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Chick-Fil-A Controversy Coming to Santa Barbara

The tear down of the Burger King at 3707 North State Street has officially begun… in its place will be a Chick-Fil-A restaurant. People and even cities across America are boycotting Chick-Fil-A after President Dan Cathy stated that he believed “we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation” when it comes to the discussion in our nation regarding what constitutes marriage. “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family,” Cathy said. “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that.”


Cost of Corrections

By Loretta Redd

I find it somewhat paradoxical that with all of the conservative support for the ideals and rights of the National Rifle Association, they wouldn’t also be more proactive in funding the jails in which to house those who use guns so prolifically.

On the other hand, if we managed to remove guns from the equation between perpetrator and victim of crimes, we might substitute the challenge of funding the conversion of correctional facilities into educational campuses.

Dream on.

But speaking of dreams, Sheriff Bill Brown is closer to having his dreams of the North County correctional facility built in Santa Maria, since the Board of State and Community Corrections has just awarded another $20 million toward its construction, bringing the grants total to $80 million.

The original $60 million was provided through California’s Assembly Bill 900. It’s a bit of a stretch for most non-political folks, because AB 900 is entitled, Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act.   Its purpose was to streamline judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

I don’t understand either, but maybe it’s going to be a Green Prison, with living gardens on the rooftop, energy saving lighting, and recycled cell bars.  However they twisted it, there was still sixty million reasons for the Sheriff to love it.  Especially since the voters of Santa Barbara County had declined to fund the jail through the voting booth for the last two elections.

The State has now provided 90 percent of the costs, but the County must still come up with another twenty million or so, not to mention the annual operations costs, which add another twenty million or so.  That little inconvenience aside, by 2018 we should have a premier correctional facility, and long-overdue easing to our current jail overcrowding.

I’m hopeful that the County will do some tough negotiating on contracts and salaries between now and then, so we don’t find ourselves in a similar blackmail situation as Governor Brown.  The State prison lobby is his largest political benefactor, so he manages to meet their every demand.

Sheriff Salary Document

At the State level, prison guards are not only very, very well paid, but they are now able to accumulate an unlimited number of vacation days, and exchange them for cash- at their highest salary- when they leave.  If the guards are furloughed, or forced to take time without pay, they get that back in one lump sum as well.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal published an article suggesting that a California prison guard fared better than a Harvard graduate:

“Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great pension, health, dental and vision benefits (forever) and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college, and $124,759 after 20 years…As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone.  Besides, while it costs $200,000 to go to Harvard, you receive $3050 per month for the four months of Cadet Training.”

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Thomas Storke’s Editorial Credo

In light of recent events and the rapidly-changing media landscape in Santa Barbara, here’s a great quote called My Editorial Credo, from an address by Thomas More Storke at Stanford University, June 1951.

I believe that the first obligation of a newspaper editor is to his own community and the area directly influenced by his newspaper.

I believe that an editor and publisher, better than any other single force, can form and develop character for his community.

I believe that with few exceptions, this is a lifetime job; because the development of a community is the slow development of people.

                                                       –from California Editor by Thomas M. Storke, 1958


Sounding Off

By Cheri Rae

I’m sorry to hear the Sound go silent. Young Jeramy Gordon came to town with a good idea and almost no idea what he was getting into. And for a while, he did a fine job with his upstart publication; just about the only person who benefited from the News-Press mess of 2006.

The time was ripe for a change—but, sadly, it died on the vine.

But it wasn’t for lack of talent.

He had lots of help from local professionals who offered their expertise, their community contacts and their mature points of view to this young publisher who was getting on-the-job experience in the volatile publishing world. Many of us worked at far less than our going rate—yes, and sometimes for free—just to help him get his project off the ground.

For a couple of years, Loretta Redd and I were featured columnists—she on Tuesday, me on Thursday; both of us met every Monday afternoon with our young publisher-editor, schooling him weekly in Santa Barbara issues and individuals, politics and priorities.

He gave us an open forum to express our views—and for that I am grateful. And, in return, I won a couple of statewide awards for his publication. I wrote about a number of local issues: the candidacies of JMike (remember him?) and Steve Cushman; the proposals to eliminate the Y at De La Vina and State and institute height limits; well-researched history and preservation pieces. And there were national issues: very personally revealing columns about race, adoption and gun violence. I eventually learned that a member of our community actually nominated that body of work for a Pulitzer Prize—not bad for a new, little local paper.

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Santa Barbara Unitarian Society Courtyard

Santa Barbara virtual reality/ 3D photo of the week by Bill Heller.

Another spot that caught my eye as I was driving around town one evening recently. This beautiful bit of Santa Barbara architecture is the Santa Barbara Unitarian Society on the corner of Santa Barbara and Arrellaga.

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-Bill Heller


EcoFacts: Self Storage

Well… this is actually about stuff, which eventually becomes trash.

So here is one story of stuff, a macro story. Americans spend more on consumer goods than anyone else. This has been really good news for the home organization, container and self storage industries, all apparently recession proof.

In 30 years, average home size has grown 50% while family size has shrunk. Those extra rooms and closets are there for the filling. And happily, stuff has gotten cheaper due to technological advances and manufacturing shifting to lower wage countries. And its value has dropped with the prices, making it more disposable, less needed. If we have it and don’t need it, we usually store it. As we all know, this abundance can be stressful. Realtors sometimes suggest clearing closets because stuffed ones make potential buyers uncomfortable.

Some facts from the Self Storage Association:

  • One in ten U.S. households rent storage space, an increase of 65% in the last 15 years.
  • There are currently around 50,000 self storage facilities in the U.S. covering 2.2 billion sq. ft., or more than 78 square miles.
  • For every person in the U.S. there is 7 sq.ft. of rentable storage space. In short, our entire population could fit under the roofs of these buildings.

The Association offers businesses this ad for their marketing – “Declutterfy – Your Home, Your Office – Your Life!” sounds so good, except that after moving it all out of sight, there’s the having the storage space part.


Santa Barbara Garden Post

August, First Fall Plantings!

Mid August plant winter seedlings in SoCal coastal areas - semi shade.

A treat from blog In My Kitchen Garden – Waltham 29, Green Sprouting Calabrese, & Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli! The joy of planting seeds is you can get varieties not available at nurseries, and plant as many as you like!

August is the time of the turn of the seasons here in coastal SoCal!

It can be blazing hot, with harvests you can’t keep up with, to planting the first seeds of your winter crops! If you have space and want to, another round of fast growers like beans, or transplants of early maturing corn, are plenty successful late summer for early fall harvest. And, as always, plant your year-rounds, beets, bunch onions, carrots, summer lettuces, radish, to keep a colorful variety for your table. Otherwise, keep harvesting and wait for September or October planting.

Design Your Fall Garden!
Come to my talk at the Goleta Library Aug 18, 10 to 11 AM! We’ll get into it in detail!

Get your seeds!
A hint about broccoli – intermingle different varieties for pest prevention!UC study explains

Plant from seeds! As your hot crop plants finish, improve that soil for fall seedlings to be started there. If there isn’t room for full space yet, start a nursery area mid month August in a semi shaded spot – celery, Brassicas: cabbage, brocs, Brussels sprouts, collards, cauliflower, kale babies. Mid-August is one of the best times to plant Swiss chard from seeds! Move plants from the nursery area as space becomes available. But have a plan. Tall plants to the North or on the shady side, then plants of graduated sizes to the South or sunniest areas. If you are starting them in 6 packs or flats, plant mid month to be put out late Sep, Oct. If starting seeds isn’t your thing, too much tending, or you will be away and can’t keep them watered, not to worry! You can wait and do September transplants, Labor Day Weekend is perfect!

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Santa Barbara Greek Festival

By Cheri Rae, as published by Santa Barbara Seasons

With all the talk these days about Greek austerity measures, we Santa Barbarans can only wonder what could be going wrong in that ancient Mediterranean land. For most residents, the closest we ever get to Greece is the annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival held at Oak Park. It’s one of the most joyful weekends of the summer—an epicurean celebration of sumptuous foods, distinctive drinks, soulful music, lively dancing and memorable costumes.

And festival organizers assure us they’re not about to go all stoic on us this summer in Santa Barbara. A tradition for nearly 40 years, Santa Barbara Greek Festival won’t cut back on its 39th annual presentation of Greek food and culture to the community.

The festival originated in a fundraising brainstorming session with parishioners of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, long before they built the remarkable Greek village sanctuary nestled into the Mediterranean foothill setting.

Longtime festival director Mike Pahos gives full credit to Helen Stathis for coming up with the idea that started it all. “She said, ‘You know, on the Saturday before Fiesta week, there are a lot of people here in town, because Fiesta starts on Sunday, but there is not much going on. Let’s have a little picnic at Oak Park; we will serve Greek food, have music and everything, and we will call it The Santa Barbara Greek Fiesta BBQ,’” Pahos recalls.

Photograph by Nell Campbell

”The first festival was from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and afterward, even though we all fell, exhausted, to the floor, we were pleasantly surprised that everyone seemed to enjoy the food, the singing and the dancing.”

That single fundraising barbecue grew into a major annual event for the parish, requiring months of preparation—including planning, publicity, cooperating with a maze of bureaucracies, cooking up old family recipes, and selecting and presenting an array of talent on two stages for two full days of non-stop entertainment. Add managing a small army of volunteers who run an assortment of booths—from the labor-intensive food line to the well-oiled machine that is the pastry booth, the boutique with fine jewelry and even the small chapel where religious items are offered—and the parishioners certainly have their work cut out for them!

Pahos notes an unexpected aspect of Santa Barbara at just the right time that helped ensure the success of the Greek Festival, “There was a very active folk dance community in Santa Barbara, and those dancers were a constant presence on the dance floor, which taught us a valuable lesson: never stop the music!” When the late, great Plaka Restaurant was founded—which featured owner George Alexiades performing his famous table dance—many Santa Barbarans learned the art and considerable fun of Greek dancing. And they couldn’t wait to show off their skill every summer at the Greek Festival.

Photograph by Cheri Rae

The rest is history. The Greeks were joined by the Italian, the German, the Thai, the Chinese, the French, the Caribbean and the Jewish communities—all of which produced similar festivals at Oak Park. “Summer in Santa Barbara was filled with ethnic festivals, unique in the entire country,” says Pahos. “It was magic.”

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