Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, February 23, 2009

Community Post: Pappas' Case Lacks Merit

This letter was submitted to the Journal -- we'll see if it is published on Thursday considering the publisher's bias ($195K to the Pappas campaign). Kudos to UCSB student Liam Keene for writing an intelligent, well organized letter. A similar letter was published in the Daily Nexus this morning. -- Sara

Letter to the SYV Journal, Submitted February 18, 2009

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to a number of recent articles in your publication regarding the ongoing court case Pappas vs. Farr. I understand that the publisher of this paper has contributed a significant amount to the Pappas campaign (Lompoc Record, Feb 8. 2009), and so I imagine this is an issue close to heart for this newspaper. However, I do recall reading that this paper welcomes dissenting opinions and that its mission is to provide a forum for better understanding, which I commend you for. In the spirit of full disclosure, I would like to state that I am from the Santa Ynez Valley (my family lives in Solvang), I attend UC Santa Barbara, and I live in Isla Vista. I walked to my polling place on election day and voted in one of the precincts Mr. Pappas now seeks to invalidate. Like Mr. Pappas, I am not a registered member of either party.

A number of claims have been made since the election regarding widespread election fraud in Isla Vista. One issue that has been raised was first-time voters providing IDs with regards to the Help America Vote Act (Journal, Nov. 27, 2008). It seemed as if this newspaper believed that voters were required to show their driver's license at the polling place. However, HAVA requirements are met by putting one's driver's license number on one's voter registration form. Further, any doubts regarding the sufficiency of identification presented are resolved in favor of the voter.

Another issue raised was concern that students had provided a P.O. Box address instead of their dorm room number and that these addresses were sequential. At UCSB, no mail is delivered to dorms and every student who lives in campus housing is issued a PO Box in the UCEN. Roommates share boxes and they are issued sequentially.

When the elections office defended the legitimacy of the process, the publisher stated this was “no assurance to those who feel that the UCSB student population for the last 30 years has been used to dictate policy... to the residents and property owners of the Santa Ynez Valley” (ibid). There seems to be two sentiments here. One, that students should not be able to vote because they live in a place for a temporary amount of time. The Supreme Court ruled in Symm v. United States that students who reside in an area are indeed residents. Further, military personnel at Vandenberg are also allowed to vote and are considered full-fledged residents and members of our community; students should be afforded the same respect. The second sentiment, is that the legitimate votes of liberal students are somehow unfair to those who disagree with them. This would make the contention one of gerrymandering, not of fraud.

In court, Pappas has claimed that because Box 12 on a registration card was not filled out, the vote should be discounted. Regardless of whether registrars were required to complete that box, California Elections Code 2158(b)(1) makes it clear that failure to complete Box 12 “shall not cause the invalidation of the registration of a voter”. Pappas and his attorney knew of this section and yet they proceeded to make this claim in court. As they knew would happen, Judge McLafferty dismissed this claim.

Pappas also claimed that because volunteers did not turn in registration cards within three days of collecting them, the votes should be discounted. However, Elections Code 2107(a) states that the county shall accept registrations “at all times” during the registration window. The sections that state that cards must be submitted in three days and the sanctions they discuss apply to the volunteers and not to the voters. The code makes it very clear that any minor technicalities are not to invalidate a vote; again, Judge McLafferty acted appropriately.

With these issues addressed, it remains to be seen what Mr. Pappas intends to claim. Until Mr. Pappas provides real evidence, I am forced to question the motives of the suit. In the Journal, the publisher wrote “Our election process is too precious to cavalierly distort even a single vote.” However, Mr. Pappas' selective targeting of precincts intends to silence a community. Everyone is concerned with improper registrations but some number of irregularities are likely to be found county wide. To insinuate that Joe Holland or Doreen Farr have done anything wrong is irresponsible. All too often, political elements make cavalier claims of election fraud (see Many would like to eliminate the voices of minorities or young people (demographics present in the 18 precincts Mr. Pappas targets).

We certainly don't want votes to be cast improperly, but looking at the laws and the facts as they stand, it almost appears that the contesting of the election outcome is more of a dog and pony show designed to drum up support for future redistricting of the Third District than a case based on legitimate concerns of fraud. Instead of rallying the base against “the activist courts” or some vast left-wing conspiracy, I hope that those involved can stick to the facts and will examine the law as it's written. And if Mr. Pappas does have legitimate evidence of improper voting, I am eager to see to see it.

—Liam Keane
Isla Vista

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Anonymous pico said...

Nice letter... yes,the redistricting is the real target.

2/24/2009 6:15 AM  
Blogger DMcClureDVM said...

Well expressed.

2/24/2009 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, this letter will be published in the SYV Journal. How do I know? I'm the managing editor. Check it out this Thursday.

2/24/2009 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

Great letter. Often lost in the IV/SY discussion is a simple, friendly fact: lots of Valley residents went to UCSB, and lots of our kids went/go/will go there.

2/24/2009 5:39 PM  
Blogger Kim P said...

it will be very surprising if Nancy Crawford publishes this in the SYVJournal, but i sure hope that she does because there are alot of her cohorts in SYV area who NEED to read this excellent and well-researched letter...maybe she will surprise us! thank you for writing this informative and thoughtful letter. peace.

2/24/2009 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Good comment, remember your name! said...

Excellent take on this Liam, but good luck on getting it published. Those that agree with the publisher’s point if views have carte blanch when it comes to exceeding the 250 word limit on letters to the editor but those who oppose or criticize those same views do not get the same consideration and the editor’s use it too reject submissions. Even if submitted under the 250 word count a lot of letters are not allowed because they reveal the true bias of the VJ. But… you never know.. once in awhile they will let one slip by just to give the appearance of being non-biased.

Past editors such as Edmond Jacoby were fair and allowed dissenting points of view to be published but he is no longer with the VJ as are other past editors who were “fair and balanced”.

The VJ has repeatedly stated that they are the only paper in the area that tells the truth to the community on issues and shows no bias in reporting them. Yet the Valley Journals very close knit group of supporters and like-minded friends (POSY, POLO et all) have always had their opinions published I the Santa Ynez valley News.

It is basically a group-hug publication for a small group of “like-minded” individuals of which Pappas is one, who’s mission is to criticize anything and everything the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash do…even when it is their charitable donations.

NCH admittedly has stated that she bought the paper to do just that. NCH has said the Journal is going to keep after the Chumash.

The VJ has tried two times to become a paper of general circulation and both times NCH has failed to meet the requirements. Mostly because they give the paper away for free and a requirement for status is to have a bone-fide paid subscriber base..but there are so many other reasons why the paper should not be allowed this status. Least of which are publishing personal attacks on individuals by anonymous authors… oh yeah and the big front page headline with picture telling us that Mars would be as big as the moon in our sky. Sorry,, but no.

2/24/2009 9:58 PM  
Anonymous SYVgal said...

I think it's odd that people would post comments insinuating that the letter is not going to published after the managing editor already said that it was. Hopefully she would know more than the random outsider. I also think it's relevant to point out that the Valley News exhibits a consistently pro-Chumash bias in their stories, which is tied to the ad dollars the tribe spends with Lee publishing. This, and the general lack of content in the News, is why a lot of Valley folks are picking up the Journal more frequently.

2/25/2009 10:32 AM  
Anonymous GoletaGolida said...

Well, they did publish it. It can be found here. Considering that the editor gave almost $200,000 to the other side, this is a pretty good indicator that the letters forum is indeed open to all; dissenting views are allowed provided they are respectful and well researched.

2/26/2009 12:13 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Good for the SYVJ....and the perception of bias with the large donations still carries through for me.

2/26/2009 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish someone would please clarify that Nancy Crawford-Hall is NOT the editor of the Santa Ynez Valley Journal. She is the OWNER. Big difference.

3/03/2009 1:50 PM  

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