Just two days before the scheduled trial, Santa Barbara City College agreed to pay $1 million to a woman raped by an on-duty campus security guard in his truck two years ago. SBCC President John Romo said it was in the best interest of both sides to avoid a painful and protracted courtroom experience. Three women ultimately accused City College security guard and student Kent Kafatia of sexual assault. Kafatia is now serving an eight-year sentence, and his story revealed significant deficiencies in City College security practices. Romo said the college now conducts background checks on security personnel, maintains much better records of on-campus crimes, and has hired more security guards.
NASCAR, the Sierra Club, and the YMCA have filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of the City of Santa Barbara and against the parents of Katie Janeway, the young girl who drowned three years ago while enrolled at a City Parks and Recreation program. At issue is whether the release the Janeways signed when enrolling their daughter gives the city immunity in cases of gross negligence. The three organizations argued that if such releases are not legally binding, then organizations like theirs will drastically curtail the recreational opportunities now offered to the public. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case next spring. If City Hall prevails, the case is over. If the Janeways prevail, the case will be argued before a Santa Barbara County jury.
Santa Barbara City police negotiators rejected City Hall’s “last, best, and final” offer and are threatening to take their contract dispute directly to voters in the form of a special election. This Thursday evening, the union will hold a membership meeting in the back room of Harry’s Plaza Café to discuss the city’s offer, which police union chief Mike McGrew guaranteed would be overwhelmingly rejected. “It’ll look like [the movie] Braveheart just before they [the Scots] attacked the British,” he predicted. The two sides disagree on the exact amount of the city’s latest offer. McGrew maintains it’s a 21 percent pay hike over a three-year period after medical coverage is factored in, while Councilmember Das Williams said the figure is 24.24 percent. “I’d like to give them even more, but I don’t think that’s possible,” Williams said.
The battle for hearts, minds, and political endorsements remains unabated in the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s race, with three Santa Barbara City Councilmembers endorsing the incumbent – Sheriff Jim Anderson – and four supporting his opponent – Lompoc Police Chief Bill Brown. Mayor Marty Blum and Councilmembers Iya Falcone and Roger Horton endorsed Anderson, arguing that he prevailed despite the controversy over the Sheriff’s Council, over which he presided earlier this year. Councilmembers Grant House, Das Williams, Helene Schneider, and Brian Barnwell endorsed Brown, saying the challenger would bring fresh ideas to the office.