On the Beat 4-03-2007

When future President John F. Kennedy honeymooned at the San Ysidro Ranch with Jackie in 1953, he paid a mere $27 a night. Today it would set you back $2,990 to bed down in the vastly renovated Kennedy Cottage, a Ranch spokeswoman confirmed Monday. The renovation is part of a $150 million redo of Ty Warner’s Montecito getaway. Stonehouse restaurant and Plow & Angel lounge have reopened as well.

By Paul Wellman

Ellen’s Asking $24 mil: Talk show queen Ellen DeGeneres, who has bought and sold more Southern California properties in the last 10 years than virtually any other Hollywood celebrity, is asking $24 million for the Montecito estate she bought just six months ago.

If she gets the full $24 mil price after paying $15.75 million for the 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival house on Ashley Road, she’ll clean up. Just why she put the George Washington Smith-designed property on the market so soon isn’t clear. But according to Big Time Listings, she recently sold a 20-acre estate in the Santa Ynez Valley for $3 million, which she bought in December, 2005 for $2.8 mil. Also, according to Big Time Listings, she sold a 119-acre property on Armour Ranch Road in the Santa Ynez Valley for an undisclosed price in late 2006. Her current residence is a compound off Sunset Strip in LA. Possibly Ellen, who hosted the 2007 Oscars, is too busy in show biz land to spend enough time hereabouts. Santa Barbara realtor Suzanne Perkins has the listing and you can see photos of the Ashley Road house on her website.

Lodge’s Long ‘Sentence’: At 75, lanky Joe Lodge is the longest serving California judge still serving on the bench. Lawyer Joe was first elected in 1958, when judges didn’t have to be attorneys and the right to be represented by a lawyer didn’t exist, according to a recent profile in the Daily Journal, a Los Angeles legal publication. “At the time one of the judges in the county was a milkman,” Lodge said. “But some of these guys did a very good job.” On one hand, he said, it was a time when the legal system often failed to protect the rights of defendants. There were no Miranda rights, no right to an interpreter, no rules about suppressing illegally obtained evidence, no uniform bail schedule and citizens could file criminal complaints against each other directly in court, he said. On the other hand, “We’ve become so moralistic and judgmental that society is tolerating much less” than in an era of a simpler legal system, Lodge said. “We have too many prisoners.”

Lodge told the Daily Journal that he is concerned with the failure of many judges to understand and take into account the mental disorders many defendants have before sentencing them, and a growing intolerance towards petty criminals and drug offenders who often need treatment more than anything. Lodge has long had a reputation as being unpredictable and unorthodox. “You can always count on Judge Lodge to do the unexpected,” criminal defense attorney James Crowder told the journal. “Sometimes lawyers don’t understand his reasoning, but he does have the courage to do what he thinks is best.”

McCaw Turncoat: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that SF PR man Sam Singer, hired by News-Press owner Wendy McCaw early in the NP meltdown, soon switched sides.One jolly and supportive guest at the fundraiser for Jerry Roberts’ legal fees in his “dispute” with McCaw was none other than Singer, reported columnist Leah Garchik. After a short time working for Wendy, Singer switched sides and at the recent AT&T Park event Sam not only bought a bunch of silent auction items, but forked over more than the entrance fee”paid with money he’d made by his brief allegiance with McCaw,” Garchik wrote.

(Barney Brantingham can be reached at or 805-965-5205. He is a staff writer for the Santa Barbara Independent, with a print column in the Thursday print edition and online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays.)

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