Letters to the Editor
Water to the Wealthy
Last Monday, I attended the Montecito Journal hosted debate between Sup. Das Williams and his opponent Laura Capps, president of the SB School Board. During the debate, I became aware how Montecito struggles to obtain sufficient water. I was not aware that over 80% of Montecito water comes from out of state. As I listened to Williams’s response to his constituents’ difficulties with water, it brought to mind an incident I witnessed at a Board of Supervisors meeting a year ago.
At this January 29, 2019 meeting, Williams lost his temper with one of his constituents from Carpinteria when this long-time resident dared to question Williams about the stench of cannabis in the Carpinteria High School and Carpinteria Valley area. When the constituent finished his inquiries, Williams angrily accused this resident of selling his water to “the rich people of Montecito.” A loud gasp came from the standing room only crowd attending the meeting while other members of the Board of Supervisors gazed at Williams in disbelief.
I now live in Carpinteria and the cannabis farms literally surround our home. I have had to exist with the noxious odor of cannabis for over three years. My personal health, like others Carpinterians who live in our once-odor-free Valley, has suffered because of the cannabis stench that permeates our homes. My grandchildren have not been able to visit our house for over three years because they suffer with allergies and would be adversely affected by the skunky stench of marijuana that affects the housing complex I now live in.
Sup. Williams has demonstrated a total disregard for his constituents in Carpinteria Valley. To witness Williams’ total disrespect for those who dare disagree with him, all you have to do is watch the video of this [1-29-19] meeting on cannabis. This BOS meeting took all day, during which people from every District in the County pleaded with the Supervisors for relief from the negative impacts and stench of cannabis in their homes and backyards.
If you want to witness and hear how Williams really feels about his Montecito constituents, look at the tape at around 3:53:15 (Publisher’s note: http://sbcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=3470 at the 6:56:50 marker) and you can witness firsthand how Williams deals with those constituents who dare to disagree with him.
Joan T. Esposito
former Montecito resident
MJ Editor, Gwyn Lurie, is off to a great start, but she might have given the wrong impression when she recently wrote in her lead Editorial that, “…journalists and journalism have always been biased – and likely will always be.” It might be that freedom of the press does allow journalists freedom to report but it does imply a responsibility to place truth above partisan agendas. That is why commentary and editorials like hers and others must be kept separate from news reporting. It is true this separation is sometimes breached but newspapers that treat their reputation with respect and integrity usually always show such restraint in adding their own opinions when reporting the news. The Christian Science Monitor is one example in newspapers and the MacNeil/Lehrer Report was another in broadcasting. Serious journalism entails a relentless pursuit of facts rooted in objectivity and ethics. Anything less means readers must take such “news” with a “grain of salt.” CNN and FOX are two examples.
Someone asked the respected late Jim Lehrer if there were guidelines for his reporting, “Well, yes there are, and here they are,” he said. “Do nothing I cannot defend. Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me… Assume there is at least one other version to every story… Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label everything… And finally, I am not in the entertainment business.”
I wish Gwyn has much success with the Montecito Journal and there is every indication she will.
Truth and Money
During this election year, I can’t help but remember the Carter/Reagan debate (I know, I’m dating myself) where Reagan famously quipped: “There you go again.” Frankly, there are not enough one liners to rebut the daily spin of our political spin masters (i.e. Board of Supervisors).
Allow me to explain: On January 28th our County Executive Office (yes, our $1.1B County does have such a thing), issued a report regarding Q1 Cannabis Tax Revenues. It’s interesting reading for anyone who cares about the costs against our County’s new cash product. While not very clear, it does give some vague insight into the added personnel costs we’ve incurred against this year’s forecasted, and relatively anemic, $5.6M in revenue.
Adding to the already 4,200 (really!) County employees are eleven new employees here, six new employees there and low and behold we’ve increased personnel costs by more than $2.4M, against our forecasted revenue. Of course, there is no cost accounting that might allocate other staff time and/or resources. Nor is there an outline of cannabis-related expenses like IT support, infrastructure, training and/or staffing by APCD or legal expenses that continue to scale (can anyone say “litigation reserve”). Indeed, it’s costs like this that provide insight into why less than 1% of County revenues remain as Reserves i.e. we create revenues to fund our second largest employer, the county itself. This is why, after we pay taxes, it’s left for us to privately fund a variety of First District issues – wrong!
Perhaps our new Assistant CEO Barney Melekian can begin to right the legislative and financial mess caused by a Board of Supervisors that jumped into the deep end without advice, experience or erudition. Sorry, their two-person committee (three would implicate public meeting laws) were advised by the cannabis lobby when they adopted the most lenient ordinance in the state. A state where more than 50% of our 58 counties have yet to allow recreational cannabis cultivation.
Anyway, as it relates to spin our First District Super is quoted as saying that cannabis revenues are up 63% from a year ago. With respect to Q1 he is correct but – what he forgot to mention – is that for this Fiscal Year total revenue is only expected to rise 3% over last year’s “budgeted” revenue. Or, to decrease 16% against last year’s actual revenue. Now, I know this Super didn’t go to the London School of Economics (like his humble challenger) but don’t you think we all deserve the whole truth. Remember, this is from someone who predicted year one cannabis revenues would exceed $18M (it was less than $6M). Pols aren’t businesspeople, obviously.
The real elephant in the room, however, is the sweetheart tax scheme itself. We are de facto partners in this federally illegal drug, hanging our hat on a percentage of the self-reported cash revenue of the growers. According to the report, 34 of the 90 that exist claimed zero revenue and 22 did not bother submitting a report. Other counties tax based on easily verifiable acreage and, according to the L.A. Times, had we done so we would have collected more than $20M in year one alone. This has been going on for years and guess our Supervisors have done – absolutely nothing. Curious, wouldn’t you agree?
This is an election year and unless we make a change in March and November, we can all expect more of the same. “There you go again” can become just another distant memory … it is our choice.
SB County Resident
Time for a Change
One of the many reasons I am supporting Laura Capps to become the new Supervisor of District 1 is her plan to “Make Government Accountable.” I completely endorse and support her platform of getting special interest money out of politics, enhancing transparency, restoring government accountability, setting campaign limits and establishing an Independent Ethics Commission to punish violations or conflicts of interest by county elected officials. At present, our Supervisors are NOT required to even make quarterly reports of campaign contributions and have no CAPS on donor contributions – as required at the federal level – even from those with issues they will vote on within weeks, or days.
This is a recipe for disaster and explains how SB County got itself into the current mess known by many as the Cannabis Debacle.
The need for Campaign Finance reform is supported by research undertaken by generations of political scientists over the last 60 years. It is time for a change, and Laura Capps is championing that change as your new Supervisor. Please join me in voting for Laura in the 1st District Supervisor seat.
Sara Miller McCune
Vaping in Middle School
I am a 15-year-old Montecito resident who attended Carpinteria Middle School for 6th and 7th grade.
[We live in the eastern part of Montecito where residents attend Carp schools.]
When I was in 7th grade, I heard about cannabis vaping – usually Juuling – going on in the school.
So we knew it was going on in the school – but it usually was in the restrooms.
But there was a kid, my own age, 13, who did it in the classroom (though I don’t think the teacher knew about it).
The students were amazed and it was all they talked about for awhile, saying things like, “he did that!”
I’d say about half of us who were at Carp Middle School are Hispanic – and two teachers that year were Hispanic.
I think it influences kids that the adults are growing so much marijuana around the schools.
It sort of normalizes it, so I think it has an impact on students.
It’s more normal now. What I hear now from kids is, “It’s now legal, so it’s no problem.”
I know I’m lucky because my parents were worried about the drug problem at the school and worked hard to get me transferred to a Montecito school, where I have not seen the same problem with drugs.
My brother is 13 and still goes to Carp Middle School. He says it is much worse now because the kids think well, the adults are growing it around the high school and in the neighborhood, so it must be okay. This is what he says about what is going on today at school: “I think a lot of these kids are going to get in trouble. I know kids vaping in school who are 12 years old. When I take the bus home from school, we pass by Carp High and we can smell it. By the high school, the smells are the worst. As we get closer to the high school on Foothill Road, the smells get stronger, pretty much every day. In the Middle School, we smell it in the bathrooms. The kids are smoking and vaping marijuana in the restrooms – and also smoking joints. Last year, when I was 12, it was more common to see kids smoking or vaping in the bathrooms. The kids are 12, 13 or 14 – usually just smoking pot, not tobacco. The kids who do it the most, do badly in school. I don’t think the school really cares what’s happening with the pot stuff.”
I don’t think they can completely shut down the nurseries because they say they’re making money.
But taking the marijuana nurseries farther away from the schools would help a lot, maybe move them one mile away from any school.
I would say that the grown ups need to make it less normal and explain to students like us how it could be a problem for you, your grades, and later getting in trouble with the law.
It’s getting worse because it’s getting normalized. And that’s the main problem.
Ana and Luke Perez**
**names altered to protect both being minors
Confidential Voter Status
On page 22, the Official California 2020 Voter Guide states “…Certain voters… may qualify for confidential voter status if they are active members of the Safe at Home Program…”
Is voter privacy a privilege granted by bureaucrats? Why shouldn’t all voters automatically be given “confidential voter status”?
On same page, it’s stated that “Voter info may be provided to a candidate for office, a ballot measure committee or other person for election, scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purpose as determined by the Secretary of State. driver license and social security numbers, or your signature, as shone on your voter registration card, cannot be released for these purposes.”
Is it possible that someone could become a “candidate” or falsely claim journalistic/scholarly privilege in order to obtain opposition research for some nefarious purpose? Granted, most politicians are fine, upstanding and uncorruptible citizens, but if only 1/1024th of them abuse access to voter information, shouldn’t ALL politicians be punished or restricted?
I know that it’s nearly impossible, hardly-ever-happens, one-in-a-billion chance and totally-unjustifiable-paranoia to think that CDL’s, SSAN’s and signatures could be “leaked,” stolen or accidentally hacked. Bank, medical and businesses data is constantly being bought and sold on the black market and even the Pentagon has been hacked.
Why should we believe that personal 2020 voter registration and census information is safe and secure?
What could possibly go wrong?
Santa Barbara, CA