It’s Gone on Too Long
This has gone on too long. Every day, the pot holes and trenches get worse at the bottom off Olive Mill Road and Coast Village Road right in front of the construction of the new building on the corner. This intersection is a joke and needs to be repaired now.
My husband and I drive through this intersection multiple times a day, and we both remark how it is tearing up our tires and car suspension. There are no signs warning motorists of the hazards. Friends came for dinner and on their way home hit a pothole, got a flat tire, and it cost them over $300 for a new tire. Now it seems everyone I mention this to has the same frustration: no warning signs, and potential damage to our/their cars.
I have made multiple calls to the City of Santa Barbara and the County, and was told that my voice has been heard and has been forwarded to the Santa Barbara Public Works inspector, who has contacted the vendor. It is really a shame that the builder and contractor had not taken care of this situation months ago, every time they have dug new trenches and torn up the street once again. We all want to get our community up and working well again.
Victoria Furst Hines
(Editor’s note: Can’t say we disagree with your observation or your complaint, other than noting that the January mud-and-debris flow didn’t help speed up construction at this critical corner. Nevertheless, we too feel that more needs to be and can be done to keep this particularly critical roadway passable and safe during the final building phase. A little more conscientious attention and some much-needed repairs should take place now, if not sooner. – J.B.)
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) have lobbied governor Jerry Brown to limit their liability for future wildfires and to pass a bond measure requiring ratepayers to pay back the cost to finance wildfire settlements whether these utilities caused the fire or not.
Governor Brown has just sent a bill to the floor of the legislature to limit their liability for future wildfires – those started after January 1, 2018. This would permit them to both shift the cost of fires to ratepayers and, most concerning, escape liability for the January 9 debris flow, which singularly impacted our community and which the California Insurance Commission declared the proximate cause of the Thomas Fire.
In addition, SCE is challenging in courts the law applied to wildfires which essentially says if a utility company starts a fire, they must pay for resulting damages. The courts have consistently upheld this law for over 20 years, yet their attempts to overturn the law continues. PG&E just lost its challenge to this law in the 2017 North Bay fires and SCE’s case to have claims against it dismissed will be heard in early October.
Many in Montecito have discovered their insurance is insufficient to cover all the damages suffered from the Thomas Fire and debris flow and must look to those who caused the fire for relief. In addition to property losses, no insurance company compensates for the emotional cost these events have had on our lives.
Governor Brown’s proposed legislation to transfer the costs resulting from wildfires to us will be will be voted upon before the end of August: time is of the essence. Tell him that if a utility causes a wildfire and subsequent debris flow that destroys people’s homes and lives, it should be held responsible.
Two Cheers for Trump
I applaud our president’s foreign policy stance.
As the “Commander and Chief” of this nation, his first sworn duty is to protect the U.S. from harm. My father was an Air Force colonel with great conviction and passion behind all presidents. The fact that there is no nuclear threat from Russia or North Korea speaks volumes. Does anyone remember the 1950s and ’60s, when we learned to cower under our desks in case of nuclear war?
Firmly and fairly negotiating with adversaries is sound decision-making. Shunning and ignoring them is nonsense. Will peace last? It’s always fragile and only time will tell.
I read The Art of The Deal when I was a young real estate broker. Two gems of advice became clear: 1) Minimize the downside, maximize the upside; and 2) When in negotiations you must, (there ain’t no other way to put it), have [gonads].
Is our president a male chauvinist gentleman?
This is not to say that women are the weaker sex (heaven forbid, a demure woman these days), but political and war negotiations are slaughterhouses that require great swordsmanship. Think George Washington, Errol Flynn, or Zorro if you will.
Yet at the end of the day, the pen is mightier than the sword.
Orwell is Alive and Well in Michigan
In Noah Webster’s An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, (1787), he states, “In the formation of our Constitution the wisdom of all ages is collected, the legislators of antiquity are consulted, as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. In short, it is an empire of reason.”
Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues, including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law, and government reform, as a senior legal Fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative, and Christopher Baldacci, a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.
In the face of Orwellian speech codes on campus – and with the help of advocacy groups like Speech First Inc., college students have been fighting to defend their First Amendment right to free speech. Now, they can count the Justice Department as one of their strongest allies.
Earlier this year, the University of Michigan passed a policy that could punish students for making their peers feel offended. The Justice Department decided to weigh in, showing just how different the Trump Administration is from the one that preceded it. As attorney general Jeff Sessions recently told students at the Turning Point USA High School Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the University of Michigan has set an improper “limitation on the right of Michigan students to be able to speak.”
So last month, the Justice Department filed a “Statement of Interest” in a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate Michigan’s speech code. It’s the fourth such document it has filed in the last 12 months in an effort to aggressively defend college students’ free speech rights.
For example, the Justice Department filed a Statement of Interest in a case last year involving Pierce College in Los Angeles. There, free expression is confined to a 616-sq-ft “free speech area” (just 0.003 percent of the campus), and even then, students are required to get prior authorization from campus administrators to enter it.
The Justice Department also criticized Georgia Gwinnett College for permitting speech only in zones that covered just 0.0015 percent of the campus. Even then, no speech is allowed in that “free speech zone” that “disturbs the… comfort of person(s).”
In eight years, the Obama Justice Department never once challenged such restrictions.
Hopefully, with the Justice Department now intervening, the courts will finally start striking critical blows to insidious university policies that impose a political orthodoxy on students, and limit their basic First Amendment rights to engage in vigorous debates on contentious issues.
A Threat to Freedom
As Sessions noted, “State universities need to be objective and fair. They need to let both people, both sides of an issue, have an opportunity to speak.” It is not news to most Americans that colleges have been restricting the speech – especially conservative speech – of students, staff, and speakers. Sometimes this suppression comes at the hands of students, such as the rioters at the University of California, Berkeley, who prevented conservatives from giving lectures. In these instances, school administrators have been disappointingly complicit in condoning such misbehavior and refusing to punish students and faculty who disrupt other speakers.
In other instances, the schools themselves have restricted speech on social and political issues. According to Sessions, the fact that university administrators are supporting “groups who go in deliberately to intimidate, threaten, and block a person’s right to freely discuss an issue is a threat to our freedom, and it’s contrary to the Constitution.
The University of Michigan’s speech code prohibits any speech that a listener considers “bothersome” or “hurtful.” A violation of the code can result in school punishment, including suspension or expulsion. So, the most sensitive student on campus effectively can dictate the terms under which other students can speak or, as the case may be, not speak.
Bias Response Teams
If that weren’t enough, the university has organized so-called “bias response teams” made up of administrators and law enforcement to investigate any student accused of violating the speech code, whether on or off campus – and complaints can be filed anonymously.
Picture that: a team of campus officials and law enforcement officers patrolling a college campus to punish speakers who have been accused of offending some student’s sensibilities. That sounds like something out of a TV show about a despotic future society.
Basically, bias response teams are the University of Michigan’s version of the thought police in George Orwell’s 1984. It’s no wonder students claim they are afraid to speak out about controversial topics like abortion, immigration, or racial politics. These speech restrictions continue to be implemented because a powerful group of college administrators and leftist elites have a growing contempt for the First Amendment. They simply want to silence anyone who disagrees with their views on politics and culture. They consider all speech they disagree with to be bigoted speech that constitutes real harm – just like physical violence – and should therefore be banned.
Many on the left believe that those who disagree with them on substantive issues have genuinely evil motivations and, therefore, are not entitled to the First Amendment right to disagree.
Speech codes like the one imposed by the University of Michigan, which allow a listener to determine if the speech “feels” offensive, will inevitably be weaponized against those who express disfavored political views.
Indeed, this is exactly why the Justice Department felt the need to intervene. It wrote that Michigan’s law “invites arbitrary, discriminatory, and overzealous enforcement.” It also “does precisely what the First Amendment forbids – it punishes speech merely because of the ‘listeners’ reaction.’”
It’s easier to be indifferent about these speech codes when your own views are the ones being protected. But liberal administrators should ask themselves: What if a pro-life student claimed to be distressed by Planned Parenthood passing out flyers on a campus quad? What if a Christian student felt persecuted by a public debate about the existence of God? Would these students get the same support from the university? Even if they did, it would only prove that a feelings-based approach to free speech creates an endless mess in which no one’s speech is ever fully protected.
Americans of all creeds and political views should fight to oppose these restrictions. They are truly Orwellian and un-American. The university of all places, especially the public university, should be a place where free speech is defended, where open dialogue and intellectual debate ought to be the modus operandi.
This is why the Justice Department said it could not “stand idly by while public universities violate students’ constitutional rights.” Sessions and the Justice Department should be commended.
The First Amendment doesn’t lose its power when speech becomes offensive. It was actually written to protect speech that could be perceived as offensive. After all, why do popular speakers need the protection of law? No one threatens their ability to speak.
The Bill of Rights exists to protect the weak from the strong, the minority from the majority, and the unpopular from the popular. The right of the 49 percent to speak out against the 51 percent is what makes us a free country.
When a state school can punish speakers for nothing more than hurting someone’s feelings, the First Amendment has been utterly gutted – and students who are citizens protected by the Constitution have been robbed of their fundamental right to disagree. Practically every word uttered by the founders must have offended King George.
One Flew over the OZY Fest
On July 21, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the featured guest at the OZY Fest in New York City.
Those who are interested in watching her entire disturbing 43-minute “It’s Not My Fault” rationalization of everything that went wrong may Google “YouTube Hillary Ozy Fest” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=E84MSxiGbDU
A couple of items that caught my attention were:
1) The first 10 seconds of her “arrival” on the stage and
2) Her comment (at 38 minutes into the Q&A) that she was “exhausted.”
I’m not a fashion guru, but I felt as if I were watching Aero Spatiale, the beautiful 12-meter French “challenger” racing yacht during the 1987 America’s Cup race. She (Hillary) is at full spinnaker and is being dragged effortlessly on to the world stage… again. Distinctive sails have always caught my imagination.
Secretary Clinton spent a great deal of time psychoanalyzing Putin, Trump, those pesky “deplorable” voters and other members of the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) who were tricked by Fox News, Hannity and, my personal favorite, Rush Limbaugh, the Mayor of Realville.
She was not asked any “inconvenient truth” questions about 33,000 missing emails, her sabotage of the Sanders campaign, or how her (metaphorical) fingerprints have recently been discovered all over the Steele dossier.
I watched an occasional breeze waft across the stage in Central Park. The mainsails gently billowed and rippled, but there is no mistaking that the ropes holding each corner were approaching “three sheets” to the wind… but not in the inebriated sense.
When the elephant in the room (under the tent) mentioned “exhaustion,” my first suggestion would have been to wear something lighter, faster, streamlined, and more honest. Special attire and policies designed by Circus Vargas don’t seem to sell well on eBay or with American voters.
My final impression of the OZY Fest paralleled a scene from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, where everyone is sitting around in a “therapy circle.” Except, on July 21, it was Hillary, luffing in the center, holding a microphone while hundreds of followers cheered her on to the reef.
Rolling Stone, a publication that is certainly not part of the VRWC, described the Hillary event as a “Neoliberal Nightmare.” www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/a-neoliberal-nightmare-at-ozy-fest-2018-702600/
Cautiously monitoring flotsam, fashion trends, and shipwrecked dishonest politicians.
(Editor’s note: I should comment because I did see coverage (if you’ll pardon the expression) of the Caftan-covered losing 2016 Democratic presidential candidate as she beguiled her host and audience. Why she never gets asked “the tough questions” (and when she is asked, those questions are never followed up by anything tough) continues to baffle me, but otherwise, she delivered the three things her fans wanted to hear: 1) that she lost the election because of Russian interference and candidate Trump’s collusion with same; 2) that Donald Trump is a reprobate and personifies any number of the most repulsive of human qualities; and 3) she would have made a great president. Perhaps she will try one more run at it; stranger things have happened. – J.B.)