Just imagine “A world of ballroom dance creating a beautiful place in your mind, body and soul. ” Even after the fire, mudslide, earthquake, and multiple evacuations, five women (three from Montecito), and their dance instructor, Vasily Golovin, owner of Dance Fever Studio Montecito, found the time to attend the San Francisco Open Dancesport Competition. Dadiana Salon Montecito has been evacuated five times, and my business has suffered due to the devastation surrounding the area.
Dancing, however, has saved me. It gave me a wonderful outlet and focus. I could take a dance lesson with my instructor, and for a short time, forget everything going on around me and feel whole again. Yulia Kotlyan, Cyndi Chilcott, Leslie Sokol, and Danni Borut feel the same. We knew this competition was approaching, and we needed to be prepared for this high-level event. I am a gold-level pro/am dancer and placed second in the Gold Level Championship; Cyndi, Danni, and Yulia are bronze- and silver-level Latin pro/am dancers and placed second as well. Danni placed first in her Senior Silver Championship.
Congratulations to the “Ladies Who Dance!” I am so grateful to be a part of this extraordinary community.
Almost 18 months further on from the November 2016 presidential election, the heart and soul of the Democratic Party is suing everyone and everything in sight because it lost.
Do we need any further proof that the Democrats have not searched inward for political-economic-cultural reasons why the majority of voters in more than enough states of the Union in the privacy of the voting booth voluntarily pulled the lever for someone other than Hillary Rodham Clinton for president?
We have indirect, inadvertent evidence that Democrats have ingested the reasons why they are falling short at the ballot box.
In the two elections in 2018 where the Democrats came out victorious over (presumably) Trump Republicans (Senate race in Alabama; Pennsylvania 18th Congressional District), the party ran (relatively) young cookie-cutter white males with military and prosecutorial résumés, who then ran away from all the left-wing dominated influences of the national Democratic Party in their attempts to out-flank Donald Trump in these low-turnout special elections.
The two Democrat victors persuaded enough voters that they would vote independently of Nancy Pelosi and Senator [Chuck] Schumer. Of course, they haven’t so far, and probably won’t, before they are forced to run for re-election in the near future. But, the fact remains that had they run in Alabama and Pennsylvania as left-wing Democrats against Trump Republicans, they would’ve lost, just like the five Democrats who lost in 2017 in special congressional elections.
The entire Mueller investigation is an open-ended Phishing Expedition to find a smoking gun against Donald Trump…
…So Democrats don’t have to face the reality that the American people – on a level playing field – rejected them and their agenda.
Amidst a booming economy (which the mainstream media refuses to report is a booming economy), the Democratic National Committee hopes/expects to leverage a pathological hatred of a victorious opponent this November into a victory… so they can file impeachment proceedings in a Democrat-controlled House, and then convict the president of whatever crimes a majority of delusional unhinged Democrats in the Senate can bring against a man who has successfully demonstrated to the American people that the Democrats are wandering aimlessly around in public with no clothes on.
Every time in the past the American voters have deemed it necessary to switch parties Inside-the-Beltway, there were major policy issues/reasons at the basis of why they turned one party out and voted the other party in.
The Democratic National Committee, in 2018, is banking on pure hatred of Donald Trump as the sole premise for the people turning Republicans out of power and putting Democrats back in control of Capitol Hill.
This is a long-odds bet for the Democrats.
If it works, the Democrats will have gotten away with no soul-searching and/or navel-gazing in order to discover the reasons why they are increasingly out of touch with mainstream American voters. They will take it as an enormous mandate from the voters to enact their far-left agenda and pursue their pathological vendetta against everybody who effectively challenges their existence in the Public Square.
If the Democrats lose in November, as I prognosticate, they are (fricking) toast for a long time.
David S. McCalmont
(Editor’s note: Here’s our/my prognostication: It’s still too early to get a feel for which way things will go in November, but even though the House of Representatives seems to be in play, Republicans are likely – barely – to hang on to a small majority. In the Senate, I/we expect Republicans to pick up four additional seats, perhaps even five or six, so if Democrats manage to flip the House and pass articles of Impeachment with their majority – and they may – there’ll be no way to garner the 67 Senate votes required to convict the president and remove him from office. Unfortunately, if Republicans lose the House and retain the Senate, there’ll be no further legislation from Congress until the 2020 election decides which way the country will head. – J.B.)
Saving the Rain
I love your recommendation re: a rain-capture program (“Recharging Our Dried-up System,” MJ #24/16). To save on my $1,200/month City Water bills at $24 per HCF and rising, I must work the rain runoff rotating 18 rubber cans in rows of two. It takes 22 minutes per cycle in a downpour from one end to the next to pull cans across the drive to dump in my yard. While my upper gutters on the third floor are engineered to go under the driveway to spout into the front yard, “to cut costs” I messed up on the bottom level where rain dumps direct onto the driveway from the deck.
Count me in on any future easier City or County water capture recycle and storage program. Lugging and throwing 50+ pounds of canned water is arm-aching wet work.
Denice Spangler Adams
(Editor’s note: At this point in time, new homes built anywhere in California should be required to install some sort of rainwater-capture device. Undergrounding a large tank seems like the best way to go, but there are a number of above-ground setups that could work for those wishing to create something simpler for an already existing house-and-gutter setup. Ace Rain Systems, for example, sells and installs rainwater-collection systems beginning for as little as $1,000. They have offices in Riverside (951-553-0348) and North County San Diego (760-734-4888). Check them out. – J.B.)
The “Brush Goat” Solution
I have spent time investigating causes and prevention of forest fires. This method of prevention has been successful in similar areas. A systematic use of the goats’ appetite for thistles, weeds, and dead, dry brush could save millions of dollars and precious homes caused by inevitable fires in our adjoining dry mountains, These goats are chaperoned and contained by solar energy fences with accompanying dogs to protect them from wild animals.
I have evacuated three times from my home on Hot Springs Road, stuffing computers, photo albums, dogs, mini horses, and children into every available vehicle with smoke and sparks lighting the way. I hope new residents who don’t understand this fright, and old residents who have experienced this horror, will embrace and encourage this fire prevention by utilizing Brush Goats For Hire.
The sight of acres of homes destroyed by subsequent mud and boulder slides caused by no mountain plants and trees to hinder them is a sight none of us need to see. The cost is minimal compared with impending loss.
And don’t forget all the little wild animals and birds whose lives are destroyed by the flames.
Maxwell Dickinson Decker
Looking for Leadership
The recent rebuilding Montecito efforts were magnificent. They were a striking example of how a clear focus, skilled resources, and lack of bureaucratic interference or regulations allowed Montecito to be back in business and their residents back in their homes. That task is complete. The next step is to make Montecito a safe, pleasant place to live. This second effort requires even more emphasis on minimizing bureaucratic regulations and interference and stopping boundary line issues that can bog down the revitalization program and threaten Montecito’s economic position.
The star real estate salespeople quoted by Bob Hazard were overly optimistic about the outlook for real estate in Montecito. What rational person would buy a house where, at the onset of rain they would lay awake awaiting the Sherriff’s deputy’s knock on the door at 1:30 am or spending two to four weeks in a hotel room with their two dogs and a cat? Houses may sell but for substantially less, unless a focused program is undertaken rapidly.
To ensure this requires a full-time leader supported by professionals with tight timetable and access to all political levels to ensure rapid resolution of issues and remove obstacles.
Mr. Hazard has already highlighted the major tasks, most of which are already being attacked. But without leadership, operating under an emergency mandate, and without backing from all political levels, the effort will fail to meet the needs of the community and its taxpayers.
(Editor’s note: We agree with your assertion that leadership is needed for the effort to revitalize the rebuilding effort here in Montecito. However, we also believe we should wait until the new map outlining where the danger zones remain before rushing headlong into new planning; that map is due in June, July at the latest. – J.B.)
Teddy Roosevelt’s Legacy
When Donald Trump was elected president, sportsmen had high hopes that the president and his cabinet would commit to, in President Trump’s words, “honoring the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt.” As our 26th president, Roosevelt worked tirelessly to stop special interests from developing and privatizing our public lands and waters, conserving more than 230 million acres by establishing 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks, and 18 national monuments.
Sportsmen have applauded the administration for some Roosevelt-like actions, such as their proposal to expand hunting and fishing on 10 national wildlife refuges and their calling on Congress to create a permanent solution to the practice of “fire borrowing.”
Yet we will continue to hold administration officials accountable for pursuing the rollback of conservation protections on millions of acres of national monuments, scrapping collaborative habitat management plans for sage grouse, and not fighting administration proposals to cut popular public-access programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These actions threaten to undermine Roosevelt’s legacy, and I join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in urging the Trump Administration to do the right thing and stand up for our public lands.
As you may know, we have been urging commissioner Dave Jones of the California Department of Insurance to issue an emergency order prohibiting insurers from non-renewing policies, raising rates, or reducing coverage, pending action by the state legislature or governor.
On April 13, CDI sent us a letter contending that it didn’t have the power to do so. Attached is our response.
“Dear Mr. Cignarale,
We have received your letter of April 13, 2018, in which you express the Department’s commitment to take every action under its authority to assist homeowners addressing losses from the wildfires and mudslides. However, you also express the idea that the Commissioner is powerless with regard to the actions we have requested. I am writing in response.
California case law is replete with decisions affirming the Commissioner’s “broad discretion to adopt rules and regulations as necessary to promote the public welfare.” (State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Garamendi (2004) 32 Cal. 4th 1029, 1040). Indeed, as you know, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that the Commissioner is to administer regulations within the scope of authority granted by the legislature. (Association of California Ins. Companies v. Jones (2017) 2 Cal. 5th 376, 390). Below, you will find specific provisions of the insurance code that authorize the Commissioner to take actions of the type we request to assist homeowners. This would be especially true in an emergency situation.
Section 674.6 of the California Insurance Code authorizes the Commissioner to adopt appropriate rules, regulations and standards for implementing the laws governing insurance cancellation and non-renewal. Within the purview of this authority, the Commissioner can promulgate rules regarding Section 675.1(c), which requires insurers to renew a policy at least once after a total loss was caused by a disaster. The Commissioner is authorized to interpret this law as a mandate on insurance renewal. Moreover, he is authorized to interpret the words “at least” as a connotation that this law is a floor, and that the Commissioner is authorized to adopt rules defining its boundaries.
We urge the Commissioner to exercise this authority to prevent the disaster that would occur if companies were to non-renew homeowners and business insurance policies in Santa Barbara County.
Regarding cancellation of policies, Section 676(e) provides that physical changes in the insured property which result in the property becoming “uninsurable” qualify as grounds for valid notice of cancellation. We urge the Commissioner to clarify that insurers are precluded from invoking this provision without establishing to the satisfaction of CDI that the property in question is, in fact, “uninsurable” as defined by the Department.
Section 790.10 of the Insurance Code confers broad authority on the Commissioner to administer the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (UIPA). (Association of California Ins. Companies v. Jones (2017) 2 Cal.5th 376, 394). This authority covers all insurance business practices, including underwriting, rate-setting, communications, and more. It is not restricted to claims handling practices. As the Supreme Court held in Association of California Insurance Companies v. Jones, the Commissioner’s authority under Article 6.5 is broad enough for him to interpret and administer the UIPA. Specifically, we urge the Commissioner to clarify that for an insurer to unreasonably increase deductibles, increase premiums, limit coverage, or non-renew policies following a disaster would constitute an unfair insurance practice under Section 790 et seq.
Notwithstanding the above, at the very least, the Commissioner should invoke his inherent emergency authority to preclude insurers from non-renewing policies, cancelling policies, reducing coverage, or unreasonably increasing premiums, or deductibles until further notice. This would provide the California Legislature and Governor with the time necessary to take action on their own, without exposing insureds and lenders to unnecessary delay, uncertainty and risk.
Finally, we would like to address the matter of the “efficient proximate cause” doctrine. To clarify, it was as a result of our contacting the Editorial Page editor of the Los Angeles Times that the Times published our contention that the “efficient proximate cause” doctrine provides coverage to Montecito homeowners. Our article, which was published January 19, 2018, corrected a previous Op-Ed by Professor Kenneth Klein. A copy of our response was sent to CDI, resulting in the Commissioner’s subsequent statement confirming our position on January 29, 2018. We appreciate Commissioner Jones’s prompt and effective action in this regard, as well as the other actions he has taken to help policyholders in this time of unprecedented need and tragedy.
We look forward to your response.”
A Hundred Days Ago
One hundred days – it can seem like yesterday or it can seem like a lifetime ago. For so many in South Santa Barbara County, I know that it feels like both. It was 100 days ago today that the January 9 debris flow swept through Montecito and Carpinteria, changing so many lives forever. We lost 21 members of our community and two are still missing. To the families of each, please know you have been in our hearts each and every day.
For everyone in Montecito whose home was destroyed or damaged, the road to your new way of life will be a long one. Your patience and care for one another has been remarkable over these 100 days. This patience will be tested by the breadth and scale of this disaster. We believe that until everyone affected is settled in their repaired home or a new home, this will continue to be an emergency for you. And so it is an ongoing emergency for everyone in County government. We talk about this every single day and will remain focused and diligent.
Webster’s Dictionary defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” I take issue only with the notion that this path of recovery will be easy. But Mr. Webster certainly knows the heart of our community. We have seen misfortune and change. By working hand-in-hand with one another, I know in my heart that we do have the ability to not just recover, but thrive. So much about our future together will be about how we walk along this path of recovery.
I’m certain we can do it by holding one another accountable, and we can do it by showing one another the care that will be required to see a safer, stronger, and more sustainable Montecito.
(Editor’s note: Mr. Williams currently serves as chairman of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.)