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Opening Day, Play Ball

Opening Day post 2013: A Rite of Spring
Opening Day post 2012: Santa Barbara’s Baseball Legacy

By Cheri Rae

From the patriotic notes of The Star Spangled Banner to the final strains of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, each Dons baseball game played on Warrecker Diamond at Eddie Mathews Field is a link to the great legacy of the past and the shining promise of the future.

It’s the grassy infield, the raked and tamped pitcher’s mound, the carefully chalked lines, the view of the Riviera in the distance, the sight of neighbors hanging over the fences, friends and family filling the stands, cheering on the baseball team.

From the long green stirrups to the crisp, white uniforms, the Dons represent historic Santa Barbara—the City and the School—on their home field and far away.

Over the years these baseball players who have played for this fine school have been called the Donlets, the Horsehiders and the Diamonders; they’ve been known as powerhouses, workhorses, and most of all, a great team that plays a great game with a sense of tradition and character and pride.

In this place, on this field, dreams become reality, boys become men, and history is written for all time.

Play Ball!

1914 dons

Caption 1914 : The 1914 Dons Baseball team, as seen 2014 baseball program published by the Santa Barbara Baseball Parents Association as a fund-raiser for the team. The program incudes the story about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig’s appearance Santa Barbara High on their barnstorming tour of 1927, and a thoughtful tribute to Hall-of-Famer Eddie Mathews by Ron Shelton, both standout Dons players. Shelton, of course, is the award-winning screenwriter of memorable sports films like “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup.”

1924 Dons


Caption 1924 : The 1924 Dons Baseball team, the first year the newly built school was occupied. Note the pinstripes worn by the players, and the suits worn by the coaches.

The programs are available for $5 at the Snack Bar during Dons home games.
Go Dons! (Click to enlarge photos)

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Historic Inspiration for Santa Barbara High Schools Girls’ Basketball Team

The Santa Barbara High School lady Dons will be playing the Division 3 State CIF basketball quarterfinals tonight at 7 P.M., J.R. Richards Gym. They will host Mt. Miguel with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Here is some historic inspiration by Cheri Rae.

Although we usually think of Pearl Chase as a formidable woman of great power, vision and wisdom, she began honing those skills when she attended Santa Barbara High School (class of 1904).

She organized the girls’ basketball team and served as the captain and player/coach. The first season consisted of five games—one game against Santa Paula and three games against Ventura—and Santa Barbara finished with a record of 2-3. As literary editor of the school’s magazine she wrote, “We hope that interest in basket-ball will increase among the girls so that with more practice and skill, the new team may defeat all challengers on the basketball field, and worthily uphold the name of the Santa Barbara High School.”

Basketball team

Santa Barbara High Girls’ basketball team circa 1904. Captain, coach, player: Pearl Chase, center, holding the basketball above her head.

 

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Santa Barbara High School Wall of Fame, 2014

By Cheri Rae

There are times when Santa Barbara simply and quietly reveals itself as a place populated by individuals of extraordinary talent and vision that seem to exceed its size.

The annual induction of honorees on the Santa Barbara High School Wall of Fame is one of those times; the 2014 ceremony took place on Friday, March 14. Honorees are chosen by students of the school’s Leadership Class, along with members of the Alumni Association to honor great success stories of alumni and to inspire students of today. Previous honorees (since the Wall was established in the main hallway in 2002) include illustrious alumni in all forms of endeavor, including Santa Barbara visionary Pearl Chase; innovative financier Charles Schwab; surfer Tom Curren; clothing designer Karen Kane; modern dance innovator Martha Graham and brilliant screenwriter Ron Shelton.

Inducted into the Wall of Fame for 2014 were five distinguished Santa Barbarans well-worth celebrating:

Stephen A. Benton (1941-2003), a pioneer in holographic imaging who studied at Harvard, taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and held 14 patents. He was responsible for medical imaging and the creation of the rainbow hologram that appears on credit cards. When he was a student at Santa Barbara High, he was active in the science, radio and Latin clubs, and he won the prestigious Westinghouse Talent Search.

John Campilio, Class of 1953. With his handlebar mustache and extensive activities in supporting student athletics and establishing student scholarships, he is well known throughout the community. Along with his co-honoree, Jack Huffard, he has been instrumental in the Historic Landmark status of Santa Barbara High School. Concluding his remarks he stated, “Santa Barbara, Hail to thee.”

Jack Hufford, Class of 1950. An always-active alumnus, he oversees special school maintenance projects—including curbs, flags, sidewalks and trash cans, and has been a force to be reckoned with in raising the funds for the recent façade restoration that began in 2011, and was completed in July. He noted, “I was proud to graduate from this beautiful school ranked #4 in the world—and we’re working our butts off to take care of it.”

Ward Kimball (1914-2002). The legendary Disney animator drew Tweedledum and Tweedledee; the Cheshire Cat and Jiminy Cricket, among other memorable characters. He won an Oscar for the cartoon “It’s Tough to be a Bird,” and worked on many Disney movies and television shows. When a student at Santa Barbara High School, he played trombone in the ROTC band and graduated in the Class of 1932.

Bill Oliphant, Class of 1964. Coach O, as he’s affectionately known on the baseball field where he still coaches the frosh/soph team, recently had the field at Santa Barbara Junior High named for him. He expressed his overwhelm at receiving the honor, and remarked, “I loved coming to school here.” He told a story about when a player from Buena was heckled, “Hey, man, what’s a Don?” He answered, “Something you’ll never be.” Counseling the students in the audience, he noted, “You have 720 days in high school. Make it count.”

The Alumni Association at Santa Barbara High School, more than 4,000 strong, is a close-knit community of dedicated to remembering the accomplishments of the past; helping the students of today; and building toward the future—taking seriously the school’s motto: “Once a Don, Always a Don.”

For more information: http://sbhs.tierranet.com

WALL OF FAME MAR 2014

Wall of Fame Recipients include (left to right) jack Hufford; Bill Oliphant; Christopher Benton on behalf of his late brother, Stephen; John Campilio; photo of Ward Kimball. Photo courtesy Tim Putz.

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Happy 125th Birthday Pearl Chase

classic pearl chase with flower 80 years oldToday we celebrate the birthday of Pearl Chase, which ought to be a day of recognition in this city that owes her so much. So much of the natural and architectural beauty we see around our community is directly attributable to her influence and vision.

In her day she wielded great power, but never held political office. Throughout her long life she was honored by organizations and individuals near and far. In her later years, the community gathered for commemorate her milestone birthdays.” – Cheri Rae

Hear are some of the great stories, memories and photos of Pearl Chase to run on Santa Barbara View over the years:

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Happy Birthday, Miss Chase: A Quasquicentennial Observation (125 years)

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150In 1888 the following events happened: the establishment of Hotel del Coronado; the writing of “Casey at the Bat”; the founding of the City of San Pedro; the creation of the National Geographic Society; the development of the first photos on Kodak film—and most importantly for the City of Santa Barbara, the birth of Pearl Chase.

Saint Barbara gave her name to the City of Santa Barbara, but the woman who shaped this city was Miss Pearl Chase.

College Cutie

College Years

Pearl Chase was the city’s most influential woman of the 20th century. With her interests in public health and education; the arts and architecture; urban planning and environmental integrity, she was a true Renaissance woman who blazed her own unique trail, and compelled others to follow in her footsteps.

She commanded attention wherever she went. She learned early how to make friends and influence people. She demanded action from individuals. She expected excellence in civic involvement. She fearlessly led without aspirations for elective office. She relied on righteous indignation as a political tool.

“Government officials are really temporary—they come and go—and this constant turnover means that many citizen organizations have far greater continuity and relative importance in community affairs,” she explained. “Don’t assume leadership will come from the professions: you often won’t find it there. If you’re to succeed, you must be led by citizens and citizen groups, with the interest and support of key public agencies.”

When I moved to Santa Barbara in 1989, the first historic figure I heard about was Pearl Chase. I was fascinated by stories of her leadership in setting high standards for this community in every level of civic involvement. I came to admire her fearlessness in speaking truth to power throughout her long and extraordinary life.

And, when I was moved to action as a citizen interested in historic preservation and alarmed about overdevelopment, I was inspired by her belief in citizen oversight of governmental action, and her determination to make Santa Barbara a better place for visitors and residents alike.

platebook2

Book Plate

Thanks to her example, I learned to find my voice as a journalist and a community activist in standing up and speaking out. I have long focused on a variety of quality-of-life issues that Miss Chase believed in and worked so hard to address.

In recent years, Santa Barbara has seen relentless moves to undermine, un-do and discredit the accomplishments of Miss Chase and those who worked with her to create this special place admired the world over.

Some claim that the grace, style and dignity she brought to this town are passé. Others insist that buildings should be taller, the population denser, and that there’s something elitist about heeding the past while planning for the future.

But here are still some residents who have learned from her example, who spend their time, treasure and talent to continue to make Santa Barbara a special place to live, work and play—and serve the greater good.

Pearl Chase relentlessly communicated her message using the tools of her time: personal contact, the telephone and the mail service. If she were with us today, it’s easy to imagine her blogging away, uploading videos to YouTube, posting comments on Facebook and using her own Twitter account to get the word out about current issues and events. As she noted at the age of 80: “My job is still the same. Get the message across. And make politicians and others feel they must pay attention to the people.”

signature

Signature, Click to Enlarge

Part visionary, part pragmatic community organizer, Pearl Chase associated with presidents and politicians; philanthropists and forward thinkers; influential friends close to home and across the nation. She enlisted their help to make this special community a better place.

In her time, she succeeded.

The city of Santa Barbara is sometimes called a jewel, a gem, a treasure; few visitors or even residents realize how many facets of this beautiful place—so highly prized and richly valued—can be traced back to a woman named Pearl.

November 16th, Pearl Chase’s birthday, ought to be celebrated as Pearl Chase Day in Santa Barbara, the city that owes her so much. So much of the natural and architectural beauty we see around our community is directly attributable to the influence and vision of Pearl Chase.

Today, 125 years after her birth, it’s time to remember what she did. And learn how she got it done.

–From the Introduction to Pearl Chase: First Lady of Santa Barbara, Olympus Press, 2013

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Fifty, 100, 150 Years Ago…

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150The day President Kennedy was shot. The worst day in the world. For the entire world.

For this then-10-year-old it was the end of the world. The end of childhood innocence. The end of feeling safe. Then end of America the beautiful.

It had been so very sad, in the summer, just a few months before, as we agonized over the premature birth of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. My grandmother, like so many grandmothers, devotedly prayed over rosary beads for the recovery of the infant son of our handsome young president and his beautiful wife. They looked so happy together, the young family, that nothing bad should ever happen to them. But it did.

He had something called hyaline membrane disease that kept him in an incubator, struggling to breathe until he couldn’t anymore, and the President’s tiny little baby died.

First the helpless, brand-new baby. Then, just a few months later his own father, the most powerful man in the world. Tragically, they were gone. For no reason. No reason that made any sense at all.

Poor Jackie Kennedy in her blood-stained pink dress, and then nothing but black, black, black. Poor little Caroline, left without her daddy just days before her sixth birthday. Poor little John-John so precious in his brave salute to his fallen father.

JFK50 logoIf our perfect First Family cold be torn apart, it felt like no family was safe. There was odd comfort in spending days glued to the black-and-white television where the presumed killer was—shockingly—killed. Live. While I was watching. The sad reporters made endless comparisons to the assassination of President Lincoln, and all the eerie coincidences to that equally terrible time so many years before. Another wonderful president who was a great hope for the nation.

In my 10-year-old mind, as I watched and wondered, I struggled to make sense of the past, the present, the future. The only thing I could come up with was to memorize the 100-year-old Gettysburg Address, that seemed to link the two tragic figures together over time and space.

“Four score and seven years ago…” I studied as I watched, squished in a safe little place I made for myself, between the slipcovered couch and the television console that brought us the news.  Surrounded with books and papers, some pillows and blankets, I memorized while mesmerized during those endless, bleak and empty days between the shooting and the funeral.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” What kind of a place was Dallas, I thought, what a terrible, horrible place where our President was killed. I wouldn’t want to go there, or even to Texas.

“That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  What would happen to America, when the only president I ever knew about, ever cared about—ever would care about, for all I knew—could be shot dead with whole world watching.

The historic words somehow provided some comfort to a little girl who felt so lost.

There was no giving thanks that late November, only sadness everywhere. Fifty years later, I can’t even imagine I can remember anything at all that happened 50 years ago. But there it is, seared in the mind of a little girl, the most vivid of all childhood memories:  a horrifying prelude to the violent acts that followed and defined a generation—at once so hopeful and optimistic, yet ever-aware of the possibility of a tragic end at any moment in the America where we grew up.

***

On a Related Note: On the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, filmmaker Ken Burns has challenged Americans to memorize the short and moving speech for a new project called “Learn the Address.” Participants who have submitted videotapes of their recitation include President Obama, Stephen Colbert, Usher, Martha Stewart, along with countless ordinary citizens and students across the country.

Burns’s film will be broadcast on PBS in April, 2014, to benefit the Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, a boarding school for boys with learning differences.  To learn more about how to participate:  http://www.learntheaddress.org.

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A little Election Day Inspiration to Get Out and Vote While You Still Can! Get your Ballot to City Hall by 8:00 TONIGHT!

By Cheri Rae

My correspondence with a City Staffer today:
Hi,
Thank you for working with my 21-year-old daughter, so that she could vote while she’s on her European adventure.

She called me today and was proud that she has “voted in every single election” since she turned 18.

I’m pleased that you would faciliate her participation in that essential part of democracy and very personal act of voting. I appreciate that you extended yourself to make that possible; it’s a civics lesson she will never forget. (And neither will the rest of the family!)

Thanks again!
All best,
Cheri Rae

City Staffer’s Reply :
Thank you for the compliment. I was very happy to help her. I truly believe in our election system and I usually give my grandchildren, when they turn 18, a registration affidavit with a bow on it and make sure they vote as well. It is a very important part of our democracy.

Thank you

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One Day More to Cast your Vote

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150The rising chorus of candidates proclaiming their virtues will come to an end tomorrow: no more commercials, brochures or solicitations for financial support.

And when it all comes down to it, we’ll likely prove once again that the local practice of campaigning by parading candidates in front of the public in endless forums is virtually meaningless. Because the real work and heavy lifting is all behind-the scenes in endless fund-raisers and endorsement gathering that really make the difference.

Most of this is done well before any of us is paying any attention to what’s going on behind our backs. Before it’s in front of our noses, it’s too late to make a difference. And that’s the message that’s getting through: Hardly anyone is even bothering to vote.

Nothing could be simpler than filling out a ballot while sitting on the couch and returning it in its own postage-paid envelope. But our mail-only election is indicating a return rate hovering around 30 percent.

It has long appeared that the front-runners are the ones with the most money—with a couple of candidates raising well over $100,000 in hopes of securing their seats. If money is the only thing that matters, why bother voting? Because voting still matters, each and every one.

Some people still believe in the civic duty of voting, no matter what. I know of two examples of Santa Barbara residents who are currently far from home taking the time and making the effort to vote in this election. A teacher who is currently working in the Netherlands received her ballot when a friend hand-carried it back and forth on a recent visit. And a student, currently working as a nanny in Italy, made arrangements with the City Clerk’s office to submit her voting electronically.

Maybe these two responsible citizens were more enthusiastic from afar; they didn’t have to deal with the bought-and-paid-for glossy mailers, or even the silly dust-ups over who-is-giving-money-and-endorsements-to-whom-and-why-they-were-selected-and-what-the-expectations-are-when-no-one-will-say.

They cared enough to make a special effort. And so should you.

One day before an important election in our city, I am embarrassed to see what has come of politics as usual, when voting seems far less important than the amount of money raised.

There’s something wrong when wealthy candidates simply loan themselves big bucks to fuel their campaigns. There’s something seriously wrong when the impressive amount of money raised early on is used to intimidate potential candidates from entering a race. And there’s something really wrong when most of the residents of the city feel powerless in their ability to make a difference that they don’t even vote at all.

I understand the cynicism that comes from that; however, campaign finance reform is a discussion for another day. Until then, get out that ballot and vote.

You have one day more to choose among an interesting cast of characters on the ballot—some who express idealism and are not bought-and-paid-for in the usual way. Vote for one, two or three of them to represent you on City Council. The only way to confound the force of big money is for a big turnout that turns conventional wisdom upside-down.

Let your voice be heard. Fill out your ballot today and get it to City Hall before 8 p.m. on Tuesday night. You have no right to complain if you don’t participate. VOTE!

Drop Off Locations:
City of Santa Barbara 
City Hall – Lobby
735 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Calvary Baptist Church
 Sizer Hall
 736 W. Islay Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Franklin Neighborhood Center 
1136 E. Montecito Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Grace Lutheran Church 
3869 State Stree t
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

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Drive! They Say.

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150We hear endless discussions, predictions and lectures about turning Santa Barbara into a car-free paradise where everyone walks and rolls to destinations all over town.  Candidates and council members, enthusiastic enviros and young professionals exude confidence over this new human-powered lifestyle they are determined to usher into reality.

Good luck to them, but I have to wonder what they’re thinking and who they’re talking to.

Like have they been in contact with many teens lately? Particularly those who are approaching the magical age of 15½ when they can qualify for their Learner’s Permit and merge into the lane where they can Learn to Drive.

There’s a nice little industry out on the streets where steel-nerved instructors take hefty checks from parents in exchange for driving lessons for their kids—saving the family from unnecessary stress, yelling, tantrums, or fear of collisions. And plenty of kids with their Learner’s Permits are begging their parents to allow them to drive anywhere and everywhere as often as possible.

When the 16th birthday dawns, it’s finally time to earn the Golden Ticket to Freedom and Adulthood: the Driver’s License. Some, as my own son did, make their appointments for the first moment of the first day they can officially take the driving test. Others, like my own daughter wait a year or two, but the idea of not driving—ever, or rarely—never enters their minds at all.

Truth is, driving is high up there on the list of teen essentials, along with smartphones, texting and hanging out. Just take a look at the completely packed student parking lots at our local high schools—and the fine luxury cars so many kids are driving from home to school and all over town. Guaranteed—those kids aren’t purchasing those shiny BMWs, Audis and Tacomas, so include parents in support of the youthful driving lifestyle.

My kids have been raised six blocks from State Street, and as a family we have walked downtown and throughout the neighborhood; biked everywhere; and hiked trails locally—and far away—since they were born.  We were even featured in a front page newspaper story about families who walk together, and photographed on the stone steps of the Riviera; COAST’s Eva Inbar was also featured in that report.

Ironically, we even have the license plate Walk SB to accompany our longtime guidebook, “Walk Santa Barbara.” It goes on a car. As much as we promote walking and hiking in our business, and our personal life, we know that cars are still essential in our modern life. And pretending they’re not is just plain silly.
WALK SB PLATE
When my daughter enjoyed her cycling adventures with Santa Barbara Middle School; when my son takes his big downhill mountain bike trips to Whistler and Mammoth, driving is the mode of transportation that takes them to their destinations where they bike on trails. For them, for many—and as the former editor of several cycling publications, I daresay most—bicycling is a fun activity, a sport, not their preferred mode of transportation.

Even the biggest proponents of the biking lifestyle in the current race for council have regularly driven to campaign events.

Sure, it would be great if we all rode bikes like they do in Amsterdam. But they ride there on specially designated, separate bicycle lanes where everyone, young and old, pedals in relative safety. But that’s far from the reality of Santa Barbara, where even the most careful cyclist is forced to pedal right alongside distracted, multi-tasking speeding drivers; dodging parked cars, unthinking individuals who fling open car doors, and even pedestrians who dart unexpectedly into the congested streets.

But this notion of a magical care-free, car-free lifestyle is a nice one—and it is about to be on full display in Santa Barbara as enthusiastic devotees plan for Santa Barbara Open Streets—a one-day shut-down of 2 ½ miles of Cabrillo Boulevard, from the Bird Refuge to the Funk Zone. They’re expecting 15,000 participants in this celebration of human power that seems like Earth Day by the Sea. Expect Zumba and yoga classes; street performances; workshops in bike maintenance and even a stroller fashion show.

The Community Environmental Council has arranged for a 5-person “Conference Bicycle,” which will offer individuals the opportunity to share a ride with political officials and community leaders.

No word on where all those who arrive by car will park them, but to avoid headaches, participants are encouraged to bike, walk or carpool down to the zone of wheel fun.

The event is sponsored by COAST (Coalition for Sustainable Transportation); Traffic Solutions (a program of SBCAG); and presenting sponsor, Yardi Systems, among others, and it raised more than $5000 on indiegogo’s crowd-funding site. For more information: http://www.sbopenstreets.org/history/

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The Super-Superintendent: Dr. David Cash’s State of the Schools Address

By Cheri Rae

Dr. David Cash

Dr. David Cash

When Dr. Cash speaks, everybody listens. Not just because he has a booming voice that resonates, but because he has something important to say, particularly when it comes to giving a State of the Schools address, as he did at a community luncheon on Wednesday, October 23 at the Cabrillo Arts Pavilion.

A large crowd drawn from a cross-section of the community—including parents, educators, administrators, school board members, business and non-profit leaders and politicos—got an inspiring message about educational changes coming our way, and a school district ready to cope with them.

Above all, his positive message was one accented with appreciation for a generous community that supports our schools, and for the teachers who interact daily with our children, and who are required to implement all kinds of changes with little time to prepare. As he put it, “If you know a teacher, give ‘em a hug.”

He spoke about everything new: Common Core Standards; State Testing of Student Achievement; The Local Control Funding Formula (that allows more decision-making at the local level) and the Local Control Accountability Plan (that requires public input into budgetary decisions).

He stated something we haven’t heard in education in a while: “Not everybody needs to go to Harvard! We need plumbers and electricians,” he noted, and explained that the new Common Core emphasizes “Critical thinking, collaboration, and communication,” all skills that benefit hands-on learning.

Cash also reminded attendees of the one-year anniversary of the district’s Strategic Plan—the first one in years. It features four major aims:

1)     Life, Career and College Ready Students
2)     Student, Family and Community Engagement
3)     Organizational Transformation
4)     Facilities Improvement

The Plan will be implemented with special commitment to Common Core; a technology learning environment in all schools; cultural proficiency; involvement of parents and the community; and early childhood education. It’s a big opportunity for educational transformation, and as he noted, “Performance doesn’t change unless learning occurs.”

After his prepared remarks, Cash returned to candidly answer written questions that ranged from one asking if there was a financial windfall for the district after the RDA was abolished (answer, no, because the State just took the money—prompting Cash to take a trip to Sacramento next Monday to plead his case), to one asking about dealing with transgender issues (the district has been dealing with these sensitive issues for a long time, on an individual basis, and the approach is working).

The man who inspired the district’s new motto: “Every Child; Every Chance; Every Day,” closed out by offering some personal anecdotes that reveal his level of compassion and understanding of individual students. He read a thoughtful letter by a high school student who learned a good deal about herself and others by the fine example of an admirable teacher who treated every student with respect. And he recounted how a junior high student recently told him—not knowing who he was—that thanks to the restorative justice program, school was no longer a place where he went “to get in trouble.”

And then Dr. Cash had one more statement to make, “If you know a teacher, give ‘em a hug.”

The event was sponsored by the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

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Election Questions, or In this Campaign Season, Are we Treating Santa Barbara Like a Rare Jewel or a Cheap Bauble?

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150How does a voter find truth and integrity amongst all the campaign diversions in order to determine who would be the superior stewards of our special city for the next four years?

The state of our multi-months-long “campaign,” with its tedious line-up of forums, means no candidate ever has to answer more than a surface question. Hearing the practiced, smooth delivery of well-crafted talking points just isn’t very revealing, and hearing the word salads of also-rans is just plain irritating.

As I’ve sat in the audience of multiple forums, I’ve had time—when my mind admittedly wanders—to formulate a handful of questions about this campaign and others. I’ll just throw them out there for your consideration, in case you haven’t had time—or interest—in following the local political scene.

In general:

1)     How did the political parties take charge of our supposedly non-partisan local elections?
2)     And how did both parties get so splintered?
3)     Why don’t our “leaders” come together for much-needed campaign reform so that fund-raising isn’t such an important factor in who can even attempt to run—much less win a seat?
4)     What will it take to get a significant proportion of local voters to do more than complain—and actually vote?
5)     Why do candidates brag about “balancing a budget” when that’s one of their requirements of the job they were elected to perform?
6)     How do we inspire genuine and viable minority and independent candidates to run for City Council?
7)     Is this mail-in election actually worth it when an undisclosed number of voters don’t get their ballots?

In this race:

1)     Is City Council a full-time commitment or, a part-time hobby, or a stepping-stone to higher office?
2)     Will the voters decide that those who have already had their chance in elected office—recently and a long time ago—get another opportunity? Or will they take a chance on committed newcomers?
3)     Which three candidates think big enough to hire a well-qualified new City Attorney, after Steve Wiley’s retirement in December?
4)     Several candidates regularly tout their non-profit experience—many of which have experienced financial, efficiency and management problems: how does that non-profit experience qualify them to balance the needs of the community in governing the city?
5)     When candidates behave disagreeably in their performances in forums and in negative advertising, will we expect any different behavior if they gain a seat on council?
6)     How much of a factor are endorsements when voters don’t even know the criteria they’re based upon? Do long lists of endorsements really mean that the candidate is worthy of our support—or popular with a partisan group?
7)     What happens to the election results if there is a challenge to a particular candidate’s obvious conflict of interest?

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“Dislecksia: The Movie” A Review, A Request

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150We’re smack in the middle of Dyslexia Awareness Month—which inspired me to hop in the car on Sunday morning and drive down to L.A. to take in a screening of a newly released independent film, “Dislecksia: The Movie.”

It was well-worth the 200-mile trip to view this accessible approach to a serious subject. Filmmaker Harvey Hubbell V (who has dyslexia) has created a personal documentary that informs, enlightens and entertains viewers about a subject that affects 1 in 5 individuals. But as he reveals with person-on-the-street interviews, far too many know far too little about such a common condition.

He tells the story—his own story—about the smart kids who enter school with excitement and enthusiasm—who end up crushed and confused by third grade because they struggle so much with the printed word.

As they get older, they are the kids who find every reason not to read out loud—and when they do make the whole classroom uncomfortable. The ones who have trouble taking notes in class; who look out the window while the teacher delivers an endless lecture. The ones who excel at storytelling in vivid detail, yet who have great difficulty writing it down: misspellings, poor penmanship and confusing one homonym with another may characterize their written work.

They are the ones who frustrate themselves, their parents and their teachers in their long journey from one joyless grade to another—the ones who just don’t seem to live up to their potential. Nothing seems to help, and no one seems to know what to do.

Too often these kids are considered unmotivated, hopeless cases who just don’t care about doing well in school. Too often they are blamed for their failure to get with the program in school—yet they may have great success outside of the classroom. Hubbell provides interviews with the Emmy-award-winning Billy Bob Thornton; the brilliant lawyer David Boies (who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore) and shares his own personal story that is both heartbreaking and heartfelt in its simplicity—a story that feels all-too-familiar, certainly to this mother of a son with dyslexia.  I was moved to laughter and tears during the 84-minute film.

dislecksia posterThe movie presents dyslexia researchers in countries from Finland to China to the U.S. who are studying the unique wiring and neurological differences in the brains of those with dyslexia—as well as some innovative and creative approaches to teaching that benefit everyone.

Without appropriate intervention and specific, research-based teaching methods—typically found only in pricey private schools scattered across the country—students with dyslexia may never reach their potential for success, and they may work far too hard along the way.  Yet, they may end up as the best and the brightest, the most innovative thinkers; the most creative artists; the best athletes among us.
Continue Reading →

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A Vacancy in Leadership: Incumbents Allow Taxation; Ignore Enforcement of Zoning Law

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150Several years ago I took a class in how to run your own Bed-and-Breakfast. By the time I learned about all the hoops I’d have to run through to establish such a business the appeal was long-gone. Safety, parking and ADA requirements; emergency escape plans, fire extinguishers, liability concerns were just some of the issues I’d have to deal with, which pretty much ended my interest.

But today, I—like so many others in this town and across the country—could just ignore all those rules that used to apply, and turn my house—or parts of it—into a hotel.

Plenty of my neighbors do—and so do yours.

Never mind that Santa Barbara’s Municipal Code only allows owners in most neighborhoods to rent their homes for 30 days or more at a time. I could easily get away with daily, weekend, weekly or holiday rentals.

It’s not legal, but the City looks the other way, See, our civic leaders figured out that they could gain a nice little windfall from these illegal businesses by charging TOTs and ignoring current zoning laws. And there’s no word at all on room rentals ushered in by the folks at AirBnB—which is now subject of an investigation by the Attorney General in the state of New York.

Instead, they simply leave enforcement up to one neighbor to turn in another.

Not exactly the way to create peaceful neighborhood co-existence, but these days the City is doing everything it can to Make Money.

Institutional hypocrisy, even disregarding the usually all-important Municipal Code and zoning matters, be damned.

The current City Council Members have been careful, though, not to write down this policy, just to issue verbal directions instead.

But leaders in other cities have recognized that turning homes into hotels has a negative effect on the quality of life in neighborhoods—and they’re doing something about it. Continue Reading →

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The Big Read and “The Things They Carried”

Literary Notes: The Big Read and “The Things They Carried”

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150When I was in high school, and long before, images from the battlefield in the seemingly endless Vietnam War were beamed into our house every night. The daily, weekly, monthly toll was tallied; there were young men I knew who were destroyed when the military draft or their decision to enlist turned their lives upside-down—,sometimes ending them—whose families never recovered from tragic losses.

And like so many other families, we had our own domestic battleground at the dining room table when my parents supported the war and I supported the war protesters—and even became one when Kent State ripped the nation, proving why we could not trust anyone over 30. “They” might shoot “us” and in some horrible way justify it.

So traumatic were those years of growing up—tortured by endless assassinations that ripped away any reason to be idealistic—that I have avoided any reminders of that awful war and its terrible affect in country, and in our country.

Cover of T3CLast year, I ventured out to see the replica of The Wall—where I ran into a friend who broke down in wracking sobs as he recalled his Army experiences—and now, I am reading “The Things They Carried,” the classic book by Tim O’Brien. The beautifully written book with its impossible-to-forget, woven-together stories brings the reality of the war back into our homes just as vividly as it was televised so many years ago.

It is the selection for “The Big Read,” our public library’s annual program to engage the community in one single, important book that deserves our attention.

It is also required reading for my son’s Junior English class at Santa Barbara High.  The assignment could not be more timely. Several events associated with the book have been scheduled, beginning with a First Thursday kickoff October 3  with a real Vietnam-era Huey helicopter on Anapamu in front of the Library, with veterans giving guided tours. Panel discussions about the book will occur at several locations throughout the community; dramatic readings and movie screenings have been scheduled, and the author himself will be appearing at the Marjorie Luke Theater on Wednesday, October 23.

For more information: http://www.neabigread.org/communities/?community_id=1990

This book powerfully details the lessons of the past that we inexplicably continue to ignore decades later, leading to tragic, perpetual war, with real-life consequences, then and now. I will carry it with me for years to come. I suggest pick it up, too.

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The Loraxes and the Arborist

By Cheri Rae

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

–Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

cherilogo-150x150When the City Arborist/Urban Forest Superintendent Tim Downey was summoned recently to appear before the Historic Landmarks Commission, the subject was, of course, trees. But not just any trees. Specifically, he was asked to report on the health of the Historic Doremus Stone Pines of the 300 to 800 blocks of Anapamu Street, which have long been designated City Historic Landmarks.

A Little History: Those mature Italian Stone Pines form a pleasantly cool, green canopy on Anapamu even the hottest day; they smell like a forest in the middle of the city, and they provide valuable natural habitat for local creatures and even other plants. On one of the trees, an opportunistic jade plant has taken up residence, high above the ground.

Beyond that, they were planted by two important historical figures in Santa Barbara botany: Dr. Augustus Boyd Doremus, who brought the seeds from the French Riviera, and his friend, Dr. Francesco Franchesci, who propagated them. Dr. Doremus (the City’s first Parks Superintendent) planted the seeds all along Anapamu Street, around 1908. The trees typically have a life span of about 150 to 200 years in optimal conditions.

When those seeds were originally planted, the street was a narrow gravel road, and the trees were free to spread their roots and limbs. Modern life has paved this piece of paradise, adding asphalt and concrete, encasing the root structure and stressing their ability to find deep water. The tough trees have buckled sidewalks, swallowed up sandstone hitching posts and cracked curbs and roadways in their struggle to survive modern life. Call it Mother Nature fighting back.

The landmarked trees have been a source of pride and have been prioritized as something worthy of great care in this town for more than a century. A careful program of trimming the roots and the tops of the trees even passed muster with Pearl Chase, who was very fond of them.

treePresent-Day Problems: But the problem now is that one of the trees was cut down a couple of weeks ago, without any advance notice to the usual powers-that-be who usually weigh-in on such matters.

The members of the HLC didn’t know about it; neither did the city employees who staff the counter and typically hand out the appropriate paperwork to allow a decision to be made about the condition of the tree.

And, the public was not informed in advance either. The big, old tree was not tagged before it was chopped down, leaving a sad, ugly stump in its place.
Continue Reading →

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