Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Sports Section

Latest to say "adios" to Wendy McCaw's News-Press is sportswriter Kevin Merfeld. Tomorrow will be his last day. He has reportedly taken a job with a newspaper in the Monterey area.

He becomes the third sportswriter to leave the paper in the last six weeks. Sports editor Barry Punzal and staff writer Kyle Jahner were laid off in May. Neither has been replaced and word is that Merfeld's position won't be filled either.

A sports staff that once numbered as many as nine is now down to five. Suddenly sports writers have moved to the top of Wendy's endangered species list.

The News-Press may get away with a skeleton sports crew now that summer is here and school is out, but how are they going to cover all the action once high school football resumes in the fall?

Let's hope that "Snoop Dog," the "investigative reporter," is keeping his Friday nights free when September rolls around.

* * *

A reader wrote in to point out that the News-Press didn't have any coverage of the sentencing of former high school basketball coach Bruce Nelson.

It's a sad story as Nelson was well known in the athletic community and now will be serving seven years in prison having been convicted of sexual assault.

I guess if he were the teenage son of a former city council member who was charged with a misdemeanor, editorial page editor Travis Armstrong would have been all over the story in his column.

And with court reporter Kathleen Stinson having been given her walking papers last week, don't expect to see any coverage in the News-Press of the biggest court case in town right now, Rob Lowe's nanny-gate. After all, it's well known that Lowe is a "friend of the publisher."

* * *

Tuesday was the first day that same sex couples could be issued marriage licenses here in Santa Barbara. There was a line already formed when the doors of the County Recorder's Office opened at 8 a.m. Within an hour about a dozen couples had applied for licenses.

There to greet them with roses as a symbol of their support of marriage equality were a half-dozen members of the local clergy.

Front Row: Revs. Teena Grant, Joy Atkinson, Erika Hewitt. Back Row: Revs. Melitta Haslund, Laura Mancuso, Mark Asman

They stayed there until about 2 p.m. by which time about 18 same-sex couples had come in to get licenses according to the Rev. Teena Grant.

No, the men and women of the cloth weren't performing marriage ceremonies on the spot, nor were the staff of the Recorder's office. It's been a long time since the County Clerk in Santa Barbara allowed its personnel to perform the actual marriage ceremonies. Instead couples must make their own arrangements for someone to officiate as they exchange vows.

As a former Court Commissioner I still occasionally perform marriage ceremonies, so if there are any same sex couples out there who are looking for someone to preside over a simple civil marriage ceremony, drop me a line. I'd be glad to do it.

* * *

Wednesday Weigh-In. Losing that first five pounds was pretty easy. This next five is going to be a lot tougher.

I weighed in this week at 195 lbs. (Actually 195.5, but what's 8 ounces?) So I haven't budged since last week. Or I should say that my weight hasn't budged. I've been on the bike three out of the last seven days each time for rides of about an hour-and-a-half in duration.

I'm still trying to concentrate on eating more sensibly. Latest item to get jettisoned from the diet, soft drinks. Now instead of having a coke with lunch I just have a glass of plain water.

At least I made it through the week without "Mr. 200" showing up on my bathroom scale.