CITIZEN McCAIN: Now that Senator John McCain has come out for lifting the 27-year federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of a reception the prez-hopeful gets at Carol and Bill Foley’s Hope Ranch GOP bash on Monday, June 23.

On the Beat

Even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes lifting the ban. Any faint hopes McCain might have had of winning California in November are now surely as low as the gas gauge in a Hummer stuck in an L.A. freeway jam. But McCain is probably hunting dollars at the Foleys’, not votes. What he should be calling for is conservation, which could eliminate the need for offshore drilling. Ironically-considering S.B.’s leadership against offshore drilling-the world’s first offshore well was drilled at the end of a wharf in Summerland. And to show that Santa Barbarans are not stick-in-the-goos, local enviros in April endorsed a historic deal with a Houston-based oil company to hunt what some estimate is 200 million barrels of high-priced oil buried under a lease off Point Concepcion. We got plenty in exchange, however; enough to satisfy the anti-oil crusaders. Now if we could only get rid of the gas-guzzlers-and the gas emitters in Washington, D.C., too.

TOO YOUNG FOR PEQUEA: Al Pizano, former el presidente of Fiesta, is upset that not only has the Old Spanish Days committee running the annual Fiesta Peque±a show at the Mission prohibited flamenco dances (too sexy) but it has banned any participant younger than 13 years old. This eliminates the tradition of the Junior Spirit of Fiesta dancing at the OSD kickoff event, according to a letter Pizano forwarded to Mission pastor Father Richard. Al did not identify the author, who asked to meet with Fr. Richard, citing the quotation: “Let the little children come unto me.” Said Al: “Fr. Richard declined to meet with the writer of the letter, saying the Fiesta Peque±a had made a final decision and he was in no position to change it.” I wonder if the kid ban also eliminates that orphans’ mariachi group that comes up each year from Mexico. Only older orphans need apply?

CITIZEN McCAW: In spite of two “cease and desist” letters from Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, producers of the Citizen McCaw documentary say they plan more screenings. “We are now actively moving forward with plans to show Citizen McCaw again, several times in local theaters in October, after which we will release the film to television,” coproducer Sam Tyler said today.

Just days earlier, an appeals court ruled against McCaw’s libel suit aimed at a critical 2006 magazine article called “Santa Barbara Smackdown.” The court found that McCaw failed to show that author Susan Paterno’s statements in the American Journalism Review story were “provably false.”

“Now that the Court of Appeal has declared that absolutely none of the assertions in [Paterno’s] article, as complained about by [McCaw], are actionable, it would appear that the trial court will likely dismiss the Santa Barbara News-Press‘s lawsuit and probably award her attorneys’ fees for having to defend [McCaw’s] oppressive action,” said Ira Gottlieb, Teamsters’ attorney representing the newsroom but not the attorney of record.

$$ FROM WENDY: It’s tough to sue News-Press owner Wendy McCaw for money and win, but attorney Bruce Anticouni has also done it. I ran into Anticouni the other day and confirmed that the paper failed to pay employees the proper overtime compensation, and illegally made them forfeit their vacation days if not taken each year by December 31. When Anticouni sued, the News-Press‘s records were discovered to be a mess. As a result, anyone who worked at the paper between Oct. 11, 2002, and May 14, 2008, is eligible to claim a share of the $140,000 class-action settlement. Claim forms are being mailed out-I got mine. Employees and former workers have until August 8 to submit claims.

SEX OFFENDER MEETING: That was the sign ex-Santa Barbara cardiologist David Welton spotted in Snohomish County, Washington. Living on Whidbey Island and moonlighting for fun as a photog for the South Whidbey Record, he naturally snapped a photo. No, it wasn’t a gabfest for sex maniacs but a community meeting to air the issue of an ex-con moving to town. Surprisingly, the paper did not use the sign photo, however. “I am still working as a cardiologist for the University of Washington and helping to establish an outpatient clinic in Snohomish County, a bit north of Seattle,” he said. “Life is good. Georgia and I celebrate our 36th anniversary today.”

CLERGY BEARING FLOWERS: Kudos to the small group of local clergy who turned out at the Santa Barbara Courthouse on Tuesday morning, June 17, to extend flowers and best wishes to same-sex couples taking out marriage licenses on that first historic day. But where was the rest of the Santa Barbara clergy? Is the old adage true, that bigotry reaches a high point at 11 a.m. every Sunday?


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