A Damning Investigation Into Santa Barbara Politics

••• Los Angeles Magazine published a must-read, Molotov cocktail of an article by Mitchell Kriegman about the inner workings of Santa Barbara politics, centered on police spokesperson Anthony Wagner, but also fairly damning to former police chief Lori Luhnow, city administrator Paul Casey, and city attorney Ariel Calonne. It makes a clear case for cleaning house. UPDATE 3/16: Interim SBPD chief released this statement:

Los Angeles Magazine published an article that raised a number of issues concerning an employee of the police department, Mr. Anthony Wagner. Most of these allegations have been previously investigated, either within the police department or by the city attorney’s office.  In addition, the City prevailed in a federal lawsuit by one of the unsuccessful cannabis permit applicants, which was dismissed in December 2019.

Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Magazine article makes new allegations concerning the nature of Mr. Wagner’s role in the process of the awarding cannabis licenses that support further investigation. To that end, the Department will be retaining an outside firm to conduct that investigation for the Police Department.

I have placed Mr. Wagner on Administrative Leave pending the outcome of this inquiry. I should note that Mr. Wagner has been fully cooperative with this inquiry and welcomes the involvement of an outside reviewer.

UPDATE 3/18: The Independent‘s Nick Welsh wrote a spirited skewering of Mitchell Kriegman’s recent Los Angeles Magazine article, calling it “false at its very core.” Newsmakers explains the situation succinctly.

••• “Santa Barbara County is expected to advance into the less-restrictive red tier Tuesday [….] Indoor operations of fitness centers and gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, aquariums, museums and zoos are allowed with modifications in the red tier [….] Beginning Monday, individuals ages 16 to 64 who are at high-risk for morbidity and mortality from Covid-19 will be eligible to receive the vaccine in the county. The health conditions stated in the county guidelines include cancer, chronic kidney disease stage four or more, chronic pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, heart conditions, severe obesity and type 2 diabetes, among others.” And now the vaccination cheating will really begin…. —Noozhawk

••• “Vandenberg Air Force Base is renaming itself. Perhaps mindful of the Biden administration’s review of the decision to move the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama, the base will henceforth be called Vandenberg Space Force Base.” —Pacific Coast Business Times

••• Zumba instructor Josette Tkacik is upset with the city’s Parks & Recreation Department for asking her to apply to use public spaces around town, but its reasons seem valid. —Noozhawk

••• The Sacred Space shop in Summerland now has a three-bedroom vacation rental called the Sacred Space Sanctuary. —805 Living


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