As a local teacher who trains students to read closely and ask good questions, I am left with questions still unanswered in this COVID-19 pandemic. We have been told that the reopening phases must go slow so Santa Barbara County can track the spread of the virus. But have we been informed about tracking so far?

The public can draw conclusions based on regional locations reported, but that seems to cultivate assumptions, stereotypes and fear. I believe it would be helpful to know if the reported cases in the last four weeks have a pattern. Has it spread by family members? Workplaces? Health-care facilities? Delivery services? Essential businesses? Travel?

Why haven’t we been informed? How can we find out?

I not only want to protect my neighbors who are vulnerable to this disease, but I also want to protect my neighbors who are vulnerable to unemployment and mental health issues caused by our isolation.

Wouldn’t it be better for our community members to make purposeful and thoughtful decisions about how, when and where to venture out of our homes, rather than making decisions based on assumptions that the virus is everywhere — or nowhere?

Please, Noozhawk, help us get these answers.

Kris Severson

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In reading Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen’s May 15 column, “Nordstrom’s Loss Could Be Catalyst for Downtown Santa Barbara’s Gain,” it reminded of the days before Paseo Nuevo on State Street.

My dad owned and managed furniture stores in the 700 block of State Street between 1967 to 1981, and the transformation toward redevelopment started when old business models like his could not keep pace with rent hikes.

My point being that the transformation of the 1980s was bold and expensive. We closed off De la Guerra between State and Chapala streets, so I think the discourse today is in the ball park. If anything, a quick return on investment may not be a part of the early transformation of downtown.

I think all of this will be driven by bringing the right people and money to the table, and as Macfadyen pointed out, this is an opportunity to meet new ideas and the challenge before us.

Mark Moses Alvarado
Santa Barbara

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I look forward to Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen’s “Best of Bill” column each week, but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to top this:

“I find it amusing that Santa Barbara officials are at last fully experiencing what it’s like when someone else holds your future in their hands and won’t give you any clear guidelines on what to expect or what the outcome will be, or even a timeline. Not so fun, is it? Every local business can relate.”

I sure can.

Carlos Lopez
Santa Barbara

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I am very concerned about the health and welfare of inmates, staff and their respective families at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex.Since nobody at the Lompoc prison complex will give straight answers, and nobody there is capable of managing and/or controlling the COVID-19 virus within its walls, and they will not allow any local entity onto its grounds to investigate and mitigate, it is time for our local congressman, Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, to step up.

From the beginning, it has seemed that a prison would be one of the easiest populations to protect from this sort of disease, but the current management doesn’t appear to be capable. I would suggest that a National Guard or Reserve unit be activated to take over that facility. FYI, the Army Reserve unit in Santa Barbara is a medical unit, so it would be an initial logical choice to step in.

Some will say “but the California National Guard responds to the governor”; specific units could be called up and activated by the president. As for the Reserve unit in Santa Barbara, it is already under the jurisdiction of the Army.

Almost all recent new coronavirus cases have been located at the Lompocc penitentiary. Families of inmates are not allowed to contact them, so they have no idea if their loved one is ill or not. The prison says it is due to health concerns that they are not allowing the prisoners to use phones.

We need to demand that Carbajal intervene since he is the only federal government “authority” that the warden might recognize. I would also suggest that a team be sent in so that the prison management does not bamboozle Carbajal with evasive, sound-bite, patronizing responses.

On another note, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors must take proactive actions to reopen business within our county before the economic disaster is worse than the illness. We, the people, need our country back. (Not a misspelling.)

John Richards
Santa Maria

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I am a Sacramento County resident and I would like to express my appreciation and applaud columnist Brian Goebel for his outstanding, nonbiased reporting throughout this whole COVID-19 situation. Thank you for keeping the news honest and not fear mongering.

If more people were to hear what he has to say, we would be in a much better place. God bless, Brian. You are truly an American Hero.

Kenny Singh
Elk Grove

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Brian Goebel’s May 11 column, “Will Gavin Newsom Ever Allow Localism to be Determinative?”, clearly described why Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t suited as a crisis manager and has no realistic goals to reopen California for business.

From my perspective, Newsom is becoming way too comfortable as the supreme ruler of California.

Goebel: “The requirement for no fatalities over 14 days may not be achievable in many counties even when a vaccine is available at some point in the future. This is an entirely unrealistic zero-risk policy that the government has never utilized when confronting other significant public health problems (e.g., air quality, vehicle safety and seasonal flu).”

Judging by comments made by supervisors during Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meetings, it appears that they are fed up with the lack of a coherent and consistent plan from Sacramento, too.

Thank you for the very informative series on this issue.

Ron Fink

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Santa Ynez Valley Union High School teenagers will never get another chance for an excellent high school education. Many students worry if they will be prepared for college in pursuit of an engineering, pre-med or business degree.

Meanwhile, under the threat of a lawsuit, Santa Ynez High’s superintendent, Scott Cory, finally released documents he tried to keep hidden from the public. There was good reason he wanted the documents to be a secret; so far, four female district employees submitted complaints against him.

Three of the employees threatened litigation that resulted in settlement agreements approved by the school board. The settlement payments, funded with the public’s money, totals more than $250,000. The district’s legal expenses may exceed that amount.

Take note, voters, and vote a different way in the next election for the Santa Ynez High School Board in November. We need parents of incoming or current studentsor parents of recent graduates on the school board, not more aging bureaucrats and their buddies.

The school board’s support of Cory’s pattern of bad behavior is unbelievable. The four women board members include president Eileen Preston, Tory Babcock, Christine Burtness and Jan Clevenger.

Cory released his certification for sexual harassment training, dated October 2019. Sexual harassment training was required after the first two legal settlements — totaling $200,000 — were paid in 2016.

I cannot stop thinking about all the parents who entrusted their children’s education and future with these so called “pillars of ethics and management expertise.” How many more chances will the superintendent get?

The Santa Ynez School Board of Education meeting is at 5:30 p.m. May 19 via Zoom. Cory’s evaluation is on the agenda under closed session. Public comments may be submitted via email to by 3 p.m. May 18. Public comment will be read aloud by a district staff member.

Michelle de Werd
Los Olivos

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I’m a recent transplant from a Northern California agricultural community. I lived in Lompoc last year and just moved to Santa Maria. Although I have no family or friends in the area, I moved here in 2019 for an amazing job offer in cannabis. Let me count the reasons why I say amazing:

» Cannabis plants are incredible medicine

» Working in cannabis aligns with my values of working for a values driven-company in an industry that has the power to heal

» Working for a Jewish female- and Latino-owned business is both inspiring and empowering

» My job pays a living wage, which allows me to live in one of the most expensive counties in the state

» Cannabis companies are economic drivers contributing to the growth of our local and state economies, evidenced through high-paying jobs and payment of ancillary services and taxes

» The company owners are thoughtful and giving leaders, providing cannabis education, advocacy and community involvement

My principal reason for writing today is to show my support to Santa Barbara County for its thoroughness and due diligence in crafting and implementing the cannabis ordinance. Staff has unequivocally done their job in ensuring California Environmental Quality Act compliance, local constituents overwhelmingly voted in favor of cannabis and public comment periods were exhaustive.

We have a solid ordinance, clear rules to follow and a queue of conscientious cannabis entrepreneurs awaiting approval. We can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

Cannabis is the future whether the opponents want it or not. The Santa Barbara Coalition for Responsible Cannabis CEQA lawsuit filed against the county is a frivolous drain on limited resources that will not be won. Once again, I’m here to support the county in its fight to defend the highly defensible CEQA work outputs.

Carmela Beck
Santa Maria

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Anyone who publishes a letter of support from Ron Fink of Lompoc can be sure they are on the wrong side of an issue.

Michael Brown

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