Appalling!! According to the Sept. 18 story, “Santa Barbara Teen Finds Purse with $10,000 Inside, Turns It into Sheriff’s Office,” $100 was given to the teenager for finding and returning the purse with $10,000 in cash? Shame on the ungratefulness!!!

I will be contacting the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to contribute. Thanks for sharing the story.

Sharon Gordon
Santa Barbara

                                                                 •        •        •

In a Sept. 14 letter to the editor, reader John Sween wrote of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: “California wants to vote in a sitting senator who is 85 years old for another six-year term … Well, we need term limits, but maybe an age limit would be a good idea, too. We need new blood in Washington, D.C., as it’s being run as a retirement home, no matter your calling. Vote some of these tired politicians out!”

What’s wrong with being 85 years old and running for another six-year term if the person is vital, super-intelligent, and as active, energetic and involved as anyone far younger? Age itself is not an impediment!

And regarding term limits, why do we need them if people can simply vote office holders out if they are not doing a good job. And if they are doing a good job, why not keep them in to continue their good work? Term limits do nothing except frustrate voters who want to keep a good person in office.

Why does the reader think government is “being as a retirement home?” No reasons are cited; so is it just that some office holders are older than the reader thinks they should be. And as for “Vote some of these tired politicians out!” here are Feinstein’s recent accomplishments:

“Legislation increasing vehicle fuel economy standards; protecting amateur athletes from sexual abuse; preserving the Mojave Desert, Lake Tahoe and our forests; consumer protection; food safety and cyber security; drought relief; securing funding for critical projects; and common sense gun laws, including the landmark federal ‘assault weapons’ ban.

“She authored the Keep Families Together Act, which was co-sponsored by ‘every Democratic senator,’ to stop President Donald Trump from separating children from their parents at the border under a now-abandoned policy aimed at deterring illegal immigration.”

Does that sound “tired” to you? If they’re tired, yes, vote them out. If they’re not, and doing a great job (as is Diane Feinstein), keep them in!

Betty Oberacker
Santa Barbara

                                                                 •        •        •

In response to the Sept. 11 article, “Purple-Shirted SEIU Workers Demand Pay Increases at Santa Barbara City Hall,” concerning the appeal to the Santa Barbara City Council to re-evaluate the last offer from the city’s labor negotiator to the employees of the Service Employees International Union Local 620 General Unit.

The employees were not demanding a pay increase we were asking for consideration for the work they do, to be paid a fair wage. Our position on the salary increase was based on the current Consumer Price Index numbers for Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim which is at a 3.8 percent for the first seven months of the year.

We have lowered our initial starting requested wage increase of 3.7 percent down to 2.5 percent for each agreed-to year of the contract with the City of Santa Barbara. This is just to maintain a reasonable wage to support our families.

The city labor negotiator stated that our request was unreasonable, when other agencies around them are giving their employees as much as 2 percent per year in salary increases. The city has offered 1.5 percent for the first year and .5 percent in the second year for a total of 2 percent for the two-year contract. How can we keep up with the cost of living in the City of Santa Barbara?

When the average wage of the General Unit employee is in the neighborhood of $65,000 per year, it does not compare to base salary of approximately $168,800 per year with a total compensation of $242,000 per year earned by Kristy Schmidt, the city’s administrative services director, for 2017 as reported in Transparent California, and other managers in the city whose wages are also in the six-figure range.

We feel that the city does not totally understand the plight of the General Unit employees.

In addition, managers receive $1,700 per month for medical and supervisors receive $1,600 per month, while front-line staff receive $1,020 per month for single employees and $1,110 for employees with family coverage. It appears that front-line staff’s family deserves less medical and lower wages.

On April 24, 2017, KEYT News reported that, for a single person, the Housing and Urban Development Department says $50,450 is considered low income for Santa Barbara County. For a family of four, that number is close to $72,000. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in 2017 was $1,323, up 7.9 percent over the prior year.

Schmidt’s statement that by 2025 the city will need to set aside 41 cents for every dollar it pays to an employee may not be totally correct. The contract with the city and its General Unit employees has the employees picking up 30 percent of the increased cost to the city each time the retirement rates go up.

Other city units that bargain for increased wages do not all have the language that the General Unit has. General Unit employees have been paying their full employee cost of their retirement for several years, in addition to the aforementioned 30 percent pick up.

The one-day pay in the event that the city and county encounter the same disaster that occurred in this past year was brought to the bargaining table by the union.

Not until the last meeting did the city relent and offer those employees who were not able to get to work for almost a week or more the opportunity to recoup at least one day’s pay as they were turned away the first day of the disaster and had to return home while many managers affected by the disaster were able to telecommute (work from home at full pay).

All city employees who were affected were afforded the ability to use their vacation hours for the time they were not able to get to work. The city’s lead negotiator’s response was that it would not pay that, as the employees made the decision to live geographically elsewhere.

The parking discount was another area of contention. City employees who park at the waterfront daily were paying full fees to park to go to work while community members who have marine vessels in the marina were given parking discounts.

We also asked for parity for approximately eight maintenance work employees in the Downtown Parking Division to be given a 5 percent increase, to be paid the same as other city maintenance workers. This cost the city about $3,000 per year total for all eight employees.

The lead negotiator through the negotiations process was against this, stating that the union brought the other maintenance worker pay up for other reasons, and it was not the money but the principle. These employees do the same or similar work as other city maintenance workers.

The request for certification pay of 2.5 percent is for the city- or state-mandated requirements of a new type of certification that may be required beyond what was originally required when the employee was hired.

If the city thinks it is unreasonable to seek the salary increases the General Unit is asking for, then the employees also think it is unreasonable on the city’s part to keep them held down when everything is costing them more to live and take care of their families.

Mike Woods
SEIU Local 620 field operations supervisor
Santa Barbara

                                                                 •        •        •

As a parent of two former and one current Lompoc Unified School District student, I am seeking the public’s support in voting YES on Measure E2018.

Measure E is an important bond that will ensure our current and future LUSD students have a safe and effective learning environment. If you walk on any campus now, you will see that our school facilities are subpar, especially compared to neighboring districts.

Students in the Lompoc district are truly at a disadvantage because they do not have modernized, safe, up-to-date learning environments. When our students apply for college or prepare to enter the workforce, many of them have not been exposed to the same educational environment as the competing applicants. Again, setting our students apart from and behind the curve in their education.

As a former LUSD student, I feel confident when I say that many of our campuses look the same now as they did when I was a middle school and high school student in this district. The biggest difference — the schools were not in dire need at that time. We did not have holes in our classroom and library roofs, we had an adequate amount of working technology, and the furniture was up-to-date and safe for all students.

I did not dread going to school, or think about my school having cracked windows, exposed wires and flooding when it rained. The schools were safe. We participated in sports without worrying about the state of the concrete and tracks, because when I was an LUSD student more than 20 years ago, those things were in decent condition. The students keep coming, the structures have remained the same without the upgrades or repairs that Measure E can support.

As a current LUSD educator, which I am very proud to be, I hear students ask/say almost daily, “Why don’t they fix the basketball court? We can’t even use it!”

“Do they know we have to put planks of wood across these ramps when it rains so we don’t get our shoes and our jeans wet?”

“Our windows are cracked, it is cold in here, our computers are broken, the ceiling is falling.”

They are not complaining; these are valid concerns students have and they wonder why the public doesn’t listen. After all, these are public schools, right?

The ants that come in through the window frames and the doors that don’t seal, the water that leaks through the ceiling tiles, the lack of appropriate technology for these students is unacceptable. Collectively, we need to find a solution that will support these students and the future students in this district.

Voting YES on Measure E will bring us one step closer to making the repairs and updates we need to help ALL students be successful. I want my own children, my nieces and nephews, and every one of my former and current students to be successful and have the same opportunity as schools in surrounding districts offer their students.

Measure E, should it pass, will ensure safe and productive learning environments on EVERY campus in LUSD.

EVERY YES VOTE COUNTS! If you live in Mission Hills, Vandenberg Village, Mesa Oaks, etc., your YES VOTE counts too. Please vote YES on Measure E and support our Lompoc kids.

Katy Wallace

                                                                 •        •        •

As principals, student safety is constantly in our hearts and on our minds. We do not take lightly the trust parents placed in us to maintain a safe campus and a safe learning environment. Additionally, we understand that parents and the community are just as committed and concerned about the safety of our students.

Measure E2018 will go a long way to help improve the safety at all of our schools in the Lompoc Unified School District. The bond will help support and ensure that our schools are up-to-date on safety measures, which will include security cameras, fencing, parking, blinds, floor tiles and many other needed facility improvements.

We fully support voting YES on Measure E on Nov. 6 and encourage you to do the same.

Our students currently sit in classrooms that leak water from the roof and through the walls when it rains. We believe our students should be in an environment that is conducive to learning and appropriate for the 21st century.

Eliminating the leaks, and filling the classrooms with modern furniture and technology, will enhance learning in all of our schools across the district. With approximately 6,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grades and approximate 2,750 students between Lompoc and Cabrillo high schools, it is crucial that our facilities needs be addressed right away. Therefore, we strongly advocate for voting Yes on Measure E for all of our students’ sake!

As educators who have more than 50 years of combined experience in the public education system, we know firsthand the importance of providing our students with learning environments that are safe, secure, up-to-date and functional. In addition, we know that providing our teachers and support staff with the proper tools will greatly enhance the educational experience of all of LUSD students.

Measure E will helps us achieve this goal.

Lompoc has a rich history of supporting all of its schools, and its residents have demonstrated a compassionate heart when it comes to meeting the need of its students. We personally both have children in the LUSD school system and understand the outstanding education that is provided by LUSD in our community. Our community is richer because our children have been well-prepared to compete and be productive in any environment.

In order to keep up the quality of education that we are known for, we MUST pass Measure E on Nov. 6 for the sake of your children, grandchildren and our students. As passionate leaders of our two outstanding high schools, please join us in voting YES for Measure E for Students on Nov. 6.

Paul Bommersbach
Lompoc High School principal

Isidro Carrasco
Cabrillo High School

                                                                 •        •        •

My name is Marna Ford and I have lived in Lompoc since 1977. I am a teacher in the Lompoc Unified School District and my two daughters were educated in this district, as well. I have taught in Lompoc since 1996. This letter is in support of Measure E2018 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

I support this bond because of the condition that our schools are in. We are working in classrooms and schools that were built in the 1960s. We are educating our future community leaders in substandard school rooms. We need this bond in order to upgrade our campuses.

We are not asking to build new schools but we are asking to repair and renovate the schools that we are in. The bond is only a continuation of the bond we already have, and our taxes will not go up as a result. On the district’s website is a project list with details of how the district intends to spend the bond money on repairs and upgrades. This will affect my students directly, not only in the classrooms but also outdoors, like playgrounds and fields.

I ask you to vote yes on Measure E2018 to support our students in the Lompoc Unified School District. LUSD could never fund these repairs without the support of this community passing a bond. This YES vote on Measure E is a vote for our students, the future of our communities.

Marna Ford

                                                                 •        •        •

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