Roberts Donates to Journos

Giving $150,000 to Three Groups

Fighting Cancer: Jerry Roberts, still fighting lymphoma, is donating $150,000 to three groups dedicated to ethical, public-interest journalism.

The money is part of the nearly $1 million his former News-Press boss, Wendy McCaw, was ordered to pay him for legal fees and costs in connection with her failed arbitration action against him after he resigned in 2006, according to public records.

Roberts, former News-Press executive editor, has been in treatment at UC San Francisco medical center since October for an especially aggressive form of lymphoma.

Jerry Roberts
Courtesy Photo

Roberts said he gave $50,000 to the Society of Professional Journalists “in line with my promise to folks who gave to my defense fund that I would return part of any money I was awarded … to journalism organizations that promote ethical, enterprising, public-interest journalism.” Many local attorneys and others donated to the fund.

The other two organizations getting $50,000 each are the Electric Frontier Foundation (, which fights to defend Internet free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights; and Mission and State (formerly the Santa Barbara Journalism Initiative), an online investigative-journalism project in Santa Barbara.

Curry Moving? I see where Cardinal Roger Mahony secretly dipped into the cemetery maintenance fund of the L.A. Archdiocese, to the tune of $115 million, in order to help cover the $660-million settlement with molestation victims. But Mahony didn’t tell relatives of the dearly beloved who paid into the fund. One of the archdiocese cemeteries is Calvary Cemetery on Hope Avenue, Santa Barbara. (We’re assured that the last resting places will be properly maintained, however.) Mary Dispenza, who received a 2006 settlement due to her claim of being molested by a priest in the 1940s, told the L.A. Times that her relatives are buried at Calvary Cemetery in East L.A. “I think it’s very deceptive. And I think in a way they took it from people who had no voice: the dead.”

I have an idea how the archdiocese can raise money to help cover the red ink. Since bishop Thomas Curry won’t be needing his Santa Barbara quasi-mansion in San Roque now that he’s resigned under fire, shouldn’t it be sold? The two-story building at 3240 Calle Piñon at San Roque Road might bring in a couple of million or so, I suppose. Possible buyers: A large family, maybe? Retirement home? Homeless shelter? Retirement home for nuns?

BSA Not So Brave: When the going got tough, the nation’s Scout leaders got going ​— ​folded their tents and scooted. Doing their best to join the 21st century, the BSA had proposed lifting the ban on gay Scouts. But when they heard the screams from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other Lone Star legislators, along with sub-Mason-Dixon-Line bible-thumpers, they ran like a cowboy with his pants down confronting a rattlesnake. BSA called off last week’s yes-or-no meeting until May. Of what year I’m not sure.

(Dining) Room with a View: When Santa Barbara’s hilltop El Encanto hotel reopens next month, its Orient-Express owners say it will once again boast a dining room with a great view. Before El Encanto closed for major rebuilding in 2006, it won annual honors for the most romantic dining room in town, up there on the Riviera. Bungalow accommodations will range from $375 a night to $1,055 for a luxury suite. Let’s see how many Hollywood celebs it can lure from the longtime cottage hideaway San Ysidro Ranch, or the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, both owned by Ty Warner. Rates for a Biltmore room start at $475. Luxury accommodations at the Ranch range from $695 (cheaper midweek) to $3,500 a night for the Kennedy Cottage, named for the president who honeymooned there.

The Liar: No, not a Congressional forum but a witty, fun night of theater with Ensemble Theatre Company. The Pierre Corneille comedy, dating to 1644, doesn’t show a creak, thanks to clever updating by David Ives and directing by Jonathan Fox. When we went Saturday night, the whole cast was superb, but all eyes were on Adam Mondschein as the devil-may-care Dorante. It shows through February 24.

Fiddling Away: Catherine Leonard was stunning in a gorgeous red gown Friday night as principal violinist for Camerata Pacifica but is due to take her talent to her native Ireland and elsewhere in Europe after this season. Last chances to hear her at Hahn Hall are at the Camerata’s April 12 and May 17 concerts.

Firebirds: Triple kudos to the Santa Barbara Symphony, conductor Nir Kabaretti, and the State Street Ballet for last weekend’s outstanding performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.


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