Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   January 28, 2021

Setting the Record Straight

Cold Spring School has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best public elementary schools in California. Year after year, we have earned high honors for student achievement, family engagement, innovative instruction, and effective administration. Our students are given an exceptional foundation for life-long learning and they excel in junior high, high school, and beyond.

Cold Spring School is a strong community asset that enhances the quality of life and economic vitality in our neighborhoods and brings tremendous value to the residents and property owners it serves. Cold Spring is a small school with a BIG reputation.

This pattern of success is being impugned by a few community critics whose attacks on district leaders rely on unsubstantiated allegations, misrepresentation of facts, and outright lies. These individuals are attempting to fabricate fake news to malign the integrity of district administrators, cast doubts about the fiscal practices of CSS, and disrupt the educational focus of the district. Op Ed pieces that include false information, often by fictitious individuals, are being portrayed as fact. 

The shameful campaign of character assassination, baseless conspiracy theories, and wanton disregard for the truth is destructive to our community and does not represent who we are.

Oversight and implementation of the Cold Spring School Measure C facilities bond has complied with management best practices, all state laws and regulations, and generally accepted accounting principles. To falsely claim, without a shred of evidence, that a forensic audit is needed to “uncover” alleged mistakes and errors is insulting, unnecessary, and an affront to the many community leaders who have worked tirelessly over the years to enhance our excellent school district.

All Measure C funds and developer fees have been used appropriately with transparency to advance the educational quality of the CSS learning experience. But please don’t just take my word for it. The facts are posted on our district website (www.coldspring
school.net) for everyone to see. These critics have had full access to this information all along… they just choose to disregard it.

Cold Spring School’s teachers, staff, and administration work tirelessly to ensure that our children are receiving the highest quality education in a safe and secure environment. However, what truly makes a Cold Spring education so special is the promotion of respect and kindness towards one another above all else. As we reflect on recent national events and the three-year anniversary of the January 9 debris flow right here in Montecito, I hope that our community can learn a lesson from our children and renew our unity of purpose and start treating each other with more respect and kindness.

Thank you,

Michael Marino, Esq.
Cold Spring School District Trustee – Board President

Grin and Bear It

Carlos, the Bear, awoke puzzled. What could wake him? It was not time yet. He shook off his tired fuzzy mind and picked up his TV remote, then tuned into CNN. Carlos could not believe what he was seeing. An angry mob had overrun the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. A full-scale riot was taking place.

Carlos switched to the local news. COVID was raging. The numbers were staggering. Santa Barbara County had become the top of the tier for infection in California. The hospitals were becoming crowded because of a strange new strain of the virus that was very contagious.

This was the first week of January, he had only been asleep for a month!

So much had happened in such a short amount of time.

Carlos clicked his remote to The Weather Channel to find the local, Montecito, high temp for the last two days to be 82 degrees! Much warmer than normal for this time of year. And what really got his eyes wide was there was no rain predicted for at least thirty more days!

“Things are not starting out good for year 2021,” he thought.

Carlos stretched then curled into a ball: “Silly humans, when will they learn?”, he thought, then fell fast asleep to finish his hibernation.

Michael Edwards

Founding Fathers Got it Right

This letter is in response to MJ contributor Rinaldo Brutoco (and supportive letter-writer 1/7 Evan Aptaker) who often times criticizes the wisdom of our founding fathers in establishing a Republic (not a true Democracy) and instituting the Electoral College. The EC is key to our country’s voting and the critical means of keeping a stable representative government and the guardian of our democracy. The genius of the founding of the Electoral College has many components but, unlike any other government worldwide, it gives the source of power to states, not individuals. Less populated states feared being overshadowed by larger ones and demanded protection; and they got it by two senators per state and the Electoral College.

Another component is that it helps prevent dissipating the popular vote among many minor candidates, hence the “winner-take-all” allocation of state electoral votes in almost all cases. 48 of 50 states do this but, each state decides how their electors are chosen and function. Within each state in America certain talents may cause a candidate to rise up or resonate in a particular geographic area among people of similar views. But on a national stage, different candidate talents and characteristics may be required to gain most voters’ confidence. The EC was designed to compel Presidential candidates to consider the needs of the whole country. Think of it as “reaching across the aisle” or approximating a nationwide consensus. The framers did not want candidates to cater to the most populated urban areas and not be concerned about the more sparsely populated rural areas. The framers of the constitution did their best to create a representative system that minimizes potential “tyranny of the majority.” Preservation of the union was on their minds. The majority of electoral votes elect and legitimizes the President rather than a simple national majority of votes. Lincoln or Kennedy or Clinton would have lost otherwise. The Electoral College intent is to mandate a broad-based majority on a candidate who has won only a plurality among three or more candidates. Lincoln received only 40% of the popular vote in 1860 but 59% of the EC votes. Nixon 43% to 56% EC votes in 1968 and Bill Clinton 43% to 69% EC votes in 1992. Without the EC, continental diversification would suffer inviting more strife and campaigns would focus on voter-rich metropolitan areas.

Another consideration is how a national popular vote would turn America into an issue-driven multi-party democracy; things would become even more chaotic. Now, under a two-party system, candidates must make peace coalescing around one candidate as Biden recently did. With greater number of parties and candidates each new party would form their own agenda around their particular issues and would dissipate the popular plurality of votes needed to win the Presidency. Over-zealous behavior would prevail and one can easily envision clashes becoming more common. Yes, it could get worse.

Some, like Mr. Brutoco, are pushing to give electors from each individual state “discretion” to cast their votes for whoever won the national majority. But, coming from California, wouldn’t you want your state electors to vote for who won in California? Well, so would Rhode Island or Hawaii. Most want to bind an elector to the wishes of its state’s citizens. Keep in mind, all election systems have flaws and problems and it is true some Presidents are elected without a true national majority vote but that is not common and does not take away the Electoral College’s aim for Presidential candidates to engage the nation’s diversity and earn votes across many states and regions.

The Electoral College is a critical institution, a consolidating and stabilizing force within an often-raucous political system and it reflects the wisdom of the founding fathers. Witness the hysteria around Trump’s complaints and how the EC helped navigate through it and brought finality to the chosen winner amid the chaos. The Electoral College embodies independent, diverse, state-centered authority carried out through local stewardship. It is our best defense against the power in the Federal Capital.

J.W. Burk

Balance is Needed

So nice in some arenas we can still voice dissent. I respectfully disagree with Rinaldo Brutoco’s “Escaping Minority Rule.” He believes we do not have a “meaningful democracy” because of the U.S. Senate equality, little populated state or heavily populated state the same. He believes we have to “escape” this situation if you “believe in democracy.” In my perspective, such an approach reveals an insufficient understanding of history and human nature. Our Founding Fathers were in a time where for hundreds of prior years landowners were the dominant forces in most societies, throughout the world. Democracy, that of representative government had been little attempted. Even the ancient Greeks believed only the educated citizens had voting rights. Our 1776 experiment witnessed 15 years before our full Constitution was ratified – the constant conflict between 13 new states with their own trade rules, money, militias, customs versus a federal overlay to provide a united military protective force, one banking and money control, and regulation of trade among the new states and foreign countries. Ratification of a strong federal government barely passed the final votes, but part of the balanced compromise was that while the lower House representatives were to be elected by popular vote, the higher “deliberative” Senate would share equality by state. There would not be “mob rule.” To many of us this was simply “brilliant” to this very day. Democracy implies what nearly every philosopher has preached the last 2,500 years – that learning and wisdom result in the best perfection of man. One man, one vote, and majority rule sound good but realistically we have a universal public school system so that our citizens can become informed. Still, many react to their emotions and passions. This is human nature. I for one among many would not like to see the populous areas of Los Angeles and New York City completely controlling our national political destiny. We need balance, always. And you know, South Dakota and Montana are not bad places to live if we wish. Ah, freedom! And would you rather live in North Korea – officially named the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

Respectfully,

Rog Colley
Rogercolley.com

On Survival Rates

A recent writer was wondering where the data was on the claim that “99% survive COVID” comes from.

I found it at the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker website. It is considered the gold standard of reported data. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

If you go down to the bottom of the USA map, there is a button labeled “Case-Fatality Ratio.”

Click on the State of California and the ratio reads out at 1.12% which pencils out to 98.88% survival.

If you dial down further to the county of Santa Barbara, the fatality rate as of 1-14-2021 is 99.07% survival.

My mother’s aunt passed away last week in Goleta from old age complicated by COVID. She was 107. She was a COVID case and she died, and was counted correctly as one of the 1%.

Her personal odds were of course much greater than 1%. At her age, her chances were nearly 100% that she might succumb to the virus. I’m sure she fought, but at her age the energy to fight had become limited.

Prayers, thoughts, blessings should be sent on behalf of her 98-year-old friend in the Goleta facility who also has COVID. 

Steve Gowler

 

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