Letters to the Editor

By Montecito Journal   |   February 11, 2021

Senior Moments

Congratulations on the new column, Senior Portrait.

Just read the wonderful article on Peter van Duinwyck, whom I knew years ago from our Montecito Association Board. He certainly made big contributions to the success there and to all his other involvements, then and now.

Sure miss our “good old days” and look forward to reading about the other seniors in your future editions.

Jean von Wittenburg

Cannot Ignore These Crimes

Mr. Merovick’s plea to Speaker Pelosi is pragmatic, reasonable, practical, and noble. His plea is to forget impeachment of now ex-President Trump, and let bygones be bygone. President Biden assumed office at difficult times, and he needs a short honeymoon without distraction and partisan animosity of impeachment trial. However! Mr. Merovick’s plea fails to acknowledge the political facts on the ground. 74 million people voted for Donald Trump even after the Hollywood tapes, comments about Mexicans and African countries, ridiculing a disabled reporter, belittling a Gold Star mother, hundreds of bullying insults of foes and ex friends, and impeachment. They are not going away or changing their minds anytime soon. They firmly believe the election was stolen. The republican elected officials tried to deny Electoral College results even after the crowd encouraged by then President Trump attacked the Capitol to stop the count. The republican elected officials recognized that to keep the 74 million republican base they need Donald Trump. They know they cannot afford even slight wobble of support for Trump, since it would lead to instant condemnation and primary challenge. Think Liz Cheney! That’s why “My” Kevin McCarthy went to Mar-a Lago to plead for Donald Trump forgiveness and invite participation in Republican Politics.

Yes, second impeachment trial will be distraction, but ex-President inciting insurrection needs to be addressed. This crime cannot be ignored.

Donna Handy

More of the Same from Cold Spring Leadership

I was troubled but not surprised to read Cold Spring School Board President Michael Marino’s letter “Setting the Record Straight” in this publication. 

Mr. Marino falsely claimed that “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.” His failure to mention or acknowledge that the $2.44 Million Measure C bond passed in 2008 only had a legally required Independent Bond Oversight Committee for only two of the past ten years suggests that Marino is living in an alternative reality or he thinks anyone paying attention is just plain stupid. 

During the campaign for L2020, the district pushed the message that Cold Spring was a great school and that is why it deserved the taxpayers’ money to make the improvements to the facilities. However, not one member of the leadership bothered to do their homework and see that all the items they were asking for with L2020 were supposed to have been done with Measure C monies that we will be paying off until 2039!

A free and simple town hall meeting would have given them the insight into the history of bonds in the District. But the Board has made it clear for a while that they are not interested in what non-parent residents think. Their contempt for questions and concerns from constituents is evident in every communication including a letter mailed to every resident with the false claim that Measure C had proper oversight.

Problem is, things do add up. According to this cover story Gateway to School in the Montecito Journal February 2016, then Board President Goligoski claimed that that all the Measure C updates had been done and that we wouldn’t have to “touch the campus for many, many years.” So someone is lying. Either Gologoski in the article or the board and administration who pushed a bond for items that were already completed.

Either way, a lot of us want to know what happened to the $2.2 million of Measure C. Marino claims all the relevant documents are now on the school website, but the truth is there are bond oversight meeting minutes for only three meetings and one was the orientation meeting. In other words, there were only two documented independent bond oversight committee meetings to oversee the spending of over two million dollars. 

It’s noteworthy that the Measure C audit approved by the board in 2016 included Goligoski as one of three members of the underappointed oversight committee – and this was when he was serving as School Board President! Another violation of the law. Clearly the school board was not doing its job back in 2016 and yet Marino is attacking the residents who have raised these serious legal concerns.

Mr. Marino seems to think everything is okay just because a law firm selected by the very administration that has illegally spent bond money without the required oversight has told the District that they did everything right. It is no coincidence that the law firm Nixon Peabody was contracted to provide bond counsel had L2020 passed. Giving legal advice that helps the administration is a good way to secure future business with those very people. Such a conflict of interest with the very reason the state requires and INDEPENDENT bond oversight committee.

I long ago gave up hope that Mr. Marino was capable of understanding the issue of conflict of interest. Certainly his willingness to hire Yuri Calderon to serve as both CBO and General Counsel should make everyone concerned about his judgement. His defense of that decision included a claim on Nextdoor that the County Office of Education had encouraged the dual role. Problem is, I reached out to the County Ed office and they said they had no record of giving such advice. Not only that but there is no other district in the state that has General Counsel serving as CBO because there is a clear conflict of interest.

In the January Board meeting, Board Vice President Jennifer Miller actually asked two former board members which bathrooms were renovated with Measure C because no one knows. The truth is, they all were supposed to be, along with the fire alarms, roofs, electrical and communication systems. Marino wants evidence for an forensic audit? Here it is: we gave you $2.44 million, there is just about $200K left but nothing to clearly show where the rest was spent and the District asking for more money to do the same job.

The board can continue to ignore these serious issues and scream liars (without any specifics) all they want. The cold hard truth is Cold Spring will never pass another bond measure unless they can actually account for every dime of Measure C.

Don Miller

Thank You for Always Publishing the Relevant

In support of Annie Bardach’s article, bravo!

This is Santa Bárbara County (California), NOT the heart of darkness of some backwash but surely more humane Banana Republic.

I would like to commend Annie Bardach for her vibrant and touching piece exposing the archaic stance and lack of empathy of Santa Barbara county’s Sups unappealing bureaucracy – one that never seems to stand on the right side of things to make us proud of sensible initiatives that our tax dollars would gladly support – especially now, in the face of this COVID pandemic. What kind of rules and regulations would supersede empathy and humanity for those at risk in a country that otherwise brashly calls for fairness and human rights all over the planet? And now in their own backyard shamelessly dashes the hopes of their own in the face of adversity and possible peril? … Food for thought, not to mention the Cannabis mess – thank you Ralphs and all others who have done the right thing in offering the frail a possibility for relief – you give us hope. 

And you Annie for yet again taking a stance in highlighting the good, the bad, and the unacceptable in a county that should be leading by way of positive example – now is the time!

All the best from the Philippines – stay safe! 

John Edward Heaton 

It’s Time to Join Hands with the Police

The “broken window theory” asserts that visible signs of crime, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder which leads to more serious crimes. In Santa Barbara, we see people rolling through stop signs, holding their cell phones to their ears, parking illegally, and graffiti. We are seeing more thief of unlocked cars, more smash and grab crimes. We are seeing the disrespect of police officers and shameless violent acts by gangs. Add to this the arrival in our neighborhoods of well-dressed European-looking Chilean gang members who rent expensive black Escalades or similar. They case expensive homes, park and wait until the homes become vacant then brazenly enter the driveway, disable security measures, break rear windows and enter. Once inside they take their time finding valuables and safes which they either steal or open with acetylene torches, then boldly leave with sacks of valuables out the front door. There were 38 such break-ins in Montecito and nearby by these C-Gangs in 2019, only 20 in 2020 due to Covid-19 and already three this January. People in these “nice” neighborhoods either do not know their own neighbors or are not watching out for them.

There is also an inexplicable reluctance of victims of such theft to report the crime to the police. Making matters worse, the prosecution of “crimes against property” are minimal and the criminals are turned back onto the streets. The purpose of prosecution is that otherwise you, “get away with it” or is that passe? One feels foolish giving such a system respect and the police have already come to that conclusion when they see criminals let out of jail free. Why take the risk? Such contempt for the law will soon breed vigilante justice; hey, “you gotta do what you gotta do.”

The current Santa Barbara chief of police, Lori Luhnow, steps down in about two weeks. The search has started for a replacement and this is the perfect time to choose a chief that will re-invigorate law enforcement starting with the “broken windows.” In addition, individuals, community groups, churches, and businesses must support the difficult efforts of their law-enforcement officers by providing their own “community watch” system by getting to know their neighbors and networking with them. Be alert, install cameras, recognize suspicious behavior, take mental notes, have that number ready and make that call to the police if something truly warrants investigation. Too many times criminals and crimes are just passed over by us and too many times people ignore or disrespect the people trying to protect our neighborhoods. The police need our support and assistance. It is time for us to get more involved in fighting crime in our town and join hands with the police.

J.W. Burk

Takes a Village

Thank you so much, Steven Libowitz, for the good interview with my kids Max and Frances. I feel fortunate to have raised them in such a wonderful little village. And I want to thank you all, including Jim Buckley, for always supporting the work Mike and I did. Perhaps most important, though, I want to thank you for being such a valued community resource. I am grateful for the thoughtful way you are pulling together differing opinions and encouraging dialogue. We all benefit tremendously.

Mimi DeGruy

Settling In

Carlos, the Bear, still half asleep, sniffed the air, opened one eye, then glanced at his calendar clock. Thursday, January 28th, it read. His ears perked at the drumming on the roof of his den. Rain! He took a deep breath, a smile curling on his snout, then rolled over to continue his sleep.

Michael Edwards

Zach Got it Right

I was honored to be profiled in your new column Senior Portrait

I’ve been interviewed by journalists at least 1,000 times, maybe more, during my eighty years in show business and rarely did they get it right. This week, the Montecito Journal got it right… thanks to Zach Rosen!

Darryl Hickman

Question the State’s Guidelines, not Local Health Officials 

I am writing in response to A.L. Bardach’s January 28, 2021 article titled “SB’s COVID Mess.” Ms. Bardach’s argument that private doctors and a private pharmacy should be able to determine which of their patients should jump the line for COVID vaccinations is misinformed. First, Ms. Bardach seems to imply that some people she knows who are currently hospitalized with COVID should be vaccinated. The CDC does not recommend vaccination for people who are currently sick with the disease. Second, Ms. Bardach states that several people she knows contracted the virus while at Cottage Hospital for other reasons. If her information is accurate, then the inability of Cottage Hospital to care for both COVID patients and non-COVID patients at the same time is the real story that needs to be investigated. Third, Ms. Bardach notes that “in mid-December, vaccinations began at hospitals and medical offices for all doctors, nurses, clerical staff – employees. Cafeteria staff, custodians, cleaning personnel were reportedly all included.” The current Phase A1 guidelines in CA call for healthcare workers who are at risk of exposure to the virus through their work in any role in direct healthcare or long-term care settings should be vaccinated first. Custodial staff who interact with patients are included. There are further guidelines to delineate which healthcare workers should receive the vaccine if there is not enough for everyone in Phase A1. Only after healthcare workers have been vaccinated was anyone else supposed to be vaccinated. Because of the shortages of vaccines, Santa Barbara County is now only vaccinating people over 75 with people over 65 up next. Ms. Bardach may believe that rule is arbitrary because other counties are able to start vaccinating aged 65 and above, but we do not have enough vaccines in the county to move that quickly. Perhaps Ms. Bardach can research a story on why Santa Barbara County is being allocated fewer vaccines per population that L.A. County. However, I do believe that there is likely a story regarding the vaccination of healthcare workers locally. I would suggest that Ms. Bardach determine how broad of a definition of “health care worker” our local hospitals and clinics used when deciding who received vaccines. Were administrators who have nothing to do with patient care included? I have heard that they were. Finally, Ms. Bardach laments that private doctors should determine which of their patients should be eligible to be vaccinated early. Unfortunately, as anyone who has lived in Santa Barbara long enough knows, back in the old days, it was never very difficult to get a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana. Advertisements offering a prescription for $100 ran weekly in local papers. The same can be said for opioids. As a citizen (and hence co-owner and purchaser with all other citizens) of the vaccines, I am unwilling to leave the determination of who gets vaccinated first up to private doctors who are just as proportionally liable as the rest of society to use their MD degree for corrupt purposes. That is why the state has a plan and it does not include private doctors determining who goes first. Ms. Bardach may not like the state’s guidelines and that is fine, but the answer is to question the guidelines, not denigrate the local county health officials charged with enforcing them.

Molora Nichols

Who is Looking Out for America?

The year is 2021, Joe Biden is president, and the socialists are now in charge. Going forward, it is an understatement to say things will be radically different. The question of the day, will the new president do what is best for America?

Already there are questions concerning this issue. How is killing our energy sector starting with shutting down the Keystone XL Pipeline, suspending drilling permits on federal lands, banning fracking and joining the Paris Climate Agreement good for America? Millions of jobs will be lost, gas and oil prices will go up, America will now become dependent on foreign oil, and the Paris Climate will mandate strict carbon emissions on the U.S., but not China and India who have poor standards. Then too, how is implementing a radical open borders immigration policy good for our country? How is stopping all deportation orders, encouraging amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants and not building a border wall to protect our borders good for America? Over 60% of deportation orders have gone through the court system and involve criminals. As far as a border wall, it will give us security, safety and health and stop the huge caravans that will now start to come. A nation without laws and borders is not a nation.

Finally, are our freedoms to speak, to act, and to assemble being threatened? How is the censorship, banning, and criminalization of conservatives good for our country? Do we still have first amendment rights when the media, Big Tech, Big corporations, and the socialists take away these rights from a former president, 74 million Americans, and conservatives? Now the left wants to label anyone who disagrees with them “domestic terrorists”?

Going forward, who is looking out for America? Hold onto your hats, it is going to be a bumpy ride in 2021.

Diana and Don Thorn

Can’t Just Move On

The hypocritical Republicans want to “Move on” from the terrorists’ attack on the Capitol. They don’t want to hold a citizen accountable, meaning: don’t impeach the former President.

One is reminded of the man who killed his parents then begged the court for leniency on the basis of his being an orphan.

The Republicans didn’t want to impeach a president, and now that he’s a citizen, they don’t want to impeach a citizen.

Really, should the courts have “moved on” from the “orphan’s” request? Why ruin the life of a man who is ALREADY an orphan? Consider that argument.

Think about that: should we inconvenience the President who allegedly incited the terrorists because he is no longer a president?

Should we “move on” because he has already done (maybe) all his damage? 

Maybe we should not impeach him because he’s an orphan?

Should not impeach because after all, his words resulted in only five deaths,

divided this country, has instigated elected Republicans to lie, lie, lie.

And the whole country can expect more riots.

Yes, maybe we should move on, ignore his aberrant behavior, and hope he can run again so he can harm this country a little more, maybe figure out how to stay in power forever a la Putin. Wouldn’t THAT be grand?

Nancy Freeman


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