CASE OF THE MISSING DA: For some reason, District Attorney Christie Stanley seems to think she’s in Chicago. Boost your friends, punish your enemies, and don’t tell the public that elected you a damn thing.

Is there anything she won’t do to prevent Senior Deputy DA Joyce Dudley from being elected her successor next year? After Dudley told her face-to-face a couple of months ago that she’d oppose her on the ballot, Stanley jerked Dudley off two high-profile sex cases, Dudley’s professional specialty. The move smelled so much like Chicago politics that the DA soon reversed herself.

Barney Brantingham

After telling me that she planned to seek reelection despite the lung cancer that has kept her out of the office much of the time in the past year, Stanley quickly reversed herself by dropping out of the race, and endorsed prosecutor Josh Lynn for the job. Now she’s named him “acting DA,” whatever that is. We then learned that Stanley suffered a fall and had surgery, keeping her out of the office.

Dudley was quick to protest, saying, “It appears that today in appointing my opponent ‘District Attorney,’ she is attempting to anoint her successor.”

At no time has the DA leveled with the public. Not explaining when her lung cancer kept her from being on the job; not being straight about how often she was at her desk; not why she did the switcheroo with Dudley; not about her fall, surgery, and appointment of Lynn. (Was that legal if he’s going to take her place long-term? Is this making an end run around the Board of Supervisors?)

In all this time, not one stinking press release or email of explanation to the public. Of all the county departments, the DA’s office must be above even the mere appearance of politics, to assure public confidence.

Lynn, placed in a difficult position by the DA’s gamesmanship, rejected the idea that he was being anointed and said he was just doing the job until Stanley returns. When and if that will happen, we can only wonder. Oddly, Lynn, when appointed, said he had few details about his boss’s fall, only that it had occurred in the previous 10 days and that she was recovering. This is the most mysterious DA I’ve seen here in a half-century.

“The bottom line is we need daily leadership here,” Lynn was quoted as saying. He’s right. The charade has gone on too long. If Stanley-making $179,000 a year-feels she will not be able to return to duty or be effective if and when she does, she should do the right thing and retire.

But that would allow the Board of Supervisors to appoint a successor. And as she well knows, their choice might not be her choice, namely Lynn. Of the five supervisors, Salud Carbajal and Doreen Farr have already endorsed Dudley.

Now the office is embroiled in politics, with deputy DAs taking sides between Lynn and Dudley, who has picked up a list of endorsements including Sheriff Bill Brown’s.

As for Dudley, she’s lucky Stanley hasn’t posted her to the New Cuyama DA’s office, and if there isn’t one, it could be created.

The DA’s office is staffed by sound, dedicated professionals who must be embarrassed by all this Chicago-style politicking.

OOPS: One of those multicolored mailers we’re deluged with misspelled mayoral candidate Helene Schneider’s name as “Helen.” Twice. Paid for by the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association. (Blame the proofreader.)

DUMPING DOLLARS: If Texas developer (and 1962 Santa Barbara High grad) Randall Van Wolfswinkel wants to dump a quarter of a million bucks into the City Council race, financing those disgusting hit-piece mailers, it’s one thing. And if the candidates he’s spending the dough on-Dale Francisco for mayor and Frank Hotchkiss, Michael Self, and Cathie McCammon for council-won’t denounce the ads, that’s their choice. But we have a choice, too: not to vote for the slate. Blogger Craig Smith says the real guy behind Wolfie is a vengeance-is-mine Montecitan, angry at the council for okaying a large building on Coast Village Road. Councilmember Francisco opposed it.

RED IN THE FACE: An enormous red-colored mailer arrived with huge block letters: “FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE,” the “O” in “LOVE” being a hammer and sickle. (Shades of the 1950s Red Scare, eh?) “Why is a Russian billionaire,” the Van Wolfswinkel-paid mailer asked, supporting mayoral candidate Steve Cushman with a $50,000 donation? But then, why is Wolfie spending around $250,000? The “Russian billionaire” is banker Sergey Grishin, who’s owned property here the past eight years and just bought Montecito’s Val Verde Estate for a cool $15.3 million. What’s odd about a banker supporting a Chamber of Commerce president?

WINE CASK TO REOPEN: That’ll be November 9, according to restaurateur Mitchell Sjerven, who’s taking over the now-closed downtown eatery with former owner Doug Margerum. The chef’s identity is still secret, Mitchell said. But he told me it won’t be Cat (Iron Chef) Cora, the Santa Barbaran who held a public Q&A at the Granada on Monday night. Mitchell was moderator.


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