Barney’s On the Beat

By Barney Brantingham

The Harder They Fall: Len Wood, soft-spoken,
highly respected Santa Barbara News-Press photo chief, gave notice
Monday, according to sources, which attributed it in part to the
ongoing Michael Todd/Ana Elisa Fuentes dispute.

Wood’s resignation after 25 years at the paper came one day
after the News-Press published part-time photog Fuentes’ emotional
commentary in which she blamed supervisors for not doing enough
about Todd’s alleged threat to her. Insiders challenge this. Todd
maintains it was all a joke.

On Tuesday, the NP fired Life section editor Andrea Huebner,
reportedly for allowing Dr. Michael Seabaugh’s column, in which he
criticized fellow columnist Laura Schlessinger, to run. News
reporter Colby Frazier, considered pro-union, was also fired.

Union Vote Set: After weeks of wrangling, union
officials announced Monday that there’ll be a September 27 election
to decide whether Santa Barbara News-Press newsroom employees will
be represented by the Graphic Communications Conference of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Spirit of the Wilderness: They called Dick
Smith “the conscience of the backcountry.” The Wildling Art Museum
of Los Olivos is honoring the late naturalist and journalist with
an exhibit of his photos, books, and sketches starting Sunday and
running through January 7. The museum’s annual “Spirit of the
Wilderness” will be awarded in his memory.

Dick and I hiked the county’s backcountry in the early 1960s,
and through his efforts the 217,000-acre San Rafael Wilderness area
was established in 1962. Dick died at 56 in 1977. In his honor, the
68,000-acre Dick Smith Wilderness in Los Padres National Forest was
dedicated in 1982. He is the only Californian besides John Muir and
Ansel Adams to have a federal wilderness area named in his
honor.

Dick worked hard at the Santa Barbara News-Press for
nearly 30 years, turning out books, covering wildfires, and keeping
an eye on the U.S. Forest Service. He cared. A panel discussion of
Dick and his work will be held at the Santa Barbara Museum of
Natural History on October 22 at 4 p.m.

Big Yellow House: “Heard that the Big Yellow
House was purchased by some big developer and will be turned into a
high-end restaurant,” reported Hank Allen. I asked around and was
told that whatever’s going in, it’s expected to reopen in a couple
of months. But for now, it’s dark — except for the ghosts that
supposedly inhabit the old place.

Arlington West: Following a major appeal to the
community, dozens of volunteers have turned out the past two
Sundays to help set up crosses at the Arlington West memorial on
the beach next to Stearns Wharf. But volunteers are still needed to
take them down at around 5 p.m. Arlington West leaders would like
them to commit to at least two Sundays a month, if possible,
according to Tom Urban.

RV for New Orleans: Ronnie Mellen told me that
she’s got a fully outfitted RV, packed with clothing and canned
goods to help the hurricane victims. All that’s needed is someone
to drive it down there. It sleeps four to six, is “immaculate”
inside and about 23 feet long, and in good condition. The idea
would be for the driver to turn it over to a church or nonprofit.
She has the names of some possibilities there. You can reach Ronnie
at 969-9699.

Ken’s Novel: Ken Williams is a saint of the
sidewalks, a social worker for Santa Barbara’s homeless for nearly
30 years. Ken, a Vietnam Marine combat vet, has just published a
novel, China White, about a Vietnam CIA field agent three
decades later. China white is heroin.

Letter from the Postmaster: It was from S.B.
Postmaster Mary Frink and not about postage due. Mary’s a volunteer
board member of the Breast Cancer Resource Center, which is having
a fundraiser this Saturday from 4-7 p.m. Larry Crandell is
auctioning; there will be live music, al fresco Italian fare, and
Wattle Creek wines. Honorary chair is Marcia Cross of Desperate
Housewives fame. Two years ago, after a close friend was diagnosed
with breast cancer, Cross devoted herself to the cause. Info at
569-9693.

Open Lines: Ernie Salomon doesn’t mince words
and he’s a guy with strong opinions. He’s kicking off his season
Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 17 with journalist Lou Cannon. For
an hour they’ll be kicking around Subject A: the News-Press.
There’ll be open lines for callers.

Running for Music: My friend Elaine Lopez plans
to head to Portland, lace up her running shoes, and take part in
the Portland Marathon (26.2 miles) to raise money for the Santa
Barbara High band program. The best I ever did was a 5k for fun.
Elaine, whose son Aaron is in the marching band, said money raised
will benefit the band, color guard, jazz band, symphonic band,
string orchestra, and pep band. You can pledge per-mile by sending
checks to the nonprofit Santa Barbara High School Band Boosters to
her at 315 W. Los Olivos St., No. 4, 93105. (She’s paying her own
travel and marathon fees.)

Texas Scramble: That’s the format for Monday’s
11th annual fundraiser for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates
for children) at Sandpiper Golf Course. (Hole-in-one wins you a
car.) Call M.J. Franco at 879-1730.

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