Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, September 30, 2007

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: Giddens Gaffs and Barnwell Bravado

As bemoaned last week, the Santa Barbara City Council election still has been BOOOORRR-IIIINNGG this past week. Voting starts only a week from now, as soon as the absentee ballots are mailed out on October 8. Still, some sample gleanings are offered here about a glimmer of election activities.

So far, no candidates have done much even close to spectacular for an election that some argue needs to be held separately during an off-year, odd-year election cycle so the candidates will get all the attention they deserve. The electorate is paying attention, but the candidates are not doing anything. The only lawn signs seen are a slight few scattered around, but only because Helene Schneider had some extras from her original campaign four years ago.

Giddens Gaffs

Michelle Giddens reportedly has signs in her own La Mesa neighborhood, but some casual cruising around there yesterday found none, especially along the arterial roads of Cliff Drive and Shoreline Drive. Maybe the frequent, easily found yellow signs of the same size were hers, the signs from the city about a Notice of Proposed Development?

Giddens has a web site, but it has no title via The Google search and it is hit number 30 or so down the page of results on that search. The adjacent search hit is a March 2006 news article from Riverside about how the alleged healthy air machines Giddens sells produce ozone that actually is a health hazard, despite what Laura Schlessinger says in a commercial endorsement of the ozone producers. A big article in LA Times came out on September 28, about how state regulators have banned these ozone making devices. With this blow to her business, maybe she will have to “remodel” her house with a couple more bedrooms to make room for some rent-paying boarders who, of course, will put their single-occupancy cars only in her garage.

Barnwell Bravado

Perhaps as an equal-opportunity complement to the earlier fumble Play of the Week about the Hotchkiss Chutzpah, City Council incumbent Brian Barnwell (or at least his supporters) is throwing a big party at Eos Lounge early tomorrow night, Monday, October 1.

Although I am sure that Barnwell or his hired help will accept all the donations anyone wants to pass along then, kudos to them for not asking for money specifically in the party announcement, unlike most if not all other political party invitations. This party hosting generosity seems to be a donation from Film Festival Czar Roger Durling, who seems to be fiscally flush considering all the hair color and gel he buys and uses.

Where is the Bravado? Here is the plug in the Evite party invitation for the soiree at Eos Lounge, sent to at least 430 email recipients and even more through email forwarding:

“Roger Durling and friends are hosting a re-election campaign soiree for Santa Barbara City Councilman Brian Barnwell. A voice of reason, an advocate for the arts, a protector of neighborhoods, Barnwell has the vision and experience we need on our City Council.”

Any bravado there on any of these claims?

In case anyone is wondering about Eos Lounge, this is the latest in the seemingly annual incarnation of drinking establishments at 500 Anacapa Street, northeast corner of Haley Street. This Citizen Stringer is holding a contest for the Gentle Readers who can inform most completely about the history of establishments at this fabled downtown address. Send the dates (to the nearest year if not months), name of the establishment, and other relevant notes about the history there to my clever email address at

Do not bother with complaints or whines there at that email, as I get plenty as comments entered to these Blogabarbara postings. I am not even going to check the email until a week passes, and then announce the winner as a footnote to the Play next time.

Giddens gaffs in the ozone and Barnwell boasting bravado will have to suffice as the Political Plays of the Week.

Some candidate, please, do something significant for next week, will ya?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen Gidden's lawn signs on the Mesa. They look good. Eveyone I talk to is angry about what has been happening to this city lately. It is a Throw the Incumbents Out type of election.

Maybe they don't know what they will be getting but they know they don't want more of the same. Issues, not individual personalities are the winners this time and the status quo is no longer acceptable.

There are lots of core groups, many of them invested in city planning issues that are not supporting a single incumbent. I think you maybe need to get out more.

9/30/2007 11:40 PM  
Anonymous one of the 430 email recipients said...

The Evite for the Barnwell party lists the email username and any comment entered for the yes, maybe, or no reply to the invitation.

Here are some amusing examples from the "no" replies.

No thank you. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I think I'll pass.

(no comment entered, just the name)

Roger, Thanks for the invitation. Regrettably I will be out of town on the 1st. I have already endorsed Brian and am supporting him. Have a great party Salud

10/01/2007 12:56 AM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Despite all the grumblings out there perhaps the status quo is not discontented afterall.

I thought that the recent pay increase that the city council position recently received was supposed to induce a plethora of candidates to choose from. Not only is the number rather limited but given the current choices I'll be voting for incumbents.

Measures A will also be an unproven yet good attempt for getting more constituent involvement. Perhaps a way to get more fresh faces up on the dais is to resort to or alternate to district elections.

10/01/2007 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece, CS!

zzzzzz on the campaign, but Giddens's endorsements are interesting: along with an extended Giddens clan, are Lanny Ebenstein, Timothy Harding - where's Dorothy Fox?, realtor Toby Bradley and other McMansion supporters, along with architect Gil Barry.

Hmmm, looks like this is a campaign against the recently enacted Neighborhood Protection Ordinance?

10/01/2007 7:46 AM  
Blogger Citizen Stringer said...

NO Giddens signs seen last weekend, when I was cruising Lower La Mesa neighborhood and personally contributed enough carbon into the atmosphere to melt the Greenland Ice Sheets a few nanometers in thickness.

Per this first Anonymous spin comment here, just who or what are these invested "lots of core groups" and why are they so secretive? For that kind of vague and ghost-constituency writing long on threats and short on facts, we already can read the News-Press-Less-Mess-Suppress.

10/01/2007 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barnwell a protector of neighborhoods? Which one? There really ought to be a requirement for truth in sloganeering here. Talk about bravado!

10/01/2007 11:02 AM  
Anonymous justanotherdeveloper said...

city council *yawn* I'll buy them off when I need zoning approval and throw a solar panel in so they can point to it for the progressive crowd.

10/01/2007 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few weeks on local TV I saw the city council members on the Ordinance Committee totally blew off the (1) League of Women Voters, (2) Allied Neighborhood Organization and (3) Cituzen Planning Association reps who asked the city to slow down their zoning ordinance revision plans.

I hate to see any of these groups get ignored because they do their homework, but all three at once at that hearing was pretty hard to take. Trumped by city staff.

10/01/2007 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) League of Women Voters, (2) Allied Neighborhood Organization and (3) Citizen Planning Association all need to get with the times. We have a progressive Council and these groups need to move into the 21st Century!

10/01/2007 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

I am, as you know, a defender of the talents of the City Staff. 'Toujours fidele.' Santa Barbara: you don't know how lucky you are to have them, and they are a very dedicated and talented bunch!

The process in Santa Barbara is like seeking unanimous decisions in the United Nations Security Council. Somebody always appears to excercise or threaten their veto.

As I have already written, moving a rock in Santa Barbara is complicated business. As soon as you announce you want to remove it, a constituency forms to insist you leave it in place, and another constituency demands you move it left, another right. And along comes CPA to ask you about the nefarious effect on the viewshed. Wendy gets upset about bias and Travis, corruption. This goes on for about two years on any question. The music goes on and on.

Some people believe government inertia is disgusting, other can't stand the activism. I pity the Council, but then, most of them deserve their plight.

I thought this salary thing for councilmembers was going to guarantee good new people and open the way to a policy of careers open to talent. Isn't that what Barney said? Was that the new City policy? What happened?

I like Brian Barnwell's support for certain institutions that evoke Santa Barbara History and note that so does our financially responsible Roger Horton and maybe even our Mayor sometimes displays some knowledge about planning and preservation. I miss the conservatism and cantankerous Dr. Dan. The newbies are too predictable and cliche ridden. Das Williams is certainly outgoing about how wonderful he is, and both of them march loyally to the tune of their consituencies. But then that's politics isn't it?

10/01/2007 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add to that at last week's ABR meeting, an angry architect who is accustomed to getting his way, was politely asked by an ABR commissioner to stop interrupting and stop being difficult. He responded by heatedly going on about his legacy and the need for the ABR to disregard the public's comments about his project. Those mere citizens who ask questions, demand accountability and do their homework are increasingly shouted down and intimidated for what they know. By staff, Council and now frustrated architects who don't want thse pesky citizens involved anymore.

10/01/2007 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: You used to have a progressive city council. But they mugged too many liberals and they will soon be history.

10/01/2007 10:28 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

If Barnwell is claiming to be a "protector of neighborhoods" then he is a bald-faced liar.

10/01/2007 10:36 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

bill, bill, bill -- always pushing the envelope :)

...please remember that your definition might be different than others. He really leaves it for you to decide at the ballot box though doesn't he?

10/01/2007 11:12 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Giddens has "Proven ledership (sic) positions" on a hopelessly weak biography that has just a few bullet points rather than something of substance. A website in frames, BTW, does nothing for Google....what by the way is the CityWide Homeowners (is there no space because it is a modern company or to distinguish itself from Citywide????)

10/01/2007 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Anonymous 10:15 PM:

Somebody said: "The Public Sir, is a great beast." I don't know but sometimes I agree with that.

10/02/2007 7:09 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

Are the same people who blast the current council for "monstrosities" in the downtown core also in favor of allowing more multi-story McMansions on the Mesa, San Roque, etc.?

10/02/2007 9:27 AM  
Anonymous citywatcher said...

Interesting question about "CityWide", Sara. What is its membership? They claim more than 1,000 members. Is it a 501(c)(3)? How does one become a member? If it is city-wide, it should be open to all, no? Riviera residents can belong to the Riviera association; I live in the city, can I belong to CityWide? Giddens has made a big point about living in Marine Terrace - does she also belong to the Marine Terrace association? Is CityWide part of the Allied Neighborhoods Association that Jim Kahan chaired?

When are the meetings? ...I care about my city neighborhood, can I attend? Who decides on the policies - and what are the policies?


10/02/2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Das has made a mess of things again. They all will win. A will fail.

And we are stuck with the same mess.

Where is Secord?

10/02/2007 9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barnwell is no better for neighborhoods than Giddens is. He has not distinguished himself in any way on council, and has some nerve even asking for votes for four more years of headscratching and pandering to the developers who fund his campaign. Nice that he likes the Film Festival, though.

10/03/2007 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to bump into Michelle Giddens the other day. She is worth bumping into. I have spoken with two other candidates that did not impress me. But, Giddens was able to buy my vote by expressing her concerns. She really has a dynamic understanding of the issues that I was concerned about such as, housing development. Her mentality puts her above the competition. I now very much support her in winning this coming election.

10/09/2007 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

then why does she read her answers at the forums? or say ..."i need to study that more..."

10/20/2007 1:32 PM  

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