Ashley is Not Missing: Ah, the Internet, jammed wall-to-wall with hoaxes.
Recently, an “Amber Alert” flashed on my email screen, sent by a Santa Barbara woman I know: “Ashley Flores,” a 13-year-old Philadelphia girl, was missing it said. And there was her picture, a pretty lass who had surely been snatched by evil-doers.
But Ashley is not missing. In fact, there is no Ashley Flores, at least not the one mentioned in the hoax that hit cyberspace over a year ago. Another Santa Barbaran immediately questioned the message and pointed out to me that it’s a fake, according to snopes.com, which tries to separate Internet fact from fiction.
The photo? It’s apparently a teen prank. The hoax message, which has produced thousands of concerned replies since 2006, implored: “It only takes 2 seconds to forward this.” Better to take a minute to check these things out before cluttering up cyberspace and the e-mail boxes of your friends and associates, eh?
Ellen Scores: In just 14 months, funny girl Ellen DeGeneres has apparently made a big profit on the Montecito home she recently sold. She bought the George Washington Smith-designed 1926 Mediterranean-style home for a reported $15.75 million and just sold the place, which was listed at $24 million. (The sale price was not announced.) It’s not clear whether she ever actually lived in the home. And now, according to the Wall Street Journal, Ellen has bought a 6,000-square-foot Beverly Hills home from Max Mutchnick, co-creator of the hit sitcom Will and Grace. But Ellen is still being seen around town, so she apparently still likes it here.
Plaza on the Ballot?: The News-Press isn’t the only one to question the proposed wholesale renovation of De la Guerra Plaza. It may have selfish reasons to oppose eliminating parking in front of its offices, but others are opposed too. I was approached by a seventh-generation Santa Barbara woman whose doubts reflected a lot of opposition. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” she told me while shopping at Trader Joe’s. And DeLois Cramer called to ask why a proposed plan can’t be put on the ballot for residents to vote on. Replied Mayor Marty Blum: “Fixing up De la Guerra Plaza is a matter of design. I don’t know how you put a blueprint on a ballot. The proposal is not final at all. The current City Council has not even seen it yet. The plan is going through the boards and commissions, and the suggestions will be considered and enfolded into the design. And all meetings are open to the public, not behind closed doors.
“Of course, the question of the parking in that block is a big one. There needs to be some parking spaces close to City Hall, some close to the News-Press so people can do their business, and some parking spaces on De la Guerra Street. I look forward to the discussion. The woman who contacted you could call or write me to let me know what her concerns are,” said Blum. “The restaurant owners on the Plaza are happy with the idea of wider sidewalks and tables on the Plaza.”
Running for Cancer: Ed Galsterer reports that this year’s Cancer Center of Santa Barbara 5K and 10KRun/Walk raised more than $180,000. The Four Seasons Biltmore - a sponsor since the event started in 1993 - served breakfast to the 800 participants. The event has raised over $1 million over the years, and is aiming to reach $2 million for local research in the next five years, Galsterer told me.
Turkeys Wanted: The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is in the home stretch of its annual drive to come up with 4,800 turkeys to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving. You can drop them off at its warehouse, located at 4554 Hollister Ave., Goleta, or 490 W. Foster Rd., Santa Maria.
The Little Trees: Casa del Herrero will again be presenting Noche de los Pinitos (Night of the Little Trees), featuring tabletop holiday trees and gingerbread houses designed by architects, designers, and celebs. The December 1 auction is a fundraiser for the nonprofit foundation and will be held from 5 to 8p.m. in a home designed by George Washington Smith. There will be tours of the house December 6-15. Call 565-5653 for info.
Barney Brantingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.