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Sandpiper Sunset Path

Santa Barbara photo to start the week by Bill Heller. (click to enlarge)

The path along the course at Sandpiper Golf course. Somwhere around the 15th hole at the Sandpiper Golf course, you’ll find this curve in the path. As you are moving toward the setting sun in the distance over the Pacific Ocean you might wonder if this is the best place on earth to play golf, or even just enjoy the amazing scene.

-Bill Heller

Santa Barbara’s Suicide Barrier a Bust

The controversial suicide barrier that ruined the views of the historic Cold Springs Arch Bridge has proven to be ineffective just six months after completion. According to reports, a 30-year old man allegedly foiled the multi-million dollar cage and jumped to his death this week. The tragic suicide marks the 55th time a person has jumped to his/her death since the bridge opened in in 1964. The man has been identified as Peter Stefan Roycewicz from Santa Monica.

EcoFacts: Energy Incentives‏

Part of the goal of the economic stimulus package that Obama enacted, shortly after taking charge of a country that was in economic shambles, was to invest in clean energy and the jobs and greater energy security that this would create: a more progressive energy infrastructure. Billions were poured into tax credits to make buildings and homes more energy efficient, improve public transit systems, investments in companies that make batteries, solar panels, wind turbines and much more. While other jobs were lost, jobs in this sector grew, 75,000 in wind power alone. The Economist states  that less than 2% of those investments went bad, most notably Solyndra. So were 98% good? We are, in fact, conserving more energy now. Home energy use and gasoline consumption are down. And in the last several years, costs of renewable energy have dropped and the energy obtained from it has doubled.

Even at their peak in 2009, clean energy subsidies were still less than those of the highly profitable fossil fuel industries. Definitions of subsidies vary, but here is one historical perspective.

The Santa Barbara Reading List

Santa Barbara has likely had more books written about it than any other of similar size. A combination of factors have made this possible, including colorful early days; numerous transformations; notable visitors and residents with great wealth, philanthropy and civic pride; a spirit of entrepreneurism; an inspirational natural setting, and a population that values and supports literary efforts. Here is the third installment of the Santa Barbara Reading List—Viewers are encouraged to share recommendations of their own.

Santa Barbara: A Guide to the Channel City and Its Environs

Compiled and written by the Southern California Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration (Hastings House, 1941)

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Developing Every Last Open Space

The parcel pictured below, with beautiful mountain views on Hollister Ave. between Glen Annie Road and Santa Felicia Drive in Goleta, is scheduled to become a 23.5-acre, mixed-use project, pictured right. The project, submitted by Westar Associates, includes: 274 residential units, large buildings up to three stories and 74 feet high, pocket parks, open space, stores and restaurants. If the Goleta Planning Commission approves Westar’s proposal, the Goleta City Council will have final say. The only thing that could derail the project is the possibility of finding Chumash artifacts on site during construction.


Elections, Elections, more Elections…

By Sharon Byrne

What do we really want in a candidate?

It’s election season. Conventions are rolling, and candidates are wooing us. El-smurfo, unwittingly, kicked off a 2-week period of interesting synchronicities by posting this comment:

I saw it, as did several supporters of my run last year, who promptly sent sympathy comments. I’ve accepted the results of that election. I’m over it. But Smurfo’s comment contained the seeds of a question that seemed to want answering:

Why don’t we elect pragmatic problem solvers? What is it we want?

Random occurrences seem to be trying to answer that question, and I just hope I have enough skill to make some sense of them here.

Recently, I observed the workings of a local political organization’s endorsement process. In the Carpinteria City Council race, one of the candidates is incumbent Kathleen Reddington. I don’t live in Carp, and have no attachment to any of the candidates. The only one I have seen in action is Reddington, in her work on the South Coast Homeless Advisory Committee, where she, along with Margaret Connell and Doreen Farr, was about as effective as one can be on such a committee. Continue reading…

Running from the Truth: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

By Cheri Rae

Flat-out lying has become a sport practiced by politicians, those who serve them and those who speak for them and magnify the lies by repeating them over and over again.

There is something mesmerizing about watching a candidate spin tales and make boldfaced misrepresentations that are so easily proven wrong—right in front of the whole world, including his wife, his children and even his mother happily applauding his untruths. But the liar gets to frame it first, and dares anyone else to take the time and gain the airtime to refute incorrect assertions.

Too bad for Paul Ryan he told one lie too many. He’s been getting away with whoppers about Medicare, plant closings, his long post-adolescent hero worship of Ayn Rand, and his own appalling record ranging from total support of the Bush agenda to issues of choice.

But then he went on the radio and lied about his marathon Personal Record, claiming a sub-three-hour time, when it was actually 4:01:25.

Unlike politicians—accustomed to comfortably fast-talking their way out of lies—runners still hold onto a code of honor. And lying about one’s PR is just not done.

The man who is running for vice president fooled around with one too many facts and finally got tripped up. By Runner’s World magazine.

I know first-hand that the publication has always been adamant about accuracy, fact-checking and keeping reams of statistics.

Back in the day, I was an editor for Runner’s World. Down the hall from my office was my co-worker, statistician Marty Post. In those pre-internet days he spent his work hours quietly poring over records and reports from race directors of every 10K, marathon, half-marathon and even ultra-marathon in the nation and beyond. I never could figure out how he kept so much statistical information at his fingertips. And he could spot a fake faster than most people can lace up their running shoes.

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Three-Foot Bike Passing Bill Passes

Nothing stirs the pot in Santa Barbara like protocols for bicyclists and motorists dealing with bicyclists. Last week, the California State Assembly passed a bill that would require motorists to provide three feet of space when passing bicyclists. SB 1464 passed after a raucous debate that took nearly 30 minutes and is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown later this month. The law would require:

  • drivers, when overtaking a bicyclist in the same lane and same direction of travel, to pass the bicyclist with at least three feet of clearance.
  • Allows drivers on a two-lane road to cross a solid double yellow centerline, when safe, to pass a bicyclist with at least three feet of clearance.
  • When drivers overtaking a bicyclist cannot give at least three feet of clearance, they must slow down to a speed that is reasonable and prudent given traffic and roadway conditions and only pass when it’s safe to do so.


Crop of Props

By Loretta Redd

This November election ballot will offer over a dozen initiatives, most designed  to baffle voters and test our capacity to decipher truth from falsehood and  jewels from junk.  It would help–slightly- -if every voter had a dual degree in political science and law; but even then, there would be plenty of room for interpretation.

One such initiative, planted in the California field of dreams, is Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food.  According to, and other interpretive websites, Prop 37 will:

require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways; prohibit labeling or advertising such food as ‘natural;’ exempt from this requirement foods that are ‘certified’ organic – unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material, made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processes with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”

James Wheaton, who filed the ballot language, entitled it, “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”

I call it “The Good Disclosure, then Sell Out or Accommodate Everyone Act.”

What’s driving this sudden interest in the RNA and DNA of our foodstuffs is the fear felt by large food and beverage corporations who have profited mightily by having their labels branded as “natural” or organic, when in fact, they are genetically modified or use modified ingredients.

We consumers want to do “the right thing.”  When Santa Barbarans can’t get to the numerous locally grown and organically harvested  Farmer’s Markets around town, I imagine we do our best to buy brands such as Kashi, Morningstar brands, or Silk soy products, Odwalla, Naked Juice or the like.

It hurts me to have to tell you that all of the above are produced by corporations including Kellogg’s, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Con-Agra…all of whom are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars to see Proposition 37 defeated.

The organic-bean-sprout-huggers behind  the Prop 37 movement have raised $3 million to spread the message that consumers have a right to have genetically modified foods clearly labeled as such.  Unfortunately, the biotech, chemical, and mega-food corporations have already raised ten times that much to defeat the measure.  The contribution scoreboard looks like the USC-Hawaii football final last Saturday.

Here are three basics that the bean-huggers want you to consider:

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