On the Beat

And Then There Were None: The 10th and 11th journalists to resign from the Santa Barbara News-Press during the ongoing meltdown are Lindsay Foster, a young copy editor and designer; and Camie Cohee, a Montecito and Carpinteria reporter, just back from her honeymoon. The new hubby: Santa Barbara City Councilmember Brian Barnwell. As I understand it, when Camie returned to work Tuesday she ran into so much unprofessional flak from management that she quit in protest, to the applause of her fellow journos.

With this kind of stuff going on, more resignations are on the way. (Will the last person out of the newsroom please turn out the lights?) Meanwhile, ex-editor Jerry Roberts has two teaching gigs. Next month he’s taking over the late Bayard Stockton’s City College Adult Ed classes in writing and public affairs. And he will be teaching UCSB classes on The State of American Journalism. Resigned NP editor Don Murphy has caught on as North County San Luis Obispo editor for the SLO Tribune.

News-Press journalists didn’t have to ask, but I know of at least three daily advertisers backing their cause (sanity in the newsroom) who say they plan to cut back when their contracts expire. Wendy has reportedly hired Ogletree Deakins, “one of the largest  — and one of the many — anti-union legal teams in the U.S.,” according to the United Auto Workers. “Ogletree represents more than half of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies and has defeated almost every union it has engaged.” Looks like a rough road for NP newsies planning to unionize, even with the Teamsters on their side.

Weeks after the News-Press requested an injunction against ex-business editor Michael Todd, the paper finally got around to writing about it Tuesday. (Scooped by The Indy, as usual.) But whoever wrote the story (“staff reports”) didn’t bother to contact Todd for his side. Which would have been, Mike told me, that he believes the paper is using the incident to come after him because he’s been speaking out about the NP meltdown. An August 15 hearing is scheduled over a freelance photographer’s complaint about what Todd contends was a dumb joke, but which she apparently took seriously. “I take workplace safety as seriously as anybody,” Todd told me.

Small Is Better? Neil Ablitt claims that the tower house he’s building is so compact that you could put 57 of them inside Oprah’s Montecito mansion. At least by the L.A. Times’s reckoning. How small is it? Well, between 643 and 1,000 square feet of living space, depending on whom you ask and the definition, Neil said. The building is 19 by 19 feet square on a lot that’s only 20 by 20. The place will be 53 feet high, in the middle of the 400 block of State, officially 13 W. Haley St. It’s taking 800,000 pounds of poured concrete, more than four miles of rebar, and rests on nine caissons 44 feet deep. He mentioned an 18,000-square-foot house at the beach, not including a guest house, and a 17,300-square-footer a couple wants to build in Montecito. “We don’t doubt these big homes will be lovely, but the Ablitt House will be lovely too — just smaller — and will have consumed considerably less of our valuable and limited resources,” Neil said. Good Morning America wants the exclusive on shooting the interior but there’s nothing final on that, he said. Completion? Fall or later.

Vanity Fair Due: Vanity Fair’s story and pix on the NP meltdown is due to hit the newsstands the first week of September.

Dr. Dan on the Coast: Dan Secord is back on the Coastal Commission, although it’s news to many who missed the brief announcement a couple of months ago. Dr. Dan explained to me: His 2004 appointment lapsed when he was term-limited off the Santa Barbara City Council earlier this year. In May, Gov. Arnold named him an alternate to Katcho Achadjian. When Steve Kram’s alternate quit, the governor appointed Dan in his place. “Mr. Kram is a busy person and so I attend most of the Coastal Commission meetings and vote,” Dan said. Secord, a Republican, is mighty popular in Sacramento, it seems.

Movie Time: As for Scoop, at the Riviera, “I thought that was the best Woody Allen film I’d seen in years, though we all were a bit distracted by the distinct smell of urine in the theater,” reported Hugh Margerum. … Correction: Monster House, which I mentioned last week, was directed by Gil Kenan. Robert Zemeckis co-executive-produced with Steven Spielberg.

NP Forum on TV: Here’s the schedule of Channel 17 showings of last week’s community forum on the News-Press freedom of the press issues: Today, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Friday, 2 p.m.; Saturday, 3 a.m.; Sunday, 10 p.m. At the forum Jerry Roberts said he quit the NP because the paper was in gross violation of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

Fiesta Food: I’ll be eating my way through Fiesta this week, posting culinary comments on Barney’s Fiesta Blog at, along with Sue’s photos.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at The Independent at 965-5205 x230 or at

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