As a longtime Noozhawk reader, I am shocked to see the vile candor explicitly exhibited in some of your recent commentary.

The specific topic of dangers surrounding vaporizers is a calculated widescale hoax coordinated by Philip Morris International. This represents violent hate speech and will be reported to the FBI for analysis and investigation.

I am appalled that a pseudo respectable news outlet would allow themselves to be so degraded. This is a venue for facts, not advertising for cigarettes. I am never going to read any Noozhawk articles again, regardless of the outcome. Furthermore, I am blocking this website from access for my family.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Only a terrorist would promote smoking over vaping. Again, I believe you have crossed a serious line and I will not rest until this news outlet is shut down permanently. I hope you end up homeless.

Chris Barriere
Santa Barbara

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After an event such as the Climate Strike, we inevitably see critical letters asking “How many people drove cars to this event?” or “How many rode their bikes?”

Good questions. Let’s look at this in a larger context.

Oil corporations have spent vast amounts of money to convince us that we cannot live without their products. As a result, there are hundreds of gas stations, but few electric charging stations in our town and our state — despite the fact that alternatives are becoming more efficient, while their cost becomes more affordable than oil.

Second, our local bike infrastructure pales compared to cities such as Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco and Boston, considered the most bike-friendly cities in the United States, despite their weather.

With more than 40 miles of bikeways, Santa Barbara is highly ranked as a bicycle-friendly town; however, we are also ranked third highest in bicycle collisions, due to the lack of sufficient, safe commuter bike lanes, and the lack of automobile driver awareness.

We have made great strides. Our bus system plans to go emissions-free by 2030 — 10 years earlier than anticipated. Our Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has likewise voted that our county fleet must go fully electric by 2030, both of which will require greater EV infrastructure.

These are achievable goals and important steps, but more is needed and inevitable. Please join me in calling upon the Santa Barbara City Council and the Board of Supervisors to build a 21st-century infrastructure that includes more electric vehicle charging stations and a greater network of bicycle lanes. Or, we can stay stuck in the past, with the dinosaurs.

And by they way, they are extinct.

Rachel Altman
Santa Barbara

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I think Santa Barbara has some of the best teachers. In my 44 years of teaching, I’ve known a few. Not one of them would ever condone pushing their personal religion on their students, their personal ethics would find it unthinkable and their administrators would not allow it. Religion is most certainly the proper realm of parents.

And so is politics. But somehow, it has become less questionable to exploit children for political purposes in our schools. Whether gun banning or climate striking, indoctrinating impressionable children toward the teacher’s personal political views is pure propaganda. It is a betrayal of trust between parent and teacher and a failure of administrative oversight in our educational system.

Excellent teachers give children tools to make their own decisions. Great teachers give students the logic, rationality and precision of math that works for everyone in all cultures; the methodology of science for research, experimentation and repeatability that prevents mistakes and eliminates bias, emotions and opinions in discovering how the natural world works; the language ability to communicate deeply in more than one culture and the history to learn from our mistakes and value our accomplishments.

Teaching skills is our job, not indoctrinating our opinions into a vulnerable child.

After years of indoctrination fueled by media sensationalism and the distortion of any real climate science, politicians’ catastrophic thinking and teachers’ willingness to promote one political party’s agenda because it happens to be their own, Santa Barbara now has “climate strikes.”

Young students have also been used as political tools for gun control without learning about basic American constitutional ideals like individual sovereignty, citizen rights and government powers.

It’s not OK for teachers to exploit children for political purposes no matter what the issue. The principal at my school told our teachers to teach, not preach. It’s an ethical stand in an “anything goes” world. But it should be easy: I’m a teacher, not a cult leader.

Teach children skills and trust them. They’ll find their own way.

Victor Dominocielo
Santa Barbara

                                                                 •        •        •

Community colleges are egalitarian, open-access institutions, accepting 100 percent of the students who apply. They have a very special place in higher education in our state and this country, meeting students where they are and assisting them in achieving their educational goals — whatever they may be.

In my short time as interim superintendent/president, I have not only found that to be true of Santa Barbara City College, but I have also seen the remarkable uniqueness of the college. It is a college in which faculty, staff, and managers work tirelessly on behalf of students. I am impressed with the level of commitment and dedication they demonstrate daily.

When I talk about our college, I am talking about this community. So many of you are an important part of this college: as current or former students, parents, employees and volunteers; as donors to the SBCC Foundation; and as employers who hire our current and former students. We are grateful for your support and feedback.

The students who come to SBCC are dedicated, bright and hopeful. We successfully transfer students to four-year universities and help students find employment with certification of their learning. Our School of Extended Learning offers educational programs that advance career and life skills and offer bridges to credit.

Students come to us from all walks of life and experiences and all ages. Their diversity creates an enriching experience for all.

The college has been under a high level of scrutiny and has faced many challenges in the last two years. We are not immune from conflict and division. Most recently, we have been faced with difficult discussions about race, equity and injustice.

Additionally, we now face a budget deficit and a changing state funding model that will have an impact on how we operate the college and provide services to students.

Yet, in the midst of these challenges, our employees have continued to provide excellent service to students. We are working hard to develop even better programs to further the success of our students.

Since my arrival at the college, we have been doing some self- as well as group-reflection in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion. We are examining our interactions with each other in light of recent events. The results will serve as a guide as we develop a plan for strengthening relationships between and among employees in our service to students.

The members of our Board of Trustees are committed to SBCC, its success and to you, the people they represent.

I am proud to have worked in education for more than 45 years with 27 of those years in California community colleges. It is an honor for me to be a part of this community and to be engaged with fellow educators at SBCC in enabling students to achieve their dreams and goals and to increase the effectiveness of our college.

Helen Benjamin Ph.D.
Santa Barbara City College interim superintendent/president
Santa Barbara

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