Before Stanley Sheinbaum — who died this week at age 96 — gained renown as a major mover and shaker in Los Angeles progressive circles, he helped found a left-wing alternative news weekly in Santa Barbara where he also ran twice for Congress as an anti-Vietnam War activist.
Sheinbaum moved to Santa Barbara in 1960 as a research economist with the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, then one of the nation’s premier left-leaning think tanks in a town better known for the right-wing sensibilities of its John Birch Society members. In Santa Barbara, Sheinbaum would marry his wife, Betty Warner — daughter of Warner Brothers mogul Harry Warner — but would run for Congress as a Democrat in 1966 and 1968. In the latter, he secured the party nomination but lost to incumbent Republican Charles Teague.
Sheinbaum moved to Santa Barbara after discovering his prior educational job at Michigan State had been a front for the CIA in promoting the war in Vietnam. While in Santa Barbara, he joined with reporter Robert Scheer in an exposé of this program. When the CIA retaliated, he helped expose that as well.
In the 1970s, Sheinbaum helped get Santa Barbara’s fledgling News & Review off the ground; it would later merge and morph into what’s now The Santa Barbara Independent. He also played a key role in securing the release of Greek prime Minister Georges Papandreou — a personal friend with whom he’d gone to graduate school — when he’d been held hostage by a junta of Greek colonels.
After leaving Santa Barbara, Sheinbaum ensconsed himself in Brentwood, where he became a force to be reckoned as a UC Regent, civil libertarian, and left-wing power broker with national clout. In the 1980s, he orchestrated behind-the-scenes negotiations with Palestinians and American Jewish leaders in Oslo that ultimately paved the way for the historic meeting between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.