Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Da Mayor's Letter to TKA

Craig Smith and I, among others, received a copy of the following letter from Da Mayor to Travis K. Armstrong. Craig has a cogent analysis of the letter and what it does and doesn't mean.

The Slugger -- who is sure to be the subject of a Sunday column reminding people that she said she never reads his editorials -- wrote a letter that is a must read item for anyone who cares about the future of journalism in Santa Barbara.

That's two "must reads" (and two links in one paragraph) this week on the News-Press Mess. Jerry Roberts on ethics -- which I saw on a screen of an ultra-Libertarian friend of mine earlier this afternoon -- and our Mayor on the "odd" and rather twisted logic as to why she can't speak on the News-Press radio station....

A true friend of ethics in the editorial room would print the Mayor's letter verbatim because he would know that this would engender respect among his readers. A true friend of ethics in the editorial room would print many other less accusatory letters in the interest of fairness and goodwill. Would you do what Travis does? Be truthful. On the "B" side, WWTKAD?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the Mayor be working on pressing local issues instead of crafting 700-word response letters and hand delivering them to a beleaguered paper commentator? Seems like a waste of time and tax-payer money to me.

Let it go Marty, get a haircut, and get back to the issues that affect santa barbara. You letter is as disgraceful and the original.

6/06/2007 9:53 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

With all due respect, you either haven't been paying attention or have an agenda for a future candidate -- this is a local, pressing issue and perhaps the most pressing.

It is also not the only thing she is working on -- is this council's election going to be worse for misdirection than the 2nd district race was? You can't be Mayor of this city without paying attention to what is happening and not happening at the DLG.

Santa Barbara is being mentioned all over the country for what is happening with the News-Press, to pretend issue fatigue is to not acknowledge that this has an impact on how our great city is viewed.

I'm not sure what your last line meant but the haircut line was both unoriginal and not necessary if you had an intelligent point to make. let your words stand for themselves (please see our guidlines)-- if your civil opinion holds traction, people will agree.

6/06/2007 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewsPress editorial policy of personal attack has put a deep chill on potential candidates for city council.

Their tactics have been counter-productive and we are now stuck with what we have for several more years because no one needs to expose themselve to this level of public pettiness.

I wish the NewsPress would re-think this strategy and bring back the nobility of public service. It is sorely missing. And they are to blame.

6/06/2007 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Valerio said...

I do not know why the Mayor had to stoop as low as the original source.

Just ignore the idiot and hopefully he finally will go away. Eventually he will, but that will take longer if he keeps getting fed this crap that only is fodder for more one-sided editorial criticisms.

6/06/2007 10:32 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Marty said, "I have no idea why you think it's O.K. to lie and treat the Mayor with such nastiness."

To this I say that Madame Mayor's comment is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Sorry, Marty, many of us have known you, both on and off camera. Much of what Travis says about your demeanor is accurate.

6/06/2007 10:59 PM  
Anonymous snarky said...

Ok, so now Dr. Laura column is lacking local content (except for a reference to a NP letter to the editor), and the brit column was all local...

6/07/2007 6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee Sara, a little touchy re: da mayor?

While I sympathize with the unrelenting attacks she has endured from TKA et al., it is troubling that she still invests energy or time into communicating with that man. It only provokes him more, and frankly, we in the community are sick of it.

Move on, move on, Marty.

6/07/2007 7:25 AM  
Anonymous John Vasi said...

Calling Armstrong a "beleaguered paper commentator" is like calling Bush a beleaguered war supporter. Not only did Armstrong start the problem, but he continues to aggravate it by selective commentary, distortions, and outright lies. And through his bully pulpit of his newspaper, he slurs the reputations of those who have the temerity to speak in their own defense.

It's the kind of behavior that, unfortunately, has become acceptable for politicians. If newspapers can't achieve a higher standard for objectivity and truth, they serve little purpose.

6/07/2007 7:38 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

What's most ridiculous about this is that the LA Times immediately posted McCraven's rebuttal on the "Blowback" section of its website.

Does anyone at the SBNP not see this as the height of irony that they enjoy the benefits of media outlets that allow dissenting points of view, while maintaining a total blackout on alternate opinions in their own sorry rag?

Serious blind spots, if not some kind of psychopathology abound on so many levels with those people. McCaw does not deserve to get her point of view published anywhere ever again until she changes HER policy.

6/07/2007 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Palewriter said...

To Anonymous 9:53:

You must be part of the silent ignorant majority who Wendy McCaw claims give her support via e-mails and phone calls about what a great newspaper the Santa Barbara News-Press has become.

Well, as Forrest Gump's mom said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

The mayor and any other citizen, including you, has a right to defend herself or himself when either mugged on the street by a vicious criminal or attacked in a newspaper by a mean-spirited, liar editorial page editor.

Travis Armstrong simply got spoonfed a taste of truth. How he must be grimacing, not being used to the flavor.

6/07/2007 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kind of agree with the first comment, minus the rants. Going down in the sewer and fighting it out with Travis: a) gives the paper WAY too much credit and b) muddies up the mayor in a very unflattering way.

If she does her job well, people will notice. I, for one, don't think minds are changed by TA's commentary, in fact, it may be the opposite. However, I too am bothered by the mayor spending time on petty personal battles. Where was this type of communication and determination when a youth was stabbed outside of Saks?

6/07/2007 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect, you either haven't been paying attention or have an agenda for a future candidate -- this is a local, pressing issue and perhaps the most pressing.

The most pressing? Hardly. I like how you threw out the "agenda" card. That's funny. Your entire response reeks of agenda.

is this council's election going to be worse for misdirection than the 2nd district race was?

What do you mean by that?

6/07/2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous boB said...

Anonymous on 6/06/2007 9:53 PM refers to......a beleaguered paper commentator?

Excuse me? Who is this "beleaguered paper commentator"? Oh yeah, that's "hostile man" who writes SBNP editorials.

Let's see, Sara's post went up at 7:56 pm and this was the first response at 9:53 pm?

Hmmmm! Someone wants to be first in line to put the spin on it.

Over the last number (not small) of days I have been struggling with how tragic this situation is for Santa Barbara. Just incredibly tragic.

I know this municipal tragedy pales in comparison to the personal tragedies and injustices that have been inflicted on so many decent people.

But nonetheless, Santa Barbara is a much much poorer place for having lost its major daily newspaper.

And that makes me wonder.......
.........Can't someone(s) step up and put this pathetic rag out of business?

I got the NewsPress advertising flier in the U.S. Mail yesterday. That must have cost a little bit and it certainly is obvious that this is something that is happening because the SBNP subscription count is getting so low that advertisers are getting nervous or asking for rate reductions.

Santa Barbara needs another newspaper that will (a) effectively dismember the remnants of the NewsPress, (b) provide advertisers a place to advertise knowing that their ads will be seen by the citizens, (c) provide the citizens a place to read, on a daily basis, local and national news that is reliable, up-to-date, and complete, and (d) provide all of those outstanding journalists ready to be part of such an enterprise a decent place to practice their profession again.

I'm not knocking those that have stepped up to the plate trying to fill the gap. I said it before, but it was late in a string of posts. If the Newsroom and the Sound got together, and had afternoon subscription home delivery after free morning distribution as the Sound does now, and they did it Mon-Sat at least, I would sign up to be one of the first carriers and I would do it for free using an old VW Bus once owned by an aging hippie.

I'm boB

6/07/2007 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to add some color to the whole NP story...

My daughter went for a summer job interview at a downtown clothes store a couple of days ago. When she walked in to the store, the owner was on the phone yelling at a NP rep to take her store's ad out of the paper because she no longer wanted to be "associated with" the NP. Seems like the NP is so desperate to fill up space that it just ignores people who want to remove them, even though they've paid for them!

6/07/2007 4:54 PM  
Anonymous emily said...

This letter penned by the mayor of Santa Barbara is an embarassment in so many ways that go far beyond her lack of writing talent or sophisticated expression. Her obsession with the notion of being a powerful woman is so sad; truly powerful women never mention it. Many fine, well-meaning citizens (including myself) have been on the receiving end of Ms. Blum's petty meanness; one would hope she would eventually learn something about how to treat others after feeling stung herself. I agree with her in one way: Santa Barbara deserves better--on both ends of De La Guerra Plaza.

6/07/2007 7:21 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

Anonymous at
6/06/2007 10:22 PM
said: "NewsPress editorial policy of personal attack has put a deep chill on potential candidates for city council."

What a Crock o...

Someone is taking one too many bong hits to think that the pathetic and desperate vitriol from Storke Castle is scaring away new City Council candidates.

It is all about money needed to run a competitive campaing and the entrencment of the incumbents. No one gives a toke about Travisty

6/07/2007 8:52 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Well I do see why Mayor Blum would want to take the energy to respond...It could be therapeutic. I do not think TKA is fair in his editorials. But I do think that Mayor Blum does at time come off as passive-agressive. Perhaps it is just due to misunderstandings. Overall I'd rate the Mayor, council, city staff and city policies as pretty good.

The city's goals, from restoring creeks, energy and "sustainability" goals, the promoting the arts, the arts, the recreational activities, affordable housing, great old neighborhoods and great new neighborhoods and the difficult attempt to get people to slow down in their neighborhods, are all right on.

I do beleive though that many competeing interest derail the city's goals including the Chamber of Commerce and its rhetoric in fighting regulations and enforcements. I do not like unfair regulations but the chamber doesn't even have the common sense to eliminate carshows altogehter let alone move it off of the conflicting "Earth Day." The Chamber is also always promoting too much parking while converting original neighborhood streets into high speed traffic carriers to their mega church like parking garages.

Also the "Bar" community if you will, is just plain incompatible anywhere in our city and I wish the city would highly regulate and enforce the bars to keep their activities to their own square footage rather than impose on their neighbors with their really bad behavior.

Again, I have a lot of respect for Mayor Blum as well as the other councilmembers. I view the often hypocritical masses speaking with a closed minded and self-center demeanor at the podium on various issues of the day.

The personal references about getting a hair cut is an indication of agressive-agressive behavior and I would prefer the passive aggressive behavior because at least I can challenge the behavior. Aggressive behavior makes me not want to respond for fear of personal safety.

Anyway the joke of the day is ....doesn't Mayor Blum look like the Dutch Boy image on the paint can label?

6/07/2007 9:46 PM  
Blogger John Quimby said...

Hate to interrrupt with real news but has anyone noticed that there is a fire up on Camino Cielo toight?

Since we can't expect local radio to have any news and some foks don't subscribe to cable has anyone got any news about this fire?

As dry and windy as it has been, this could be a serious situation by morning.

Anyone care to report?

6/07/2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger John Quimby said...

From my home on North La Cumbre, just below Fooethill Rd. I can see multiple emergency vehicles on station in a line at the top of the ridge and more red lights coming in. I can also see a helicopter flying in a circular pattern over the ridge at Camino Cielo.

Anybody know what the story is?
Let's go Sarah, this is live news.

6/07/2007 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether or not you believe the mayor is passive-aggressive and petty, or responsive and effective, she is the duly-elected mayor of Santa Barbara, and should be able to have a letter published in the city's main daily newspaper.

N-P readers who do not know what has been going on (because they don't have computers or don't read the Independent/Daily Sound) may believe she doesn't care enough to respond to TKA's editorial.

6/08/2007 8:43 AM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

I think it says something that someone made sure two popular SB blogists got copies of the letter.

6/08/2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

You should really look at Armstrong's petty rant / rebuttal to Marty Blum's letter in today's SBNP (no, I don't buy it... it's available at my workplace).

Unbelievable! That guy's warped view of reality and his level of hypocrisy are unmatched.

Noteworthy lines:
"For the record, these pages do not publish submissions if the writer first threatens to have it published elsewhere. We don't cave to coercion, even when it comes from the mayor's office."

"We also don't knowingly publish falsehoods or lies."

"Mrs. Blum's latest transgression involves sending out yet another missive that attacks me personally. It comes just a short time after she sat smirking at me, and make me feel really weird, when I attended a recent public hearing in the council chambers. Perhaps I should feel honored that the mayor of our town apparently has fixated on me for the last four years."

- Who is attacking WHOM personally?
- Mayor Marty can't make you FEEL anything, Travis... that's in your own head. But you ARE weird!!!! 9 out of 10 Santa Barbaran's would probably agree on that!
- Who has been fixated on WHOM for years?

What an alternate universe these people live in!

6/08/2007 10:11 AM  
Anonymous palewriter said...

First, a quiz for everyone. :)

Guess who the most famous person with passive-aggressive behavior was. Here is his description, per Wikipedia (find the answer below):

"Devoted his life to gaining independence for India through a policy of non-violence and religious integration. He launched an anti-British civil disobedience campaign. He was assassinated by Hindu extremists in 1948, a year after India gained independence."

Second, the American Psychiatric Association, per a November 2004 article in the New York Times, "dropped passive-aggressive behavior from its list of personality disorders."

[The reporter, Benedict Carey, gives this example of activity labeled "passive-aggressive": a husband, as soon as a disagreement began between him and his wife, "would say simply, 'O.K., you're right' " and read the newspaper.]

Psychiatrists don't understand it, according to the Times article. The reason the association dropped the term is that "passive-aggressive" behavior "is hard to study precisely because it is so covert, common and widely variable."

They don't understand why a person can act as though he's giving in when he really isn't, and they don't know what makes being "passive-aggressive" hurtful or not hurtful.


This raises the questions:

1) Was Travis Armstrong likening Mayor Marty Blum to Mahatma Gandhi?

2) If he thought Blum was passive-aggressive, would she not have just read his editorial, said "OK, you're right," and continued reading her newspaper rather than responding with a letter to the editor?

3) And, since psychiatrists concede not even they understand passive-aggressive behavior, and they no longer list it as a personality disorder, how was Travis able to diagnose that trait in Mayor Blum?

Anybody have any answers? Any therapists reading, or even Dr. Laura?

6/08/2007 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I tried to preview my comment on this topic, but couldn't do it. I don't know if my comments went through to you. I used the "other" option for signing in--under my name, John Vasi. The comments I sent were just a few minutes ago--about 11:45. You may have received multiple copies or you may have received none.

I don't know what happened.

John Vasi

6/08/2007 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FirstDistrictStreetFighter: the NewsPress chill on public service is not about running for office - the NewsPress has repeatedly shown they are ineffectual non-players in that activity.

It is a chill on the desire to devote your time and your life to public and be picked to shreds by the pettiness of their constant barrage of mean-spirited and content lacking attacks.

No one needs or wants that for $30,000 a year. One runs to serve, not to expose their life to the unending barrage of unwarranted personal invective and and vindictiveness from the local newspaper.

The NewsPress has not yet such to total irrelvancy, but they are close. They are preaching to a smaller and smaller choir.

Thank you Independent, Santa Barbara Newsroom and Daily Sound for keeping us locals informed about things local.

NewsPress - you could be using your bully pulpit for real change in how the city does its business -- which on many levels is not good.

Stop the petty attacks and start dealing with how the city delivers services to its constituents -- and not just freebies to special interest groups.

Be a paper for civic reform and be the investigative Fourth Estate upon with democracy depends.

You have failed us with your petty and tiresome personal attacks that stir up smokescreens but don't even deal with the fires glowing and growing beneath.

Lead the way for civic betterment. Stop harassing people who have chosen to serve. Show them the way because you are right -- they have lost their way and all you are doing is creating sympathy for them while they lick your wounds. And nothing gets done of substance.

Thanks alot NewsPress - you are blowing your advantage as leading media spokesperson here that should be where you choose to spend your time.

You are the journalistic equivalent of a Paris Hilton paparazzi now. Shape up.

6/08/2007 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as Travis and Marty go, its Big Silly and Little Silly. Who really cares what either of these two clowns think? It is a measure of how far community dialogue has fallen in the wake of the death of the News Press that this string exists.

6/08/2007 12:54 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

More regarding "We don't cave to coercion, even when it comes from the mayor's office."

I guess they just cave to coercion by celebrities like Rob Lowe complaining about the address of his property being published, after it was widely publicized in televised public meetings.

Travis's arguments really have more holes than the municipal golf course.

6/08/2007 1:30 PM  
Anonymous John Vasi said...

Here's a real question for the Emily's, Bill Carson's, and anonymouses that have written above to either support Armsrtrong or criticize Blum. Is it your dislike for Blum's politics or personality that makes you feel that Armstrong can write anything he wishes about her without letting her respond? Or do you think that the type of journalism exhibited in the News Press is legitimate and acceptable?

And just to broaden the question to remove Blum from the equation: Would you agree that the News Press's treatment of Susan Rose, Gail Marshall, Pedro Nava, Brian Barnwell, Jerry Roberts, etc. has been what you find to be acceptable journalistic practice?

I'm really curious, and I'm sure a lot of others are as well.

6/08/2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

"It is a measure of how far community dialogue has fallen in the wake of the death of the News Press that this string exists."

Dear Anonymous: If you don't want to contribute to this discussion, DON'T read it, and don't contribute! Sorry, but I really resent comments like this -- it's not as if I find "THIS STRING" to be the most important thing going on in my life or my world today. I could comment on any number of local, national, or world issues in addition to this. Newsflash: most people aren't obsessed with just one single issue. It's like someone saying, "Doesn't Blum have better things to spend her time on...?". Guess what?! She can spend her time on this AND more important things. We can comment on this drivel AND also be concerned about more important things (AND have a life, to boot!).

Your zinger comment, anonymous, is like saying, "You're a shallow person because you spent 5 minutes this afternoon deciding what to have for lunch, and whether you wanted fries with that, instead of devoting all your precious brainpower to devising a way to eliminate world hunger." As others would say, your argument is a typical straw man.

"Who really cares what either of these two clowns think?" Well, if you live in SB, you SHOULD care what the Mayor thinks and does!

What the heck point are you trying to make???? Please crawl back in your hole. Or start your own blog where you can pontificate on issues that you think ARE sufficiently important.

6/08/2007 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

I have already said (and on several occasions!), what I think of Travis Armstrong's approach to his newspaper efforts in relation to the community.

So I will say a word about Marty. Santa Barbara has been very lucky with its Mayors for the last few decades.

Marty has experience as a city planning commissioner and thus knows the ins and outs of this important function. She can understand staff reports and where they are weak and strong.

She is very approachable and I have always found her open-minded. On a particular issue that might come up, she will tell you what her problem is with the politics of that issue. Which is to say that she might be FOR what your saying, but tells you in her terms "it ain't goin' happen."

Like the last four mayors before her, she works very hard. Hey, she walks those streets, cuts those ribbons, and goes to the downtown market to chat. All those events!! There is a tradition now where the majors play a role at the National League of Cities, and in this she has done well. It is a time consuming job.

Personally, I wish she would be stronger with respect to the restoration of the Plaza and the historic Paseos and pathways downtown. I don't think she has any whacko pet issues that drive me crazy. She wants to do the right thing for the community--that seems clear.

Personally, I totally hate her position on the war and all her involvement in it. I prefer a city council and mayor who don't take positions on such things because our city is supposed to be non-partisan and not based on party politics. And what does it say to our own soldiers who volunteer to fight our wars when the Mayor and Council take positions against it? And what does it say to soldiers when they return? (Just a soldier's Dad writing here).

I think "Arlington West" should pay a beach use tax.

So in sum, Marty Blum doesn't deserve all the crap that Travis serves up. I don't know exactly what his problem is with her, but clearly it suggests that Travis has personal psychological difficulties with her. You know: oil and water, that kind of thing. What Travis reports in his column is never the facts that move issues along in different pathways. His influence is zilch.

Love that clever posting of palewriter!

6/08/2007 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or do you think that the type of journalism exhibited in the News Press is legitimate and acceptable?

Yeah, I think the editorials are legitimate and acceptable and I appreciate what Travis has done for the community. Call me one of the 1 in 10.

I also think that this blog is designed to a single agenda-driven purpose.

I also think that Sara was falsely accusing Travis of sexism, and the only reason that she pulled back on that was because people on this blog called her out on it.

6/08/2007 4:34 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

4:34 pm -- you are totally welcome to be one of the 1 in 10 and you have a voice here -- even if it is critical of me. Sexism is pretty subjective...but is what I often see in TKA.

For instance, a few months ago TKA described the Mayor as a cheerleader with pom-poms bouncing up and down and went into even further hgih school-like detail. Do you think he would evoke that kind of bouncy image of a male? Perhaps you know him better than I and are sure he would...but I wonder.

6/09/2007 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Here's one example of how Marty is putting us on the map at the National League of Cities: I have read about Santa Barbara's efforts in environmental reform while in Europe. The subject was our effort to hold to Kyoto standards. This initiative (first proposed by Seattle, I believe) involves working together with other cities to actualize our environmental responsibilities while Washington dawdles. Marty was quoted in Le Monde.

6/09/2007 6:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mayor and the Opinion Editor have become obsessive and thin-skinned about each other. For the good of the community, they each need to move on and use their respective public platforms for something more constructive for the rest of us.

6/09/2007 6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hordes of homeless pee, defecate and litter our creeks and beaches and armies of RV homeless run their noisy and noxious generators on our streets all day and night.

Tell me again what Marty is doing for our environment? She needs to stay home and fix Santa Barbara and stop going to out of town conferences.

6/09/2007 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sexism is pretty subjective...but is what I often see in TKA.

Right about the subjective part, that's why you use it.

For instance, a few months ago TKA described the Mayor as a cheerleader with pom-poms bouncing up and down and went into even further hgih school-like detail. Do you think he would evoke that kind of bouncy image of a male? Perhaps you know him better than I and are sure he would...but I wonder.

I don't wonder. Would you feel better if he used a male cheerleader analogy? Weak.

6/09/2007 8:51 AM  
Anonymous boB said...

Long before last years hemorrhage of the News Press Editors and reporters began, I wrote a letter to the city council members about my great angst at what I was seeing in SBNP editorials. One council member responded and I appreciated that.

Long before the News Press began to disintegrate, the pattern of attacks on powerful female politicians had been established as a News Press modus operandi. I also saw one other interesting correlation that I won’t specify in this blog.

A number of months ago, after all of this disintegration was in progress, a female person close to me, on reading a TKA editorial or column (I can't remember), said something like “OMG that is just so much like the kind of behavior one would expect out of petty immature girls”.

I wish that I could tell you how stereotypical all of this is. How often I have seen this type of TKA behavior displayed by real people (BTW NOT alcoholics NOR immature girls) who need to "get" those who are persecuting them. But alas, I can't, because then I would certainly not be able to get this comment posted and may not even now.

I'm boB

6/09/2007 4:12 PM  
Anonymous palewriter said...

I think Don Jose de la guerra y noriega expresses himself very intelligently, and I appreciate that he enjoyed my earlier posting.

And Sara, keep up the great work with your blog. I love reading what people really think. It's like an ongoing encounter group where everybody expresses themselves freely. :)

6/10/2007 8:58 AM  

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