Charlie Rex Arbogast/AP and Win McNamee/Getty
On the Beat

If I Were Going to Oprah’s: In the highly unlikely event that Oprah invites me to her Sept. 8 bash for Barack Obama, here’s what I’d have to do to get in the door:

First of all, it’s apparently not being called a “fundraiser.” That’s gauche. That’s what Hillary Clinton is having at Magic Johnson’s house a few days later. Oprah’s little soiree is being dubbed a “celebration.”

Of course it’s a fundraiser. Do you think a presidential candidate’s coming all the way to Santa Barbara just to press the flesh with the locals, schmooze with Oprah, and watch the seagulls? At this point in the campaign, it’s basically greenbacks he’s after.

After making the list, I’d have to shell out $2,300. (With Sue needing two crowns and grandbaby Brianna going through diapers like you-know-what through a goose, do you think I’m going to blow that kind of dough to get a warm cocktail and a glance at the O&O pair across a crowded party?)

According to instructions from Julianna Smoot, Obama’s national finance director, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune, I’d have to wear “Garden Attire.” That apparently means a blazer, contrasting slacks, and an open collar. (Obama likes open collars. Man of the people, natch – except in photos.)

There are no tickets to the event. (Also gauche, I gather.) You’re either on the list or forget it. And don’t forget the confirmation e-mail and government-issued ID.

I’d have to show up at Earl Warren Showgrounds at Gate B between 2:15 and 3:45 p.m. and be checked in – cameras and recording devices strictly verboten – then climb on a shuttle bus to Oprah’s Montecito place.

The fundraiser – oops, “celebration” – will be held on Oprah’s meadow. (Flat shoes suggested for women.) Out-of-towners who want to stay overnight can ask for the “Obama ’08 rate,” which starts at $280 at the Upham and up to $1,600 at Bacara Resort & Spa, according to Obama’s people.

In the event my invitation is lost and any of the VIP guests gets bored, Sue and I will be willing to swap a cup of coffee or tea in exchange for the inside scoop about what happened at Oprah’s.

No admission charge, no valet, and everyone out by midnight unless the stories are really good. Then, and only then, we might break out the good stuff. Cameras and recording devices OK. Diaper donations accepted.

Dagblasted Dirt Blowers: As for Ashleigh Brilliant’s complaint that the city isn’t enforcing the voter-approved ban on gas-powered dirt blowers, Mayor Marty agrees. Replying to his e-mail, she said: “When we passed the gas-powered leaf blower ban, we had a long discussion about its implementation. We knew enforcement would be difficult. I even remember suggesting signage where leaf blowers are sold on the South Coast, as well as information given to gardeners when they are taking our Green Gardener program. It appears that neither one were done.”

“In addition, I just pulled the Municipal Code section 9.16.020, and there are many other things that have not been followed up on.” She promised to follow up with City Administrator Jim Armstrong. Legal blowers can only be used between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. if in or near a residential zone. That code section not only bans gas-powered blowers, but restricts the use of legal ones to Mondays through Saturdays, and prohibits them on Sundays and national holidays. It’s also illegal to blow debris onto neighboring property or into the street or gutter, to not collect the debris, or to sell a blower made to exceed 65 decibels.

Minutes after writing this I heard a racket outside and spotted a worker partly obscured by the cloud of dust he was creating with a gas blower, showering dirt into the street away from the home where he was working and toward mine. I talked to him and found that he hadn’t a clue about the law and, apparently, neither did the absentee property owner.

Mayor Blum's head shot from <em>Esquire</em>.
Henry Leutwyler

Mayor Marty in Esquire?: True, right there on page 219 of the current issue is Marty’s smiling face and fully clothed body, at least what I could see of it. Actually, it’s part of a spread about U.S. mayors. The caption doesn’t deal with homelessness, the high price of homes, those monstrosities rising on lower Chapala Street, or the usual issues. It was about the Light Blue Line. Says Marty: “I’ve got some people from the university who’ve mapped out what will happen when the ocean rises. They’re gonna draw a blue line in the city where the ocean’s gonna come up to. The real estate agents aren’t thrilled.” (That, of course, refers to rising water from melting Greenland coming to a street near you soon – in a thousand years or so.) It doesn’t take much to crank up Santa Barbarans.

More Burning Issues: One thing about being mayor of an intense, throbbing metropolis is that you’re hit with major, mind-boggling problems that defy solutions. Like the dreaded Light Blue Line that has the News-Press in a dither, thereby distracting the public from the paper’s current prosecution by the feds. Or this burning issue Mayor Marty shared with me: “On my radio show (KTMS) on Saturday two callers complained about skateboarders and bicyclists riding on the sidewalks downtown. They wanted me to get them off the sidewalks, where they practically run down pedestrians, especially the elderly who do not jump out of the way too fast. Our police officers write many tickets for riding on the sidewalks. The law says that skateboarders and bicyclists must ride in the streets in the downtown area. Skateboarders might want to walk with their boards under their arms. They need to be more courteous. I will contact the principal of each secondary school so they know the law.”

Barney Brantingham can be reached at, or at 805-965-5205. He writes an online column on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.


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