Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   August 6, 2020

The Truth About Kelp

I read with interest Mr. Zach Rosen’s article on Chris Goldblatt’s reef project. I am uncertain if Mr. Rosen was obtaining his information from Chris, but his initial statements are inaccurate under any circumstances. First, El Niño events are directly correlated with warm waters and heavy rainfall. Not, “droughts” as he represents. In fact, kelp forests thrive in the opposite climatic La Niña conditions, where cold waters dominate our Pacific coastal waters. The decline in kelp forests occurs regularly when warm waters associated with El Niño occur. These same kelp forests rejuvenate when cold waters return, as is the “normal” condition on the Central Coast.

Secondly, every attempt to create artificial reef environments (other than decommissioning oil platforms), have failed to produce the desired effect. The ocean currents either obliterate these “reefs” with sand deposits, or wave action renders them ineffective. As a surfer, I wish I could support his hypothesis!

While it is true that kelp require hard surfaces to attach their root systems in order to thrive, the more likely cause of the demise of the kelp forests is the emergence of sea urchins that destroy this same root system. The increase in urchin populations is directly associated with the reduced number of otters, resulting from a hundred years of sea otter hunting, and the opposition from commercial fishermen such as Mr. Goldblatt, to the re-introduction of otters to their native environs.

Lastly, the assertion that downslope flow from regularly occurring environmental events such as our recent debris flows is absurd. We all can attest to the volume of debris, boulders, rocks, automobiles and every imaginable object that ended up in the ocean after our horrific event, despite the manmade barriers we have erected. All of the Central Coast is not defined as urbanized area…fortunately!

Mark Mattingly

Nattering Away

MJ writer Rinaldo Brutoco has a perspective that is both emotional and sometimes illogical. He states every other Western-styled democracy has gotten COVID-19 under control while we have a failure of political leadership. Brutoco says California has many more recent daily virus deaths than New York. While true, total California deaths are 9,500 compared to New York’s 32,500. And California has about twice the population of New York.

What about that political leadership failure? Both New York and California have Democrats as governors and they make decisions about statewide health mandates. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo famously sent COVID-19 infected elderly to nursing homes where they died by the thousands. Brutoco says “in states with good political leadership, the virus is now under control. Governor Cuomo showed us how to do it. Governor Newsom chose to ignore his example.” Uhhh, logically it appears Newsom is outperforming Cuomo more than three to one.   

Federalism, which Brutoco often natters on about, means state control over local issues. Seems to me, in a large geographic area, such as the USA, regional mandates are superior, especially in a health crisis. Thankfully, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is being respected.

Trying to take any issue, and make it a political Issue is the stock and trade of the Left, which seeks to divide us at every turn. Let’s all stay safe and healthy and wash our hands of meaningless politics.                  

Peter Hunt   
Longtime Santa Barbara and Montecito resident

Let’s Get Kids Moving

Why can’t schools provide PE outdoors, in-person? What is the rationale?

Paul Orfalea

Duck Duck Go

I’d like to congratulate you on the wonderfully written, heart-touching article on the lost ducklings at Mount Carmel Church in the May 21-28 issue of the Montecito Journal (“The Great Montecito Duck Caper”). Of course, I read with delight that they had been found and all was well!

During these daunting times and all our news sources filled with fearful news, it was such a joy to read this story. Hope to see many more uplifting articles about our local wildlife and how we are caring for them.


Marianne Meeker

Cannabis Capital

This message in support of Nick Schou whose articles on the cultivation of cannabis in Santa Barbara county and shedding some light on it’s behind the scene shenanigans couldn’t be more welcome.

Personally I find it ironic having spent a great deal of my life in Latin America (Guatemala / Mexico) to finally settle in this part of the world and be surrounded by cannabis plantations and having to bear its pungent odor when the wind blows the wrong way.

Santa Barbara is known the world over for its wonderful climate, elegant and sporty lifestyle, ocean views, well protected landscapes, polo, sailing, wineries and vineyards, lovely hillside properties and home to a community of local and cosmopolitan creative, entrepreneurial spirits who embody cultural diversity and live in graceful harmony. To imagine it now as the cannabis capital of the US is not only absurd but sounds like a bad joke. Mr Schou’s writings offer us a chance to unite and raise a red flag. This is not about vilifying Cannabis but a wake up call to consider growing it elsewhere and not jeopardizing a century old community whose image as a world-class destination was forged otherwise.

The day will come when mainstream media and emblematic lifestyle magazines will highlight Santa Barbara county’s odd change of course favoring cannabis growth above most else, which will no doubt cause quite a giggle. In these darker days of Coronavirus best humor enlighten our spirits.

Thank you, Nick Schou, thank you Montecito Journal, please carry on the good work!

John Edward Heaton

Thanks, Joanne!

A couple of recent issues of the Montecito Journal have educated me with interesting new information.

I’ve been associated with Read ‘n Post for almost 19 years. But after reading Joanne Calitri‘s entertaining photo feature about the Montecito Country Mart, I am now much more familiar with our business neighbors. She did an excellent job of summarizing the variety of shops in the Mart, plus showing that their owners and staffs are an engaging group of people – even when disguised as bank robbers!

Despite being a lifelong Methodist, I learned a great deal from Hattie Beresford‘s fascinating two-part series about St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. Finding out about the historic struggles and successes of this local African American congregation gave me a new appreciation for the AME branch of Methodism. Due to the contributions of St. Paul Church and its members, Santa Barbara is clearly a more spiritually diverse and compassionate city.

Thank you for including those stories in the Journal.

John Devereaux

This Stinks

Nick Schou is to be congratulated for his excellent series. As a Carpinteria City resident living within 100 feet of totally unregulated cannabis greenhouses under county jurisdiction it is refreshing to see some honest reporting on the subject. Schou’s work compliments the well-researched Grand Jury report. In California, where law has become optional one can see the natural outcome of failed governance here. Government officials wringing their hands over all manner of politically correct causes turn a blind eye to real corruption within their own ranks. Many living next to cannabis greenhouses are suffering health effects because of the off gassing of 24-hour factory farming next to their bedrooms. This problem is increased by an odor control system mandated by the county. The system adds essential oils to the air we breathe, and while partially masking the odor, only increases the air pollution. The much-ballyhooed environmental ethic of Santa Barbara County does not seem to apply to residents’ health if tax dollars are to be made. It seems odd. If a problem like this were being created by the oil industry our government officials and political activists would have a fit. But with cannabis a blind eye is turned. Greed is one thing, but corruption is another. The absolute breakdown of fair and accountable government in the First District Supervisor’s office, County Administrator’s Office and Planning Department causes one to think about racketeering and interstate commerce. One wonders where the District Attorney is and why the Sheriff allowed his union to back an obviously compromised Supervisor Das Williams. Both these Santa Barbara County law enforcement officials are highly regarded, including by me. Why are they not acting? It is understandable that people are appealing to the US Attorney. They say things are bad in Washington DC but they are just as bad here in Santa Barbara County.

John Culbertson

Not a Pin Cushion

A couple weeks ago (MJ # 26/30), Lanny Sherwin lamented that I have responded to personal attacks or criticisms that appear in the letters column with my own “Letter to the Editor.” While I appreciate that there are many on the left side of the political equation who would prefer, indeed even mandate, that there be but one opinion on any subject – and that would be their opinion – I don’t agree. I have sold the paper that I founded over 25 years ago, but remain an investor and have not given up my right to reply when criticized. If my letters “undermine the credibility of the paper and stifle people from expressing their thoughts without concern for being ‘reprimanded,’” as Mr. Sherwin suggests, then don’t choose me as your subject. I am not a pincushion and will respond to unfair or unwarranted pinpricks.

Last week (MJ # 26/31), Danute Handy took on my most recent letter that questioned her assessment of Donald Trump’s presidential announcement speech that he famously gave after descending the Trump Tower escalator in New York City. She pronounced confidently that “Yes, Donald Trump is a misogynist. For confirmation refer to the Access Hollywood tape!”

For the record, the Oxford Dictionary defines misogynist as “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.” Now, say what you will about our president, but I suggest that he really does like women. At one time he was a young, handsome, and very wealthy bachelor in New York City who dated any number of beautiful women. Was he a “hound dog”? Most likely, but if anything, that would put him in the category of, say, former president Bill Clinton. But misogynist?

Later in her letter, Danute goes on to state that “it is almost universally agreed that Donald Trump is racist” and that racism “is part of the DNA of the Republican Party.”

I had to laugh.

Is she referring to the Republican Party, whose first presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln? Is she referring to the Republican Party that mobilized and fought a great war in order to outlaw slavery in the face of open rebellion by the Democrat Party that fought to maintain the evil institution? History will recall that it was the Democrat Party that wrote the Jim Crow segregation laws. Every southern state in the United States had its own version of those separation-by-race standards that repressed blacks from voting for 100 years after the Civil War.

The Democrat Party, at its inception, divided people by race and continues to do so to this day with the adoption of its “Identity Politics.” So, please, don’t ascribe to Republicans the DNA so deeply imbedded in the Democrat Party. Danute’s lovely litany of “dog-whistles,” “foghorns,” “welfare queens” and the like are simply tiresome, as those of us of a certain age remember when the elected Democrat Bull Connor was Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner; it was he who called out the dogs and firehoses to suppress Black dissent in that city. When Joe Biden, in a mock Southern accent, warned Black audiences that Republicans “Want to put y’all back in chains,” was he referring to the chains that a century of Jim Crow Southern Democrat segregation kept them in, or was it the chains of the previous 300 years of slavery that Democrats oversaw?

Just curious.

I’ve tried to keep this short, but Danute (she asked to call her that rather than “Mrs. Handy”) then wondered which “promises” President Trump has kept, so here are just a few: Construction of a barrier on our southern border has begun in earnest. A reduction in the corporate tax from 35 percent to 21 percent; a tax incentive to encourage businesses to return overseas profits to the US. Allowing the US to become self-sufficient in energy via de-regulation and cultivating a pro-business “Made in the USA” agenda. Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Recognizing that China, via its World Trade Organization status as a “developing nation,” had gutted the productive capacity of many US smaller cities; President Trump added tariffs to redress that problem. The North American Free Trade Agreement did much the same in this hemisphere, and that too has been rectified. There are many more, smaller changes that have produced many more positive results.

As for naming the period when America was great, well, gee, I guess I’ve figured America was always great, that it was always the “shining city on the hill” that President Reagan frequently rhapsodized over.

James Buckley

Keep It Up

I can now safely say I am enjoying this new iteration of the Montecito Journal. Our famed MJ appears to be in good hands with Gwyn Lurie at the helm.

I have been enjoying the well-written columns by our stellar librarian, Kim Crail, my animal loving friend Gretchen Lieff and the editor herself, Ms. Lurie.

I did notice that Richard Mineards has been away. Hopefully his absence is merely a sabbatical and he will return to write more splendid columns in the future.

Stay safe!

Michael Edwards

Hey Joe!

Don’t do it Trader Joe’s! Don’t succumb to the cancel culture or “woke” culture that has lost its sense of humor! The Trader labels of Jose’, Ming and Giotto are part of the good-natured and benign charm that permeates your stores. It makes us smile and appreciate your references to international flavor. It is not demeaning but clever and fun. We like being introduced to diverse ethnic cuisine selections in a light-hearted way. We need some fresh air of good humor to be introduced to Briones Bedell, 17-year-old high school student who charged Trader Joe’s with harmful racism in labelling some food products. If anything, such over-sensitive reactions demonstrates the sorry example of what high school teachers are doing to our students. Is Traders Joe’s really going to cave on this thinned-skinned nonsense?

J. W. Burk

Mighty Good Article

Dear Gretchen Lieff, your article, “A Mighty Force” (MJ # 26/31), for the Montecito Journal is so powerful – it hit me right in the heart. Your words along with Orlando Bloom’s eulogy on his Instagram had me in tears. Thank you for sharing your story of Daisy and Diesel. The pain of losing our Maxie Boy years ago came flooding back over me. I think that’s why I felt such empathy for what turned out to be Orlando and two friends at our door looking for their lost dog. He was so grateful when I gave him our staple gun and suggested he post his signs in Arcady (our neighborhood). It wasn’t until much later that day I finally realized who he was, only to be surprised again when he knocked on our door to return the stapler along with sincere thanks for lending it to him! Of course I invited him in for drinks and dinner, he called Katie to join us. It was a lovely evening (I made up that last part, Ha!). Anyway, I wanted to know that your words touched me. Good job neighbor!


Sallie Shahid-Saless

Super Series

I want to thank you for publishing Nick Schou’s carefully researched three-part series, on cannabis in Santa Barbara County. I found Mr. Schou’s reporting to be informative, accurate and eye opening. Kudos to Nick for a well-written and unbiased three-part series.

Jill Stassinos

Blenders, Tear Down This Poster

I was compelled to email our local business Blenders when I noticed a poster for the Black Lives Matter movement in the store and online. Here is what I conveyed to them. I am a customer and notice BLM posters in the store and online. Are you aware that the BLM movement is a Marxist movement? Part of the mission statement is to eradicate capitalism. Eventually they will even get to the capitalistic stores like yours that have the posters promoting them and consequently your demise. In addition the group would like to disrupt the traditional Western civilization nuclear family and replace it with a village. That includes all those families stopping in the store after school to give the kids a snack before a practice. Any perusal will validate my points as the leaders openly admit it. It is Martin Neimoller, who, regarding World War II, is quoted as saying the following: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” Unless you support this kind of oppressive society please take the posters down and find another way to support this minority group if you feel so strongly about their oppression in the most opportunistic country in history.

Mike Marchese


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