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On the Beat 3-15-2007


On the Beat

Look for the Union Label: It’s been a long, hard struggle since embattled News-Press journalists were forced to protect themselves and newsroom ethics by forming a union last summer. But now they’ve defeated owner Wendy McCaw in a key legal skirmish. Federal administrative Judge William Schmidt on Monday upheld the September 27 union vote, rejecting McCaw’s claim that the election was flawed and should be overturned. An anonymous comment on a blog comparing the McCaw regime with that of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, because of the alleged “same propensity for unethical and erratic behavior,” for instance, was insufficient to reject the 33-6 vote, Judge Schmidt ruled. As for journalists who claim they were illegally fired and want their jobs back, more hearings and hurdles loom ahead as many unfair labor practice complaints remain to be tackled. “We’re very excited about the judge’s decision; however, we expected from the beginning that he was going to rule in our favor,” said former police and court reporter Dawn Hobbs, a union activist fired by McCaw for “disloyalty.” “We anticipate that this will be the first in a series of rulings regarding our charges against the company.” Hobbs expects the National Labor Relations Board to announce this week that it will be prosecuting the News-Press for seven allegedly illegal firings.

Mum Panhandler: The young guy sitting on State Street wanted some spare change but he didn’t want to ask for it. So he held this sign: “I Don’t Want to Say It. You Don’t Want to Hear It.”

Missing at the Mission: As the powerful pastoral associate at the Santa Barbara Mission, Pat Sandall has been a highly controversial and abrasive figure there and made countless enemies in the community. But her reign has ended. Fr. Daniel, OFM, who took over last year as pastor, announced Sunday that Pat has decided to leave the job.

Teacher Walks at Night: If you see a guy strolling around McKinley Elementary School tonight, Thursday, it’ll be P.E. teacher Matt Johnston, raising funds on a 24-hour walk. He sets out today at noon, hoping folks will drop by and drop off checks to help the school’s P.E. program. He’s shooting for $5,000.

Goleta $$$: Although Goleta may have elected the best City Council that developer money can buy, Roger Aceves says it’s wrong to lump him in with the big money boys. Roger says he raised only $27,000 or so and didn’t run as part of a slate with Michael Bennett and Eric Onnen, who were backed by major developer donations.

Nunsense: I never knew nuns could be so much fun. I took in the Nunsense show last weekend at the renovated (thank God) Timbers and needed a sharp whack across the knuckles with a ruler to stop laughing. Clever lyrics, fine voices, and a little soft-shoe to boot. The singing “nuns” are local, including a Westmont grad who teaches math at San Marcos. Nunsense winds up next weekend but other shows are being cooked up, including the Silver Follies variety show and Honky Tonk Laundry. Info at 968-2222.

Dinner: Impossible: The most memorable food I ate during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was the gourmet goodies dished out by Dinner: Impossible chef Robert Irvine and his Food Network pals at the Arlington after-party one night. The episode will be screened on Channel 64 on Wednesday, March 21, at 10:30 p.m. Info at foodnetwork.com.

False Story: It makes for a good yarn, but it just isn’t so. I just ran into a couple of tales telling of the February 1942 shelling of the Ellwood oil facilities by a Japanese sub, the I-17. Supposedly, the sub commander was taking revenge after being humiliated by townsfolk when he fell into some cactus after landing while his tanker was taking on oil before the war. This never happened. I’ve written debunking the story, but it keeps popping up. For one thing, a former Japanese tanker captain would not be commanding a navy sub. I’ve even talked to people who claim that the whole shelling incident never happened, despite many witnesses and Japanese war records. Others insist that it was staged by our own government in order to fire up the war effort. This, of course, is not only absurd but given the white-hot patriotism that surged after the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the fires of anger needed no stoking.

Wrap Your PhD Around This: Hal Lewis reports on this example of academic gobbledygook: Here’s a description of an upcoming UCSB talk on Narrativizing Violence: Indexicality and the Politics of Truth, by Charles Briggs, a professor of folklore at UC Berkeley. “Social-scientific knowledge-making intersects with technocratic, mediated, and ‘popular’ modalities in problematizing the notion that narratives of violence are immanently and automatically tied to the events they represent.”

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 965-5205. He also writes Tuesday and Friday online columns.

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