Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   July 9, 2020

Right Side of History

As I read the LA Times coverage of the independent SB Grand Jury’s scathing report on the unethical way our cannabis policy came to be, I had one silver lining thought: “Thank goodness the Montecito Journal had the wisdom – and guts – to be on the right side of history by endorsing Laura Capps.” Truth will tell.

Bobby Shand

Say It Don’t Spray It

Recently, I believe Tuesday June 18th, my friends are I took a hike up San Ysidro Trail. About a half a mile up the trail, we saw workers in the middle of the creekbed spraying. The spraying wasn’t being done directly in the water but on islands surrounded by the creek I approached the workers and asked a man what they were doing. I was told that spraying was being done to stop plants from growing in the creekbed. I asked him if Monsanto’s Roundup was being used. He replied “no” and that the herbicide being used was completely safe.

As I walked back, I stopped and looked in the cab of the truck that had the words “County of Santa Barbara” on it. There were quite a few containers which had labels clearly stating the contents were toxic to humans and animals.

Dogs go to the creekbed quite a bit. Children may play down there. I saw no signs posted that pesticide spraying was going on. What if there were a heavy fog or light rain, and some herbicide was washed into the water? There are pools downstream that people go into. There’s also where San Ysidro Creek empties into the ocean, a place in which people wade barefoot across the creek.

I understand the need to control growth in the creek to prevent debris flows and flooding. But there’s a better way to do it, like manually digging up the plants. The county could recruit volunteers to do this. How many other Montecito creeks is the county planning on spraying? Hikers, be careful that you, your children and your dogs don’t rub against the herbicide treated plants.

Bryan Rosen

Shame on the MSD

I saw the full page ad in the Montecito Journal last week that was run by the Montecito Sanitary District. This ad violates everything about truth in advertising. I attended past MSD meetings, and there are definitely some things they’re not telling you, or outright lying about.

First, “Our Recycling Program,” as touted in their ad, exists only in the MSD’s mind. There is NO recycled water facility of the sort their ad suggests. What they have done is spend $160,000 for a small test unit that processes a small amount of waste water that has so far been used to flush the MSD’s lines, not even to irrigate the landscaping at the MSD’s own facility. The excess from this small test program is mostly drained into the ocean. There is NO commercial production of recycled water. They haven’t built one, despite years of pressure from the Montecito community to do so.

Second, the two elected board directors, Newquist and Barrett, object that the conceptual pilot recycling program is too small. If it ever gets built, it’s only going to recycle about 5% of the available water.

Third, the Montecito Water District has signed NO contract for MSD’s recycled water, from a facility not even built yet, and neither has the Cemetery.

So, this ad is just a lie.

The Sanitary District is spending $100,000 for a publicity firm to run ads like this for them.

What they really want is for you to look the other way while they use $6,000,000 of ratepayer money to build an expensive new building. That’s why they put in small print that they look forward to getting approval at the Montecito Planning Commission and the Santa Barbara County.

Running deceptive ads like this is an egregious waste of customer money. Shame on the MSD! Montecito deserves better.

Very truly yours,

Edwin C. Martin, Jr.

President Putz

Mark Twain’s comment that “the Populace adopts the Morals of its Monarch” resonates today as our country stumbles forward, the blind leading the blind. It is open season on bad behavior (watch your top knot on freeways) and it is somehow way cool to be crude, rude and aggressive since our screens erased social graces and distanced us, long before COVID-19. It does seem that the US has had a dumbosis pandemic for a number of decades now, although some might say that our suspicion of intelligence goes back to our roots as an item of national pride.

I have recently started to hyphenate when mentioning the POTUS (he who shall not be named). With so many fascinating, dusty old grown up (or should I say adult) words beginning with our alphabet’s 16th letter, the fellow is clearly a P-resident. Whether Popinjay Prevaricator (no lie) or Pusillanimous Putz (not mean spirited enough) his list, like dead Jacob Marley’s chain, grows ever longer. Pompous? Pandering? Perfidious? Profligate? Take your pick. (Puling and Prurient don’t go hand in hand but you can look them up.) They too are relevant.

The July 2 column Purely Political which still touts a “seriously flawed human” and plans to vote for him makes it plain how partisan dreams die hard. The nation has already had our own version of the D.T.’s for four years; complete with tremors and terrifying delusions we try to awaken from this binge. Apparently once the red state Koolaid is drunk (or the red pill ingested) there is no vaccine for afflicted Republicans and a low recovery rate for many.

Sean Hutchinson

Our Banana Republic: Part Deux

So, last week our annually convened citizen Grand Jury released a devastating (not hyperbole!) report on our local cannabis industry that exposed the dark underbelly of how our County conducts business and the systemic changes necessary to restore, if that’s even possible, the public trust. Allow me to explain.

As it relates to Cannabis, it outlined what many of us already knew. We knew that the Supervisors created a 2-person Ad-Hoc committee to skirt our Sunshine Laws and prevent open public hearings. We also knew that the Ad-Hoc gave “nearly unfettered access” to growers and lobbyists while crafting the ordinance. What the Jury learned was that they failed to create agendas or take minutes to “avoid Public Record Act Requests for such documents” – so much for open government! They also found lobbyist emails more like “attempts to command,” ultimately describing them as “unnerving.”

The Jury often focused on an issue that I have previously written about (hence the “Part Deux”): Our uniquely different ethical milieu. We have no Contribution Moratoriums around Supervisor votes, creating a “pay to play” perception. Nor do we have obvious Supervisor Recusal Requirements, or an Ethics Commission. It appears that, apparently, we also don’t have Disclosure or Conflict of Interest rules that extend to senior county staffers. This may have allowed non-elected staffers – on their own – to forcefully challenge and ultimately change an APCD Advisory that required a one-mile Cannabis buffer zone. So much for an “independent” agency designed to protect our air quality. Hypothetical Question: Could highly compensated/pensioned staffer(s) be permitted to hold undisclosed consulting gigs while helping to craft a County-wide and uniquely different/pro-piece of Cannabis legislation? Just curious…

Our $1.2B County continues to overplay the $6M or so in annual taxes (not including expenses!) that cultivation generates. In reviewing the numbers, the Jury took issue with SB’s unique tax scheme that makes us de-facto pot partners by tying our tax fortunes to unverifiable and price fluctuating Cannabis-cash-receipts. “Used nearly ubiquitously in CA,” is the more easily verified square-footage-grown tax method. Using this method Monterey, for example, is collecting more than 2X the amount of taxes against just 62 permitted, INDOOR ONLY, acres. Presently, SB has 217 permitted acres (1,700 allowed), i.e. Monterey is collecting 8X more per acre than SB. Curious wouldn’t you agree?

The Jury also discovered that none of the tax-related discussions resulting in our Cannabis-friendly scheme included our elected County Treasurer-Tax Collector. This exclusion was also the handiwork of the Ad-Hoc and certain senior staffers. Things really do get “curiouser and curiouser.”

PLEASE, take 15 minutes and read the 26-page eye-popping report and the 12 recommendations made to the Supervisors (uggh!), which completely validates the recent Reasonable Cannabis lawsuit against the County. As a former Prosecutor, I was recently asked to handicap the likely follow-up of other hometown-trained and hometown-curious agencies? Well, although the Jury’s investigation was County “hindered” (their word), delayed and deeply disturbing, I wouldn’t hold your breath because, believe you me, SBC is truly a banana republic. Be vigilant, be involved and stay healthy!

Jeff Giordano

Cancel Culture Craziness

If someone were to suggest that the tragic memory of the 2018 mudslides in our community could be forgotten or ameliorated by changing the name of Montecito to something else, you would no doubt call him a fool. The name of the city clearly has nothing to do with this sad moment in our history, and removing the name today isn’t going to retroactively substitute for poor forest management and lax flood control in the past.

The “Cancel Culture” of today seems just as foolish. In the last few weeks, modern day justice warriors and complicit useful idiots in the media, universities, and corporate image departments, have fired their shotguns at everything from people and brands to movies and ropes targeting the vague enemy of systemic racism. Editors at the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bon Appetit, and Variety have been fired or demoted, not for publishing lies, slurs, epithets, or hate, but for publishing opinions shared by millions of citizens. Brands such as Uncle Ben’s, Aunt Jemima, Eskimo Pie, and Mrs. Butterworth’s have been forced to change names not because of any discrimination or abuse practiced by their owners, but because the new woke crowd think they evoked images of historical prejudice. Realtors are being told that they shouldn’t use the term “Master Bedroom” when selling a house. Modern day book burning takes the form of removing Gone With the Wind from the film catalog and closing Splash Mountain at Disneyland, because they allegedly chronicle a part of history in a light this enlightened generation doesn’t want to see. Tearing down statutes and renaming buildings and schools doesn’t stop at the few that glorify slavery but extends to anything honoring anybody who had beliefs, held opinions, or engaged in practices which were popular at the time they lived but are deemed “culturally offensive” or “troubling” today. In some instances, mere existence at a point in time is cause for condemnation. Anyone who doesn’t fall in line with the group thought is viewed suspiciously or labeled part of the problem. There is no room for disagreement. The Thought Police of Oceania are in control.

What should be next in the cross hairs of these rewriters of history? First of all should be the renaming of the Democratic Party, the historical party of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. It is no excuse that the party’s attitudes and actions towards segregation have changed dramatically over the years: the cultural warriors do not recognize changing times. In their world, you inherit and are responsible for the sins of your fathers. The next demand should probably be for the elimination of the use of the word South as a noun. Too offensive. Too troubling. It conjures up historical injustice. Others that should have to go: Colonel Sanders for obvious reasons; All things Dixie (Chicks already done, Winn-Dixie Supermarkets, Stephen Foster songs, Dixieland Music); William Faulkner and Mark Twain; Gospel Music; Cotton. It is hard to imagine anything pre-1960 that isn’t culturally offensive or troubling to someone if they, like Humpty Dumpty, can define a word to mean just what they choose it to mean.

What happened in Minneapolis to George Floyd is reprehensible, just as is the weekly bloodbath in Chicago’s South Side. Police brutality is disgusting no matter who the victim is. Substandard education in minority communities is unacceptable. Street gangs whether they are White, Black, Asian, or Hispanic, are a menace everywhere they are allowed to exist. Absentee fathers and the breakdown of the nuclear family are proven contributors to high school drop out rates, crime, and economic inequality.

These are real issues requiring real discussion and real change. They are not going to be solved by toppling statutes of George Washington, firing an editor for publishing an Op-ed piece someone disagrees with, or changing the name of a popular ice cream bar.

Lawrence W. Dam


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