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From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for Week Ending June 22, 2018

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Principal Mark Swanitz, age 50, was driving along one of our community’s busiest thoroughfares and was involved in a minor traffic accident last October. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, and the complaint listed his blood-alcohol content at 0.12.

Although the incident occurred during nonschool hours and off school grounds, Swanitz’s conduct at all hours directly reflects on the Santa Ynez Valley Union School District, the school board, the community, the students and families.

Following his arrest and stint in jail, Swanitz was not placed on administrative leave and the district maintained radio silence about the arrest immediately afterward.

There have been numerous high-profile drunken-driving deaths caused in the Santa Ynez Valley, many involving teenagers. The district should expect far greater standards from its top administrator, who makes disciplinary decisions affecting students involving drugs and alcohol, some resulting in suspension or expulsion.

On June 19, Swanitz’s 2018-2019 employment contract was on the school board agenda. The contract included another 4 percent salary increase and total compensation of $191,305.22.

I cannot imagine how the board can reconcile this salary increase, given Swanitz’s recent DUI offense, the school’s current structural budget deficit, and the recent cuts in faculty positions and supplies. In the meantime, the music boosters host bake sales to raise funds.

The SYVUHS School Accountability Report Card (SARC 2015/16) shows Swanitz’s salary was $134,678. The state average of similar districts was $123,947.

Swanitz was a no-show at the board meeting. Three out of five board members attended, but board member Jerry Swanitz, Swanitz’s father, had to recuse himself because of his conflict of interest. Without a quorum, the item was postponed until the Aug. 21 board meeting.

I urge the board not to renew Swanitz’s contract or reconsider the raise for all the reasons given above. He lost his mentor standing, and worse, commands no respect of many students and families. He is the subject of comical memes and has earned new embarrassing titles since his arrest.

Michelle de Werd
Los Olivos

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In response to Noozhawk reporter Joshua Molina’s June 18 article about LimeBike and its unorthodox way of introducing an alternative way to get around downtown Santa Barbara ...

First, let me say, I think that LimeBike’s proposal shouldn’t even be considered because they threw all caution to the wind and disregarded city ordinances (not just here, but other places, as well) as an aggressive marketing ploy.

Now there’s an “emergency” ordinance? Why? What is so urgent about considering downtown pedestrian and commuter safety alongside current rules of the road? We MUST have scooters NOW?

Santa Barbara can’t even seem to enforce the ordinance that prohibits bikes and skateboards on sidewalks. How on earth does this city think it will enforce a scooter ordinance? It won’t. I know that from years of experience walking downtown.

Walking downtown is often fraught with dodging bicyclists and skateboarders. I’ve seen people almost land in planters and elderly people gasp with fright at the possibility of being knocked over. Dogs don’t seem to care for people whizzing by them either, as they don’t know which way to go to avoid the noise or getting hit.

Just another nail in the coffin of our dying downtown. I hope the tourists like it down there — especially on their scooters — because they will be the only ones down there pretty soon.

Deborah Bertling
Santa Barbara

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In Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen’s June 15 opinion column, he writes, “The dumbass driving on the wrong side of the freeway ...”


Online, the spelling and grammar have been awful! What’s happening?

A long-time reader asked me “what is happening to them?” I, too, am wondering ...

Deborah Barnes
Santa Barbara

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