Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   February 20, 2020

Passion and Competence

When Das Williams was on the Santa Barbara City Council, I was the wife of a Councilmember, Grant House. Since then Das has been both my State Assembly member and my County Supervisor. I got to know him when he served on the Council, and have seen him grow since.

Das was young, passionate and energetic on the Council. He’s not so young anymore, but he’s kept that passion and energy, using it to help our community in so many ways. On the Council, he fought to make the City more environmentally responsible. As an Assembly member, he authored bills to end California’s dependence on fossil fuels and to fight offshore oil drilling. He authored the nation’s first “red flag law,” where the courts can temporarily remove guns from people who present a clear danger. He also got the 911 cell phone system reformed to end the response delays that put callers in danger.

As First District Supervisor, he faced a challenge that no Supervisor here has: two devastating natural disasters. He got out with a shovel when the Bucket Brigade formed. He handed out water bottles when the water was shut off. And he and his staff worked for 18 months helping the thousands of people to rebuild their lives.

Das has always combined passion with competence, learning how government systems work so he can get the most done. I can’t imagine why we in the First District would want to give that up. I’m voting for Das on March 3.

Peggy Jo Love

Dirty Politics

I have been following the Santa Barbara County Supervisor 1st District race closely and have some observations.

I was grateful that your recent Editorial publicly exposed the dysfunction and bias of the local Democratic Party where potential candidates, regardless of their qualifications, are actively discouraged or pressured from running and the endorsement process is essentially rigged in advance placing qualified candidates at a distinct disadvantage. This has been largely the case for a number of years but was at its most egregious in the current 1st District Supervisorial race where the local Santa Barbara Democratic Party endorsed Das Williams in July, 2019 fully five months before the December, 2019 filing deadline to run. This was a deliberate effort to secure the endorsement for Das Williams and exclude Laura Capps after the Party was informed that she was strongly considering a run and despite her strong credentials as the President of the Santa Barbara School Board and her longstanding work with leading Democrats in the White House and US Senate. True, Ms Capps might not have received the endorsement, but the local Santa Barbara Democratic Party made 100% sure she had no chance of receiving it.

And, for Das Williams to accuse Laura Capps of “dirty politics” as he has recently done is laughable. I should know since I am the person whose photo Das Williams unscrupulously photo-shopped back in 2010 to put a champagne glass in my hand where none existed when he ran against me for State Assembly. A scroll through William’s 2010 primary campaign filing details the massive amount of PAC money he took during that Assembly race and that’s not counting the numerous mailers paid for by special interests that landed in voters’ mailboxes.

As for dirty politics, Williams is poised to again benefit from a substantial influx of money from a recently formed PAC called the Central Coast Residents Supporting Das Williams for Supervisor 2020. This Independent Expenditure (IE) Committee, which is legally required to be at arm’s length from the candidate it is supporting, has in the past week sent four mailers to local residents and voters attacking Laura Capps. Who’s leading this PAC? None other than cannabis consultant Mollie Culver who worked closely with Supervisor Williams to create the botched Cannabis Ordinance that has done so much terrible damage to our communities, schools and children in the space of less than two years. And who is the PAC’s assistant treasurer? None other than Das Williams former Campaign Treasurer Shawnda Deane who worked for him continuously since his 2010 Assembly race until 2019 and whose praises he sings on her company’s website. These close ties, which may be illegal, stink almost as much as the cannabis that grows surrounding Carpinteria High School.

And just today 2/14/20, The Los Angeles Times revealed that a large-scale cannabis operation in Carpinteria owned by Barry Brand that was touted by the County as a model of how well their regulations were working was just raided by the Sheriff and found to have illegal “off-book [black market] marijuana sales associated with the farm,” a small volatile extrication lab, about 20 pounds of illegally stored cannabis and “1,000 pounds of cannabis crude.” Supervisor Das Williams received $8,000 from Brand while he pushed through an ordinance that has allowed unpermitted grows of unlimited size and number with little or no vetting.

As one might expect, I am voting for the candidate I believe has the integrity and skills to best represent the 1st District on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors: Laura Capps.

Susan Jordan

Light Up A Life

First of all, I would like to congratulate Gwyn Lurie for her positive and heart-inclusive stance in the “new” Journal.

My letter is a nod to Valentine’s Day for the loving people in our personal lives and our community. My sister and I attended the Hospice “Light Up a Life” ceremony in the garden at Pierre Lafond to honor our mother, Audrey M. Jungermann who flew with her angels at the end of 2019 at the age of 93. It was a heart-warming occasion for us to be part of a greater celebration for our mother in the community that she worked and was loved by so many for over 50 years.

Audrey was the manager and buyer for a decade at the well-established shop, Tweeds and Weeds, in the Upper Village. She was then hired to be the On-Premise Manager of the newly remodeled Coast Village Inn (originally known as the DeAnza Inn) where she greeted neighbors and celebrities who thought of the Inn as their personal guest quarters. She retired from the Inn at age 70 to spend time in her Montecito cottage working her beautiful English garden and sunning with her kitty, Holly, and enjoying her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren… many of whom are located throughout the Santa Barbara community; walking Miramar Beach; and shopping and dining in the Upper and Lower Villages.

We want to thank everyone who contributed to the Light Up a Life evening and for all of Audrey’s friends and clients who showed her so much love over her special life in Montecito. Our wishes for a very sweet Valentine’s month, 2020!

Maryanne Brillhart and Family
Terri Maher and Family

Support for Das

I write this letter in strong support of Das Williams‘ re-election as County Supervisor for the 1st District.

Throughout his career, Das has stood for working people of all races and levels. He is a staunch social justice defender. Das fought for a living wage when he was on the Santa Barbara City Council. When he was in the Assembly, he fought for a wage increase and farmworker overtime, despite eliciting the ire of some farmers in Carpinteria. Das has always stood up for the needs of working people and has strived to ensure that our local economy is strong for all.

What with all the current opposition to the fledgling cannabis industry, it may be helpful to review its history. Medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996. In 2017, California voters approved Proposition 64, legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and over. At that time, Santa Barbara County voted Yes by 108,228 to No by 67,715. On this basis, under Das, SB County is regulating a fledgling cannabis industry to include steady jobs, decent wages that create a decent standard of living, and that creates money for schools and county programs that advantage us all.

From Carpinteria to Montecito to Santa Maria, Das is a Supervisor for ALL of our county’s residents. As an elected leader, Das Williams’ work history epitomizes what we vote elected officials to do and be. I support his candidacy with complete confidence and hope we can all support his re-election as County Supervisor for the 1st District.

Elizabeth Colón

SB Needs Change… Now!

When I first arrived in SB County, I loved everything about it! Unfortunately, the arrival of industrial-level Cannabis Cultivation has opened my eyes to the wrongly different politics that surround our “slice of heaven.” SB was ripe for the twisting and to Cannabis’s credit, they twisted.

Allow me to explain: In LA we had safeguards. On the law enforcement side the DA’s office had an Anti-Corruption Unit and the US Attorney’s office had a Public Corruption Section. Locally, our smaller office doesn’t have such investigative specificity. Instead, we have a home-grown and, I’m told, hardworking elected career prosecutor. Someone who, unfortunately, seems more comfortable writing Op-eds about the unfairness of the Senate impeachment trial rather than to ruffle any local feathers. Civil compromises abound and as it relates to anything Public Sector related, well… Home town folks, home town curiosity.

Please know, I don’t blame any one person or agency – I blame SB’s systemically flawed system. As investigations and indictments proliferate around the state – focusing on every strata of management that Cannabis touches – one might minimally consider the appointment of a Special Prosecutor or a call to the AG’s Special Investigation Team or the Feds, i.e. punt.

Remember, Cannabis is a multi-million dollar all cash business: Does anyone truly believe that SB, with its 4,200 hard-working employees, possesses an impenetrable integrity bubble? Any prosecutor would understand that the scope of a meaningful investigation would require two things: desire and help (I don’t mean constitutionally mandated/citizen-directed civil inquires). If everything proves above board, all the better! No harm, no foul and public trust is restored.

As it relates to campaign reform, SB does not limit individual contributions like SF, VC, or LA. Nor do we have contribution-moratoriums relating to Board decisions. In other words, folks can pay political “tribute” just days before/after the Board decides their individual case. To avoid the appearance of impropriety one would expect the Supervisors to recuse themselves but that just doesn’t happen. Yet, one more reason why we desperately need an Ethics Commission. Ask yourself why is SB so wrongly different than elsewhere in the state? When it comes to Cannabis, fire/flood control and homelessness we are being run like a backwater village – it’s time that we demand more!

And, for those of you who hope our new and respected Deputy CEO Barney Melekian can bring some slight sanity to Cannabis County never forget that, intentions aside, his line of reporting ultimately ends with the Supervisors themselves. We live in a Political Monarchy where five Supervisors function like Czars controlling our $1.1B County budget and apparatus. It’s not about Cannabis! It’s about transparency of process and the restoration of public trust and competence. When you’re next asked to pay privately for something that the County should be doing, it is a testament to the incompetence that our public servants will call “excellence.”

But hey, this is America and if we don’t make changes in March and November we will only get more of the same. Vote your conscience and know tomorrow can be better than today. Status quo or change? You decide…

Jeff Giordano
SB County Resident

Das Williams for 1st District Supervisor

I don’t live in the First District, but every Supervisor has an impact on all county residents. I am a former county employee and I consider myself fairly conservative. I first met Das 18 years ago during the Gail Marshall recall campaign. I ran for the position to fill her seat had she been recalled and during one debate in Montecito, Das filled in for her. I thoroughly enjoyed our debate and, of course, we both claimed victory. It was evident then, as it is now, that Das Williams is an accomplished lawmaker.

I continue to follow local news and often watch the Board of Supervisor meetings. Das is always prepared and thorough in his deliberations. I don’t necessarily agree with the initial marijuana decisions, but I have followed the issue over the past year. I think he and Steve Lavagnino had and have the best interest of the county in mind. Problems arose and rather than turn away from them, they have worked hard to make the best of it. However, marijuana is only one of many issues facing the Supervisors.

I was very impressed with Das’ response to the debris flow. He was immediately on the scene and, according to my former collogues, was instrumental in helping with evacuations and all that follows in a major disaster. I recently saw a letter praising Supervisor Williams from one of the “Bucket Brigade” founders. You can tell a lot about a person on how they respond in an emergency. Many of my former collogues had nothing but praise for Das because of his hard work during that disaster.

I believe Supervisor Williams is an effective supervisor who cares deeply about this county and especially the residents of his district. I don’t know Laura Capps personally, but I attended their debate in Montecito. It was very clear to me that Supervisor Williams is imminently qualified for the position he holds. While I no longer speak for local public safety, I am acutely aware of the issues facing the county and I trust Das Williams will continue being an effective representative for all the people of Santa Barbara County.

Jim Thomas
Former Santa Barbara County Sheriff and Fire Chief

Socialism or Freedom

Salud Carbajal claims to be looking out for average Americans. However, is he? All one has to do is check his voting record in Washington, DC. He votes with the socialist left. Especially when it pertains to border security, immigration, impeachment, Israel and sanctuary cities. (Kate’s Law) Does he put the safety and security of Americans first?

For these reasons, my husband and I support Andy Caldwell for Congress. Andy is against socialism, is not a partisan and will protect our national security and borders.

Your choice America. Socialism or freedom.

Diana and Don Thorn

Why Not?

Why didn’t CEO Gwyn Lurie ask Congress Rep Salud Carbajal constituent important ‘Why’ questions in her interview?

1) WHY has Salud voted 100% with Hispanic Caucus rather than represent constituent interests? Mission: The 38-Member Congressional Hispanic Caucus advocates for issues important to Hispanics through the Congressional legislative process. https://chc.house.gov/

2) WHY does Salud endorse socialist pursuits such as Medicare for All (Democratic Socialists of America, SB Chapter, along with Das/ Darcel promoted Socialist Assembly Candidate Jonathan Abboud)?

3) WHY will Salud not debate Andy Caldwell?

4) WHY does Salud support CA sanctuary status favoring unlawful residents over citizen rights, safety, and needs? Salud’s position costs CA taxpayers forcing many to leave CA.

5) WHY is Salud assigned wealthy constituent and union boss fund raising as a primary Congressional responsibility?

6) WHY doesn’t Salud work to cut federal spending to reduce the trillion dollar debt?

Salud is a nice, friendly, DCC Naomi Schwartz picked and groomed politician that follows do-nothing Capps as our place holder in Congress.

Will Salud support H.R.5383: The New Way Forward Act?

I bet he will after the election. This tell legislation identifies the country’s elected anarchists and nihilists.

As a moderate Democrat 1974 to the mid 1980s, after working 10 years in CA State & DC public policy, I became a staunch constitutionalist, No Party Preference voter. The federal government is responsible for national sovereignty and commerce. FDR followed by LBJ’s anti-poverty Great Society created Medicare, Medicaid, and hundreds of social engineering programs fueling the erosion of our Constitution.

Ask tough questions. This election is uniting American Patriots regardless of party registration. There’s much work to be done by informed government watchdog Andy Caldwell with coalition focused problem solvers.

Denice S. Adams

Underground Utilities

Why not make undergrounding utilities a requirement for a building permit?

Larry Lambert

No More Excuses

Das Williams has gone too far with his shameful self promotion at the expense of victims who lost lives and property. His latest mailer claims “During the tragic debris flow of 2018, Das Williams sprang into action… to help save neighbors from the mud…” His television and print campaign hype declares “He saved lives.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the days leading up to the debris flow of 2018, the Office of Emergency Management, County Fire, Montecito Fire, SB Sheriff’s Department, Public Works and others worked to implement a disaster preparedness plan. The National Guard was brought in. Search and Rescue teams and first responders from outside the area were pre-positioned. Coordinated efforts were put into place and service providers were on high alert and at the ready. Das was sending out texts about where to pick up sandbags. This hardly qualifies as “life-saving.”

On the morning of the debris flow, Das was not in Montecito. In fact, he wasn’t there for days afterward. He claimed at a recent debate that he couldn’t get through. So what is it, Das? Are you the hero, or are you the guy making excuses? I’ve not heard you take any amount of responsibility for the tragedy that befell your district that awful morning.

Leadership is about taking responsibility, not just credit. Das – please stop hoisting the “hero trophy” when it is simply not your trophy to hoist. Stop diverting credit from the first responders to yourself. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the actual first responders – THEY are the true heroes.

Stacey Wright
Santa Barbara

Renting in SB

Laura Capps is concerned about the high cost of renter’s “security deposits” and so suggests that they buy insurance for this. Rents are high in SB and so coming up with an additional deposit can be tough if rents starting above $2000 are common. A low security deposit can range from $2000-$4000. Capps calls such coverage “Renters Insurance,” which most think of as coverage for a renter’s belongings, and she says covering the deposit can cost as low as $3 a month. I investigated this idea online and only found one company offering deposit insurance for anything close to that and it covered at $5 per $1000 per month, another offered a flat fee for $250 for each $1000. All money paid to the insurance company is non-refundable. And, this deposit coverage was usually bundled with other renter’s insurance costing another $15+ per month. It is also dependent on an owner accepting the insurance policy in place of the security deposit and many do not because it involves filing claims and sometimes lawyers if there is additional damage. Capps should know that insurance companies are not selling insurance unless there is a profit. The tenant ends up spending more each month for housing on an insurance policy. A much better solution is to negotiate with the owner to be allowed to space out some of the security deposit over the first six monthly rent payments. If the deposit is $2000 maybe pay $500 with the first month’s rent and then another $300 with the next five rent payments. Most landlords will do this for a deserving new tenant, the only problem is the Management Company can get in the way by not bringing this idea to the owner. Why? Because it takes more work. The best way to make housing affordable is for the owner to have a heart and to make sure the management company, that works for him/her, does as well. Too many times the property manager insulates the owner from issues that they should know about and too many times the owner seems not to care or does not want to be bothered. The housing issue in SB is difficult and can greatly be helped if property owners become part of the solution and have more empathy, at least more than an insurance company.

J.W. Burk
Santa Barbara

Jason Dominguez for State Assembly

Santa Barbara and Ventura County voters, remember Jason Dominguez for State Assembly.

As a City Councilman, Dominguez proved to be an independent thinker that asked the tough questions. He also fought against overdevelopment.

The son of a teacher, Dominguez earned degrees from Stanford, UC Berkeley and Heidelberg University. Always committed to our youth and schools, he has taught at both the high school and college levels. He is currently a law professor.

Dominguez has worked as a criminal prosecutor, taking on tough cases and serious crimes.

He has a strong record of fighting for the environment. In fact, Dominguez has a master’s degree in environmental law.

As a Republican who has known Dominguez since 2015, he is a Democrat that I support. He puts people over politics. Independents and his fellow Democrats should support him, too.

Let’s bring common-sense solutions to Sacramento. Vote Jason Dominguez for State Assembly.

Pete Dal Bello
Santa Barbara


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