Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rest in Peace: Selmer Wake

Many of us honored and mourned the passing of Father Virgil Cordano at a funeral yesterday at the Santa Barbara Mission...and EdHat reports that SBCC Adult Education founder Selmer Wake passed away at 93. It is unfortunate he did not live to see the likely passage of Measure V in the next election. Best to his family during this difficult time.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Watchin' the Paint Dry at DLG Plaza

A busy week and I am a bit embarrassed not to have gotten to this story yet! Former News-Press reporters called it a speed bump at The Santa Barbara Independent and here's the basics about the judge's decision which supported News-Press management this week:

Judges tend to be reluctant to issue injunctions under these circumstances, but some found it disconcerting that a judge would find that an employer’s rights outweighed those of workers after another court found the same employer to have broken the law by illegally firing workers for protected union activity. Nor was it clear why Federal Judge Stephen Wilson gave First Amendment refuge to owner Wendy McCaw. Judge Wilson apparently bought the paper’s argument that the union was trying to limit the paper’s “editorial discretion” rather than just exercising its legal right to a fair contract.

"Our request for temporary reinstatement was denied, but we still won the trial,” Hobbs said, referring to a Dec. 26, 2007 ruling by administrative law judge William G. Kocol that eight reporters had been wrongfully terminated and ordered that they be reinstated with back pay. “This doesn't dampen our spirits in the slightest.

Over at Craig Smith's Blog -- he put it this way:

... Judge Wilson's reasoning that requiring McCaw to hire back the fired reporters would interfere with her editorial discretion still doesn't wash with me. Only two of the eight reporters (Melinda Burns and Anna Davison) were fired on the grounds that McCaw didn't like what they were writing. And an administrative law judge determined that those allegations were trumped up. The other six weren't fired for what they wrote but rather were fired because they were "disloyal" in taking part in the demonstration on the freeway overpass urging people to cancel their subscriptions to the paper.

Craig also points out that this is still a long way from over....the News-Press' pending appeal of the NLRB decision could very well be denied and as we know from past experience, waiting for court decisions can be as fun as watching paint dry.

The Wine Cask Completes Courtyard Renovations

It's interesting that I am getting press announcements from restaurants now. Since the historical El Paseo has some significance to many of us interested in Santa Barbara history and my family -- I thought this might be an interesting bit -- Sara

Santa Barbara, California - May 27, 2008 - The Wine Cask is proud to announce the completion of a restoration of its courtyard to recreate conditions as they existed in 1926.

The Wine Cask has expended the time, energy, and money required to restore the landscape of its courtyard in order to bring authenticity and historical integrity to El Paseo. Shrubs, spices, and flowers mimic the courtyard as it was in 1926. The fountain has been rebuilt authentically as depicted in vintage photos.

With the help of historian Alexandra Cole and landscaper Bob Cunningham the courtyard can now truly be called historical. Moreover, it is now pleasant and comfortable for guests to enjoy their dining experience. We invite you to come by and have a champagne toast to the Wine Cask and Santa Barbara and its quest for excellence in wine, food, and service.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UCSB's Technology Management Program

The Pacific Coast Business Times ran a story about UCSB' Technology Management Program and their business plan competition. Impressive ideas looking for funding in our own backyard.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rest in Peace: Father Virgil Cordano

I don't have a lot of information yet but I understand from Channel 3 that Father Virgil Cordano passed away from cancer just a few hours ago at 89 years old. Born in 1918, he was an amazing man with a great deal of love in his heart -- he will be missed. He will "Lie in State" on Wednesday and Thursday; and there will be a funeral ceremony on Friday, May 30th. More details to come. May he rest in peace.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Community Post: Choice Words at The Indie

I was a little surprised myself at Mollie Vandor's choice of words in describing Third District candidate David Smyser -- an avid reader sent this community post. -- Sara

===========Community Post==============

In her (usually) weekly opinion column "Eye on Isla Vista" featured at the Santa Barbara Independent web site, Mollie Vandor profiles the five candidates for Third District County Supervisor, up for election on June 3rd, with the top two placeholders to be in the County runoff election in November.

Vandor offers this succinct description of candidate David Smyser from Colorado... uh, I mean Solvang:

"[He] has spent the last few years of his political career as --for lack of a better term-- Brooks Firestone’s bitch.

He was Planning Commissioner and Chief of Staff for the outgoing 3rd District Supervisor, and since Brooksie’s reign included crackdowns on I.V.’s Halloween celebration, his record of choosing big business over environmental concerns and his well-known waffling when it comes to tenants’ and students’ rights, that does not bode well for Smyser. Especially since he has said he plans to continue the work of his predecessor. He also got busted allegedly accepting donations from development interests."

Is Smyser his metaphorical Bitch? Discuss.

Labels: ,

Better Late Than Never: Judge Candidate and County Counsel Attorney Kevin Ready Responds on Marijuana Issues

People are often frustrated when they ask judicial candidates straightforward questions and they don’t get straightforward answers. A judge candidate is limited in what they can say by the Canons of Judicial Ethics, we cannot pre-judge an issue we might be called on to rule on in court. We are also limited in the ways we can propose changes to laws and what the proper place for a judge is in the formation of changes to laws.

The Voters of California have voted in favor of allowing medical marijuana use, and in doing so they left untouched the penalties associated with non-medical use. A California trial court judge’s duty is to apply the law of the state to the cases before him or her. I consider it my duty as a judge to apply the law as set out by the voters acting under their power of initiative and by the Legislature. The current problem with medical marijuana laws is the confrontation between California law and federal law, one allowing medical marijuana usage and one which does not. A state trial judge has no power to intervene to affect the outcome of such a conflict of laws. It is up to the People to get the federal government to change its approach, or else the current impasse will remain. As far as the state law issue, I consider the state of the law settled as to the general law, the local implementation, such as clinic location, may have more to be resolved, but a judge should not get involved for reasons discussed above.

I think any observer looking at our drug problems objectively will recognize that the core problems we face are not centered around marijuana. The meth culture, designer drugs and trafficking of imported drugs are where the focus of our efforts to improve our society needs to be. However, even with this recognition, there is not a lot a trial judge can do, nor should you want your judges to be engaged in the politics of changing our laws. What a judge can do is make sure the emphasis in court is on dealing with real problems. We need to expand the scope of usefulness of our drug courts to give people assistance in correcting their problems and not mere punishment. Society is coming around to a different dialectic on marijuana use and differentiating its use from the debilitation effects of meth and other drugs. Our courts are reflecting that change. I think it is healthy for our system of justice.

Another thing a judge can do is recognize the effect on individuals that drug use may have in the other matters that come before the courts. While some attorneys (and judicial candidates) focus solely on the criminal aspect of the situation, I think it is necessary that other areas, like juvenile law, family law and possibly others areas of civil law need to recognize the change in people’s perception of drug use and the problems, or non-problems, associated with it.

What people need to recognize in the choice of a judge is the sum total of the experience, attitude, character and life accomplishments of the judge. Will the background of a judge allow them to provide justice? Do they have the breadth of experience to be able to provide both a prosecutorial and defense perspective to the problem? From the perspective of drug related issues, simply advocating a presumably progressive campaign spiel is not enough, is there any substance, represented by experience and commitment over the years? A limited set of experience for a few years in prosecuting crimes does not provide the wisdom and insight into the human condition that a judge needs. In my case, the entirety of my life experience, and the perspective I have advocated over many years is the basis of my understanding and position. While I cannot give a full recounting of my past political position on these issues within this judicial camapign, I have a track record as a Democratic Candidate for Congress on two occasions that stands for itself. Look at the record and past positions, not mere jargon.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bowl Blues for The Offspring and Pennywise

Last night KJEE's Summer Roundup featured The Offspring, Pennywise, Everlast, The Whigs, and Rebelution at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. One dedicated reader who was in the audience had the following to say in an email to me:

I'm wondering if the County Bowl's rules are getting too heavy handed and the focus is on fundraising and fancy new buildings and not the concert experience - the lawns gone, and the seats are more uncomfortable than a High School gym's.

This was our experience at yesterdays concert - and no-one in the group is under 40:

- bag searched 3 times on way in

- our sunblock confiscated [from a grandmother and mother of three] in our group - in a heatwave - "because we might throw it at the band"

- can't stand still anywhere in the shade ... moved 8 times times before going to seats

- and the most insane rule: YOU CAN ONLY BUY 2 WATERS AT A TIME!

We were told it's because we might spill them. I am NOT kidding!
Its 88 degrees, they've confiscated our sunblock and won't sell me enough water for our group during a 7 hour show !!!

- and there was no crowd control where it actually is important - in the bathroom tunnel entrance area

One has to assume that there is stricter security for some shows than others. I would think The Offspring would get tougher security than James Taylor. Still, on the hottest day of the year they are restricting water like they would beer? and confiscating sunblock? There are probably a few things people could throw on stage, I wonder who makes the list? (perhaps Homeland Security as it sounds as sensible as airport regulations)

Anybody else have a less than positive experience at this concert? The changes at the Bowl will mean a different set of acts and likely a different set of rules -- perhaps only time will tell if the big changes over the last couple of years are fan improvement.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

On Medical Marijuana: Judge Candidate and Senior County Prosecutor John MacKinnon

Again thank you for the allowing me to answer this question... it has been asked of me several times during the campagain.

In response to your question about medical use of marijuana..... in 1996 voters in California passed the Compassionate Use Act. This act is now part of section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code which states in the statute that its goal is:

"To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines, or other illness for which marijuana provides relief."

As to the legalization of marijuana in general... that is also a decision to be made by the legislature or by the People of California. A Superior Court Judge or Appellate Court Justice does not decide on whether a stature is "good law" or "bad law", so long as it is Constitutional.

As a Judge of the Superior Court, my mandate and duty is to follow the law as it is written...... again so long as it does not violate the Constitution. The decision to make the use of any substance legal or illegal, and/or the permitting of marijuana dispensaries is to be made by the Legislature, the city council, or the people by way of Propositions. Therefore, a Judge must respect and follow the law regardless of whether he personally approves or disapproves of the policy being made by our lawmakers.... all while being detached and neutral. The People of the State of California have declared the medicinal marijuana use is not a crime under state law if a medical doctor has recommended its use. The Compassionate Care Act also stated that recreational use of marijuana shall continue to be illegal. This is the law that I am required to follow.

Let me say though that marijuana is not an epidemic facing our county and community the way that methamphetamine and other drugs are. I have served for the last 18 months in our Substance Abuse Treatment Court where we see the ravages of substance abuse. We see pregnant mothers who inject methamphetamine, college students who are addicted to heroin, and young people who are look as if their very life force is being drained from their bodies. I have worked in this therapeutic system to help people get their lives together. I have seen first hand the miracles that can occur.... the former pregnant mother who gives birth to a clean baby, the parent who gets her children back from CPS, the young man who re-enrolls himself back into school and his life on track. These are the stories of hope and change that I am able to see..... as well as the tragedy.

When I first came to the Substance Abuse Treatment Court we only had approximately 20 people in the treatment program. In less than two years we have been able to get those numbers to almost 80. In Santa Maria we also have over 300 drug users in our Prop 36 treatment program. I am proud that former addicts/turned counselors ask me for bumper stickers, yard signs, ect.... These former addicts want to see me on the bench to continue to work that we do everyday. That really is the greatest endorsement.... recovered drug users who are supporting a D.A. for Judge.... I think it really shows that you can be a D.A. and still be compassionate and care for people in our community.


John MacKinnon
Candidate for Superior Court Judge

Labels: ,

Little Response from the Judge Candidates

Well, it's Sunday morning and I haven't received anything from the candidates for judge. John MacKinnon did write on Friday and say he needed another day -- but I haven't heard anything from him yet. At least he responded...and I'll post anything they send in their own words as I get them.

Summerwind at the Bluffs. Golf Anyone?

If you are really good at shell games or flow charts, try to figure out who owns what at SB Housing Bubble's take on Summerwind at the Bluffs in Carpinteria.

There have been multiple owners -- including the Mayor of Dana Point (who has been accused of funneling money to his wife's Assembly campaign) -- and several changes, auctions,etc. What's the dramatic, ponzi-like scheme for? A beautiful 28-acre area near Carpinteria City Hall (5669/5885 Carpinteria Ave) that is better left alone.

SBHB's Saint Barbara brings us a creative approach to a hard-to-understand issue. As always, the real story is in the footnotes.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Teamster Letter Responds to McCaw

. . . this is the letter (as reported in the press) . . .

Dated: May 13, 2008 (delivered May 14, 2008)

Dear Newsroom Employee,

I am writing with regard to the recent layoffs and accompanying letter from the Publisher. Sadly, though not unexpectedly, the Publisher refuses to accept any responsibility for the continued decline of readers and revenue at the Santa Barbara News-Press that she claims has forced her to layoff employees.

Instead, she attributes these losses in part, to the Teamsters’ call for subscribers to cancel the paper and what she characterizes as the incessant litigation over unfounded charges causing the expenditure of significant economic resources. Interestingly, in the middle of the summer of 2006, the paper published a vicious (and on many points, blatantly inaccurate) editorial denying that the Teamsters’ efforts had had any impact. Similarly, at the time of the unlawful firings of six newsroom employees, the News-Press claimed that “The paper is doing fine. In fact, it is doing much better since the changes in the newsroom.”

Her public comments at various times indicate that depending on the identity of her audience, Mrs. McCaw tends to blame the decline in readership to whatever cause suits her, be it the condition of the industry, the Union or certain individuals who she perceives as adversaries. It should be noted that since the negotiations began there have been no rallies, media ads, or press conferences called for the specific purpose of encouraging subscriber to cancel their subscriptions. This is not by accident; this is by design.

I have discussed with Teamsters campaign people the need to give the negotiations process a chance to succeed (without distraction) in the event the Publisher demonstrates she is serious about bargaining. Unfortunately, the Publisher has not shown the least bit of interest in trying to reach an agreement that would address employees concerns. I will meet again soon with the campaign strategists to review available options that may move the negotiations forward.

I am still trying to understand how someone can be repeatedly found guilty of “unfounded charges.” I have informed News-Press Management on several occasions that they will be held accountable for what they say and do. If they break the law, they take the chance that it will cost money in litigation. The simple solution is: Obey the Law.

The Publisher’s letter also fails to mention that much of her legal expenses are related to taking, or threatening to take legal action against anyone and everyone who oppose her viewpoints, including local businesses, authors of articles critical of how she runs her newspaper and competitor publications. What appears to be obvious to everyone but the Publisher is that many of the misfortunes at the Santa Barbara News-Press appear to be the result of mismanagement at the top, including a disregard for the employees’ interests. In a competitive News Industry it is critical that responsible cost cutting be paired with wise investments to retain and attract readers.

So let’s look at the Santa Barbara News-Press owner’s track record over the past few years. She began by increasingly interjecting her opinions on how news should be reported with the Management Staff at the paper after publicly promising to allow the professionals to do their jobs. Failing to convince those professionals that she knew better, the owner decided to act as Publisher with her companion serving as co-publisher. Shortly afterward several staff resigned in protest over her meddling in the reporting of news and the discipline of employees deemed to have disobeyed nonexistent rules.

In the months that followed many more staff and employees were either terminated because they were perceived as disloyal or incompetent by the Publisher despite the fact that many were recognized by the industry and regularly won awards for their accomplishments, or were driven out because they could no long tolerate the working conditions. The recent layoff further depletes the pool of experienced, competent staff. Some positions in the newsroom have not been replaced while others are being filled with long-term “temporary” workers with no employee benefits, though they perform bargaining unit work.

The decisions made thus far by the current Management haven’t exactly panned out for the Santa Barbara News-Press. If the owner is unwilling or unable to acknowledge she has made mistakes, she cannot learn from them. At some point she must recognize that situation has gotten far worse, not better under the current ownership/management at the paper and she is ultimately responsible. The release of experienced, competent and respected employees and managers is not the model of a successful business plan. Escorting these individuals out the door without a fair severance package should be considered an embarrassment, not a sound business decision.

Having the employees and staff fear your wrath is not the same as having them respect your judgment. If the top Management cannot see these distinctions, something is seriously wrong.

The decisions made to date do not exactly inspire confidence in the Publisher’s ability or desire to do the right thing. If it is her intention to run the Santa Barbara News-Press into the ground because she prefers to fight every fight, rather than to do what is right, she can pursue that option and there is not much anyone can do about it.

On the other hand, if she truly wants to re-establish the Santa Barbara News-Press to its former prominence the Union is willing to listen and work collaboratively. We have expressed these sentiments several times throughout the negotiations. However, at this time Management is not winning friends at the table or in the newsroom with its proposals and overall approach. While we are willing to work collaboratively if the sentiment is reciprocated, we have shown that we are not afraid to fight to improve the situation in the News-Press Newsroom. The Committee believes it is not too late turn things around should the Publisher conclude that is what she wants. The ball is in her court. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to call me.

Sincerely, Nicholas D. Caruso, International Representative GCC/IBT CC: Union Committee

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Community Post: What did the News-Press expect?

PLEASE NOTE: Although I don't agree with all of Goleta Watchers assumptions about each of the three newer members of council, the News-Press editorial the other day brought up some questions as to what they expected when they endorsed Onnen, Bennett and Aceves. Aceves has proven to be what he said he would be, a moderate. He's also surprised a few environmentalists who didn't expect his support on key issues. Still, what will happen in Goleta this fall will be interesting to say the least. I'm including two relevant snippets of the News-Press editorial below. -- Sara
The News-Press supported the three challengers who won in 2006 because Goleta needed a more responsive government. Their win was not a mandate for an extreme pro-growth agenda. The community trusted their assurances that rampant development wouldn't be in store under their watch.

What happens to an area known as Bishop Ranch -- agriculturally zoned land off Highway 101 between Los Carneros and Glen Annie roads -- may set off the South Coast's biggest battle over development.

.....What's troubling is that development-connected interests -- which now have the council's ear -- appear to be following the same road as the last council bloc in terms of not listening to community concerns and desires.

--two parts a Santa Barbara News-Press editorial 05/13/08

======Community Post===========

I know you can't run the full SB News-Press editorial of May 13, Sara, but it's worth considering. In 2006, the NP threw its support hard against the slow-growth incumbents in Goleta of Brock, Connell, Hawkhurst in favor of the Chamber of Commerce-supported team of Bennet, Onnen and Aceves, who were raring to team up with council-member-for-life-Blois.

Those four immediately got to work ripping apart the General Plan that had been the subject of hundreds of earnest community meetings and to favor Bacara/developer requested changes. Not only to favor, but to have the city pay for what the Bacara wants. They've also worked to push out the law firm that had been involved with the city from its beginnings and to get in its place other lawyers more likely to be amenable to the present pro-growth Council. Again, a 3-2 vote.

Now, the last important large open space is headed for development, the Bishop Ranch property off Cathedral Oaks. Pretty much as promised by the N-P candidates it's headed for massive development, close to 1,200 dwelling units plus commercial space; and now the NP stirs and cries weakly, whoa!

Aceves seems to be trying to back away from some of the extreme measures of his associates, but it's too late: the votes are consistently 3-2 (Aceves/Wallis) in favor of development. The last council was responsive to the public but the public could not stand up against the rush of money that came in in the wake of the NewsPress endorsement -- or at least it did not. And the then council members did not see it coming and ran weak campaigns.

There will be an election this November with two seats up, Blois's and Wallis's. Undoubtedly Blois will run, but will Wallis? It will be interesting to see Blois run on her actions of the last two years of tearing down the general plan and welcoming in development. It will be interesting, too, to see if the News-Press continues its support of unrestrained development candidates of what was once the good land.

A Goleta watcher

Labels: ,

PR: Firefighters Endorse Farr

The Professional Firefighters of Santa Barbara County IAFF Local 2046 are proud to join the growing list of supporters of Doreen Farr for 3rd District Supervisor. We believe that Doreen’s experience as a planning commissioner, consultant and businesswoman, combined with her 15 years of service to the County as a community and neighborhood leader makes her the most qualified choice for the County Board of Supervisors. Her thorough knowledge of county and regional issues and commitment to public safety were important to our diverse board and membership in making our selection.

“Doreen impressed our Executive Board with her knowledge of the importance of disaster preparedness. As someone who was evacuated twice for fires while living is Santa Barbara County, Doreen will bring real life experience when making land use decisions that impact public safety.” stated Local President Rob Heckman. “Her commitment to public safety, disaster planning, combined with her deep roots in the community made her the obvious choice to our members.”

The more than 220 professional firefighters who make up the Santa Barbara County Firefighters Association are your friends and neighbors. We are Republicans, Independents, Green Party members and Democrats. We are families concerned about neighborhoods and affordable housing. We care about the economic growth of our community and keeping our high quality of life. We are parents, surfers, hikers and divers, who want to instill in our children and our community a sense of ownership and responsibility about our environment. We are public safety professionals who, on a daily basis, are in contact with the people of the 3rd District and understand their interest in a safe and responsible community.

Protecting life, property and the environment are the highest priorities for firefighters and we are proud to support Doreen Farr for 3rd District Supervisor. Doreen is the one candidate we know has the experience and leadership ability to prioritize these essential 3rd District community needs.


SBCC Mobile Media Summit

This looks like a good event at SBCC -- thought I'd pass it along

SBCC's Mobile Media Summit

WHAT: The Mobile Media Summit provides a unique look into the expanding field of wireless technology and offers ways for you to engage in this modern media.

WHO: Professionals aspiring to work in mobile media and businesses seeking qualified candidates to accelerate their organizations.

Also in attendance: Keynote speaker - Apple's Solution Architect, Frank Callaham. Experts in Mobile Media Technology, like Electronic Arts, Patrick Verrone - Writers Guild Association President,,, and educators from SBCC's Mobile Media Institute.

WHERE: Santa Barbara City College, Fe Bland Forum on West Campus

WHEN: Friday, May 16, 2008 from 4-7pm

WHY: Learn about emerging mobile media technology, network with industry leaders and innovators, and enjoy appetizers, drinks and music.

This event is Free and Open to the Public.


Contact: Stephen DaVega, 805-965-0581 x3570,

The Mobile Media Summit is hosted by the MMI, which is the only publicly funded educational organization in California providing wireless media courses and training that focuses on teaching concepts and development skills for producing mobile content and applications. Committed to developing alliances with leaders and innovators in the mobile industry, the MMI provides students, local entrepreneurs and businesses with the skills and technological resources to keep California at the cutting edge of mobile media.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Virtual Candidate Forum: Where do the judge candidates stand on medical marijuana?

Several readers have contacted me seeking information on the candidates for Superior Court judge and what their stances are around marijuana and medical marijuana -- especially because of the recent council action on medical marijuana dispensaries.

I've written them an email and asked that they respond in the next couple of days so that I can do a post on Friday or Saturday with their responses. I also made it clear to them that I will be either be letting you know they didn't respond or posting their responses (I hope to post them word for word assuming their responses are not too long). I am hoping we can set a good example and model for future Q&A's with candidates by very much respecting those that do respond -- especially considering the nature of this issue.

Given the above are there questions you would like asked of other candidates? I was thinking this might be a good thing to do with the 3rd District Supervisor candidates next week. If you have any questions, list them here and I will consider including them in an email I will send to them this weekend.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 12, 2008

The New Nora Wallace....

One of my faithful readers sent along the following screen shot....I don't think this is Nora Wallace :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More on The Bridge -- SBCTA Opposes

Here's a letter I received a copy of about Cold Spring Bridge that was sent to CalTrans:

===========Letter from SBCTA to Cal Trans===============

This is to inform you of the opposition of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association (SBCTA) to the CalTrans proposal to install fencing barriers on the Cold Spring Bridge. We have arrived at our position after receiving input from experts in law enforcement.

SBCTA understands that our public safety officers place themselves in life threatening situations on a daily basis due to the unpredictable conduct and behavior of certain members of our society. Nevertheless, when troubled individuals threaten to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge, or engage in protesting while climbing the Golden Gate Bridge, we do not believe officers should put themselves in harm's way because of these individuals' erratic behavior and unfortunate conduct.

SBCTA would rather see our taxpayer dollars used to pay for putting more officers on the street and/or by providing our existing officers the wages and benefits they deserve as opposed to using these finite resources to build fencing and other barriers that are not only aesthetically unappealing, but are ultimately ineffective at stopping suicides from occurring.

We thank you for the opportunity to share our position with you on this important matter. In addition, CalTrans staff is always welcome to attend our monthly board of directors’ luncheons, held on the second Thursday of the month at Andersons Pea Soup in Buellton.


Mike Stoker
Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association

Labels: ,

Monday, May 05, 2008

Community Post: Is the Goleta City Council Majority the Best an LA County Developer Can Buy?

I've been meaning to do a post on Goleta City Council and the majority's kissing up to the proposed Bishop Ranch development for some time -- that would be Onnen, Bennett and Blois teaming up for a tour de development force. Luckily an avid reader beat me to it -- which I appreciate as I've been pretty busy lately...thanks for the help!


=============Community Post====================

Is the Goleta City Council Majority the best an LA County Developer can buy?

Or, how will 1000 new market-rate housing units, with no water, help Goleta "meet its housing needs?"

The would-be developer of Bishop Ranch has filed an application with City of Goleta to build 1195 residential units on this 240 acres. The LA County Developer seeks a General Plan amendment to change the property’s land-use designation from agriculture to a Specific Plan “Mixed-Use: Bishop Ranch.”

The proposal, received by the City April 16, mainly argues that the property’s agricultural zoning is incorrect and inappropriate, and, instead, that building this project would help the city meet its housing needs.

Among the proposals for the property for this phased, 10-year project are:

  • “approximately 1,195 residential units” consisting of high-density rentals, multi-family townhomes and condos, detached single-family homes, and “age-restricted” units for seniors; and
  • "up to" 240 units of "affordable" housing.

The developer team and their relatives contributed substantially to new Goleta Council Members Bennett and Onnen during the weeks prior to the November 2006 election, but, as quoted in Goleta Valley Voice, "both have said the money would not influence their decision-making."

Read all about it in Goleta Valley Voice, an opinion essay in The Santa Barbara Independent, and another look from the Indie.

Labels: ,

Press Release from Friends of the Bridge


Compelled by public records requests from project opponents, CalTrans has
revealed that the actual cost of its controversial proposal to install
fencing barriers on the famously scenic Cold Spring Bridge is nearly $3
million, almost 5 times the amount it had previously disclosed. $1 million
of that sum appears to have been diverted from funds budgeted for "collision reduction--traffic safety" purposes.

Shortly after the true cost of the proposal became known, the directors of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), unanimously voted to hold a public hearing on May 15 to review the proposal in light of what one board member called "a whole body of new information that has come forward" which challenges the validity of the purported justification for the fencing barriers proposal.

Such information includes the fact that CalTrans doubled the actual number of suicides from the bridge in its calculation of the benefit:cost ratio for the project and that it misread studies it cited as to the central question of whether bridge barrier actually save lives or merely divert persons to commit suicide elsewhere. According to research reported by UCSB Professor Garrett Glasgow, the studies cited by CalTrans and other studies on the topic demonstrate that barriers appear to divert suicidal behavior to other places rather than to save lives.

Widespread community opposition to the fencing barriers proposal has developed over the past several months following disclosures about the questionable bases upon which it was given initial support. Recently the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association voted to inform CalTrans of its opposition to the barriers proposal, joining the following organizations that have previously done so:

Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
Citizens Planning Association South County Land Use Committee
Pearl Chase Society
Santa Barbara County Action Network
Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club
Los Padres ForestWatch
Womens Environmental Watch
San Marcos Trout Club
Santa Ynez Valley Alliance
Friends of the Bridge

CalTrans has announced that it will release and circulate for public comment a draft environmental impact report on the proposal on May 9 and that it will conduct public hearings thereon in Santa Barbara on June 9 and in Solvang on June 10. Locations and times of these hearings has yet to be announced.


Friday, May 02, 2008

News-Press Lays Off Workers; Blame Teamsters? Wha?

The Santa Barbara Independent reports that The Santa Barbara News-Press ironically chose May Day to lay off ten of their workers, including sports writer Barry Punzal. No severance....just a form for COBRA and documentation for unemployment with a final check after 25 years at the paper. See Craig Smith's Blog for a copy of the memo to employees. Here's what Punzal told The Indie:

“I didn’t even see it coming,” said Punzal. “They just ripped out my heart is what they did, because I gave my heart and soul to that place. . . . They should have just put a gun to my head.”

News-Press uber-attorney Barry Cappello says declining circulation and the union caused the layoffs. Cappello, who has clearly benefitted greatly from months of court appearances, failed to mention that the paper could have saved a great deal of money by simply keeping the illegally fired employees many, many months ago in July of 2006. McCaw and Company have had plenty of opportunity to settle with the Teamsters but have chosen not to -- now they are going to cry wolf?

The truth is that while the News-Press laments the loss of pet parrots on the front page, neighboring newspapers aren't seeing the same kind of losses in circulation and have actually risen or at least held steady during the same time period. The lack of logic defies understanding. After 25 years, you would think the News-Press would at least give Punzal and other long timers a few months severance. Ouch.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Capps Endorses Obama

Rep. Lois Capps endorsed Senator Barack Obama's campaign for President yesterday. Readers sent me a few articles about it from and The Huffington Post.

Saying that Obama "is challenging us to lift ourselves out of the ugliness that increasingly consumes Washington...", Capps surprises some in that she and Walter had both had strong ties with the Clintons. Bill and Hillary both have been to Santa Barbara on their behalf.

The following part of her statement brought her deceased husband back to me for a moment as if he was standing in the room, looking at his shoes for a moment and then launching into something unexpected, inspiring and moving.

“Walter once said that ‘we are strongest as people when we are directed by that which unites us, rather than giving into the fears, suspicions, innuendos and paranoias that divide.’ For years I have been waiting for a President that speaks to that vision. I believe Barack Obama may very well be that rare leader.” (from Huffington Post)

What was the turning point for Lois? Ads from H. Clinton waving the red shirt of terrorism? Were there one too many Hillary supporters that have have made ugly public statements about Obama only to apologize the next day? or was it plain electoral math? We will probably never know.

Good for her though. It is time to move on.

Labels: ,