MIRAMAR PR PUSH: Rick Caruso, hoping to get a Montecito Planning Commission okay in June for his Miramar Hotel rebuilding plans, is busy attending enough Montecito PR coffee meetings to keep him awake until then, what with all that caffeine.

The word is that locals have held nearly 40 kaffeeklatsches in recent weeks, with 20-30 residents at each. A source tells me that Caruso “shows up, charms all, and tells all the audience-mostly ladies-how he needs them to contact Salud Carbajal,” 1st District supervisor.

On the Beat

STEALING FROM SCHOOL: Dirty rats broke into Santa Barbara High recently and stole about $18,000 worth of mikes and other theater arts gear. But that won’t stop the upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast, vows theater department chief Otto Layman. The show must go on. And as much as his mates at Dos Pueblos and San Marcos would love to lend loads of equipment, they have shows going on at the same time, Layman told me. But B&B will open May 9, “one way or the other,” he promised. What’s needed are donations flying in on the wings of angels, of which Santa Barbara has many. The theft also puts a crimp in fundraising for students who’ll perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. (What else? The musical Hair.) Donors can call Layman at 966-9101, x220 or send checks to the school. Layman wants folks to know that the thieves didn’t just get in through a window carelessly left open. They got up on the roof and pried open window bars with tools and were clearly well-equipped and knew what they were looking for. By the way, Layman’s installing security cameras.

COSTLY SPLIT FOR CLEESE? England’s Telegraph newspaper says that Santa Barbaran John Cleese’s divorce from Alyce Faye could cost him two homes, half his earnings since they wed in 1992, and nearly $2 million a year in alimony. The former Monty Python star and his U.S.-born psychotherapist wife announced in February that they were separating after 15 years of marriage. She’s the author of the book How to Manage Your Mother. He’ll be at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on May 15 at 7:30 p.m. to present An Evening with John Cleese, including a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s a benefit for UCSB’s Arts & Lectures Cinema Series.

WAITING: For Bill Levy to shell out the $882,240 the state says he owes in delinquent personal income taxes, or explain why California tax people are wrong. Waiting for cooler heads to get involved in the Carpinteria High “Warriors” Native American image issue. Waiting for the former Brown Pelican to reopen at Hendry’s Beach. June, maybe? Wondering if Target is coming.

BASIC WILLIE BROWN: I remember my first and only meeting with Willie Brown, powerful speaker of the California Assembly for 15 pre-term-limitation years. Ushered into his grand office by then-assemblymember Jack O’Connell through a room filled with legislators waiting hat-in-hand for an audience, I listened to his friendly chat and cleared out, feeling guilty for clogging up the wheels of government, if only for a few minutes. Later, the jaunty Brown, wearing a baseball cap and an amused grin, arrived too late for a hearing. Did it faze him a bit? Nope. He shrugged, kept grinning, and led his entourage back to his office. I was in Sacramento for a News-Press series on the legislature. Brown went on to become the first and only black mayor of San Francisco and plans to share his experiences May 14 at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. He’s got a book out, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times. Brown was born in 1933 in an East Texas town marked by mob violence that kept blacks from voting.

G-TTERDMMERUNG TO YOU: Actually, that’s not a swear word in German, but one of Wagner’s light little ditties and means “twilight of the gods.” Rhine maidens and all that. Esa-Pekka Salonen and the L.A. Phil will be at the new, improved Granada on Saturday night performing excerpts, and also Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2. (The No. 1 had already been rented out to Chicago.) This will be the Community Arts Music Association’s first concert at the Gran.

$$$ FOR KIDS: Speaking of the Granada, it’s wonderful to see all those multimillion-dollar donations to rebuild it, but in view of the Santa Barbara School District cutting more than $4 million from the education budget, “How about some million-dollar donations to the kids?” one guy suggested to me.

WE’RE NOMINATED: Folks here at The Indy are kicking up their heels at being one of three weeklies in the nation nominated by Editor & Publisher for a coveted EPpy award for the best weekly newspaper-affiliated Web site. E&P will award this and other prizes May 15 in Las Vegas. Also nominated are the big-city Brooklyn Paper and the smallish Wicked Local Somerville in New England.


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