Year in Review: Nick Welsh’s Favorite Stories of 2017

Executive Editor Nick Welsh Picks ‘Just a Few’ of His Favorite Articles from the Past Year

Executive Editor Nick Welsh contemplates the start of 2018.
Photo Credit: Paul Wellman

As part of our year in review, we’ve asked a few of our writers and editors to suggest a few of the stories they were particularly proud of this year. Here’s what Executive Editor Nick Welsh told us.

1. 'Santa Barbara Landlords, Tenants Reach Hard-Fought Compromise'

This isn’t literature, but it gives a nuts-n-bolts look at how hard it is to move the needle, even a little, when it comes to tenant protections. Still, the needle got moved.

2. 'State Seeks to Shut Down San Ysidro Pharmacy'

What’s happening to Santa Barbara’s independently owned pharmacies? Well, the state is shutting about five of them down because of their connection with Dr. Julio “Candyman” Diaz, whose freewheeling ways filling opioid prescriptions landed him behind bars for the rest of his life. But what about the people suffering serious pain issues? What will they do?

3. 'Do You Wanna Arm Wrestle?'

I hate politics. I hate covering politics. Except sometimes it’s fun. Like this time.

4. 'Mental Health Care Tops the List'

There is reason for hope. Things do change. The obvious is sometimes recognized. Local health-care potentates discovered mental-health needs remain largely unfilled and have set out to do something about it.

5. 'Tiki Torches, Bedsheets, and ‘Very Fine People’ on Both Sides'

Trump is written about so much, it’s hard to even go there. It’s even harder, however, to resist. In this column, I stumbled onto some interesting facts about Robert E. Lee, whose statue removal sparked a white supremacist riot this year.

6. 'Ross Macdonald and Eudora Welty’s Love Letters'

Love ain’t easy. It’s not for sissies, as the pining-from-a-distance romance between writers Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, of Santa Barbara fame and fortune, demonstrates.

7. 'Tony Romasanta, Santa Barbara Developer, Bows Out'

Tony Romasanta was one scary dude. His bite was much worse than his bark. But over the years, he and I talked a lot, argued more, and came to enjoy each other. Then he died. This was my farewell piece.

8. 'Was the McDonald’s Logo Made in Santa Barbara?'

Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what the truth is. This is a case in point. Did local artist and man-about-town Bud Bottoms really invent the McDonald’s logo? I hope so. I like to think so. The facts seem to line up. But I can’t say for 100 percent sure. The Independent had an issue all about hamburgers. How could I not explore the question?

9. 'Electric Bikes Let You Zoom Uphill'

I’ve been threatening to get an electric bike for years, but have yet to pull the trigger. They’re getting better all the time. I gave a fancy model a test ride and lived to tell the tale. Just barely.

10. 'Carrizo Plain: The American Serengeti'

The only thing better than saying “the Carrizo Plain” is actually going to the Carrizo Plain. If silence were golden, the Carrizo Plain would be Fort Knox. If that makes sense, read on. If it doesn’t, read on as well.

11. 'From Isla Vista to Trump’s Ear'

Santa Barbara has all kinds of connections to the Trump Universe, Sean Hannity being one. The onetime right-wing shock jock at Isla Vista radio station KCBX now has the president’s ear into which he screams sweet nothings almost daily. I thought it worthwhile to dredge up sordid details from Hannity’s Santa Barbara past, like how the ACLU came to his rescue and saved his homophobic bacon.

12. 'Retail Apocalypse Hits Santa Barbara'

Maybe the single best thing I wrote all year. But then again, maybe not. It’s about the homeless and what difference they make—and don’t make—for Santa Barbara shoppers.

13. 'Trump’s Russian Connection Starts Right Here'

Who knew that it was a Santa Barbara mogul who provided the connection between Trump and his onetime campaign manager and forever Putin stooge Paul Manafort? If you read this, you would. But even though I wrote it, I somehow managed to forget. Now I remember.

14. 'City Hall Between Rock and Hard Place Over RVs'

Every now and again, I let some actual reporting intrude on my knee-jerk opinions regarding Santa Barbara’s (mis)treatment of the poor, downtrodden, and occasionally obnoxious.

15. 'Abandoned Juvy Hall Turning into Mental Health Facility?'

Another example of moving the needle where mental-health issues are concerned. Although such stories are wonky and depressing, they are also cause for hope.

16. 'Santa Barbara’s Massive Women’s March'

I include this not just because of the egregiously misleading headline. Only a few of the women marching were, in fact, massive. It was the march that was massive. Way more striking than sheer numbers was the spirit displayed. It was up. It was smart. It was fun. It was joyously defiant.

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