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From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for Week Ending Feb. 9, 2018

I chose to write this letter even at the hesitation of the people I am writing it for ...

I am a past resident of Montecito, where I grew up. I attended Mount Carmel School as well as Bishop Diego High School. I moved away after college, yet continue to visit my parents and sister who are still there and I remain lifelong friends with many who reside there.

In the early morning of Jan. 9, I received a call from my 15-year-old nephew, who very calmly stated that my parents, Theresa and Roy Rohter, were in their home in Montecito when they were struck by a mudslide. He informed me that my mother had been swept away by the mudslide, yet had survived and was at a neighbor’s house. My father was currently unaccounted for.

I was then called by my brother in law, Jay Krautmann, who resides there and is a real estate agent with Village Properties. He informed me that he and Brian Brunello, a dear friend of mine and co-owner of the Liquor & Wine Grotto in Montecito, had hiked to the property and were trying to reach my mother and search for my father.

Brian, who I have known since fifth grade and whom I considered my little brother, was also calling me to keep me informed of what was going on. He was with my mother even before the first responders could reach the scene. He and Jay were actually clearing boulders for the ambulance to be able to drive to the house. I credit them with rescuing my mother from the cold, wet, muddy landscape that had enveloped the area.

I cannot express my gratitude for Brian and Jay. Their actions in the pitch black of that very early morning will forever be remembered. It was Brian who then informed me that my father had been found and did not survive, those words no one wants to hear, yet they could not have come from a more comforting source.

Arriving in Santa Barbara the next day, Brian offered up his car and his home ... a home I had been to so many times growing up. Yet this time it meant more. It was a second home to me and it was comforting. His brother, Mark, came down from Northern California to stay with me as well, and to help with anything I needed. His mother, my second mom, was there to lend a shoulder to cry on.

I write these words to show the spirit and loyalty of family, and the undying friendship and bond that can come with many years.

I am also writing this to help others understand the sense of community that surrounds Montecito. Without these things I do not know what I would have done. Brian and Jay are a testament to these bonds. They unselfishly gave their time and energy while losing business of their own.

I humbly ask that this letter be published to acknowledge Brian and Jay, to help them with their business, which closed for a period of time due to the mudslides.

They, as well as all of the first responders and others who helped the victims so unselfishly, need the support of this community as well as the recognition for supporting us during our time of need.

Reev Rohter
Irving, Texas

                                                                 •        •        •

When the wrong people believe that rules were made for everyone but them, things can go bad fast. When a person writes the rules for others they should abide by them, right? Not so in Santa Barbara where the powerful are exempt.

What happened? In 2009, the City Council rescinded Council Resolution No. 05-073 by approving Resolution No. 09-097. One set of rules was replaced by another. We elect representatives for that.

As a City Council member and member of the Ad Hoc Council Procedures Committee, Cathy Murillo worked for three months in 2015 to install new rules for procedures that now govern City Council meetings. On Nov. 10, Murillo and the City Council voted unanimously to replace Robert’s Rules of Order with Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for the 21st Century and rescinding Resolution No. 09-097. 2009 was out and Rosenberg was in. Why is this important?

Rosenberg’s Rules of Order tell policy makers how to work when things get confusing, like when a motion needs to be reconsidered and how to make it. In case there was a past vote, for example, to keep things clear and on track, there must be rules on how that vote gets changed once the matter is closed.

In such a case, two conditions must exist:

» The first is timing, the motion “must be made at the meeting where the item was first voted on.”

» The second rule applies to who can make a motion to reconsider: “A motion to reconsider may be made only by a member who voted in the majority on the original motion.”

To keep rule making from looking like a ball on a tennis court played between opposing sides, these rules specify that “if a member who voted in the minority seeks to make a motion to reconsider, it must be ruled out of order. The purpose of the rule is finality. If a member of a minority could make a motion to reconsider, then the item could be brought back to the body again and again, which would defeat the purpose of finality.”

It is simple. A bedrock principle in which all rules of order from a small-town PTA to the U.S. Senate keeps that tennis ball in play only for so long — someone from the winning side (majority) can request reconsideration. The City of Santa Barbara has always observed this principal under both Robert’s and Rosenberg’s rules of order.

On Jan. 9, a council majority voted to appoint Councilman Jason Dominguez to the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. Against the rules, the ball went back into play on Jan. 16 when minority members Murillo and Councilman Eric Friedman submitted a memo citing the old 2009, rescinded Resolution No. 05-073 as their authority to reconsider Dominguez’s appointment.

Not only did Murillo and Friedman rely on the rescinded resolution for standing, but they were both part of the minority and out of order.

The bottom line here is that Murillo either willfully ignored the law or she forgot that she spent months considering Rosenberg’s Rules of Order and voted to replace them. Whichever the case may be, it leaves both Murillo and Friedman at the core of the deep dysfunction gripping City Council.

There are two items of paramount concern now. Will Murillo and the city admit the mistake or will the city let this terrible precedent stand?

The political machinations of Murillo and Friedman must stop and our city attorney must uphold our laws, not ignore them. If you want to tell Murillo and the City Council to be honest and follow the laws, email [email protected].

Anna Marie Gott
Santa Barbara

                                                                 •        •        •
Thank you for your excellent coverage over the past month of the storm and subsequent mudslides. As a former resident (I grew up in Santa Barbara), and with a friend whom I could not locate, it was refreshing to see the extensive coverage, which allowed me to determine that my friend’s home on School House Road was not damaged and that she and her family were probably still alive.

I am glad, too, that you had just terminated the comments section. Although the comments were always amusing, they would have diluted the value of your coverage.

Thank you again for your ongoing coverage of the Montecito disaster and the cleanup!

Janet Waters
Aliso Viejo

                                                                 •        •        •

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