My family has lived in Santa Barbara since 1782, and has contributed to the beauty and soul of this community. Few architectural efforts have not felt the hands of my family.
In addition to those mentioned, my family has sacrificed their sons to every major military engagement since becoming a state in the United States. Their first contribution was to send soldiers to fight on the side of the North in the Civil War. (Their remains languish, unnoticed in their graves in the Cienguitas Cemetery on Hollister Avenue, guarded by a sign that forbids trespass.)
Their lives, on numerous occasions, have been marred by nasty racism. Many have not pursued advanced educations because of the bullying they experienced in school. (One uncle was beaten daily for speaking Spanish or Italian on the school grounds in elementary school.) Others were subjected to rough treatment while serving in the South Pacific during World War II.
Please do not claim that racism is not active here in Santa Barbara. Because we have people who cannot trace their origins to sub-Saharan Africa, others who do share darker skin, or accents, have fallen victim to racism.
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As a U.S. military veteran and a 38-year Santa Barbara resident, I am appalled at the City Council’s decision to not only dismantle (“defund”) the Santa Barbara Police Department but to shift funding away from the construction of a new police facility to the library, as reported in the June 15 Noozhawk article, “Under Pressure, City Agrees to Drop $2 Million in New Police Station Funding.”
It is obvious to me that Mayor Cathy Murillo, Police Chief Lori Luhnow and several other SBPD managers found it acceptable to symbolically submit to the recent Black Lives Matters protesters by kneeling. This form of submission not only concedes to the protesters’ sense of power, control and entitlement, but also sends a message that ALL city employees and members of the Police Department concede to their requests.
This is wholly and unequivocally improper, inappropriate, unprofessional and unacceptable. It also crosses the line of professional law enforcement ethics, which prohibit law enforcement personnel from engaging in on-duty political activism. Such submission on the part of management not only diminishes the legitimacy of the profession but endangers officers by minimizing their authority.
While I believe in treating all humans with respect and dignity, I do NOT agree with conceding to a racial, gender or ethnic group’s allegations of unfair treatment that we, collectively as citizens of this city, had nothing to do with. Improper and/or illegal police officer behaviors in other parts of the country have nothing to do with the professional, courteous, efficient and quality work done by the officers and civilian personnel of the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Breaking up SBPD by moving certain workgroups (i.e. parking enforcement) to other city departments not only demeans the committed police employees but is clearly nothing more than a shell game of “defunding” the police department by moving employees elsewhere.
In addition, when employees learn about this not from their employers themselves but from the news media only adds insult to injury. This is NOT how one runs a business; it’s unprofessional at best and both insulting and injurious at worst. I expected much more from this city’s council and police managers.
Santa Barbara police are working in an overcrowded, dilapidated, unsafe building that was built in 1959. Finally, funding was secured to plan and construct a modern police facility for public safety, and the City Council is now diverting funds elsewhere due to Black Lives Matter pressure?
The last time I checked, the police respond to people in need regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, yet the council has decided to move funding elsewhere due to “social pressure.” From who? And why? Isn’t it the local government’s JOB to provide for public safety? How effective can a 21st-century law enforcement department be in an outdated, unsafe, overcrowded facility that was built OVER 60 YEARS AGO?
Again, I am not trying to minimize the Black Lives Matter agenda of equality. There is nothing more important to the citizens of this great country than equality, fairness and opportunity. However, punishing and demeaning hard-working, fair and professional employees of this city who achieved their positions and jobs by hard work, dedication and commitment is both unfair, insulting and, in my opinion, just as bad as what the protesters are alleging: institutionally selective privileged.
I’m ashamed of the behavior of all of you and had hoped that you had higher moral ground and the ability to take a stand for your own professional record. Do not apologize for the mistakes of the few in distant places. Please prove me wrong in the upcoming weeks and months.
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I agree with the Santa Barbara police that they do need a new updated facility. No argument there.
How about Macy’s? Plenty of parking, and it’s big, clean and ready to remodel. Or maybe Nordstrom!
Just a thought.
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We need to realize most police officers are dedicated public servants who have a much tougher job than a vast majority of good people could handle. Yes, to use a cliché, there will be a few “bad apples” who manage to get massive publicity, but I wouldn’t want to “not have the police around.” I make every effort to thank a police officer for his/her service to the community.
We also need to respect our military. I never had to fight in a war and wasn’t sent abroad to serve in a dangerous place, but I did serve in the U.S. Army back in the “draft days.” Military service is now voluntary. I have some sense as to what is involved in military service. It isn’t easy. This is all the more reason to respect and thank those who serve us.
An idea: We should start a national volunteer program that would allow young people to sign up for one-year salaried work training programs in various career fields. The work possibilities should include military training at a somewhat higher salary. There would be no required commitment after the one year, but such a program would open doors of opportunity and thought for many young adults.
We should stop attempting to rewrite U.S. history or stand in judgment of those who came before us. We need to learn from the past and appreciate the elements that came together to create the greatest country in the world.
Finally, we seriously need representatives in Washington, D.C., who can work together, compromise and come up with ideas, thoughts and programs to benefit the good people of this country. I see very few current politicians capable of this. Fortunately, this is a situation we can correct if we choose to do so. Vote wisely.
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Goleta Water District customers who didn’t pay much attention to their latest mail will be getting quite a surprise: Monthly bills are planned to go up by about 20 percent on July 1.
But the bigger surprise, almost buried amid the numbers in the notice, is that substantial increases will be made again each July through 2024, for a total increase of almost 75 percent above today’s rates. By then a typical “moderate” residential water user (8 units per month) will be paying $147 per month!
The stated reason for the dramatic jump is simply “increasing costs associated with operating, maintaining and repairing … the water system,” but there is no mention of any effort to control costs, let alone reduce them.
But the increases are not inevitable, if enough customers exercise their right to protest. Protests, with the customer’s name and address, can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or can be mailed; they must be received by 5 p.m. June 23. Click here for details about the proposed new water rates on the Goleta Water District website.
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In a May 10 New York Times article, “How Pandemics End,” experts said they end in two ways: socially and medically.
The social ending occurs when people become exhausted with crisis stress and restrictions, and just return to normal life, learning to live with the disease. Santa Barbara’s new State Street promenade and the beach/waterfront/Funk Zone are the face of the social ending of the pandemic here. School’s out at every level, summer is here and people have smiles on their faces again as they eat, drink and laugh in the middle of State Street.
Pandemics end medically when the death rate falls below the normal “acceptable” death rate for other common diseases in the community. The public then asks, “Why are we locked down, wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and torturing our students and their parents with remote learning when the pandemic is over?” It’s a fair question.
What are the normal and common types of deaths in Santa Barbara County? Where are we now relative to other diseases and how is COVID-19 affecting the community? The top four causes of deaths in the county in 2017, the last year for which statistics are available, were heart disease (753 deaths), cancer (634), Alzheimer’s disease (215) and respiratory infections (177). Most important, the county Public Health Department recorded 53 deaths from the seasonal flu and pneumonia in 2018.
As of June 16, there were 22 COVID-19 deaths in the county, with only two each in Goleta and Santa Barbara, and the rest in Lompoc, Santa Maria and the unincorporated areas. The coronavirus has not even reached the Santa Barbara County’s seasonal flu death rate. Even if we double the coronavirus death rate to 44, the county doesn’t reach it.
So why are we overreacting? New York City has a pandemic death rate, Los Angeles has a pandemic death rate, Sacramento has a pandemic death rate. Many large cities are having a dreadful pandemic … but did Santa Barbara County even have a pandemic if we didn’t exceed the seasonal flu death rate?
COVID-19 is an extremely age-targeted disease. We are most fortunate that that the coronavirus rarely kills children; there have been 13 child fatalities in the 5-14 age group among 325 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most schools are looking at on-campus, face-to-face reopening by September. Students will test positive for the coronavirus but their major symptom is the sniffles followed by cold-like symptoms, or the more rare, seasonal flu-like symptoms.
The coronavirus is also an extremely local disease. Rural counties and even more populated ones like Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties should not be treated like Los Angeles County. SLO County has had one death over the last six months. Why should it have any restrictions?
The two most misguided types of public health pronouncements during this time are those that seek to treat all age groups the same and those that treat all states, counties and cities the same, instead of allowing for local control of response.
Let’s get back to work, please.
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I am going to tell you a funny story that happened to me the night of June 12 when I was picking up In-N-Out Burger for my wife and me. I got my food from the drive-through window and started to go home. I stopped at the Turnpike Road traffic light to turn right, and was there for a good 3-4 seconds, then decided to proceed to turn right on red. THE MOMENT I DO THAT, a police officer turns his lights on and pulls me over!
I think to myself … Are you kidding me? I should have waited, I am tired, blah, blah, blah. The officer walks quickly to my car and asks, “Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?” I say almost in tears, “Yes, I turned on a red light.” He said, “Nope, that’s not it,” and points over to the right. Next thing I see is an In-N-Out employee sprinting — and I mean, sprinting — to my car to give me a small bag of french fries that I ordered.
She must have been sprinting so fast because there was some distance already between me and In-N-Out Burger. When she got to my car, she said, “You forgot your fries,” turns around and runs back to work. I then yelled, “You should get a promotion.” The officer says, “You’re free to go,” and walks away!
I got pulled over all for my fries!
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What would meaningful reform look like? I have a litmus test: “Is it good for children?” If the answer is “yes,” then it’s a good policy. If the answer is “no,” then scrap it.
Housing, homelessness and elementary schools are the biggest problems facing children in Santa Barbara. Our City Council is failing the community with regard to all three.
The homeless. Protect the mentally ill and veterans. It is hypocritical to pretend that allowing a mentally ill person to sleep on the sidewalk is some sort of compassionate solution. Stop deceiving yourselves. It is completely inhumane for the mentally ill homeless person. And it is also completely unacceptable for the public (read children) to whom the streets and parks and sidewalks belong and which the city has a duty to maintain for the use of children.
It’s a disgrace and it’s completely unacceptable. Find housing for every mentally ill homeless person in Santa Barbara.
Veterans. These people put their lives on the line for your freedom. Are you kidding me? Veterans are sleeping on the streets and in the parks? Find housing for every homeless veteran in Santa Barbara.
Cops. Do we have bad cops in Santa Barbara? Fire them. That would require meaningful reform to the police union. The role of a police department with integrity is one of the most important roles in a civilized society. Our City Council must push back against the police union’s ability to protect bad cops from censure and punishment.
Police Station. Don’t build a police station at East Cota Street. Give that land back to the school district for the use of children. In 1870, Lincoln School was built. It served the children of Santa Barbara for more than 100 years. It must be rebuilt, on that Cota Street site, its historic site, to once again serve families in the downtown neighborhood. That’s something that would actually be meaningful reform.
Budget collapse from the coronavirus pandemic compounded by civic unrest calling for meaningful reform of society. Who would have thought that those might just be the unlikely catalysts to actually shake up the status quo and do something bold and beautiful? Citizens for Neighborhood Schools has been advocating for the rebuilding of Lincoln School for more than 20 years.
Citizens for Neighborhood Schools past president
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Just this week, I was tested for COVID-19. While waiting for my results to come back, I have been concerned that for those who test positive for the coronavirus, hospitals may not have the necessary resources to provide them with adequate care. Our hospitals should be able to keep pace with the demand for life-saving equipment like ventilators, and they cannot do that without the right to repair these devices.
Manufacturers have been restricting hospital access to the necessary information to perform repairs on essential medical equipment.Ventilators, which allow patients to breathe, are an especially crucial example. By not releasing repair information, manufacturers are forcing health-care workers to decide who will receive the support of the life-saving equipment and who will not.
Our hospitals need and deserve the resources to quickly and effectively service medical equipment. This is a huge, widespread issue — more than 43,000 people signed a petition from USPIRG calling on manufacturers to release repair information for ventilators.
I have heard too many terrible stories of what hospital staff and patients, including some of my own family, have gone through due to packed emergency rooms and a lack of resources. It is critical that we aid our frontline medical staff by urging manufacturers to release essential repair information.
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