Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   September 12, 2019

Understanding Tragedy

As our hearts grieve the loss of our beloveds in the Channel Island boating accident, we search from a deep place within our soul to find a way to process such a tragedy. Every day I look out to the Channel Islands from my home in Montecito. So many times my children and I took boat rides out to spend the day at Santa Cruz Island. My daughter is a licensed scuba diver instructor navigating the rich beautiful waters.

Now, as I look out at these islands, a different picture comes to my mind. The unimaginable loss of these precious lives on a journey to have fun, celebrate a birthday, all gone within seconds. How do we find a way to understand such a tragedy?

We cannot. Sometimes there are simply no answers.

However, what we can and must do is yet again reach out to our family, neighbors, and loved ones, and remind them of how precious they are, how much we appreciate their presence, how they make our lives happier, complete and fulfilled. Life is precious.

We in Montecito and our surrounding areas have in the past few years weathered several tragedies. We have learned not to take life for granted. We have learned to appreciate and connect to each other from a deeper place of love.

And now again, another fire, this time on a diving boat. As we mourn the loss of so many lives, we must not let this loss pass away. We must again turn into our hearts and find an even fuller resonance of compassion and loving kindness to one another. What is left? The families. And so we must hold each other. Be present with each other. Not from our everyday ego self, but from the radiance of our souls holding each other.

Only through this peace of care can the families who lost their loved ones heal. Only from this place where we are united in our holding of each other’s grief can we find a way back to living after tragedy. Only from each other’s understanding can we find Grace. 

Deirdre Hade

(Editor’s note: For the record, The Santa Barbara-based dive boat “Conception” burned and sank off the coast of Santa Cruz Island in the early morning hours of September 2nd. Thirty-four passengers – scuba diving enthusiasts all – were trapped below deck and succumbed to the smoke and fire. Ms Hade is co-author with William Arntz of “The (not so) Little Book of Surprises,” and other inspirational tomes; her move to Montecito is/was a pleasant surprise. We thank her for the above thoughts and we join with her in lamenting the terrible loss of so many. – J.B.)

Defending the Funk Zone Mural

I have been creating art, and instructing in art and art history in Santa Barbara for over 30 years. In 2015, I was contacted by the Arts Fund and requested to create this mural for 22 Anacapa Street. My understanding is it was an approved location for a Mural Project already underway in the Funk Zone, to be placed on a building owned by Mr. Kim Hughes. The image I submitted was approved by the Arts Fund and Mr. Hughes. There was never any question as to the content or size of the proposed mural.

It would be my first public art work. I love Santa Barbara’s rich history of art, artists, and architecture, and hoped my mural would inspire and spark imaginations.

In April 2018, I was provided a large 8’x12’ framed board, and was commissioned by Mr. Hughes to create the painting based upon my original design. It took me four solid months to produce.

The subject matter for the Image is of historical significance. The area now called the “Funk Zone” used to be an area of manufacturing, lumber yards, citrus and produce industry. Also of note is that it was the area utilized in the launching of early Santa Barbara aviation. Both Lockheed and Northrop began here. My motif was to honor Santa Barbara’s legacy to aviation history, and Santa Barbara County’s contribution to the citrus industry. I utilized images from 1920, courtesy of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, to create the background for the mural. 

I also used historic reference photos of Pioneering aviator Earl Ovington.

After recent trips to Santa Paula and Lompoc to view the beautiful murals adorning their cities, I created the format, referenced from authentic vintage 1920’s citrus/produce labels.

After completing the mural in August 2018, it sat in a garage for nine month because there were complaints about the size and content. 

In July 2019, Mr. Hughes informed me that the mural had been approved and that it would be installed.

A dear friend of mine gifted me the money to have a small number of shirts made in celebration for the eventual unveiling. I created the logo for the front of the shirt and the mural image was placed on the back of the shirt, which were then given away to all who attended the unveiling, and who gave support in manifesting this project. I have a few left that I would be happy to hand out to anyone else in support of this fine art piece.

Soon after learning that the mural would be hung, a fellow artist suggested I obtain a trademark on my mural image, in order to protect intellectual property rights. I had never before attempted this process, and was surprised to find there are many “Funk Zone” related trademarks already filed, for other various businesses in the area. I did file for trademark the, “Funk Zone Brand” image, (and it has yet to be approved). I won’t learn whether it has been approved or not for another four months.

I’ve never before received any negativity to any work of art I’ve created (until this point in my career). I wanted to create a beautiful work of art that honors the history of Santa Barbara and its contribution to early aviation and citrus growing. 

The mural is masterful. It enhances and makes classy this once dingy and unsafe neighborhood. It helps makes the area warm, and inviting. At night, it helps create a magical ambiance that invites visitors (who can only see it from a parking lot), to visit the adjacent businesses, and have a memorable experience, while exploring the area called the “Funk Zone”.

It would be a shame were it not allowed to hang for its allotted time of three years. 

Thomas Van Stein, M.A.
Santa Barbara

(Editor’s note: Just speaking for this publication and a small circle of friends and relatives, we are fond of your mural – J.B.)

Artist Thomas Van Stein, recognized mostly for his intriguing nocturnes, is a versatile and innovative painter whose large daylight mural now hangs solidly on the side of the building at 22 Anacapa Street for all to enjoy

Taking Charge

Another shout out of thanks to Don Miller for his respected leadership and ‘Just Do It’ courage. Over the decades, I’ve admired Don, as do many others in our Cold Spring School District and Westmont neighborhood. How I wish I could vote him Supervisor or Mayor! 

Rather than wait to kick the can ‘up the food chain,’ NextDoor.com neighbors observed, posted, inquired, and with Don stepping up, then courageously acted to clean up the mess [left behind by transients and Caltrans at the Coast Village-Cabrillo southbound exit] rather than complain and fume while forever twiddling thumbs . 

Don takes in all the information, makes inquiries, suggests development of an action plan, executes, and then we all benefit from the results.

Our kids benefitted from use of a safe walkway to school, crosswalks, and a stop sign, while other continued for years meeting to talk, thanks to Don. We learned from Don about Edison’s plans on Smart meters and our options at a meeting attended by about 300 at Fess Parker’s. We learned post-fire what to not expect from politico bureaucrats and insurance; I heard about G5 when totally clueless; and today Don asks if we were ready for Edison to possibly cut off power for three to five days due to winds. I deeply appreciate Don because as an underinformed 40-year resident oldster, I need ‘Heads Up’ awakenings.

Moreover, it’s calming to know there’s people like Don, Abe Powell, Tom Cole, Gregory Koss, Sharon Byrne, James Fenkner, J’Amy Brown, Woody Barrett and others who take charge. These leaders offset those elected and hired leaders who pass-the-buck, kick-the-can, organize more pointless community meetings, or waste hard-earned working class dollars hiring still another consultant. It seems they specialize in spending other people’s money to keep the ball in play. (The grandiose sewer building comes to mind along with Cold Spring School Principal’s past-plan for Taj Mahal Admin Bldg, while students learn in portables, or the MUS Cafeteria.)

Caltrans is forever slow with an answer to ensure nothing will happen for months. Email inquiries to: keli.kolasczyk@dot.ca.gov.

The homeless are here to stay until new elected leaders are voted in to do what’s needed, and the appeal courts rule on homeless rights to use any public land anywhere to sleep (but not litter). In the interim, ‘We The People’ can maintain our community, respectfully and safely beyond Neighborhood Watch.

See something, do something: share info, investigate, lead for results. It takes each of us to find the courage, to make a commitment, to get results. Thanks, neighbors, for your valued contributions.

Denice Spangler Adams
Montecito, 39 years

Two Bridges Too Far

It’s been over a year and a half, and still Ashley Road and the end of East Valley Road at Parra Grande are not repaired or opened. The cost overruns must be big. And we, as a community, have lost the use of these roads over this long period. Is there anything that can be done, or can Das Williams help, get this job done once and for all?

Frank McGinity

(Editor’s note: We first asked our resident authority on all matters Montecito and Just Asked J’Amy Brown. In search of an answer, she contacted Chris Sneddon with Santa Barbara Public Works, who responded thusly: “Foundation done. Abutments poured. Deck is being fabricated. Should be done early 2020 if the weather cooperates.” So, the likelihood is that both roads will be back in use by the spring. Why it took so long is anyone’s guess. – J.B.)

No-Fault Family Act

On September 4, 1969, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Family Law Act of 1969, thereby abolishing the fault grounds for divorce, replacing it only with no-fault.

When No-Fault Divorce was made California law in September 1969 it was more profound than how (more recently) the California Confidential Marriage License has enabled adults to be secret spouses.

No-Fault Divorce (signed by a politician now considered conservative) seriously redefined Californians’ understanding of vows and their retractability.

In 2012, approximately one-fifth of all California marriage licenses issued were confidential. But of course, more than half of California marriages end in divorce.

Matt McLaughlin 
Santa Barbara

Yet Another Blizzard of Bills

Our state elected representatives are at it again, producing a blizzard of new bills during the 2019 session. Just who of everyday Joes on the streets are going to know anything about any of these? These bills are for the biggest paying supporters or the biggest attention getters. Most of these bills are “penny dreadful junk bills” like those sponsored by Senator Jackson and her sidekick, Assembly member Limon. They harm people and business. Jackson has over 40 bills out there.

The basic problem is that California has a 120-member “full time” paid senate and assembly, with expense accounts, so these folks have nothing to do but pass bills. Each representative is allowed 40 bills, but this was increased to up to 50 bills for the assembly in the 2019 term. If you thought what we had was bad, it is now worse. For 2017, Governor Brown signed 857 bills into law and rejected only 118. Already for 2019, there are 1,000 new bills proposed.

But each bill passed costs the taxpayer money. Every bill costs us one way or another. Every bill must be managed, so when your reps stand up before you at town hall meetings and say, “Look what I have done for you,” remember that they are giving us more taxes and it is not necessarily a gift. Every aspect of government has to be paid for, the more government, the more taxes for all of us. The new “gun laws” will require thousands of new state employees to register the millions of guns and ammunition applications. 

We should ask ourselves why our reps are not telling us how much they have reduced government, and how much they have reduced our taxes. How about giving us the number of cancelled old bills each year? 

Don’t we care? Why don’t we give them incentives to do so? Is voting them out of office the only incentive?

There are so many bills becoming law that the everyday taxpayer has no idea what they are and without any malice of his own he can be found guilty of one or more of them only to be told by some politically appointed activist judge that their ignorance is no excuse. 

 At the rate we are going we will all become criminals at some point in our lives in California by simply going outside our house. It is no wonder that California has more people in prisons than any other state and most countries, and the most highly paid prison guards in the US.

A certain outcome for all of these bills is to paralyze the State of California from doing anything sans committing a crime. Total dysfunction is in store for us. 

To help limit this out-of-control bill-passing train wreck from continuing, let’s insist that our representatives sponsor a bill that limits the number of bills in every two-year session to one per representative. A provision of this bill will be to review and eliminate past bills every year and to notice them in public. However even this restriction, if passed, would still result in 120 bills every two years, still more that any citizen could read.

If the Governor can pass all those other bills for favored clients, why not this one for the taxpayers?

Justin M. Ruhge

(Editor’s note: Aaah, because there’s nothing in it for him or them – J.B.)

Likes Them Apples

Many of you… okay a few… will remember that way back when the tariff strategy was first announced, I wrote pleading that I was not smart enough to figure out if this was a good thing or as the current occupant of the White House claimed then, “really easy to win.”

I made the point that with all the brilliant, highly successful, all seeing, all knowing Republican business people in our village, some of them could help we mere mortals understand how this rather arcane approach to economics was going to work.

Bravely stepping out to help was the very erudite publisher of this fine paper, rumored to be quite an accomplished golfer but sadly, based upon his prediction that the tariffs would be very effective and bring us the goals spelled out by our leader, not so much an economic thinker.

Mr. Buckley did admit he was not exactly sure, so assigned another of his henchmen to reply and to his credit, that commenter took a more reasoned analysis and basically called the approach questionable and noted that bigger problems were likely waiting to happen which must have caused quite an uproar among all the gray-beard Republicans, “We don’t like that kind of talk around here.”

So now we have no longer theory but actually real life results. I could say something like, “How do you like them apples?” but I won’t. I’m sure there will still be those among the readers still claiming victory and it’s just a matter of time before the Chinese capitulate and give in but based upon our president’s unhinged demands of last week that American companies “are now commanded to stop producing in China” and CEOs are using his imposition of tariffs “to cover up their bad management” and my personal favorite that the Chinese leader, XI, is no longer a great friend but now “the enemy”.

Interesting that we are no longer hearing how easy it is to win the tariff wars.

Finally, he’s starting to lose the farm vote.

No wonder as the idea of imposing taxes aka tariffs on soy beans and corn has completely disrupted the ag markets and caused the Chinese to go to other markets like Brazil and Argentina who are eager to capture business never available to them without that brilliant economic thinker in the White House. To quote him directly, “sad, very sad.”


(Editor’s note: None of us can figure out why you were afraid to sign this letter, as your opinions reflect those of many if not most Californians. You are obviously not a fan of this president and make some accurate observations about the many flaws in his management style. His “tariff war,” for example, may not work out as well as he believed it would, but give him credit for at least tackling the problem. President Trump is right in pointing out that the $500-billion yearly trade imbalance between China and the U.S. was and continues to be responsible for building up China to the detriment of the U.S. That trade imbalance really has led to the near destruction of the U.S. manufacturing sector and the hollowing out of many of America’s smaller cities. That is and was a bad thing. We may eventually succumb to Chinese power but we shouldn’t continue outsourcing production of the rope with which to hang ourselves. – J.B.)


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