DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan
“Republics decline into democracies, and democracies degenerate into despotisms.”
The definition of vulnerable is a person who needs special care, support or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect. Who exactly are these most vulnerable needing protection, referred to by the city council and others? Don’t we all fall into the category of vulnerable at any given time?
Still, it seems like the battle cry to shame whoever is not on board with any program they are proposing. It is often tied to a group asking for money for the “poor unfortunates” or for one group attacking another for not going along.
The idea for the Santa Barbara Police Oversight Committee was a result of the Black Lives Matter assertions that unjustifiably, people of color have more contact with law enforcement. Several members of the Santa Barbara City Council have spoken of those who fear police officers as a vulnerable population.
During public comment, three callers complained that 1) the audience was white, and 2) that “… just like the April 22 meeting – a room full of white cops.” Why are they allowed to play the race card like that in a public meeting? Isn’t this an example of abuse that makes for a vulnerable population?
About a “room full of white cops”: The diversity of the police department is pretty even, with 71 people of color and 107 whites.
The Santa Barbara City Council approved moving forward with staff recommendations for the controversial Citizen Police Oversight Committee. The upshot is the City Administrator’s Office will handle police oversight in concert with a revised Police and Fire Commission.
The new city administrator assistant, Barbara Anderson, who filled a vacancy and was hired at $125,000 a year, will lead the new police oversight efforts in addition to her duties as the coordinator with external agencies on homelessness, assisting with legislative and intergovernmental relations as well as other projects. It’s a savings to the city of $300,000 to $600,000 and no new department. A CFC member praised Ms. Anderson on her history of working with the homeless as an employee with SBAct.
However, the CFC was visibly upset that the recommendations did not create a new city department, nor was the CFC allowed to be part of the hiring of the oversight manager. City Council agreed that since no analysis of the police department was done before the CFC’s study, they would contract with the Office of Independent Review for a strategic analysis of key functions of the police department. The proverbial cart before the horse.
Speaking of carts, the Street Vendors Ordinance was passed by the Santa Barbara City Council in February. Now they are everywhere. Why are the grocery stores made to pay a living wage, and everything that goes with a storefront, yet anyone can set up a wooden lean-to, attach boxes of produce and anything goes? Now produce and goods are even being sold from the trunks of cars.
Obviously, if codes were being enforced, it would be nearly impossible to procure the staffing to chase the offenders down. These are not “local entrepreneurs” for whom Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez championed. Rather they are a part of an organized operation south of Santa Barbara.
It’s incongruous that the rents are so high here, but our streets are beginning to look like a cruise ship stop in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We said this as a warning, but bears repeating, how will we attract the clientele who can pay the city’s hotel transient occupancy tax, which keeps our general fund solvent, when our town resembles a $300 weekend party cruise?
We are careening into a recession. Ask City Hall. Some of the people there are unnerved and deservedly so.
We happily acknowledge the numerous press releases from the city, which are evidence of transparency and information to the public. Is this the new mayor or the new city administrator? Either way, we are well pleased. Especially for the hotel moratorium that is in the works — with a return date of June 28.
Still, it seems contradictory to penalize owners of vacant buildings, as discussed at the same meeting. It works to drive out private property owners. Several of our city council members during budget hearings pleaded for more taxpayer money to give to the Housing Authority for more low-income housing units. In fact, while the number discussed was $200,000.
Councilmember Meagan Harmon chimed, “What? … I thought it was more like $2 (million) to 5 million…” Her sense of fiscal reality does not ring our bell.
Where is the rental income that the Housing Authority receives? And the Housing Authority has no responsibility to pay property taxes. Consider the authority operates 2,000 units times $500 a month (we think probably more like below-market rate of $2,000 a month) equals 1 million dollars a month times 12. That’s an annual rental income of $12 million.
Why are we subsidizing a profitable business, on top of the subsidy from the federal government in housing and Section 8 vouchers for which we are already on the hook?
Let’s look for some silver linings in last week’s primary election.
For wins, we have more hopeful chances and choices in November — Gov. Gavin Newsom vs. state Sen. Brian Dahle, U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal vs Dr. Brad Allen, County Supervisor Gregg Hart vs. Mike Stoker in the 37th District Assembly race. And the count is still out on the county superintendent of schools, the sheriff and the county clerk/recorder/assessor. We support a real competition with platforms, promise, and accountability.
The truly vulnerable, the schoolchildren, gained as well, with the hotly contested race for county superintendent of schools. Now that more awareness has been created, a light is shed on the practices that indoctrinate radical gender theory and thinly disguised versions of critical race theory, sometimes labeled as ethnic studies. Schools are focused on that instead on focusing on the true purpose of education, which is, of course, reading, writing and arithmetic.
The challenger, Christy Lozano, may not have won the election, but her candidacy has awakened a new scrutiny of what is being taught to our precious school children.
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard to democracy, therefore, is education.”
— Franklin D Roosevelt