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2011 Santa Barbara City Council Q&A with Cruzito Cruz

[Noozhawk’s note: There are 10 candidates running for three Santa Barbara City Council seats in the Nov. 8 election. Over the next five days, Noozhawk will be posting two candidate Q&As each day, based on the order in which the questionnaires were returned.]

                              |  2011 Election Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

NOOZHAWK: What experiences from your professional or personal life make you uniquely qualified to be a Santa Barbara City Council member?

Cruzito Cruz
Cruzito Cruz

CRUZITO CRUZ: My name is Cruzito Herrera Cruz and I was born, raised and educated in this lovely city of Santa Barbara. My A.A. in business administration is from SBCC, my B.A.’s from UCSB in political science and Chicana and Chicano Studies and I have one and half years at Santa Barbara College of Law (J.D. education is pending completion).

My completion of the IRS Income Tax Preparation certification since 2005 to the present has enabled me to develop the keen understanding and legal principles to continue to be of service for all Santa Barbarans by earning your vote and vote of confidence to be a public servant and a public steward for fiscal oversight/ prudent spending, community development programs, and local legislative policies that are proactive and reflective of our community as a whole.

NOOZHAWK: Most of Santa Barbara’s labor concession agreements expire in 2012 and 2013, and CalPERS costs are expected to increase by millions of dollars. Would you support restructuring the city’s retirement or benefit plans?

CC: Yes, this is important to have immediate pension reform. We need new cost-cutting measures to balance the lopsided financial agreements with labor unions and supervisory employees with the city’s workforce.

First, we must address “pension reform” with an independent financial analysis and financial audit to make factual financial determinations to past investment revenues accrued and “cash-flow investment expenses” exacerbating this year’s 2012 projected deficit. Second, in completing and executing a complete financial study of our local California Public Employee’s Retirement System (CalPERS), this will enable, better prepare and, provide financial measures and new cost-saving recommendations to a NEW Tier-System for CalPERS. The Tier-System is based on salary, length of employment service and employee contribution commitment.

The financial impacts of CalPERS can be controlled and should be reorganized as one of the major drivers for cost-cutting measures that can positively be implemented to balance Santa Barbara’s future budgets. The goal is to have a balanced budget in Santa Barbara by having a budget that is balanced with the fiscal year’s appropriations equals to the revenue. In addition, our local governmental balance sheet is financially healthy and the value of our assets, liabilities and equities is above-average in comparison to other municipal jurisdictions in California.

NOOZHAWK: There have been several violent attacks on Santa Barbara’s Eastside and in the Milpas area within the last three years, and residents have called for more police protection. With the limited budget, how would you realistically address that community’s concerns?

CC: As Santa Barbarians, issues of public health are important for the Eastside and the Milpas corridor. Like most incidents, the violent attacks portrayed in the news media have created societal cleavages and disharmony among the citizenry. Why? This area in a general sense has been neglected by our local governance and governmental institutions. The 1st District Santa Barbara County supervisor has dropped the ball and has played out his political career in Montecito, thus Supervisor Salud Carbajal is responsible for some of the problems that occur in this area.

There are no Workforce Investment Act federal funds to place youth in gainful employment and there is “zero” attention to this public welfare and public health concerns from the county. A youth associated stigma is that the unemployment rate for youth in this area is 30 percent to 35 percent. Plus, there are not enough youth-training jobs available. As a secondary problem, the Santa Barbara Police Department has refrained from initiating good beat-coordinator shifts in our respected neighborhoods. Officer beat coordinators provided face recognition and community familiarity that garner respect and dignified police service. SBPD officers should not antagonize or discriminate in the forms of police harassment, police abuse of power, and police brutality/violence toward young American Chicano youth and other Americanos (Spanish-speaking community).

The City Council needs to financially invigorate the General Fund in the City Arts Advisory (Pgm. 2113) and the Community Development Block Grant Administration and Humans Services (Pgm. 2121, 2124); designate the East and West sides as new areas for the Redevelopment Agency to redevelop and revitalize. (Pgm. 2125, 2611); provide greater support for Youth Activites (Pgm. 6141) and Sports (Pgm. 6181); and, most important, give greater support for Neighborhood & Outreach Services (Pgm. 6195) because this would allow for outreach services to be conducted to improve the outcomes for children and youth by enhancing neighborhoods and creating a stronger community.

Nevertheless, some candidates would like to use police power to eradicate and provided heavy-handed police measures that are more expenses on our society as a whole, but it does not deal with state laws in the California Redevelopment Law (Health and Safety Code). The Eastside constitutes physical and economic liabilities that require “redevelopment” in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of Santa Barbarians, Health and Safety Code Section § 33,030(a). The East and West sides are predominantly urbanized, which causes a reduction of or lack of proper utilization of those areas. This constitutes a serious physical and economic burden on the community that cannot reasonably be expected to be reversed or alleviated by private enterprise or governmental action, or both, without “REDEVELOPMENT.”

The Eastside can be considered a “blighted area.” Under Health and Safety Code Section § 33,031, physical and economic blight conditions presently exist that our City Council members are not addressing nor providing proactive solutions for. There are abnormal business vacancies, serious residential overcrowding, an excess of liquor stores and a high crime rate that constitutes a serious threat to the public safety and welfare. If we go further into understanding how the Redevelopment Law can be promoted is to seek and practice what has been outlined in the legislative findings and declarations of Health and Safety Code Section § 33,035(a) & (b) that the existence of a blighted area constitutes a serious and growing menace which is condemned as injurious and inimical to all Santa Barbarians, therefore, (b) further illustrates that such “blighted areas present difficulties and handicaps that are beyond remedy and control solely by regulatory processes in the exercise of police power.”

We can contribute substantially and increasingly to the problems of Santa Barbara by continuing to necessitate excessive and disproportionate expenditures for crime prevention, correction, prosecution and punishment. The treatment of juvenile delinquency, the preservation of the public health and safety, and the maintaining of adequate police services all are too costly and short-sighted. Seriously considering redeveloping and revitalizing these areas will create a benefit for remedying such ill conditions, and the future redevelopment of this blighted area will positively accrue to all Santa Barbarians and property owners of the communities which they exist. Health and Safety Code § 33,035(e).

NOOZHAWK: What do you think of the General Plan’s direction?

CC: This General Plan is not law but a “blueprint” for future urban planning. This General Plan is a continued gentrification model, both economically and culturally speaking for the citizenry on the East and West sides. All the proposed housing development will cause greater problems for Santa Barbarians than what is being presently discussed. The “out-pricing” of future housing stock will create a disbalance with more low-income and workforce housing residents not being able to afford such new residences, which will cause multiple families to reside in one residence with the implementation of such local public policy.

The General Plan does not provide sound development and redevelopment of the blighted areas located on the East and West sides. I, Cruzito Herrera Cruz, would rather postpone the General Plan and spend several millions dollars on the multiple-year study, than embarking and constructing, building and overseeing the wasteful spending of a $100 million or $200 million, or maybe even $300 million on a local pork-barrel policy for those who are financially invested and those crafty planning commissioners who are tied into the forceful demand to pass the General Plan, like Deborah Schwartz and cronies. We need to be very careful because the General Plan is a plan to generally allow architects and housing investors to get rich, while the Santa Barbara citizenry struggles to find reasonable and equitable housing for the future!

NOOZHAWK: If elected, what is the one issue on which you would focus to improve Santa Barbara’s quality of life?

CC: During this election period — my belief in “equalitarianism” has caused me to understand that, in order to improve the quality of life of all Santa Barbarians, we need to have “district-based elections” under Elections Code Section § 14,026 (3)(b). Why? Santa Barbara voters residing in the district can vote for the candidates of their choice. This would give the voter the power to choose to elect their particular council candidate and, in return, this would give the voters the delegated power to hold their local city council member accountable to the voters and their neighborhood(s), thus providing governmental transparency with our political districts’ city council member(s). This can be accomplished by the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA).

Furthermore, as a political minority (American Chicano) and as protected class-of-a-voter under the federal Voting Rights Act (FVRA) and 42 U.S.C. § 1973, our Santa Barbara community can be characterized as a “racially polarized voting community” (Elections Code Section § 14,026 (3)(e)). The racially polarized voting fundamentally abridges my vote and that of 44 percent of the Santa Barbara population that through this at-large voting system and the vote dilution systematically excludes and usually defeats the minority’s preferred candidate. Therefore, “district-based elections” would allow the ability of the political minority group of Santa Barbarians to elect their preferred representative to the City Council.

NOOZHAWK: What is Santa Barbara’s most neglected neighborhood?

CC: The East and West sides are the most neglected neighborhoods. This is why my candidacy for City Council is crucial and important. The attention given to the redevelopment area of the Central City Redevelopment Project Area (CCRPA) has abundantly benefited since the 1977 and will end with $453,949.471 in revenues generated and invested by 2019. Now, it is time to reinvest and redevelop and revitalize the East and West communities, as the new redevelopment projects areas for the neighborhoods’ prosperity and enhancement to public welfare and public safety and health concerns. Our local City Council and the Redevelopment Agency board has to seriously designate these areas as the next redevelopment areas!

NOOZHAWK: What would you do to make city government more accessible to the Spanish-speaking community?

CC: If elected, I would create office hours conducive to working families’ schedules and conduct home-visit appointments. As a public official, my fluency in Spanish can assist me to be a bridge to the “Americano (Spanish-speaking communities) comunidades.” As a native Spanish-speaker, the importance to have city employees understand, communicate and give city service orientation in Spanish is important for our Spanish-speaking community to be engaged and have ownership of their local governance. Cultural competence among city employees is crucial to developing new forms of services that are respectful and culturally sensitive to the needs of a language minority within the Santa Barbara jurisdiction.

The overall civic needs of Santa Barbarians who speak Spanish is that the laws of our city should not discriminate nor alienate nor refrain from excluding citizen participation, but have the affect of governmental inclusion for citizenry rights and equality treatment under the letter of our City Charter, states laws, and the Constitution and federal laws.

NOOZHAWK: What is your position on funding a new Santa Barbara police station in the current fiscal environment?

CC: My belief is that the police station does not need to be rebuilt. Especially, when the RDA funds can be appropriated and allotted for youth violence, youth activities positive programming, youth job-related training, realizing the affordable housing state certification with more “equitable housing developments,” and/or acquiring a new homeless shelter(s) away from the Milpas corridor.

Furthermore, the Redevelopment Agency board and the decision makers have abruptly circumvented the criteria for funding a new police station because of the expiration of the RDA program. This is wrong. The RDA board should not wastefully spend in haste, when more societal core issues are affecting Santa Barbara. The station does not meet the standards stipulated under the Community Redevelopment Disaster Project Law Health and Safety Code § 34,000(B). There should be a civil injunctive lawsuit against the RDA board for such policy from being implementing and the financial squandering of our local taxpayer property tax revenues. Too costly, maybe in better economic times but our current fiscal environment is calling out to all Santa Barbarians that this project is bad.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support the city’s attempt to get a gang injunction, limiting the activities of identified Eastside and Westside gang members? What are some other anti-gang efforts you would pursue?

CC: I am against a Santa Barbara civil gang injunction. The initiated Superior Court Case No. # 1379826 Complaint For Injunctive Relief to Abate A Public Nuisance is a legal farce. This original complaint was filed on March 14, 2011, by the City’s Attorney Office. Recently, the City’s Attorney office filed an “amended complaint,” which is presently under secretive seal by court order. Why is a public nuisance case not allowed public viewing?

In reviewing and placing legal scrutiny on the original 46-page complaint document causes me to believe that half of those Santa Barbarians (civil defendants) have been incarcerated in either County Jail or state prison, thus they are not presently located in the city and pose no risk nor any defiant behavior the propaganda machine wants you to believe. What is at stake is the violation and breach of these individuals’ constitutional rights and right from being harassed by police who discriminate on the basis of color of skin and clothing attire and location of East or West side Santa Barbarians congregating in the neighborhood.

However, the operation of law if this gang injunction is ordered and upheld by the Superior Court, then calls for one to 300 DOES, which by itself will allow police officer(s) to indiscriminately and with blind color-of-authority stop, harass, illegally search and seizure, detain and false-arrest our local teenagers who are attempting to educate themselves to go to college, to acquire gainful employment, to have the personal freedom and civil liberty peaceably to assemble (Constitutional Amendment I); the right of the Santa Barbara people to be secure in their persons, houses, apartments, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures (Amendment IV); and lastly, this is cruel and unusual punishment inflicted because of race and economic status, and because lack thereof of competent counsel.

Please see previous questions pertaining to invigorating community development and parks and recreation programs. Quality of education and job training is critical to providing proactive youth-adult policy measures, if we think like ducks we will quack like ducks. My proposal is to develop an Office of Human Development and Employment. (All city, county, state and federal stakeholders would be integrated to developing sound policies to providing positive alternatives than the incarceration and criminalization mentality.) We have to be optimists than our city’s youth will flourish, and we shall all prosper because of it.

NOOZHAWK: Many community policing resources have dried up, including the full-time DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and beat coordinator positions at the Santa Barbara Police Department, the Santa Barbara County truancy program and school resource officers. What low-cost solutions would you pursue to provide prevention and intervention services to the community’s young people?

CC: Creating an Office of Human Development and Local Employment is critical to provide prevention and intervention services for young Santa Barbarians. Identify all the community-based organizations and all the youth program services that work with the existing youth population and create a plan of action. A Youth Services Summit to develop action plans for all youth would be helpful. Work hand-in-hand with key community representatives and educational institutions and business ventures for positive enriching programs to be established. Job training, peer and adult mentoring, educational tutors, business internships with local business merchants, and family counseling and family community service orientations.

NOOZHAWK: Noozhawk’s Prescription for Abuse series has been exploring the misuse and abuse of prescription medications in our community. What Santa Barbara issue do you think Noozhawk should tackle next?

CC: An independent financial audit of Santa Barbara’s finances, investment portfolio, CalPERS, pension and employee salary reform, and city landholdings to determine how and where we can garner revenues for program proposals outlined in my answers to the questions posed by Noozhawk.

                              |  2011 Election Coverage |  Complete Series Index  |

Additional Resources

» Click here for more information on the city of Santa Barbara’s Nov. 8 election.

Larry Nimmer’s “Touring with the Candidates” video (www.nimmer.net)


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