Weekend Poodle: Silence of the Dogs

Thank God for Paula Lopez

Saturday, March 2, 2013
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Hark, Hark: Thank God for Paula Lopez. With the town abuzz over her sudden disappearance and equally sudden re-emergence, we have ample conversational fodder for problems other than “sequestration,” the $85 billion equivalent of a swift kick between the legs.

Or who shot the young honky-vato gangbanger from Ventura on a Santa Barbara street just spitting distance from Santa Barbara High School. Or how it is that a sinkhole 20 feet deep and 20 feet wide managed to sneak up on a 37-year-old Florida man and swallow him whole as he slumbered in his bed. Or how it is that salmonella poisoning managed to taint a batch of yellow marshmallow eggs, precipitating a recall. I thought salmonella could only afflict actual food matter, not wholly synthetic materials found nowhere in nature.

Or I could mention that a scientist with the United States Geological Survey just issued a report insisting that what we don’t know about the seismic faults running near Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant could actually hurt us. This report stands in stark contrast to recent don’t-worry-be-happy edicts issued about Diablo Canyon by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But who would listen?

Angry Poodle

The only subject on anyone’s lips these days is the subject of Paula Lopez, the reigning queen of Santa Barbara TV news for more years than I have fingers and toes to count. To a certain extent, people are entitled, and such talk is to be expected. The manner in which the news was suddenly broken — and then unbroken — could not have been much worse. Likewise, I understand the concern that maybe the helicopter and dogs dispatched by the sheriff to find Lopez — who also happens to be married to Judge Frank Ochoa — might constitute preferential treatment. Still, I have to say I have been seriously creeped out by the nastiness of some of the remarks getting posted on the Internet. Yoikes! It makes me want to take a very long shower, but frankly, I doubt there’s enough water in the reservoir.

Let’s get one thing straight. When it comes to the actual facts surrounding the Paula Lopez incident, I don’t know jack. In that regard, I’m like all of you. We do know that late Wednesday afternoon, KEYT reported that Sheriff’s deputies, Search and Rescue teams, dogs, and a helicopter were out beating the bushes for Lopez, and had been since 10 a.m. that day. A family member was said to have spoken to her a half-hour earlier. The story instantly became all the buzz with a capital B. Not just here, but all over the world as media outlets picked up the case of the mysteriously missing anchorwoman.

Immediately, people were struck by how briefly Lopez had been missing. Would they get similar treatment if one of their relatives went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and didn’t come back in time for Jeopardy? A reasonable question. Then, in about two hours, it was announced that Lopez had returned and that the family would have nothing more to say on the subject.

The chattering masses went ballistic. They wanted explanations. Failing that, they’d conjure up every nasty scenario a human brain can conjure and post them on any available website.

The Sheriff’s Department denied preferential treatment. They send out the copters — in this case only one — and the dogs, they explained, when they deem someone is at risk. There is no policy of waiting 24 hours. That’s strictly TV stuff. In this case, the sheriff deemed Lopez at risk because she might need medical attention. What kind, exactly? Who knows. I asked how many times the copter was sent out to look for a missing person before 24 hours had elapsed. That, I was told, would take a lot of time to determine.

Whatever the facts, one can’t help but feel for Lopez. Clearly she’s going through something, and who wants their something to become grist for such angry, snarky commentary? Being in the news business doesn’t change that, nor does being married to a judge. We all go through things. We all have experiences about which we won’t lie, but neither will we tell the truth. Sometimes the tent poles of life can no longer keep the sky from falling.

No doubt, in hindsight, it would have been nice had Lopez had made it a public teaching moment. Kind of like how former Mayor Marty Blum used her public position when she went through a double mastectomy because of breast cancer. And maybe Lopez still can. But for the time being, give her some space and let her breathe.

In the meantime, it would probably behoove the Sheriff’s Department to provide a clear and detailed accounting of all the times the copter and dogs were sent out in the past year, for whom, and under what circumstances. It would be interesting to know how often the copter stayed on the ground. I have a hard time imagining the sheriff didn’t respond a little faster given the identities of the parties involved. Last time I checked, that was the way the world worked. The good news, I suppose, is that the treatment afforded Paula Lopez will now become the level of service to which we will all expect to become accustomed.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

And some of us are just not appropriately upset about her safe return judging from the concern trolls. If it had ended in tragedy I think we would have had a mass suicide judging from some of the comments.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2013 at 12:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Who is Paul Lopez? :)

bythesea (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2013 at 12:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It turns out that "anchors gone wild" is an Internet news meme that spans the globe! At least Paula DIDN'T resign on air, DIDN'T simiulate an infant soothing gum pain with a vibrating toothbursh, DIDN'T appear to be a little buzzed from a late afternoon cocktail while anchoring the news.... well, okay, so nobody's perfect.

emptynewsroom (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2013 at 5:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am sooo tired of people who want to legislate the behavior of others. "Give her/the family space!" they yell. "Leave her/them alone!" "It's a private matter/not our business!"

Please explain why commenting and/or speculating in a comment section violates her "space." Or infringes on her "privacy."

Please explain, dear self-righteous souls, why you are writing about this, reading this, commenting on this if it's not anybody's "business." Close the comment section if it's causing Ms. Lopez harm and don't mention her name in the paper.

People are responding to stories in the *public domain*. They are not on her lawn shouting into bullhorns. They are not following her around in their cars and into the supermarket.

Please stop the hypocrisy and let the conversation flow!

Terra (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2013 at 6:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When you have two standards for citizens who expect to be treated the same by government , it is only fair to expect negative comments.

oldtimer (anonymous profile)
March 4, 2013 at 8:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes folks, preferential treatment is alive and well. Let me drop this little bomb on all of you: About two years ago I was dropping something off at a house near where Lopez and Ochoa live. It was about 11:45 at night. Next thing I know, I've got flashlights flashing on me. I didn't know if they were cops or not so I wasn't about to cooperate until I could see them. They quickly showed themselves to be cops so of course, I cooperated. Long into short, the cops--who were actually quite polite and professional--told me that Frank Ochoa had received a threat (or possibly more than one threat--I don't remember) and were making sure I wasn't the one who'd issued them. I was confronted while walking to my car from the neighbors' house. (Who in this latest incident, has told me he got a call from a media outlet wanting information on the disappearance/reappearance and told them to "take a hike") on the sidewalk. Here is the clincher: The cops walked out from the Lopez-Ochoa property and when I left, I saw no cop cars anywhere. Where they stationed at their house? tell me.

The following day, the neighbor told me Paula Lopez was very apologetic for what happened, and I said something to the effect of "tell her not to worry about it--no offense taken". But in retrospect, there IS favoritism.

Anyway, let's hope Lopez gets through whatever is affecting her, and to all media outlets: Please leave her neighbors alone, they don't want to talk to you.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 1:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The media outlet calling for info was probably KEYT.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 1:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not sure they have anyone left at KEYT to actually call around for information. If the news cannot be left on a voicemail by a citizen, pulled off of the internet, or filmed out their back door on TV Hill it does not exist...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 6:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Hopefully the new owners will turn things around .

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 5, 2013 at 11:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The sheriff's department, as well as SBPD, claim that there's no 24 or 48 hour waiting period between the the report of a person's disappearance and response by police. It's surprising how far local law enforcement will go to destroy their credibility by refusing to confirm the experience of many in the community. Many of us, from comments I've heard, are also surprised by statements made at public meetings by both SBPD and SBFD employees emphasizing the importance of their PR/propaganda efforts. The inability to determine objective reality from delusion is a symptom of psychosis, and law enforcement, news media and government seem to be promoting it as the new "normal". I wonder if there's any correlation between this loss of connection with reality and an increasing number of local pedestrians walking in front of oncoming cars or trains.
The response to Paula Lopez's brief disappearance has too much in common with National Enquirer reporting and daytime soaps for me. I think we all have a right to privacy in our personal lives. It's a good way to distract people from issues like US aid to Egypt, the Israeli government's covert use of Depo-Provera to control the population of Ethiopian refugees, and cops who forge signatures and plant drugs on local citizens.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 6:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Report of a woman kidnapped in Lompoc today..

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 4:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

cmon bill we all know about you and paula

redbunz (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 9:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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