Plains Welcomed to Hall of Shame

Pipeline CEO Inexplicably Enters Texas Hall of Fame

<b>LONE STAR:</b> Plains’ Greg Armstrong, here with the press in Santa Barbara, made the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Paul Wellman (file)

TEXAS TWO-STEP: In Santa Barbara, Plains All American Pipeline honchos get boos and hisses for smearing oil over our beaches and wildlife. In Texas, they win honors.

John Winkler points out that Greg Armstrong, Plains chair and CEO, and Harry Pefanis, Plains president and chief operating officer, will be inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame on October 28.

Despite being under criminal investigation for negligence, “They now receive an ‘honorary award?’” Winkler asks.

Barney Brantingham

Not only are the feds investigating the May 19 Refugio pipeline rupture, but also Santa Barbara fishermen and coastal property owners have filed class-action lawsuits over the pollution, and investor groups are suing, claiming that Plains concealed issues of proper pipeline maintenance and regulatory compliance.

The cleanup has cost the company $136 million so far and is estimated at 93 percent completed over roughly 97 miles of beach, according to the Coast Guard’s Captain Jennifer Williams on Tuesday. And now oil fingerprinted as originating from Refugio’s rupture has been found on Orange County beaches.

But so far, it hasn’t been spotted in Texas.

LAND, LOTSA LAND: Is there really life outside Santa Barbara? You’re living in a small-lot Santa Barbara-Goleta-Carp home but yearn for mucho space at about the same price. Your place is worth around $950,000. Well, here are some for-sale deals I found in Sunday’s New York Times at about the same asking price.

— There’s this 19th-century four-bedroom stone home on 20 acres near Canaan, NY. The updated 1820 house is also near the picturesque village of Chatham. ($939,000)

— Or a modern, five-bedroom home in Augusta, MO, on 73 acres 60 miles outside St. Louis. It’s in the wine country near B&Bs and antique shops. A student of Frank Lloyd Wright designed it. Two levels. ($945,000)

— A contemporary-style four-bedroom house with frontage on Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The 6.7-acre lot is partially wooded. ($899,000.)

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Woody Allen’s latest flick, Irrational Man, now at the Metro 4, takes a look at the question: Is it ever permissible to kill to rid the world of a poisonous vermin in human form? You might call the movie Woody Meets Dostoyevsky. A philosophy professor played by Joaquin Phoenix ponders whether to put theory into action. For those unsure about delving into deep existential issues, the final scene is no letdown.

NO REST FOR COUCHES: After a Japanese sub shelled Ellwood oil facilities in 1942, damaged wood from the pier was used to build the Timbers roadhouse near Highway 101. (You can see the scars.) It’s had various tenants since then, but the newest will bring joy to local theater buffs. Susie and David Couch, who lost their lease at the now-defunct Circle Bar B Ranch Dinner Theatre, are back in business at the Timbers. First play by their Goodland Supper Club will be Murder at Café Noir, September 17-27.

DEATH WITH DIGNITY: If there’s a right to life, is there also a right to die? If you’re suffering and are terminal, should you have the right to do yourself in? Or is that God’s job? A group called Compassion & Choices was in town urging Assemblymember Das Williams to back the End of Life Option Act. But Williams has religious questions. According to backers, polls show that 69 percent of California voters support the act, including 60 percent of Catholics.

GOOD-BYE, MARTIN: Some chefs pass through town quietly, but London-born Martin Frost was a very public man in and out of the Four Seasons Biltmore kitchen. Sadly, he died in a diving accident in the Maldives on August 3. He was 57. Frost arrived at the Biltmore in 1997, and after leaving in 2010, he cooked around the world, including Four Seasons at Shanghai and Sharm el-sheikh, Egypt.

POLITICS, SEX & COCKTAILS: Speaking of chefs, Carpinteria restaurateurs James and Annie Sly will be honored with Planned Parenthood’s Giraffe Award dinner September 18 for their willingness to stick their necks out in behalf of women’s health. For the past five years, the Slys and staff have prepared the annual winter fundraiser. Speaker on September 18 at the Four Seasons Biltmore event will be Jonathan Eig, author of the book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.


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