Quit Gagging the News: If the
News-Press would print more news and send fewer
gag orders to its employees and condescending
letters to local attorneys, we’d all be better off. Late last week,
newsroom journalists got hit with two more gag orders, making a
total of five. And the NP hired local pit bull attorney
Barry Cappello to fire off a letter to attorneys of the
Lawyers Alliance for Free Speech. These are the
volunteers supporting the NP journalists past and present.
But Cappello claimed that the group’s “real purpose” is to support
litigation against the paper, its owner, publishers, and certain
other employees (he didn’t’ say what litigation) and the “reasons
are pecuniary and personal, nothing more, nothing less.” Cappello,
who’s made many a buck suing banks over lender liability, urged the
lawyers to “reconsider your affiliation and at least wait until our
side of this story is told.”

“Wait a minute,” urged blogger Craig Smith, an attorney. “McCaw
is one of those rare individuals who buys printer’s ink by the
barrel, so just what is keeping her from presenting ‘the
News-Press’ side of the story?’” Said Smith: “We will not
be bullied.” Nor will staffers like Dawn Hobbs,
who stood up at a packed reception Saturday night at Arnoldi’s and,
despite the gag orders, urged people to cancel their
News-Press subscriptions and support merchants who display
“McCaw Obey the Law” signs. mccaw%20obey%20law.jpg Meanwhile, an attorney for the
Teamsters, now representing newsroom workers who are unionizing,
says that the feds will hold what amounts to a trial in early 2007
in Santa Barbara over allegations that the News-Press
violated labor laws, including the firing of veteran reporter
Melinda Burns, a union leader. The looming
question now: Will Hobbs get the ax too?

Woody Allen: Sunday will be the Woodman’s first
visit to Santa Barbara with his New Orleans Jazz Band, and perhaps
his last. woody%20allen.jpg He’ll be playing at the Lobero at 8

Missing Rocks: “Just in time for Christmas,
someone’s removed the rocks in the median at the very west end of
Coast Village Road, where some poor souls had taken to sitting
while panhandling,” observed John Seymour. “This can’t be
coincidental. It seems a bit mean-spirited.” (On the other hand,
CVR puts on a great Farmers Market on Fridays.)

Cota Street Clutter: After I wrote about Santa
Barbara restaurant king Gene Montesano’s
long-delayed plans to open an eatery on East Cota at the site of
the former Mousse Odile, I heard from two readers deploring what
they call the unkempt, unsightly condition of the boarded-up

Naked Cupboards: Diane Durst
told me sadly that cupboards at the Foodbank of Santa
Barbara County are bare. foodbank.jpg “We are in desperate need of 50,000
pounds of canned and packaged foods.” You can drop off food for the
needy at 4554 Hollister Ave. Info at 967-5741.

McCune Aids Transition House: Philanthropist
Sara Miller McCune and her Sage
has put up a $250,000 challenge grant for Transition
family shelter. transition%20house.jpg If the community will match it, the last
$500,000 will be raised to pay for its renovated emergency shelter.
Transition House has already raised $2 mil. If you can help with
the match, call Kathleen Baushke at 966-9668.

He Was a Gang Member: Speaking of Transition
House, let’s hear from Lawrence, member of a local gang for years.
“I thought it made me a man, but being part of a gang almost lost
me my family,” he said in a letter the family shelter sent out.

Lawrence was born in Santa Barbara, but after his parents split
up, he lost stability. He quit school and joined a gang in a
foolish attempt to gain respect, got stabbed, and landed in jail.
He and his wife had a daughter, but almost lost custody due to
their drug use. “The thought of losing her scared us enough to want
to make a change,” he said.

Encouraged by his father, he went into drug rehab and quit the
gangs. “We weren’t sure exactly how we were going to do it but we
knew we wanted to earn an honest living and give (their children,
now numbering two girls) a safe and secure home.” Luckily, they
found Transition House, where they learned to budget, “be a true
family,” and find work. The first few weeks were rough. “I was
scared to go to work.” But, he said, “Once I started working, my
confidence grew. After a few months, I could stop worrying about

Then they applied for TH’s second-step program and moved to the
Firehouse shelter. “Although we were both working full-time, our
entry-level salaries would never cover the cost of rent in Santa
Barbara. Again, I was worried about failing.” The family income
wasn’t enough to pay for the next step: their own apartment.

“But Transition House had a solution. They gave us a chance to
apply for one of their apartments.” If they continued to work with
their case manager, made their monthly savings deposit, and came up
with a long-term plan to make more money, they could move into an
apartment at affordable rent.

Then, Lawrence wrote, “We got our apartment. It is such a nice
place.” The kids are doing well. “I think we’ll be busy — too busy
to worry about failing,” he said. “And way too busy to even
consider going back to a gang.

“Thanks to all at Transition House and to all its supporters for
showing us how to be the parents we want to be and for helping me
finally be the man I want to be. I’m very grateful.”

Along with his letter sent out by the Transition House folks,
there’s a picture of a happy family: Lawrence, Lisa, and the two
girls. You can find out how to make donations at www.transitionhouse.com.


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