by Barney Brantingham

Gassed in Goleta: Since many people seem to be
driving to Oxnard to get cheaper gas at Costco, reader John-Allen
asks what’s going on with Costco’s application to the City of
Goleta for a service station there? He’s heard that Costco was
waiting for the mayor to sign off.

Not so, replies the city’s PIO, Kirsten Zimmer Deshler. True,
Costco applied before Goleta was incorporated in 2002, but the lack
of an environmental impact report is what’s holding up things, she
said. To make one, a traffic analysis is needed because of all the
expected demand. If people are willing to drive to Oxnard, “you can
imagine what will happen here,” Kirsten told me. But the traffic
study was held up until the city’s General Plan was finished. Now
it is. But at a scoping meeting on the EIR, there was “tremendous
input” from the public, she said. So the EIR consultants said they
needed more money to deal with the comments. That request will go
to the City Council in the fall.

Debby Bows Out:
Debby Davison, KEYT’s beloved anchorwoman, will be saying goodbye
to deadlines and is retiring (sort of) and getting married. But she
promised me that although September 29 will be her last anchor
broadcast, she plans to return after January 1 for special
projects. “I’m not leaving the station.” Debby, who joined KEYT in
1990, said, “It’s been a joy.” As for management, “They’ve been
nothing but wonderful.” On October 6 she plans to wed Dr. Dennis
Phelps and be free to travel.

Journos “intimidated,
I wondered how long it would take for
embattled News-Press journalists to file a complaint with
the feds. The News-Press “has intimidated, threatened,
coerced, chilled, and interfered” with newsroom employees’ attempts
to form a union, the Teamsters charged Monday in a complaint to the
National Labor Relations Board. Journos charged that the NP engaged
in “illegal surveillance,” arbitrarily switched beats as
retaliation and a move to get people to quit in frustration, and
imposed a new “conflict of interest” rule to stifle and suppress
employees’ ability and willingness to express their views on
working conditions. The switch of young Shelly Leachman, with just
a few months under her belt at the paper, from general assignment
to the county beat, was reportedly enough to push her to quit,
along with all the other chaos, thus eliminating another pro-union
staffer. That makes 14 who have quit the newsroom. Meanwhile,
Woman magazine editor Ann Peyrat, who didn’t work in the
newsroom, has resigned.

Condo-mania? Santa Barbara
used to be dubbed “a city without pity” for its seeming sneers at
the plight of the homeless. But now it’s apparently found a
heart — for the middle class. The City Council is proposing
subsidized condos for $495,000 for families making up to $160,000,
about half the market value. As I get it, up to half the units at
Montecito and Calle César Chávez will be offered first to employees
in nonprofits. To get a taste of what outraged Middle America
thinks of this, click onto the USA Today page

The Good
A man walks out on a barren stage and starts
telling a story about mayhem in his life. There are laughs and
gasps from the audience. That’s The Good Thief, currently
on the boards at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre (see review on page 52).
Conor Lovett told his story quietly the night we saw the 75-minute
play by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, and held the audience in
rapt attention. Afterward, we stopped for a bite at charming
Tutti’s Off Main, which you’ll recall was transplanted from Coast
Village Road. … Little Miss Sunshine, a feel-good movie
about a dysfunctional family on the road, shed warmth back into our
lives. A family falling apart comes together and the star is a
little girl you’ll never forget, Olive, played by the winning
Abigail Breslin. At Paseo Nuevo.

Sandy’s Hill: The last time the world heard
about Sandy Hill, she was much in the news, pro and con, for
disputed events on Everest’s so-called death zone in 1996, when
eight climbers lost their lives and she almost died. Now, according
to the current Outside magazine, Sandy, 51, divides her
time among New York, Miami, and her Santa Ynez Valley ranch and

Putting the Kibosh On: When the Society of
Professional Journalists proposed awarding an ethics prize to the
first nine to quit the News-Press in protest, owner Wendy
McCaw mean-spiritedly tried to derail the awards, according to
Editor & Publisher. We didn’t deserve it, she told the
SPJ. In any case, former NP editor Jerry Roberts plans to
receive the awards at SPJ’s convention in Chicago on August 26.

Incredible shrinking NP: “Imagine my
surprise on Sunday to find that two entire sections have
disappeared, Opinion and Business,” reported JD, “the former of
which was relegated to the customary weekday position as the
second-to-last page of the A section and consisted of only one
page, and the latter which shrank to a page or two in the Life
section. Could it be that the loss of circulation might also be
coupled with a loss of advertising revenue?” (And/or staff


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