Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Goleta Council Race Spends $300,000

Between Candidates and PACs, over $300,000 was raised and spent on the Goleta City Council race in which all three incumbents were ousted. The primary recipients of these funds, Eric Onnen and Michael Bennett, outdistanced all other candidates in fundraising. The closest was Roger Aceves -- still some $10,000 in donations less than Bennett and almost $19,000 less than Onnen. The incumbents in the race were pretty much all grouped just behind Aceves.

The late contributions to Onnen and Bennett, and some to Aceves, is only part of the story. The real story is in how the Chamber-backed South Coast PAC (recipient of a $10,000 contribution from Veneco -- with an issue coming before council very soon) and the mysterious Goletans for Fiscal Responsibility raised and spent about $150,000 during the campaign in favor of Onnen and Bennett. How are they not beholden to these interests?

Goleta, no matter how much it has grown, is still too small for this kind of money to be spent. I, for one, hope this isn't a trend that continues although now that the dam has been broken -- the water will surely continue to flow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reports are no surprise to many of us, but underscore the appalling travesty that unseated the three incumbents. While Aceves may not have received as much outside money, he clearly rode on the coattails of Onnen and Bennet's chamber-funded-anti-incumbent attack machine.

The City of Goleta will soon experience the home-builder-coastal-housing bullies forcing the cementing of open space and ag land.

2/03/2007 7:12 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Sara - the dam was broken long ago, it's just that many people didn't pay attention. These are high stakes elected offices, which may of the candidates know can/will lead to state and federal offices or appointments.

If you are in a county-wide race such as DA, sheriff, Assessor, judge, etc, or a high-profile district (supervisor)and your opponent is a decent candidate, it takes at least $250k minimum to run a proper race. Advertising, print and news media and postage consume a huge portion of the funding.

The newspapers and the tv make huge profits off of every election, and no one controls their costs. All I can say is the price will only keep going up for campaigns.

2/03/2007 7:41 PM  
Blogger Voice of Rezon(e) said...

Interesting choice of campaigns to focus on.

One could make virtually the same argument with many of the local elections.

Let's take a look at the SB City Council for instance, and how much money the unions give to those candidates and what they get in return. They practically pull all the strings at City Hall.

2/04/2007 12:46 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I forgot to say that when the final campaign report is due sometime in June or July, and you add up all the donations including special interest monies spent independently of the candidates, this race will tip toward the $1 million mark, IMHO. dd

2/04/2007 6:30 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

VOR -- I've certainly had plenty to say about money in SB races...police and employee SEIU money were pretty heavy in that race. The Goleta numbers though were just announced.

2/04/2007 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. It would be good to know where one can find the actual $ contribution lists for Goleta but also for the SB City Council. Especially, the SB City Council. It would be helpful if someone would tally the contributions over the last several campaigns and make that info available for this upcoming race.

2/04/2007 9:40 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Simply go to the County or City Clerk -- depending on the race. You have to pay for copies as they are not set up to have the information online like a lot of jurisdictions but they are available.

2/04/2007 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smear campaigns aren't cheap!

2/04/2007 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Give away your water then complain the farm is dry said...

And guess which Goleta Council members give in for the sake of settling this lawsuit?

Bishop Ranch sues city
Sonia Fernandez, Voice Staff Writer

Bishop Ranch LLC, the company that has been pushing for the development of Bishop Ranch, has decided to sue the city of Goleta. The lawsuit, filed in early January, alleges that the city, in deciding to keep the ranch’s agricultural designation in the General Plan, effectively blocked the company’s proposal without giving it proper consideration or enough public input.

This case is one of several legal moves against the city by property owners and development advocates.

Bishop Ranch is the 287-acre swath of land that stretches from Highway 101 north into the foothills, but it’s the 265 acres that lie between the freeway and Cathedral Oaks Road that is of concern to the owners. The land has been unused for years, with its water rights sold off. To develop, the land has to be rezoned for residential use.

While backers of the ag designation, including members of the previous City Council and environmentalists concerned about new development, argued that the land’s nonproductivity did not imply that it should be rezoned, the owners and members of the business community have said that development on the ranch could better serve the city’s requirements for housing, which currently is planned along the Hollister corridor.

Members of the current City Council indicated that they were open to getting community input on what should happen with Bishop Ranch. For the moment, however, they are in talks with the developers, who have agreed not to proceed until March 15.

2/04/2007 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Looking for Logic in all the wrong places said...

Yep---yet for some reason, the twisted mind of Travis Armstrong ENDORSED these three, while condemning the measly amounts of developer dollars the 2nd District candidates took.

2/04/2007 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overcoming a smear campaign costs more than a smear campaign...

2/04/2007 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you lefties upset about what happened in Goleta? two of the 3 challengers are Democrats, including the top vote getter Michael Bennett.

2/04/2007 2:44 PM  
Anonymous Helo said...

Onnen's business is south of Goleta Old Town, near the News-Press production plant.

That area has been slated for intense development for years... naturally the News-Press never covers those development plans, because they stand to profit in real estate value and in ease of travel on the roads down there from the development. The push for developing southern Goleta Old Town dates at least from Gail Marshall's time as County Supe. People with good environmental reputations, like John Buttny and Dan Gira, supported the cementing of that area. The viewpoint that the area was environmentally extremely valuable... it is part of the original Goleta Slough... has been totally neglected by the South Coast environmental coalition.

So it is easy to predict that Southern Old Town will be developed first and fastest by the new Goleta majority, forever burying the last remnants of the eastern Goleta Slough. There is about $20 million of state road funds that could have been used elsewhere that is committed to this development... development at a discount provided by the taxpayer so developers can fatten their wallets.

BTW, Sara, you neglected some interesting small points reported by Schultz in the News-Press. Margaret Connell took $489 from Michael Towbes, and Jack Hawxhurst took $2500 from Pacifica Hotels.

And who knows what other questionable money came in... Schultz only published a fraction of the list. It is a huge scandal that these figures are not available on line in Santa Barbara County. Sure would be great if an enterprising blogger purchases the lists and then scans and posts them, with OCR so searching is possible.

2/04/2007 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara De la Guerra said...

Simply go to the County or City Clerk -- depending on the race. You have to pay for copies ...."

Thanks, Sara. It seems wrong to have to pay for what are public records! That really hits. At least, there should be a library copy! Or: I wonder if it is possible to view the copies in the office?

2/04/2007 5:13 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

5:13 pm -- You can look at copies in their would be great if County Clerk Joe Holland could start providing PDFs of the statements on the web....Ventura County does this already and it wouldn't be that much staff time with a scanner and PDF software.

2/04/2007 5:43 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de santa barbara said...

Sara's $300,000.00 or dd's 1,000,000.00 calculation both seem small. But I do come from the big city of Santa Barbara.

Welcome back (VOR) Voice of Rezon (e) with your various selfish complaints about anything "narrow." In this case it is your complaint about unions and their donations to Queen of the Cities, Santa Barbara and her elections.

As usual you don't mention the context of your complaints. Surely you must acknowledge that the unions, fire, police and the SIEU types are always in a catch up mode after years if not decades of the "Chambers" abusive involvement. That is what is occurring currently in Goleta the Goodland.

Keep in mind the Chamber will sell anything for profit, their mothers included. And while currently it appears that the unions are pulling the strings it is actually the "Chamber" that has its fingers on the handle of us greedy little puppeteers.

2/04/2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I actually don't see anything wrong with the Chamber's involvement per se -- they are interests within the city as are SEIU, the POA, etc.

In Goleta's case, the South Coast PAC is a veiled seperation for out-of-town developer interests. Goletans for Fiscal Responsibility is not so veiled. That doesn't sit well with me compared to a Goleta business in Old Town making a political contribution.

2/04/2007 11:34 PM  
Blogger Voice of Rezon(e) said...

Thanks Donaldo for the warm welcome. What I think is most funny about your comment is that I am somehow "selfish" and refuse to focus on something "narrow". What does that mean?

If you're referring to the fact that I point out people's partisan point of view on occasion I suppose I'm guilty.

You then proceed to state that the unions have somehow been mistreated in the past and how the Goleta Chamber will "sell anything for profit".

Well Donaldo, at least you wear your politics on your sleeve. Your perspective is caveman simple - BUSINESS BAD; UNIONS GOOD. It's nice to see that there are those of us out there unsophisticated enough to believe things are that simple and "narrow."

The reality is our community is woefully out of balance with regard to NIMBY-ism vs. development of much-needed workforce housing. Goleta's incumbents were the darlings of the HANA/PANA Gary Earle NIMBY crowd, which the community is sick of.

Nobody in our community (even the developers from what I've seen) is advocating unabated development, but we need some in order to house our workforce. I think even the unions would advocate for this, since many of their members work for companies that belong to the various chambers of commerce. I think they make the connection that good business = jobs.

2/05/2007 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Jimmy Hoffa said...

Aren't voters smart enough to know what it means when a candidate is supported by the Chamber of Commerce? It means they have pro-business sympathies. And so do most folks I would submit. Unless you are a government employee, or a former government employee living on a bloated government pension you have nothing to gain by voting for the candidate heavily supported by the public employee unions. In this day and age, a public employees union is a solution in search of a problem. If you are a candidate seeking office with the support of the public employees union, you are either a shill for their special interest and intending to mug taxpayers on their behalf, or, you are seeking absolute power and are willing to pay off the public employees to get that power and hold on to it. It's really just that simple and anyone who says otherwise is either a public employee, a public employee union boss or a know-nothing who someday hopes to someday become a public employee and eventually a public employees union boss.

Any questions?

2/05/2007 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 2 other facets worth thinking about in this discussion. First, it’s not astounding that so much money was spent to install a pro-growth, pro-Chamber of Commerce Council. What is astounding is how LITTLE was spent. When you look at the profit to be made by Veneco, Bacara, Bishop Ranch and others, you realize what a great “return on investment” their campaign contributions will bring. Millions will be made by their capitalizing on developments. The people who will really suffer are Goleta residents who will be stuck not only with the impacts, but will have to eventually suffer loss of services or new fees to pay for the developments the “investors” in the new council will bring.

The second point is that this will not be a problem for only Goleta. Someday all of us will be in a traffic jam at Milpas, or La Cumbre or some other apparently “distant” intersection, wondering where the accident is that is causing the tie up. Later we’ll discover that intersections at Los Carneros or Storke, already overburdened by the airport expansion, University of California at Santa Barbara (sic) and Camino Real Shopping Center, have become gridlocked by Bacara expansion, Bishop Ranch development of over 1,000 luxury homes and many more Chamber of Commerce pet projects. We'll discover that traffic jams in Goleta back up a long, long way.

Goleta is not an island unto itself and those outside the city, who did not support the previous council majority will regret the coming run away development in Goleta.

2/06/2007 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goleta the Good Land -
I came here as a young man 24 years ago. I grew up in the SFV near Warner Ranch (Topanga and Ventura Blvds)when it was still a beautiful open space. Now the area is a mosh pit where rush hour is nearly 24/7. My mother still lives there so I've watched the dramatic collapse into the asphault jungle with great sadness and a little smugness. I've always thought that it would never happen here but I just don't know anymore. I guess I should be content that we've managed to forstall our trip down this slippery slope for so long but I can feel it coming. Those who feel entitled to housing just don't seem to care that the reason this area is so enticing and attractive is what we have to give up to make room for them. As soon as they get what they want, It'll be gone. They might as well just move to SFV. I'm looking down the gun of 4 years of construction for 172 cheap, lowest bidder condo's just a stones throw from my home of 18 years now. The Univ could care less about the impact because some beaurocrat recruiter can't figure out how to do his job without giving away the farm. I'd gladly trade the Victoria Meadows development for what's gonna happen here in a heartbeat. You can't even see the stars at night anymore for all the light pollution from the Marketplace and soon the remaining wildlife and the butterfly habitat will be just a memory...but at least the out of town developers and their cheaply bought cronnies can put another notch in the bedpost and rechristen us Goleta - the Stepford Land. Excuse me, I think I'm gonna cry...

2/07/2007 1:10 AM  
Blogger The Observer said...

Well it shall be interesting to see if anyone actually pulls these public records and discloses them.

As far as public records goes, at least the SB City Council has initiated discussions on providing these online so that citizens can pull these records without having to go downtown and actually get a copy.

2/10/2007 4:13 PM  

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