Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   August 20, 2020

Many Unanswered Questions

Thank you, Kelly Mahan Herrick, for the August 6 article on the county’s spraying of herbicides in the debris basins of Montecito.

Some questions come to mind after reading the responses of County officials Maureen Spencer and Jon Frye.

Ms Spencer mentions that if there isn’t a burned watershed above a debris basin, “the District maintains a fifteen-foot-wide pilot channel through the basin, and the remaining area of the basin is allowed to be recolonized with vegetation.” How wide of a swath is the County maintaining now given the burned area above?

She mentions how the crews are trained to keep spraying to a bare minimum, and to avoid flowing water. There were a number of containers of herbicide in the truck I saw. How many gallons of that were used in the San Ysidro debris basin? Do the crews spray during the wet season when there is much runoff and water levels fluctuate quite a bit? While herbicide use may be kept to a minimum on a larger plant, just how much herbicide does it take to kill it? She mentions that “the crew has found if they spray very small occasional sprouts, they use markedly less herbicide than they would if they allowed the basin to grow for several months…” Aren’t small sprouts easy to pull up by hand, or to dig up with a trowel?

Mr. Frye states it is not required to post notices if spraying is more than 50 feet from the trail. Why not? There are people who walk down the creek beds, and dogs that run down to them to get a drink.

How long has the County been spraying the debris basins? Has the public ever been notified of this? Wouldn’t it be the right thing to do to notify the public before spraying occurs and give people the opportunity to comment? Notices could be put in local newspapers and at trailheads.

If places and times of herbicide spraying were announced, the public could witness it for themselves.

Taxpayers are supporting pesticide companies that haven’t behaved ethically. The County needs to support ethical businesses. Why not consult with Rincon-Vitova in Ventura, a company that offers non-toxic alternatives?

To hear another side on the pesticide issue, people can contact Transition to Organics, a local environmental organization based in Ojai.

Bryan Rosen

(Publisher’s Note: We will be looking into this issue in an upcoming “On the Record” with MJ news editor Nick Schou. ~ TLB)

Love for the Library

The Montecito Library is a place full of knowledge and wonder. From checking out a new book, to wandering the aisles, to attending puppet shows when I was younger, it is one of my favorite places. Over these months of quarantine, I realize even more how important books are to our daily life. Books are an escape for most of us. They have the ability to transport us away or teach us something new. We have also realized the importance of social interaction. Getting to be wowed by a magic show or learning a new language, these are best done in groups. The Montecito Library provides all of those services for us and it needs your help. Our library relies on donations for 50 percent of its operating costs and needed help before the pandemic happened. As we begin to hopefully recover, please keep the library in mind and try to support it if you can, to help keep this wonderful place of community open. If you make a donation, please make it to Friends of the Montecito Library so it goes to our library. My favorite book this summer has been The Alchemist if you are looking for something new to read.

Benjamin Watson
8th grade, SBJH

Republican vs. Democrat DNA

Just because one says it is doesn’t mean it actually is. A recent writer declares “The Democratic Party divided people by race… so please don’t ascribe that DNA to the Republican Party.” During the Civil War the Democrats were for slavery, the Republicans against. That ideology totally flipped decades ago for reasons too numerous to mention here. Take a look at the audiences at Trump rallies. Except for a well-placed group of minorities behind him, the audience is virtually white. It obviously scares many white males (and too many females) to think they could be a minority in this country. Look at almost any picture of Democratic rallies and the percentage of Black and Hispanic people in attendance is striking. Add to that many of these people are female and it’s clear why the fear factor runs rampant with a certain ethnic, gender and age group. I happen to be a member of that group but am not afraid of change. That change as defined by the radical right is not the reality of the situation, and try as they might, the exception to the rule is not the rule.

Seemingly intelligent people have found amazingly narrow blinders to ignore the disgraceful actions of our president, who seems to thrive in a constant state of chaos and turmoil, weekly scandals, reckless decisions and about-faces, broken promises galore and petty, infantile Twitter fights. Oh yeah, and lots of patent lies. The whole world is laughing at us, the dollar has lost prestige and value and we seem to have forgotten our role in this world that our WWII veterans fought and sacrificed for.

Gary Fletcher

Do As I Say Democrats

With respect to the letter by Danute Handy in the August 13 issue there may be a few points worth mentioning with respect to her comments. Her notion the Democrat party is not based on identity politics is debunked by her very question as to why Reagan started his campaign in Philadelphia, MS. Only a democrat would insinuate he a racist for speaking of a principle in his presidency of downsizing the federal government and leaning towards states and local rights in a southern state where he was trying to best a southerner in President Carter. All why she grouped the GOP into an identity box of “old white men.” Democrats are the ones with 15 genders and gender and racial specifications on vice presidential running mates, not Republicans. Secondly, Republicans are politicians and at fault for deficits as well. They have grown government, just not as fast as the Democrats do and prefer. Lastly, the idea that Donald J. Trump gave tax cuts to the very rich is a deceiving talking point of Nancy Pelosi. The top rate under Barack Obama was 39.6 percent with significant deductions like mortgage interest and state taxes. Trump lowered the rate to 37 percent and took away the big deductions generally creating a push in amount paid. The top 1 percent (1.4 million people) earns $480,000 per year or more and makes 20 percent of the income and pays 39 percent of the taxes. The top 10 percent (14 million people) earns $140,000 per year or more and pays 70 percent of tax revenues. The bottom 50 percent (70 million people) pays 3 percent of the revenues and most receive benefits (taxfoundation.org). Some complain about partners in Wall Street investment funds who pay a capital gains rate on their share of gains in their funds and this is where we hear of unfair tax rates. Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate (23.8 percent) as to encourage investment, which is the force that creates economy as opposed to government creating it. Warren Buffett is an example of a wealthy person taxed at the lower rate due to income generated by capital gains, not labor. He travelled with Obama complaining he should pay a higher rate, yet never did and astonishingly leaves his $80 billion estate in a foundation to protect it from the government estate tax confiscation because, as he said, his daughter is a better steward of that money than government. Less is more when it comes to taxes as revenue is always more due to increased economic activity. Obama said multiple times taxes should be punitive. Another of his points that may hit home is he said at some point you have enough house, then hypocritically went out and bought a $13.5 million house on Martha’s Vineyard. He is a perfect example for do as I say, not as I do as I am the social engineer, ironically in what is a free market society.

Mike Hornbuckle

Trump Likes Women?

It has been a pleasure to read this new iteration of what was a one-sided pro-wealth and pro-Republican Montecito Journal. It is refreshing to not be subjected to photos of the same 15 faces and the jolly events they spent their time at.

This new MJ has a wider relevant point of view, and I thank you for that.

Mr. Buckley’s letter (MJ #26/32) laments his being a pin cushion. Would he prefer, I wonder, our using a more robust weapon for his pin cushion mentality?

I want to address his claim that Trump is not a misogynist because, Mr. Buckley says, Trump “dated a number of beautiful women”; and that is proof that Trump “likes” women? Only a shallow one-dimensional male would conclude that Trump’s propensity for prostitutes/call girls, his childish name-calling of women, and his clear disdain for strong intelligent women this as evidence he “likes” women. Trump is a shallow man.

Men who like women don’t announce on television how available those women’s private parts are to him, nor do they bribe them with thousands of dollars to not reveal his consorts with them.

Does Mr. Buckley, I wonder, think Jeffrey Epstein “liked” his 15-year-old victims? He must have. Just look how often – three times a day, I read – Epstein used their bodies.

Epstein probably liked women three times as much as Trump!

News Alert: Men who use women’s bodies for pleasuring themselves don’t like women; they are indeed and instead exactly what Mr. Buckley said a misogynist is: “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.”

Do we really need that definition to know, with each of our senses, how much Trump dislikes women?

I hope Mr. Buckley is still laughing at the truism made about the present silent Republican Party during this reign of Trump being – yes – racist. Silence should not be an option for these mostly old frightened white men who make up today’s Republican Party, who cannot bear to part with whatever money or glory they are privy to since being elected.

Don’t sully Abraham Lincoln’s name nor the war against slavery to imply today’s Republican Party in any way equates to that other one. You want to use the Civil War to prove Trump is not a racist? A typical cheap shot. Shame on you!

Some evidence of Trump’s racism – as though we need any – exists in the gender and color of the people he has chosen to surround himself. How many are not white and male? Of his 24 cabinet members, two non-white men, four women. Not since Reagan have there been so many white sycophants at his behest. Then there are the judges, his many lawyers, and his ever changing press personnel – mostly white men.

Do you get the picture, Mr. Buckley?

Nancy Freeman

Keep ‘em Coming

Who is Bill Hicks? I discovered all his quotes on every other page and they are quite fun! I like that you embed little things like that in the paper.

Lastly, please tell Rinaldo S. Brutoco that my wife and I like his opinion pieces. He addresses so many of our social ills that are perpetuated through our neoconservative and libertarian society. Robert Bernstein addressed one aspect of our broken system in the latest issue – “Property vs Humanity?” – another example of this is Citizens United v. FEC (https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/citizens-united-explained) which elevated wealthy people and corporations as people under the law (https://www.npr.org/2014/07/28/335288388/when-did-companies-become-people-excavating-the-legal-evolution).

Thank you for your paper, we look forward to it each week.


Eberhard Brunner

(Publisher’s Note: Bill Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and musician ~ TLB)

Back to School

Santa Barbara County schools plan to continue remote learning for the fall 2020 semester. Santa Barbara Community College also plans online educational programs but is considering some campus-based laboratory and activity classes for programs that cannot be delivered fully online, or disciplines in which courses can be provided using recommended safety protocols to lower risk and reduce COVID-19 transmission. I strongly endorse campus-based activity classes in the PE-Health-athletics program and performing arts departments at SBCC.

On August 7, California released COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Institutions of Higher Education. These State guidelines contain standards and protocols to which higher education institutions must conform in order to deliver campus-based courses. I reviewed the comprehensive plan for “Return to Face-to-Face Physical Activity Classes Outdoor Activities” developed by SBCC’s physical education/health/athletics departments. SBCC’s plan is well-conceived, thorough, and responsive to state and federal guidelines issued for public education. The SBCC comprehensive plan accounts for general guidelines for being on campus, as well as specific protocols for students in activity classes and various facilities comprising the health and fitness programs.

As a research psychologist, educator, and licensed therapist in California, I’m concerned about potential problems children, youths, and adults may experience by extended closure of face-to-face instruction and its replacement by remote learning in which extended screen time is the principal activity for long periods of time. Should online learning drift into the spring 2021 semester or beyond, this dubious educational experiment risks a generation of students with arrested learning, physical and mental impairments that may be longstanding. Remote education should be adopted cautiously only as a last option given multiple other considerations.

Activity classes (physical education, sports, etc.) and performance-based programs (e.g., theater arts and music) have many physical and psychological health benefits for students amply documented by well-designed research. In a lengthy letter to the SBCC Superintendent/President and Board of Trustees, County Board of Supervisors and Public Health Director, and legislators at the state and federal levels, I outlined areas where there exists clear empirical support showing positive benefits of physical activity and performance-based programs and health risks from lack thereof. These broad areas include:

• Obesity, diabetes and mortality risk

• Anxiety, depression, mental health and mortality

• Abuse and neglect, identification and prevention

• Meals and nutrition provided by schools

• Supportive research on school reopening and cautions about remote learning

• Online instruction compromises student achievement

Heterogeneity of Student Learning and Needs

Although equipment to facilitate remote learning was provided to some students, there remains a sizeable proportion of students whose instruction was severely interrupted, especially students of color and those from lower-income backgrounds. To illustrate, about 13 percent of students in the LAUSD were completely absent or did not log into classes every day following the shut-down in mid-March. At SBCC, drop rates also increased markedly during the spring despite herculean efforts to support students’ digital needs, and there was an 11 percent drop in enrollments for the fall semester. That raises the issue of equity. Lederman (2020) argues equity gaps are, given the relative failure of emergency remote learning efforts in the spring, continuing into the fall, a form of “digitizing discrimination.” We should not assume that students from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds have access to adequate computer equipment, stable internet connections, appropriate private spaces to learn and concentrate, parent support, or other resources critical for educational growth. To homogenize student characteristics fails to recognize or appreciate individual differences in learners, and multiple strategies good teachers must use on the fly to reach these students. Moreover, students who are preparing for careers in teaching, physical education, physical or occupational therapy, athletic training and coaching, drama and musical performing arts, and many others, are seriously disadvantaged by wholesale cancellation of academic programs preparing them for those fields. As the pandemic extends several months, and anxiety or depression accumulate from lay-offs, furloughs, company closures, child-rearing or other stressors, outlets are needed for students and community members to productively release energy, learn positive health-promotion strategies, and to combat the detrimental negative behaviors that extended stay-at-home orders produce. Activity-based courses offered at SBCC serve as a useful community-based intervention. Of course, health-safety are important for students and families, but as indicated in COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Institutions of Higher Education, classroom environments and activity spaces can be arranged to minimize direct contact, and preventive tools can be used by students and teachers. SBCC’s physical education/health/athletics departments department’s comprehensive plan for “Return to Face-to-Face Physical Activity Classes Outdoor Activities” plan serves as a model for community colleges in the state and nationally.

Much learning occurs off-line, interpersonally and in physical spaces, not merely from online sources, and we must support disciplines that offer these essential face-to-face activities while adopting comprehensive protocols to reduce potential ill health effects that are realistic. In order to support the regularization of education, especially for activity, sports, and performing arts classes, I strongly support, and encourage the public to support, SBCC’s comprehensive plan for “Return to Face-to-Face Physical Activity Classes Outdoor Activities,” permitting students’ return to selected instructional areas on campus for the fall. To our education leaders, please give your every consideration and support of the proposal for SBCC to offer activity-and-performance-based classes under safer distancing protocols.

Arthur Olguin, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Santa Barbara City College


You might also be interested in...