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Working Definitions of Types of Homeless in Santa Barbara

By Sharon Byrne for El Smurfo, regarding recent Views on Santa Barbara’s Homeless.

Grifter: travelling homeless, make their way up and down the coast, or across the country. Come into Santa Barbara at various times of year to camp, stay at Casa Esperanza, and panhandle. Engage in drinking and drug use. Sometimes get into fights, shoplift. Often arrive and depart in packs together.

Transitional Homeless: you’ll never see them, unless you let someone temporarily living in their car sleep in your driveway. Homeless for 2 minutes to 2 days to 2 weeks – they want a job, a place to live, and to return to a normal life ASAP. Despise shelters. Panhandle out of sheer desperation, if ever. If long-term stable employment or housing is unattainable, they can become chronically homeless over time, moving from the car to hotel rooms, wherever they can. This group contains families, and is the focus of news stories on distressing economic conditions. The vast majority find their way back to a stable life. This is also the group referred to when admonished ‘we’re all just one paycheck away…’

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$ick of Politic$

By Cheri Rae

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” stated big-time California politician Jesse Unruh way back in 1966. Even he would likely be astonished at how every campaign for every office requires more, more, more money than ever before.

The money that now pays for all the cheesy ads, nasty personal attacks and irrelevant, diversionary gotcha moments have turned the political process into some stomach-churning kind of mass entertainment—truth, integrity and ethics be damned. It’s like the Super Bowl, with the Red Team battling the Blue Team, each side shrieking at the Other, demonizing the Other, hating the Other.

From cheap shots about local level party politics on blogs and Facebook pages and expensive and misleading brochures about land-use issues, all the way up to the massively funded Super PACs at the national level, it’s ugly out there, and getting worse.

I’m about ready to set fire to my hard-won degree in political science that no longer seems so important, or even worthwhile anymore, now that every discussion about every issue has degenerated into shrill and polarizing talk, talk, talk, and virtually no meaningful dialog about problem-solving.

All the great political theorists I once studied seem irrelevant in this Machiavellian new world where manipulation of the message is the highest good, and Hobbes’ hopeless view of life as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” is cynically embraced by far too many. Goodbye Jean Jacques Rousseau’s noble savage, John Locke’s social contract and Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues.

What we’re witnessing these days isn’t evolved political discourse, or preparation for effective governing; it’s the endless production of a high-priced propaganda machine to prove a point, notch a win and prepare for the next fight. And it’s Big Business turning our democracy into a commodity—for sale at every level—from the local all the way up.

Look at the sad race for State Senate: Why would anyone think that perennial candidate Hannah-Beth “Action” Jackson in a track suit running around a bunch of people wearing paper bags on their heads would instill confidence in voters about her ability to deal with Sacramento? Or Jason Hodge’s curiously Zen-like musings while driving in the car—and not watching where he’s going? At least that also-ran Mike Stoker hasn’t hit the airwaves, but that probably means he just hasn’t raised enough money to do so. I’m sitting this one out.

The people who create these insulting little dramas must feel pretty proud of themselves, drawing their big paychecks for their ugly work. But from where I stand that money could be much better spent on educating kids who are really getting short-changed these days. So I won’t vote for any candidate who squanders campaign funds on ridiculous messaging, or any issue that slickly deceives the uninformed—and that means voting against Measure Y.

When there’s no money to teach kids about how to grapple with the Big Questions and the Underpinnings of Democracy, they’ll grow up never knowing the difference, anyway. And maybe that’s the point of it all—which is really sick, and not in a good way.

So Measures W and X get my vote, for the school kids who deserve better than they’re getting these days, in hopes that they’ll learn to discern between the truth and the best lies money can buy.

A Santa Barbara Boondoggle: Half-Million Dollar Tourist Attraction Not ADA Compliant

Near the Santa Barbara train station sits a rail car, pictured below, that was purchased with Redevelopment Agency money and a state grant. The City of Santa Barbara has $500-$600K invested in it, purportedly, not including the time spent by City staff. A costly restoration was done on the inside; unfortunately, it cannot be boarded and viewed inside by anyone because it is not ADA compliant. So, it sits! This half-million dollar boondoggle was executed under the Marty Blum administration.

Why I Am Against Measure Y

Some days ago I received a letter from Mark Lee, the developer who proposes to build over twenty luxury homes on a picturesque hillside off Las Positas Road.  Surprisingly, Mr. Lee thanks me “for joining our  campaign for Measure Y” even though I am one of the signers of the official ballot argument against that measure.  Such errors can of course occur if you are running a huge mail and phone campaign.  Who knows, the campaign staff may even be paid according to the number of people who appear to have been swayed by their efforts.

So I worry that a list of supporters about to be published may include me.  To avoid misunderstandings, let me state below five of the reasons why I support — NOT Mr. Lee’s project but the campaign to Say No to Measure Y: Continue reading…

Your Vote Will Help Santa Barbara Students Succeed

I am writing to share some great news about how you can support our local schools in this election. The best way to you can support our community and our schools is by voting yes for Measures W and X. You probably know that schools in California are losing dramatic amounts of funding due to the state’s fiscal crisis. In fact, the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) has lost over $20 million just in the past four years! This has resulted in cuts to programs, staffing and opportunities in our schools that directly impact our kids.

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is once again leading the campaign to support two parcel tax measures (W and X) on the ballot in June – for the elementary and secondary schools in the SB Unified School District. Measures W and X will pick up where Measures H and I (2008) leave off when they sunset next year. Thanks to the voters, the funds raised by Measures H and I have allowed the SBUSD to continue providing strong arts, music, foreign language, theater, science and math programs as well as keeping class sizes smaller in some 9th grade courses. Please click here for more information about how those funds have benefited students. Through W and X we would be able to maintain and enhance these programs, as well as add more trade programs in the high schools (Measure W).

If you live outside the City of Santa Barbara you only vote for Measure W; if you live in the City you vote for both W and X. Combined, these measures will generate $16 million in funds for our schools. This is a very small investment in our schools, our students – and in our community – which thrives when we have well educated kids and diverse academic and elective programs. If you have ever attended one of our local high schools’ spring musical performances you know how much music and theater programs have paid off in the talent of our students! Continue reading…

Keeping Santa Barbara Santa Barbara: Herbert Bayer’s Chromatic Gate Will be Restored!

Over the years, Santa Barbara View has chronicled the lost luster of Herbert Bayer’s Chromatic Gate. In January 2012, adorned by dirt, mold, and even a discarded shoe this significant piece of artwork looked worse than ever. Santa Barbara View pressed City Councilman Bendy White and teamed with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission (SBCAC) to get something done. Kellam de Forrest provided the definition of demolition by neglect, and efforts to help restore the Chromatic Gate gained traction. In March, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider acknowledged to KEYT  that, “it’s filthy and (she) is hoping funds can be found to give it a fresh look.” Last week, SBCAC proudly announced that they have made significant progress to raise necessary funding to restore the Chromatic Gate back to its original brilliance!

Photo from Patty DeDominic: Just the usual level of excitement when Restoration Rainbow Campaign organizers gather.

“I think Santa Barbara View did get the ball rolling I appreciate that early on your website started people thinking about the much needed restoration. ” said Rita A. Ferri, Curator of Collections, Visual Arts Coordinator County Arts Commission. “We did have smaller donations, but I think the amazing heartfelt generosity of David Jacoby from the Jacoby Family Trust got the energy going; when Mercedes Eichholz heard about it she decided to match his $10,000 and Santa Barbara Beautiful is dedicating $10,000 more. We definitely want to have enough funds in place to maintain the sculpture (washing and waxing) so that it will never get to this point of disrepair again”.

Congratulations Santa Barbara “Viewers”.  Your comments and interest made this happen. 

For a Unique, Affordable Mac, Think Macinabox

Local Business Profile by: Sharon Byrne

Macinabox, in a quiet little office park off the Carpinteria Lane exit, has been open for 5 years. When you go in, you’ll find lots to play with: custom-configured high-powered Macs at amazing prices.

I used to go through one or more PC’s per year in the corporate world. Some of them felt like they should be free with the purchase of a Happy Meal, and were highly unreliable. After repeated PC virus attacks, Trojans, and blue screens of death, I converted to Macs in 2002, starting with a high-end Powerbook that set me back $2,000. I used it for field film production, and it had the chops for it. I bought a 2004 ibook for office work, dissertation research and other more mundane purposes. That was another $1,000. I am punishing as a user, but these babies can take it. All I had to do was upgrade the OS periodically to give these Macs YEARS in lifespan.

When the ibook finally died on me in October of 2010, I was utterly consumed in working on 5(!) campaigns, and frantically searched for a replacement. I found Macinabox and went for a look-see. I was stunned at the horsepower in their machines at steep discounts. I picked up a high-powered new MacBook for $600, preloaded with the latest in iLife, extra memory, and Microsoft Office (runs $500+ off the shelf).

How does Macinabox do it? Apple and Intel release new hardware every year, which creates an opening for after-market sales. The inventory on offer at Macinabox are all last year’s demos, and machines used by Apple’s internal departments, and engineers for software testing.  Continue reading…

EcoFacts: Bags, Bottles, Bans

Peak Plastic anyone?

Probably premature…..but the city of Los Angeles just became the 49th municipality in California alone, and the largest city in the nation to pass a plastic bag ordinance, banning them at the checkout in around 7500 stores. Paper ones will be available for a dime. L.A. County has had one in place. Also this month Hawaii became the first state to change the way things are sold, banning them at the registers on all islands. At this time, quite a few countries have regulated plastic bag use as well, including China, India, and many in Europe and Africa.

In the U.S., the “Progressive Bag Alliance” is the industry’s group working hard against such bans. I wonder, is it the people who are progressive, or the bags?

Next up? Plastic water bottles. On a recent trip to a national park, my sister was pleased to discover that they had banned all sales of water in plastic and instead installed free water bottle filling or hydration stations. Grand Canyon National Park has just done the same. Saguaro Park in Arizona has taken it a step farther and is removing the machines dispensing soda as well. College campuses across the country, airports and other public places are following suit, making it easier for us to get good tasting filtered public water without the plastic. Thousands of tons of plastic waste are being eliminated as a result.

Hydration station has a nice ring to it, but water fountain does too, and you don’t need a bottle. Either way, hooray!

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