It was a rather unusual week of news for Noozhawk, and that doesn’t even account for the intrigue surrounding Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo, a story that broke too late to make much of a difference. This week.
According to our Google Analyticswe had an audience of 97.024 readers over the last seven days.
What follows is my take on the Top 5 most-read stories, and by “my take,” I mean my opinion. This is an opinion column and not a news story.
Thanks for reading.
A heated argument between Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne and another lawyer apparently has in Calonne being placed on paid administrative leave.
In a Noozhawk exclusive, our Josh Molina reported that multiple sources had told him that the altercation inside the City Attorney’s Office was witnessed by others and that it had been reported to the Human Resources Department.
City Administrator Rebecca Bjork confirmed that Calonne was on leave, but declined to go into details.
“The city attorney is currently on a leave of absence,” she told Josh. “I am not at liberty to disclose personnel details. This extends to privacy around leave, and the type of leave.”
Calonne — who is paid $280,000 a year — was said to have been placed on leave on July 25. The City Council held a closed session meeting at 9:30 am that day.
Council members would not comment on the incident.
Assistant City Attorney Sarah Knecht has attended the last two City Council meetings in Calonne’s stead.
I didn’t know Robby Baptista, but a lof of my friends did. They are absolutely heartbroken over his unexpected Aug. 9 death at age 50.
“If Rob was your friend, Rob was your family,” Robby Baptista’s obituary proclaimed. (Baptista family photo)
Baptista grew up in Santa Barbara, was a star wrestler and football player at San Marcos High School, and spent time as a skateboard builder. For the last 18 years, he was a respected general contractor with his own company, RRB Constructionbuilding and renovating homes throughout the area.
“If Rob was your friend, Rob was your family,” his actual family wrote in his Noozhawk obituary.
It’s a common theme that many in Baptista’s vast network of friends have shared with me. Again, in his obituary, he was called “a massive presence full of light, love and authenticity.”
Baptista is survived by his daughter, Arianna, along with his former wife, Afshan; his mother, Kathy Baptista; and five brothers. His dad, Bob, and another brother, Richard, preceded him in death.
His family asked that donations in his memory be made to local high school wrestling programs.
Rest in peace.
Sharing information about heat-related risks of hiking on local trails will soon be more than word of mouth, thanks to the work of, from left, Ashlee Mayfield of the Montecito Trails Foundation; Abbey Gaston, a member of Girl Scout Troop 50886; and Jenni, Julia and Todd Parks, for whom the mission is personal. (Montecito Trails Foundation photo)
Following the May 14 death of 17-year-old Jake Parks after a hike in the mountains above Santa Barbara, his heartbroken mom told our Tom Bolton that she hoped her son’s story could serve as a cautionary tale for other hikers who might encounter a heat -related illnesses.
Little did she know how quickly her wish would be turned into reality.
But first, the background:
Jake, an affable and big-hearted San Marcos High School senior a month away from graduation, had set out with friends that morning on a hike up the Jesusita Trail to Inspiration Point. Along the way, he fell seriously ill and a rescue was initiated.
In an exclusive interview with Tom, Jenni Parks, Jake’s mother, expressed a desire for trailhead signage to provide hikers with information about the causes, symptoms and required treatment for heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as well as prevention measures.
It was too late for Jake, she observed, but not for a future hiker. Anything, she added, to save another family from the devastation she and her family — husband Todd; Jake’s twin sisters, Julia; and older brother Jesse — were enduring.
Among those inspired by Tom’s story were Ashlee Mayfield, president of the Montecito Trails Foundationand local Girl Scout Abbey Gaston, a 15-year-old Santa Barbara High junior who plays lacrosse and soccer.
“I’ve passed out a couple times playing lacrosse when it was really hot, and I didn’t eat or drink enough,” Abbey said, adding that what happened to Jake was an epiphany for her.
“I read the Noozhawk article about Jake, and immediately when I read it, it hit me. I had issues myself, and I realized this is real, this is a kid, he is my age.”
Abbey and her mom, Kara Szymanski-Gaston, reached out to Mayfield, who already had spoken to Stephen Dougherty of the Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue team about posting trailhead signs.
Search & Rescue team members created the signs, which are being underwritten by the Montecito Trails Foundation, and the small group set up a pop-up table, display and snacks at Montecito’s Cold Spring Trailhead to get feedback on the draft signage.
Temporary laminated signs, in English and Spanish, will be posted first, followed by more-permanent versions that take longer to produce.
Among those supporting the project are Montecito Bank & Trust, Mountain Air Sports, Riviera Towel Co., Rascal’s Vegan Food, Aligned Pilates Studio, Sprouts Farmers Market, Ralph’s Supermarket and Nutrishop.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am that they are doing this,” Jenni Parks told Tom. “They got things done so quickly — I was shocked.
“I struggle with the loss of him every day, but I know that Jake would want to help somebody.”
Not sure if the signs are up yet at Montecito’s Romero Canyon Trailhead, but two hikers with heat-related illnesses were rescued up that trail on Aug. 17.
For the second week in a row, my Best of Bill column featuring this story made the week’s Top 5, after our original breaking news report started the cycle three weeks ago.
Clearly, the community wants more information about the July 29 assault in the middle of downtown Santa Barbara on a busy Friday night. And clearly, we can’t always get what we want.
A pedestrian was seriously injured while walking on Highway 154 near Santa Barbara the night of Aug. 15.
As our Tom Bolton first reported, details were scant but the California Highway Patrol said the pedestrian was hit by a small SUV near the northbound Foothill Road exit ramp just before 10 pm
The CHP said the victim ended up underneath the SUV and was taken by an American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
No other details — like identity and medical condition — were disclosed.
The CHP is investigating the circumstances of the collision.
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Here are six more stories you should read:
» Future of Downtown Santa Barbara’s Paseo Nuevo in Question — Staff writer Josh Molina shops the story I alluded to earlier. It could be a game-changer for downtown Santa Barbara.
» Santa Maria Council OKs Pact to Spur Downtown Revitalization — And speaking of transformation, North County editor Janene Scully writes about Santa Maria’s own downtown ambitions.
» Santa Barbara Schools Superintendent Hilda Maldonado Gets Executive Coach to Boost Leadership Skills — After reading Josh Molina’s story, I have to raise my hand to ask a question: Didn’t anyone do any homework before she was hired for the $250,000 job?!
» John Moore Comes Out of Coaching Retirement to Join University of San Diego Basketball Staff — Sports writer Mark Patton has the full-court press on retired Westmont College basketball coach John Moore, who has joined the staff of his brother-in-law, new University of San Diego head coach Steve Lavin.
» Friday Night Lights: Local Prep Football Teams Ready to Bring Their Game to Stadium — Sports editor Barry Punzal runs up the score on our high school football coverage with his annual preview of South Coast teams.
» ParentNooz After-School Activities Guide — Our annual section features dozens of programs and classes for your children to do this fall. And some tips and advice for you, too.
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Last Year on Noozhawk
What was our most-read story this time last year? Bill Macfadyen: Santa Barbara Father Charged with Killing His Kids on Trip in Mexico.
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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week
This would be a whale of a development in the Santa Barbara Channeltoo: A New Detection System Could Save Sperm Whales From Ship Strikes.
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Best of Bill’s Instagram
My Instagram feed is stuffed with food this past week.
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Americans Held Hostage: Day 356
It’s now been 356 days since the US government fled Afghanistan, abandoning at least 800 American citizens and thousands of green-card holders to the Taliban. Only days before, on Aug. 18, 2001, President Joe Biden flatly stated on national television: “If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out.”
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Dolphin dentures? I bit on this story, and the willing patient’s patience made my day. HT to Best of Bill reader Maddie D’Amore.
(Dolphin Project videos)
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected]follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.
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