WHALE FOUNTAIN? My recent column about the Navy endangering whales and other sea mammals off Southern California brought cries of outrage from readers. Navy plans for testing and training with explosives and sonar would harm the creatures, warn critics who urge modifications. The Navy refuses, so far.
“I’m sure your article will encourage many ideas about how to stop the Navy’s plan that will indiscriminately kill the world’s largest and oldest mammals on earth,” writes Santa Barbara dolphin-fountain sculptor Bud Bottoms. “Because we are one of the world’s great locations for whale watching, and because we cherish and want to protect them, we need a plan.
“People rally around the flag or a statue or a symbol that represents their mission or identity. Here is a suggestion that could help foil the Navy’s plans and create a tribute to the whale: Located at the small park at the entrance to Santa Barbara’s harbor, a life-size 16-foot-wide by 10-foot-high blue whale tail, where people can interact by strolling under its flukes as water cascades, creating a tunnel of water. This monument could be a rallying place for people to protest the killing of whales and for the world’s media to torpedo the Navy’s plans. Remember, we are the eco–Santa Barbarans.”
I can see it now, Bud. Children frolicking under drizzle; drunks sobering up with the wet cure; photographers going nuts posing models in bikinis (or nothing at all) in the whale shower. Athletes climbing all over the cetacean.
So Bud, if we build it, they will come, but who’s going to build it? The Navy?
HUGUETTE’S MONEY: As heiress Huguette Clark approached the hundred-year mark, the New York hospital that had pushed her for more and greater donations was shocked. Her newly executed will left nothing to it. Nada, zilch.
Then, just days after Clark signed that will of March 7, 2005, her beloved doctor at Beth Israel hospital paid a visit to her room there. Weeks later, on April 19, she signed a new will. Lo and behold, relatives mentioned in the March document were cut out entirely, and Beth Israel stood to gain $1 million upon her death.
Twenty distant relatives are now challenging that second will, which also called for establishing a museum at Clark’s Santa Barbara hilltop mansion to house her collection of paintings and other artwork.
A New York trial scheduled for September will determine whether Santa Barbara gets an art museum at her Bellosguardo home on East Cabrillo Boulevard, worth estimated at $100 million, not counting the art collection, and whether the hospital gets its million, according to the New York Times. Or will those relatives and other beneficiaries instead share the $300 million Clark estate?
Or, because of serious questions raised about undue influence on the part of Clark’s longtime lawyer and accountant, both now under criminal investigation for allegedly mismanaging her funds, could both wills be thrown out? In that case, by Clark’s dying in 2011 at the age of 104 without a valid will, would the entire estate then revert to her closest relatives — 20 grand and great-grand half-nieces and half-nephews?
According to court papers quoted by the New York Times, the relatives depict Clark as the hospital’s virtual cash cow, a woman not in need of medical care but coerced into giving the hospital at least $4 million in donations, not counting millions she paid just to live there during the last 20 years of her life. The hospital insists that she gave every cent willingly.
WANNA GET PUBLISHED? Well, it might be worthwhile to get tips from crime novelist Sue Grafton when she speaks at the annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference Monday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m. She has a home in Montecito and one back in Louisville, where she was born. A nicer person was never born. She keeps urging me to write a novel, but I’d rather just read her novels. The conference, founded by Barnaby and Mary Conrad and now owned by Monte Schulz, opens Saturday at the Santa Barbara Hyatt.
JERRY’S BUZZIN’: Jerry Roberts is back in town. His lymphoma is in remission after six months of treatment in San Francisco, and he’s churning out witty California political news-gossip in Calbuzz (calbuzz.com). Sample: “Why Abel Maldonado Won’t Be the Next Governor.” Answer: Because he’s running against Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. There are probably 100 other reasons, including the fact that Maldo, ex-mayor of Santa Maria, is a Republican in a blue state. Roberts, former San Francisco Chronicle top editor and ex-News-Press exec editor, writes Calbuzz with Phil Trounstine.