Dumped by the NP: Steve Nakutin, News-Press retail advertising manager, was either fired or laid off Tuesday, May 27, according to sources. He reportedly had been with the paper for nearly two years, arriving after the July, 2006 meltdown. According to sources, Nakutin drove his staff hard, facing pressure to promote ad revenue in the face of dropping circulation and advertising, but also joined his people bowling and in other entertainment. It makes the 12th staff cut in recent weeks. His replacement arrived Tuesday, reportedly from Cox Cable.
Raid Those Newspapers!: Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Brian Hill agreed with deputy public defender Karen Atkins that unpublished photos taken by the ndependent, News-Press, and Daily Sound might possibly maybe could show evidence exonerating a 14-year-old murder suspect. Although no real showing was made to back that up, Hill ordered the photos turned over. Or else pay disabling fine and/or go to jail. Higher courts backed his decision, sparking fears it would mean open season on newspapers’ photos, even reporters’ notes. That is just what’s happened. Two of Atkins’ fellow deputy public defenders decided to go rummaging around the files of UCSB’s Daily Nexus. Deedrea Edgar fired off a subpoena for any notes or other material used to prepare a police blotter item. (As far as I know, she didn’t demand copies of the reporter’s letters home to his mother, love billet doux, or lecture notes.) And a third deputy, Kathy Schwinghammer, subpoenaed unpublished photos taken during an anti-war protest. Both invasions were dropped, but the precedent now looms over every photo snapped or note taken.
Fr. Virgil’s Prez Choice: The 89-year-old priest never failed to amaze me. In many ways, the church is very conservative, clinging to traditional ways and beliefs. So who do you think Fr. Virgil voted for in the presidential primary? Carol Dore Hawkins writes: “I had the honor of driving Fr. Virgil to vote in the California primary in February. He was so excited to be voting for Senator Barack Obama and proudly announced his selection at the polls. He told me that the hopes for the future of this country lay in the hands of a candidate who professed diversity and acceptance of all people. He said that we as a people should not only tolerate differences, but revel in them and learn from them. That, he said, would be our salvation.
On Your Marq: Quick now, which local team has won 21 national titles since 1996? Answer: The San Marcos High Marquettes dance team. “Some people don’t think it’s a sport, but I do,” said coach Marni Cheverez, who’s been coaching there for 15 years. (Now also coach of the La Colina Junior High dance team.) No, this is not ballroom dancing. It’s lightning fast hip-hop, pom (involving pom-poms), jazz, and lyrical. This year, the 14-girl team won the West Coast grand championship at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, even beating out college teams, and the Best of the West invitational at Long Beach. (Full disclosure: My granddaughter Dani Arellanes is a freshman on the varsity team and I’m very proud.)
They’re on Wheels: Would you climb on a bike and embark on a 3,000-mile coast-to-coast race? Well, on June 11, eight Santa Barbarans (four of them over 60) plan to set off from Oceanside for Annapolis on the Race Across America, according to Kristin Anderson. Object of Santa Barbara Green Power: Raising money for CALM — Child Abuse Listening and Meditation. Last year’s team made it in seven days, seven hours, and 40 minutes, raising $13,000 for CALM. Info at santabarbaragreenpower.com or Dr. Don Flanigan, 682-5803.
Ellen Getting Hitched: No sooner than the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage than used-to-be-maybe-still-is-county-resident Ellen DeGeneres announced that she plans to wed longtime sweetheart Portia de Rossi.
Highest Gas Prices: Top pump price for regular gas on the South Coast Monday was $4.49, at the Chevron station at Hollister and Storke Road.
San Roque Scene: The L.A. Times travel piece on San Roque Sunday, May 25, was written by Frank Nelson, among those who quit the News-Press. And the featured photo was of a much-beautified former home of the late News-Press reporter-editor Keith Dalton.
Wanna Bargain Home?: My brother Bruce is smart. Years ago he moved to Indianapolis, now proclaimed at the nation’s most affordable place to buy a home. Unlike Santa Barbara, which as we know, is among the least affordable among small cities. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 90 percent of Indianapolians (Indianapolites?) making the median income, which is $61,000, could afford to buy a house there. But in the L.A. area, only 10 percent of families with the median income of $59,800 can afford to buy. Santa Barbara shared the least-affordable “honors” with Salinas (Salinas?), the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles area, and Santa Cruz-Watsonville. NAHB didn’t say how few Santa Barbarans could afford a median-priced $1 million home here. But it’s worth remembering that even if the natives are priced out, buyers from elsewhere are arriving clutching the dough to shop.
Lucky Bruce’s home was paid for long ago. My sister Joyce lives in Scottsdale, and she burned her mortgage years ago. Alas, my mortgage is still in the six-figure region and will be for many a moon. Now, if I’d kept my original Goleta tract house, it would have been paid for two or three decades ago. Original monthly payments: $124, including principal, interest, property tax, and insurance.
Lit Moon: After hearing much about Lit Moon Theatre Company’s avant garde stage productions, I headed for Center Stage Theater to see director John Blondell’s The Wedding. It premiered in Poland, where I hear they loved it. Very liberally taken from a Gogol story, it’s a fun, wacky, playful musical where three women ponder whether or not to wed a man who has no speaking lines. The run of the Gogol play has ended but Blondell will be staging a Shakespeare Festival Oct. 17-26. Is the bard ready for Blondell?