Reefer Makes the Ballot

Reefer Madness II: Lara Cassell, campaign coordinator for Sensible Santa Barbara, backing the marijuana issue on the City of Santa Barbara ballot November 7, said she wants “to clear up a discrepancy that has been repeated often in regards to Measure P.

“The initiative makes marijuana offenses the lowest police priority, yet this does not apply to public use, driving under the influence, or to minors. This is explicitly stated in the text of the initiative,” she said.

It’s simply not the case, Lara said, that—as I wrote last week after talking to police—”anything would apparently take precedence over someone’s complaint that the homeless were puffing in De la Guerra Plaza … or lighting up outside S.B. Junior High.” According to Cassell, “Measure P only applies to private marijuana offenses ( i.e., inside an adult’s home), so public usage would not be included in the lowest police priority, she said.

“Furthermore, Measure P would in no way interfere with allowing the police to conduct their jobs. It is simply prioritizing their time in a way that is consistent with the values and needs of the Santa Barbara community ( i.e., 73 percent of polled S.B. voters agree that ‘by criminalizing marijuana we are clogging our courts and wasting our tax dollars and police resources on nonviolent adult marijuana offenders instead of focusing on violent crime’).”

Police strongly oppose the measure and say they already devote few resources to sniffing out pot use.

Calling Film Buffs: For $50 you can attend the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s U.S. premiere showing of Stranger Than Fiction at the Lobero on Sunday, November 5. Cast members due to attend: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, and Dustin Hoffman. For VIP tickets (more $$) to the pre-party reception with the stars, reserved seating, and after-party, call 963-0023.

On to S.L.O.: Both Al Bonowitz and Leah Etling, late of the Santa Barbara News-Press, have found a new home at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. There they’ll join former News-Pressers Tad Weber, now the Tribune‘s managing editor, who left in 2000; Stephanie Finucane (1993); Tony Prado (2000); and Don Murphy, one of the first to quit during the recent NP meltdown. Don is the Trib’s North County S.L.O. editor. Leah’s uncle Bert is also a Tribune staffer in its Cambria bureau. Al will be joining the features desk and Leah will be working with Don in Paso Robles. Both the Trib and Santa Maria Times have stocked themselves with departing talent from the NP, to the gain of those papers and loss of the News-Press and its readers, however many they be. Meanwhile, recent escapees from the NP are Melissa Olson of the ad staff and Dianne Elliott of the creative services and other key positions.

Here Come da Judges: Just a couple of weeks after the California Supremes came to Santa Barbara to hear cases, the 2nd District Court of Appeals will trek here from Ventura October 25 to hear oral arguments. The seven cases include one filed by Richard Berti against Bill Levy and his S.B. Beach Properties, a k a the time-share/commercial development on lower State Street. Gavel falls at 1:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors’ hearing room.

Constant Wife Out: I was looking forward to Ensemble Theatre’s production of Somerset Maugham’s sparkling comedy The Constant Wife. But the theater group’s new boss, Jonathan Fox, has dropped it in favor of Visiting Mr. Green. Labeled a “funny and invigorating comedy,” Green will run in the season’s second slot, opening November 24 and showing through December 17, according to Fox, ETC’s executive artistic director.

Rocco Cooks: Find me a guy who makes cooking fun and I’ll follow him anywhere. And Rocco DiSpirito made whipping up five-minute meals look like a kick during his demonstration Sunday at the Festival of Arts. (Photo of Rocco DiSpirito by Sue De Lapa) rocco%20image.jpg

But the ups and downs of opening Rocco’s 22nd Street in New York in 2003 were the focus of NBC’s The Restaurant. All the torment of hiring, firing, and getting the place in shape for those first-nighters was laid out for the world to see.

Not surprisingly, after a few highly successful forays into the world of Manhattan culinary crusades, “I got out of the restaurant business,” Rocco told me. Now the celebrity chef appears on TV and writes cookbooks. And good ones, like my wife Sue’s copy of Flavor. Sunday he and Elements owner/chef Paul Becking were whomping up quickies from his new book, Rocco’s 5-Minute Flavor.

In it, Rocco shows how to prepare tasty meals using fresh food and some prepared ingredients, employing short-cut methods. “America’s changed,” he told me. “Everyone wants a piece of the good life.” People want to cook at home and have folks in but not necessarily spend hours over a hot stove, he said.

He was in town as part of a 15-city Lincoln auto tour, introducing four new vehicles.

New Dishes: Shelley Shoemaker and David Bozzini are new owners of Barcliff & Bair restaurant in La Arcada Court, 1112 State Street, and they are planning to expand the menu. That means more salads and desserts. And why not? Shelley was a pastry chef at Brigitte’s and the Four Seasons Biltmore, and ran the Lazy Acres bakery for six years. Also coming: High tea.

Solstice Needs $$$: One way to help the wacky Summer Solstice celebration is to come to the Black Cat Ball Halloween party October 28 at 631 Garden Street. Tickets are $25 (including one drink ticket, that’s cheap). Info at 965-5535.

101 Best Scenes: Barnaby Conrad will be signing two of his books at Tecolote book shop Thursday, 5-6:30 p.m. They’re The 101 Best Scenes Ever Written and a re-issue of his The Death of Manolete, the great bullfighter.

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