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LAW AND DISORDER


Twenty days after the election, Sheriff Jim Anderson finally conceded defeat and pledged to work with his opponent, Lompoc Police Chief Bill Brown, to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. Brown beat Anderson by about 8,100 votes; 3,000 provisional ballots are left to be counted. Anderson’s campaign manager, Richard Cochrane, has complained that the election results were marred because “the playing field was neither fair nor balanced,” claiming that 47,000 campaign postcards mailed in the last week of the campaign were delivered to the wrong people because of faulty lists provided by county elections officials. County elections czar Joe Holland acknowledged that the names were wrong, but said the fliers all arrived at the right addresses and in a timely fashion.

Sylvia Vasquez appeared in court to hear attorneys argue over what evidence can and cannot be used in her upcoming trial on charges that she abused her four adopted children. Judge Frank J. Ochoa ruled that the jury will be allowed to view a cage taken from Vasquez’s home, and may hear testimony regarding an incident that occurred 20 years ago in which Vasquez allegedly abducted a child from Mexico and later singed her tongue with a match. Evidence that will not be allowed at trial includes testimony from Vasquez alleging that her oldest adopted son sexually abused his sisters and was violent toward animals, justifying his confinement to a linen closet beneath the stairs. The trial is set to begin in January.

The Santa Barbara News-Press and city officials are in a face-off over some illegal fencing the News-Press installed. The newspaper never obtained permission for the fence and has been asked to take it down, but has opted to negotiate with the city, claiming that the fencing is meant to protect pedestrians from a routine power-washing with a hose. Among News-Press staff, the new addition has inspired the nickname “Wrong-Wall Wendy” for owner Wendy McCaw, who one employee said should have put up a wall between herself and the news staff some time ago.

Con artists are once again sending emails to Santa Barbara Bank and Trust customers telling them to update their account information. The email links to a Web page that closely resembles the real thing. Bank spokesperson Debbie Whiteley would not estimate the number of customers who have fallen for the scam or complained of being victimized. However, she emphasized that the bank will never contact customers either by phone or email with requests for personal or financial information. Not only do these scams prey on the naïve, said police Lt. Paul McCaffrey, but members of the public would be misguided to think that the FBI, Interpol, or local constabularies can spare the resources to track email scams to their sources.

Bickering between the City and the County of Santa Barbara escalated to a legal battle last October when City Attorney Stephen Wiley filed a complaint for declaratory relief against the county, claiming the city has been wrongfully billed for overhead fees generated by local elections for the past three years. County official Woody Lavayen stated that the city has been billed in exact accordance with the state’s election code, which dictates that the county must be reimbursed for all election costs. The city, which owes the county approximately $140,000, has threatened to conduct future elections through an outside firm.

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