Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 12:32 pm | Fair 57º


Local News

Digital Divide Between Santa Barbara Mayor, Columnist Continues

Flurry of e-mails chronicles spat over erroneous claim that Marty Blum will resign.

A long-running feud between Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and Santa Barbara News-Press editorial writer Travis Armstrong continued Wednesday, with Blum forwarding media outlets her written response to an e-mail Armstrong sent her following his erroneous report two weeks ago speculating that she was planning to resign her post.

In a July 12 editorial, Armstrong, who claims Blum is partly to blame for a recent rash of local gang violence — and has repeatedly called for her to step down — wrote that Blum “has been quietly raising the matter of her resignation with friends and family because of the outrage over her job performance.” He added she might cite “health concerns” as her reason for resigning.

The same day, Blum sent an e-mail to city employees stating that Armstrong’s column was a “complete fabrication.”

“I hope these horrible falsehoods do not affect you in your jobs in any way,” she wrote. “My health has never been better.”

Soon after, on July 16, Armstrong reported that a part-time city employee was fired shortly after replying to Blum with an e-mail stating his irritation over her message to the staff.

“I have no interest in hearing about your issues regarding your health, your intentions for office, or any possible impending resignation,” wrote the employee, Stephen Andrew. “You may be mayor of Santa Barbara, but your displeasure with a local newspaper report is none of my business and I don’t want to hear about it.”

In his July 16 column, Armstrong accused the city of squelching Andrew’s free-speech rights.

“It seems that you’ll be punished for not marching in lock-step with the powers-that-be,” he wrote.

On July 17, Armstrong sent Blum another e-mail: “Please comment regarding the firing of a senior citizen from his city job after responding to your Saturday e-mail.” Armstrong also requested that she comment on “your use of city e-mail for personal and/or political purposes and to attack citizens of our city.”

On Wednesday, Blum responded.

“The comings and goings of city staff are personnel matters, and I have nothing to do with them,” she said, adding that she had spoken with no one about the matter, “and I don’t know any particulars.”

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