Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ban the Bias? Another Travistorial Hypocrisy...

News-Press Editorial Page Editor Travis K. Armstrong yet again displayed a propensity to speak out of both sides of his mouth when he took on Council Member Helene Schneider for not going on his radio show in today's editorial.

I invited her and the other incumbents to spend an hour chatting with me on AM 1290.

On my second try, I got this reply:

"Travis -- I am sorry to say that I will not appear on AM 1290 with you at this time. While I would like to communicate with your listeners, I cannot trust that an interview (or its subsequent reporting in the News-Press) would be fair and unbiased. I do intend to send you a written answer to your recent question, by Monday's deadline, for the News-Press Voices section. I was happy to respond in this way to your last question a few weeks ago. I'm also willing to respond (as I have been in the past) to News-Press reporters when they write stories on city-related issues. Helene."

This disappointed me. I told Ms. Schneider that I thought she would have managed to come up with a more convincing excuse for not coming on the radio than this one.

Ms. Schneider chickened out and gave up an opportunity to speak directly to you on the radio.

It used to be that the Editorial Page Editor of the News-Press would never play a game of chicken with a Council Member or even mention conspiracies he couldn't prove. He shows such little respect for the office that I wonder how he thinks he isn't showing bias. Finally, he used this trick a few years ago with Mayor Blum -- playing the radio station versus the paper -- does he think we don't remember?

He went on to malign her about a planning issue he understands little about, calling it Helene-gate, makes a common campaign practice criminal and even takes a few shots at Brian Barnwell while he was at it.

Whether relevant or not to the campaign or Helene's term in office, TKA's approach and attitude show his bias in spades. He takes a few possibly relevant points and questions -- failing to do his homework and ask Helene herself for answers -- and then acts as if he speaks from authority. How hard could it be to simply ask her, Barnwell or her campaign manager for answers to the questions he asks?

My Momma always said -- bias is as bias does.

Labels: ,

Monday, October 29, 2007

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: Political Play Potpourri and the FPPC

Quite a few items are in the Political Play this week, a potpourri that hopefully is not too stinky for the Santa Barbara City election in 8 days.
(FPPC = California Fair Political Practices Commission).

Michelle Giddens
is not displaying her legally required FPPC number (1301067) on her election materials, including the mailings, signs, radio ads, and web site. Her “paid for by” closing voice in her radio ads sounds suspiciously like the voice of “News-Press TV.”

Frank Flamethrower Hotchkiss continues not to have a web site, but his outrageous antics get plenty of coverage elsewhere, as evident when his name combined with this city name is the top hit via a Google search. His FPPC number (1300762) does not seem to appear on his advertising or other election materials. He does, though, have a Union Bug on his printed signs, but will that be common sense for his 953 supporters?

Dale Francisco does not have an FPPC number that can be found, and none appears at his web site or on other advertising materials. He does have a low-budget TV ad that just started and continues with his theme of Vote For Me Because I Am Not Them And That Is All You Need To Know. All the candidates except Francisco finally have an entry of their campaign messages at the Smart Voter web site run by the League of Women Voters. Francisco also is missing from the interviews by Noozhawk and ...wait for it... Casa Magazine, the junk mail shill for real estate ads. UPDATE: Francisco has an FPPC number (1300906) but it still is not displayed in his advertising; Litten and Hansen also did not respond to the interview by Noozhawk.

Dan Litten, a physician who should know something about cranial fragility, does not wear a bicycle helmet when he rides around town meeting videographers. Maybe the open ears helps him hear illegal gasoline powered blowers from farther away?

Bob Hansen drinks Bud Light in the public park and gets his medicinal marijuana from Nature’s Path. Because Hansen and Litten are not raising more than $1000 for their campaigns, they were dissed by the Lodging and Restaurant Association by not being invited to that group's forum last Wednesday. Too bad, as Hansen usually knows more about city happenings and policy issues than the trio endorsed by the News-Press-Mess-Less-Suppress-Depress.

Das Williams has several FPPC numbers, but his ad on page 7 of the latest Shape of Voice newspaper (issue #5) does not include the number. (Yes, one of his FPPC numbers and its associated committee was terminated.) He also accepted an endorsement from an anonymous blog, second-tier or not.

Helene Schneider is using her campaign signs from her original election four years ago, but they will not be any good for next time in 2010. Or, she is trying to convey that she is up for election, not reelection, for the first time this year.

Brian Barnwell has an FPPC number (1256037) but his web site ( is a registry placeholder and has no content since it was created on September 4.

In Barnwell bonus news, the Independent reported this in a web edition article last Friday:

Barnwell’s relations with the News-Press have grown so sour that it’s tainted his relationships with other elected officials. For example, Barnwell put fellow councilmember Iya Falcone, as well county supervisor Salud Carbajal, on notice that if they maintained any kind of communications with News-Press editorial page editor Travis Armstrong, he and they were through.

If true, and it must be if it was published in an Independent news article by Nick Welsh, then that Barnwell Hardball is the Political Play of the Season. To mix up some sports metaphors:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mutilated Dog Found at DPHS

The Santa Barbara Daily Sound reported that a mutilated, frozen and partially burned dog was found on the Dos Pueblos High campus. I hope the authorities get to the bottom of this and prosecute whoever did this...apparently, it coincided with a big football game and a rash of graffiti found at the school. Whether there is a connection or not -- is anyone's guess.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Community Notice: Be the Peace You Want to See

Join in a “Not protest as usual,”Rally & Walk for peace with cities around the world to end the war, and prevent a new war. On Saturday, Oct. 27, at 11:30 a.m., come to Vera Cruz Park across from Farmer’s Market (130 E. Cota ) for sign-making & a short rally at Noon with speakers and musicians. (Most relevant peace costume award is at noon!) Peace-makers will walk through downtown in small groups-- singing, performing, and sharing their perspectives. Sponsored by the People’s Coalition of Santa Barbara, concerned individuals and local organizations. Join this pre-Halloween costume “protest” on State St. -- Contact: Marcelino Sepulveda 403-3439

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

At least this time, the News-Mess tells you where the poll came from

In the latest (i.e., daily) editorial taking a position against whatever the Santa Barbara City Council is doing or what he imagines or hopes the Council is doing, on Wednesday (October 24) News-Press-Mess-Less-Suppress-Depress editorialist Travis Armstrong melds both a lack of ethics and statistics and shows again why he has earned a more familiar name to Blogabarbara readers: Travis Factswrong.

The editorial refers to a poll that is supposedly conclusive evidence that the City Council is out of touch, destroying our way of life, yada yada yada. But this time a magical poll cited in the editorial actually has a source identified: Allied Neighborhoods Association.

Through some oh-so-clever research on the Internets, you Gentle Readers (and even the hostile ones) can find the original report about this “poll” at the web pages of this neighborhood association. Their web site includes a report all full of narrative and bar graphs and even includes a link to a spreadsheet file (Survey Database) of the original data from the whopping 122 responses, 86% from people age 50 or older, and 93% of whom are homeowners and 7% renters.

In the editorial, here is what Travis-baby wrote: “But the latest evidence that the council and city administration have priorities different from Santa Barbarans comes in a questionnaire circulated by Allied Neighborhoods Association. The survey found that residents ranked housing… He then goes on about how the City Council is evil blah blah blah.

Never to let facts or the validity of statistical inference and stratified sampling significance get in his way, the editorial conveniently ignores this major caveat in the whole poll and its analysis: it don’t mean nothing except what those specific 122 respondents wrote onto the questionnaires. Questionnaires are not always polls or certainly not real surveys.

The report by Allied Neighborhoods Association on page 2 honestly and correctly includes this big qualifier about what their poll means:

“Of course the significance of the results of a public survey is dependent upon the quality of the sample. We do not suggest that our sample represents a true cross-section of the community – we simply did not have the resources to attain anything approaching that level of distribution. We distributed these questionnaires, both in paper form and electronically (allowing respondents to e-mail responses), to our neighborhood associations, with the request that it be passed on to as many residents –members or otherwise– as possible. We make no claim that our sample of responses depicts an accurate profile of the City’s resident population. As you will note in the following analysis, the respondents were predominantly older homeowners.”

The short answer to all this: This questionnaire returned by 122 residents is not a poll or survey as the headline of the editorial calls it (“City Survey Shows…”). In the context of the editorial, this alleged survey is, ahem, biased, in what it represents and concludes because it is not a simple random, representative sample of the Santa Barbara population, as its own authors and analysts readily admit.

But in Wendy World and Travis Town, bias and significance are what they say and write they are. Except when the Neighborhood Association posts the report and the data at its web site.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Community Postings and Reporting on Crime -- Where Do We Draw the Blue Line?

Mayor Marty Blum commented on BlogaBarbara yesterday and it caused me to think, stop and consider most of the day. She brought up a good point in that she doesn't think "anonymous postings speculating about crime are good for the community. People have vivid imaginations and to play to their fears is wrong. Let's all have the facts, then talk."

While I don't think the blogging community really thinks that there is a conspiracy in city government to suppress information, I'm not sure the City of SB is structurally set up to provide all of the related information freely unless they are asked -- especially if it is not in the Police Department's or the case's best interest. I can understand that investigations require discretion and the Police Department needs some room to find out what happened in the second Spearmint Rhino incident in a little over a year -- but I can't help but think that Dawn Hobbs would have written about this on the 14th or 15th of this month.

Why wouldn't the SBPD downplay something they don't have a lot of information on which involves a prior crime scene? A proactive reporter is more likely to get this information than a reactive Public Information Officer giving it. No judgment here -- each would be doing their job which is why I see the Mayor's point of view and consider it very valid.

The fact is that we don't have someone like Dawn sitting by her police scanner, ready to report what happened as she saw and heard it. When you are a temp that can't leave De la Guerra Plaza, this kind of creativity and commitment to the news isn't going to happen. When you are part of any other news organizations in Santa Barbara with limited resources -- how are you going to cover something like this?

What we have seen with the Ralph's Ralph incident and perhaps now with this stabbing is that the traditional way of getting information about what happened last night when you heard a scuffle in your neighborhood or ran into traffic on Carrillo Street is outdated as we no longer in the age of the hyper-local Internet, GPS, text-messaging, blogs, etc. have the desire to wait until tomorrow or the next day to see the official press release. We also have more information as random citizens post photos and commentary related to their experience shortly thereafter. We can't tell which is more relevant and real any longer in the age of YouTube.

Mayor Blum is right in that we need to let the Police Department do their work and not light a fire under the "word on the street". And, people like myself need to be careful not to name names or information that is too specific as this is the job of the City of Santa Barbara and our Police Department. Where does that leave us, however, with our "right to know?" Do we have that right? or did Police Departments have more say in how we viewed that right a decade ago?

Our combined efforts as a blogging and Internet community at disseminating information is something the City and the Police Department are not used to and I hope we can all agree -- even tacitly -- on suitable, reasonable rules of engagement. Mayor Blum is right, but where does that leave us as we continue to practically live blog as a major event happens?

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Community Post: Recent Stabbing Not Reported?

[There is no official notice of what is written below that I know of on Sunday late afternoon -- can anyone verify and shed light on the matter? -- SDLG]

Written by Eight Santa Barbara

A week ago Saturday night a stabbing occurred near downtown Santa Barbara. The victim was not a gang member, nor a gang affiliate. The victim was stabbed 3 times, though he lived.

I didn't read anything about this stabbing, online or in print.

I am concerned that none of this information was released, or not posted or printed. While I don't believe it wise or helpful to an investigation to make everything public, I still question why information was hard to find. If, indeed, it has become police policy to keep investigations quiet so as to not harm the investigation, I can understand that. On the other hand, if information was not forthcoming so as to limit bad press, that is inexcusable.

Can somebody confirm or correct these things being said on the streets of our City?

Here is the "word on the street" about this stabbing that I've gathered from people I know:

-the victim was not the stereotyped image of a gang member or victim of gang-related crimes

-many people knew the name of the person wielding the knife.

-some people pointed to the nickname for this person.

- Whomever was the assailant is known to members and affiliates of the East Side gang.

-3 to 6 people were arrested this past week in connection with this incident.

-the people arrested were between ages 14 and 60.

-the victim did nothing to start the confrontation.

-the police say that it is a recent phenomena for a group of young people to challenge strangers on the street in an effort to draw them into a fight, and possibly to stab them.

If someone can provide insight, I'm sure many people would appreciate it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: at least “Citizen Journalists” are paying attention to this election!

I never quite liked the phrase “citizen journalist” or maybe even “citizen stringer” although it is accurate to distinguish from an “undocumented alien” journalist or stringer.

The Play this time is by all the volunteer journalists and analysts who are covering this city council election and actually interviewing the city council candidates.

The poorly paid and overworked pros at the Independent barely acknowledge the election is happening except for their safely predictable endorsements and a few news briefs. Ditto for the Daily Sound, which seems to ignore half the stuff the candidates are doing lately, although the challenger candidates were profiled in a series of nice articles last August. At KEYT they are, well, KEYT, so expectations are low. And the News-Press-Mess-Less-Suppress-Depress is, uh, just that.

During this election season, several local venues are actually interviewing the city council candidates and getting the candidates’ message out (for good or bad) via some free media coverage. Listed below are a few of these Political Players of the Week, none of whom are paid for their efforts but for their obvious love of Santa Barbara. We all should thank and toast them with a glass of Pelligrino or Prosperity Red.

  1. The Marty Blum Show (KTMS-AM radio, Saturdays at 12). Da Mayor started her own talk radio show earlier this year to fill the gaping void in City Hall news left by the Depress, so she says. She has been interviewing a couple of council candidates each week, and even was nice to Dale Francisco despite the routine insults he hurls during the council meetings. Too bad I missed Blum’s interview with frank Flamethrower Frank Hotchkiss.
  2. Palmer Patrol (KTMS-AM radio, Saturdays at 11). In the hour before the Marty show, Russell Palmer, a truly moderate Republican, also is interviewing the council candidates, or at least the ones who ask to be interviewed. He plays slow-pitch softball, but it is his game on his own show.
  3. The Paul Berenson Show (KIST-AM radio, Saturdays at 1). Rounding out the Rincon Broadcasting rock block on Saturdays, Berenson fills up 3 hours and also has been interviewing a couple of candidates per week between his usual lengthy chortles against the Bushies. He plays a little soft with the council candidates he clearly disagrees with when he could shred them, a sure sign those candidates have no chance at getting elected.
  4. The Ernie Salomon Show (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 17 several times weekly). In his minimalist style with fake bookcases behind his solitary chair, the emphatic Ernie Salomon can fill up an hour with his usually substantive rants and raves even when he has not been interviewing two candidates per week. Always one to pontificate about street sweeping and discounted Canadian drug prices, Salomon said he has been doing a show on channel 17 for nine years. Except for how he feels about Mayor Blum in his loyal jabs at her, Salomon keeps his personal preferences a mystery during his interviews with the candidates.
  5. Off Leash Public Affairs (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 17 at irregular times listed at their web site posting on this). In this public access cable show, local activists David Pritchett and Cathy Murrillo have put together two hour-long TV shows called “Chewing on the Candidates” where they ask the same, and now somewhat cliché, questions of each candidate. They should have asked more questions instead of offering their personal opinions in their “analysis” of them, but that is how it goes on channel 17 (i.e., anything goes except obscenity).
  6. Touring with the Candidates (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 21 twice a day at various times). Larry Nimmer offers another installment in his now classic election show where each candidate gets a set amount of time to go anywhere and say anything, no matter how stupid for either. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, professional videographer Nimmer keeps his interviewing to a minimum and instead lets the candidates do the talking and exposing of their nipples.
  7. Candidate Video Program (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 21 twice a day and on the City web site). The City’s half-assed answer to election reform and public funding of campaigns, this video production cost the City no money and hardly any staff time because the public access TV station did all the work for free. Each candidate gets his or her three minutes of fame in a statement before the camera. They were recorded early in the campaign season, and it shows for some. Candidates Brian Barnwell looked like he got out of bed an hour earlier, frank Frank Hotchkiss the trained actor was quite the smooth talker no matter how nutty his lines were, while Michelle Giddens read her cue cards stiffly but scored a few points for some of her pitch in rudimentary Spanish.
  8. Santa Barbara’s Blog (24/7 on the web). And not to ignore the blogosphere, the “Bird” usually has some weird, although local, stuff at his web site, and he has invited some (or all?) of the candidates to provide a written statement to be posted at this blog, providing some chutzpah inspiration for this Citizen Stringer. Some goofy polls also are at this site, especially for people who like to vote an infinite number of times. None of the other local bloggers seem to be interviewing the candidates, although Craig Smith probably is accumulating some good quips in preparation.

The Play this week has been steadily practicing during the past month, and all these Citizen Journalists have cumulatively scored many winning points. The voting public in Santa Barbara should be grateful for the often thankless work by these news hawks.

If I missed any news and public affairs media that actually have been interviewing the city council candidates, my apologies. Gentle Readers should enter a comment about which venues may have been missed. For all the do-it-yourself political news media, this Play of the Week is for you!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Off Leash "Chews" on the Candidates

Off-Leash Public Affairs is making their public access show special Chewing on the Candidates series available on line at the above link.

Off-Leash co-hosts Cathy Murillo and David Pritchett asked the city council candidates five questions and gave them about two and half minutes to respond with short follow-up. This more structured approach is in sharp contrast to Larry Nimmer's open ended style highlighted about a week ago here on BlogaBarbara.

The series will be available on public access television (CH 17) through election day.

Labels: ,

Community Post: Independent Opposes Measure A

Commentary by Lanny Ebenstein

The Santa Barbara Independent is opposing Measure A in its edition today. The Independent writes: "Measure A is a fiscal quick fix masquerading as political reform." The Independent also says: "Call us parochial, but we're convinced there's something profoundly desirable in having the people casting their ballots in Santa Barbara city races focused solely on matters of local concern," the primary argument of Measure A opponents.

Measure A appears to be dead in the water. It is opposed by the Santa Barbara Independent and the Santa Barbara News-Press. Firefighters are mounting a big radio campaign against it, and police officers are conducting a mail campaign against it. The Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association and Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce oppose it. Measure A is also opposed by a broad spectrum of community leaders, from former City Councilmember Gerry DeWitt to former City Councilmember Dan Secord.

My guess is Measure A will go down to defeat in the range of about two-to-one. The Independent endorsement against Measure A also calls for considertion of district elections. Proponents of Measure A should, after the election, consider refocusing their efforts to district elections. They would find many of the opponents of Measure A eager to join forces with them in an effort to return district elections to Santa Barbara.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hannah-Beth Throws Her Hat in the Ring

Perhaps somewhat Fred Thompson-esque, Former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson (for web info see Speak Out California) seems poised for a later-than-most announcement about her run for the State Senate. Although it was not on letterhead or from an HBJ domain, it seems her campaign sent out a press release this evening saying she will make an announcement tommorrow afternoon at Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara.

She will join Simi Valley resident and former Ventura County Supervisor candidate Jim Dantona in the race for the Democratic Party nomination. Dantona, a Democratic Leadership Council Democrat, was recently seen in Santa Barbara at the party's Labor Day BBQ and a fundraiser for his campaign in Montecito.

Many of you will likely disagree as Hannah-Beth from our viewpoint in Santa Barbara seems like a sure thing to win the primary -- but Dantona is a good fundraiser and a hard worker. Senate District 19 includes portions of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties. Conservative Democratic pockets could be the micro-trend which make the difference.

Still, my early money would have to go to Hannah-Beth as the victor. What say you?

Labels: , ,

Lights Out Santa Barbara!

Interesting movement afoot to conserve energy on October's some info I received from a loyal reader:

Lights Out Santa Barbara on October 20th, from 8-9 pm.

For those who believe that every little bit of thought, every little bit of effort makes a difference, on October 20th, we in the Santa Barbara area (city and county) are invited to turn off all non-essential lights.

This will be happening in San Francisco and Los Angeles and in Santa Barbara is being promoted (it's all volunteer) by individuals believing that each of us can make difference.

It's completely voluntary. It was first done in Sydney, Australia on March 31st. There, 2.2 million people, more than half the population, turned off their lights, saving an estimated 10% of energy for that time.
We hope for the same here --- at the very least we will have a great understanding and appreciation of how each of us can make a difference.

And that, we think, is what it is all about, each of us making a difference. Southern California Edison agrees and has signed on as a supporter, along with Mayor Blum and all of the SB City Council, First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, and Rep. Lois Capps.

Take a look at the web site:; send an e-mail as a supporter of the concept - there's a link on the page; and turn off your non-essential lights for one hour, 10/20 8-9 pm.

Noozhawk Leaves the Nest

I'm not so sure about the name and I'm not so sure digital content works well in the newspaper style and feel of their web site....but Noozhawk is off to a good start and we have to give them a hand for attracting quality reporters like Rob Kuznia, Leslie Dinaberg and Sonia Fernandez. I'm looking forward to a bright future for Noozhawk....


Mad Money on ValueClick or Mad Stock Valuation?

The Pacific Coast Business Times reported in the following little ditty that Westlake company ValueClick is a takeover target:

Takeover speculation boosts Valueclick
CNBC stock analyst Jim Cramer speculated that Westlake Village-based Valueclick could be Microsoft Corp.’s next acquisition target. If so, the company could pay as much as twice the $5.5 billion it spent on software maker AQuantive in August, Cramer said Oct. 8 on his “Mad Money” show. If not Microsoft, Yahoo! Inc. is another potential buyer. Its rival Google Inc. has agreed to buy DoubleClick Inc., Valueclick’s competitor in the Internet advertising broker market. Cramer’s comments helped push Valueclick’s stock [VCLK] up by $2.68 to $28.20 on Oct. 9. It has risen 28 percent since Sept. 24, when analysts at the Stanford Group and Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. first identified it as a takeover target.

Hard to believe that everyone is after them...we bemoan misled PR in the political world daily on BlogaBarbara but I wonder if we need to look in the business arena as well. Is this true or just a couple more bucks in the ValueClick pocket?

Still, take a look at the Wikipedia entry. I didn't know they owned our very own Commission Junction or had so many web properties -- it's amazing what venture capital can do. Perhaps Microsoft or Yahoo! has other plans than online advertising auctions for our Santa Barbara-based company?

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Media Play of the Week?

Not quite political, but interesting nonetheless, is Craig Smith's report that Hannah Guzik has joined The Santa Barbara Daily Sound.

Meanwhile, The News-Press continues to pretend like it is still an award-winning paper at

The Santa Barbara News-Press, an award-winning daily on the beautiful South Coast, seeks multi-talented Reporters with a flair for clear, concise, colorful writing and a passion for pounding the pavement for stories. The right candidates will have the ability to give our Web site a boost by helping create the kind of interactive content that will have readers wanting to come back for more and check out our print edition. A bachelor's degree in journalism or a degree in the communications field is required. The News-Press offers competitive salary and excellent benefits package. To apply, please send your resume, cover letter and clips to....

If I remember correctly, the last time it was an award winning paper was when Jerry Roberts was at the helm or shortly thereafter and still reflected his work -- perhaps I am wrong?


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Touring with the Candidates

Despite all the talk yesterday on Measure A, there is a city council race in less than a month as well. Who would know with the traditional Labor Day kick off slipping into almost mid-October?

Larry Nimmer, who should be nominated for some kind of award real soon for his civic involvement, produced the following videos of all the candiates on Google Video. You can see Bob Hansen's Laker bobble-heads and Bob's John Travolta hat from Urban Cowboy. There is also Helene Schneider's tour of the Westside and Das William's library, chile relleno and a cute story about how he reads to his partner --- some highlights of this series that is sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Nimmer has brought the decidedly mature and wise LWV into the 21st Century and is to be commended for his non-partisan effort to increase voter participation in the age of YouTube. These videos are a must see if you are serious about the next election and checking out what each candidate has to say.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

League of Women Voters FOR Measure A

This may be an early Political Play of the Week, or just a bonus Play for the week. We'll see by Sunday. Nevertheless, bagging the endorsement from the League of Women Voters seems like a smart play to lend support and credibility to an otherwise complex and snoozer issue.

With the post by Sara de la Guerra last night about the "Taxpayers Association" endorsing against Measure A, I thought I would do some searching about who is for Measure A. Seems like a lot of groups and Santa Barbara citizens are for Measure A, but few people know about it.

Measure A is a Santa Barbara city ballot measure that would move the stand-alone city elections from their current placement during the odd-numbered years (when hardly anyone votes) and then shift the city elections to the even-numbered years with all the other stuff on the ballot, including the county, state, and federal elections. Those combined elections would entice lots more voters to get their butts out to vote, or even to fill out their absentee ballots and mail them in.

Republicans and Libertarians do not seem to like Measure A, as the "Taxpayers Association" endorsement against it verifies. This makes sense because all the Lazy Liberals in Santa Barbara actually would be voting far more often in city elections if those elections were combined with everything else during the even-year election cycle.

The backers of Measure A have a web site that looks like a blog, but no one has entered comments. However, they have plenty of content there, including links to the original ballot arguments, official county documents about the past election returns, Ross-Perot-style charts and graphs, and lots of links to news and opinion coverage and even a few videos of them making their pitch. It is a bit much in totality, but their basic points are separate entries at the web site, regarding how voter turn out will increase, how much money the city taxpayers would save, and who endorses Measure A.

At their web site, the boosters of Measure A have laid out the calculations that show a net savings of about a quarter-million dollars per election cycle every two years. A quarter-million here, a quarter-million there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money that the city taxpayers would save from the General Fund.

There is that word again: Taxpayers. According to their endorsement in the Blogabarbara post, the county "Taxpayers Association" does not really seem to be interested in saving taxpayer money, as would happen if Measure A passes at the ballot. If Measure A passes, the city would no longer be conducting its own election and paying for the election costs out if its own General Fund. That fund is the same big share of the city budget that also pays for police, parks, streets, libraries, youth programs, fire protection, and more.

As for who is endorsing FOR Measure A, the sweetest plum so far could be considered the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. Here is their full statement from the League's own web site.

And here in the text below is an abridged version of that statement. The writing is a bit thick in the usual brainiac, detail-oriented and cautious style of the League.


The League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara supports the passage of Measure A in the November 6, 2007 City of Santa Barbara elections. The League's position is based on its long standing LWVUS national position on Voting Rights and Citizen's Right to Vote. This position includes encouraging all citizens to vote. The increase in voter turnout since 1995 in even numbered years (66.8%) over odd numbered years (37.8%) is remarkable. These data submitted by the County Elections Bureau show that general elections increase voter turnout. The League believes aligning Santa Barbara City elections with other general elections will encourage greater voter participation.

The League also bases its support for Measure A on its League of Women Voters of California state position on State and Local Finances.... Estimates provided by the County Elections Bureau show that County run odd year elections would cost the City between $500,000 and $600,000 per election. For the City of Santa Barbara to run its own odd year election its cost is approximately $280,000 per election. The County of Santa Barbara Elections Bureau estimates its cost to run an even year election for the City of Santa Barbara is between $30,000 and $60,000 dollars.

Based on the foregoing League positions and local data, the League of Women Voters urges a "Yes" Vote on Measure A.

Labels: ,

SBCTA Against Measure A

Here's what the SB County Taxpayers Association sent out today -- this 'blatant effort to circumvent democracy' sounds like spin by the SBCTA.

Saving taxpayer money by consolidating elections sounds pretty democratic to me since more people will vote for council members on even years....what they didn't explain is why the police and fire associations (as well as the Chamber) would oppose Measure A other than to have more of an influence with PAC funds on local elections during off years when people don't vote as much, hmmmm.

Measure will reduce local focus on local issues and local elections

SANTA BARBARA, CA – The Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association (SBCTA) has announced their opposition to Measure A-2007, the local ballot measure that, if approved, would consolidate city elections with federal, state and county elections.

According to SBCTA treasurer and past Santa Barbara school board member, Lanny Ebenstein, "Measure A is an attempt by the current City Council to secure an additional year in office without a vote of the people.” For that reason and others, SBCTA urges voters to reject what Ebenstein referred to as a “blatant effort to circumvent democracy."

Measure A is also opposed by a wide variety of local groups including the Santa Barbara police and fire associations, the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce as well as many individual Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

“SBCTA is generally supportive of consolidation efforts”, said association executive director Joe Armendariz. “However, in this case, we believe the savings are overstated while ignoring the inherent value of voters focusing their collective attention on local issues specific to the city of Santa Barbara.

Another concern raised by the Measure, according to Armendariz, is the issue of voter fatigue. "We know that on a long ballot, which is typically what you have on even-year elections, voters lose interest resulting in a drop off of votes being cast for local races. This turns the proponents’ argument of increased voter turnout on its head."

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Paul Casey Named Interim Public Works Director

EdHat had a story today about Paul Casey becoming the interim Public Works Director as Tony Nisich is retiring after 35 years of service to our city -- congratulations to an able and capable potential Public Works Director and an organized and well led Public Works Department during Nisich's reign.


Friday, October 05, 2007

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: Hotchkiss Keeps On Giving; Williams Keeps on Biting


The Play this week is our local equivalent of Senator Larry Craig, the national political gift that keeps on giving to more Democrats winning next year in Congress. This Play seems to be the second chapter in the Hotchkiss Chutzpah series for the Santa Barbara City Council election.

Frank Frank is continuing his theme that global warming is good and that the more dependent we are upon oil imports, the better.

Oil is the lifeblood of modern society,” Hotchkiss said to Santa Barbara Daily Sound. “What's next? Fossil-free fire engines and police cars? Perhaps not the engines, but for the fire stations themselves, the answer this week is yes in this news video.

By being against well-designed downtown parks and for oil consumption, last Wednesday in the Santa Barbara daily newspaper and in the News-Press, Hotchkiss spun his way to getting front-page stories and photos about him and his dubious friends. One photo even revealed that he has patriotic lawn signs, so he must have read this Citizen Stringer Play from last week.

However, Hotchkiss got spanked hard in comments in both newspapers (the real one and the pretend one) by his election rival Council incumbent Helene Schneider, who reminded all that the Redevelopment Agency funds paying for the park could not legally be redirected to pay for police personnel, as Hotchkiss ranted about at length during his event.

This smackdown revealed that Hotchkiss was not aware of RDA involvement in the Granada Garage and perhaps was not even aware of what the world of downtown Redevelopment financing may be. Or, he just did not think anyone would notice.

Still, frank Frank generated a controversy and got his attention through two front page news articles and photos last Wednesday, and perhaps by now has expended 10 of his 15 total minutes of fame. Neither the Independent nor any TV news, though, covered his indignant spat about the downtown park design.

The Political Play of the Week by Frank Hotchkiss is a ball thrown from a distance towards the goal, but whether Schneider slapped it away hard enough will be seen on the reverse angle, not-so-instant replay.


As a bonus Play in this political sport, Council incumbent Das Williams keeps biting on the bait dangled by his Republican challenger Dale Francisco. During the City Council meeting deliberation last Tuesday, Williams half-jokingly said to the other Council members that Francisco, in his love for cars everywhere, may want to convert State Street into a multi-lane freeway (look up the video archive, Gentle Readers).

In addition, reports to the Stringer's stringer reveal that Dastardly Das banged away on Francisco during an unrelated allotment of time during the candidates forum sponsored by Samarkand Neighborhood Association last Thursday. As soon as he had the mic, Dale shot back and challenged any incumbent to a “debate” anytime, anywhere.

A true debate would be nice, though, instead of the redundant forumses with repetitive questions about building density and traffic management.

Unless interrogated by an actual news journalist, why would Das even acknowledge Dale on anything? Up through last week, Das has raised nearly four-times the campaign cash than Dale has, and two-thirds of the Dale dollars were his own loan to his own campaign.

Maybe the $8,000 Das Williams spent on a poll has revealed something about the challenger candidates that the Conventional Wisdom is not telling?

And THOSE --a bunch of fumbles bobbling in the air-- are the Political Plays of the Week!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Oh Behave! Andrew Firestone Engaged...

A celebrity gossip blog has an unconfirmed report that Andrew Firestone is engaged to 30-year-old model-actress Ivana Bozilovic who was in Wedding Crashers and one of my favorite college humor movies, Van Wilder.

Apparently, departing Supervisor Brooks Firestone says of the match: “We love her and she makes Andrew behave.”

Like former fiancée Jen Schefft from Andrew's "Bachelor" days, Ivana hails from Chicago. The happy couple plans to marry in the spring. Will we have some infant, moderate Republicans coming shortly thereafter? Good for them if that's the case...

Here's to Andrew and Ivana -- a toast from SDLG, I wish them the best.

Labels: , ,

Nuns Paying for Sins of The Fathers...

This Washington Post article shows how Santa Barbara nuns are paying for the sins of the fathers. It seems the church needs to sell some property to handle their legal bills....sad we will lose that history, also sad that the church hasn't seemed to learn a rather biblical lesson of treating others as we would treat ourselves. The church clearly has little choice in terms of raising the funds necessary but also is paying for the sin of omission over many years. Worst of all, nuns are paying for the sins of their male counterparts.


Using Your Cell Phone Along the Chumash Highway

It seems another controversial decision from cell phone service provider AT&T may be affecting our friends in the valley and even here on the coast. Got this from a reader -- anybody experience these issues with their service?

Here's the short story as I understand it from AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) tech support last night (10/2).  Until yesterday AT&T phones worked on a combination of AT&T and other provider cell towers.  Without any notice to the customer, AT&T switched to their own cell towers only yesterday (10/2).  Their "network engineers" have studied the area and believe this is acceptable.  The switch means decreased coverage.  For me, living in Santa Ynez, this means the closest tower is 8 miles away and everyone in the Valley is sharing it.  Data messages (text, Blackberry, voice-mail notifications, etc.) seem to work fine.  However outgoing voice calls fail about 90% of the time with a "Network Busy" error message, and most incoming calls go to voice-mail.

AT&T said if enough people complain they'll consider reconnecting with those outside provider towers, but it may take up to two weeks.  Two weeks!!!  My wife and I only have cell phones, my wife works from home 75% of the time and uses her cell phone regularly, and she is 5 months pregnant.  We can't wait two weeks for service.  If it is not back by tomorrow morning (10/4) we'll have to switch to another provider.  AT&T also told me they would waive the cancellation fees on my two-year contract because they are basically forcing us out.

If you have had bad AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) service in the last few days please call their tech support at (888) 892-9760.  If enough people complain maybe they'll fix the service before we have to start switching providers.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mock Tombstone Protest on 154

This in from KSBY-TV -- here's the video of the report.(Unfortunately it requires Win-Doze or Flip4Mac)

Up until around 3:30 p.m. Monday, a protest sign was sitting on Highway 154 just east of of the 246.

We can tell you before it was removed, it had been knocked over.

You can tell because the flowers that were part of the demonstration have been pushed aside.

At some point this weekend, a mock tombstone went up at the side of the 154.

It reads, "rest in peace, community voice."

It comes in opposition to the passage of an assembly resolution to rename the 32-mile road as "Chumash Highway."

Community activists have been complaining to Assemblyman Pedro Nava's office about his failure to inform his district the renaming.

But his office says the resolution was written by a Bay Area lawmaker.

And it did go through public comment in Sacramento.

I like Pedro but I have to wonder whether he and even State Senator McClintock dropped the ball on this one -- the "Bay Area lawmaker" likely informed Nava and McClintock of the resolution as a courtesy, no? Ignorance on their constituents' part is no excuse for a resolution going through public comment without a word from our representatives.

Labels: , , ,