Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It's just another day...

Paul McCartney tickets in a skybox for $100 -- pretty good deal but they were paid for. Yet again -- her man at De la Guerra makes a point of pointing fingers at the SEIU but fails to mention law enforcement "largess". Who does he think he's kidding?

Opportunities such as this are common at City Hall but I am not so sure they are ethics violations considering that gifts must be acknowledged and the reports are public documents. Still, what do you think about having an ethics it necessary?


Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Apparently the Ethics Panel endorsed by Travis Factswrong only would investigate officials not endorsed by him in the Newspress editorials.

Such a panel makes the new bureaucrats necessary to oversee and track the new Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance seem a trivial additional expense by the City General Fund.

Vodka, anyone?

12/20/2005 11:42 AM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

"Ethics" of course, also would include a fresh analysis of the campaign contributions and the subsequent Countil voting, support, and advocacy by elected officials on behalf of those same contributors and donors... right, Travis?!?!

12/20/2005 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Sara is right in that "gifts must be acknowledged and the reports are public documents" but does anyone really think the mayor and the others actually report the free or underpriced tickets to events they receive? Their freebee event calendars and the public reports don't seem to match up. Maybe they should just come clean and tell the voters what they are receiving. Or maybe the mayor likes the way McCartney sings "Let It Be."

12/20/2005 11:58 AM  
Anonymous SBR said...

Perception is reality.
Those in a position of public trust should be smarter than to set themselves up for the easy questions.
Travis Armstrong is correct.

12/20/2005 12:32 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

One more time with the "easy question":

Do campaign contributions influence the subsequent voting, support, and advocacy by elected Council members on behalf of those same contributors and donors????

Have the Ethics Panel chew on that.
These editorials get quite shallow with their refusal to criticize some City council members, and not others.

Will Blum really be influenced by her apparently subsidized ticket to a concert? Will Falcone be influenced by here THOUSANDS of dollars cumulatively contributed to her by Levy and friends, by Bermant, by Marborg, and by others who all have projects and decisions upcoming by the City Council????

Time again for the "debate" on campaign finance reform ordinance????

12/20/2005 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog continues mainly to bounce off of News-Press editorials in raising issues, as Sara's last three of four posts illustrates. Sara, you should pay Travis & Co. a royalty for keeping it going intellectually. Any fresh or original thoughts, ideas or issues you can start with, independent of the editorial pages of the local daily? Or, Sara, do you just like coasting in Travis' slipstream?

P.S. An answer to the post above: of course the donations influence politicians. The donors are hardheaded organizations expecting a return on their investment, and they receive it. Look at all the raises. Luxury boxes at Staples are expensive, and a deductible business expense, for good reason. Let's bet which way Blum will vote--for or against the giant utility? The bigger problem with Blum is she made such a big show of turning back the $250 donation to Edison during the election because of the mega corporation's pending regulatory proceeding, but then rushed down to Staples to look down on the little people from Edison's skybox and boogie with the suits to the sounds of Sir Paul. Hell, the cost of parking alone at Staples is reason to apply for a loan.

12/20/2005 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Picture this disturbing scene: As our progressive mayor leaves Staples after the show, glowing, arm and arm with Con Edison executives, all swaying and singing together, "Baby, I'm amazed at the way you really love me."

Perception is reality.

12/20/2005 6:54 PM  
Blogger john san roque said...

I agree that the News-Press generates a lot of the action on this blog, but it is the only daily paper in this area, and presumably it has some influence on its readers. It's not reasonable to ignore the stance of the News-Press in a blog that addresses Santa Barbara politics.

Armstrong is so unfair and skewed in his comments against Blum that it has to be mentioned. Is it really possible that we live with a newspaper that has probably editorialized ten times about the Mayor using her city e-mail address a few times on non-government business? Is is reasonable to slam Blum because she returned money to a donor with business before the City or because she paid for tickets to an event?

Do you people not care at all that our daily paper has not an ounce of fairness or objectivity in its editorial stance? The News-Press is entitled to argue for its editorial preferences, but doesn't it need some degree of objectivity to be considered a journalistic endeavor? Marty Blum, Lois Capps, Pedro Nava, Gail Marshall, and the Goleta City Council could take over the work of Mother Teresa and the News-Press editorial page would trash them.

It's garbage, and it's the duty of the community to point that out.

12/20/2005 7:25 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Anonymous -- you have a point and I got the feedback.

With a hectic work schedule -- perhaps I've gotten a bit too used to relying on how Travis feeds the stories through his lack of thorough research and convenient omission of all the facts in his editorializing....I'll work on using other sources and generating my own work too.

Remember please also that several of us started Blogabarbara as a result of the constant stream of editorials that are really not in touch with our community and take a tone that is far from civil...

JSR has a point that his comments are skewed and lack objectivity.

As for Blum -- we need to remember too that it's not like visiting with executives from Edison will help her with re-election or a future election for that matter. Also, I'm pretty sure you could find plenty of examples of gifts given and votes not going their way.

12/20/2005 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what we are all missing here is Blum made a big deal about returning the money but not the event. it is a pattern with her - that is the story.

12/20/2005 8:18 PM  
Anonymous SBR said...

No, the real story is that Blogabara is a vigorous blog, the exchange is vital.

OF COURSE the New-Press editorials set the standard. But we blogs can set the foundation.

12/20/2005 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, there should be an ethics panel or, better, an ombudsman or ombudspersons - for the city government and another for the News-Press.

Where are these public document reports about what gifts the city officials/staff receive? What are the limits on gifts? For instance, who gets tickets - and passes to the film festival? Every year,local art tsar Patrick Davis goes to the film festival with passes for himself and wife --- this year, one full "platinum" pass, the kind that is transferable to family members and friends, is worth $1,500.

Will Davis receive one this year? Will Council members receive a pass? Or tickets to the parties and films? Council members Barnwell, Schneider and others have already been going to the film festival parties? Are these gifts reported anywhere? Are they cumulative or just ticket by ticket? The city gives the film festival $50,000 on the theory the festival brings in tourists but why should that justify free tickets/passes to council and staff?

Good for the paper for digging into this but boooo! for concentrating only on their pet hate, the mayor.

12/20/2005 10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mayor and other council members go to lots of events. Many of them are probably comped in some form. Sara says the gifts must be acknowledged and the reports are public. But has anyone EVER actually seen such acknowledgement or public report by the mayor or any council member for these many comped events. With the end of the year coming up, seems like many of our electeds have lots of forms to fill out and get filed, if Sara is correct in her research. Maybe she isn't. As for next year, public acknowledgement of the expensive film festival passes could be a good start, whatever the actual rule. These filings would certainly be in the public interest. Like the mayor's McCartney tickets or the passes to visit the Ronald Reagan, many of these events are closed to the general public.

12/21/2005 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the mayor and the News-Press editorial pages, seems like the mayor walked into that one with her eyes wide open--recall the ill-advised "bad smell over de la Guerra Plaza" letter she sent out to raise campaign cash, using the city email system in the process? It was the one before the "let's knock out Iya" campaign mailing against a fellow elected Democrat. Ethics panel? Good idea. There are some mistakes it won't correct, however.

12/21/2005 9:46 AM  
Blogger john san roque said...

It's really okay for writers to this blog to criticize the Mayor or anyone else. What I believe, however, is that the News-Press has a higher standard to meet. Readers should be able to expect a reasonable level of objectivity and fairness in journalism. If Travis Armstrong wants to investigate and editorialize about Blum's inappropriate use of e-mail, readers should expect him to treat other City Council members and local politicians in the same manner.

I personally think it was an ethical move for her to return Edison contributions during the campaign, but one would never infer that from the News-Press editorials. Her comment about the bad smell from de la Guerra came after countless instances of bad News-Press editorials, and I give her credit for standing up to a bully.

I'll respect the opinons of any of you who disagree, but I'd like to hear from anyone who thinks that other city officials are treated similarly by the News-Press. I'm not an active supporter of Mary Blum, but I think the vendetta carried on by Armstrong against Blum is petty, low class, and unfair. When we set up an ethics panel for the local politicians, lets also recommend an ombudsman for the News-Press.

12/21/2005 11:02 AM  
Anonymous SBR said...

You can crab all you want, but most of you are tripping over dollars to pick up dimes.
Nit this, nit that.

The big boys laugh and shrug off your complaints and oh-so-big intellectual arguments.

I really wish this was bigger.

12/21/2005 11:05 AM  
Anonymous SBR said...

So see it, geez!
You all fully know what’s going on here.
Armstrong, the News-Press, they have all the throw weight.

As long as we blogs keep jabbering about the intellectual small stuff and refuse to talk about what’s happening in people’s daily lives, we will sideline ourselves into oblivion.

Lean forward.

12/21/2005 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm.... last I checked, Blum was Mayor. Proud of it and paid extra cash for it. First among equals. Likes the job and the attention. Works hard.

If she can't stand the heat, she should exit the skybox (or at least disclose it). Then she won't have to worry about using city email for private political purposes.

Politicians don't like media holding feet to fire when it's not favorable to them. Exhibit A: Bush, the NSA and the New York Times. If these are "vendettas," bring them on.

12/21/2005 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why go to the trouble of an ethics panel when a simple smell test will do. Whether the source is Marborg, SEIU, SCE the aroma is wafting over City Hall. Our City Councilmembers are smart; they know when they cross the line yet they continue to do it, like a child waiting to see how much he can get away with before being scolded. Come the next campaign/reelection season, these issues will be heard loud and clear.

Enjoy the film fest

12/22/2005 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

City ethics panel? Given what we've seen? Absolutely!

The difference, Sara de la Guerra, between most SEIU employees and your "law enforcement"? Police routinely risk their lives for the rest of us. Sometimes they lose. Perhaps that's why they catch a break. They should.

12/22/2005 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know we all have been chastised by Sara DLG not to get testy and even speculate about the identity of Anonymous posters, but clearly the prior comment was by our own non-elected President, George W.

Just like one is either With The Terrorists or For his "patriotic" act, the post above for a local situation is that one is either With The Police Union or is With the Fat Election Campaign Contributions With No Accountability Or At Least Complaining About Anyone Who Questions Such Donations.

Next time in your comment, feel free to add a graphic file insert of a waving flag, per Fox News and the ilk.

12/22/2005 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was elected the second time. Yours. W.

12/22/2005 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly police and labor are both interest groups (who isn't an interest group in this day and age?) The question is whether the interactions these groups have with elected candidates should be overseen by an administrative body. As it strikes me, the creation and execution of an ethics panel would not be so effective as a vigilant press (including newspapers and the blogosphere) that calls politicians on the carpet on their own, and not through some bureaucracy. Let's penalize corruption with our ballots, not another bloated organization that's bound to be infused with factionalism.

12/23/2005 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. Although some electeds (including the mayor and the sheriff) may not like it, we have a vigilant local newspaper.

12/23/2005 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's check if the Sheriff listed all his trips and stays at the Bacarra, if he left it out....a panel would be appropriate with powers equal to the Grand Jury.

12/24/2005 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe, instead of an ethics panel, elected officials such as the Sheriff and the Mayor should just voluntarily list all gifts, like SCE McCartney luxury boxes and Bacara rooms, on a publicly available website--whether or not they make the claim that they paid for part or all of it.

12/24/2005 1:42 PM  

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