Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   November 26, 2020

Bear Necessities

Carlos here! Since I have good Wi-Fi here in my den, I was able to watch the Town Hall meeting a few weeks ago about me. I was grateful for a large attendance of twenty-something people who logged in to learn, listen, and let their thoughts be known about my presence.

Fish and Wildlife put on a Zoom seminar for this Town Hall that I can safely say was accurate, informative, and to the point. I cannot thank the Montecito Association enough for hosting this event. We are all neighbors here in our little village and without their help I might not be writing this to you. You see, I caused some concern a while ago and some people feared I was going to harm them. But, as the seminar showed, I am just a hungry bear getting ready for winter.

As you have probably noticed, the days are getting shorter, the nights colder, and the weather a bit more extreme. Even though it is warm today as I write this, winter is just around the bend and I must fatten up before my deep sleep of hibernation. I will be out and about foraging for food until mid-December when I bed down. You probably will not see me again until mid-March next year when I wake up. It is all a part of the life cycle of a male black bear.

When I was a young cub, my mother would tell me stories about Montecito. “Carlos,” she would say, “so much is different today than when your grandmother was alive. Back in the 1800s there were far fewer people and there was another breed of bear that lived here, right in our neighborhood. They were called Grizzly Bears and we Black Bears kept our distance; somehow, we managed to get along, most of the time. We hunted the occasional deer and lined the creeks to fish during the Steelhead runs. Now the Grizzlies are gone, hunted to extinction and the creeks are now choked

and altered so badly that while those trout/salmon still run, not so many of them make it to their ancestral mating grounds. Because of these changes it is harder for us to fatten for The Sleep.” She would say, “Be a proud, cautious, and concerned bear, be a good neighbor, and try not to cause trouble, because this ecosystem needs you!”

So please, do me and the other wildlife in our little village a favor. Let us know we should go somewhere else for food by using some of these easy to implement and cost-effective methods to give us the message:

•Install electric fencing around chicken coops.

•Install motion sensor activated noise makers and lights around property.

•Place low voltage, Not Welcome mats at doorways.

•Use bear resistant trash bins and protected trash storage areas.

•Keep your outdoor BBQ grill clean (this was emphasized more than once).

•Do not panic, keep a safe distance, and enjoy my meanderings, but if I get out of hand call the Sheriff or go directly to Fish and Wildlife and let them know I am misbehaving!

I love living in Montecito and do not want to cause a fuss, I just want to keep doing what bears do. Thank you everyone who participated in the seminar and thank you to everyone who puts up with my bearish behaving. It is a privilege to live here and I appreciate being part of the community.

Carlos Romero, The Bear
Forwarded to the MJ by Carlos’ friend, Michael Edwards

Following in Reagan’s Footsteps 

[This is in reference to the “Purely Political” column in the 22-29 October 2020 issue of Montecito Journal] Reagan Biographer Lou Cannon is far too superficial in his comparison of Reagan and Trump. Yes, they have different styles. But almost everything that people find distasteful in Trump originated with Reagan.

Reagan began his campaign talking of “states’ rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The site of the murders of civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in 1964. A loud dog whistle to racists that he is on their side.

During Reagan’s first term, an entire book, Reagan’s Reign of Error, was published, documenting hundreds of his substantive lies. Nixon was taken down because he made a few strategic lies. Reagan discovered if you lie habitually, the really important lies are buried in a sea of fabrications. Trump simply copied and expanded this tactic.

Reagan committed a number of impeachable offenses in his obsessive quest to support terrorists in Central America. The only difference with Trump is that Reagan was never actually impeached for his criminal offenses.

Many of Reagan’s appointees and associates were convicted of crimes directly connected with Reagan’s illegal actions. As with Trump, he pardoned most of them.

Reagan taunted the Soviet Union, calling them the “Evil Empire” just as Trump taunted North Korea. And he likewise made an about face afterwards.

Reagan removed the solar panels from the White House roof that President Carter had installed. He killed the programs to move our country off of fossil fuels. He was in utter denial about the need to move to sustainable energy and sustainable transportation. Trump simply followed his lead.

There is one difference: Reagan supported the torture and murder of tens of thousands of people in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in an attempt to get these desperately poor people to “Cry Uncle” in his own schoolyard bully terms. For all of his bluster, Trump has not actually started any wars.

Trump may be obsessed with building his wall to keep out refugees. But it was Reagan who caused the horrific problems that have made these people so desperate to escape.

And, most important: It was Reagan who told us that “government is the problem” in his inaugural speech. In 1961 Reagan put out a record warning that Medicare would lead to a “socialist dictatorship” in the U.S. As Trump tries to destroy Obamacare, remember that it was Reagan who fought against any government programs to help the people. Trump is just the aftershock.

Robert Bernstein

Thank you to Montecito 

I want to thank our wonderful community for making my candidacy for school board a meaningful adventure. I met so many wonderful people during my visits at the Farmers Market, ranging from parents concerned about their children to an employee for the California Department of Education to a literacy advocate based in Africa.

And through countless conversations and communications, I learned how much the message of the need for improved literacy practices resonates throughout our community.

I am so grateful to so many, and would especially like to offer a big shout-out to Jerry Roberts who took the time to interview each candidate “in the year of the plague” and chatted weekly with reporters to share the latest insights and updates.

I also want to express my thanks for the tech-savvy among us who arranged for the Zoom forums, including representatives from the Montecito Journal, the Santa Barbara Independent, KEYT, and the Coalition for Neighborhood Schools. And, of course, to my courageous friends and supporters who displayed yard signs and to all those who voted for me.

With many lessons learned, and a sense of appreciation for the democratic process that allows citizen participation, I will continue my literacy advocacy in other ways. One project very close to my heart is a photographic collaboration called “inVISIBLE: The Face of Dyslexia in Santa Barbara and Beyond.” The multi-media project celebrates those with learning differences from all walks of life and interviews about their experiences and ideas and is sponsored by The Dyslexia Project.

As always, I encourage dialogue about the important issues that we have raised before, during, and after the recent election. To continue the discussion, feel free to contact me at photo@silcom.com.


Monie de Wit


In his article, “The French Have It Right” (MJ, November 12-19) James Buckley spins a charming remembrance of his love of France and their freedom of speech policy which, Buckley claims, is so much more loaded with freedom than the U.S. constraints of speech freedom in our colleges. A French teacher, according to him, should be able to speak his mind and show images known to be offensive to the five million Muslims living in France. 

I am shocked to be able to agree on this point with Mr. Buckley.

However: he paints an unrealistic picture of France’s freedom of speech policy, which since 2011 bans wearing face coverings! This ban – no burkas, no scarf covering one’s face – is a ban aimed solely at Muslim women who, for religious reasons, do partially cover their faces and hair in public.

Is this not a blatant restriction of freedom of speech? Is this not a gross restriction on a religious belief, which is clearly an attempt to control how one expresses one’s belief?

If France is concerned that a face be exposed, what about the men who have beards, wear sunglasses and hats with beaks – how much of that face is visible to the public?

If making one’s face visible (and not a curtailment on religious freedom, France hypocritically argues), why then not ban wearing beards, hats, etc. in public? 

(And incidentally how does the mandate to expose one’s face fare when wearing COVID-protection masks?)

If France’s argument is that one’s religious beliefs should not be made in a public setting – which is what France is really trying to do – does Mr. Buckley approve of that? Or does his memories of youth spent in romantic France dim his one-sided reality of that country’s “expansive” freedoms of speech?

It might be charming to remember being young and in love, but that is not the whole story about France’s approach to freedoms.

And while I’m at it: having been exposed, through his writings, of Mr. Buckley’s ultra conservative leanings, I wonder how he views this Republican President’s attempts to deny Americans of their many freedoms of speech. Without naming all of them – limiting the Press, denying immigrants entrance, abusing HIS freedoms of speech by lying about others’ truth-telling – how does Buckley justify consistently and dogmatically supporting a political party whose leader is so against our freedoms of speech?

It must be wonderful to have a platform – this or other privileges – to selectively criticize America’s present dilemma: how, when, and to whom, freedoms are allowed or curtailed.

We are in a messy confusion at present, largely brought about by the antics of the president still holding office, a confusion regarding freedoms of speech, of religion, of pride in the color of one’s skin!

But please, don’t selectively romanticize what France does regarding freedoms. 

I too have memories of the France of my student days, and they are not all pleasant. 

It might be convenient to forget, France did not welcome visitors from the U.S. It took a lot of years and different leaders to convince the relatively arrogant French citizens of those days to be welcoming to visitors.

In this same issue, the most diplomatic editor of this Journal recommends compromise.

I think it is a wise suggestion. However, if we’re going to wear glasses which blind us to truth and reality, there can be no compromise. There cannot be two truths on the same issue. If there were, we would have to accept this administration’s concept of “alternative facts.” That is an impossibility: There are facts, not an alternative to. 

How does one compromise in the face and the fact of the thousands of lies this administration has put out as truths? That is my question in response to Ms. Lurie’s many questions, to which I don’t have answers. 

Nancy Freeman

Right Man for this Moment

I feel my face broaden into a deep and satisfying grin as I listen to and watch Joe Biden addressing the American people. Like awakening from a bad dream, I can feel my insides begin to relax and hope come flowing back into my heart.

For all of these months and years, I have wondered how anyone could possibly vote for Trump, or really believe he had the interest of Americans at the forefront of his mind. His behavior since losing the election, tells the true story of Donald Trump. With a virus raging out of control, with transition plans needed to assure Biden and his team are ready on January 21 to smoothly transition into a new administration, what is Donald Trump doing?

True to form, he is only thinking of himself. He is fabricating every possible outrageous scenario he can imagine, with no evidence, to convince himself he hasn’t lost this election. Firing key members of his administration whom he believes failed him, bellowing about Fox News for calling Arizona in Biden’s electoral count, complaining voter fraud when it was one of the cleanest elections we’ve had, and generally behaving the way any bad sport would in a moment of defeat.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, looks into the camera and into our eyes and hearts as he soothes us with guarantees he will transition no matter what Trump and his allies do. He isn’t calling Trump names, as a matter of fact he seems quite disinterested in Trump’s actions, maybe even to the point of feeling a bit sorry for this guy’s deep insecurities.

With Biden not even sworn in, Trump is already talking about running again in 2024. Is it hard to figure out his reason, I don’t think so. He needs his minions gathering to tell him how wonderful he is. It isn’t for the sake of this country and his concern for the people. Make no mistake; someone who asks not what we can do for him, but what he can do for us for the first time in four years, is caring for the American people.

Joe Biden is the man for this moment. His whole life has been a training ground preparing him to lead a troubled, sick, bifurcated country back to unity and sanity. Having already survived the most unbearable loss he could have imagined, the death of his beloved son, Beau, there is nothing he can’t tackle. The inner fabric of this man’s heart and soul is so filled with hope and promise; it’s hard not to be touched by his presence. My prayer is, in the days to come, all of those people who supported Trump will move beyond their understandable disappointment, and begin to understand the difference between feeding someone’s ego on a regular basis, and having a leader who wants to feed us. Let’s give Joe a chance; he’s ready to lead all of us, if we let him.

Myrna R Fleishman Ph.D.

Rules Are Rules

“We keep hearing about what a deeply divided country we are.” Comment: 70-plus million vs. 70-plus million might suggest that to be the case. “Mutual compromise” at a personal level is one thing. “Compromise” vis-a-vis the U.S. Constitution is quite another. Rules concerning the counting of votes and deadlines relating thereto are quite specific. The violation of these rules seems to favor one side over the other nationwide.

John Stewart 

Keep Up the Good Work 

Just read your article on business, economics, and climate change. Thanks for focusing on this public-private partnership approach to societal solutions. I look forward to the future examples you will highlight in future columns. Keep up the good work.

Eric Friedman 
Santa Barbara City Councilman



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