Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Return of The Dart?

Back in the days when the News-Press was a real "newspaper of record" they used to run a weekly feature called "The Dart."

The premise was that each week a staff member would throw a dart at a map of Santa Barbara and wherever the dart landed meant the assigned reporter would have to go to that location and find something of interest to write about.

These days there seems to be a new version of "The Dart" being played at the News-Press, but instead of involving a map on the wall I think it in all likelihood has Travis and Wendy taking turns throwing projectiles at pictures of Mayor Marty Blum and City Council Member Helene Schneider.

Last month it was Blum who found herself in the News-Press bulls-eye. We are now a few days into August and it's looking like it will be Schneider's turn.

Having just wrapped up a Fiesta that was free of mayhem or murder, which meant no one to blame for it, it figured the News-Press would have to resort to another round of "The Dart" in order to have fodder for the opinion section.

Armstrong used his op-ed page column in yesterday's paper to assert that Schneider is in need of an "ethics make-over."

Most of Armstrong's examples of "ethical lapses" are rehashes of incidents he's cited in his columns before.

He claims that Schneider is the "only local politician to have her own scandal -- Helene-gate -- named after her."

I guess Armstrong should know since he's the one who came up with "Helene-gate" and, as far as I know, is the only person in town who uses the term.

All I can say is that if Armstrong's purpose in writing Tuesday's column was to incite and incense readers over Schneider's conduct, then it was a miserable failure.

In a day and age when the Eliot Spitzers of the world are traveling to Washington to testify before Congressional committees by day and then spend their evenings with $3,000 an hour hookers, taking Schneider to task for having her husband accompany her to a conference in D.C. and staying in a "$200-a-night" room at a Marriott hardly provokes outrage.

By the way, I'm going to New York City at the end of this month, if anyone knows where I can get a decent hotel room for less than $200-a-night, please let me know.

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Yesterday I was wondering whether Rick Caruso's purchase of ads in the News-Press asking for support of his Miramar project would cause the anti-Miramar editorials and columns to disappear from the News-Press opinion pages.

The answer turns out to be, "no."

Wednesday's editorial in the News-Press described the Miramar project as being "too big and too flawed for its seaside location."

There was also a print-edition-only op-ed piece authored by Derek Henley which had nine bullet-pointed reasons to oppose Caruso's Miramar plan.

And there was a letter to the editor opposing the proposed Miramar in its current state.

The Miramar is a subject where the News-Press' editorial stance may be in line with a majority of the community. Over the last couple of weeks a number of people have told me that while they would like to see the Miramar rebuilt, they don't want to see it at the current size and scale proposed by Caruso.

According to KEYT's 11 pm broadcast Tuesday, and a Noozhawk article Thursday morning, Caruso asked the Montecito Planning Commission to deny his application. He's ready to throw in the towel and walk away. The Planning Commission deferred taking action on his request.

That walk-away-from-the-deal tactic might work when you're buying a car. We'll see if it works when it comes to getting a hotel approved.

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Yesterday I wrote about how News-Press sports writer Blake Dorfman, has to pay his own way over to China to cover the Olympics for the paper.

The item is now a discussion post topic over at Blogabarbara.

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Two things Wendy McCaw and the Communist Chinese government have in common: They both block access to Blogabarbara and Craig Smith's Blog.

Actually, in China, access to the entire "" domain is blocked. At least it was as of last December.

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A couple of people have written asking me whether an ad appearing on craigslist that says: "Our company is looking for a smart, industrious, intrepid reporter anxious to cover news about the federal government and Capital (sic) Hill," was possibly placed by the News-Press.

Don't know. If anyone out there does, let me know.