for that of the Cardinals. Years later, San Diego State dismissed their Monty Montezuma mascot as well.
As a note, all three institutions of higher learning indeed survived, as did over 75 other schools and colleges who surrendered their usually red-painted Caucasian male ‘mascot’ wearing an Indian headdress, in favor of some other symbol.
Twenty years ago, a Federal Judge in Los Angeles upheld the ban of Indian mascots at all schools in the district. As an alternative, the Westlake Village High School, continued with the ‘warrior’ theme, but changed from an Indian symbol years ago, to a ‘W’ with a snappy Roman soldier. Of course, they also discovered that the school was built on a former Chumash village site.
The typical image of a Native American as a ‘warrior’ may be offensive to some, but it is far less offensive than the travesty made of the Chumash heritage in implying they had an aggressive, rather than an agrarian, nature.
In fact, the closest the Chumash ever came to acting as ‘warriors’ was in 1824, when they burned the Mission to the ground and fled to the hills. Of course, this was after withstanding years of subjugation, exploitation, and oppression at the hands of the Franciscan padres and having the Spanish ‘royalty’ order their Achilles tendons severed, in order to reduce the chance of their escape.
In researching this column, I found a Jay Rosenstein documentary entitled, “In Their Honor” shown on the PBS series, Point Of View, in 1997. In it, the filmmaker examines racism, stereotypes and the powerful effects of mass-media imagery on our mistaken, though lingering concept of Indians.
I also read a graduate paper on the use of mascots which argued that, “many who oppose the elimination of the mascot feel attacked because the movement challenges a particular version of American masculine identity that is founded on Western mythology.”
I remain intrigued by the Carpinteria Unified School District’s apparent preference in removing the symbol of the Indian, while having no apparent problem with the implication of ‘war’ as positive, wholesome and necessary. What if they kept the Indian symbol, but became the “Peacemakers,’ getting away from the subliminal Hollywood message of savages somehow ‘massacring their opponents’ on the sports fields.
The theme of ‘killing’ the enemy is a strong one, and might just explain Dr. Laura’s stunning solution to the mascot issue by replacing an Indian’s head with that of a soldier’s. I’m certain she intended to use a ‘white’ soldier as the new good-luck charm, as an Arab-America, African-American or even Hispanic-American service member might prove a bit controversial.
Perhaps there is a ‘teachable’ moment here, if we can reduce the resistance, inject some objectivity, and accept that changing mascots will not emasculate every athlete ever to graduate from CHS. Have conversations in classrooms and offices alike about how the First People were actually treated, and how the generalization and stereotype of an Indian as a ‘killer’ may not be one we wish to continue.
I feel certain that the sense of pride that emits from Carpinteria High School has more to do with academic success, community caring, athletic prowess, and inspiring activities, than with the image of a ‘red-man’ in feathers, buckskin and beads.


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Motorcyclist dies in Highway 101 crash

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A 42-year-old Goleta man died in a traffic collision on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara this morning after his motorcycle slid into a car that had stopped abruptly due to slowed traffic ahead, authorities said.
California Highway Patrol investigators determined the motorcyclist collided with a white Nissan Altima at approximately 8:35 a.m. south of El Sueno Road, CHP Officer Dan Barba said.

Despite wearing a helmet, the motorcyclist sustained massive injuries and died on scene, authorities said. Paramedics transported the driver of the Nissan, a 40-year-old Santa Barbara woman, to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with unknown injuries, Barba said.
The Nissan had been traveling north at approximately 60 to 65 mph in the fast lane when the driver noticed traffic suddenly slowing ahead, he said. After braking hard and locking the brakes, the vehicle skidded to a stop partially in the center divider.
The motorcyclist, on a 2001 Honda cruiser, approached at an unknown speed and distance and also locked up his brakes in an attempt to avoid a crash, Barba said, but ended up sliding into the vehicle.
Officials closed down two lanes of the highway for approximately one hour for patient care, vehicle removal and cleanup. Authorities did not release the identities of those involved in the incident.
CHP officials also released additional details about a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 101 near El Capitan State Beach on Sunday that left one person dead and another with serious injuries.
Authorities said the driver of the southbound 2007 Chevy Outlander, a 58-year-old woman from Lakewood, Calif., had apparently lost control of the van at 10:39 a.m., left the roadway, hit a utility pole and flipped the vehicle near the railroad tracks.
Firefighters and paramedics extricated a 60-year-old man, also a Lakewood resident, and transported him to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in serious condition, fire officials said. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities closed the slow lane of the highway for two hours and halted railroad traffic for an hour and 40 minutes as they cleared the scene. Routine toxicology tests will be conducted to determine if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the incident.


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Young photog is 1st Thursday phenom

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Most photographers with a 10-year backlog can’t boast that they’ll become a teenager in a few weeks.
But give Montecito resident Aidan Hogge his bragging rights. The 12-year-old will celebrate his first teen birthday in two weeks, in the midst of his second solo photo exhibit.

“My mom gave me a little disposable camera about one week past my second birthday and I just kept doing it,” Hogge said.
Photos taken by the Santa Barbara Junior High School seventh-grader have been exhibited in galleries since he was 7 years old, earning multiple awards.
This Thursday, Hogge will unveil a group of stills at Faulkner Gallery East, 40 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara, for his second solo exhibit, which will run throughout May. An artist’s reception is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. as part of the 1st Thursday festivities, featuring homemade chocolate chip cookies.
From a young age, Hogge’s mother, Michelle Rhea, noticed her son had a natural sense of composition. Even with her taking the photos, he would compose shots, she said, moving himself around in the frame.
Many of his photos are taken on family trips or a random weekend outing — San Francisco and Stonehenge being among the most memorable. The young photographer said he doesn’t have a specific preference for what he captures with his lens.
“I take photos of a lot of different subjects,” he said. “I don’t like taking photos of people much, but I like animals and architecture and different things.”
After years of snapping shots with point-and-shoot disposables, Hogge upgraded to a small film camera several years ago and now fires away with a digital Canon Rebel.
While many of his photographs are crisp, vivid images of nature or architectural themes, he digitally manipulates others, forming wildly colorful abstractions.
“I do some pretty weird stuff with Photoshop,” he said, referring to a computer photo-editing program he has been using since age 9.
“I experiment a lot with different tools,” he said.
Hogge has never taken a photography course, save an afterschool lesson or two on Photoshop, and isn’t sure if he will take classes in high school or college.
Heavily into artificial physics, Hogge spends his free time on his computer surfing the Internet for games and simulations. He plans to study robotics and keep photography as a side hobby.
“I don’t remember what got me into it, but I did take an afterschool robotics class and I really enjoyed that,” he said.
As far as his approaching exhibit of approximately 15 photos, Hogge said he submitted samples about a year ago and earned the spot. After culling through hundreds of images, he carefully selected a group to display — a mix of digitally altered and standard shots.
With Hogge spending time on his computer and starting guitar lessons a few months ago, Rhea said it can be tricky to find time for her son to take photos, but once she gets him out of the house and clicking away, he’s right back in the zone.
“Once he has the camera in his hands and starts, it’s like when is it going to stop?” she said.
Samples of Hogge’s older work can be found online at www.pbase.com/Aidan_Hogge.


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SB helping fight LA blaze

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

With temperatures on the rise again, local fire officials sent out the first brush fire strike team of the season to a staging area in the San Gabriel Mountains near Sierra Madre to battle a stubborn vegetation fire.
With more than 500 acres already scorched and only 5 percent containment, County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said, officials are predicting the blaze in Los Angeles County will be fully contained by mid-week. More than 1,000 residents have been evacuated and firefighters are dealing with steep and rugged terrain, authorities said.

Strike Team 1521 Charlie, a mixed wildland team made up of 17 firefighters from Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara County, headed out at 6:23 a.m. yesterday, Capt. Iskow said.
With several small vegetation fires reported locally in recent days, he took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of making preparations for this year’s fire season.
“As you drive through the county along any of our highways, you can see that the grasses are losing their green color and are quickly turning brown,” Capt. Iskow said in a news release. “All these signs should remind us that the declaration of the 2008 fire season is close by and residents should be preparing their yards and homes.”
He said local residents should be getting close to clearing as much excess brush and vegetation as possible, as well as creating defensible space around homes.
On Thursday, fire officials will begin inspecting properties in the rural and high fire hazard areas throughout the county. Capt. Iskow said state law requires 100 feet of defensible space around homes and structures in those areas.
“Each year, hundreds of homes in rural and high fire hazard areas are lost to wildfires,” he said. “Upwards of 80 percent of those homes lost to wildfires could have possibly been saved if homeowners provided defensible space.”
Several tips for protecting homes or structures include removing all flammable vegetation within 30 feet, creating a reduced fuel zone in the remaining 70 feet by spacing trees and plants apart, and clearing all needles and leaves from roofs, gutters and eaves.
Capt. Iskow also suggested trimming branches at least 6 feet from the ground, removing branches closer than 10 feet to chimneys, and using lawn and power equipment during the cool hours of the day, before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
More information on creating defensible space and protecting homes from wildfires is available at the county fire department’s website, www.sbcfire.com, or by visiting a local fire station.


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Woman killed in Hwy 101 collision

DAILY SOUND STAFF REPORT

A four-door sedan skidded off Highway 101, clipped a power pole and rolled over yesterday morning, authorities said, killing one person and seriously injuring another.
At 10:39 a.m., emergency crews received reports of the single-vehicle accident about a mile south of Refugio State Beach, County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said. Upon arrival, firefighters found the vehicle had rolled over near the railroad tracks and began extricating the occupants, a man and a woman.

Authorities pronounced the woman dead at the scene, Capt. Iskow said, and extricated the man with serious injuries.
“He was in very serious condition and he was taken by ground ambulance that was already on the scene to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara,” he said.
Authorities had yet to release the identities of the victims as of yesterday evening.
Capt. Iskow said crews closed down the southbound slow lane for approximately an hour during extrication and cleanup operations. Authorities also slowed train traffic in the area, stopping Amtrak service momentarily.


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Friday, April 25, 2008

Warriors protest vote to strip school of Native American imagery

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Hundreds of past, current and future Carpinteria High School students took over the corners of one of the busiest intersections in town yesterday to boisterously protest the school board’s decision to strip all Native American imagery from the school.
As a hail of deafening car horns blared through the intersection of Carpinteria and Linden Avenues, the protesters, most of who were decked out in letterman jackets, jerseys and other Warrior attire waved flags and wielded signs that said, “recall.”


“The last time there were this many people on this street corner was in ’84 when the Olympic torch came through,” said Mike Damron, a former school board member who is now the president of the high school’s booster club. “It’s kind of like a tidal wave. I’ve never seen anything like this in Carpinteria.”
That tidal wave is aimed directly at the Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Education, which voted 3-2 Tuesday to rid the school of all Native American imagery. That would include the picture of an Indian warrior in headdress, which is depicted on school attire and throughout the school’s hallways. Under the vote, the school would hold on to the name Warriors, which it has had since the 1920s.
But for many, that’s not nearly enough.
Eddie Rubio, class of 1954, said his father-in-law played for the Warriors’ 1928 football team and if he were here today, he wouldn’t be happy.
“If my father-in-law was alive right now he would be right here with us,” he said. “I just hope he’s not turning over in his grave, but he probably is.”
Rubio said he attended the school board meeting and told the board just how he felt.
“I told the board I was a Warrior, I was born a Warrior and I want to die a Warrior. I don’t want [anything] to change,” he said.
Rubio said he realized the name wouldn’t be changed, but it’s the face of the Warrior he and many other protesters said they relate with, not necessarily the name.
Leslie Deardorff, a school board member who voted with the majority, said the decision to remove the “offensive” imagery wasn’t a difficult one for her to make.
“I don’t’ understand why it has to be so polarizing,” she told the Daily Sound last night “To me it’s a clear-cut issue. “We need to show compassion to every segment of our community.”
Deardorff said a group of about 25 community members brought the issue before the board during a March 11 meeting. She said Elias Matisz-Cordero, a sophomore who is part Chumash Indian, spearheaded the effort. From there, it ended up on last Tuesday’s agenda.
When Deardorff moved to Carpinteria in 1986 from the east coast, she said she was dismayed to see the school still used Native American imagery.
When asked what motivated her to vote in favor of the removal, she cited a 2001 civil rights amendment that said any “stereotypical” imagery should be removed from schools and other public places.
“Some of us got it,” she said. “Some of us have already been thinking we’re a publicly funded entity that needs to abide by these rules anyway. Sorry.”
But several publicly funded universities in the country have held onto their Native American images, including the University of Utah, where the nickname is the Utes and the school’s image is a drum and feather, almost identical to Carpinteria’s Arrow-C.
Deardorff said she’s received more than 100 e-mails in the past two days, many of which accuse her of being a “spineless idiot.”
Bryan Baker, who graduated in 1991 and played on the football team, said nearly every kid who grows up in Carpinteria is trained in elementary school to one day become a Warrior.
“To us it’s a sense of pride,” he said. “It’s not like we’re out here making fun of anybody.”
Deardorff said some of the divisiveness is due in part to the board not being more specific about what will stay and what will go. She said the board didn’t delve into specifics during the meeting because there was so much tension, but she expects the board will have to vote on the matter again at its next meeting.
Until that happens and the imagery is safe and sound, Grace Donnelly, class of 1986, who was wearing her husband’s letterman jacket yesterday, said she wouldn’t stop protesting.
“We’re just not going to stand for it,” she said. “It’s not going to go down without a fight.”


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Harding cafeteria goes 'zero-waste'

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Not a garbage can in sight.
That’s one of the defining characteristics of the cafeteria and playground at Harding Elementary School, which was officially dubbed a “zero-waste” area yesterday by school leaders and Santa Barbara City officials.


In the place of garbage cans are plastic, yellow compost containers, where each day hundreds of children toss their left over food, corn-based utensils, and other lunch items like milk cartons. The mish-mash of waste is then taken to a compost site in Santa Maria where it transforms from garbage into high-grade compost, which is later used to grow more food.
It is a far cry from the days when anything and everything was thrown into one mammoth dumpster and taken to the landfill. And according to Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, turning Harding’s cafeteria into a zero-waste, green machine makes the school one of the most environmentally friendly in the country.
“We’re making history here is what we’re doing,” Blum told Harding students during a ribbon cutting ceremony. “Your school is going to be one of the top schools in this country for composting and recycling.”
The composting program is the most recent addition to the already environmentally minded campus, which since last August has operated an on-site cafeteria where everything from the pizza dough to chocolate chip cookies are made from scratch.
Santa Barbara School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Sarvis said aside from books and tests, the purpose of education is to teach children a number of values, including, “How we’re going to live in a sustainable future.”
Sarvis said he was shocked to learn from the city four years ago that the school district was not traveling down a sustainable path. He said the district’s 25 schools threw more recyclable products into the trash each day than any single entity in the city.
“I wasn’t very proud of that,” he said.
Recyclables aside, the school also tops the list of the city’s garbage producers, a stat City Councilwoman Helene Schneider said made it imperative for the city to join hands with the district and search for ways to stem local education’s environmental impact.
In order for the city to meet its 2010 goal of recycling 70 percent of its total waste — it currently diverts 65 percent of its waste — Schneider said the school needed to be on board.
Though the district was willing to cooperate, much of the success at Harding is due to the efforts of Principal Sally Kingston, who broke away from the district’s nutritional services program and has taken an enthusiastic jump into the city’s compost pilot program.
Kingston, who has been the principal at Harding for the past three years, said the first step was to turn the cafeteria into an on-site kitchen, where everything is homemade.
In order to do that, she had to nail down a number of grants and generate about $40,000 in donations for new refrigerators and other appliances.
The costs of the compost program are more difficult to determine.
Neither Kingston nor Sarvis said they could quantify just what it will cost the district. Kingston did say the plates, which are a byproduct of sugar cane (Sarvis took a bite of a plate to prove it), and the silverware (made from corn), are about three-times more expensive than regular plastic.
Eric Lohela, recycling coordinator for the city’s Environmental Services Division, said school officials don’t know how much the program is costing because it’s pretty much free at this point.
He said most of the costs are being covered by grants, and Allied Waste Service has donated the compost dumpsters, as well as the pickup costs.
The only cost at the moment, Lohela said, is a roughly $60 per ton compost fee charged by Harvest Blend Compost in Santa Maria, which is paid by the city. He said $60 is on par with what it costs to bury a ton of trash at the Tajiguas Landfill, but hopes as the program grows, that cost will shrink for $40.
Though Harding is the first school to join the city’s compost program, a number of businesses are already on board and the waiting list is stacked 35 deep.
Some of those businesses are Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, which contributes 450 pounds to the compost pile each day, and Santa Barbara City College, which serves between 2,000 to 3,000 meals per day. The Coffee Cat, which dumps 70 to 80 pounds of coffee grinds each day, is also on board.
Lohela said the Coffee Cat has reduced its daily trash load by 50 to 80 percent as a result of the compost program, which saves a significant amount of money.
For Lohela, who walked through the Harding cafeteria yesterday and picked items from the compost dumpsters that most people would never imagine could make good soil, composting is the way of the future and it’s an effective way to battle global warming.
“Food is something we’ve ignored for a long time,” he said. “It’s 30 percent of our trash depending on how you look at it.”
That 30 percent translates into about 20,000 tons per year, which is buried in a landfill and spews methane gas into the atmosphere.
With composting, “We can take what was a liability and turn it into something we want,” Lohela said as he gazed into a dump-trailer filled with several tons of compost.
When compost is used in farms and gardens, Lohela said it cuts down on water use by 10 to 30 percent, reduces the need for pesticides, cuts down on erosion and could increase yields.
Bob Engel, vice president of Harvest Blend Compost, said the compost is sold to outlets throughout the county and can be bought for $28 to $30 per yard.
Lohela said plans are in the works expand the program throughout the school district, a goal Sarvis said he’s willing to support.
“We want to expand this to all of the schools,” Sarvis said. “Everyone is pursuing recycling but composting is the next big step.”


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Group says Courthouse needs a facelift

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

The towering archways, lofty corridors and majestic fountains at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse look good from afar, but some say the historic building is badly in need of a makeover.
At least that’s what the Courthouse Legacy Foundation hopes to achieve, even if it happens one small step at a time.


The foundation is currently trying to generate $410,000 to repair, or completely restore the sandstone “Spirit of Ocean” fountain, which faces Anacapa Street.
Jennifer Ono, executive director of the foundation, which was founded in 2004 by former County Supervisor Naomi Schwartz, said the fountain has been slowly beaten down by 77 years of water damage, and has undergone regular emergency stone conservation efforts to prevent it from completely deteriorating.
But she said the fountain might need to be completely redone because some of the repairs over the years were done with concrete and other materials.
“It hasn’t been properly attended to,” Ono said. “We want to make sure the restoration work being done is done properly.”
Ono said aesthetic maintenance at the courthouse hasn’t been a priority for the county, nor should it be. She said the foundation was formed in order to raise money for maintenance issues, while the county pays for more pressing repairs.
So far the foundation has raised $125,000 to repair the fountain, but Ono said estimates a complete a top-to-bottom revamp of the entire courthouse could cost as much as $40 million.
She said one of the project’s completed by the foundation was a restoration of the Theodore Van Cina murals, which hang in a corridor on the second floor known as the Figueroa Gallery.
After the fountain is restored, Ono said she hopes to raise enough funds to repair the Mural Room, which is covered by paintings and canvasses that have never been cleaned or restored. Repairs in that room are estimated to cost $750,000.
She said some money is raised through a docent program at the courthouse, which generates a modest sum through the sale of postcards. But she hopes the community will get on board and begin donating.
The foundation is hosting two guided tours of the courthouse on May 9 and 16 that cost $15. Ono said the tours visit some areas of the courthouse that aren’t often seen, such as a jail that is no longer used.
“Most people just drive by and say it looks so beautiful,” she said. “There’s definitely some work needed.”
More information about the foundation is available at www.courthouselegacyfoundation.org.


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Westside to get 'Clean and Green-Up'

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A biannual community cleanup that last fall amassed 200 volunteers who picked up three tons of garbage, planted 25 trees, painted over graffiti and retrieved 25 abandoned shopping carts is scheduled to scour the lower Westside tomorrow.
And this year, the spring cleanup, dubbed the “Clean and Green-Up” is going to bigger and greener than in past years.


With new additions like an electronic waste collection station, a bike recycling drive and increased efforts to recycle the garbage collected, Lorraine Cruz Carpenter, executive coordinator of Looking Good Santa Barbara, said the cleanup is expected to be the greenest yet.
Since the cleanups began five years ago, Carpenter said the core goal has been to increase participation among people who live in the target neighborhoods in order to show that everyone has, or should have an interest in keeping the community clean.
“It creates a source of neighborhood and ownership and that’s what we want to build on,” she said. “It’s really great to see those neighbors building a sense of community.”
Carpenter said 300 people, including volunteers from seven churches and at least one elementary school, are expected to participate in the cleanup. She said door hangars and fliers have been distributed throughout the neighborhood to encourage residents to participate.
In order to quell illegal dumping, two roll-off trash bins will be placed in the neighborhood. Carpenter said residents will be able to dispose of pretty much whatever they want, with the exception of refrigerators. However, businesses are not supposed to use the bins.
Holding with the green theme, she said the bins will be sorted for recyclables after they are removed.
The electronic waste collection station opens today at 9 a.m. and is located at Shoreline Community Church at 935 San Andres St. Carpenter said pretty much anything with a plug will be taken. This service will also be available tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bici Centro, a local, non-profit bike shop that uses used parts to repair bikes and also offers bike education classes, is coordinating the bike recycling drive.
People interested in donating a bike can do so at Wentworth Park (on the corner of Wentworth and Coronel Streets), and the intersection of Walnut and Anapamu Streets. Carpenter said anyone interested in volunteering should meet at one of these two locations.
Aside from the two large cleanups Looking Good hosts each year, Carpenter said she coordinates a number of smaller cleanups per residents’ request. She said anyone interested in hosting such a cleanup should contact her through the Web site www.lookinggoodsb.com.
“Our goal is to make getting involved easier and easier,” she said. “We can all participate at one level or another by dropping off an item to one of the collections or by getting our hands dirty planting a tree.”
Since Looking Good, which is a division of the city’s Environmental Services Division, started hosting the cleanups five years ago, 9.64 tons of green waste has been collected, 1,153 volunteers have participated, 12 tons of recyclables have been gathered and a total of 41.4 tons of waste has been cleaned from streets, front yards and creeks that would have otherwise likely have been left to rot.
“We’re always trying to educate residents on what city services are out there,” she said. “We also want to challenges them to do a small part and take action.”


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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fraud alleged in Rincon sewer vote

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Ventura County district attorneys and election officials are investigating allegations of voter fraud in a recent election concerning the annexation of the Rincon Point community to the Carpinteria Sanitary District.
Proponents of the annexation, those in favor of switching from septic to sewer systems for homes near the popular surf spot, alleged some who voted in the election don’t legally reside at Rincon Point.

Fred Woocher, a well-known election law attorney representing Heal the Ocean and a group of Rincon homeowners, filed challenges to 19 votes cast in Tuesday’s mail-ballot election, alleging those voters registered at homes near Rincon solely for the purpose of tipping the balance against sewer conversion.
He said one address on Puesta del Sol had 14 people register as voters in a short period of time last winter, many with prior voter registrations in other counties.
“All of a sudden these people showed up as registered at this address,” Woocher said by phone from his Santa Monica office. “…I’ve been doing election law for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
In addition to the 19 votes challenged by Woocher, another ballot has been questioned on the grounds that its signature does not match the one on file in the Ventura County elections office.
Wendy Macfarlane, a Ventura County deputy district attorney, confirmed she is investigating the matter, but could not release further details.
“We’re looking into the ones we were notified about,” she said. “I would imagine it’s the same 20 that were challenged. That’s not to say everyone will turn out to be a problem.”
She said Woocher notified the district attorney’s office in March with concerns about recent voter registrations at Rincon Point and she opened her investigation around that time.
Ventura County elections officials are also investigating the disputed ballots. Jim Becker, the assistant county clerk and recorder, said he is in the process of reviewing evidence submitted by Woocher and checking it against voter registration information.
With just 28 days to certify the election results, Becker said he wants to get the matter cleared up in the next week or two.
“We want to resolve the 20 challenges,” he said. “…If the challenge is upheld, then that mail ballot would not be opened and that vote would not be counted in the results.”
On Tuesday, approximately 150 people sent in ballots during the election, which was conducted by Santa Barbara County elections officials. Among the unchallenged votes, 73 are in favor of annexation and 59 are against, said Billie Alvarez, the county’s elections division manager.
With a 14-vote difference, the 20 challenged ballots can sway the decision in either direction.
All of the disputed ballots are on the Ventura County side of Rincon Point, leaving it up to Ventura officials to sort out the matter.
Several of those opposed to sewers said every person who voted against the annexation has a vested interest in the community and a valid voter registration.
Greg Donlon, who lives at a home in the 8000 block of Puesta del Sol with his mother, said the challenges to voter participation are nearing the level of harassment.
“According to the legal experts that we’ve talked to, if somebody has an interest in the house and have their domicile there, it’s their right to vote,” he said.
Woocher alleged 14 relatives and friends of Donlon registered as voters at the Rincon Point home, many with other homes in counties as far away as the Bay Area.
He cited sections of the Election Code stating that a person’s residence for voting purposes is their “domicile,” their fixed habitation where they have the intention of remaining.
“You can’t say, yeah, I consider that my home because I go there a couple weekends a year,” Woocher said. “Your home is determined by a variety of factors. Your intent is important, but it’s not determinative.”
Reached at a home in Salinas, Calif., Timothy Donlon, one of the voters challenged by Woocher, said he considers his home to be the one at Rincon Point.
“We were raised there,” he said. “We have a vested interest in it and any financial situations that develop around the home. … I live there part-time and we have a vested interest in any financial things that happen.”
When asked how much time he spends at the Rincon home, he said approximately two to three months per year.
“We’re down there occasionally and we do consider it our home,” he said.
Messages left for other voters challenged by Woocher were not returned as of press time.
Billy Taylor, an outspoken critic of the sewer conversion, said challenges brought by Woocher and Heal the Ocean are not legitimate and constitute an attempt to deny voters their rights.
“I think they’ve done everything they can and are doing everything that they can to win an election,” he said. “It’s not above them to challenge people’s voting rights.”
When asked if he knew for sure that any disputed voters had valid registrations, Taylor replied, “Absolutely,” but declined to name any in particular.
“I know some of them as my neighbors and some of them I don’t,” he said. “…It’s too sensitive for me to mention any names.”
Of concern to Donlon, Taylor and others is a majority decision by homeowners at Rincon Point and three other small communities to join the Carpinteria Sanitary District — effectively doing away with septic systems and switching to sewer lines, which would cost an estimated $88,000 per homeowner.
The proposal to make that switch has been nearly 10 years in the works, launched in 1998 by Heal the Ocean after a group of surfers approached the environmental nonprofit complaining about the water quality at Rincon.
“They came to me and said, help, help, we’re swimming in sewage down here,” said Hillary Hauser, executive director of Heal the Ocean.
She said septic tanks at homes along Rincon Point, Sandyland Cove, Sand Point Road and Padaro Lane are contributing to the polluted seawater and cited support from state and local governmental officials for the project, including the State Water Resources Control Board, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and Santa Barbara County Environmental Health.
“It’s one of the most polluted beaches the federal and state governments are mandated to clean up,” Hauser said.
A vocal group of homeowners, particularly at Rincon Point, decried the claim that septic tanks have anything to do with poor water quality and have fought the swap to sewer since its conception, challenging environmental impact reports and questioning ballots cast in an October 2007 vote on the issue.
“The beach doesn’t test dirty,” Greg Donlon said. “If it did, I wouldn’t surf in it.”
Donlon and his family surf there regularly, he said, and have been told by officials that the only time the water tests positive for fecal matter is when rain washes waste down creeks and into the ocean.
“We don’t think the Carpinteria Sanitary District does anything about caffeine, vitamins, chemicals and other things that are dumped out into the bay,” Donlon said. “…I’m just after the truth, myself. There’s no guarantee the bay will be any cleaner.”
Nonetheless, after a divisive election run-up peppered with personal attacks, a majority of homeowners in all four communities voted in favor of sewer conversion in October 2007. Rincon Point was by far the most contentious, with 41 votes for the switch and 31 against.
But despite that vote of approval, the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, had to officially approve the annexation before Carpinteria Sanitary District officials could sell financing bonds and launch construction.
Bob Braitman, executive officer of LAFCO, admitted to goofing on the initial hearing in October, failing to publicly notice the meeting in Ventura County or send out mailed notices to affected Ventura residents.
At a second, properly noticed hearing in December, more than 25 percent of Rincon Point residents protested the annexation, forcing an election by mail ballot. Woocher noted that many of the newly registered voters made their switch in the days leading up to that hearing.
After considering a challenge to the LAFCO hearing, Woocher and Hauser decided it would be less costly and easier to let it go to Tuesday’s vote and challenge any voters who had recently registered.
However, on March 14, Woocher sent a letter to Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten, along with elections officials and the individuals he believed to be planning to vote illegally in the April election, describing his concern.
“We warned them about this,” Woocher said. “This is a serious matter. These people could go to jail for this.”
Regardless of Woocher’s warning, he said 19 people appear to have voted illegally, pointing out many have mortgages naming properties in Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange and Santa Barbara counties as their primary residence.
He also said one voter listed a cell phone issued in West Palm Beach, Fla., on a voter registration form and questioned another voter’s status as an American citizen, noting she appeared to have been born and lived in Australia until at least 1998.
Woocher said he has occasionally seen a few relatives or friends voting illegally in small-time elections, but nothing on this scale.
“This blatantly?” he said. “I’ve never come across it.”
Becker, the Ventura County elections official, said it should take about a week or two to clear up the ballot issue. Macfarlane said she could not estimate potential penalties for election fraud until charges are filed.
“We’re not out because we want people to get a felony or to get them in trouble,” Hauser said. “The thing that’s really sad is that it disenfranchises legitimate voters, whether you’re voting for or against the project.”


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Authorities arrest Big Dog embezzler

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Santa Barbara authorities arrested an employee of Santa Barbara-based Big Dog, Inc., on suspicion of embezzling more than $70,000 from the apparel company.
On March 20, a management officer at the company reported that an account manager, 36-year-old Craig Commadore, had embezzled approximately $1,761 from the company, Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte said.

“As the investigation unfolded, it revealed that Commadore had actually embezzled approximately $73,000 over a one-year period of time,” he said.
After Santa Barbara police obtained an arrest warrant, they took Commadore into custody on Tuesday at his home in the 100 block of S. Canada St. Authorities booked the 36-year-old into County Jail on embezzlement charges, Sgt. Duarte said, and he has been released on his own recognizance.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Indian judge denies bail for second time

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

An Indian judge denied two Santa Barbara women bail for the second time yesterday and ordered the women to remain behind bars until their next court hearing.
The women, Monica Bond, 57, and Heather Bond, 37, were detained by Indian authorities on April 14 after they attempted to board a flight near Darjeeling, India, with a clip of 9 mm ammunition in a piece of luggage.

Lawrence Bond, Monica’s husband, said he received news of the judge’s ruling from a U.S. Embassy official at 4 a.m. yesterday.
The U.S. official told Bond the Indian prosecutor attended court for the first time and told the judge the prosecution was not opposed to bail.
Bond said the judge then went into his chambers for two hours and shortly after emerging, denied the motion for bail.
“We can only speculate on who the hell he had to call,” Lawrence Bond told the Daily Sound yesterday.
The judge first denied a bail request last Friday. The women’s attorney then filed an appeal, the result of which was yesterday’s hearing. The women’s next date in court is expected to be on May 2.
Lawrence Bond said he was told the attorney, Abhoy Pada Chatterjee, will appeal the decision with a higher court located in New Delhi, India in the coming days.
The mother, daughter duo had been traveling in India for a month before being detained. Lawrence Bond said they took the trip to scout out places to recommend to other travelers as part of a small travel agency Heather Bond planned to start when she returned to Santa Barbara.
Sean McGaughey, Heather Bond’s boyfriend, said the 9 mm clip and bullets belong to him and were left in the bag on accident. He said he carries weapons when camping in the backcountry surrounding Santa Barbara and has faxed his permit to Indian authorities.
But the puzzling thing to many following the case is how the ammunition made it through security undetected at four international airports, including LAX.
Lawrence Bond said it’s still not clear whether the women have been charged with a crime, but The Telegraph, a daily newspaper in Calcutta, India, reported on April 15 that the women are being held on ammunition-related charges under the Indian Arms Act. If convicted the women could face three to seven years in prison.
Lawrence Bond said he’s been in contact with U.S. State Department officials and hopes they’ll act fast.
Attempts to reach the State Department for comment were not immediately successful.
McGaughey said information about how to donate to a legal fund for the Bonds is at the Web site www.freethebonds.blogspot.com.
Also at the site is copy of a letter written by Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez. McGaughey, who turned 39 on April 18, said the letter was sent to Indian officials prior to yesterday’s hearing. In the letter, Sanchez says the two women, as well as McGaughey and the rest of the family, “Have an honorable and law abiding standing here in the City of Santa Barbara.”
Sanchez goes on to say: “I know that you will treat this situation with sensitivity and professionalism in order to bring this unfortunate situation to a positive and happy conclusion for all concerned.”
McGaughey, who has slept little in the past week and has been picketing on State Street at night with a sign and pictures of the two women, said he’s anything but happy.
He said he’s not yet traveled to India because attorneys there have instructed him not to. Because the ammunition belongs to McGaughey, he said he could be detained and possibly forced to testify against his future mother-in-law and wife.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I’m at my wits end right now.”


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School Board executes $4.1 million in cuts

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

The Santa Barbara School Districts Board of Education took a big step toward restoring fiscal confidence to the district on Tuesday night when it cut nearly $4.1 million from next year’s budget.
While that may sound like a contradiction, the majority of the cuts stayed a safe distance away from students, focusing on small tweaks to areas such as insurance, energy efficiency, health benefits and worker’s compensation.
This scene was a far cry from the more than $2.5 million in cuts made by the board a year ago, which included slashing about half of the elementary school music program staff and cutting the majority of district funding for seventh and eighth-grade electives.
Shortly after these cuts were made, the district’s budgetary woes, which have been exacerbated in recent years by declining enrollment, came into full focus when the district discovered it actually had a $2.8 million surplus.
It took district leaders the remainder of 2007 and a portion of this year to figure out how much money they did have
and, in the process, Eric D. Smith was hired as the district’s deputy superintendent for business.
Since Smith’s arrival, district officials have sat at the dais with a posture of newfound confidence.
And while cuts to public education can be a gut-wrenching process to all involved, it appears the district once again has its balance.
“That’s the one positive thing out of this whole situation,” said School Board member Kate Parker. “That we are really making tremendous progress in bringing accountability to our business services department and great leadership.”
Parker said the cuts were anything but easy, but compared to last year at this time, the districts' front office appears to be on the right track.
With the cuts in place, Smith said the next step for the business office is to draft a balanced, multi-year budget that includes a state-mandated 3 percent reserve. The board will take a look at the budget at the end of May.
At the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, the board began with a laundry list of 27 identified cuts totaling $4.7 million. That left them with $700,000 in padding.
About $3.2 million was cut with relative ease. Those cuts included adjustments to worker’s compensation and health benefits that saved a combined $690,000, while the elimination of 2.85 full-time administrative positions and a reduction of elementary administrative positions at smaller elementary schools saved more than $400,000.
But the more controversial cuts didn’t go as quietly and, at the end of the night, the board had cut all or part of 26 of the proposed cuts, making the story not necessarily about what was cut, but what was not cut.
The lone issue the board did not meddle with was a proposal to replace high school librarians with media technicians, which would have saved the district $108,285.
While librarians were saved, psychologists, special education aides, assistant principals and other administrators were not as lucky.
In special education, 15 instructional assistants will be cut, which will save the district $433,000.
The most heated cut was how best to staff San Marcos High School at parity with other district high schools.
As it is, San Marcos has about 73 full-time teaching positions while Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos High Schools lag behind with 64.8. The cause of this disparity is due in part to a block schedule at San Marcos that requires teachers to instruct an additional course per year and as a result, keeps the student-to-teacher ratio lower than it is at other schools.
It’s not completely clear when the discrepancy began, and who if anyone is responsible, but as a result, San Marcos has about eight more full-time teaching positions than the other high schools, which totals $640,000 more in annual funding.
The board voted to chop this by $320,000, which would eliminate about five of those extra positions.
Because the staffing ratio has been weaved into teachers’ current contracts, it will require a vote by all San Marcos teachers before it can become final, Smith said.
If the $320,000 isn’t freed up, he said the board would have to look into cutting librarians and amending some of their other decisions.
The board saved about $286,000 by eliminating a long-standing practice to keep ninth-grade math classes small with a student, teacher ratio of 20-to-1. The ratio will now be 35-to-1. A class-size reduction for ninth-grade English classes will remain intact.
Parker said she’s confident restricted funding (money earmarked for specific purposes) can be used to help ensure math students who require extra tutoring get the help they need.
She said her decision to support English over math was based on the nature of the two subjects. She said grading math is less labor intensive, while English generally requires more attention by the teacher.
Going into this year, the district faced a $1.5 million deficit. But that number ballooned to more than $4 million after the state announced last January it planned to make a 10 percent, blanket cut to state funded services, including K-12 education.
If the state does impose these cuts, Smith said the district could face a $2 million deficit next year. By then, he fears the cutting process won’t be as seamless as it was this year.
“I think we did as good a job as possible with staying away from the personnel until we absolutely had to go there,” he said. “In subsequent years, we won’t have those margins to go around. I’m hoping we get some help down the road.”


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