Election Races and Solitary Confinement

Poli-Tricks: With three incumbent Santa Barbara City Councilmembers running for reelection this year, savvy politicos are already looking ahead to the Big Enchilada in 2009: the mayoral race.

As of now, it looks like an alpha female head-to-head between councilmembers Helene Schneider and Iya Falcone. Both have made it clear they plan to run and each figures to be backed by serious support from local groups. (In Iya’s case, the powerful police and fire unions.)

On the Beat

The race, City Hall sources forecast, will not be a tea party. In fact, word around town is two major women Democratic politicos are said to be considering not endorsing fellow democrat Helene because they don’t want to help her chances against their candidate of two years hence, Iya. This promises to be ugly.

Up for reelection this year are councilmembers Schneider; Das Williams, who’ll kick off his campaign next Tuesday at noon at the Arroyo Burro Creek renovation project and a 4:30 p.m. party at Arnoldi’s Cafe (600 Olive St.); and Brian Barnwell, whose kickoff is today (May 24) at Bricks Cafe (509 State St.) at 7 p.m.

Williams has been spending time in the City of Ventura fighting Wal-Mart’s attempted invasion, among other things. This leads some to speculate he might be eyeing an eventual State Assembly race, but not until democratic incumbent Pedro Nava moves on. (The district includes Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.)

Still in Solitary: Michael Santos was still locked in solitary at Lompoc federal slammer at this writing, but his cautionary book is free, aimed at at-risk kids. Santos’s chief offense while in the fed gulag was earning a BA, a masters degree, going for a doctorate (prison officials blocked that), and writing three books. All was well at Lompoc until he published the book Gangsters and Thugs: Consequences That Hustlers Pay.

Now he’s in “the hole,” awaiting transfer to who knows where-the prison system’s way of punishing people. Aside from daring to get an education and write books, he’s been a model prisoner, as far as I know, after being convicted two decades ago for selling drugs. Now, in Gangsters and Thugs, he’s giving stern warnings aimed at keeping kids out of trouble. The book tells real-life stories of young men who chose the gang route and wrecked their lives behind bars. It’s aimed at counselors, teachers, and the kids themselves.

Matt Erickson of Santa Barbara, a school counselor in Ventura, found it “an outstanding resource” and got 60 copies of the free book for his students. Copies are available through MichaelSantos.net.

Goin’ to a Weddin’: At a wedding the other afternoon, watching the happy young couple in love tie the knot, I wondered why people don’t throw divorce parties. Celebrate the split, make lemonade out of lemons. Cut a cake, sweeten the bitterness a little. Take out a divorce announcement to make public the fact that both parties are now available: “Mr. and Mrs. G.M. Smith announce the dissolution of marriage of their daughter, Hannah Marie, from Jake Barstow Boron of San Quentin State Reformatory Prison and Human Warehouse. Hannah will be at home with her parents following her release from rehab.” A lawyer friend once asked me why people don’t consult an attorney before they get hitched.

The Music Stopped: Alas, the Santa Barbara Chamber Music Festival’s been canceled this year. The reason? Lack o’ dough, said founder Dan Kepl. Budget for the June fest was $38,650, but no can do. Dan wants to raise money for next year’s festival, using the theme of what didn’t happen this year: “American Tango.”

The Big Bam: That was what Babe Ruth’s teammates used to call the slugger, a man with prodigious appetites-wine, women, and whatever was on the menu. I’ve just finished a fascinating biography that digs into the legend and myths of the man, The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth, by Leigh Montville (Doubleday). Great reading, even if you’re not a red-hot baseball fan, about one of the towering popular figures of the 20th century. This is a warts-and-all bio, showing along with his majestic home run talents, the seamy side of the Sultan of Swat.

Adios, Pascual’s: True, Pascual’s restaurant on East Victoria Street is gone, but in its place is Trattoria Victoria, which my friends are raving about. “I love it,” gushed DW. “It’s bustling with energy.” Open for dinner.

Back to the Ranch: Ty Warner’s San Ysidro Ranch, just winding up a $150 million restoration, has a new managing director, Marco Perry. He’s taking over from Duncan Graham, who resigned in February after overseeing the work. The ranch is also opening its Warner Cottage, which boasts two bedrooms, 2.5 baths, three wood-burning fireplaces, living room, dining area, full kitchen, hot tub, and swimming pool. Only $4,000 a night.


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