Did You Know? Bonnie Donovan
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”— Martin Luther King
Healing Justice, the new moniker for Black Lives Matter, recently targeted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, asking for $30,000 of the sheriff’s budget.
The organization’s rationale for the claim to these funds runs along the lines of racial equity and law enforcement reform.
Sheriff Bill Brown responded to these requests by saying, “that equity and racism are society-wide problems. To single out the Sheriff’s Department … would let the rest of society off the hook.”
He went on to say that crime is up, courts are backlogged, so inmates are still housed at the county jail while they await trial.
Many of the early inmate releases due to COVID-19 have made their way back into the system. Therefore, with the Sheriff’s Office’s infrastructure and the countywide projected budget shortfalls, he continued to say that there is no surplus for newly created nonprofits.
We question why Healing Justice, who wants these funds, thinks that any sort of budget cut would provide extra money for cross-cultural understanding, etc. Bills must be paid. Remember during the Montecito debris flow, we were led, guided and protected by the Sheriff’s Office in tandem with the fire departments. (The Santa Barbara mayor and the chief of police were notably out of town at the time.)
A law enforcement oversight committee is requested for criminal justice reform; however, civilian police review boards typically do little to improve things. In fact, only 150 of these review boards exist among 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
These review boards arise out of communities marked by egregious abuses of police authority. Santa Barbara hardly fits into that category.
These boards use money without any notable effect that is better allocated by and for law enforcement. However, contrary to the city police chief, hired by the city manager, the sheriff is elected by the public every four years. That equates to a standing review board, and grand juries are already in place to investigate various arms of city government.
The very notion that two out-of-towners from Healing Justice are attempting to supplant our right of appraisal and judgement with their political agenda, when review boards are already doing their job. Talk about redundancy.
Case in point. Last Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council held a closed session for police officer-related actions. We would like to see our city mayor and our police chief demonstrate the same voice and command presence as Sheriff Brown employs standing up to the group who demand these law enforcement funds.
By the way, did you get your friendly reminder to pay your property tax in the paper last week, while at the same time our city has decreed by ordinance that if a lease is not renewed, relocation fees of three months of rent are owed to the tenant by the landlord. How can this be justified? How is this equitable to any property owner?
Think of all the revenue that comes from property taxes and the services that are supported by these taxes. How is this fair? It is extortion, really.
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
— Albert Einstein
We applaud the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’ efforts requesting that Santa Barbara County be removed from the Southern California Region. Vice Chair Peter Adam quipped that, “Santa Barbara shouldn’t be in any region at all. We should not be lumped in with any other county. We have a region; it’s called a county.”
Santa Barbara is a unique area of the state. It is time we stand up and protect it. Who else will?
On a congratulatory note, we are overjoyed that Lesley Wiscomb and Sheila Lodge will continue serving on the Santa Barbara Planning Commission for another four years. Their body of knowledge was recognized and valued.
And to such a degree, although Mrs. Lodge was termed out, all but Mayor Cathy Murrillo felt the city would suffer without her vital contribution of historical perspective and her rapid recall. Once again, we urge you to go to Chaucer’s and purchase her book, “Santa Barbara, An Uncommonplace town.” And remember, so much depends on supporting our local businesses.
“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local, and that’s the same thing.”