Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   February 28, 2019

A Simpler Solution

In “Sucking It Up” written by Larry Bond (MJ #25/7), he indicates that both he and Mr. Gene Tyburn wonder “…why this common sense solution to our water woes has not been pursued.” The “common sense solution” referred to is to dredge the bottom of the lake when conditions permit to increase its capacity. It turns out there is a very simple, common sense answer as to why that has not, and probably never will, be considered/implemented. 

Let’s look at just a few numbers for the answer. Lake Cachuma has a surface area of 3,100 acres. An acre is 43,560 square feet. The volume of water that Lake Cachuma can presently hold is 205,000 acre feet. An acre foot of water is the amount of water that covers one acre at a depth of one foot. If one wanted to increase the capacity of Lake Cachuma by ONLY one acre foot of water, one would have to dredge 43,560 cubic feet of sludge out of the lake’s bottom. Since a cubic yard is 27 cubic feet, 43,560 cubic feet is equivalent to 1,633 cubic yards. The average dump truck can hold anywhere from 10 to 14 cubic yards, so lets use 12 as the average. Therefore, to haul away 1,633 cubic yards of sludge would require 136 truck loads. That would increase the capacity of Lake Cachuma by a mere 1 acre foot, or by .000048%. That is NOT a significant increase in capacity but it would require a significant amount of time, money and effort to achieve.

And where would one dump all that sludge?

It seems to me there is a much cheaper, simpler and more efficient way to significantly increase the lake’s capacity, and it could be done at almost any time, regardless of how full the lake might be. All it would require is to simply add six inches or a foot to the steel plates that control the spill way at Bradbury Dam. A mere 6-inch increase in height would increase the lake/s capacity by 1,550 acre feet, or .076%. And a one-foot increase in height would increase the capacity by 3,100 acre feet, or .151%. I have been told that approach is being considered, and has been considered for several years.

Why it hasn’t happened is anyone’s guess…

…Whoops, I almost forgot: it would have to be permitted! 

Pete Schenck
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Wow, where have you been all these years? What a sincerely excellent idea. We all wonder what “environmental” objections will arise from our UCSB Environmental Studies grads that actually run the county. – J.B.)

Free Market Amazon Solution

We know that protestors against corporate tax concessions and gentrification (rising rents) of the Queens neighborhood, together with N.Y. unions and the politicians they support, created a negative atmosphere so that Amazon decided not to go forward with plans to build a headquarters there. 

Early in the process, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, commissioned a study that found the tax subsidies to Amazon would over 25 years generate a nine-fold return in state and city tax revenues from the company and its numerous workers. But snags did arise over Amazon’s rebuffing the unionization of its workers and there is no doubt that rents near the development would rise. But falling rents is a worse problem when cities lose jobs. What is the best problem to have? New York City Congresswoman, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, did an end-zone dance tweeting that she and her supporters had defeated “corporate greed.” But, with that logic, she should encourage more companies to vacate the city so rents will go down further.

For Amazon, this matter is a non-event financially and they will move on. For New York, the impact will be the loss of the Amazon “multiplier effect”: more symbiotic companies arriving, more investment and innovation on top of the added jobs. No one will really know how the equation would have worked out; that is really the beauty of letting the free market work, outcomes can be scattered, unpredictable, and can benefit others in projected, but also unintended ways. The big lesson here is that subsidizing private companies is not a responsible way for government to work. It is not government’s job to select winners and losers – that is for the people and/or the market to decide. The minor lesson is big companies should not obnoxiously conduct a location search like a beauty contest. 

 The virtues of moderation and the compromise of competing interests and philosophies is still important in moving the economy and the political process forward; that has not changed since Adams and Jefferson butted heads.

J.W. Burk
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Adams and Jefferson didn’t agree on a lot, but never argued about government subsidies or tax breaks for businesses, as I don’t believe either issue ever raised its head in the early days of our Republic. – J.B.)

The Mortality Factor

News of Hope Ranch fire in your letters section (“A Burning Issue,” MJ # 25/7) offers a glimpse into the extent of underground fires in oil seep areas of California. Man against Nature. Sometimes nature wins. Especially when we develop in sacred spaces that were never intended to be developed. 

FEMA oversees a federal insurance program that covers five million homes and businesses. The Trump administration decided no new policies will be offered after December 21, citing the shutdown and lapse in authority. 

It is no longer about walls and border security. Without access to insurance, many properties could face foreclosure and be acquired at a hardship price after an emergency. How do we determine profitability at a cost in human lives?

Karen Friedman

(Editor’s note: We don’t know how it is determined and at what cost in human lives, but we do know that “profitability” and other such things are always taken into account. There were nearly 40,000 traffic deaths that took place in the U.S. last year, for example. We could mandate that every vehicle be built as safe and as sturdy as a tank, which would surely cut down on needless deaths on our highways, but we don’t. Everything made and sold has some kind of mortality factor built in; that’s just the way it is. – J.B.) 

Make Him Pay

I heard a reporter say that Jussie Smollett has set back race relations for decades to come. I have a different take. This is a pivotal moment in time. This is a teaching moment. No one has a pure mind. We all harbor thoughts from time to time that we would never act upon.

As a civil society, we use logic, common sense and love, to move forward. I sincerely hope Mr. Smollett does not get a slap on the wrist. If Martha Stewart was sentenced to prison for five months and five months of home confinement, there should be no excuse in this case for anything else but to throw the book at Mr. Smollett.
I believe in second chances. I believe after thinking about how much harm he has done he can come back and start again. TV, movies, a book, whatever the world can handle.
Lastly, 50% of all earnings off the top (until repaid in full) need to go the city of Chicago for the time and resources that were spent on such a heinous act.

Steve Marko
Santa Barbara

It’s No Joke

Gavin Newsom’s attempt to take control over cities will hugely impact the quality of life in Santa Barbara in a negative way. We will no longer have any control over the development in our own city. Gavin Newsom is as deadly to California as the rest of his family; they are corrupt and just out to make as much money as they can while running the State of California into the ground. We deserve to run the development in our city, not the state government. For those who continue to believe the Democratic Party is still on your side as a Santa Barbaran, and you care about it developing in a way that protects it, take a real look at the Democrat Party. It is not the same party it was even three years ago.

And their Green New Deal is a joke.

Polly Frost

(Editor’s note: The Democrats’ “Green New Deal” may be a joke, but it isn’t very funny, ludicrous as it is – J.B.)

Carpinteria Rotten

Do property rights end at the point of someone’s nose?

As a libertarian, I find the big things (public education, income tax, welfare, warfare) easier to address (all “no”), than the more nuanced things such as land use and environmental protection. Contentious case in point: cannabis growing near housing (or other people’s noses).

Cigarette smoking has been banned in many public places because second-hand smoke allegedly harms the health of non-smokers and most non-smokers find second-hand smoke obnoxious. Speaking for myself only, as a libertarian, clearly the right to life (health) of the non-smoker trumps the right to smoke and expose others to harm without their consent. Consent is implied if one voluntarily enters private property where smoking is allowed.

Though I firmly endorse a landowner’s right to grow cannabis, absent an amicable solution, it’s not difficult to side with adjoining property owners who object to odor and other risks inherent with cannabis farming.


Because the odor (and other potential problems, like burglary and possibly worse), devalues property, degrades air, and possibly jeopardizes health, thus violating the more fundamental rights of neighboring property owners. 

Why are progressive-environmentalist regimes permitting cannabis growing in populated areas? As with many other zoning issues, citizens are secondary to the revenue an enterprise will generate for the regime. Especially if other significant revenue generating enterprises (i.e., fossil fuels) have been severely restricted or banned. 

A year ago, Ben Williams, Headmaster of Cate School, weighed in online at EdHat, and wrote: “We understand that Santa Barbara County is in dire need of funds due to its significant projected budget deficit, which has been exacerbated by the projected shortfall in Montecito property tax revenue. Despite a series of reports from consultants about the limited and widely variable income likely to be derived from cannabis operations, and multiple warnings from law enforcement about the drawbacks of welcoming the industry – including increased risk to public safety and the presence and influence of organized crime – the County seems to be banking on cannabis as a means to pay its bills.”

The Tax Foundation has added that: “a mature marijuana industry could generate up to $28 billion in tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments, including $7 billion in federal revenue: $5.5 billion from business taxes and $1.5 billion from income and payroll taxes.”

Steve King

Thrills, Chills, and Pills

While taking my morning pills, I read the news that my blood pressure pill, Amlodipine Benzilates-Valsarton, when made in China, would contain (intentionally since those made elsewhere did not contain it?) a cancer-causing NDEA, brought the discussion of the current negotiations for fair trade with China into my bedroom. I wondered how to follow the words of Mark Bartolini, the then CEO of Aetna, of “focus on helping people stay healthy” (Techonomy: Advancing Global Healthcare, Nov. 2017) after Aetna, my prescription provider, rejected my physician’s prescriptions for alternative drugs by asserting they were “out of stock” without indicating what alternatives were “in stock.” 

Aetna responded to my physician’s next set of drugs with “Your prescriber denied it,” which was comical since my physician, as “my prescriber,” had prescribed it. My physician responded that it would be helpful if Aetna, when denying a drug, would indicate which drugs in the same class were available.

Since Mr. Bartolini recommended “creating a front door to the health system” (id), I called Aetna. After a couple of transfers, a pharmacist said that the numbers on my drugs were so close to the ones the Chinese laced with NDEA that I should have my physician get “approval” for another drug. I asked “approval from Aetna?” Her reply of “yes” led to my asking “aren’t you Aetna?” There was an audible gasp when I followed with, “What does Aetna recommend that I, as a heart patient, do today, and every day, while Aetna decides whether to approve my physician’s prescriptions for a substitute for the cancer-causing drug Aetna has been selling me?” 

The pharmacist called back and said she had called my physician and she had “approved” a replacement set of drugs. The approval was required because the alternative drugs would cost Aetna more, which reminded me of Mr. Bartolini (in 2017 when his compensation was estimated at $59 million) setting a goal for Aetna of providing “what people want and the cheapest way to finance that for them” (id). 

Adding to my concern was that last week my blood pressure spiking had caused me to halt dental surgery that was now scheduled for today. Deciding not to cancel, I “discovered” that I had time, and a willing dermatologist, to have the outpatient surgery on my elbow.

The 14th dawned with China as background for my swallowing an NDEA-laced drug with hopes for the pledges of Aetna’s former CEO “to keep customers healthy” (id), through painless teeth, while keeping my elbow straight, not taking my blood pressure, and being grateful that the 13th was not a Friday.

Brent Zepke
Santa Barbara

More On Richard’s 10th MJ Anniversary

Generous and Funny

Richard Mineards is the most indefatigable champion and friend of the non-profit community in Santa Barbara. He not only tirelessly shines a light on the work of all the wonderful folk but he does it with grace, humor, and panache… He never has a mean thing to say and is relentless in finding the good in all of us. We are very lucky to have a writer of his generosity of spirit to keep our fires burning and who can be counted on for some comic relief when we need it the most.

Thank you Richard and Montecito Journal for all you do for the community.

Nancy Gifford

Unique Wordsmithing

Congratulations to Richard Mineards, who celebrates ten years as a Montecito Journal columnist this month. Keeping the community abreast of events large and small, his unique wordsmithing style includes tales of tony twosomes and violin concerts headlined “Wooden It Be Nice.” Then there’s “State of the Unity (Shoppe)” and “Ain’t Love Granada.” Not to mention nearly creating an Olympic event out of tossing tiaras.

Kathy Jean Schultz

Love Him

Happy 10th anniversary to the Miscellany Master. Love the column!

Patrick M. Nesbitt

Always a Pleasure

Just a note to say congratulations to him and the Montecito Journal on the 10th Anniversary of Richard Mineards’ column. Richard has been such a wonderful addition to the cultural community here in Santa Barbara; his witty writing, fearless sussing out of important events, knowledge of the arts and his insightful take on all things interesting makes it a must read every Thursday. I love the photographs that he includes and am grateful that Priscilla is involved in bringing a visual presence to the articles. It is always a pleasure to see Richard at events and hope that he will be with us here in this very special community for many years to come.

Joan Rutkowski


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