Friday, May 30, 2008

Thousands attend mass to remember Fr. Virgil

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Thousands of Santa Barbarans gathered at the foot of Old Mission, Santa Barbara yesterday to celebrate the life of the late Fr. Virgil Cordano, O.F.M., a man who cast a dazzling spell of love and laughter over this city for more than seven decades.
Cordano’s Franciscan colleagues recognized their friend as a man who welcomed people of all faiths, and whose primary way of experiencing life was through love.

“Father Virgil was a passionate man and therefore a tremendous lover,” said the Very Rev. Melvin Jurisich, O.F.M. “This love was the basis for all he did, all he wrote and all he spoke. And it was this love that drove him to be with you and among you.”
Jurisich described Cordano’s life with the community as one not restricted to the walls of the church, but as one that spilled out into the streets, dinner tables and fiestas — the roots of Santa Barbara.
Cordano, 89, was a staple at Old Spanish Days, Fiesta celebrations, where even after falling ill last year, he performed a short dance on stage at the Fiesta Pequena celebration with his cane.
While it’s undeniable that Cordano enjoyed a good party, the reasons for his involvement in such occasions wasn’t simply for a free meal, as Jurisich said, but was the bedrock of how the beloved preacher believed love could blossom.
Jurisich read the following passage written by Cordano: “Social life, plays, dinner, entertainment, the theater, music, dance extends brotherhood and sisterhood, beyond the limiting unity of prayer and work. To break bread together, to drink together, to join in dance and music may ease tensions in the public arena and the world of business. In home, and yes, even in places of worship, there is a great need for the grateful celebration of the gift of life, its beauty and its hope.”
Jurisich said this is why Cordano was found all over town, all of the time.
But behind Cordano’s social presence was a man who the Rev. Joseph Chinnici, O.F.M. said was deeply complex. He called Cordano a, “Rare gift from an ever-present god.”
Chinnici said Cordano based his life on a theory he dubbed, “prepositional living.”
“You die to yourself and you live, not as a noun, a person of distinction, a man of importance, even a priest, but you live among, with and for others,” Chinnici said. “Among, with and for. This is prepositional living.”
Chinnici said Cordano disliked easily definable squares and circles and preferred instead, “Intellectual houses with many sides and multiple entrances, balancing opposites and establishing equilibrium.”
When a complex issue came to the table, Chinnici said Cordano could often be heard, “Uttering in that gravely sonorous voice, ‘well, it’s a complicated issue.’”
But the complexity and openness of Cordano, Chinnici said, was open to people of all faiths and no faith.
“The house of his many-sided mind made room for everyone,” he said.
Chinnici said the myriad stories that thousands have of Santa Barbara’s beloved priest can be summed up with the quick wit and play on words he exhibited in 1989 while blessing the Rancho Vistadores in front of the Mission Santa Ines.
Just as Cordano raised his arms to begin the blessing, Chinnici said two male streakers ran in front of the podium and the crowd erupted in laughter.
“Taking it all in, Virgil remarked, ‘I have a word from the lord: repent for your end is in sight,’” Chinnici said.
Cordano arrived in Santa Barbara in 1934 as a 16-year-old boy. Chinnici said he was hounded by homesickness in those early years, and was later troubled by other aspects of the church.
He said it was Cordano’s ability to accept God’s presence in every moment that helped him be a rock for other clergymen during times of controversy.
“When the friars too encountered crime and sin in their midst, this plumbline of Virgil’s faith filled life [and] measured upright and strengthened us all,” he said.
Jurisich too said Cordano was troubled by some of the church’s problems, but he didn’t break from the fold and remained inside, where he could best effect change.
“He never walked away. He never stood on the outside to throw rocks at it. He stayed inside to try and reform and change and reconcile and he was able to do this because of his own deep relationship with God,” Jurisich said.
After being diagnosed with esophageal cancer three weeks ago, Chinnici said Cordano opted to not receive treatment, and instead insisted on meeting with each of his nephews, nieces and other family members.
One week before he passed, Chinnici said the friar’s held a 24-hour prayer vigil by his bed, but Cordano woke the next morning, and true to form, ate breakfast and, “Insisted that he had some bacon.”
Later that night, Chinnici said he listened to a Dodgers game while simultaneously watching the Lakers.
In Cordano’s final days, Chinnici said he held tight to the credo that he followed throughout life, which is: “Nothing human should be foreign to me because all of creation is not foreign to God.”
Alice MacDonald, a close friend of Cordano's, read the father’s final words with Fr. Richard McManus, O.F.M.
MacDonald said Cordano asked her to read thank you 20 times to the crowd at the funeral mass.
So yesterday, toward the end of the two-hour service, 20 ‘thank yous’ chirped over the loud speaker.
Jurisich urged those gathered at the service to not forget Cordano’s powerful love for the city and its people.
“Father Virgil’s great smile and his hearty laugh were an invitation to party,” he said. “And he believed that in partying we may actually and really fall in love with one another. Now you understand why he loved this city and its people so much. You let him sit at the table with you, listen to music with you and yes dance with you. He loved you dearly and you loved him.
“And I say to you, viva la Fiesta. Viva la Father Virgil.”


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Hookah sets dorm on fire at UCSB campus

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A hookah started a fire in a UC Santa Barbara dormitory yesterday morning, forcing 400 students to evacuate while firefighters battled the blaze.
UCSB spokesman Paul Desruisseaux said four rooms sustained heavy damage, while the windows in two other rooms were broken as a result of the high heat produced by the fire. He said two female students sustained minor injuries during the evacuation, one of who fell and split her head.

Though an investigation into the cause of the fire is still pending, Desruisseaux said investigators discovered some students had been smoking a hookah prior to the fire. He said some speculated the hookah pipe, which is Indian in origin and most commonly used to smoke flavored tobacco, was set on a windowsill to cool, but instead ignited the curtains.
“It was an accidental fire caused by the careless use of a water pipe,” Desruisseaux said. He added that the students, who were male, were not smoking illegal drugs. However, he said no smoking is permissible in the dormitories, and the students will face disciplinary action.
The fire broke out at 3:30 a.m. in the Santa Rosa dormitory, a two-story building that Desruisseaux said is the third oldest structure on campus and was build in 1956. The dorm is located on UCEN Road and is occupied primarily by first-year students.
He said the building did not have sprinklers, though when it was constructed it was built to code. The building does have smoke alarms that are hard wired into the Santa Barbara County Fire Department’s system, he said.
Most of the students who were evacuated were allowed back in their rooms by 7 a.m. The eight students whose rooms were damaged will be relocated, Desruisseaux said.
Campus officials hadn’t assessed the dollar amount of damage last night, but Desruisseaux said none of the rooms were completely destroyed.
In his more than seven years on campus, Desruisseaux said he only remembers one dormitory fire.
“It’s not a common occurrence by any means,” he said. “I’d say it’s pretty rare.”


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Greka spills 63,000 gallons of polluted water

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Santa Barbara County Fire crews responded to an oil spill at a Greka Energy facility Thursday, where 1,500 barrels of polluted water and five barrels of crude oil spewed from a hole in a tank.
County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow said the tank was damaged after an injection pump failed, which caused a pipe manifold to fly several feet and collide with the tank.


The chain of incidents occurred at the Greka Union Sugar Lease, which is surrounded by agricultural fields between the 1500 blocks of Sinton Road and Black Road.
When fire and hazardous material units arrived on the scene at 4:01 p.m., Iskow said Greka was already in the process of sucking up the spilled material with a vacuum truck.
The amount in gallons of spilled oil is about 210, while 63,000 gallons of polluted water was spilled.
Iskow said a stop-work order, which ceases all work at the facility until improvements are made, was put into effect at 5 p.m. yesterday.
The spill is the latest in a string of incidents stretching to late 2007 that have prompted a wave of criticism against the embattled company, which is responsible for several times more spills than other local oil and gas companies.
The spills have prompted regulatory agencies, such as the County of Santa Barbara, to enact more stringent policies when dealing with polluters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has in recent months assumed control of cleanup efforts at one Greka facility.


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fire officials kick off burn season with message of caution

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

As the summer sun patiently scorched the trees and browned the grasses yesterday at Nojoqui Falls County Park near Solvang, firefighting officials from throughout the county kicked off the beginning of fire season with a barbecue.
Though spirits were high, the sure signs of a long, bitter fire season were lurking everywhere.
“We’re still in a moderate drought for this area,” said County Fire Capt. Eli Iskow. “We could have a devastating, catastrophic fire at any time in this county.”

Iskow said it’s important for residents to remember that fire danger remains high despite a torrential storm in January that dropped nearly 12 inches of rain. He also said to not let the memory of last summer’s Zaca Fire, which charred more than 240,000 acres, fade.
That the Zaca Fire was able to burn for as long as it did -- about 12 weeks -- and not destroy any homes is a sign for Iskow that with the next fire, the county might not be as lucky.
The type of fire Iskow and every other firefighter dreads is one that breaks out on a windy, warm day in the front country, and spreads from home to home with ferocious ease.
Pointing at the dense carpet of green that dots the hills beyond the park, Iskow said that sort of fire, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Painted Cave Fire in 1990, is due.
“It’s ready to explode and it will always be until it burns,” Iskow said of the front country. “Those are the ones that hurt us.”
When such a fire does break out, county officials on hand yesterday made it clear they’re confident in the abilities of local agencies to take it on.
Fourth District Supervisor Joni Gray, who took a trip to the front lines of the Zaca Fire, said she was impressed with the firefighting effort.
“It was great to see cooperation instead of people arguing,” she said. “I so admire people who identify a mission and take such good care of us in Santa Barbara County.”
Dane Lobb, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said he took his post in the county just as the Zaca Fire commenced, and one of his first assignments was to close down Highway 154.
“The firefighters in this county are absolutely outstanding,” he said. “I never saw cooperation better than I did in this county.”
As a token of appreciation for the County Fire Department hand crews that are busily clearing brush, Ted Adams, vice president of the Wildland Residents Association, donated four high-powered weed-whackers and four chainsaws. Iskow said the crew will chew through the new equipment in one year.
The yearly ritual of urging residents living in high fire areas to clear brush around their homes was also in full swing. Iskow said creating “defensible space” (an area about 100-feet in all directions around one’s home), should be done religiously each year. He also said anyone considering remodeling a home should do so with fire resistant materials.
When asked how many people live in fire prone areas in the county, Iskow didn’t hesitate to say pretty much everyone. He said an area like downtown Santa Barbara could burn if the conditions were right, and the Mesa and Riviera are high risk neighborhoods anyway.
He encouraged everyone in the county to visit the County Fire Web site at http://www.sbcfire.com/, where a Wildfire Action Plan is available to download. The plan offers myriad advice on how to protect one’s home and prepare for a wildfire.
Iskow had this advice for anyone living in a high fire risk area: “If you see fire and you live in an area where you can look out the window and see brush, leave. Let us face the risk.”
County Fire Chief John Scherrei said last year at this time, the brush thought it was September and, “The hairs on my arms and neck were standing straight up I was so worried.” This year he said the brush thinks it’s the end of July, which should allow residents and firefighters a little bit more time to prepare for when the first plume of smoke eerily rises into the air.


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Three arrested for alleged conspiracy to commit homicide

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Santa Barbara Police detectives arrested three men Wednesday who they say conspired to commit homicide.
Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, a police spokesman, said the arrests came as a result of an ongoing investigation into the murder of a 16-year-old Santa Barbara boy who was stabbed to death during a July 16, 2007 gang fight on San Pascual Street. However, he said the arrests stem from an unrelated incident.
“We know who the target is but the investigation is continuing so we’re not releasing it at this time,” he said. “I can tell you that they did conspire to kill somebody.”
One of the men arrested Wednesday was Robert Joseph Martinez, 21, who was arrested earlier this month and charged with accessory to murder in connection with the July 16 homicide. Duarte said Martinez apparently posted bail after his earlier arrest, though he did not know when he was released from jail.
Six people, four of whom are juveniles, have been charged with murdering Lorenzo Valentin Carachure during the July 16 brawl. All have entered pleas of not guilty and are awaiting preliminary hearings.
Duarte said all three men arrested Wednesday are known gang members. The other two men arrested were, Joel Robles, 22, and Carl Samuel Flores Jr., 26.
Martinez was arrested at his home in Santa Barbara, Robles was arrested in Ventura and Flores Jr. was taken into custody during a traffic stop in Lompoc, Duarte said. All three men are being held in county jail on $1 million bail.
Attempts to reach the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office to determine if the men have been officially charged were unsuccessful.


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Officers awarded for valor

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

They are considered the cream of the crop — local law enforcement officers who went beyond the normal call of duty.
During a ceremony yesterday, eight men received what is considered the most prestigious honor for local law enforcement: the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor.

Given in honor of a Santa Barbara police officer who died at age 29 in an exchange of gunfire with two armed robbery suspects on Jan. 3, 1970, the award is presented annually by the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime to a select few from across Santa Barbara County who went beyond the call of duty.
They are chosen by their superiors for outstanding actions they took during what are often hair-raising and life-threatening incidents. The 2008 recipients are:

Officers Michael Claytor and Kenneth Kushner, Santa Barbara Police Department
As hundreds reveled in Fiesta festivities on the night of August 8, 2007, Claytor and Kushner walked along State Street on foot patrol, monitoring the crowds. At 11:30 p.m., a fight broke out among a group of people on the sidewalk.
As the officers stepped in and restrained several of the combatants, an agitated man involved in the fight drew a loaded handgun and advanced on the crowd.
With innocent lives in danger, Claytor and Kushner drew their weapons and shot the gun-wielding man, killing him at the scene.
“It was so instinctual,” Claytor said.
Every month, the duo sets up training scenarios, he said, practicing their response to dangerous and deadly situations.
“It really just falls back on the training we had,” Kushner added.
Both men expressed gratitude for receiving recognition for their actions. Claytor said he first learned of the award about a month ago, when his lieutenant called him with the news.
“It gave me chills,” he said. “It was something I had hoped to accomplish in my career.”
And while admitting it feels good to be recognized, Kushner said his actions during the Fiesta incident is only a “drop in the bucket” of good work done by officers every day.

Sgt. Donald “Marty” Ensign and Officer Keld Hove, SBPD
It seemed like a routine theft investigation as Hove walked toward the Ralphs grocery store on West Carrillo Street on Sept. 28, 2007. But things changed quickly when the officer spotted a transient near the front of the store reach into a bag and pull out a handgun.
As the suspect began waving the gun in the air and making suicidal statements, Hove began speaking with the man, attempting to calm him down as he called for backup. When Sgt. Ensign arrived on the scene and began negotiating with the suspect, Hove managed to take cover and began setting up a perimeter.
While negotiations continued, officers managed to evacuate those in the store through a rear exit as the SWAT team formed a plan. Sgt. Ensign noted the suspect, still behaving irrationally, appeared to be attempting to commit “suicide by cop.”
Keeping him talking for more than an hour, Sgt. Ensign gave the SWAT team enough time to identify the handgun as a possible replica firearm and take down the man with non-lethal beanbag projectiles and a K-9 officer.
“Something unusual was thrown in my direction,” Hove said. “Because of my training and experience, I was able to handle it.”
Due to their “heroic acts of restraint and professionalism,” both men received the prestigious honor.

Senior Dep. Johnny Langehennig, Jr., Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, and Officer Eric Andreasen, Lompoc Police Department
On May 7, 2007, a deputy on bike patrol spotted a man suspected of a carjacking and sexual assault. As he attempted to stop the suspect’s car, the man fled, nearly hitting the officer.
Responding to the broadcast that the vehicle was heading toward Lompoc on Highway 246, Langehennig and others positioned themselves to intercept the vehicle. As the car passed Langehennig, he attempted to stop it again, but the suspect sped off at high speeds. Andreasen joined the pursuit as the vehicle entered Lompoc.
At the intersection of Highway 246 and Union Sugar Avenue, the car began smoking and sending off sparks before skidding off the roadway and flipping several times. As it came to rest on the driver’s side, flames burst to life from the engine.
With weapons drawn, the officers approached the vehicle, finding two men trapped inside. Breaking open the passenger side windows, Andreasen and Langehennig managed to free the intoxicated passenger from his seatbelt and pull him from the car.
With flames moving toward the driver, the two officers made several attempts to pull the man from the burning car. The driver, crawling as far back into the car as he could, said he intended to remain in the car to avoid capture. Andreasen used his Taser to stun the suspect before both officers pulled the man from the vehicle.
“I’m pretty sure anyone in law enforcement would have done what I did,” Andreasen said, shrugging off praise.

Corporals Robert Ortega and Frank Medina, Guadalupe Police Department
On May 3, 2007, the officers arrived at the Amtrak station after spotting smoke pouring from the historic caboose near the front of the station. A local homeless man had started a fire in the stove of the railcar to stay warm.
But as the officers watched the flames grow out of control, they heard coughing from inside the caboose. Ortega quickly jumped through a window and searched through the smoky railcar to find the homeless person, who had lost consciousness. With Medina’s help, Ortega was able to remove the victim from the caboose and began to treat him.
Paramedics ultimately took the victim to Marian Medical Center, where he received treatment for smoke inhalation.
In honor of their quick thinking and lack of regard for their personal safety, both officers received the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor.

Other law enforcement officials also received recognition as the top performers in their respective departments, earning Superior Performance Awards. Those recipients include:
Agent Milt Baldwin, Lompoc Police Department
Officer Daniel Barba, California Highway Patrol, Santa Barbara
Dep. D.A. Mary Barron, County District Attorney’s Office
Det. Jose Borrayo, UCSB Police Department
Sr. Juvenile Institutions Officer Erin Cross, County Probation Department
Officer Ryan DeJohn, Santa Barbara Police Department
Officer Steve Fulmer, California Highway Patrol, Buellton
Comm. Thomas Jenkins, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department
Officer Gary Steigler, Santa Maria Police Department


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Friends reach out for cancer patient

BY RYAN FAUGHNDER
DAILY SOUND CORRESPONDENT

Friends and relatives of Mark Bartholomew, a well-loved Carpinteria resident with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), will host a donor drive on Sunday in order to find a match for a desperately needed bone marrow transplant.

Doctors originally diagnosed Bartholomew with Low Grade Lymphoma, a cancer that responds relatively well to chemotherapy, but when the illness changed to CLL, Bartholomew’s long-time friend Ellie Priestman decided to find him a marrow donor by teaming up with the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), which keeps a registry of all donors and patients in need of transplants.
“When the doctors told us he had [CLL], I told Mark, ‘I am doing a bone marrow drive for you,’” Priestman said.
At Sunday’s event, which will last from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., potential donors must fill out a questionnaire and take a test that will determine whether or not they meet the health criteria and match with anyone seeking a transplant. If someone is a match, that person will receive a call instructing them to go to the nearest bone marrow facility.

Unsuccessful so far
Bartholomew’s friends have sent over 450 letters asking for help from individuals and organizations, but the search for a compatible marrow contributor has not yet yielded great success. Finding a marrow donor is an extremely difficult process for many reasons, including the fact that it is, as Priestman said, “like matching DNA.”
“There are patients who have been in the registry for 15 years and never been called” with news of a suitable donor, she said.
Another factor, she said, is that many people are uninformed about the donation process and the need for marrow.
“I talked to one lady who said, ‘I can’t afford to lose a whole week of work for a donation,’ and I said, ‘It only takes two hours.’ … It’s a lot less complicated than people think, and you may be saving a life,” she said.
Some people may, for fear of the pain of taking a needle to the pelvic bone, resist the call to provide the necessary material. However, donors will be sedated and any discomfort following the procedure will fade away after a few days, according to Priestman.
“What I’ve heard people say is that it will feel like you fell off your bike onto your tailbone,” she said. “Or like you fell while on your snowboard.”
Bartholomew, his wife Marianne, and Ellie Priestman are members of the Lions Club in Carpinteria. Mark has also run his own business – Hi-Mark Nursery – there since 1977.
Though the focus of the event is to find Mark a match for a transplant, the NMDP will take any contributions of marrow and/or money people are willing to give. There is an especially high demand for donations from ethnic minorities.
To register, contact Holly Collier at hcollier@nmdp.org or call (800)627-7692.


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Third Gradeitis

BY LESLIE DINABERG
I don’t need to flip my calendar page to June to know that the end of the school year is near. I merely need to look at my alarm clock to realize that I’m running alarmingly late in getting my son to school again. We’ve got a bad case of third gradeitis at my house.

I know we’re supposed to wake up chipper and happy now that sunny days are here, but we’ve been taking advantage of those sunny days with leisurely late nights and now the waking up early is killing me.
My first sacrifice to the snooze button was making the beds—you’re just going to mess them up, anyway, right? Next was my every-once-in-a-while practice of actually “cooking” breakfast. Now we’re lucky if any of us sits down for an apple or a Starburst before we run out of the house ‘cause we’re late. And I’m sure the teacher has noticed that Koss has worn his baseball uniform for three days in a row. There are just too many games. I don’t have the time to actually peel it off of him and wash it.
I can hear the beach calling my name, but every time I pick up the phone, it’s someone from the PTA, or the school, asking for help with something or other. I’m sure my public declaration of yes-aholism didn’t help. Our home life is falling to pieces and I haven’t got the time—or the energy—to put it back together right now.
Besides, that beach looks so enticing. Maybe just a few hours on the sand after school, we’ve got lots of time before it gets dark.
Our slow deterioration is evident everywhere you look. My son’s backpack is held together with yards of finger knitting (thank you Mrs. Brown for teaching him such a useful skill). His lunch box smells like rotten eggs, even though I swear I’ve never packed them. Still, I refuse to replace those fall essentials till school starts next year. Same with his pants, which are now the pedal pushers I try to convince him that all the cool boys are wearing.
Meanwhile I’m all stocked up on swim goggles and sunscreen. Isn’t it summer yet?
I can’t believe Koss actually had homework last night. I thought California state law was that all reading, writing and arithmetic stopped immediately—so party time could begin—once the standardized testing was over. The aim may be “no child left behind,” but the target for the last month of school is more like my college spring break in Mazatlan, where many of my brain cells still reside.
I can’t believe how many parties and activities they cram into the last few weeks of school. Just this month we’ve had Spring Sing, a golf tournament, a Noche Mexicana celebration, two PTA meetings, three foundation meetings, a read in, an open house, a school board meeting, the Spring Boutique, talent show signups (which mean talent show talent development), Science Night, a beach party, the talent show, an end-of-year party and various teacher appreciation tidbits to buy, bake and accidentally burn in the oven.
“Uh, Mommy, the smoke alarm’s going off again!”
Not to mention how many checks there are to write. Do they really still want money for the ad in the program of the fundraising event that got cancelled because the whole school came down with a bad case of third gradeitis?
I can’t wait for summer, when I’ve got ten whole weeks to work my magic spell of sun, Slurpees and sleepovers to undo all the good habits Koss’s teachers have worked so hard to inspire in him.
Sorry guys. You had your turn with him and now it’s mine. We’ll be sleeping in mornings and hanging out on the beach in the afternoons. I can hardly wait.

Does anyone else have third gradeitis? Share your stories with Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg.com.


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Goleta holds first State of the City

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

In delivering the first-ever State of the City address for Goleta yesterday, city leaders outlined tremendous progress in the young community while noting significant challenges and high expectations for the future.

Mayor Michael Bennett focused on a theme of “creating a community that works” as he described a future vision for the city. And despite listing a series of obstacles standing in the way of that vision, he remained optimistic.
“We do good work in this community and we do it all the time,” he said, later adding, “I believe we are up to the challenge.”
Since its incorporation just six years ago, on Feb. 1, 2002, Goleta has made considerable progress in creating a working community, City Manager Dan Singer said.
Running down a list of the city’s top priorities — from maintaining streets, sidewalks and infrastructure to supporting public safety to creating workforce housing and open space — Singer said the city is focused on one goal.
“Everything we do in Goleta is really motivated by our community needs,” he said.
Among the major accomplishments in recent years, he said, is the creation of a strategic plan outlining overarching objectives, such as economic revitalization and public safety.
“It really provides us with a roadmap as we move forward as a young community,” Singer said.
The city’s General Plan, approximately 600 pages containing hundreds of policies, is also a significant achievement, although Singer noted the work is not complete. City leaders are in the midst of considering numerous amendments to that document.
As Finance Director Tina Rivera took over the podium, she noted the city’s ability to continue meeting those needs even during a slowing economic climate.
Goleta’s ability to bring in balanced budgets every year while creating reserves has allowed the city to fare the economic slowdown “a lot better than other cities in California,” she said.
“This type of commitment is remarkable when you consider the City of Goleta has been sharing 50 percent of its property tax revenues with the County of Santa Barbara,” Rivera said.
Rivera wasn’t the only one to hit on the city’s revenue neutrality agreement with the county, which directs approximately $8.5 million of the city’s tax revenues to county coffers as a condition of the city’s incorporation.
Mayor Bennett called the agreement one of the worst in the state due to its lack of a sunset clause. He said it is expected to impact the city’s budget by the 2009-10 fiscal cycle and cause a deficit that will increase for the following three years.
“We also have healthy reserves,” Mayor Bennett emphasized, suggesting the city may have to tap into its “rainy day” funds.
He said city leaders are talking with county officials in an effort to renegotiate the agreement without resorting to litigation, describing those discussions as a step in the right direction.
Steve Wagner, the city’s community services director, took special note of infrastructure improvements, particularly those related to streets maintenance. In the past six years, the city has invested $16 million in streets and sidewalk repairs.
“It was one of the real key issues for the incorporation of the city,” he said.
Wagner also alluded to the importance of Measure A, an attempt to renew a half-cent sales tax used to support local and regional transportation projects. Mayor Bennett took a more direct approach.
“Measure A on the upcoming November ballot is absolutely critical to make it work, to make the whole community work,” he said.
Wagner, in noting the lack of long-term planning prior to Goleta’s incorporation, said the city faces congestion and other circulation issues that will require huge capital projects to correct. The city has $250 million in projects already identified.
In the next three to five years, construction will begin on approximately $60 million worth of improvements, he added.
“You’re going to see a lot of construction in the next few years,” Wagner said. “…There isn’t a corner of Goleta that won’t be touched.”
Vyto Adomaitis, the city’s director of redevelopment, neighborhood services and public safety, spent his portion of the address detailing a slate of programs designed to clean up and protect the city.
Among those is a system that tracks citizen requests, logging more than 5,000 requests since its inception. Adomaitis also highlighted the city’s junk car removal program, which has towed more than 500 vehicles from city streets.
“I’m proud to say Goleta tows more vehicles than any other city in the county,” he said.
A storefront improvement program in Old Town has aided 30 owners in fixing up their businesses, he said. On the public safety front, Andomaitis focused on two emergency preparedness trailers recently purchased by the city, along with contracted services with the county’s fire and sheriff’s departments.
“I’m extremely pleased with the high level of service we receive from both of those agencies,” he said.
Lt. Chris Pappas, the city’s police chief for the past three years, echoed those sentiments as he described how deputies handle everything from traffic violations to serious crimes.
“Fortunately, they don’t happen with a great deal of frequency,” he said of the latter.
Lt. Pappas said the city’s dedication to supporting public safety — by spending 40 percent of its budget in that arena — has paid measurable dividends.
For example, he cited double-digit drops in traffic collisions every year since the city incorporated.
“That’s almost unheard of,” he said.
In closing, Mayor Bennett cited a series of projects and goals he hopes will be realized in the coming years. Chief among them is creating a recreation program for families and children. City leaders also plan to consider reinstating bike and foot patrols in Old Town Goleta, he said.
And despite facing water supply issues, potential development of the Gaviota Coast and impacts of UC Santa Barbara’s long-range development plan, Mayor Bennett said he has faith in his colleagues, staff and the community. He gave special accolades to Singer, who “keeps it all together, even in the toughest of times.”
Goleta’s First Annual State of the City address, put on by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, will be rebroadcast on Channel 19, with airtimes available at cityofgoleta.org.


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Fiesta Executive Director resigns

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

After nearly three years at the helm of what is arguably the largest annual celebration in Santa Barbara, Sarah O’Connell has resigned as executive director of Old Spanish Days.

A statement from the organization wished O’Connell well in her career path but did not give a reason for her decision to resign.
“Sarah was the foundation and the go-to person for many of us, and [her resignation] is a loss to the organization,” Tim Taylor, El Presidente of Fiesta 2008, said in the statement.
An Old Spanish Days spokesperson said it doesn’t appear O’Connell had a personal reason for resigning other than to give herself time to focus on other pursuits. Attempts to contact O’Connell yesterday evening were not successful.
“She brought tremendous dedication and energy to the organization and will be missed by the board, staff and others in the community who worked with her over the past two-plus years,” according to the statement.
Her resignation is effective June 6.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Election Correction

BY CHERI RAE
An astute political soothsayer may have warned the Governor not to make great declarations nor sign legislation on the Ides of March. Such an act might just summon the gods of unintended consequences and provoke them into action. Looks like it happened here. Whether warned or not, on March 15, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill changing California’s presidential primary election date from the first Tuesday in June to the first Tuesday in February.

At the time, he stated, “California is important again in presidential nomination politics, and we will restore the voters’ confidence in government, and we will get the respect that California deserves, and our issues will get the due respect along the campaign trail and also in Washington.”
Hmmm. With all due respect, it’s not exactly how it all worked out. In moving California’s primary to Super Tuesday, we shared the date with nearly two dozen other states, very early in the campaign. Even at that early date, in this oddly front-loaded season, former Senator John Edwards had already dropped out and our state’s issues got lost in the candidates’ frantic race to gather delegates all across the country, all on the same day. The familiar friend of California, Sen. Hillary Clinton, walked away with the majority of the state’s Democratic delegates before many of the voters had an opportunity to get to know Sen. Barack Obama.
It wasn’t even much of a contest, and it came and went so fast, we hardly even noticed.
Instead, the issues of importance to voters who live in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and even Kentucky, for goodness sake’s, became so well-known to voters across the country as they waited their turn to vote. The effects of NAFTA; the feasibility of “clean coal”; the concerns of “hard-working white people”; the wearing of flag pins; the ownership of guns; candidates’ responsibility for the words of religious leaders; and the exaggerated memory of events on a tarmac in Bosnia all became hotly reported national issues and shaped the race since our voting day on Super Tuesday.
If we were still voting for the Democratic presidential nominee on June 3, California—with 441 delegates at stake—would share the date with just Montana and South Dakota—with 25 and 23 delegates respectively. If our State legislators hadn’t switched the date, a white hot spotlight would be focused intensely on California’s issues.
Political consultants, newspapers, television and radio stations would be raking in the candidates’ dollars; the airwaves would be filled with commercials featuring candidates walking on the beaches, hiking redwood forests and inspecting solar panels and wind farms. Instead of appearing at diners, knocking back boilermakers and gobbling cheesesteaks, they’d be stopping at bistros, sipping chardonnay and nibbling on arugula—perhaps the only place in the country they wouldn’t be ridiculed for knowledge of salad ingredients beyond iceberg lettuce.
The national media would be reporting to the rest of the nation about matters of concern to Californians, including the environment, high-tech solutions to our economic woes, immigration, protection of our public lands and natural resources, offshore oil drilling, and devising a serious plan to end the war in Iraq. The perspectives of a diverse population of highly educated individuals would probably even matter more than they have in recent weeks; the candidates would be courting the votes of significant populations of California’s “ethnic” voters, including Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, Middle Easterners, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Native Americans, and more. California would likely benefit long-term from the campaign promises of two candidates who would have to put their heart and soul into winning this race.
They would be making speeches and holding rallies throughout the Golden State, bringing an influx of cash with the massive entourage that would be excitedly reporting on every aspect of the California primary from one end of the state to the other. With the largest delegate prize in the country, the late-night returns would have likely determined, finally, the eventual Democratic nominee on the last primary of the election season.
Instead, once again, California’s primary ends up having little impact, ultimately, in the selection of the eventual nominee, this time lost in the shuffle. What could have, should have, would have been a dramatic, cliffhanger moment in the electoral calendar instead went away quietly months ago, because of the tinkering by those who were certain they knew exactly what they were doing.
Apparently, price was no object when officials decided to make a change in California’s primary significance. Turns out, holding the primary election of Feb. 5 cost the taxpayers of Santa Barbara County more than one million dollars, according to Chief Deputy Registrar Billie Alvarez. And we still have a primary election for state and local races scheduled for June 3, that will cost at least that much.
I’m reminded about last November’s Measure A. That controversial city ballot measure proposed to consolidate local and national elections, and claimed to save money and increase voter participation. Santa Barbara’s electorate soundly rejected the notion of rescheduling our local election cycle. Opponents suggested local issues would get lost in the process. Judging from the way California’s significance has been diminished in the primary season, when exactly the opposite was promised, it looks like the local voters got it right. Santa Barbarans didn’t need a crystal ball to figure out what State Legislators and the Governor should have known: the law of unintended consequences cannot be ignored.

Cheri Rae’s column appears every Thursday in the Daily Sound. E-mail her at cheri@santabarbarafree.com


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Judge denies reinstatement for fired reporters

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A federal judge denied a temporary injunction seeking to reinstate eight reporters fired from the Santa Barbara News-Press as ongoing litigation concerning the labor dispute at the newspaper continues to unfold.
In a decision filed May 22 and made public Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that forcing the newspaper to rehire discharged reporters would violate the First Amendment.

“It is clear that the requested injunction does burden [newspaper management’s] exercise of its editorial discretion,” he wrote in his ruling.
While the decision keeps the fired reporters from returning to work, it does not overrule a separate ruling in December 2007 finding the News-Press in violation of labor law.
Federal attorneys sought the injunction to allow the fired reporters to return to their jobs as the National Labor Relations Board considers an appeal of that ruling.
In denying the injunction, Judge Wilson weighed favorably on arguments made by News-Press attorneys that a requirement to reinstate the fired reporters would infringe on First Amendment rights by forcing News-Press owner and publisher Wendy McCaw to publish articles against her will.
He specifically found credence in the argument that constitutional law supporting freedom of the press outweighs labor law, citing an earlier decision by a federal court that found the National Labor Relations Board’s opinion is not entitled to special consideration when there is a significant risk of violating the First Amendment.
“The standard for finding a ‘significant risk’ of a First Amendment violation … is low,” he noted, adding that the newspaper “need only raise a plausible First Amendment argument” to be successful.
News-Press attorney Barry Cappello said he hammered that argument during a 17-day hearing before Administrative Law Judge William Kocol last fall into 15 unfair labor practice charges, including the eight firings.
Judge Kocol ultimately dismissed Cappello’s line of reasoning while ruling largely in favor of the fired reporters.
“We said that the matter would be decided appropriately in the courts and when we got a court that was impartial, the judge read the Supreme Court cases … and he applied the law,” Cappello said. “…That’s why federal judges are there, to make sure the Constitution is protected.”
Judge Wilson said he found Judge Kocol’s decision to be erroneous, noting one of the union’s demands has consistently been to restore journalism ethics and maintain a wall between the editorial section and the news section.
Any demand affecting a publisher’s control over content is a violation of that publisher’s rights, Judge Wilson said.
“The court must reject as clearly erroneous the ALJ’s view that the union campaign was not, at least in part, aimed at forcing concessions from [newspaper management] directly related to its exercise of editorial discretion,” he wrote.
Judge Kocol had determined that the union campaign did not constitute an effort to give control of the newspaper’s content to newsroom reporters, but merely to restore journalistic integrity — a topic he found has a direct impact on a reporter’s job and reputation, and is therefore subject to bargaining through a union.
After unionization of the newsroom in 2006 largely related to what reporters perceived to be inappropriate meddling in editorial affairs by McCaw, newspaper management fired eight reporters in the following months.
Union representatives have argued those employees lost their jobs due to their outspoken union support. News-Press attorneys maintain they were fired for disloyalty or biased reporting.
Union attorney Ira Gottlieb said he is “extremely disappointed” by Judge Wilson’s ruling but believes the NLRB will ultimately side with Judge Kocol’s ruling.
In an email message, he said a successful ruling on the appeal will “restore the proper balance between First Amendment rights, which are not properly utilized as a sword to injure workers who are trying to gain a voice in the workplace, and the organizational rights of employees.”
Dawn Hobbs, a longtime News-Press crime reporter and vocal union supporter who was fired in 2007, said the decision did not surprise her.
“Our request for temporary reinstatement was denied, but we still won the trial,” she said. “This just means we won’t be going back to work now. This doesn’t dampen our spirits in the slightest.”
As did Gottlieb, Hobbs said she is confident that the appeal of Judge Kocol’s decision will ultimately fail.
Cappello disagreed, arguing that Judge Wilson’s ruling paves a clear path for future decisions by the National Labor Relations Board or a federal court of appeals.
“We think this is precedent-setting as far as the NLRB is concerned,” he said. “This is a federal judge and this is a written opinion.”
When the NLRB might reach a decision is difficult to estimate. With a vacancy on the three-member panel, any ruling requires a unanimous decision by the two remaining members, a Republican and a Democrat.
If they don’t agree on the appeal, the decision will have to wait until a new member is appointed to the board, an action that isn’t expected until 2009.


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Foundation dishes out $8.5 million to students

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Once again, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Gardens brimmed with beaming students and ecstatic parents celebrating a record $8.5 million in scholarships and loans awarded to local students pursuing higher education.
Handed out annually through the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the financial aid helps 3,300 local students attend college. An estimated 600 recipients joined in the festivities on Wednesday, along with friends and family.

“You’ve worked hard and you deserve the dream of a higher education,” Joe Cole, president of the foundation, told those gathered in the Sunken Gardens. “…We want you to believe in yourselves as we believe in you.”
Cole described how his parents had never finished high school and couldn’t support him when he went to college.
“But I had people who encouraged me, as we hope to encourage you,” he said, describing how financial aid afforded him access to higher education.
As hundreds of students filed across the stage, they paused at a microphone to give their name, the university they will be attending this fall, and the donor who supported their scholarship.
Waiting in line to give his short spiel, Daniel Lao, 18, said he first learned he had received a $1,600 scholarship several weeks ago.
“It just came in the mail,” the San Marcos High School senior said. “I was speechless.”
With plans to attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall, studying pharmacy, Lao said his scholarship funds are going straight to tuition costs.
Sara Chavis, a Santa Ynez High School student, has similar plans for her $2,400 loan and $2,100 scholarship: paying for tuition at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she hopes to study international affairs.
“It helps a lot because I’m going out of state,” she said. “…The loans are great because you only have to pay back half of it if you make the payments on time.”
Formed in 1962, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara gave away nine $100 book awards the following year — a gesture they repeated this year with a raffle at the end of the awards ceremony.
By its 40th anniversary in 2002, the foundation had supported more than 15,000 students through loans and scholarships totaling $16.7 million. Just six years later, those figures have ballooned to 23,000 students and more than $60 million.
As students continued to pour across the stage, Lisa Mochnick pointed out her daughter, 19-year-old Jillian, waiting in line.
A sophomore at the University of San Diego, Mochnick received a scholarship from Santa Barbara Bank and Trust and a loan from the Santa Barbara Foundation.
“It would be very difficult without this support,” her mother said. “As a family, we’re very grateful. … It’s an honor. Not everybody gets an award.”
In fact, the foundation had to turn away more than 450 students due to a lack of funds.
Steve Halsted, a board member of the foundation who helped interview approximately 1,100 new applicants this year, said figuring out who deserves the awards is never an easy process.
“It isn’t one size fits all,” he said. “…We look at how well they’ve done in school and that’s a good indication of how well they will put [a scholarship or loan] to use.”
He said community service beyond the mandatory requirements is also a positive factor.
Halsted noted that approximately one-third of the recipients will attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall.
“An award of $1,000 can make a tremendous difference,” he said. “…I think it gives them the impetus to keep going.”
Elena Shelton, a Santa Barbara High School student, will use her Robert O. Dugan Scholarship of $2,600 to support tuition at New York University, where she plans to study international relations.
“I was just so grateful because anything helps,” the 17-year-old said. “It’s so expensive to go to college these days.”
She heaped praise on the foundation for serving as a funnel for private donors and organizations that want to support students.
“They’ve been doing this for so long,” Shelton said. “They put my parents through college.”


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Candidate pledges preservation, transparency for 3rd district

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

When Steve Pappas ran for the office of Third District Supervisor in 2004, his reasoning was simple: to change the way Santa Barbara County does business.
Four years later, Pappas’ name will once again be on the primary election ballot, and while his motives remain the same, some of the problems with the county, as he sees them, have grown worse.
“Nothing’s gotten any better over the last four years,” he told the Daily Sound in a phone interview yesterday. “And I’m very concerned about where things are headed.”


To understand how and why Pappas, a 48-year-old father of two who is the president of the Los Olivos School Board, began his drive to represent the sprawling third district, all one needs to know is the story of a 25-acre farm called Montanero.
The farm, located on Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, was once destined for a mixed-use development. There today is an open hay field and the same bucolic structures that have stood for decades. No condos, no stores, no parking lots.
The story of the farm is the story of Pappas’ political career, and as he tells it, began one evening six years ago when a neighbor frantically told him a county planning committee was hosting a meeting inside a church near his home in Los Olivos.
Pappas said a number of his neighbors and other residents huddled together at the meeting, where they were shown full-blown plans of Montanero Farm bulldozed over with high-density development. What alarmed Pappas and the others, he said, was the county officials were talking about the development as if it was a done deal.
“None of us living around that area knew anything about it,” he said. “We never got a notice, never got a flier. That was the beginning of my involvement in community activism.”
Out of the Montanero Farm incident grew the groups Preservation of Los Olivos (POLO), and later Preservation of Santa Ynez, (POSY), both founded in part by Pappas. The group’s focus on land-use issues in the Santa Ynez Valley and are vocal in their opposition to any expansion of gambling operations with the Chumash Casino.
Though Montanero Farm was ultimately saved, Pappas said the way the process was handled by the county drove him to take a keen interest in politics, which has culminated with his second effort at winning the seat of third district supervisor.
As executive director of POLO and POSY, Pappas championed preservation of farmland. So there’s little surprise he feels the single biggest issue facing the county at the moment is potential development along the Gaviota Coast.
“We’ve got to preserve our agricultural lands,” he said. “We’ve got to keep the farmers and the Ag business viable so they stay in business and we don’t lose them.”
Pappas said one of the key ways to prevent development along the coast is to negotiate Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), which generally are agreements between landowners and government to build on more appropriate parcels of land, often located in urban areas.
The county is currently engaged in this process with a parcel of land on the coast known as Naples, but Pappas is doubtful it will succeed, though he strongly believes it can and should.
“I don’t see their will to make it happen,” Pappas said. “I don’t see the county making the effort to make it work and it’s a strong concern.”
If elected, Pappas said he would champion the TDR process. If development occurs at Naples, which is at the southerly end of the Gaviota Coast, Pappas said the floodgates on other building up and down the coast could open.
The county’s current fiscal crisis, which will likely require more than $26 million in cuts for next fiscal year, is also a concern for Pappas.
While the county has outlined ambitious cuts for nearly every department, Pappas said his preference would be to cut at the administrative level before taking “off the backs of the people.”
He said one example where cuts should not be made is to the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, which are currently facing $8 million in cuts. If these cuts are implemented, some say they could force hundreds of mentally ill residents into homelessness.
“That doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” Pappas said of cuts to mental health.
County relations with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, which is a primary focus of POLO and POSY, is also something Pappas said he would focus on as supervisor.
He said he would attempt to regulate the Chumash more strictly by encouraging the tribe to abide by the state gaming compact, which he feels isn’t occurring. In 2005 Pappas, through POLO, was responsible for filing a lawsuit against the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a tier of the federal Department of the Interior. The lawsuit demands that residents living near Indian casinos have their say when any form of casino expansion is considered. Under current law, Pappas said residents are told they can’t participate. He said a federal judge is expected to rule in the next couple of months.
The nature of the third district, both geographically and in the boardroom, often lands the person sitting in the supervisor seat stuck between the sometimes-divisive politics of North and South County. Some see the third district as a potential bridge between the two political ideologies, but most often, Pappas said, it is a swing vote that is aligned with one side or the other.
“There won’t be a 3-2 majority on either side if I’m elected,” he said. “I’m not going in with an agenda or a predetermined course.”
Pappas described the two sides, as many others do, as the far right (north), and far left (south). But he said the vast majority of people in the third district he’s spoken to over the years want someone in the middle.
“People that live here are just trying to figure out what’s best for the community and they really don’t care what political machine is talking,” he said.
Pappas said he is non-partisan and will not bow to either side on any issue. He said this is what separates him from the rest of the pack.
He used his competitors Doreen Farr and Dave Smyser as examples. In Farr’s case, she carries the endorsements of South County Supervisor’s Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal. North County Supervisor’s Joe Centeno and Joni Gray have endorsed Smyser, who was chosen by Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone as his successor.
“I’m not beholden to their money or their influence,” Pappas said. “I’m truly in a position to make, I think, objective and independent decisions and that’s how I’ll run it, and that’s going to be interesting because I don’t think that’s happened here in years.”


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In remembrance of Father Virgil

BY LESLIE WESTBROOK
I am one of the throngs, the thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of people in Santa Barbara and beyond, whose lives were touched in one way or another by Father Virgil Cordano. Father Virgil, as he was known, who practiced his religious life as a Franciscan friar and spent 89 years on the planet as a man who devoted his life to others — as well as to the serious exploration and questions of existence, religion and the meaning of our lives — passed away peacefully last week, into his other heaven. (“Short of heaven, this is the best I can have,” said the man of the cloth of his beloved Santa Barbara in a KEYT television interview).

Wearing his simple brown Franciscan robes, the bespeckled Father Virgil was a familiar sight, known for his warmth, accessibility and great sense of humor. He never turned anyone away, and responded faster than an ambulance or fire truck to a friend, parishioner or community call.
On one occasion, as I sat beside my friend Douglas Bartoli, who had just passed away and was lying in state in his house within view of the Old Mission and the rose garden, I called Father Virgil to see if he could run over, since we were just across the street.
“Can you come do last rites?” I asked, naively.
It was too late for that, he told me, but he hurried over to comfort Mrs. Bartoli and did bless the body. Although Doug had left the Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church, his Catholic Italian mother — as well as the rest of us — were comforted by his visit. Father Virgil practiced these acts of kindness millions of times, as those of you reading this will know.
Then there were marriages and baptisms (including my own) of which I can’t even venture to estimate the amount, though the other Franciscan fathers might know.
On the occasions that I “retreated” to the Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal, Father Virgil would visit and talk with me, as he did with others, in the peaceful gardens. Often we reminisced about his close friend, my godmother Virginia Cherrill Martini, who we both sorely missed. She was the glue of our friendship.
Last year, when I arrived, unannounced, at the Old Mission, with a man I wanted to marry, Father Virgil came down to speak with us both for an hour. Although he could not officiate due to rules of the church, he blessed our love and promised to bless our marriage (which did not occur).
Always there, whenever you needed him — that was Father Virgil.
In times of crisis and joy, in sickness and in health, for the rich and for the poor.
Most importantly in my life, when I told Father Virgil that my very Catholic Italian grandfather was extremely upset that I had not been baptized as a child (even though he and my grandmother kidnapped me from my agnostic parents for such a ritual, to no avail), we met on Friday afternoons at the Old Mission to “talk shop.”
A few years later, he baptized me at my godparents’ hedgerow cottage in Montecito. Margarita, my godparents’ caregiver, upon Father Virgil’s command, grabbed a metal bowl out of the kitchen to place under my head. Holy water was sprinkled, Virginia and Florek put their hands on me, per his instructions (“Does it matter where?” asked my godpa Florek, before placing his hand firmly on my butt!) and I was now a part of the fold. We celebrated with champagne and some years later, he confessed something to me about that day that surprised me. Confessions, as you know, are always confidential.
In addition to the lessons of love he preached, this humble man in brown robes knew every Catholic in town’s secrets and foibles, and probably many a tawdry tale of non-Catholics as well. He had a long and enduring friendship with Duke Sedgwick, among other powerful men and women in this town, and I always thought a book about “The Priest and The Cowboy” would be fascinating.
But I did know a little secret of Father Virgil’s that I don’t think he’d mind my sharing.
Those wide sleeves of the Franciscan robes?
The perfect place, he once showed me, with a mischievous gleam in his eye, to tuck a wee bottle of Holy hooch!
Sorry, Father Virgil. I was never good at keeping secrets.
I, like many, will always miss you and love you.
Keep up the good work upstairs, Padre, and if what you said is true, I’ll see you later.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Carpinteria moves to restrict large retailers

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Large businesses hoping to find a home in Carpinteria may soon face an extensive review process before getting the green light, judging from opinions expressed by city leaders at Tuesday evening’s Carpinteria City Council meeting.
All five members of the council, some more strongly than others, spoke in favor of requiring a “conditional use permit,” or CUP, for retail projects exceeding 20,000 square feet.
An approval process involving a CUP would give city leaders the discretion to deny a project if they determine it violates specific guidelines largely related to maintaining the small-town character of Carpinteria.

A recent application by Vons proposing a move from its Linden Avenue location to consolidate the Albertsons and Rite-Aid located at the Casitas Plaza Shopping Center, thus creating a store spanning 40,000 square feet, sparked the discussion.
Much of the back-and-forth between members of the council on Tuesday evening involved whether or not to include a cap of 30,000 square feet for retail projects as an added layer of protection beyond the CUP process.
Councilmember Al Clark, stressing the importance of maintaining a small-town feel, noted that the average size of retail stores on the South Coast is 26,000 square feet, compared to larger figures in Ventura and its neighboring communities.
“We don’t want to be like Ventura,” he said. “…The cap will best maintain community character, so I will maintain my support for that.”
Councilmember Gregg Carty also expressed support for measures that will ensure any new businesses are in keeping with the size and character of Carpinteria.
Others, such as Mayor Michael Ledbetter and Councilmember Joe Armendariz, said the CUP process offers a strong layer of protection that will give the city enough discretion without causing unintended consequences.
“I do not believe 40,000 — and by extension, 30,000 — square feet of retail sales space in this community and that location will herald the end of Western civilization,” Armendariz said. “…I don’t see the risk of a big-box store coming into Carpinteria anytime soon.”
Armendariz characterized placing an inflexible cap on retail space as searching for a solution without a problem and implored his colleagues to think “beyond this typical growth vs. no growth, big vs. small” mentality.
Mayor Ledbetter seemed largely in agreement, calling a 30,000 square foot cap problematic.
“I’m not sure it suits Carpinteria,” he said, noting several businesses in the small coastal town that exceed that figure and aren’t viewed as destructive to Carpinteria’s character.
Ultimately, the council directed city staff to put together an urgency ordinance focused solely on the CUP process. In response to comments by Clark, the ordinance will bring any CUP applications involving retail stores larger than 20,000 square feet directly to the City Council, rather than requiring an appeal from a Planning Commission decision.
Under the ordinance, any project would be subject to a series of objectives expressed by city leaders that include minimizing traffic, parking and negative economic impacts, ensuring the viability of small businesses, encouraging travel by foot or bicycle, and keeping the project in proportion to the town’s needs and existing development.
Councilmember Brad Stein noted that even though businesses may propose projects larger than 30,000 or 40,000 square feet through the CUP process, the city retains the power to deny those projects based on the aforementioned guidelines.
“We can still hold Albertsons at that 30,000 square feet … through the CUP,” Stein said.
He also sent a message to retailers who might consider submitting an application for a large project, possibly viewing the lack of a square footage cap as encouragement to go bigger.
“It’s not a slam dunk coming in at 40,000 square feet,” he said.
City staff will return with a draft ordinance for further consideration on June 23.


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Pot shop owner linked to fatal Hwy 101 crash

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

A lengthy investigation sparked by a fatal traffic collision on Highway 101 that left a California Highway Patrol officer paralyzed has led to the arrest of the owner of six Los Angeles-area medical marijuana dispensaries.
Authorities took Virgil Edward Grant, 41, of Carson, and his wife, Psytra Monique Grant, 33, into custody on a long list of federal charges, including operating dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools and churches, according to a news release from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
DEA agents began their investigation more than five months ago, when a tragic collision on Highway 101 grabbed local headlines.

On December 19, 2007, CHP officer Anthony Pedeferri, an 11-year veteran of the department, made a routine traffic stop near La Conchita. As he spoke to the driver, Andreas Parra, 21, of Phoenix, a pickup truck drifted off the roadside and hit the vehicle, killing Parra and tossing Pedeferri approximately 20 feet.
Pedeferri, 36, suffered critical injuries and remains paralyzed, according to the DEA.
The driver of the pickup truck, Jeremy White, 20, of Paso Robles, is being prosecuted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office for vehicular manslaughter after authorities found a large amount of marijuana and marijuana edibles in his vehicle, according to the news release.
White allegedly acknowledged being under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident, authorities said, and reportedly told investigators he purchased the drugs from a dispensary in Compton.
A subsequent investigation by the DEA and the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service led authorities to THC, a marijuana dispensary owned by Grant in Compton, according to the DEA.
Following a series of undercover purchases at several dispensaries operated by Grant, including one transaction involving a pound of marijuana, a grand jury handed down indictments for Grant, his wife and an employee, Stanley Jerome Cole, authorities said.
DEA officials allege Cole, 39, sold the pound of marijuana from the back door of one of the dispensaries for $5,700.
“The dispensaries involved in this case were simply drug-dealing enterprises designed to generate profits for those who chose to ignore federal law and flout state law,” U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said in a prepared statement. “The tragic accident that killed Andreas Parra and crippled CHP Officer Pedeferri can be directly linked to this disregard of the laws.”
Authorities arrested the Grants on Tuesday morning following the grand jury decision on May 21 and are still looking for Cole. DEA officials said the consequences of marijuana use extend beyond those who sell and abuse the drug, citing the December collision on Highway 101 as an example.
“The individuals arrested today claimed to sell marijuana for medicinal use, but it is clear that they are nothing more than drug traffickers,” Timothy J. Landrum, a DEA agent in charge of the Los Angeles office, said in a prepared statement. “DEA is committed to enforcing federal laws that exist to prevent similar tragedies like this one from occurring in the future.”


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Drunks and thieves keep cops busy

DAILY SOUND STAFF REPORT

Santa Barbara police dealt with a typical quota of drunks and thieves during the holiday weekend.

May 23, 12:50 a.m. — Security personnel at the Wildcat Lounge, 15 W. Ortega St., politely asked an intoxicated patron to leave the establishment only to discover the inebriated man still had enough coordination to swing a beer bottle. Police officers with the Nightlife Enforcement Team arrived at the bar to find security detaining the 28-year-old Ventura man. The suspect, with slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, told authorities he had approximately nine beers that evening and did not remember what had happened inside the lounge. A bouncer told police he had asked the man to leave when the suspect hit him on the left ear with a beer bottle. Officers took the man into custody for assault with a deadly weapon and public intoxication, holding him on $30,000 bail.

May 23, 12:15 p.m. — A $1.29 bag of Cheetos landed a 33-year-old transient in jail after he nicked the snack from a local gas station. After getting a call from employees at Circle K, 200 S. Milpas St., reporting the theft, police found a man sitting on a bench at the Cabrillo Ball Field who matched the description of the thief. After bringing him back to the convenience store, police used video surveillance footage to verify the man had stolen the bag of chips.
A background check of the suspect revealed numerous prior arrests, convictions and jail time for petty theft. En route to County Jail for booking, the man became angry and attempted to kick out the windows of the patrol car four to five times, causing major damage to the window frame. Authorities ultimately booked the man in lieu of $20,000 bail for theft with priors and felony vandalism.

May 24, 1:10 a.m. — After being denied entrance to a bar in the 500 block of State Street in the early morning hours, a group of men failed to take the rejection in stride, instead threatening to kill the bouncer who turned them away. Several moments later, police officers spoke with the bouncer, who pointed out a group of four men crossing State Street in the middle of the block as the suspects in question. The security guard also made special note of one man, later identified as a 27-year-old local resident, who reportedly said, “I’m going to kill you,” before adding as he walked away, “I’m going to come back and kill you.”
Officers approached the four men, all Santa Barbara residents who apparently were not in the mood to deal with law enforcement. Police had to Taser the 27-year-old man as he struggled with officers; authorities ultimately booked him into jail in lieu of $50,000 bail for resisting arrest and making threats.
An 18-year-old man also struggled with police and tossed a knife on the ground during the tussle. Officers ultimately brought him under control and arrested him for possession and concealment of a deadly weapon, as well as resisting arrest. A 22-year-old man, also fighting with officers as they attempted to detain him, earned a trip to jail for resisting arrest.
The fourth man, a 20-year-old, ran from the scene with officers in hot pursuit. During the sprint down State Street, the suspect dropped two empty glass bottles on the street. Police finally caught up with the man near Haley Street and Tasered him after he continued to struggle. Authorities booked him into jail for possession and concealment of a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.


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Supervisor candidate pledges to heal divisiveness

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

During her 16 years as a city council member for the city of Buellton, Victoria Pointer hasn’t had any aspiration of running for a higher office.
That is until she began looking into the platforms of the four other candidates who are vying for the office of Santa Barbara County’s Third District Supervisor — a race that does not include current Supervisor Brooks Firestone, who is not seeking reelection.


“Because this position is such a pivotal seat in terms of the entire county structure I was watching very closely the attitudes, positions and platforms of the candidates and I just believe I have something much different to offer,” Pointer said during a phone interview.
Geographically the third district wraps through the heart of the county. It is defined by swathes of farmland and coastline that must be passed through before entering North or South County. As a result, the tenuous balance of power between North and South often teeters on who is at the helm of the third district — a fact that regularly brews controversy and one that Pointer hopes to see die.
“I just don’t want to see divisiveness and don’t want to see the polarization occur,” she said. “You’ve got people who are on the far right and far left [running]. That in and of itself will be very polarizing. We are one county and we need to be working together.”
Critics of Firestone maintain that during his tenure he aligned himself closely with North County supervisors, effectively stripping the balance of power from the south.
All of the third district candidates have said they hope to quell the sometimes fiery north, south bickering, but Pointer believes she’ll be best at it because she won’t vote along north, south lines, but rather issue-by-issue.
And as a three-term mayor of Buellton, Pointer said she’s proven her ability to compromise and negotiate in order to arrive at the best conclusions.
“That’s all anybody can ask for and expect,” she said. “Nobody can wave a magic wand and say ‘I’m going to be everything to everybody.’ It’s not always a perfect situation.”
Pointer, a 53-year-old mother of three who was born and raised in Santa Barbara and works in the special education department of the Santa Barbara County Education Office, said she would staunchly protect the Gaviota Coast and farmland.
“This is one of the most diverse ecosystems,” she said of the Gaviota Coast. “It is pristine and we really need to do everything we can to preserve it.”
She called any form of major development along the coast, “craziness,” and said she supports an ongoing effort to divert development of the scenic Naples area on the coast to a different site — an effort known as transfer of development rights (TDR).
However, Pointer said there are circumstances where she could foresee minor development there.
For example, she said there are dozens of homes large and small tucked away in the hills along the Gaviota Coast, most of which are out of sight. She said such cautious building could be allowed.
“One home on a 100 acre property in my opinion is not intrusive,” she said. “Some people don’t want to see anything there, but again, you’ve got to balance the right of the landowner.”
On the topic of preserving farmland, Pointer said she believes the most appropriate way to go about rezoning such land is for residents to vote.
Pointer said an effort is underway in Buellton to expand the city’s urban growth boundary, which could promote urban sprawl and consume prime farmland.
She said one group is attempting to establish a guideline that would require any rezone of farmland near Buellton to be voted on by the entire city — a process she supports.
“I think the people that live in a community should have a voice in what they see as a vision for their community,” she said.
Getting a handle on the county’s ballooning budget deficit is also a priority for Pointer, who said she is in favor of making cuts at the administrative level before levying those cuts on services.
“The county has too many managers, too many department heads and too many layers,” she said.
One cut to services currently on the table is about $8 million from the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, which some say could purge hundreds of mentally ill adults from services like assisted living and job training.
Pointer said this is a perfect example of where not to make cuts.
“It targets those that are in need and those that are in need are going to become needier and putting a bigger burden on the people of the county,” she said. “That’s the wrong area to make a cut. That’s going to come back and cost [the county].”
Pointer said the county also should think seriously about providing workforce housing. She said the tens-of-thousands of people who commute into the county each day not only provide critical services, but are spending their hard earned cash elsewhere.
“We have people who are traveling as afar as Kern County and the edges of Los Angeles County to come to work,” she said. “That’s crazy.”
Without naming them, Pointer criticized some of her competitors for accepting large campaign contributions that could have, “strings attached and [make] people become beholden and think that they have an alliance with those who have made the contribution.”
She said just by looking at the endorsements of other candidates it’s clear where their allegiances will fall. For example, North County Supervisor’s Joni Gray and Joe Centeno have endorsed Dave Smyser, who Firestone handpicked as his successor. Doreen Farr, a Santa Ynez resident running for the seat, has received endorsements from South County Supervisor’s Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal.
While it’s expected that sitting supervisors would make endorsements, Pointer said these are examples of how the third district seat will continue to be one that perpetuates a north, south divide.
“[These candidates] are aligned with other elected officials already and there will be expectations and there will be a level of allegiance that’s expected,” she said.
Though one can do little about endorsements during an election year, Pointer said she would push for campaign finance reform during county elections. As it stands, Pointer said she is the only candidate to have abided by a voluntary expenditure limit, which she said restricts candidate spending to $87,000. Pointer said she’d like to make this voluntary limit part of the county code.
Whether it’s the budget, land use issues or campaign finance, Pointer said it’s unlikely any solutions will surface without a cohesive board — something she hopes to bring to the table.
“I hope to unify all of the board members and look at making decisions that are in the best interest as a whole,” she said. “This divisiveness and separation by district has got to stop because we are not doing very well and that affects every area.”
Pointer and the other four candidates will be on the June 3 primary election ballot.


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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fallen soldiers honored at Arlington West

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

On the eve of Memorial Day, with a stiff breeze cutting across West Beach, several hundred people gathered as volunteers lit candles around thousands of white crosses for an overnight vigil at Arlington West.
Started more than four years ago, the once-random scattering of 347 wooden crosses has grown into more than 3,000 neatly lined rows, memorializing the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq.
That figure stood at 4,081 on Sunday, along with 29,978 wounded, according to www.icasualties.org.

And on the fifth Memorial Day weekend since the war began, local leaders took the opportunity to call for an end to military operations in Iraq.
“Next year, on Memorial Day I hope we don’t have to be here,” Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum said.
As the sunlight faded from the cloud-streaked sky, Mayor Blum and others, including many volunteers with Veterans for Peace, began lighting small candles and placing them under plastic shields, the flickering lights ultimately forming a border around the display.
Steve Sherrill, a local carpenter and founder of Arlington West, said the routine of putting up and taking down the display each Sunday has stretched far longer than he ever imagined.
But until American soldiers leave Iraq for good, he will remain with his feet in the sand every Sunday, planting cross after cross to serve as a visual reminder of the cost of war.
“We have no plans to leave and to shut this memorial down until our brave young men and women come home to their families where they belong,” Sherrill said.
Before kneeling to help light a long row of candles, former State Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson also urged an end to the war in Iraq.
“These are human beings who have lost their lives for a war that many of us knew before it started was fruitless, reckless and irresponsible,” she said. “…The way to resolve differences is not at the barrel of a gun.”
Instead, she called on the nation’s leaders to instill a sense of peace, to change the United States into a nation that will never again start a preemptive war.
“Today, we especially honor our warriors for their ultimate sacrifice,” she said. “…We must commit to them and honor them by restoring that legacy for our future generations.”
Many of those who stood watching along Stearns Wharf had been passing by during an evening walk or on their way to dinner when they noticed the crosses stretching out across the beach.
Ken Krombeen, who recently moved back to Santa Barbara after leaving in the 90s, summed up his thoughts upon seeing the memorial for the first time with one word.
“Overwhelming,” he said.
It’s easy to hear a figure on the news citing the death toll in Iraq and brush it off, he said, but seeing thousands of crosses lined up in the sand hits closer to home.
“You see something like this and it starts ringing a bell,” he said.
Beth Wilkin had a similar reaction.
“I just felt really sad,” she said. “It’s just kind of easy to put it out of your head that we’ve been at war for so many years.”
Wilkin, visiting from Chicago, said she came across Arlington West by accident after meeting a friend on Stearns Wharf.
“The timing is good to see something like this,” she said, explaining that she had no plans for Memorial Day other than enjoying a barbecue with friends.
Before the sun dipped below the horizon, dozens of visitors paused to read signs along the edge of the display citing significant events in the course of the war, such as the fall of Baghdad or the capture of Saddam Hussein — their position corresponding to the death toll at that point in time.
Others stopped along Stearns Wharf to snap photos of the memorial or talk with a volunteer from Veterans for Peace.
Many of those volunteers will remain with the display throughout the night, ensuring nothing happens to the crosses or signs.
“We’re having two-hour shifts, just like the Army,” said Bob Potter, vice president of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. “…It’s been something of a tradition.”
Potter, who served in the Army Reserves in the late 50s and early 60s, got involved with Arlington West early in its existence, coming out nearly every Sunday since to help organize the crosses and speak with passing visitors.
“I never imagined when we started this that it would go on for this length of time,” he said.
Before becoming involved in the memorial, Potter said he never did much to celebrate Memorial Day, short of perhaps reading an article in the newspaper. Now that he spends his Sundays volunteering at Arlington West, his perspective has changed.
“I see the virtue in remembering,” he said, adding, “When you have a war that people are dying in, it changes the meaning. There’s more immediacy.”
And since the memorial’s inception more than four years ago, Potter has seen a dramatic shift in public opinion about Arlington West. At first, he would encounter many people who criticized the intentions of the display and its volunteers.
“Now if people have their criticisms, they are silent,” he said.
With Potter and many others standing guard over the memorial, the crosses will remain up until this afternoon in honor of Memorial Day. Visitors are invited to walk through the display, to take photos and to reflect on those lost in battle.


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Memorial services set for Fr. Virgil

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Memorial services for Father Virgil Cordano, O.F.M., will be held at the Mission Church, Old Mission Santa Barbara, beginning this Wednesday.
A memorial ceremony will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. on the steps of the church, followed by a private burial service.
Public visitation is scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ecumenical prayer service will take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. On Thursday, the rosary will be recited at noon and an evening prayer service will take place at 7 p.m.
Donations in memory of Fr. Vigil can be made to the Fr. Virgil Cordano Living Memory Fund to support Old Mission Santa Barbara.


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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Interfaith center nears goal


BY LESLIE DINABERG
DAILY SOUND CORRESPONDENT

The deadline is looming for La Casa de Maria, which has just a few more weeks to raise an additional $100,000 toward a $1 million challenge grant to be used to pay off the property’s mortgage.

The 26-acre nonprofit interfaith retreat and conference center in Montecito is in the midst of a $7.7 million capital campaign. In addition to paying off the mortgage, Director Stephanie Glatt said that funds raised by the “Campaign to Preserve and Renew La Casa de Maria” will be used to renew the conference center’s buildings in an environmentally sensitive manner and preserve their historical and architectural integrity.
La Casa de Maria offers a quiet destination for people of all faiths to escape the stress of everyday life and deepen their spirituality through individual and couples retreats.
“We have four goals,” Glatt explained. “One is to deepen spirituality, one is to promote the common good of our community, one is to nurture a culture of peace and social justice and the fourth is to work for the renewal of the earth. All of the programs that we offer and all of the groups that use our facilities fall into one of those four categories, which makes it a great place to be because that’s what everybody here is about,” she said.
“We’re very close to paying off the mortgage and we have only $100,000 to go on our matching grant...so that’s really exciting because as soon as we do that, then we can go full speed ahead into phase two of the capital campaign,” said Glatt.
Along with paying off the mortgage and preserving the buildings, the money will also be used to preserve the ecology of the site, including the creation of a sustainable agricultural site that protects native plants and development of an organic orchard/garden to provide the produce for the dining rooms, and for the improvement of the overall health of the citrus orchard and native Coast Live Oak grove. Capital campaign monies will also go toward providing programs and retreats that address the spiritual, cultural and ecological needs of society, as well as building a fund to make scholarships available for programs and retreats.
We’ve gotten wonderful support from Santa Barbara. To think that we’ve just started this campaign three years ago and we’ve raised $4 million … it’s pretty incredible,” said Glatt. “We’re looking forward to burning the mortgage.”
To find out more about La Casa de Maria, or to donate to the capital campaign, call Stephanie Glatt at 969-5031 ext. 204 or visit lacasademaria.org.


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Ann Coulter speaks locally

BY JERAMY GORDON
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Conservative political commentator and author Ann Coulter spoke to a crowd of about 400 Friday as part of the Reagan Ranch Center’s Young America Foundation monthly roundtable luncheons.

Coulter poked fun at both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates at yesterday’s luncheon, but also touched on some highly controversial issues.
Located “in the heart of the Left Coast” on one of the busiest streets in Santa Barbara, the Reagan Ranch Center Roundtable luncheons bring conservative speakers in once a month.
Coulter took swipes at all presidential candidates yesterday, including John McCain, but hit Barack Obama the hardest, referring to him as “O-Bambi” on one occasion.
“The one good thing I can say about Obama,” Coulter said, “is that he’s probably the least dangerous person named Hussein I know.”
The majority of Coulter’s speech focused on the current presidential race and the war on terrorism. Despite her conservative background, Coulter was at one point actually rooting for Democrat Hillary Clinton this November.
“My brave little Hillary is at the end of the line,” Coulter said.
Coulter said the greatest accomplishment of the Bush administration has been the war on terrorism, but it is the fault of the left-wing media that the majority of America doesn’t know that, she said.
“Just as we’re not allowed to say the war in Iraq is actually going well,” she said, “we’re not allowed to remind the public that there hasn’t been another terrorist attack on U.S. soil in nearly 7 years.”
Coulter joked that the biggest issue with the Republican Party is their ability to solve issues.
“The biggest problem Republicans face this year is that Bush has been so successful at fighting the war on terrorists,” Coulter said. “The problem is that the Republicans solve the problems, then they have nothing to run on.”
Coulter stressed that now is not the time to drop out of that fight.
“The silver lining on an Obama presidency is we’ll get the terrorism issue back,” she joked. “And if you’re still wondering what Hillary’s stand on terrorism is, just listen to that woman give a speech.”
Coulter even took a jab at herself, saying the reason she can stay so up to date on politics is that she doesn’t have a job. “Unless you consider bedeviling Allan Colmes a job,” she said.
Colmes is best known as the liberal co-host on Fox News Channel's political debate program Hannity & Colmes.
Coulter is the author of six New York Times bestsellers — “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans “(October, 2007); “Godless: The Church of Liberalism” (June 2006); “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)” (October, 2004); “Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism” (June 2003); “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right” (June 2002); and “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton” (August 1998).
Coulter is the legal correspondent for Human Events and writes a popular syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate.
She is a frequent guest on many TV shows, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Hannity and Colmes, The Glenn Beck Show, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and has been profiled in numerous publications, including TV Guide, the Guardian (UK), the New York Observer, National Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle magazine. She was the April 25, 2005 cover story of Time magazine.
Coulter’s speech can be seen online at www.yaf.org.
The Reagan Ranch Center is located at 217 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
The center, run by the Young America’s Foundation, is dedicated to preserving the memory of former President Ronald Reagan.
The Center includes classrooms, a theater, meeting rooms, a library of conservative resources, Young America’s Foundation’s Reagan Ranch offices, and more. Many events for the Center are planned over the next year as they fulfill their mission of reaching increasing numbers of young Americans with the principles and ideas President Reagan so cherished.


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Father Virgil dead at 89

BY JERAMY GORDON
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Santa Barbara lost a friend yesterday when Father Virgil Cordano — one of the most widely recognized figures in Santa Barbara — died of what officials say was failing health and a long battle with throat cancer. He was 89.

Cordano, a long-time supporter of Santa Barbara’s annual Fiesta, came to the Mission in 1939.
“Our community is heartbroken,” said Mayor Marty Blum. “He was our conscience and we’re going to miss him a lot. He didn’t care if you were Catholic or not, he would still talk to you.”
Blum said Cordano was the best listener, always willing to hear anyone’s affliction.
“In my life, I try to be open to everyone I encounter,” Cordano told local newspaper columnist Barney Brantingham earlier this week from his hospital bed. “I may politically disagree, but I respect them. I have to promote their true good. All love is sacrificial. What counts is the kind of person you are becoming.”
Blum said she had a lot of respect for Cordano.
“My fondest memory of Fr. Virgil,” Blum said, “was at this one banquet where my husband Joe sat and talked with him, and after an hour and a half, Joe decided to convert to Roman Catholic. Since he’s Jewish, I thought it was pretty incredible.”
Blum also remembered the time she got to dance with Cordano at the Doubletree Hotel.
For years, Cordano hosted the annual Fiesta Pequena, the event that kicks off one of Santa Barbara’s wildest celebrations every year at the Mission.
“Father Virgil held a very special place in the hearts of the Board of Old Spanish Days,” said Old Spanish Days El Presidente Tim Taylor. “He joined the Board in 1963 and was on stage at Fiesta Pequeña for many years holding a leadership role with the committee that produced our opening show.”
Cordano has been ill for some time and died with his family by his side. No funeral arrangements had been made as of last night.
Raised in Sacramento, Cordano has had connections to Santa Barbara since 1939, when he moved here to attend Catholic high school at St. Anthony’s Seminary, a now-shuttered preparatory school for Franciscan priests.
He returned to the area for good in 1950, serving as seminary rector, parochial pastor, professor, author, Mission curator and pastor at the Mission.
Cordano has been a huge presence in the community at Fiesta events and public celebrations.
“He blessed every board meeting and the events he attended with wise words, encouraging all Santa Barbarans to come together in unity,” Taylor said. “He was truly larger than life in this town. He will be missed, but will always be in our hearts.”


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