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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

S.B.'s New Conservative Media Organ; Surprise Pick at SBUSD; Meagan vs. Mike Eviction Fight; Das Stumbles at WPC

The right-wing pundit diaspora of Santa Barbara's forsaken, bankrupt, and deceased daily newspaper has re-connected to produce a recently-launched online journal of local conservative analysis and opinion.

Local government gadfly James Fenkner, publisher of the digital "Santa Barbara Currents," joined the Newsmakers TV panel this week for a look behind-the-scenes at the project, which claims already to have accumulated several thousand subscribers to its daily newsletter, produced and distributed on the writing platform "Substack."

Fenkner, who has led several political and legal crusades against both City Hall and the Santa Barbara Unified School District (think vacation rental restrictions and school curricula based on identity), said the collapse of the morning paper left journalistically homeless an opining crew, which ranges from center-right to Trump extremism, including the redoubtable Andy Caldwell, City Hall maven Bonnie Donovan and essayist Robert Eringer; they joined forces with former Montecito Journal owner Jim Buckley, who'd been writing a personal Substack for a year, and who became editor-in-chief when the enterprise dispatched its first newsletter in November (though who, if anyone, edits Buckley's quotidian right-wing rants on the site remains a mystery).

Callie Fausey returned to break down a batch of news from the Santa Barbara Unified School District which unfolded this week, including the inaugural of new trustee board member, Dr. Sunita Beall; a new recalculation of how many millions the district screwed the teachers out of last year because of an "accounting error"; and the latest from the grim-sounding contract negotiations between the district and the teachers' union.

Josh Molina provides a blow-by-blow description of City Council member Meagan Harmon rhetorical defenestration of colleague Mike Jordan on Tuesday, during a spirited discussion of the latest new tenant protection legislation, as the latter tried to run the old delay-for-more-data play to put off a vote on the contentious matter, and then voted for a watered-down version of what tenants wanted (a bow to the real estate industry afterJordan, running for re-election, previously struck a far more pro-renter stance, Josh notes).

Plus: big developments in the morning paper's bankruptcy case; a look at some new state environmental laws; and a political embararssment for Supervisor Das Williams, who earned the ignominious honor of becoming the county's only Democratic candidate on the March 5 ballot to fail to secure the endorsement of the Women's Political Committee. Amazing but true, sometimes bad actions really do have consequences.


Check out the new episode on YouTube below or by clicking through this link, The podcast version is here. TVSB, Channel 17, airs the show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 919.9 FM, broadcasts the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.


Cartoon by Shannon Wheeler for The New Yorker.

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