Light Up the World

Little Solar Panels Bring Brilliance

<b>BRILLIANT:</b> Unite to Light’s solar-powered LED lamps reach students in countries like Haiti (pictured), where kerosene powers the lights and produces soot and smoke.

UNITE TO LIGHT: You can do yourself and the world a favor at the upcoming Earth Day Festival, April 18-19, by buying one or more of these portable solar lights.

You get a tax break, and for every one you buy, one is sent to a needy organization somewhere out there in the world where light isn’t available for homework or other needs, according to Dawn O’Bar, president of the Goleta-based Unite to Light nonprofit ( Unite to Light folks are selling the small size for $20 ($10 is tax deductible) or larger ones that accept cell phone recharge cables for $60 ($30 tax deductible.) They’re handy as bedside lamps, on the road, or camping. I give them as gifts.

Barney Brantingham

IRS GRAB? Whether the IRS will waive part or all of the estimated $16 million-$18 million that Santa Barbara’s Bellosguardo estate owes remains open to serious question.

Bellosguardo’s board met recently, and some members were reportedly mighty displeased with what they heard about the IRS position. “I’m not happy about it,” one said.

Just how sharp the IRS ax will be hasn’t been revealed publicly yet. Things are so touchy that the foundation board has contacted a PR firm to handle things when the situation is made public.

The problem is that during copper heiress Huguette Clark’s lifetime, she tossed off multimillion-dollar gifts hither and yon, but her lawyer and accountant neglected to make sure the taxes were paid.

After she died in 2011, her estate was assessed up to $18 million in penalties. Her summer playground, Bellosguardo, was last in line when it came time to settle the estate. Now it’s stuck with the bill — unless the taxman relents or demands less than the whole enchilada.

N-P WEIGHS IN: As expected, the Santa Barbara News-Press has appealed the recent National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) ruling accusing it of bad-faith union bargaining.

The N-P lodged its appeal with the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, also not a surprise because that’s the court that kicked out the newsroom union’s last case.

But things have changed on the D.C. court since 2012. Republicans were in the majority then, but Democrats have the edge now. The three GOP members of that formed the panel that put the kibosh on that NLRB case, regarding in part the firing of union members, are still on the court, however.

The NLRB, of course, is supposed to be nonpartisan, but the way things are in Washington now, and have been for some time, party and political ideology carry weight.

Oddly, one of the new Demo NLRB appointees, Sri Srinivasan, represented the News-Press before the Ninth Circuit court, which is out here on the West Coast, in a previous but related newsroom union matter.

No doubt he’ll bow out of any consideration of the new charges. More inside baseball: The D.C. court has long been a stepping stone to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Srinivasan has been mentioned as a potential nominee to the high court. (Many are “mentioned”; few are chosen.)

The new case involves the NLRB reissuing a number of charges, including the unlawful firing of newsroom contract negotiator Dennis Moran and termination of columnist Richard Mineards.

In the new case, News-Press owner Wendy McCaw is being represented by union buster attorney Michael Zinser, whom she’d retained in earlier phases of her battle against the newsroom union.

McCAW MONEY: Presidential candidate (let’s cut the pretense; he’s running) Jeb Bush hit the ground running in California last week, scooping up bucks.

If Bush turns out to be the GOP nominee, he probably won’t win California’s electoral votes in 2016, but he’s sure harvesting major money now.

Cohosts for a Bel Air fundraiser last week were Montecitans Craig McCaw (Wendy’s ex-husband and worth $1.85 billion) and his wife, Susan McCaw, former ambassador to Austria. Minimum tab for the reception was $25,000. Those who also wanted to stay around for dinner were asked to kick in a cool $100,000. No doubt the McCaws could afford to dine with Jeb.

PICTURES AND MUSIC: It’s a novel idea, showing arty films on a large screen while a violinist plays Bach. I don’t know what J.S. would have thought about David Michalek’s slo-mo films shown at the Granada, but Gil Shaham’s artistry exploring Bach’s Six Solos for Violin was of the highest caliber. Thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures for co-commissioning the program.


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