What? Another Year?

Fortunes, Unions, and Foul Water Start 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014
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Yikes! A new year is upon us, bringing more cruise ships, nasty lawsuits, and attacks on Social Security, but better weather than Bakersfield, Scottsdale, and Fargo, ND.

In 2014, we should learn what sort of an art foundation we’ll have up at the Clark estate, Bellosguardo, and who’ll be running it; more about new National Labor Relations Board charges against the Santa Barbara News-Press; and a suit claiming that the late Huguette Clark was the victim of a shameful shakedown by a New York doctor and hospital.

While 22 cruise ships stopped by last year, 30 or so are planning to disgorge passengers, crew, and dollars in 2014. Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, a clean-water advocacy group, will be monitoring to make sure the ship captains keep their promise not to dump waste from these floating cities while in the city’s 12-mile boundary, according to a recent special report by Santa Barbara Independent reporter Matt Kettmann.

<b>MONEY AND POLITICS:</b> Some things never change — 2014 brings more cruise ships, lawsuits, and political lobbying.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

MONEY AND POLITICS: Some things never change — 2014 brings more cruise ships, lawsuits, and political lobbying.

The average passenger will spend $92, according to Visit Santa Barbara, the area tourist promotion group. And the Waterfront Department gets $5 each for the average 2,600 passengers per ship and 1,000 crew members, whether or not they disembark. Are cruise ships good for Santa Barbara? Money talks, but you still hear grumbles.

NLRB vs. News-Press: Who says lightning never strikes twice in the same place? Come February 24, a National Labor Relations Board judge will consider more alleged labor-law violations against Wendy McCaw’s Santa Barbara News-Press.

The NLRB has been here before, an administrative law judge ruling that the newspaper illegally fired eight members of the newsroom union, among other violations. But a Washington, D.C., court ruled that the union was trying to usurp McCaw’s First Amendment rights and put the kibosh on the case.

Now the NLRB has filed new charges, including that McCaw refused to bargain in good faith and that she wrongly withdrew recognition of the union, among other things. With three new judges nominated by President Obama poised to join the court, the outcome might be different this time.

Huguette Shakedown: When Huguette Clark arrived at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center, the hospital’s main objective was not her health but how to separate her from as much of her $300-million fortune as possible, according to a new lawsuit.

Although the reclusive copper heir was in good physical health for most of the time, she lived there for two decades while the hospital and her physician conducted a 20-year shakedown, according to the suit filed by the New York public administrator. Beth Israel’s cash register rang to the tune of more than $4 million, and her doctor, Dr. Henry Singman, cashed in with another $800,000, the suit contends.

The suit doesn’t include the $31 million she gave her private-duty nurse. To some, this bizarre behavior should have called into question her grasp on reality. But although Clark was lavishing huge gifts with great abandon, and the hospital was badgering her for even more, Beth Israel never thought she needed a psychiatric exam to determine her state of mind, according to the suit, which seeks more than $100 million from Beth Israel and Dr. Singman. Clark died in 2011 at the age of 104.

Executors of her will are also going after a $5 million Monet painting she gave the hospital, allegedly under pressure, plus $50 million in punitive damages.

Clark, it seems, was highly suggestible when those close to her at the hospital dropped hints. When Singman let her know that it was costing him $20,000 to paint his house, his patient soon whipped out a check to cover it. When he broke his hip in Italy, an air ambulance cost him $65,000. Clark paid the bill, according to the recent book Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

One-Percenters: Your Social Security may not be enough to live on, but a powerful CEO lobbyist group wants to slash these meager benefits. David Cote, who runs Honeywell, along with 200 other top CEOs, are campaigning to reduce benefits and raise the retirement age. Cote, after 11 years at Honeywell, has $134 million in the company’s retirement account and figures to get a monthly check of $795,134 once he retires.

Meanwhile, America’s Social Security retirees receive an average of $1,237, which Cote and the Business Roundtable CEOs figure is way too much.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Barney, Your GOP contributors don't have much to say about Social Security. I think they like what they are getting and hope Mr. Cote doesn't take it away from them.

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 10:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Social security is supposed to return what you put into it, not be another handout from the government. Social security is YOUR money, not the government's.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 2, 2014 at 10:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, if the rich paid the poor better, then the poor would have better retirement funds. The middle class has not had a raise in 40 years - why is that?

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 12:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Social Security is, and always has been, a transfer system, not a "savings account". There is no "Social Security Trust Fund", just the word of the US Gov, and we all know what that's worth, especially over the past few years.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 8:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Social Security functions according to rules devised by Congress, and modified when necessary. Reagan took action to save SS, when he was President - so it is for the most part from both sides of the aisle. And the program was devised to ensure that seniors did not end up in poverty. No matter what the structure, any person with Christian sentiments should welcome the humanity of such a program. It has been one of the most successful programs in US history, as evidenced by those of the Tea Party with signs stating "keep the government hands off my social security", without realizing the irony.

And quite frankly, the 2001-2008 years saw far more dishonesty than in recent years. A good deal of the trumped up charges of recent years are exactly that - such as the Benghazi "scandal" and the IRS "scandal", neither of which were true. Mostly concocted by a car-thief who leaks like a sieve and only releases what information he decides to release, that for those who do not research a little deeper, are left with the wrong impression. Something that has been done since Lee Atwater days, because the wool can be so easily pulled over some eyes.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 11:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If people realized how much more they would have if they had just taken the money they have put into social security and put it into an S&P 500 index fund instead during the course of their working lives, their tune would change quickly.

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 1:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

tabatha: neither Benghazi nor IRS scandals were true? What are you reading? Or smoking?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 2:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Benghazi was certainly not a scandal, although it was an awful tragedy. Recent in-depth NYTimes once again puts paid against desperate Republicans seeking some scandal, any scandal. However, the IRS was a scandal.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 2:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Benghazi may not have been a "scandal" (to remove the moralizing-gotcha element), but it was certainly a bungled operation, maybe even a cluster-"bungle" to put it as nicely as possible. Even the NYT account seems to support that reading.

zappa (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 4:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

oh yeah, it was indeed a cluster-bungle and very tragic the Ambassador and others were killed... however, in this acid political climate it is NOT the horrible government "scandal" that Fox News et al. are trying to create.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 9:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Botany you are right only about one thing "it is YOUR money" so why is Mr. Cote and his cohorts saying we are not entitled to our money and wants to slash our benefits? How about we slash his $800,000 monthly benefit once he retires. Do you think he would change his tune!!!

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 11:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Channel Keepers harassing cruise ships causes more ocean pollution than they will ever find cruise ships even thinking about dumping.

Crass publicity stunt for Channel Keepers who knows better; but why pass up pandering to progressive donors.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 5:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

PS. Thank you Barney for reminding us why we were so happy to see you leave the NewsPress. Yech.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 5:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Benghazi scandal was real. Facts are starting to finally tumble out. And no one knows why the President went completely missing during the critical hours it was unfolding. IRS scandal was also real. Not sure where Tabatha gets her conclusions because they are not based upon facts. Sound a lot more like Democratic party marching orders to me.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 5:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

NYT tries another Bush era WMD stunt, quoting itself again as the basis of this current Hillary Clinton rehabilitation project masquerading as the "truth" about Behghazi.

No, the attack was not caused by the video. No, they had no one on the ground proving this was the case. And yes, the White House knew immediately it was the work of the terrorist group Ansar al Sharia, and not a spontaneous demonstration. T

his is so obvious, one has to wonder why the NYT was so clumsy in this latest effort to carry water for Hilary Clinton who was never once mentioned in the entire "comprehensive" article. Odd, isn't it.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 6:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nice lift cap.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Now I know why you call yourself foofighter, your comments are a bunch

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 9:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Benghazi...another consequence of the U.S. trying to police the world.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 10:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I can agree here, BC, and if we want to see Benghazi [like the 200 Marines in Beiruit killed under Reagan's watch, etc. etc.] a symbolic of the USA over-reaching...well, of course. And it is tragic in several ways, not least the Americans killed there. But foo in his inane rants and cut-and-paste thinking -- as rblacumbre is about the 100th poster to note! -- is like all the hard right GOP/Tea Partiers/pseudo-libertarians... "Benghazi" is all he's got, so he just repeats his talking points again and again. Get a job, foo.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2014 at 8:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 5, 2014 at 4:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Barney - You use the disparaging term "disgorge" with regards to cruise ship visitors, while disparaging the weather in Bakersfield, Scottsdale & Fargo. The increasing nautical tourist count, and visitor spending, is obviously linked to SB's weather; berating both visitors, and their weather, reflects you ubiquitous "progressive" hypocrisy.

mssearch (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 10:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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