Newsmakers with JR
1-on-1: The Angry Poodle Talks UCLA Shaking Up Sansum -- Plus: Homeless Tax, Remap, Eastside Murder
Nick Welsh, the Independent's executive editor and Santa Barbara's top columnist (you could look it up) drops by for an in-depth conversation about some big stories he's been covering -- starting with UCLA 's under-the-radar incursion into the local health care market.
"It's like people from the moon landing on Earth," is how Welsh describes the quiet shake-up of the local health care industry by behemoth medical provider UCLA Health.
Author of the Indy's iconic Angry Poodle column, Nick has scooped the world on the UCLA Health invasion: having opened a cardio clinic on Coast Village Road last summer, the regional health provider just poached several top doctors from Santa Barbara's beloved Ridley-Tree Cancer Center to begin treating patients at a new Westside oncology clinic -- and plans to launch a new operation in Goleta in August.
It all portends headaches for Sansum Clinic, which depends on the Cancer Center for substantial revenue, and which finds itself increasingly vulnerable as one of the few such major independent non-profits not financially partnered with a hospital.
Nick breaks down the details, and also offers analysis and insights on other top local stories
Nobody's talking about it publicly yet, but behind-the-scenes, elected officials are discussing a Big Fix for the chronic problem of homelessness that might include proposals for a new sales or bed tax increase; with more than $40 million annually being spent on government and non-profit services, county and city officials are looking at ways to better focus resources on a problem that has defied solution for more than three decades -- and that has gotten more serious in the pandemic.
There's plenty of loud discussion and conflict over the new independent commission approved by voters in 2018 to take over the politically fraught task of redrawing district lines for the five Board of Supervisors seats, based on 2020 census data; with the balance of power on the supes at stake, the commission was set up to reduce partisan brawling over redistricting but is off to a contentious start, with the latest skirmish over conservative objections to alleged liberal bias by the chief counsel commission members want to hire.
Traditionalists, historians and some architects are screaming bloody murder about the new garish green bike lane markers that suddenly appeared on the State Street promenade, an effort by city officials to adjudicate clashes between pedestrians and over-enthusiastic bike enthusiasts; a widely-known champion of the biker brigade, Nick breaks down the situation, amid mounting unintended consequences of the city council's pandemic-driven closure of downtown State Street.
The SBPD remains tight-lipped about its investigation of a double murder on the Eastside in early January, as the grieving mother of one of the victims described in an anguished interview her search for answers to the killing of her boy, 17-year old Angel Castillo, along with 18-year old Omar Montiel-Hernandez and the wounding of two other teenagers in the incident; she told Nick she wants to "set the record straight" that her son was not a gang member.
The Poodle, who a year ago was the very first guest on Newsmaker's "Journal of the Plague Year" series, also offers an update on how the Independent is navigating the pandemic -- and puts out the word that Santa Barbara's top newspaper is looking for new office space.
It's all here right now - if it's Friday (or for some viewers, even Thursday) it's Newsmakers TV.
Watch our conversation with Nick Welsh via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.