Archive | February, 2012

Gone Patrol

One of the most exciting shows on television is in jeopardy. The City of Santa Barbara pulled “On Patrol with the Santa Barbara Police Department,” because the producers of the show, Ira and Linda Distenfield, purportedly owed the City money. Countering that claim, the Distenfields just filed a $1.2 million claim against the City… specifically the Santa Barbara Police Department, which has provided plenty of drama over the last year.
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2012 Ballot Initiatives to Raise Taxes… Seriously?

Weekly Column by Sharon Byrne

From a slide show of 10 insanely overpaid public employees, there are 3 notables from California:

  • Prison doctor: $784k
  • Prison Psychiatrist: $737k
  • Prison dentist: $621k

Prisons are flush, apparently! But wait, California’s prison systems are over-crowded, requiring the release of 43,000 inmates to county jails, similarly overcrowded. Net: supposedly non-violent, victimless-crime inmates are released right back to where they committed their offense.

Me thinks there’s not just a little waste in the prison system…

Something is rotten in the state of California, but it’s not the molars and psyches of prison inmates, apparently. Our state is often scrutinized in news stories as a shining example of what NOT to do. The state’s pension funds are $500 billion in the red, and over 5,000 retired teachers and administrators receive pensions in excess of $100k. Santa Clara’s retired fire-chief takes home $200k+ in pensions every year, and a consultant’s salary to boot.
Bonus: you can commit a crime on your public sector job, and still get your pension!

California spent $61b for elementary and secondary school systems in 2009, according to the US Census Bureau. Per pupil, that was $9,600, about the same as Georgia.

Being on a par with Georgia is nothing to be proud of, California.

We’re outspending Mississippi, Alabama, North and South Carolina by a few hundred dollars per pupil, but our 4th graders can barely beat Louisiana’s in reading test scores.

Clearly, education needs help, but don’t look to the full-time legislature. They’re busy banning food trucks within 1500 ft of schools, sweating over sugar drinks on campus, and insulting one another. So leave it to the special interest groups to put up three California ballot initiatives to fix the deficit, and fund education. In order of favorable polling:

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The Homogenizing of Santa Barbara Continues

While local favorites like Madison’s Sport’s Grill and Elements Restaurant & Bar close around town, another BevMo is heading to the Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta. On upper State Street, chains like BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Chipotle Mexican Restaurant, and Panera Bread are rumored—or are set to open in La Cumbre Plaza.

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Clipboard Klunkers

Weekly column by Loretta Redd, PhD

June is fast approaching, which means small armies of signature gatherers are hitting the streets in order to find sufficient voters to help a myriad of ballot initiatives qualify for the election.

After the 2010 election, I felt as though I should receive an honorary law degree–or ticket to a comedy club–for working my way through the fourteen statewide initiatives.  But fourteen was a minor nightmare, compared to the 90 different Title and Summary letters submitted to the Attorney General for approval.

Some of those 90 initiatives failed for legal reasons; others because they couldn’t find 433,971 registered Californian voters needed to qualify for a state statute, or the 694,354 folks required for an amendment to the California constitution.  That may sound like a high bar to sail over- but not really in a state with over 17.3 million registered voters.

Of the fourteen initiatives which qualified in 2010, eight were defeated at the ballot box.  It takes time and money to gather those signatures, but anyone who wants to try can certainly hit the pavement.

Personally, I think it’s sad that private citizens or groups must do the work that our legislators would rather not bother with.

They’re so busy raising funds for their own re-elections and chasing their recalcitrant partisan tails, why should  waste valuable time actually legislating?  Why not let special interest groups and well-funded private citizens do your work for you?  After all, six of the 14 Ballot Initiatives in 2010 passed into law.

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Two Years of Santa Barbara View

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Santa Barbara View. In February 2010, Santa Barbara’s Blog’s Blog was re-branded in an effort to bring readers a wider variety of content—not limited to a blog or journal. Little did we know that 24 months later acclaimed writers like Cheri Rae, Loretta Redd, and Sharon Byrne, would be penning weekly columns for the County’s fastest-growing website. Outdoor Editor John McKinney, Cartoonist Steve Greenberg, Cerena Childress, and Georgina Stassi have also teamed with photographer Bill Heller and Barbara Hirsch to entertain, chronicle, and inform…. and to help foster our mission, Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara™.

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Goleta Pier Sunset Stroll

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller.

This was from a walk on the Goleta pier. The evening was amazing and it was one of those times that the subject perfectly matched the medium. I can think of no better way to capture our winter sunsets. This one is truly a 360° sunset.

Controls from left to right:
+ Zoom in;
- Zoom out;
change the way the view moves when you drag;
toggle full screen

-Bill Heller

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Orca Whales in the Santa Barbara Channel

Each year, Santa Barbara View gets some great clips from viewers aboard the Condor Express. Here’s a video clip showing Orcas (killer whales) in the Santa Barbara Channel.

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Sounds Good: Bringing Books to Life for Students who Read and Learn Differently

It’s the annual event that gives voice to the written word—to help those who struggle to read. The week-long Record-a-Thon sponsored by Learning Ally (formerly known as Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) is scheduled for February 27-March 3—coinciding with Read Across America and the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2.

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Where the Rubber Meets the Curb

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Toon Op: Oil Drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel


Solely for use on Santa Barbara View. By local cartoonist Steve Greenberg.

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Outdoor Art Gallery at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden?

Below is a visual rendering recently presented at the County Historic Landmarks Commission for another art installation at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden…
Do we need/want stained-glass art of a garden in the Garden?

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EcoFacts: Global Deforestation

An acre of forests is lost every few seconds. Global deforestation, though slowing in the last decade, remains a serious problem for the health of ecosystems, species habitat and biodiversity, desertification, soil erosion, freshwater reserves, carbon storage and sequestration, and also for local economies, for whom trees are needed for work, heat and cooking.

About a half of Earth’s original forest cover is gone. Less than half of what remains is “frontier forest” land – larger undisturbed tracts than some primary forest areas – and most of that is in Russia, Canada and Brazil.

Each year, from 2000 to 2010, around 13 million hectares* were lost, either for conversion to other uses or from natural causes. Forests were logged for commercial uses or burned for quick clearing for agriculture land. However, due to tree planting programs and some natural growth, the net loss was 5.2 million acres. This represents a considerable decrease in the rate of deforestation from the 1990s.

Forest loss is not all from direct human means, but also from fire, extreme weather and insect damage.

South America and Africa had the highest net loss in the last decade. Indonesia’s loss decreased considerably. China, India and Vietnam have recently expanded their forest areas, close to 4 million hectares annually.

Legally protected ares such as parks and wilderness areas, have increased by nearly a hundred million hectares since 1990, and account for 13% of all forest area.

Approximately 150 countries have changed their laws or policies regarding their forests since 2000.

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Santa Barbara Garden Post

First SUMMER PLANTING, First Week of MARCH!

Ground temp at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden is now 60+ degrees! Perfect for planting ASAP!

Poke beans under finishing peas on trellises, plant tomatoes in cages with wilt resistant basil, Nufar! Colonies of corn, New Zealand spinach with the lettuces, cucumbers on trellises with dill at each end, super summer squash! Grow your squash up through a strong tomato cage, then lay the vine over the tops of other cages If you have room and want to. All that room underneath is ripe for planting additional plants! Magnificent monster artichokes from transplants! Well cared for, they live 9 to 10 years! Winter squash NOW, so it will have a long enough season to harden for harvest.

Plant last rounds of cool-season favorites like broccoli (with cilantro & lettuce), cabbage, kales, potatoes. Add more year-rounds, beets, carrots, chard – Fordhook Giants for huge return! Radish, turnips. Remember to leave space for your succession plantings!

Special note on selecting your tomatoes! Heirlooms are particularly susceptible to the wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium. Instead, get varieties that have VFN or VF on the tag at the nursery. The V is for Verticillium, the F Fusarium wilt, N nematodes. Ace, Early Girl, Champion, Celebrity, and some that are wilt resistant/tolerant. Ask a knowledgeable person if the tom doesn’t have a designation, or check online.

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Of Hearts Broken—and Healing

By Cheri Rae

Lately I’ve been going to more funerals than weddings, meeting with hospice caregivers and grief counselors, offering words of comfort and condolence more than expressions of joy, recalling wrenching details for in-memoriam pieces that must be written.

There’s another memorial to attend this weekend—and the heart is heavy.

How do we who are left behind learn to cope with loss in the middle of a very ordinary day? If we allow our lives to be cluttered with meaningless tasks, responding to stupid rhetoric, mindlessly muddling, we must be missing the point.

On Wednesday night, the thoughtful and learned Parker Palmer appeared at the Lobero and spoke to an earnest and receptive audience about “Healing the Heart of Democracy.” He spoke of the extremes of “corrosive cynicism” and “irrelevant idealism.” He advised the assembled to hold equal parts of chutzpah and humility, and noted an important lesson for our divided world: “The more you know about someone’s story, the less likely it is that you can hate them.”

As he continued his comments about “habits of the heart,” he offered the vivid suggestions that we can “reweave the fabric of mutual care” and “help each other become gardeners of community.”

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Our Views On Homelessness Are Shaped By Our Experiences

This column is a follow-up to one I wrote two weeks ago, where the responses made clear the issue is one that’s on the hearts and minds of many. Ideally I hope we ask more questions, get more information, and open the window wide to let in as much info as possible. With that…

Tuesday was a study in seemingly random events that provided some startling contrasts. At 10:00 AM was the monthly Milpas Action Task Force meeting. The MATF came out of a city council directive, issue in 2004, that the shelter, with city staff and an expanded neighborhood advisory council, create a comprehensive plan to address the problems in the area. At this session, we asked the police about early prison release, and jail overcrowding. They reported there is some effect from early releases on the South County area as parolees are released back to the area where they were arrested. We were also tasked with gathering data on panhandling in the Milpas area, to define the scope of the problem.

At 1:30 PM, I saw a Roger (Edhat) alert that Tri-County Produce had a shoplifting turned assault. John Dixon, the owner, had been at the MATF meeting. He had intercepted a group of three leaving the store: two were shoplifting, one using a brand new Tri-County Produce reusable bag. The male became aggressive when John tried to detain him. It took 4 male employees to subdue the assault. One of the Tri-County employees got a bloody nose, and John sustained some cuts. Customer witnesses phoned it in to SBPD. The female shoplifter was apprehended down at the beach. The third in the party, another female, told John they’d just had lunch at the shelter.

One hour later, the Board of Supervisors met on the fate of the Bridgehouse Shelter, recently shut down as a result of the Lompoc Housing Community Development Corporation’s bankruptcy. I watched some of the public comment portion online, prominent speakers advocating for the care of Lompoc’s homeless, now without shelter.

At the same time, Eastside resident Robin Unander wrote a powerful first-hand account of transients drinking on the sidewalk in front of her home, while her toddler watched through the window. It was published in Wednesday’s Daily Sound.

At 3:00 PM, I received an email from a community member about panhandlers at both ends of the Trader Joe’s lot on Milpas. The community member asked them a question: where are you from? San Francisco. They said they’d been here since Sunday, this was a great place to come, as they’d be fed by non-profits. When asked: so then why panhandle? Tourists, the locals are nice, and the cops don’t care.

Now, wherever your emotions went while reading this sequence of events in the course of one day… you’re right to feel those things. This particular issue sparks a lot of feelings that reflect the experience one has had on this subject, whatever that experience has been, and all experiences are equally valid.

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