The Ongoing Onramp Disaster

By Montecito Journal   |   November 16, 2017

The recent two-part editorials on Coast Village Road (MJ #23/43 & 23/45) was very interesting. You did, however, have an error in the recent Part 2. You said that it was the City of Santa Barbara that caused the closure of the southbound 101 on-ramp and that it was Santa Barbara city officials’ contention that traffic could be re-routed to the Milpas on-ramp.

As I remember the public hearings on this topic, the removal of that on-ramp and the contention that, with appropriate signage, the traffic would use the Milpas ramp was solely a Caltrans idea and the City objected, to no avail.

Art Thomas
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: I attended those meetings and with the exception of J’Amy Brown – former president of the Montecito Association and longtime Montecito Planning commissioner, now retired – and me, everyone else present agreed with Caltrans that the 101 southbound at Cabrillo had to go. Montecito Journal editorialized against its closure at length, leading up to the final decision to remove the onramp. At a final meeting, the Caltrans representative advised the entire work group that the decision to remove the southbound entrance was “irrevocable,” and that regardless of opinions to the contrary, Caltrans had the final say and they were going to remove that impediment to their “plans” to “improve” the 101 traffic flow.

Particularly insistent was the now-U.S. representative SaludCarbajal, who at the time was First District supervisor, voiced support of the Caltrans decision. When asked, “What if Ms Brown’s prognostication of gridlock on Coast Village Road proved accurate?”, Mr. Carbajal assured us that was unlikely to happen, but if such an occurrence actually took place it could be “mitigated” quickly. He believed that signage along the West Beach crawl would deter traffic onto 101 at Milpas. I don’t remember any City officials or staff objecting and, if anything, the then-mayor, Marty Blum, also supported closure of the onramp. – J.B.)

Texting Dangerous; Guns Not So Much

According to CBSLOCAL(dot)Com, texting and/or talking on the phone is the reason 27 pedestrians have been killed crossing the streets in Chicago this year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to this shocking statistic with an ingenious liberal “solution,” he said:

 “Everybody does it and then everybody is irritated when someone else does it. So my total view is, I want to look at it. I think it has something to do with people’s own safety.” 

If Mr. Windy City has his way, pedestrians will soon be cited and/or fined for simultaneously walking and texting or using a cell phone. Finally, a brilliant solution to a nationwide problem. 

Everyone can now acknowledge that smart phones kill. Getting this deadly technology out of the hands of pedestrians will keep them from being so distracted that they inadvertently walk into oncoming buses, bicyclists, and walls. 

However, once the texting has stopped, what will prevent that same pedestrian from chatting or arguing (in person) with others on the sidewalk or, God forbid, chewing gum? What if pedestrians “regress” during the technology-withdrawal process and decide to purchase a newspaper or complete a crossword puzzle while walking? What if the absence of a cell phone triggers separation anxiety and the pedestrian decides to consume a cheeseburger or other comfort food while entering the crosswalk? Should the “distracted walking” enforcement apply to anyone carrying a grocery bag, a cup of coffee or can of beer? Should the homeless and panhandlers be exempt if they are using an Obama-Phone?

Proposed fines from $90 to $500 seem reasonable but only if these deadly cell phones (and bubble gum) are confiscated to guarantee that streets can again be safe… for victims. Millennials and snowflakes seem to be the most inattentive pedestrians, so now may be the perfect time to mandate safety helmets for meandering and requisite “safe walking” courses in all college curricula.

Unfortunately, other lethal distractions include walking a dog (or group of dogs), handing out religious pamphlets, vehicles beeping their horns, attractive women walking in short skirts, workers exercising their First Amendment “wolf whistles” toward women in skirts, confusing or brightly lit billboards, street signs, flashing lights, retail storefronts, and an occasional drive-by gunshot. 

With Democrats in control of Chicago for the past 84 years and responsible for the toughest gun control laws in the nation since 1982, it’s perplexing that the 560 victims (shot and killed) since January 1 of this year get less attention than distracted pedestrians.

Dale Lowdermilk
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: It is curious that because some people are stupid and/or irresponsible, all reasonably intelligent and responsible people must bear the brunt of “corrective” legislative action. Your points are well taken. – J.B.)

Rambling on

Regarding “Ray’s Ramblings”: Mr. [Ray] Winn is certainly an entertaining writer, as well as being adept at cherry picking. If your readers would like some actual scientific information on climate change, they should check out reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their reports are the consensus of thousands of scientists working on the problem. The fifth report is available at:

I suggest spending time reading the Summary for Policymakers, which has two main points: 

“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. 

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.” 

There are a lot of data and references in the report for more complete study. 

Tom Farr, Ph.D.

(Editor’s note: Mr. Winn is out of town, but I expect he will respond in a future issue. In the meantime, let’s analyze those “facts.” 1) The IPCC is put together mostly by politicians and policy wonks, not scientists; 2) the statement that “recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history” is absolutely true. How could it not be so? The sentence immediately following is: “Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems,” and that is also absolutely true. However, even the IPCC doesn’t connect the dots by claiming that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases caused those “recent climate changes.” In any case, we’ll let a real scientist – our own Ray Winn – dispute or confirm your claims when he returns. – J.B.) 

Loves Beauty

American Beauty is one of my favorite movies of all time. Looking back it has even more significance. When Lester (Spacey) is being let go, he threatens his boss with a fake sexual harassment case. He said he would say that his young boss offered him oral sex.

When his neighbor, Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper), in another scene kissed him on the lips, he assumed he was gay.

Then, when he deservedly won an Academy Award, he was given the Oscar by Gwyneth Paltrow. Ms Paltrow was one of the too many me-too women who have charged the despicable Harvey Weinstein with sexual harassment, and worse. 

American Beauty or American Tragedy?

Steve Marko
Santa Barbara

Full-Blown Feminist

I have been sort of a feminist for years.

I was raised by a strong woman who taught me to treat people fairly and the way I wanted to be treated. Black or white, male or female, rich or poor, gay or straight, and accepting of whatever religion one worships.

Some of the people I grew up admiring were very strong women: Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, Geraldine Ferraro, to name a few.

So, you can see why I am so saddened and optimistic at the same time.

Sexual harassment and lower pay for women has been too dominant in our society for way too long. I personally feel so hurt that the females of this world have had to put up with this abuse. I am hopeful that by shedding this bright light on this darkness we will let this ugly chapter of our lives be eliminated.

There is no more room for compliance. We must overcome this behavior, so we can look our daughters in their eyes and know we are not part of the problem.

Steven Lawrence
Santa Barbara

White House Cameo

Of course, producers and directors had to fork over cash for the rights to use Donald Trump’s properties, just as they have to pay ASCAP and BMI for the rights to include copyrighted music for a film’s soundtrack.

Instead of money, on a lot of occasions Mr. Trump settled for a cameo appearance in the movie instead of cash. He was in possession of more money than widespread fame and notoriety.

Even way back then, many movers ‘n’ shakers in Hollywood were not enamored with what they considered an egocentric blowhard.

The movie people kept their part of the agreement and actually wrote the Trumpster into a scene and then filmed it, only to leave it on the cutting room floor and thereby essentially getting use of his grand ‘n’ iconic properties for much less than fair value.

However, in the case of 1992’s Home Alone 2 (a much-underrated Macaulay Culkin franchise), John Hughes decided to keep the cameo appearance in the final film cut. It shows Kevin MacCallister (Culkin) roaming around the Trump Plaza Hotel property in a daze, looking for the check-in desk. The Donald sees that he’s perplexed and asks if he can help and directs the youngster in the right direction.

Trump is on screen for only a few seconds, but this cameo seen by millions of moviegoers over the years was all he needed to get his foot in the door leading to Hollywood.

The rest is history, especially if you believe his road through Hollywood was his shortcut to the White House.

Maybe it was; maybe it wasn’t, but it manifests the power of Hollywood and why so many people – including young budding ingénues not in custody of the correct assets – are willing to do anything to get a toehold in Tinseltown.

David S. McCalmont
Santa Barbara

“Opposition Research”

Whenever there is a new embarrassing revelation about Trump associates’ contact with Russians before and after the election, distraction apologists point to past-alleged misdeeds of Obama, Clinton, et al. The Uranium One deal seven years ago is a favorite. They ask, “Why would anyone give their enemy material to make nuclear bombs?” Hey, don’t ask why the USA imports the 89% of the uranium it uses from foreign sources, including 14% from Russia, 24% from Kazakhstan, and 51% from 12 other countries in 2016. The answer: because it’s cheaper. Uranium is neither scarce nor expensive. The spot price is now $20 per pound.

We also know that any deal or agreement not negotiated by Trump is, by his definition, “Terrible… the worst deal ever.” The Iran deal, negotiated over two years by the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, and Germany, stopped and rolled back Iran’s nuclear facilities in exchange for sanctions relief. Concurrently, $1.7 billion of Iran’s money was returned after being frozen in the U.S. for 38 years. All our allies, the IAEA, Mattis, McMaster, all agree that Iran is in compliance. For Trump to renege on the deal sends a message to all countries that the U.S. cannot be trusted to abide by its agreements. Why would North Korea believe that Trump would honor any agreement on nuclear weapons?

The opposition research, a.k.a. the “Russian dossier,” complied by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, was originally commissioned by a Republican during the primaries and subsequently continued by the Clinton campaign. A substantial part of the information contained therein has been corroborated by other sources and more recent revelations. There remain parts that have yet to be verified and may remain so, given the nature of the material. It is a classic misdirection tactic to focus on who paid for what, rather than to focus on the substance of the information.

No wonder Trump supporters are so eager to fire Mueller for fear of what truth will be revealed.

Bill Williamson

(Editor’s note: Thank you for your letter, but it leaves us absolutely befuddled that someone as astute as you seem to be doesn’t feel that a deal that gives Russia a stake in 20% of American uranium coincidental with some $140 million directed to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as U.S. secretary of state and her husband was receiving $500,000 speaking fees in Russia is worth at least as much scrutiny as the Trump campaign’s alleged “collusion” with the Russians? As for the Iran deal, the Senate is supposed to approve of any and all treaties; the signature of a U.S. president isn’t and shouldn’t be enough to commit the country to such a deal. That it never went to the Senate tells us all we need to know about it. As for the “$1.7 billion of Iran’s money” that was released, that amount was just the actual cash – pallets full of British pounds, U.S. dollars, Swiss francs, and euros – “released” via private jet. Another $150 billion in bank funds and investments was also “released” in exchange for the deal that would leave poor future presidents of both the U.S. and Israel in the position of having to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran. – J.B.)

The Glories of Socialism

Outside Havana, most of Cuba is still in the 19th century. Many people walk, but equally as many use horses, both to ride and pull carts. I saw wagons pulled by oxen on the highway. We traveled by motor coach, stayed in crude motels, and ate in restaurants: all owned by the government. Staying clean was a challenge. In the public restrooms, washing your hands was interesting. You need three things to wash your hands: water, soap, towel to dry. Well, the towel was your shirt or pants, because there never were any towels. In one-third of the toilets, there was no water – and in one case, there was a lady standing beside the sink with a bottle of water to pour over your hands. In an equal number of places, there was no soap.

If you thought not having soap and water in the restroom was a problem, imagine not having a toilet seat. Yep, no toilet seat, and it wasn’t just confined to public facilities. One of the rooms we stayed in had no toilet seat, which was matched by the fact there was no toilet paper. In its place, somebody had carefully torn individual sheets of toilet paper from a roll and placed them on the back of the toilet.

Free health care and education is one of the things Castro brought with his revolution. Healthcare is generally limited to the bigger cities. Our guide told us that a taxi driver in Havana earned more in tips each day than a medical doctor earned in salary in one month . Oh, and the doctor can be arrested and jailed if he attempts to treat people on the side for extra money. Education is free, but the reality is that most people cannot afford to stay in school. Our tour guide was the exception. He completed college and got a master’s degree in computer technology but can’t find a job in that field, so he conducts tours.

We visited a tobacco farm, where we had the opportunity to purchase genuine Cuban cigars for $3.25. The farm had been in this man’s family for three generations, but only recently had actual title been put back in his name. The government claimed it after the revolution. Once harvested, the government takes 90% of the tobacco, leaving the farmer with just 10% for his “own personal use”. He chose to demonstrate how to hand-roll a cigar, then sell it to tourists. I asked our guide if all farmers lost 90% of their crop to the government. His reply, “Oh no, vegetable farmers only give up 60% of their crop”.

The roads looked like they had been carpet-bombed, with hug potholes everywhere. Add that to the very steep hills we encountered and it made for slow biking. While I am no speed demon, one day I averaged just 4.5 mph as I attempted to find bits of pavement between the holes in the road. In many cases, there was no road, just dirt and when the trucks went past, we were engulfed in a storm of dust and exhaust fumes. A few of the trucks were leftover Russian military vehicles. Personal transportation in the rural area was provided by stake-bodied trucks. People would stand by the side of the road and climb aboard when such a truck came by. The fare was around eight cents, and you stood packed in the bed of the truck with several dozen other people.

Those on welfare receive $25 a month, plus a ration of beans, rice, and cooking oil. The money comes from the Cuban government, but the Russians provide the food. Each month, a supply cargo ship docks with beans, rice, and cooking oil sent by the Russians. 

Glad I went, but have no desire to return. In Cuba, the amount of poverty is staggering; it makes our inner cities look like paradise. After two weeks abroad, we flew home and I spent the night in a Hampton Inn at the Atlanta airport, before catching an early morning flight back to Seattle. I took the longest hot water shower ever, after having a cheeseburger, fries, and two gin and tonics for dinner.

I was really glad to be back.

This review is dedicated to all Bernie Sanders supporters and other left-wingers that believe “socialism” is so much better than the “capitalism” our country was built on.

Doctor X

(Editor’s note: This letter was written by a retired physician who made the trip recently and was forwarded to us by a Santa Barbara resident. We cannot verify any of it, but it sounded genuine enough to include. If you are one who believes this is probably “fake news,” then so be it. You may be correct. – J.B.)


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