Tall Orders

Quit Gagging the News: If the News-Press would print more news and send fewer gag orders to its employees and condescending letters to local attorneys, we’d all be better off. Late last week, newsroom journalists got hit with two more gag orders, making a total of five. And the NP hired local pit bull attorney Barry Cappello to fire off a letter to attorneys of the Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech. These are the volunteers supporting the NP journalists past and present. But Cappello claimed that the group’s “real purpose” is to support litigation against the paper, its owner, publishers, and certain other employees (he didn’t’ say what litigation) and the “reasons are pecuniary and personal, nothing more, nothing less.” Cappello, who’s made many a buck suing banks over lender liability, urged the lawyers to “reconsider your affiliation and at least wait until our side of this story is told.”

Wait a minute,” urged blogger Craig Smith, an attorney. “McCaw is one of those rare individuals who buys printer’s ink by the barrel, so just what is keeping her from presenting ‘the News-Press’ side of the story?’” Said Smith: “We will not be bullied.” Nor will staffers like Dawn Hobbs, who stood up at a packed reception Saturday night at Arnoldi’s and, despite the gag orders, urged people to cancel their News-Press subscriptions and support merchants who display “McCaw Obey the Law” signs. mccaw%20obey%20law.jpg Meanwhile, an attorney for the Teamsters, now representing newsroom workers who are unionizing, says that the feds will hold what amounts to a trial in early 2007 in Santa Barbara over allegations that the News-Press violated labor laws, including the firing of veteran reporter Melinda Burns, a union leader. The looming question now: Will Hobbs get the ax too?

Woody Allen: Sunday will be the Woodman’s first visit to Santa Barbara with his New Orleans Jazz Band, and perhaps his last. woody%20allen.jpg He’ll be playing at the Lobero at 8 p.m.

Missing Rocks: “Just in time for Christmas, someone’s removed the rocks in the median at the very west end of Coast Village Road, where some poor souls had taken to sitting while panhandling,” observed John Seymour. “This can’t be coincidental. It seems a bit mean-spirited.” (On the other hand, CVR puts on a great Farmers Market on Fridays.)

Cota Street Clutter: After I wrote about Santa Barbara restaurant king Gene Montesano’s long-delayed plans to open an eatery on East Cota at the site of the former Mousse Odile, I heard from two readers deploring what they call the unkempt, unsightly condition of the boarded-up property.

Naked Cupboards: Diane Durst told me sadly that cupboards at the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County are bare. foodbank.jpg “We are in desperate need of 50,000 pounds of canned and packaged foods.” You can drop off food for the needy at 4554 Hollister Ave. Info at 967-5741.

McCune Aids Transition House: Philanthropist Sara Miller McCune and her Sage Publications has put up a $250,000 challenge grant for Transition House family shelter. transition%20house.jpg If the community will match it, the last $500,000 will be raised to pay for its renovated emergency shelter. Transition House has already raised $2 mil. If you can help with the match, call Kathleen Baushke at 966-9668.

He Was a Gang Member: Speaking of Transition House, let’s hear from Lawrence, member of a local gang for years. “I thought it made me a man, but being part of a gang almost lost me my family,” he said in a letter the family shelter sent out.

Lawrence was born in Santa Barbara, but after his parents split up, he lost stability. He quit school and joined a gang in a foolish attempt to gain respect, got stabbed, and landed in jail. He and his wife had a daughter, but almost lost custody due to their drug use. “The thought of losing her scared us enough to want to make a change,” he said.

Encouraged by his father, he went into drug rehab and quit the gangs. “We weren’t sure exactly how we were going to do it but we knew we wanted to earn an honest living and give (their children, now numbering two girls) a safe and secure home.” Luckily, they found Transition House, where they learned to budget, “be a true family,” and find work. The first few weeks were rough. “I was scared to go to work.” But, he said, “Once I started working, my confidence grew. After a few months, I could stop worrying about failing.”

Then they applied for TH’s second-step program and moved to the Firehouse shelter. “Although we were both working full-time, our entry-level salaries would never cover the cost of rent in Santa Barbara. Again, I was worried about failing.” The family income wasn’t enough to pay for the next step: their own apartment.

“But Transition House had a solution. They gave us a chance to apply for one of their apartments.” If they continued to work with their case manager, made their monthly savings deposit, and came up with a long-term plan to make more money, they could move into an apartment at affordable rent.

Then, Lawrence wrote, “We got our apartment. It is such a nice place.” The kids are doing well. “I think we’ll be busy — too busy to worry about failing,” he said. “And way too busy to even consider going back to a gang.

“Thanks to all at Transition House and to all its supporters for showing us how to be the parents we want to be and for helping me finally be the man I want to be. I’m very grateful.”

Along with his letter sent out by the Transition House folks, there’s a picture of a happy family: Lawrence, Lisa, and the two girls. You can find out how to make donations at

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