Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 12:44 am | Overcast 67º


Letter to the Editor: 3-to-2 Is Santa Barbara County’s Ballgame

I recently received an email from Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf calling for support of a Third District candidate. However, the most remarkable thing about the email was an extraordinarily revelatory statement Mrs. Wolf provided.

Rather than quote the entire message, what follows is directly extracted and is the essence of her message:

“When Doreen (Farr) was elected eight years ago, I gained a solid ally, and most importantly a third vote that has allowed the current board to balance the budget, restore our fiscal reserves, improve public health and safety and expand services to those most in need. But, it hasn’t been easy and our most important votes are 3-2.

I dread the thought of what our county would be like if we lost that third vote. It would set back all of our advances on vital environmental and social issues.”

So, what folks have assumed for 30 years of South Coast dominance is finally put into print by a supervisor.

I will address this as follows:

First, the budget isn’t balanced. 13 percent of the county’s $1 billion-dollar-budget goes to pension costs, both current and past debts. Rates paid into the fund are based on expectations of a 7½ percent return. Yet, the real rate of return is around 5 percent, which means spending $130 million annually on pensions is wholly inaccurate.

It also means all other services will have to be cut. Add in the extraordinary annual increases in deferred maintenance costs and costs of favored projects that have been kicked down the road, there is a veritable economic storm coming our way and taxpayers will pick up the bill.

So much for the 3-2 balanced budget.

Second, note the overt implication that the South Coast must rule in order to have good things happen. Also, the insulting implication that our two North County supervisors are budget wreckers and incompetent should tell us that there is a strong South Coast machine, with an excessively liberal bent, that Mrs. Wolf and the other two supervisors on the South Coast are desperate to sustain.

Third, Mrs. Wolf tells us “major land owners and development interests are funding her (candidate name omitted for propriety) opponent. We can’t let them buy the election.”

Left out of her statement is that the candidate she supports just grabbed $25,000 from the Service Employees International Union, and that Mrs. Wolf’s predecessor received a cumulative amount in excess of $250,000 from that same union.

This makes things a bit complicated because it creates a monumental conflict of interest. Supervisors must negotiate contract terms with that very same union.

Perhaps this is why the budget is on a precipice and critical services are now and will be further cut as time passes. More 3-2 nonsense.

How do we live in Santa Barbara County when we are beset by this aggressive demand for power? It is also not inconsequential to note that the same power imbalance has gone on for close to 30 years.

You might ask what are the broader impacts of such dominance? Simply stated, one cannot breathe without a permit; businesses that could easily create a broader tax base and jobs are leaving or simply avoiding the county; a system of anonymous complaints directly affects the Planning & Development Department’s creation of ordinances; environmental impact reports costing hundreds of thousands of dollars are often used as cudgels to challenge various undertakings, etc.

Thus, be careful how you vote in the Third District. It may cost you a lot of money and freedom.

Lee Rosenberg

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