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Win Big Prizes in SB Council Election Contest!

As five well-spoken candidates compete for an open SB City Council seat representing District 2 on the Mesa, Newsmakers is offering three big prizes for predicting the correct outcome of this year’s most intriguing election contest. All you have to do is send an email (newsmakerswithjr@gmail.com) forecasting: A) the order of finish for District 2 candidates Tavis Boise, Brian Campbell, Luis Esparza, Mike Jordan and Teri Jory; B) the total number of votes that will be cast in the race, which we’ll use as a tie-breaker if more than one entrant gets the final 1-5 sequence right. The first, second and third place contest winners then choose, in order, from three prizes: A signed copy of the 2019

TV: Fearless Forecasts & Political Poltergeists

Newsmakers TV returns with a special night-of-the-living-dead episode featuring a boiling cauldron of devil-in-the-details policy analysis and spooky prophecies guaranteed to trigger the most frightful nightmares of city council candidates running for their political lives. Sorry, got kinda carried away there. Josh Molina leads off the conversation with a look at the city’s recent clean streets initiatives, which some social welfare advocates portray as a declaration of war on the homeless, and the big news that the Salvation Army has withdrawn its controversial housing project on the Eastside. Then Delaney Smith provides an inside look at the rare unanimous vote by which City College Truste

Op-Ed: Katie Hill Backers Weigh Revelations (Update: California Representative Resigns)

Update: Rep. Katie Hill announced her resignation on Sunday night, amid the scandal discussed in this piece). Editor’s note: The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Rep. Katie Hill, a star of the Democrats’ red-to-blue class of 2018, had a sexual relationship with a congressional aide, in violation of House rules. The controversy began with stories in right-wing media sites, which also published intimate photographs of Hill. She's denied having an affair with a congressional staffer, but acknowledged one with a woman who worked as a campaign aide. We asked leaders of SPARC, an SB community organization that strongly supported Hill, for their thoughts on the matter. Here’s the thi

TV: What's Behind SB School District Shakeup

Topic A on a new edition of Newsmakers TV this week is the abrupt and startling decision by schools chief Cary Matsuoka to end his tenure in Santa Barbara – and the personal, policy and political context in which it was made. Josh Molina, Delaney Smith and Nick Welsh join the panel to discuss the superintendent’s big surprise, from the district’s unusual logistical arrangements for his speech and the language of his address, to the spate of searing criticisms he once again received from parents and the solidarity his high school principals displayed with him on Tuesday. Then Delaney updates the search for a new president at City College and the difficult fiscal, cultural and community challe

Here's How SB Schools Chief Said Farewell

(Editor's note. On Tuesday night, Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Cary Matsuoka offered a surprise announcement at the school board meeting: He plans to retire at the end of the school year in June, a year before his contract was to end. Despite recent controversy, the schools chief said the decision was personal, not political. Here is his speech text): Good evening school board members, Santa Barbara staff, and community members. Tonight I begin with announcing my decision to retire at the end of this school year on June 30, 2020. I know there has been public comment about my job performance, about my contract, and the word 'retirement' has been suggested to me over th

Documents: Cary Changed His Behrens Story (Update)

Under oath, Santa Barbara school Superintendent Cary Matsuoka changed, on two key points, his previous account of what happened in the hours and days after discovery of online threats posted by male students at San Marcos High School in 2018. In a sworn deposition taken last July 22, previously unreported in the media, Matsuoka acknowledged that the version of events he publicly disseminated amid a community controversy over the infamous “chat room” incident last year was inaccurate. The videotaped deposition lies at the center of a new legal action that former San Marcos Principal Ed Behrens is bringing before California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal. The action, announced by his attorneys

Notebook: Laura & Das Play the Loggia Room

In the most extraordinary collection of political talent since Thomas Jefferson dined alone, more than two dozen current, former and wannabe SB and Goleta elected officials last Saturday trooped to the Dem Women club's bash featuring Congresshuman Katie Porter. Amid a fervid atmosphere of air kisses, manly handshakes, embryonic mischief-making and garden-variety pandering, generated by the 200-plus political junkies who turned out for a sold-out luncheon of speechifying, spongy sea bass and iced tea, Newsmakers kept an eye on our favorite pair of rival Dems – Supervisor Das Williams and School Board veep Laura Capps. With Dem Women preparing to endorse next month in the First District, where

Katie Porter Fires Up SB Dem Women

Democrats grabbed an astonishing 41 House seats from Republicans in the 2018 elections, and one of the more unlikely victories came in Orange County, in the person of law professor Katie Porter. “Orange County is a place where you can ask people if that’s their real hair color; you can ask them if that diamond is real; you can ask if that car is a lease,” Porter said. “But you cannot ask if someone is a Democrat.” The first-term House member and consumer law expert won laughs with her comment on Saturday, as the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County’s annual gala drew a sold-out crowd of more than 200 to the Four Seasons Biltmore, including most of the elected officials ​— ​present, forme

Breaking: Cary Won't Seek Contract Extension

In a victory for his critics, SB Schools Superintendent Cary Matsuoka has decided not to ask for an extension of his $354,000 contract, the school board president announced Wednesday. Matsuoka “has not asked for an extension to his contract, and he has informed us that he will not seek one as connected to his evaluation process,” according to a statement sent out by school board President Wendy Sims-Moten. The statement comes one day after the board met behind closed doors for three hours to discuss the superintendent’s new job performance evaluation, amid a barrage of complaints from parents about Matsuoka’s management style and a lack of transparency at the district, as well as student tes

Andy Caldwell is Running as the Anti-Salud

For more than a quarter-century, Andy Caldwell has represented North County political, business and cultural interests and values as a pull-no-punches advocate for the Coalition of Agriculture, Labor and Business before the Board of Supervisors. Now he’s taking his in-your-face political style and skills to the campaign trail. In a half-hour, one-on-one interview on Newsmakers TV, Caldwell cast his conservative Republican candidacy in the Central Coast's 24th Congressional District as a direct challenge to what he characterizes as the nascent socialist priorities and views of Democratic incumbent Rep. Salud Carbajal. In assailing Carbajal and Nancy Pelosi-led congressional Dems in the interv

Breaking: SBUSD Board Sets "Special" Executive Session on Supe's Contract

In an unexpected move, Santa Barbara's school board plans to meet in secret, executive session on Tuesday night to consider extending the $354,000 annual contract of beleaguered Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, Newsmakers has learned. Formal notice and details about the previously unscheduled assembly of the five-member board are to posted on the district web site “around mid-morning” on Monday, according to Camie Barnwell, SBUSD public information officer, timing which would meet requirements of California’s Brown Act that the public be given at least 24 hours prior notification of a “special meeting” of the elected body. The school board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is not until October

New Video: Can Cary Hang On at SBUSD? What Next if Mayor Cathy Wins State Race? Plus: Nick on Ho

Newsmakers TV returns with a fast-moving, half-hour gabfest featuring news, analysis and reported commentary about the latest in Santa Barbara policy and politics. Delaney Smith, the Independent’s new education beat reporter, leads off with an update about the conflict over the controversial GATE program, the latest challenge for embattled Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, who faces a showdown school board vote on his contract later this month. Indy Executive Editor Nick Welsh, whose singular coverage of homelessness helps set the agenda for local policy makers, reports on a new pilot program that teams law enforcement officers with mental health workers in responding to troubled individuals on

Winners & Losers in Dem Assembly Race

The biggest winner at a key gathering of hardcore Democratic Party activists in Santa Barbara over the weekend was a scrupulously fair and endlessly patient grassroots volunteer named David Atkins. The challenging task of herding political cats fell to Atkins, as four local hopefuls -- Mayor Cathy Murillo, SB Councilmember Jason Dominguez, City College Trustee Jonathan Abboud and women’s health advocate Elsa Granados – competed for the state party endorsement of their bids for the 37th Assembly District seat. The (all rise) Region 10 Director of the California Democratic Party, which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura and SLO counties, Atkins presided over an endorsement process only slightly m

Campaign Trail: 1st Test for Assembly Rivals, Laura's New Manager, Key Council Face-Offs

Mayor Cathy Murillo won’t say it on the record yet, but over Cobb salad at Dargan’s this week, she left no doubt she’s running for the state Assembly. The first test of strength for Alcadesa, along with council member Jason Dominguez, SBCC Trustee Jonathan Abboud and other Democratic contenders for the Legislature comes Saturday, as nearly 100 party activists and insiders from SB and Ventura counties gather at the Faulkner Gallery (or via email) to cast ballots in the campaign in the 37th Assembly District. The official ballot filing deadline is not until December, but the process for winning the state Democratic Party endorsement, a big deal in what will be a low information contest, is alr

Op-Ed: Das on SBC's Big Move on Electricity

Editor’s Note: Over coffee recently, First District Supervisor Das Williams told Newsmakers about the county’s impending green energy effort to transfer several hundred thousand utility customers from PG&E and Southern California Edison to Monterey Bay Community Power. We follow local news pretty closely, but hadn't heard a great deal about this, so asked Das to send us a piece about the changeover. Recently, we have taken two very significant steps to lower carbon emissions in the County – voting to join Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) and adopting the County’s first ever Strategic Energy Plan that will enable us to create an ordinance that will legalize utility-scale solar in our Count

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