Tuesday, September 19

SHE QUIT: Why would a young, rising star at the News-Press resign? Leah Etling started as a 17-year-old unpaid intern at the paper and went on to become the first female sports staffer (not counting freelancers) while at UCSB. She left to earn a master’s degree at UC Berkeley in 2000-2002, then returned to cover higher education, the Santa Ynez Valley, and sports.

Her father, William Etling, was among the community columnists fired recently. “Not sure what my next move will be,” she said. When I asked why she quit, she answered, “I left because I felt that my hard work was no longer appreciated at the paper, and the emotional and physical stress of the situation became overwhelming. My father’s termination, without one single sentiment of respect or admiration expressed by management for his great columns, was a major factor.”

The elder Etling is now writing a column for the Santa Ynez Valley News, owned by Lee Newspapers.

LIGHT FINGERS: “We have our suspicions but no proof” about who walked off with the large black antique theater spotlight that was part of the recent La Cumbre Junior High rummage sale, Karen Dutton tells me. The sale was to raise money to send Core Knowledge seventh graders to Europe in the spring, Karen said. The spotlight was from the old La Cumbre theater. “Shame on the persons who walked away with this item without paying for it,” she said. “If anyone sees this item for sale anywhere” call the school at 687-0761.

TOO MUCH LIGHT: John Turner and Julia Kauffman say they’ve been complaining to the city since mid-August about bright “San Quentin yard” arc lights afflicting their neighborhood. But, they say, despite a series of back-and-forth e-mails with city staffers, there’s been no action, although they claim the lights at State and Pedregosa are illegal. “Unfortunately, the zoning enforcement program does not have the resources to address all complaints immediately,” Turner and Kauffman were told. The company that owns the property, Hoppy Toad Land Co., 5383 Hollister Ave., has an unlisted number, the city said.

GOING TO THE DOGS: How come some dog-lovers treat their neighbors like shit? Sue and I have made many friends among owners who come by equipped with plastic bags to clean up after their pooches. But judging from mounds of dog doo-doo we’ve been finding along the curb outside our house and adjoining ones, and because we don’t see loose dogs roaming, we’ve got to wonder who’s not picking up after Fido. That means that Sue has to do the messy, smelly job. (My bad back, you know.)

PUNISH THE PEACEMAKERS: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Unaccustomed as I am to quoting scripture, I couldn’t help recalling that when I read about the feds getting after a Pasadena church. Seems as though the IRS hankers to lift All Saints Episcopal Church’s nonprofit status because a visitor preached an anti-war sermon just before the 2004 presidential election. I wonder if a pro-war sermon would have gotten the IRS so fired up?

LEN’S NEW JOB: No sooner did Len Wood, News-Press photo chief for the past decade, decamp from De la Guerra Plaza than he signed on as assistant managing editor for visuals and design for the Santa Maria Times and Lee Central Coast Newspapers. They include the Lompoc Record, Santa Ynez Valley News, Times Press Recorder in Arroyo Grande, Adobe Press in Nipomo, and Tiempo. Len started at the News-Press while still in high school 29 years ago and, conveniently for his new post, lives in Lompoc.

RALLY FOR $$$: News-Press newsroom folks say they’ll hold a rally Sunday at De la Guerra Plaza, from 3 to 4 p.m., followed by a fundraiser at Ruby’s Café, 4 to 6 p.m., with music and snacks. The suggested donation of $20 will go to the growing Journalist Loan Fund to help current and former News-Press employees “who have been forced out, fired, or suspended without pay,” the journalists announced. They said they expect to win their union election by a large margin September 27 and are urging subscribers to cancel until a fair contract has been agreed on.

HUSH PUPPIES: With rock legend Bo Diddley due to play the Lobero on September 25, Elements chef/co-owner Paul Becking is planning a pre-concert dinner featuring dishes from the Deep South, honoring Bo’s Mississippi roots. How about a black-eyed pea and smoked ham soup or fried green tomato and hush puppy salad, plus free-range chicken pot pie with Southern greens or crawfish andouille sausage gumbo, followed by peach cobbler?

BROOKS DEN: Faculty members at Brooks Institute of Photography will be auctioning off their work at the Book Den Sunday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. to help support an upcoming student visit to China for documentary photography. Viewing of the photos begins Wednesday.

SWEET MUSIC: When the Santa Barbara Symphony’s new music director, Nir Kabaretti, arrives here for the first concert of the season on October 14, he’ll not only bring his baton but his bride, Gaja. They met cute, as Hollywood puts it, at an opera in Florence. She’s a lawyer and vocal student.

SCRABBLE TIME: You’re good with words, right? Well, the Santa Barbara Public Library is holding a Scrabble tournament on September 30, from noon to 4 p.m. to raise money for its adult and family literacy program. For $20, you get to play two rounds. Call 564-5619 for tickets. That’s also the day of the Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival at the library.

cousteau9resized.jpg OUTDOOR FLICK: Santa Barbara’s Jean-Michel Cousteau brings his final “Ocean Adventures” episode to the big outdoor screen at Elings Park on Wednesday, September 20. The film, titled America’s Underwater Treasures, is a peak at all of our country’s national marine sanctuaries along with Jean-Michel’s son and daughter. The park’s gates open at 5:30 p.m., Jean-Michel will talk at 7 p.m., and then the two-part film will hit the screen.

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