Thursday, August 30, 2007

Staking Their Claim To Some of the Blame

"Victory has many fathers, but defeat is always an orphan." That quote, which by the way numerous people take credit for, doesn't apply to the recently scrapped lightblueline project for which people are lining up (no pun intended) to grab their fair share of the dubious acclaim for defeating the plan.

In case you slept through the uproar, the lightblueline project was a proposal, as described in a recent L.A. Times article, "to denote land imperiled by global warming with blue waves painted on downtown intersections."

News-Press editorial page editor Travis Armstrong was gloating about the demise of the blue line in his op-ed page column on Monday, but in a rare showing of magnanimity was willing to share the credit for its defeat with a number of other people and surprisingly the first person on his list was the project's originator, Bruce Caron, whom he accused of not wanting to speak up to defend the plan.

Caron threw the blame right back at Armstrong and the News-Press whose "poisoned journalism" was the only reason he and his organization changed its plans, according to a statement on his website As for Armstrong's claim that he didn't want to defend the plan Caron told me in an e-mail that his organization did ask for equal space after the News-Press ran a full-page opinion piece against the project. Armstrong told him he needed to get his copy in by the next day and he would consider running it. Caron responded that the group needed extra time.

Caron also feels that he was misquoted in a news story that appeared in the paper and that the News-Press never bothered to correct it. As for coverage of the project in the print media Caron said; "The Independent and the Daily Sound treated it like what it is: a civic expression of concern about our collective long-term future... The News-Press chose to demonize it even in its "news" coverage, scaring their readers and then blaming us for being alarmist." News-Press scare its readers? Nah. Just ask the Teamsters.

Beavers not only gnaw on trees, they apparently devour blue lines as well. At least in the case of real estate developer Jerry Beaver who appealed the approval of the project by the Historical Landmarks Commission. Beaver was concerned that too large a portion of his real estate holdings, which are apparently vast, were located on the "wrong side" of the blue line.

In what may be the first documented case of a Santa Barbara developer complaining about the lack of enforcement of permitting requirements, Beaver wrote in his appeal that he felt that the blue line needed "a development permit, a public works construction permit, a sign permit and an encroachment permit, none of which have been issued." Was he talking about the blue line or that fence the News-Press suddenly threw up around its parking lot last November?

Never have so many politicians tripped over a line that was painted, or in this case not painted, on the ground. When it came up for vote by the City Council in July the blueline project won approval by a vote of five to one with Roger Horton being the only naysayer. But by the time Fiesta rolled around at the beginning of August the hottest item on the Fiesta Pancake Breakfast menu seemed to be the "Blue Line Waffle." Council member Iya Falcone had gone public, in the News-Press of course, with her remorse over having voted for the project.

Helene Schneider had sought to diffuse the situation by securing private funding for the project and the six announced candidates who were challenging the three council incumbents who are up for re-election had all jumped on the rub-out the-blue-line bandwagon. Mayor Marty Blum was quoted in Esquire magazine about the blue line and then later wrote a letter which ran in the News-Press seeking to clarify the context in which she was quoted.

Despite the withdrawal of the art project Caron and the other members of his organization are still looking for ways to get information about global warming to the local public. If you'd like to help out e-mail the project's volunteer coordinator, Charlene Huston at:

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Yesterday I wrote about the pervasiveness on the web of info about the logistics of Oprah's upcoming party for Barack Obama. Here's a little more. Edhat linked to the article in the Chicago Tribune blog on the Oprah party on the morning of the 18th of this month, and it went out in the Edhat newsletter on the 20th. Over 800 linked over to that article from the Edhat site.

And of course, my fellow Daily Sound columnist Leslie Westbrook was, as far as I'm aware, the first one in the local print media to report that Oprah would be throwing the bash. That item appeared in her column back on July 23.

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