Sunday, October 31, 2021

GHOST VILLAGE ROAD

 






























Doodoo (Voodoo's little brother)


















Santa Barbara NEWS-PRESS: THE INVESTIGATOR: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


















Today is Halloween, the spookiest day of the year. And nowhere in the United States is Halloween more or better celebrated than the town of Salem, Massachusetts, where in 1692 a fair slice of its population was hanged as witches.


Some say Berry and Abigail, who started the frenzied finger-pointing, were traumatized to psychosis by their nanny, Tituba, a slave from Barbados who toyed with their minds through séance, magic and other occult practices deriving from voodoo. 


What is known for certain is that the two girls convulsed and hallucinated and blamed their sickness on local witches.


A more likely explanation for their odd behavior was ergotism, otherwise known as St. Anthony’s Fire, a consequence of ingesting rye bread contaminated by a fungus called ergotamine, from which LSD is synthesized. It causes hallucinations and convulsions, psychosis and delusion. 


This was a theory originally proposed, in 1979, by a psychology graduate student at UCSB. Linnda Caporael argued that the symptoms—muscle spasms, sweating, nausea—were identical to ergot poisoning.  She also noted Tituba’s concoction of a “witch cake,” which was made with rye flour that might have been tainted with ergot, either by accident or design.



By the time it was over, 19 convicted “witches” were hanged based on “spectral” evidence, that is, on the say-so of Berry and Abigail, who also inspired to get others into the act, mostly as a way of settling scores with rivals or as a means of stealing their property. “It was as if,” wrote one colonist at the time, “Satan had been loosed upon Salem.”



Most poignant was the story of Giles Corey. Accused of witchcraft, he refused in disgust to enter a plea and, in a lame attempt to induce one, Salem’s burghers pressed the 81-year-old Corey with large stones, asking occasionally, “How do you plead?” Corey defiantly replied, “More weight!” After three days of such stone-pressing, Corey died.





This was the gambit: If you pled guilty, they let you go, but took away all your money and your property. If you pled innocent, a trial would be held. If it wasn’t going well for the prosecution, Berry and Abigail were on hand to commence convulsions and otherwise sway the jury with spectral evidence. Thereafter: condemned to death by hanging. 


Tituba’s girls would later repair to a local tavern where they would reenact their courtroom performance. If someone objected, that person became the new object of the girls’ accusations.



It is this enduring legacy that has rendered Salem a magnet for real witches everywhere—an irony and poetic justice combined. Halloween in this town is celebrated the whole month of Oct
ober and its numerous boutiques peddle spell potions, magic wands and vintage Ouija boards.




 

            WICCAN WAYS


 

Practitioners of Wicca, recognized by the United States in 1985 as a religion, believe that God is within and without, synonymous with nature. Modern witches are not devil-worshippers and do not believe in the existence of Satan. If they have a creed, it is Do no harm to others. Wiccans believe that whatever you do to others will revert back to you three-fold.


Halloween was originally a 3-day Celtic festival, commencing All Hallows on the eve of November, which signifies an autumn transition between light and dark, day and night, life and death—and starts the Celtic New Year. It was—still is for some—a time to celebrate the dead, remember them, respect them—and hold close all the links that you, the sum of your ancestors, to those who delivered you.



On All Hallows Eve, Celts and Wiccans gather to tell stories about those no longer among us—be they relatives, friends or pets—and celebrate their spirits by bringing out heirlooms and talismans handed down through the generations.


Christianity, from about 400 A.D onward, viewed the Celts as pagans and threw up a smokescreen by adopting pagan holy days as their own, which is why they have All Saints Day on November 1st and celebrate Jesus of Nazareth’s birthday (a fabricated date, historians believe it was in June) to coincide with the Celtic Winter Solstice.



So, here’s what you do for a very old-fashioned Halloween: Once all the pageantry and trick-or-treating is exhausted, build a fire in an open-air fireplace (the Celts would gather around bonfires) and follow an ancient “Samhain” (pronounced “sow-in”) tradition: using pen and paper, write down bad situations and destructive relationships, scrunch up the list and toss it into the fire. Poof, they’re gone—allowing you to start the Celtic New Year tomorrow without any further burden from whatever or whomever may trouble you.


My favorite Halloween costume, though I’m never allowed to wear it, is my KKK robe and hood.


Stay calm—and tune into the second part of this column for significant context…


 

            MEMORY LANE





 

Readers have asked about my inspiration for creating The Investigator, which is an investigative column and not conventional investigative reporting.


The distinction between a column and news reporting is that the former incorporates voice and style, perhaps a smattering of opinion; the latter should be “just the facts, ma’am” though you wouldn’t know it these days because so much journalism that masquerades as “reporting” comes with an overdose of spin-oriented adjectives and adverbs.


The Investigator is a confluence of many influences, starting with the Sunday People, where I cut my teeth as an investigative reporter over 40 years ago.


Two men—Investigations Editor Laurie Manifold and his deputy, Alan Ridout—each week produced a full page of investigative stories (sometimes just one big one) under the banner Man of The People Investigates. They worked 5 days a week (Tuesday through Saturday) beavering away at 4-5 stories at any given time in an office insulated from the rest of the newsroom to protect their sources and stories, which were never shared with anyone other than the newspaper’s editor—and supported by an odd assortment of freelancers “doing shifts.” (In Britain, newsrooms were understaffed and thus freelance was a perfectly acceptable way to practice journalism, unlike in the USA where “freelance” is thought to be a euphemism for “unemployed.”)  


Every week the Sunday People investigative page exposed villains and conmen, sex scoundrels and scammers—and in its heyday exposed some of the most dangerous gangsters in London’s East End.


My break in journalism came when I infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. It began with a tip that the Grand Dragon of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina desired to establish a “klavern” (Klan-speak for branch) in Britain. Posing as a wannabe Klansman, I contacted Robert E. Scoggin (the Grand Dragon who doubled as Imperial Wizard) by phone and we had a long chat during which he determined that I should be his main facilitator. He then proceeded to recite to me the names and phone numbers of prospective Klan members from all around Britain.



I took what I had to the Sunday People. They bought it for a good chunk of change and put me to work for them.


Guided by the pros, I made contact with those on Scoggin’s list and invited them all to a hotel room near King’s Cross, one of London’s main train stations. The room was wired with microphones, add a photographer with telephoto lens who clicked away as our targets—about a dozen—came and went, including a thuggish family (a father and two sons) who claimed to possess an arsenal of illegal guns. They talked of abducting inter-racial couples to tar-and-feather them. They were an ugly bunch.


We had our story—a good one.


But then it got even better: Grand Dragon Scoggin invited me to visit him in Spartanburg, South Carolina for the purpose of being “naturalized” into the KKK.


Naturalized?


“You can’t run a branch of the Klan,” he drawled, “until you’re initiated in a ceremony.” 

 

The editor of The Sunday People agreed, so off we went—me and Alan Ridout and Angus Mayer, another freelancer who was brought in to assist.


First thing, in the back of a van, Klansmen hit us up for $20 each for “dues.” Arriving in front of Scoggins’s ranch house—pickup trucks parked everywhere—we were escorted into a dark garage pointed up the narrow, creaky stairway.


At the top, a door opened and the Imperial Wizard stood before us, decked in a gold satin robe and cone-shaped hat; around him, posters glorifying the KKK were boldly illuminated with ultraviolet light. In the center of the room, an altar with a Holy Bible opened to Corinthians 12.


The room soon filled with about two dozen Klansmen (and women) wearing white robes, fully hooded.  They formed a semi-circle around us and the 30-minute ceremony began.


Scoggin anointed us with holy water and tapped our shoulders with the flat side of a sword—rendering us knighted into the secret fraternity of haters. At one point, the Imperial Wizard pointed to a snakeskin nailed to the wall and said, “That’s what happens to traitors!”


The lights came on, hoods removed, donuts and coffee served—and out came a tape measure.


Why a tape measure?


Because bespoke robes and hoods were to be hastily tailored for us. Not normal white ones, mind you, but red satin robes, which identified us as “Kleagles” (Klan-speak for “officers”), who would return to London and run the UK Klavern.


Or so they believed. 


Because that’s not what happened, of course.


No, what happened was this:  Two successive front-page, center-spread stories “splashed” (Fleet Street lingo) over two Sundays exposing names and photographs of those who would bring hate to Britain.






It blew the UK KKK out of the water.


Literally. That was the end of the KKK in Blighty. 


And, tipped off (by me), Special Branch (police) raided the home of thuggish father and two sons, found the guns of which they spoke—and confiscated them.


One anecdote of that experience stands out above all others: On our final day in town, the Imperial Wizard took us on a tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains leading, that evening, to a “Tri-State” KKK rally across the border into North Carolina and a field reached only by a single lane gravel road. Sitting bumper-to-bumper in a long stream of vehicles, I noticed a state police roadblock up ahead—and could see that the state trooper was asking each driver for ID.


Problem: The only ID I had was my UK driving license—in my real name, not the alias I was using for Bob Scoggin, who was sitting in the passenger seat next to me.


My turn came.


The trooper leaned in. “Driver’s license and car papers,” he drawled.


I opened the glove compartment and handed him the car rental agreement.


“I said driver’s license,” he repeated.


“It’s in the trunk,” I said.


“Well, go get it.”


I got out and walked around the car, followed by the state trooper. And then, uh-oh, Scoggin got out too and met me around the other side as I rifled through my duffel bag, mind racing about an escape ramp if Scoggin discovered I wasn’t who I said I was. But there was no escaping. And I remembered the snakeskin nailed to the wall: That’s what happens to traitors! 


Just as I put my hand on my license, Scoggin extended his right arm in from of me and offered to shake hands with the trooper. “Hi, I’m Bob Scoggin, Imperial Wizard for South Carolina.”


The trooper smiled, shook Bob’s hand and drawled, “Well, why didn’t you say so? You boys go right on through!”


(Our newly tailored robes awaited us at the rally.)


Over the next few years I infiltrated violent anarchist cells and neo-Nazi organizations for the Sunday People. It became a specialty of mine, infiltrating hate groups and reporting on their activities from the inside. This kind of undercover journalism was an accepted practice in Britain, but only as a last resort for getting the story on evil-doers, based on the principle that if a particular entity was presumed to be up to no good and no one involved would talk about it to an outsider, it was ethical to penetrate them to get at the truth.


Another early influence was Paul Foot who wrote an investigative page for the Daily Mirror, another Fleet Street newspaper. Paul was known as a “campaigning” journalist, which meant he was on a crusade to expose evil and change society for the better—and urged readers to send tips “I ought to investigate.”

 



And then there was Nicholas Davies, the Daily Mirror’s dapper foreign editor, who could digest an extremely complicated international situation then distill it into a mere 150 words that would explain everything in a way any reader could understand.


A fourth influence appeared when I settled for a time on the Jersey Shore and read the Asbury Park Press. This daily newspaper ran a twice-weekly column called Trouble Shooter. Readers would write the anonymous columnist and seek assistance to settle a dispute. Trouble Shooter would do so—and publish the results.




Finally, there was the Weekly World News (little sister to The National Enquirer) and a columnist by the name of Ed Anger, obviously a pseudonym, who ranted and raved about anything and everything and started stories with lines such as “I’m madder than a zombie with a mouth full of Biden’s brain.” I found it amusing—and it somehow found its way into one of the nether-reaches of my mind.






Thursday, October 28, 2021

CORRUPTION IN MONACO

 





(Of course, we knew all of this 15 years ago, especially with regard to Thierry Lacoste and Claude Palmero...)


https://thedailyguardian.net/behind-monacos-wealth-and-opulence-corruption-blooms/


The Mediterranean city-state of Monaco is most commonly known for its opulence, attracting celebrities, politicians, and other personalities from around the world. But, over the past few years, the state has also garnered significant negative press.

Reports have indicated that the Monegasque government is entrenched in corruption, enabling a select few to profit from the state’s affairs. 

Although authorities and the press have tried to call attention to ongoing corrupt practices, the government has not made any meaningful changes. The Monegasque people must push the government to tackle corruption head-on and induce transparency.

According to Les Dossiers Du Rocher, an online investigative entity dedicated to uncovering instances of corruption, embezzlement, and influence in the city-state, a small group of personalities in Monaco are responsible for driving the majority of corruption. 

The group, known commonly as “The Club,” operates opaquely but abuses the civil service for their benefit.

The documents leaked on the Les Dossiers Du Rocher website indicate that many individuals are complicit in furthering corruption in Monaco.


Thierry Lacoste


This includes Didier Linotte, President of the Monegasque Supreme Court, famous lawyer Thierry Lacoste, actual Foreign Minister Laurent Anselmi, well-known accountant Claude Palermo, and Antonio Caroli, a businessman.





Our addendum: Thierry Lacoste is not a "famous" lawyer; he is a leech whose only claim to fame is that he grew up with Prince Albert; the only thing "well-known" about Claude Palmero (among Monegasques) is that he also leeches off Albert, in league with Lacoste. And, tragically, Albert is too stupid to know what a leech looks like, which means he is...


https://dossiers-du-rocher.com/





OCTOBER MOONED


 

Accidental Homage to Van Gogh



Santa Barbara NEWS-PRESS: THE INVESTIGATOR: BELLASGUARDO UPDATE

 









When then Mayor Helene Schneider and Jeremy Lindaman began the process of selecting trustees for Bellosguardo’s board of directors, The Investigator has learned, they appear to have been soliciting financial contributions for Ms. Schneider’s 2016 campaign for U.S. Congress.


One prospective trustee told us: “The first people to be invited to the board of directors were people who would also be asked to donate to Helene’s congressional campaign. She probably thought we would feel obligated to help fund her campaign. It was never stated but I felt it was implied we should feel compelled to give her a donation for her campaign.”


This may prove to be a huge problem for Jeremy Lindaman, who managed Ms. Schneider’s congressional campaign and was appointed by her—despite his total lack of foundation experience—to be president of the Bellosguardo Foundation at an annual salary now reaching $150,000.


Why might this be a huge problem?


Because the IRS specifically prohibits campaign solicitations in connection with a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.





About such an entity, IRS regulations are very clear: “It may not be an action organization i.e. it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”


Soliciting campaign donations in the same breath as holding out trustee positions would be a direct violation of strict IRS rules forbidding such use of a 501(c)(3).

With this in mind, we then cross-checked the list of political contributors to Ms. Schneider’s 2016 campaign with Bellosguardo’s board of directors. We discovered that no fewer than 9 of the 14 listed trustees (“as of 2019”) made financial contributions to the Schneider Campaign during the 2016 election cycle, including board chairman Dick Wolf, who was one of Ms. Schneider’s largest donors, weighing in at $9,100.


Add Ann Towbes, who has since resigned her trusteeship (she donated $2,700) and Morris Jurkowitz (also resigned, but donated $2,000) and that means 11 of 16 or an astounding two-thirds of the board contributed to the Schneider Campaign—a further indication that prospective board members may have been impelled to contribute to her congressional campaign as an “implied” condition for being selected to the board.

 

The Investigator reached out to both Mr. Lindaman and Ms. Schneider to ask how it was possible that so many trustees happened to contribute to the Schneider Campaign as managed by Mr. Lindaman during the period when potential trustees were being consulted, cultivated and decided upon. 


In an e-mail, Ms. Schneider responded thus: “During my 2016 Congressional campaign, I received contributions from several hundred individuals. Many of these individuals also gave to other candidates in the same campaign, including members who also happened to serve on the Bellosguardo Board of Directors. Of the 19 people who were on the Bellosguardo Board of Directors at that time, 3 contributed solely to my campaign and the others either made no contributions, or contributed to both me and other candidates simultaneously, or contributed solely to my opponents. The breakdown per FEC reports are: 7 contributed to me and Salud Carbajal; 1 contributed to me, Salud Carbajal and Justin Fareed; 1 gave only to Justin Fareed; 1 gave only to Salud Carbajal; 1 gave to me and Justin Fareed; 1 gave to Salud Carbajal and Justin Fareed, and 4 made no campaign contributions.”


We received no response from Mr. Lindaman.




https://newspress.com/author/reringer/


            


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Santa Barbara NEWS-PRESS: THE INVESTIGATOR: THE ONE-SIDED DIPLOMACY OF "SANTA BARBARA AMBASSADORS"




https://newspress.com/the-one-sided-diplomacy-of-santa-barbara-ambassadors/






Two months ago, we wrote about the deplorable conditions on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara due to numerous and aggressive homeless people and umpteen vacant buildings. The avalanche of feedback we received was vehement in its agreement with our assessment of the situation and our contention that Santa Barbara city officials and planners long ago lost the plot and appear to have no new solutions going forward.


And now, lo and behold, we’ve happened upon a city program (taxpayer funded, of course) created in 2017 called “Santa Barbara Ambassadors.”


According to their website, these “ambassadors” exist for “enhancing the experience on State Street, by maintaining a consistent presence and working alongside local organizations, businesses, and citizens for wholesome solutions.”


However, we way we heard it, from reporter Katy Grimes on an internet news site, “ambassadors” are apparently more interested in glossing over the State Street debacle with positive PR than solving the problems business owners and folks out for a stroll experience on a daily basis.


To illustrate, a 40-year-old business owner opined thus:

 

Last night, Friday, I was coming in to work and crossed State St. at Figueroa.  I saw a vagrant who has parked himself there every Friday for the past few weeks.  He sits in a folding chair and takes up a lot of space with a condo’s worth of belongings in a cart.  Every Friday I call the Santa Barbara Street Ambassadors and ask them to have the guy moved along.    

Two SB Ambassadors were standing on the corner talking, in plain view of the vagrant.  I stopped my car and got out and told them to do their jobs and move the guy. One was a heavy- set Latina woman, maybe around 30, and a young Latino male with glasses who I believe was younger and less senior. She told me to get back in my car and move along. I told her to do her job.

I parked in Lot 4 and immediately called the Street Ambassador line and made a complaint about the vagrant, and about the Ambassadors, to the dispatcher. She said she would have the Ambassadors speak to the vagrant.

A few minutes later I walked up the block and took pictures of the vagrant and his belongings. The 2 Ambassadors were still on the corner so I asked them if they had asked the vagrant to move. They both told me that they said Hi to him. I said, “You said Hi?—why don’t you do your job?”

I walked back to my business and when I looked back the Ambassadors were both following me and the female was using her phone to take videos of me.  I turned and asked her if she was taping me and she said, “Yes. Is that your business?  Can you stand there?  I want to get a good video of you with your sign so I can post it on Yelp and show what a great downtown businessman you are.”

I said, “You’re taping me?” She said, “Yeah, it’ll look great on Yelp, it’ll be great for your business when people see the kind of person you are.”

I said, “You won’t do your job, so you tape me and threaten me?” 

She said, “I’m doing it right now.”

            

               BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY


The Investigator always likes to hear both sides of any story so naturally we reached out to Santa Barbara Ambassadors through their generic e-mail address

Roy Forney, Downtown Parking Operations Supervisor, responded 4 days later by requesting to know what kind of information we were seeking.


We asked for a response to the above criticism and also if The Investigator could tag along with “ambassadors” on their rounds to observe how they operate.


A prompt response arrived from Brian Bosse, Waterfront Business Manager: “Our Ambassadors had a different take on the incident and we are using it as a learning opportunity for all Ambassadors. The issue is one that can’t be solved by moving a person off a sidewalk, or by a Downtown Ambassador, or a Sit, Lie Ordinance. Homelessness is a much more complicated issue.”

 

No mention of what their “take” on it was or whether we can observe “ambassadors” in action.


Mr. Bosse also identified the “40-year-old business owner” quoted earlier. (We are not sure if this was meant to be malicious; we understand the complainant did not want his name revealed.)


We, of course, reached out to the business owner, who did not want to discuss the issue further because, as he told us, “It would be a shame for my business, colleagues and employees to get dragged into a wider and more public discussion of my comments.  I have already seen a fair amount of negativity directed at me—including some threats.”


Huh? Threats from public servants?


When prodded, the business owner would not identify from whom threats were received nor their nature.


Nonetheless, nothing (beyond corruption and abuse of power) gets our gander up more than threats to freedom of expression.


So, of course, this required a deeper delving.


Starting with this:  What exactly is “Santa Barbara Ambassadors”? 


As in, who are they and what do they actually do?


Hence, our e-mail to Mr. Bosse and his reply:

1) How many SB Ambassadors are on the books? 


Answer: Seven Downtown Ambassadors are currently employed.


2) Are they volunteers or do they receive payment? 


Answer: Paid position.


3) If paid, what are their salaries? (If part-time, the hourly rate.) 


Answer: Part-time Hourly City Staff Position/$18.00 per hour/999 hours per fiscal year.


4) How are these Ambassadors selected i.e. what are their qualifications for the job?     


Answer: Interested candidates go through the City of Santa Barbara’s standard employment process. Desired qualifications include: Customer Service Experience and prior experience working with the public.


5) How have they effected change in SB since the creation of this program in 2017? Specifics, welcome.  

 

Answer: The Downtown Ambassador Program is a program providing hospitality and customer service while identifying and reporting State Street issues and individuals who are in need of assistance with referrals to the appropriate resourcesWe are very proud of the assistance our Ambassadors provide to all members of the public visiting downtown.

 

While this answered a few basic questions, the last part was a wee bit too glib from our perspective, so we followed up with…


You say you use such input to better your program. Was your program bettered by this input?  If so, in what way i.e. reprimands? Change of policy?


Can you furnish me with specific examples of how and why service provided to the public by “ambassadors” has earned your pride?


Re question/answer #4: Can you confirm that none of the seven “ambassadors” employed are related to any SB City Council members, Board of Supervisors and/or City Administrator officials?


Re question/answer #5: May I see a few actual reports "identifying and reporting State Street issues" that have been submitted by “ambassadors.


Finally, I would like to observe the “ambassadors” at work. Can this be arranged?

 

Mr. Bosse responded thus:

            

We used the incident to discuss with our Ambassadors the communication skills needed in dealing with members of the public when they are angry and confrontational.

 

So here we have it: the problem was not homeless people obstructing the sidewalks.     The problem, from their perspective, was the 40-year-old business owner who was “angry and confrontational.”


As for “specific examples,” Mr. Bosse replied:

 

Any time our Ambassadors can help a member of the public with simple directions that improve their visit or possibly connecting someone experiencing a tough time in their life with social services that will help them, is a positive and something our entire community can take pride in.

 

Again, it looks as if the “ambassadors,” and those overseeing such diplomacy, side with the homeless, not the business owners. (And so much for specific examples.)


Any relatives of Council Members, Supervisors or City Administrator officials?

 

As far as I am aware, this is not a standard question on the City of Santa Barbara Human Resources job application. As such, I am unaware of the various relations you refer to above.

 

You’d think the city would strive to ensure that any appearance of nepotism be avoided when it comes to competitive, cushiony city jobs.  


As for being able to view reports “identifying State Street issues”:

 

We maintain daily reports that we keep internally as they often include the names of individuals who were referred to various community organizations.

 

In other words, no you can’t. It appears that even the homeless, who exhibit themselves publicly all day long, are allowed to hide behind so-called “privacy.” Unless this program’s administrators have their own reasons for keeping the results concealed.

     

And finally, may we observe Ambassadors at work?


Unfortunately, we do not offer a “ride along” program.


 

            NO ACCOUNTING FOR YOUR MONEY


 

Remember, dear reader, this is a public program, funded by public i.e. taxpayer money. Your money. 


Yet the media, which reports to the public, is denied access.


Based on what Mr. Bosse wrote, we calculate that $125,874 is spent on this program each year. You are paying this price. But you’re not allowed to know how it’s working or even if it’s working.

 

You would think those who supervise the “ambassadors”—Roy Forney, Brian Bosse—would want to oblige us by exhibiting all the good work their “ambassadors” have been doing.


Think again. Because they won’t show us a darn thing. We’re just supposed to take their word about how “proud” they are of their program.


Question: Based on the above interaction, what faith should we have in the worthiness of this city program?

Answer: None. 


Because it may well be, without proof to the contrary, “Santa Barbara Ambassadors” is just another example of boondoggle and a waste of public money.


Update: Where are the “ambassadors” every Saturday morning when a homeless man of color stomps his way through Farmer’s Market yelling and cursing threats to anyone and everyone out trying to enjoy a festive shopping experience?  Nowhere, as far as we can tell.  And what might be their “take” on stall-owners or shoppers who object to verbal abuse and disturbance of the peace? Based on what we’ve been told, their “take” is that the problem is the attitude of law-abiding citizens displeased with being abused.


 

            BELLOSGUARDO


 

In addition to setting local social media platforms on fire, last week’s column on the Clark Estate brought another avalanche of e-mail from readers hopping mad at the way Jeremy Lindaman has been running the Bellosguardo Foundation; how he has failed, since his appointment as foundation president, to open it to the public as a center for culture and the arts.


Tom: “We are grateful for your courage, investigative talents and concern for our ‘Once upon a time’ American Jewel, Santa Barbara.  Are you in possession of Mr. Lindaman’s e-mail address? We would like to communicate our thoughts. Today, we will contact Randy Rowse regarding the appalling ‘Bellosguardo Boondoggle.’ Contacting soon-to-be ex-mayor Murillo is a waste of keyboard clicks.


Our comment: Happy to oblige as he is a public figure:       Jeremylindaman@bellosguardofoundation.org.


Celeste: “Keep digging. Demand an audit of the Foundation. Demand that City Hall step in. I’ve been concerned about the administration of Bellosguardo for some time. This goes back to when Helene Schneider first appointed people to the Foundation.  You would have thought that she’d have sought out experts from throughout our community: an architect; the Historical Society; art historians from UCSB, Westmont, or SBCC; the Santa Barbara Art Museum; the Music Academy. Nope. Instead, she appointed people who supported her failed bid for Congress. There had also been a longtime caregiver who lived on the estate’s grounds. When Jeremy was installed, the caregiver was given the boot. Jeremy lives there still.”

 

Our comment: The foundation’s lawyer denies that Mr. Lindaman resides on the Clark Estate.


Nancy: “Once again you have hit the nail on the head. You are the only one in seven years who has boldly come out with a statement on this travesty of corruption and secrecy.”


Charles: “Shining a flashlight down various local ‘rat-holes’ is a necessary task of the Fourth Estate both long neglected and long overdue. It is beyond irksome that a small coterie of foundation minions roams the place (and who may also live there) as if lording it over their own fiefdom.”

 


            CORRECTIONS      


 

We have a few corrections, courtesy of Bill Dedman, author of Empty Mansions (and please note that we gave Mr. Lindaman several opportunities and ample time to provide these corrections himself in advance of publication last week, to no avail):

 

1.     We referenced (in our correspondence with Jeremy Lindaman) the foundation’s Articles of Incorporation filed June 2011 with the California Secretary of State. We have since learned this is not the genuine article but a “sham” that lawyers putting forward her Will set up. The genuine foundation was created a few years later in New York when Huguette’s Will was settled by the court.


2.     “Huguette left her property to a private foundation, not the city of Santa Barbara,” wrote Mr. Dedman, “a foundation with the primary purpose of fostering and promoting the arts.” City Attorney Ariel Calonne confirmed for us that “the city is apparently not a beneficiary in the estate plan” and therefore does not fall within the purview of the SB Attorney’s Office to investigate. Mr. Calonne pointed to the New York Attorney General’s Office as the correct venue for citizens who wish voice concerns or complaints: E-mail: public.integrity@ag.ny.gov. Tel. 212.416.8090


3.     “The foundation is allowed to have private events,” wrote Mr. Dedman. “These events benefit the foundation by raising funds for its publicly stated plans.” 

 

Our comment regarding point number 3:


According to a tax return filed by the Bellosguardo Foundation in July 2020 for the calendar year July 1918-June 2019, event revenue was around $85,000 but “promotional and event expenses” (not itemized) was a whopping $455,216.


This means that the foundation spent five times more money to “promote” the offering of events on the Clark Estate than they accrued from events. Perhaps the foundation’s board of directors should seek a more detailed accounting of these “promotional” expenses.