Barney’s On the Beat

Ballot Bamboozling: While watching those
oh-so-sincere “experts” on TV slamming California ballot
initiatives, keep in mind that Big Oil and Big Tobacco are paying
some of them to sing their tune.

If Alice Huffman, who heads the California NAACP, hadn’t been
paid $160,000 by the tobacco lobby would she be all over TV blowing
smoke about Prop. 86, which would raise the cigarette tax an
additional $2.60 a pack?

The NAACP calls the tax “unfair” because it would be “especially
burdensome on low-income smokers.” Well, I’d say lung cancer is
even more burdensome and the tax might reduce the number of
smokers. Prop. 86 backers say it would raise millions for health
services, including efforts to keep kids from becoming nicotine
addicts and save nearly $16.5 billion in healthcare costs because
more than half a million smokers would quit blowing their dough on
coffin nails.

Big Oil, fighting Prop. 87, has shelled out major money to
police and firefighting groups, which, not surprisingly, are
filling the airways with horror stories warning about the proposed
$4 billion California oil tax. I seriously doubt that the oil
companies are in danger of going broke from paying this tax. The
Rev. Amos Brown, a prominent San Francisco preacher, has in the
past been critical of Governor Schwarzenegger. But now, after being
paid $16,000 by the governor, he’s changed his position and is
promoting the gov’s re-election by cutting radio commercials.

Police and firefighter groups received more than $220,000 from
the No on 86 and 87 groups; the unions have responded by giving
them top spots on their mailers.

So far, the cost of statewide campaigns has hit nearly $450
million, an obscene amount, all in the name of good government, of
course. The issue here isn’t whether these ballot measures are good
or bad public policy but whether you should be taken in by these
well-paid pitchmen hiding who signs their paychecks. My advice:
Take a bathroom break when any of these high-powered commercials
flash onto your tube. You won’t be missing anything but
misinformation from paid mouthpieces who aren’t telling you what
you really need to know: how much they’re being paid and by

Missing FBI Files: Thirty years ago, 73 people
were killed in the bombing of a Cuban passenger plane shortly after
its takeoff from Barbados. According to South Coast journalist Ann
Louise Bardach’s piece in the current issue of the Atlantic
, American, Venezuelan, Trinidadian, and Cuban
intelligence all concluded that the masterminds of the bombing were
anti-Castro militants Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch, who were
granted residency by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, at the
behest of his son Jeb Bush.

But agents in the Miami bureau of the FBI were told to drop the
investigation, Bardach said. “Lots of people around here think
Posada is a freedom fighter,” the FBI chief told agents in the
bureau, according to Bardach, who also authored the book Cuba
. Not long after, agents learned that all the
evidence against Posada had been destroyed, wrote Bardach.

When Posada showed up in Miami last year, the FBI suddenly got
interested and reopened the old case. But with its
files — including records of cables and money transfers between
Posada and alleged co-conspirators — gone from the FBI’s South
Florida evidence room, the feds tried to subpoena Bardach’s files
from her 1998 series on Posada in the New York Times. “Do
us a favor,” one FBI investigator told Bardach, she wrote. “We
can’t find ours.”

Last year, attorneys for the Times successfully quashed
the subpoena. Then, on September 11, the Justice Department
threatened another subpoena if the Times and Bardach
didn’t turn over her materials. On October 6, 30 years to the day
of the Cuban plane bombing, the feds laid another subpoena on the
Times, Bardach told me this week. “You can’t say they don’t have a
sense of humor about their timing and dates. But you have got to
wonder: Is this a war on terrorism or a war on reporters?” she
asked. “And you’ve got to wonder if my materials will wind up in
the shredder, as well.”

Wild and Wacky: The Foreigner, the
Santa Barbara City College Theatre Group’s new production (yes,
good old live theater!) is a throwback to those daffy 1930s
comedies. It’s full of quirky characters, explosions, and
silliness. Kudos to director Rick Mokler.

Halloween at the Boneyard: There are more than 44,000 stories at
the Santa Barbara Cemetery (that’s how many people are buried
there), but historian David Petry only has time for the choice
stories about the famous and infamous during his tours. The next
ones will take place on Sunday, October 29 at 3:30 p.m. and on
October 31 at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Info at 569-3300. (For more on
Petry’s cemetery tour, see page 39.)


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.