Editor’s note:Santa Barbara resident Albert Mercado, a recipient of the Patriots Award from the Patriots Association, submitted this letter to the News-Press shortly before he passed away. The News-Press decided to publish Mr. Mercado’s thoughts posthumously.
My son Franco — who enjoys volunteering with programs that deliver meals to the low-income seniors who are homebound — tells me that one of the most gratifying feelings is to see and experience the smiles and expressions of gratitude he witnesses from all the recipients.
Hearing their sad stories and being able to offer some solace and offer them perhaps their only daily meal and see how they appreciate our services really makes up his day.
But unfortunately, some time ago we learned that this service, which has helped low-income seniors for 47 years, came to an end because of a lack of federal funds.
One has to ask how is it possible that in a county that is among the highest federal taxpayers, its own needy citizens cannot be helped. Where is our representative to the federal government, whose main job is to serve the community that sends him or her to Washington, D.C., to recover as much as those taxes for local consumption?
One learns that during the announcement of the closing of the senior service. our congressman, Mr. Salud Carbajal, was packing packages for the deployed military. Which again is a very meritorious action, but one has to realize that the function of the representative is to serve their constituents first and, if successful, engage in other activities. Why do we always have to depend on the good will of private citizens or institutions to rectify these situations?
The fact that the goodwill of the citizens overcomes the lack of federal resources makes our representatives most inefficient. Other major social problems such as the exploding number of homeless individuals, the lack of low housing, the cost of education, the cleaning of the environment, the effects of the coronavirus on businesses and private individuals are some of the issues that need equal resources as well as attention from our representatives.
Santa Barbara County during the last six years has sent to Washington billions of dollars in taxes. Our representative, Mr. Carbajal, can only bring back home a miniscule amount, which does not even start to pay for some of the needs. Most of the time, the money that our district receives is pre -assigned to issues that are not primordial. It is a very well-known fact that the most successful societies are those where the consumers and not the politicians decide how to use the funds.
Many other districts that pay much less in taxes have representatives who recover a much greater amount.
In many cases, money speaks louder than some obscure law being introduced. The No. 1 task for a district representative is to lobby for their district in Washington and try to recover as much as possible of the paid taxes for local use (bring home the bacon).
The performance of a representative is not measured on how good of a party person he or she is or how they follow the mandates of their congressional bosses. The performance is measured on how they follow directions and help the only bosses they have, their constituents.
One may say Mr. Carbajal is fairly new. He has been in office for less than six years and does not know all the ropes. But the problem is that the congressional district that includes Santa Barbara County during approximately the last 20 years has had a tremendous handicap.
We had congressional representatives who were among the worst in recovering funds.
First, we had Lois Capps, who in bringing home the bacon was ranked among the lowest 10% in Congress. Now we have Mr. Carbajal, who is closely following those steps.
They both were very good in towing the party policy and almost to a perfection following mandates from their party bosses. In some cases, due to the inability of the representative to bring the money back, the county — at additional expenses — had to send to Washington other officials to basically request for more money.
The county needs a representative to work on local issues first — and once these are resolved, embark on other grandiose bipartisan issues that are continuously being advertised.
The actual efficiency measure rests on how much of our taxes are employed for the local benefit, not on how the representative is trying to enact some obtuse laws that most of the citizens do not understand and do not follow most of the time.
The district is in dire need of funds. Mr. Carbajal was not able to bring home the bacon. We need a completely different approach.
Brad Allen will try to represent us in Washington since he understands that he would work for the district and not for his party bosses.
Foreman, Santa Barbara Grand Jury 2006-2007