On the Beat 3-29-2007

Nexus in Red Ink: Not only is Jerry Roberts, former News-Press executive editor, still fighting Wendy McCaw’s $25-million contract arbitration claim, but he recently took over UCSB’s Daily Nexus student newspaper and inherited its $650,000 deficit. Seems as though the student-run paper has gushed red ink on an annual basis for years, with UC quietly making up the difference. Now Jerry is looking at ways to get the Nexus back in the black. UCSB doesn’t have a journalism school-or even a journalism class-although that may change. Here’s a thought: Wendy drops the claim, Jerry drops his $10 million counterclaim, and she pays off the $650-grand deficit. Both Wendy and Jerry cut their mounting attorneys’ costs, and she gives herself a much-needed PR boost in the community.

On the Beat

Ty’s Hawai’i Deal: Ty Warner has made a deal with Dell Computer founder Michael Dell, involving fellow billionaire Dell’s Big Island Four Seasons Hualalai and Ty’s adjoining Kona Village Resort. In brief, Dell and partners acquire the bungalow-style Kona, with Ty getting a $$$ interest in both properties. Hualalai includes the Four Seasons hotel, golf course, and residential property.

By coincidence, the new Conde Nast Traveler top-rates the spas at Warner’s Las Ventanas al Para-so at Los Cabos and Four Seasons Biltmore, as well as the aforementioned Four Seasons at Hualalai. Also on the list of prime resort spas were the Bacara Resort & Spa and the Halekulani in Oahu, where the GM is Janis Clapoff, formerly of our San Ysidro Ranch.

Rolling in Style: Spotted gliding nonchalantly down the bike lane in the 1000 block of State Street: Young guy in suit and tie, hands jammed in his pockets, on a skateboard.

It’s Legal: Defiant sign in a downtown Santa Barbara cigar shop: “Smoking is Legal.”

Sound, Not Fury: The Daily Sound is a lusty, fast-growing infant of one year, a heads-up daily paper the town has adopted with gusto. The freebie threw a lively birthday party Friday night to celebrate, offering food, drink, and, I hear, quiet plans to eventually reach the 20,000 circulation mark. It’s now printing 7,000 copies a day. The Daily Sound, despite birth pangs caused by News-Press legal logo threats and alleged NP cyber-squatting (grabbing relevant Web addresses), put out a record 32-pager on Friday. Ads aren’t coming easy, though, because of reports of News-Press fire-sale cheapie rates being offered in an effort to hang onto its own advertisers. Both 1st District and 3rd District county supervisors Salud Carbajal and Brooks Firestone were at the party, schmoozing for re-election votes.

Rove Roving? Also on hand at the Sound bash was contractor David Lack, who plans to invite Bush adviser Karl Rove here for a May GOP fundraiser. But wait, isn’t the Rover Boy going to have his hands full in D.C. then? House Democrats have okayed a subpoena, wanting Rove to testify about those eight U.S. attorneys who got fired.

Journalism 101: In contrast with the News-Press blanket on news of its in-house problems, the L.A. Times is front-paging its ugly opinion-page brouhaha. Opinion-page editor Andres Martinez quit after the Times publisher decided to scrap a special opinion section. Martinez claims publisher David Hiller overreacted by canceling the special Current section because it might appear that guest editor Brian Grazer, a Hollywood producer, had an unfair advantage in being chosen for the guest shot. The unfair advantage? Grazer has been represented by a PR woman who’s Martinez’s girlfriend. Martinez, who denied any impropriety in selecting Grazer, had hoped future guest opinion-page editors would include fired defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. What? One of the many objections to that, including the horrific thought of letting Rummy anywhere near a newsroom, even in hopes of making Current more relevant, is that forming partnerships with people the paper would later have to cover news-wise would be a bad idea. Also, in the Times photo, Grazer has a very bad haircut.

A Death in Santa Barbara: Writing in the Times, a different Martinez, columnist Al Martinez, lamented the gang-related death of a 15-year-old. “Santa Barbara, with its fussy intellectual ways, has always been a favorite of mine,” Al wrote. “There is intellectual coalescence in Santa Barbara. One hopes that its citizens, now aware of the evil in their paradise, will use their considerable gifts to study the roots of what happened there on a bright winter afternoon, when a young boy died in their arms.”

An Amputated Leg: Bob Ponce, retired News-Press chief photographer, wants to thank his many friends who have given him support-physical and moral-after his recent surgery. Bob also wants to thank Cottage Hospital and the medical team for such professional care. He’s back home now but can be found most mornings with cronies at Vices & Spices coffee shop, at State Street and Ontare Road.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 965-5205. He also writes online columns at independent.com on Tuesdays and Fridays

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