FESS HOSTEL HUSTLING: Fess Parker did a little Texas-style horse trading some years ago to get a new hotel okayed and now he wants to switch horseflesh. But all the horses in Texas are more likely to run off to Mexico before he’ll be allowed to renege on his promise to build a 100-room hostel on lower State Street.

Years ago, Fess was given a choice by the city and Coastal Commission: Develop the 150-room hotel on Cabrillo Boulevard at East Beach on three acres, or be allowed 3.4 acres if he also built a hostel, according to Dave Davis, former city development director.

On the Beat

Fess opted for 3.4 acres, Davis reminded me this week. That became a Coastal Commission condition and the city has no power to waive it, even if the City Council was of a mind to, which is highly doubtful.

Fess made a speech the other day to an area service club saying that if the city allows him to deep-six the required hostel, he’ll donate the millions he’ll save to the city to fight gangs and other crime.

The purpose of the hostel is to create low-cost overnight coastal-zone housing for budget travelers of all ages to help balance the high-rent oceanfront hotel. And Fess can’t open the new hotel without opening the hostel as well, according to commission conditions. The commission’s role is to assure public access to the coast; the city’s job is to fight crime.

THE SCREAM: Just think: In a little more than a year, our eight-year national nightmare will be over. All we have to do is pick the right president to make sure a new horror show doesn’t start.

Who’d have thought just a few years ago that a woman, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, whose father is black and mother is white, would have a good shot at being elected president? But what if we combined the two, electing a black woman? Can you see Santa Barbara/Montecito becoming the western White House when Oprah Winfrey takes office next January?

On the other hand, we could see the first Mormon president, Mitt (Mitt?) Romney, or Arkansas Baptist preacher man Mike Huckabee as a Republican president, from America’s first major religious party.

Recently I wandered into an Independent editorial meeting and editor in chief Marianne Partridge fired this one at me: Whom should we endorse? I shot out: “Eisenhower.” I voted for him twice, before I became a John F. Kennedy Democrat in 1960. Just think: Instead of having a president who does too much of the wrong things, we’d have one who never does anything.

TRIBUTE TO JULIE: Back in 1965, British actress Julie Christie was flying high, appearing in Darling, for which she would win an Oscar, and David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago, in which she played Lara, the tragic heroine. She’s being honored by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Jan. 24-Feb. 3) for her recent film, Away from Her. She’ll be interviewed by critic Leonard Maltin at the Lobero on January 25.

SCHADENFREUDE: That’s a German expression for “taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.” Santa Barbara potshot author Ashleigh Brilliant is using the term in regards to what happened to him in 1965 and about a more recent sex abuse scandal.

“In October 2004, two hunters in Modoc County discovered in the woods a plastic box containing some videotapes,” Ashleigh said. They were “traced to a hitherto respected physician practicing in Alturas.

“That doctor, a man now 60 years old, had, as this evidence showed, been covertly videotaping some of his female patients, including breast and genital examinations of girls aged 15 and 16, using cameras hidden on his person and in the air vent above the examination table. As a result, the felonious physician lost his license to practice medicine, and has now been sentenced to three years in federal prison for ‘possession of child pornography.’ “

Back in 1965, Brilliant was a newly hired history professor at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. In the spirit of the times, he played for a discussion group a tape of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” the most famous poem of that rebellious era. It also contained obscenities and sexual allusions that outraged the college’s board. Brilliant got the ax.

The felonious physician is Owen Panner Jr. His father, Owen Panner Sr., now 84, is a U.S. federal judge. But back in 1965, the senior Panner was a lawyer on the board of Central Oregon Community College, according to Brilliant. Panner Sr. “not only voted with his colleagues for my dismissal but based his successful campaign for reelection to the board largely on that decision.”

Brilliant doesn’t exactly revel in the shame of the doctor or his father the judge, but he published this potshot: “More Tests Will Be Necessary to Determine Whether the Patient Can Really Trust the Doctor.”


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