Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   May 14, 2020

More Gretchen, Please

Last week’s article “A Man and His Dog” (by Gretchen Lieff) touched me – as so many of your articles do.

I know I speak for many when I say we’d love to be able to follow more of Gretchen’s musings – and adventures – in your Journal.


Sharon Kantanen

Free to Stay Safe

In response to the letter last week from Cheryl Trosky and others complaining of the current lockdown.

Have they read any of the stories of NYC? The first-person reports of doctors and nurses working 18 hours a day and having 5-7 patients per day die of the virus? California is about two weeks behind in infections from the east and we have had lower rates because we had the time to close down and socially isolate. Opening up too early could cause a resurgence in infections. Sweden and Korea have stopped infection increase because their citizens are accustomed to following strict orders for the greater good. Americans are independent and pride themselves on acting independently, good in some cases, bad in a pandemic.

Yes, Das Williams, and other duly elected politicians, our democratically elected governor, do have the right to tell us what to do. They are elected to make laws that benefit the most people. That is how a democracy runs.

You may want to be free and chance getting the virus, I want to be free to not be infected by you or others.

Linda Beuret, RN

Love for Non-Human Friends

What a wonderful, moving piece by Gretchen Lieff in the recent MJ on the importance during this difficult time to savor the unconditional love of our special non-human friends. I could not do the important water work she shares with me without my oasis of unconditional love from all the wonderful creatures I share this ohana with. Not just dogs… but cats, birds, turtles, and even fish. There is so much love out there from all around us if we only look, listen, and give back. Thank you, Gretchen.

Carolee Krieger

Sharon Byrne for Mayor

I hereby nominate as Honorary Mayor of Montecito Sharon Byrne, the Executive Director of the Montecito Association.

Sharon has been a voice of reason, a voice of calm, offering a touch of humor and certainly empathy, not only thru our current crisis, but has also stood by us thru other disasters affecting our small community. The concise information Sharon is providing us with is the most logical and informative being offered.

She is tackling our community issues with abandon. Her reporting is logical. Her response to individual issues has proven to be unbiased and more than helpful. On and on – this woman is a champion. We are so fortunate to have her in our community – fighting for us at every level.

Let us join together as a community and honor Sharon with what she deserves – special recognition and appreciation from us all. At the very least – a Key to our great Village? She has my vote! Mayor Sharon – I like it. She deserves it.

Lee Kirch

Comparing Tragedies

Cheryl Trosky presents us with a dilemma in her letter published in the recent MJ (issue 26/19). Should we grieve more for her tragic circumstance (she “felt absolutely no joy in [her recent shopping] experience”) or the more than 80,000 deaths attributable to a powerfully contagious and often fatal viral infection? (And that’s 80,000 without counting the uncountable thousands of “excess deaths” attributable to COVID-19 but untested for it.)

Ms Trosky blames “our politicians” and “our government,” which is reasonable. After all, the President, who is fond of identifying the Federal government as embodied in himself alone, oversaw the dismantling of the NSC’s pandemic task force in 2018, refused to read or comprehend the multiple warnings given to him in January’s Presidential Daily Briefings by our intelligence agencies, refused to prepare American industry for the need to produce PPE for our health workers and first responders, muzzled the CDC, fired those who spoke out about the dangers, and dithered, lied and downplayed from the first until now. But I don’t think that’s the politician she means.

She lifts a story from Fox News that an executive with WHO praised Sweden’s careless freedom from lockdown without noting the praise was for effective testing (which we have never had and don’t have yet), not the result — Sweden’s deaths per 100,000 ratio is nearly half again larger than in the U.S., four times greater than in Norway right next door or in Germany, and four times greater than California’s.

How dare California’s government try to protect its people from fevered death and, what’s worse, do a reasonably good job at it? How dare Supervisor Williams “take away [her] privileges,” her “right to live as free people” (and to infect whomever those free people might breathe on)?

There’s a lot to mourn here, admittedly, loss of work, loss of health care, and many deaths, of nurses and doctors, of delivery people, grocery workers, meat plant workers, folks in nursing homes and elder care aides, prisoners and guards, and among all their families. By contrast, Ms Trosky’s loss of shopping joy weighs not half so heavy on the scale.

Cotty Chubb

End the Madness

So let me see if I’ve got this straight – the GOP’s response to the tragic deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and the unprecedented economic carnage caused by this Administration’s failure to promptly heed the warnings and advice of the world’s leading infectious disease experts vis-a-vis the coronavirus pandemic and to take measures that other countries – e.g., South Korea, Germany, New Zealand, etc. – took to contain it and limit loss of life and economic damage is to ignore the warnings and advice of the world’s leading climate scientists vis-a-vis the threat of climate change and take prompt action to address it?

The full extent of the economic and human tragedy wrought by the Administration’s unconscionable delay and failure of leadership in dealing with COVID-19 won’t be known for some time, but there is no question that huge investments of public funds will be required to ameliorate the damage. We have a choice – we can allow the GOP (in thrall to fossil fuel interests) to ignore the advice of climate scientists and expend vast sums in a futile attempt to preserve a 20th Century economy powered by fossil fuels, exacerbating the damage climate change will cause at the expense of the health and long-term prosperity of the vast majority of Americans, or we can invest in a just transition toward a 21st Century economy powered by clean energy and create millions of good jobs, ameliorating the damage of climate change in the process. I only hope that Joe Biden, Democratic leaders in Congress, and the voices of qualified scientists and responsible media are up to the challenge of articulating this choice, and that American voters end this madness in November.

John H. Steed
Toro Canyon

Finding God

The article by Ashleigh Brilliant “Dear God” is somewhat off track. First of all, he doesn’t give any good support for his thesis that there is no God. Second, he doesn’t seem to be very happy. No kids or grandkids and a very negative perception of the world. Suggest he convert to Christianity where he would have a much more rewarding and fulfilling life.

Frank McGinity

News from Rosetta’s Pond

Dialogue overheard on Coast Village Road, from a COVID-19 taxi driver.
“Hey! You rolling up ur window at me?”
“Hey! Who r u? Keeping me away from you?”
“Hey! You ignoring me?”

Bill Dalziel

Water Woes

Montecito Water District customers recently received in the mail a “Notice Of Public Hearing On Proposed Water Rate Increase”. The proposed rates are in addition to the supposedly temporary Water Supply Emergency (WSE) rate increase enacted during the recent drought. The water usage charge was increased 64% at that time and remains in place to this day.

Using the existing WSE rates as the base, the District is proposing changes. For example, a residential customer using 23 hundred cubic feet per month would see their monthly bill increase by $13.72. Not bad. However if the proposed increase is compared to pre drought rates, the monthly bill increases $93.07. Ouch!

The District states that the rate increase is needed to address several water supply challenges. Possible solutions to these challenges are examined in the “Future Water Demand and Water Supply Options Report 2020 Update” prepared by Dr. Bachman.

The District’s preferred solution is to execute a Water Supply Agreement with the City of Santa Barbara backed by its desalination facility. This is a reliable source of additional water. Unfortunately it is the most expensive, at over $4 million per year with a 50 year contract term. Also it is inflexible because it requires the District to pay for water even during years when it is not needed, which is most years.

For instance, this year the District has over 2,000 acre feet of State Water Project (SWP) water entitlement available for delivery. However the District has elected to not have it delivered. Other Santa Barbara County water agencies have decided not to receive the SWP water. Why? Because sufficient rainwater has been delivered free to the Santa Ynez River watershed reservoirs (Cachuma, Gibraltar, Jameson) to meet all water demands for South Coast water agencies. If the WSA was in effect today the District would be forced to pay over $4 million a year for water it does not need!

In addition, even though an extremely large amount (85%) of District water goes for exterior use, the District continues to resist implementing an effective water conservation program. Financial incentives for customers to reduce exterior water consumption have proven to be effective by water agencies throughout California. Instead the District proposes a WSA which will provide extremely expensive water for exterior use. This water is considered valuable by a small number of large water users that needed to reduce their landscape irrigation in the last severe drought. I agree that their needs should be addressed but by using a different, significantly less expensive, solution.

As mentioned in the Bachman report, future water supply reliability could be enhanced by increasing participation in water banks “in Central or Antelope Valley similar to existing Semitropic capacities”. (Semitropic is a groundwater bank in which the District already participates to a limited extent). Also, supplemental water could be purchased “on a long term contract or spot market”. Note: Groundwater banks are effective and economical because the District would pay for the water once and then store it until it is needed. It would then be delivered via the SWP system to the District. This is a significant contrast with the WSA which requires continuous payment regardless of need.

Additional groundwater banking coupled with an environmentally responsible and effective water conservation program would provide a reliable, economical solution to meet future District water supply needs. It would eliminate the need for a rate increase and provide an opportunity to return to rates that existed prior to the WSE surcharge. I anticipate that the District will embrace this solution when pigs learn to fly.

Robert L. Roebuck
MWD customer for 37 years
Retired MWD General Manager and City Water Resources Manager


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