Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   February 4, 2021

Journalist Trifecta

It takes a good interviewer and writer and selection of a worthy subject to produce a meaningful and touching article. 

Leslie A. Westbrook achieved all three for her piece, “At Home with Lou” (August 21-28, 2021). She focused on interviews with the prize-winning, former senior White House Correspondent for The Washington Post, Lou Cannon, and his son Carl, also a respected Washington reporter and Washington Bureau Chief at RealClearPolitics.

Leslie Westbrook was skilled in urging both 87-year-old Lou Cannon and his son Carl to discuss at length their personal and journalistic values. These quotes were fluid and impressive, expressing the ironclad and lofty goals that both men lived by and which helped them achieve success in their fields and honor from their peers. These included The Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting of the Presidency, earned separately by father and son.

I was happy to read this inspiring article. I helped raise my children in Montecito and was a long-time resident until last year. Since moving, I continue to read the Montecito Journal, particularly for news of my friends and former community and for uplifting articles such as this piece by Ms Westbrook.

Laurence R. Pearson

Old Montecito

I was born 90 years ago and grew up in Santa Barbara. I’ve always been interested in and aware of Montecito. My father, Louis Marcus, from England, was a custom tailor. Many of his customers were the established wealthy of Montecito. As a little girl I would accompany him to deliver packages. We were required to use the service entrance. Once I was invited to play in a glorious doll house on Johns Wack’s estate on Fernald Point. If introduced to a customer I was expected to curtsy. Although I didn’t have to curtsy as a teenager, my invitations to parties in Montecito were met with apprehension.

I am sorry that I did not keep a file of all of my father’s illustrious customers, one of interest was Fred Noonan, later lost on Amelia Earhart’s historic flight. Other of his customers whom I recall were Ronald Coleman, Joan Fontaine, Leatrice Joy, and many other notables. Another reason for my interest, is in the ‘30s and ‘40s my late mother-in-law, Valeria Baragona, did secretarial work. Her skills were perfected in Hollywood as Samuel Goldwyn’s secretary. Among her clients were Mrs. Bodero Macy (department stores), Lotte Lehman, Ganna Walska (she notes when Ganna bought Lotusland in 1941), Isabel Fields, step-daughter of Robert Louis Stevenson, J. J. Mitchell, Mrs. Robert Wood Bliss (her home is now Casa Dorinda), and Mrs. Proctor (of Proctor and Gamble).

After World War Two things changed. More tennis and golf clubs were built, Coast Village Road and the Upper Village became places of commerce: stores, restaurants, library, offices, boutiques, and gas stations.

Today Montecito is still an enclave of estates, beautifully maintained laws and gardens, but there is a lighter sense of conviviality and neighborliness.

Margery Baragona, 2021

Regarding Seen Around Town

The “roundhouse” at the Hilton is nothing like the Real Maestranza de Sevilla, other than that they are both round. 

The bullring is exquisitely baroque, while our rotunda is quite plain and uncharacteristic. Sevilla is the magnificent birthplace of my Sevillano son.

Kristen Salontay

We Have Lost “Montecito’s Prime Mover”

The work and accomplishments of this stellar individual could fill this entire issue of the Montecito Journal. Moving from Orange County with his wife, Anita, in the 1980s, it took no time for Dan Eidelson to become entrenched in Montecito life and leadership.

A few of the organizations and boards Dan was involved with are: Montecito Fire, Montecito Sanitary, Montecito Water, Montecito Community Foundation, Montecito Area Planning Commission, Montecito Association, Santa Barbara Oversight Board Casa Del Herrero.

Due to Dan’s strong beliefs and sound judgement, he Chaired or presided most of the organizations of his involvement.

Dan has been honored in many deserved ways to include “Montecito Man of the Year” as well as the Village Fourth “Grand Marshall.” 

My first encounter with Dan came when discussion of the organization of Casa Del Herrero as a Public Charity with David Myrick and George Bass. Dan made the statement that “Casa Del Herrero is the Focal Point” of Montecito.

“Serve-Serve-Serve” might have been Dan’s motto.

He was tireless, consistent, wise, honest, and had the ability to bring us together.

His devotion and positive attitude will be missed!

Dan always said, “it’s an honor to live in this Great Community.”

Dana Newquist 

Dear Ms. Lurie

Thank you very much for your excellent editorial skills and the marvelous changes you have made to the Montecito Journal. Long live local journalism.

Elias Chiacos

The Rest of the Story

In MJ’s issue of 14-21 January, Rinaldo S. Brutoco opened his “Perspectives” column on the subject of insurrection by quoting U.S. Senator Mitt Romney’s apt take on the January 6 storming of the Capitol: “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.” What Mr. Brutoco did not realize and Senator Romney may have forgotten is that his paternal great-grandfather, Carl Heinrich Wilcken (1833-1915), had participated in a strange variation on this theme in 1857 as a private in Light Battery B in the Fourth U.S. Regiment of Artillery camped near Fort Bridger, Utah Territory (now Wyoming). There, Private Wilcken and nearly one third of the U.S. Army were engaged in President James Buchanan’s attempt to restore federal authority in what Buchanan believed to be a violent, out-of-control Utah. Dubbed the “Utah War,” this conflict was the most extensive and expensive American military undertaking during the period between the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. In his December 8, 1857 State of the Union Address, the president told Congress, “This is the first rebellion which has existed in our Territories; and humanity itself requires that we should put it down in such a manner that it shall be the last.”

Private Wilcken disagreed that this was an insurrection, and two months before Buchanan’s address he voted with his feet. Wilcken deserted his artillery battery, crossed into Mormon lines with a Prussian iron cross decoration in his pocket, converted to a new religion, and begun the rest of his life as a fugitive from U. S. Army provost marshals while working openly as coachman, bodyguard, nurse, and eventually pallbearer for Brigham Young’s two successors as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His involvement was in what became a prolonged territorial-federal conflict that eventually drove the polygamous Romney family out of the United States and into northern Mexico, the reason why Mitt Romney’s father, George Wilcken Romney, was born in Chihuahua rather than Utah in 1907.

In considering Mitt Romney’s recent comments about insurrection and presidential decision-making, it is interesting to think about what radio commentator Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story.” Senator Romney’s stance during the first Trump impeachment and immediately following events was principled but controversial, and I suspect a bit lonely. He was not the first member of his family to face such a major decision by himself. Decades after Private Wilcken deserted, his battery commander (Captain John W. Phelps) ran unsuccessfully for president of the United States on the American Party ticket in 1880. Perhaps Senator Romney may make it to the White House yet. 

William P. MacKinnon

It’s Time to Take our Objections Seriously

I am a resident of Carpinteria, on Via Real near Nidever. I want to express my continued frustration and concern that our County Board of Supervisors does not seem to be taking our objections to big cannabis seriously. The CRESCO proposal is only the latest. Not only does it increase the ongoing odor problem, and congest the traffic on our beautiful country road (Foothill/192), but apparently now will build large buildings two stories high. After nearly two years of residents speaking out, little has been done. Never ending meetings of the Planning Committee and the Board of Supervisors seem to have done little to restrain or constrain the growth of this industry. It is changing our beautiful beach community forever, in ways that are not necessary. If our supervisor Das Williams would simply interpret and enforce EXISTING ordinances on odor that require “best available odor abatement technology” (as the Van Wingerdens have done voluntarily with carbon scrubbers), the biggest thorn in our side would be removed. But now, with two-story buildings marring our gorgeous pastoral “skyline” it seems even more intervention is needed.

Perhaps it’s just part of a generational shift in government that unresponsiveness to people goes unchecked while big business seems to get its way. That does NOT seem to be the mood nationally, but somehow it has taken over our Santa Barbara County representatives here. If there were evidence the tax income from this business was substantial and we could see it happening, that might at least make us feel better. But even THAT argument can’t work since the income has not materialized and our county’s interest in vetting and taxing these businesses properly seems also to have been ignored.

I remain a sad 40-year citizen of Carpinteria!

Jim Mannoia

Dear Madam Speaker

I am an eighty-one-year-old, retired school teacher. I am a registered Independent, the father of five and grandfather of eleven. Further, I am a chauvinistic and devoted lover of our country.

My letter to you is a plea for you to reconsider forwarding the Articles of Impeachment for former President Trump to the Senate for trial. There is little to be gained by putting the country through what will be a nasty, divisive, and drawn out process. Even if he were convicted, which is far from certain, it will deepen the divide and ramp up the acrimony.

President Biden has taken office in a uniquely challenging time. His heartfelt desire to “lower the temperature” and restore civility have been met with widespread, if not universal enthusiasm and good will. History has indicated that he will enjoy significant leverage during the honeymoon of his initial months in office. This will allow him to take steps and provide a model to end this “‘uncivil war.” But a Senate trial on the impeachment charges has the inevitable potential to end that honeymoon before he has had a chance to take advantage of it. A trial could squander that fertile ground of reconciliation and the attempt to regain the mutual respect that must govern the differences which are an essential, and necessary aspect of our messy democratic experiment.

A great deal of lip service has been paid to reestablishing “common decency.” But a Senate trial, with its accompanying vengeance, posturing and partisanship, guarantees a closing of minds and hearts. It may lead to a retreat into the paralyzing armed camps that have plagued recent decades in Washington.

Trump has been impeached, tried, acquitted, impeached a second time, and thoroughly disgraced. No one in our history has experienced such a public reprimand. Rather than submitting the Impeachment Articles for trial, an outcome which is in doubt and which we know will result in deepening ill will, I urge you to work with Senator Schumer, to introduce a “motion for censure” which need not involve a protracted trial and which, given the make-up of the Senate, is certain to pass (simple majority needed). You and Schumer can send the important message that the time has come to press the “restart” button on the way our elected representatives confront the challenges of governing and how they deal with one another. Censure can close this tragic chapter and allow us to move on to face this formidable agenda of challenges.

If you believe in what President Biden is trying to accomplish, you are in a position to take bold action, to model real leadership, to quell the vengeance and histrionics and to provide the intestinal fortitude to break the counter-productive malaise in our legislature. You have the opportunity to show the strength and character to lead to compromise and model the goodwill which has been so badly eroded. I am not alone in my frustration in apologizing to my grandchildren for the despicable modeling of our elected leaders, who behave more like petulant adolescents than thoughtful representatives. When talking with friends from other countries, I want to end my embarrassment in acknowledging the nastiness and callow grandstanding which typifies the behavior of “our leaders.”

Please give President Biden a chance to make good on his promise to heal this fractured nation. He cannot do it alone. Do not undermine his efforts by allowing a return to the implacable rancor which will emerge from a Senate trial and which has marked Washington for too long.

Seventy-four million people voted for Donald Trump. Although significant numbers of those have condemned his actions surrounding January 6, but do not be deceived, millions of others continue their support. A Senate trial will only further alienate them and another acquittal, should that occur, will embolden them.

The unprecedented number and complexity of serious crises faced by President Biden demand that responsible citizens put aside the shameful way in which many of us have conducted ourselves when it comes to dealing with our roles in a representative democracy. I have not always agreed with you Madam Speaker but I now choose to believe that you will put “turf” and partisanship aside. Please seize this opportunity to break this suicidal spiral. Take the lead in reestablishing common decency, open mindedness and honesty in pursuit of finding solutions for the enormous challenges we face.

Arthur Merovick

 

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