The sun sets on a Carpinteria beach (12/29/2013)

Geoff Minger

The sun sets on a Carpinteria beach (12/29/2013)

Random Blathering of a Semi-Addled Mind

Poodle Handicaps What’s Looming on the Horizon

Saturday, January 4, 2014
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With at least one toe firmly into the New Year, we have been graced with the latest epistle from the Gospel of Wendy P. McCaw, owner most peculiar of the Santa Barbara News-Press. Say what you will about McCaw, she gives lie to the despairing thought that American journalism has been entirely taken over by cookie-cutter formulations. To date, no cookie cutter has been invented capable of encapsulating her nutty Ayn Rayndian weirdness.

Angry Poodle

In her customary New Year’s note to readers, McCaw accused certain unnamed local enviros of being “enviro-terrorists” because they insisted a Santa Maria onshore oil development — Santa Maria Energy’s — should be required to mitigate and otherwise limit its greenhouse gas emissions to 10,000 metric tons. Further, she excoriated them for insisting that holding the allegedly “unfounded” belief that carbon dioxide is, in fact, a pollutant. Without carbon dioxide, McCaw noted, “everything dies.” The scientific fact of the matter is that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and where Planet Earth is concerned, carbon dioxide clearly fits that bill. With this screed, McCaw officially joins the ranks of climate change deniers.

I don’t know about you, but I take perverse comfort in knowing that the daily newspaper of the birthplace of the environmental movement has editorialized on behalf of carbon dioxide, one of the key causes of climate change. If nothing else, it proves anything is possible.

Santa Maria Energy has done an impressive job mobilizing supporters to cry outraged crocodile tears because the county supervisors voted 3-2 to require stiffer mitigation measures than the company wanted. This point bears repeating. First, the additional mitigation measures will cost the mega-million-dollar company only $500,000 to comply with, which in the great scheme of things is chicken feed. Secondly, the company was allowed to drill for seven years — as a test project — without any mitigating any of its greenhouse emissions at all. They should learn to take “yes” for an answer and quit whining.

When it comes to wacky science, I am no stranger myself. For the past umpteen years, I have been pointing out how people afflicted with the first, last, or middle name Lee — or any variant — should be regarded as prima facie sociopaths, driven by a cruel destiny to commit acts either illegal, destructive, or just plain mean. As if to prove my point, authorities in the Northern California town of Eureka just arrested a 43-year-old male named Gary Lee Bullock for beating to death a popular priest named Eric Freed. To date, there’s no shred of evidence that Bullock even knew Freed or why he did what he allegedly did. Likewise — in case you’re wondering — there’s no evidence suggesting that Freed had ever been implicated in the slightest in the Church’s ongoing sex-abuse meltdown.

Next Tuesday will be Santa Barbara Councilmember Grant House’s last farewell. House, who served two terms on the council and what seems like a few decades before that on the Planning Commission, was forced by the city’s term-limits ordinance to step down. Politically, House occupied the left-end of the dais, supporting things like alternative transit, roundabouts, bulb-outs, commuter rail, buses, bike lanes, traffic calming, and various and sundry higher density affordable housing projects. He is most famous, however, for always and forever “appreciating” everyone and everybody in sight whether or not such appreciations were, in fact, justified. This Tuesday, the rest of the council will give House one last collective appreciation, whether they really mean it or not.

House will forever be forced to live down his defining political blooper, in which he voted for more conservative-minded Randy Rowse to fill the vacancy created when Das Williams left the council to take his seat in the Assembly. House said he voted for Rowse with the expectation and understanding that he would seek only to fill out the rest of Williams’s term. Whatever understanding House had was not shared by Rowse, who in fact quickly made it clear he would run for election. The global significance of all this inside baseball is that Rowse gave the council a bona fide conservative majority — whatever the hell that means — for the first time in about 35 years. That majority lasted for about two years and disappeared with the election of Cathy Murillo a couple years ago. It was a lunkheaded move, but far from the dumbest thing in the universe.

Regardless, House should be given pretty much full and total credit for the council’s decision to finally pass a plastic bag ban this past year. The proposed ban had been bottled up in various committees for the better part of seven years where it was so talked to death it achieved quasi-zombie status. When it became clear that an environmental impact report was required, which would have cost City Hall something like $70,000 during the worst of the recession, it looked like the ban was toast. But House, who sits on some multi-governmental agency dedicated to the preservation of beach sand, got that agency to foot the bill for the environmental study. The price tag to City Hall weighed in around $10,000, and the proposed ban moved forward. So when you look out at the beach and don’t see a plastic bag, take private moment to “appreciate” Grant House.

Taking Grant’s place on the council dais is former councilmember Gregg Hart, and Hart’s addition to the team could engender more than a few sparks to fly with Mayor Helene Schneider over Caltrans’s plans to widen Highway 101 from Montecito to the Ventura County line. More like Mt. Vesuvius going off. Hart and Schneider differ profoundly and fundamentally over Caltrans’s freeway-widening plan and how tough and threatening the City of Santa Barbara should be if it doesn’t get satisfaction.

Complicating matters intensely are two basic facts. Gregg Hart works by day for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) as its public spokesperson and its political strategist. Crops would wither and die overnight on the vine if they had to sustain themselves on the amount of daylight between Caltrans and SBCAG. They are one and the same. Not only has Schneider objected that Hart would have a conflict of interest when the City Council deals with these issues, but in the recent elections she threw her weight behind an anti-Hart candidate, David Landecker. Landecker lost; Hart won. If Hart and Schneider weren’t such consummate professionals, things could get awkward.

Making matters even more awkward and conflicted is that Schneider’s longtime political adviser, confidant, and campaign manager — Jeremy Lindaman — also happens to be hired by Common Sense 101, the group of Montecito agitators leading the charge against Caltrans’s plans. Common Sense 101 has argued that the left-lane on- and off-ramps by Montecito should be retained because, they insist, it would make the widening project faster by two years to build, cheaper by $60 million to build, and every bit as safe as Caltrans says it should be. Caltrans, for the record, has rejected each and every one of these assertions. Four days before Christmas, Caltrans threw down the gauntlet, telling SBCAG to shit or get off the pot. Reading between the lines, Caltrans Pope Malcolm Dougherty threatened to take his ball and go home if SBCAG didn’t fall in line pronto.

As with everything related to this project, it’s all infinitely complicated, making a Rubik’s Cube look like tic-tac-toe. There is no shortage of conspiracy theories to go around. One holds that Schneider is motivated solely and exclusively by crass political considerations, that by carrying the water for her campaign manager’s well-heeled clients in Montecito, she’ll have made generous friends for the next time she runs for office. Whether that’s for county supervisor or Congress has yet to be determined, but one thing seems certain; relations between Schneider and 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal — who represents Montecito — have grown frosty enough to freeze Guinness Stout.

Carbajal has been openly salivating over the congressional district now occupied by Lois Capps and has made it clear he intends to run as soon as she vacates the premises. Under the normal scheme of things, Schneider would then run for Carbajal’s supervisorial seat, but according to reliable political lore, he declined to say he would support her in that eventuality. Relations between the two have always had a competitive edge, and Lindaman likes nothing better than to eat the face of anyone on the other side of his candidate. Certainly in waging war against Caltrans and its freeway-widening plans, Schneider has eaten Carbajal’s lunch and spit out the crumbs on his shoes.

Political calculations notwithstanding, the City of S.B. has a longstanding beef with SBCAG and Caltrans, one that Schneider wants addressed before she green-lights the freeway-widening plan. Unless the railroad bridge by the Bird Refuge is widened, traffic attempting to get on the freeway there will back up on Cabrillo Boulevard. This bridge expansion, Schneider argues, absolutely must be included in the freeway-widening project. Promises and other bland assurances, she said, simply won’t do; such promises have been made before, and City Hall won’t be fooled again.

This sentiment, for the record, is shared not just by Schneider and her political hatchet man, but by City Administrator Jim Armstrong, Assistant City Administrator Paul Casey, city traffic planner Rob Dayton, and all seven members of the city Planning Commission, several of whom have no love for Schneider. Likewise, the Planning Commission is pissed that the environmental document fails to note just how much congestion the freeway widening will cause in and around the City of Santa Barbara, and they’d very much like that acknowledged.

Hart, for the record, sees it all very differently. The bridge and other improvements can and will be taken care of down the road. To insist that they be included in the project description now, he said, will only set back construction even further, thus increasing costs. The City of Carpinteria had similar problems with Caltrans, he said, but they got taken care of. Yes, that’s true, but only after Carpinteria took out a gun, put it on the table, loaded it, and threatened to kill the project. And to date no funding has been identified, let alone secured, for the two bike lanes the City of Carpinteria was awarded as part of its the freeway mitigation.

All these weedy, wonky details have been the subject of high-stakes wrangling for quite some time — hey, it’s a half-a-billion-dollar project — but push comes to shove in the next 10 weeks. On January 16, the SBCAG board will hash it all out, and the next month, an actual vote will be taken. My sense is that the proverbial train has left the proverbial station and that there won’t be seven votes against the Caltrans project in February as there were in May. But what the hell do I know? I only work here. The point is that all this will be coming to a very intense boil just as Hart is sworn in on the City Council, thus replacing Grant House. I hope you all appreciate what a mess this is.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

House is sounding very much as though he intends to run again in two years. He has been overall a good councilmember, but 8 years is long enough. The term limits ordinance needs to be tightened so there can not be a rerun. If we can't have GWB, even without Cheney, why is it that we have forever candidates/councilmembers?

Never did understand why Grant (and the fellow Dems, including Bendy White) so disliked fellow Democrat Sheila Lodge and, in effect, preferred Randy Rowse.

Or maybe Mr. House is thinking of running for Capps's seat? House v. Carbajal v. Hart v. Schneider. That will be a battle, one to get the journalistic juices flowing!

at_large (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 7:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you Nick for the opportunity to comment on the McCaw New Year epistle. Since Craig Smith stopped blogging we don't get many opportunities to weigh in. I know many promote boycott but I have been reading the NP since I learned to read so I continue and occasionally find articles of local interest. For years now I have speculated about McCaw's intent with the paper but this epistle puts to rest my thinking that the Caldwell/Ebenstein Editorials are a journalistic joke on the readers. For the first time that I am aware of McCaw embraces in public the Tea Party crazies, Obama haters, climate change deniers, and labeling the EDC and its supporters as terrorists. It has been an interesting evolution (or does she deny evolution as well). When she started we thought she was a kind of liberal because of her advocacy for animals and she employed a fairly liberal staff, Jerry Roberts, Melinda Burns and Barney, until the purge. Recently I had thought Andy Caldwell to be at least in part, tongue in cheek, catering to his small but dedicated audience. Now it appears that in fact he is articulating the Owner's true views. Even the clear change in choice of byline providers has been dramatic. How many people in SB know the history and background of The Washington Times, yet it has become the go to byline for the NP lately. Truly amazing in the history of the SBNP. If anyone else wants to chime in here, what is the Owner's expectation of her readers in calling Caldwell and Ebenstein "Guest Editors?" They have been using this protocol for years now since Travis left. Sometimes Andy writes everyday. What is that supposed to mean? I had speculated that she did not want to embrace what they were advocating but now that clearly is not the case. Anyway, that's it for now.

sbreader (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 9:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What Nick said. x10

whosecityisthis2012 (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

2014: Anti-Wendy degrangement syndrome alive and well as the SB Independent.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The misunderstanding about carbon dioxide in the general population is dismaying.

There are also two distinct properties of carbon dioxide that are in play here, without people realizing the distinction - chemical and physical. The chemical properties are what occur with plants, etc. The green-house physical property is what is contributing to global warming. People who know vaguely of the first do not understand the second, and thus use the first as justification for everything. How about the Indy doing an in-depth article on the myriad facets of carbon dioxide. The effect of the concentration in the atmosphere can be somewhat explained as in Goldilocks and the three porridges.

And then one about oxygen. Oxygen was not always in the atmosphere - it is there mostly as a result of the contribution of various organisms, which could be at risk if global warming ever got really bad. Also noting the point that biological organisms DO have the power to influence the atmosphere and life on the planet. Mammals would die without oxygen, but too much or too little in the atmosphere would be a bad thing, from a chemical property standpoint.

My school science teacher emphasized that life on earth exists only because we live in a narrow envelope of suitable conditions of temperature, atmosphere, etc. Going outside of those limits, and we could end up as many of the other dead planets in the solar system.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

When politicos substitute politics for principle and policy, there will always be a mess left behind.

Turning the city over to vagrants and converting 20% of all city residential housing units to become a permanent, subsidized Democratic voting block (aka "affordable housing") will be Grant House's most lasting legacies.

Oh, yeah and also leaving the city with $400 million plus in unfunded pension and infrastructure maintenance liabilities.

Even though he is one of the nicest guys on the block. His legacy will undo his obvious sincerity he thought he was doing the right thing. House did to the right thing supporting downtown businessman Randy Rowsse to become an important voice in city council matters.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's interesting that Nick excoriates Randy Rouse for doing more than "filling the rest of William's term" yet no such criticism is reserved for Capps who is just a "nice nurse" despite her broken promise to serve only two terms.

I guess Nick's wrath is reserved only for those with a political philosophy he disagrees with even if they act in a similar manner. (Capps is worse, because Rouse never made such a promise)

Botany (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Tabatha, your science teacher was wrong, teaching outside his/her skill levels and was merely passing off progressive propaganda.

You need to move on in your life and past failed authority figures who caused far greater pollution than you yet understand. Growing up means finally questioning those prior authority figures. Which means you alone have to do some independent thinking.

You missed the critical thinking lessons this teacher should have been teaching you in "science" like the Scientific Method, instead of the progressive drivel per jour he/she tossed out instead.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ha, Wendy's inarticulate, self-serving, capricious tirade made much ado about nothing and included many a mendacious statement. When she wrote (or when Steepleton her hack wrote), "This newspaper would have experienced a great loss of liberty had the Teamsters prevailed in their many attempts to control the news" -- I burst out laughing. Look, Wendy and her hired pseudo-editors crossed through the glass wall separating Editorial comment [her choice as owner, even to printing Caldwell's balderdash] from News CONTENT, e.g. in the printing of Rob Lowe's name, but also in many many much more important matters. No, McCaw and her journalistic thugs [Armstrong, Steepleton, others] are controlling the NEWs. It's the old 'big lie' propaganda technique where you accuse the others of the heinous deeds you are in truth doing. And her quote here is a case in point: the Teamsters were trying to protect the N-P's employees' RIGHT to unionize, honestly, the Teamsters' Union is not in the news business, Wendy, they don't own or run daily newspapers like your once-noble rag. "Loss of liberty" -- what amazing garbage and lies!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

big lie technique again by foo: writing "Growing up means finally questioning those prior authority figures" as he lectures tabatha on EXACTLY WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO. Oh, and your god's name is spelled Rowse (to foo and Botany). and you meant "drivel de jour", foo.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 11:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

foo - you are wasting your words. I ignore everything you write because it is mostly nonsense. Don't waste the keystrokes. They ARE wasted. And my science teacher (from long ago) was highly respected, as were my science teachers at university (also long ago). So, even in your unscientific inferences you are at the back of the class.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tabatha, grad level re-education lesson 101. Consensus is not science.

And if you took your science classes "long ago", they weren't even shilling climate change back then. That is a new whackadoodle meme post Algore. You need remedial education.

Please keep your stories straight because too many of us did get lessons in critical thinking ….. long ago.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 12:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Foo - I have no idea what you are doing besides attacking my character and my education. Yes, those science lessons were BEFORE global warming was talked about.

Hence the statements I made about oxygen and carbon dioxide are based on science learned before the GW debate, and the science has not changed, because I regularly read science articles - in fact, all I ever read is non-fiction (unlike, apparently yourself).

If you had any substance to your sick character assassination, you would try to refute with facts. So far, your rants are evidence-free and fact-free. If you have something that opposes my post as far as science is concerned, PLEASE post it, so there can be a discussion instead of mud-flinging. I find your holier-than-thou attitude with nothing to back it up the worst of human nature. You are wasting your time, because nothing you have to say makes any sense.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Re-education".. how very Pol Pot.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 1:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Foofighter will not respond, because he has been brain-washed by climate-change deniers, and has no science to back his opinions. So, instead of disproving my claims, he rants and raves about generalities and consensus and Al Gore. Whenever someone brings up Al Gore in a disparaging manner, he's got nothing. Nada. Just an empty suit.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm not a fan of Tipper "Censor This" Gore.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 1:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I will make a couple of petty points about McCaw's New Years Day front page screed. Sometimes the small details are the most revealing , which is certainly the case here.
Nowhere in her piece did she even come close to wishing her readers a Happy New Year. She might as well have said " let them eat cake".
Her choice of personal pictures , to accompany the diatribe, is a studio shot from decades ago. I have seen her out and about with the " co-publisher" & perennial " fiancé" ( the Nipster) and let's just say that Father Time and over consumptive fine dining have taken their toll on her appearance. Pure deception.

geeber (anonymous profile)
January 4, 2014 at 2:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why doesn't Wendy P. McCaw just use the Santa Barbara News-Press, to follow the personal happenings of the Kardashian's like all the other personally owned News Presses do, at least the main usage for the Santa Barbara News-Press, would be to line the bottom of the bird cage with it!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 6:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

du jour

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 7:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Did anyone read the WHOLE article? Or just fixate on Wendy McCaw? There are much bigger - and more important - issues pending than whether or not she's qualified to instruct us about science.

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

1. - Can't we all just get along?
2. - As much as I loathe to admit it, Helene Schneider is right (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit). That train bridge widening is a MUST and should be added to the initial plan.
3. - MesaJim for City Council. There. I said it.

MesaJim (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 12:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ah Yes, Wendy McCaw. I used to date her once but she left me for that whale. All that "Free Willy" deal was the fact that she freed him so they could have an affair. Imagine her leaving a dolphin for a whale. This song is dedicated to my feelings about this

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 3:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Somebody should tell McCaw that meercats don't breath CO2, they breath oxygen like the rest of us mere mortals; maybe that'd change her tune.

And "foofighter," whoever you really are, out from under what massive rock of ignorance have you crawled, and why don't you go back there?

GregMohr (anonymous profile)
January 8, 2014 at 3:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

you're the 37th poster to beg foo to just go away, greg, nice!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
January 8, 2014 at 6:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah, but apparently he or she has no intention of going away anytime soon.

GregMohr (anonymous profile)
January 9, 2014 at 4:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

, at least the main usage for the Santa Barbara News-Press, would be to line the bottom of the bird cage with it!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
January 6, 2014 at 6:14 a.m.

I get it, use a paper published by a person named McCaw to line the cage of a macaw bird. I just broke the secret code.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 9, 2014 at 6:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 9, 2014 at 6:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nice bird pics, dolphinpod14!

GregMohr (anonymous profile)
January 10, 2014 at 10:39 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is a pretty good article on the recent cold weather (oh no, there must be no global warming)

"What Is This “Polar Vortex” That Is Freezing the U.S.?
Scientific American


But why does the vortex weaken? Now it gets interesting. More and more Arctic sea ice is melting during summer months. The more ice that melts, the more the Arctic Ocean warms. The ocean radiates much of that excess heat back to the atmosphere in winter, which disrupts the polar vortex. Data taken over the past decade indicate that when a lot of Arctic sea ice disappears in the summer, the vortex has a tendency to weaken over the subsequent winter, if related atmospheric conditions prevail over the northern Atlantic Ocean. The situation looks something like that shown in the graphic below. (For a full explanation, see the Scientific American article that accompanies the graphic.)

Although the extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic varies year to year, overall it has been disappearing to a notable degree since 2007 and it is forecast to continue to vanish even further. That could mean more trouble for the polar vortex, and more frigid outbreaks—a seeming contradiction to “global warming,” perhaps, but not for “global weirding,” also known as climate change."


tabatha (anonymous profile)
January 10, 2014 at 11:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Damn tabatha and her facts. Now our knees have nowhere to jerk.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 11, 2014 at 12:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

All that ice in the arctic isn't filling Lake Cachuma and wringing our hands or acting like nothings happening isn't going to do it either.
If you're older than 20 years, you have seen the increasing extremity of the weather and the alteration of climate.
And the solution as I've stated earlier isnt multi-pronged, it's not just one factor or industry but many that need revision, rethinking and retooling in order to offset what is happening. Nobody has to be put of business, but we have to alter the way we manage the planet.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 11, 2014 at 12:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

bring back the blue line!!

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
January 11, 2014 at 11:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The Blue Line was a very interesting project. A mix of science, art, public outreach, and GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

Grant House did a great job sheparding through the plastic bag ordinance. What is often overlooked is how even the conservative councilmembers ended up voting for the ordinance (and both Hotchkiss and Rowse were on the Ordinance Committee at the time!).

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
January 12, 2014 at 12:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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