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City Hall should support business community – Santa Barbara News-Press

DID YOU KNOW? Bonnie Donovan

If we don’t make a change in the relationship between city government and local business, the city will continue to take a dive.

We need the nonpartisan one-for-all leadership that we experienced to the tune of Hal Conklin, Harriet Miller and Sheila Lodge. Look at what partisan politics has brought to the city of Santa Barbara during the last three regimes: thumbing the nose at building height limits that have been in place since the earthquake and construction of The Granada.

Planners realized then that it would change the face of Santa Barbara and rob us of the only natural resource she has — beauty. And this was 1925! 

It is an ongoing battle to preserve this vulnerable and rare location.

During this same period, we have also experienced lame and expensive temporary solutions to homelessness. Not only that but, our own mayor has pronounced that retail is dead. What is downtown without retail businesses? Oh, restaurants and bars. By the way, this is not a party town.

How do you generate a city without business?

The absence of retail would mean a downtown primarily made up of restaurants and bars, attracting minimum-wage earners. Are those the people who would live in the windowless cell-like units tucked into these downtown high-rise monstrosities? 

Here are some of the antics we have witnessed of our present city leaders:  hero pay for employees of certain grocery stores, fines for abandoned grocery carts, making non-union workers ineligible for city contracts, making moving expenses the responsibility of the landlord, outlawing natural gas in new construction, still waiting for the benches to be returned to State Street, not supporting law enforcement, removing street parking, narrowing the roadways, etc.

Is waving your hands to make a point or is it just a distraction from what is being said?     Is this a technique taught to politicians by their handlers?  We noticed that Councilmember Meagan Harmon speaks with her hands in a most theatrical way. We don’t see it so much in council members Kristen Sneddon, Eric Friedman, not at all. 

Remember when City Hall borrowed the police department’s public information officer, Anthony Wagner, to coach Mayor Cathy Murillo for weekly COVID-19 updates?

She was noticeably absent after her dust up with the BLM at the Sunken Garden, and we suspect he was hired to tutor her in how to communicate with her audience. The differences we noticed were her hand gesticulations; however, they stopped with her COVID updates.

“Manners are the basic building block of a civil society.”

— Alexander McCall Smith

Speaking of handlers, did you get the email blast from the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party?

According to them, the only candidates officially endorsed by the local Democratic Party are Ms. Sneddon, Ms. Harmon and Ms. Murillo.

We wondered about that assertion. We contacted Christina Pizarro of the Democratic Women of Santa Barbara for a statement and asked for that organization’s opinion of “only and official.”  (By the way, Democratic Women of Santa Barbara has a roster of 600 members.)

The organization responded, “Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County (Dem Women) is an independent, chaptered organization under the county and state party. Dem Women has their own autonomous candidate endorsement process, a practice since 1971. We are proud of our candidate vetting process and have endorsed the following candidates for the city of Santa Barbara election. For Mayor: Deborah Schwartz; District 4: Kristen Sneddon, District 5: Eric Friedman and District 6: Nina Johnson.”

As we said before, it appears the Dems have split.

Even the media endorsements normally allied as one, are no longer marching in step. And we see that as a good thing.

Individual assessment is a cornerstone of not following the narrative handed to you by someone from out of town or with a preconceived agenda. Free thinking promotes people who truly care about the leadership needed in Santa Barbara and not those who are looking to climb politically.

You’ve got mail? How many of you saw the thread between James Joyce for mayor and longtime Santa Barbaran Ernie Solomon?  Ask around. If this is an example of leadership as mayor, we don’t understand how anyone endorsed him. 

Mr. Joyce’s current business venture, Coffee with a Black Guy, is a consulting firm that coaches’ companies on “how to address difficult conversations regarding race.” Mr. Solomon emailed Mr. Joyce and said that his latest topic,” Mental Health and Athletes,” was not a racial issue. He asked Mr. Joyce why he doesn’t feature the difficult conversations of the black-on-black murders that plague the black community and instead seem only interested in the one-half percent of blacks involved in a police shooting. 

Besides Mr. Joyce calling Mr. Solomon’s inquiries disingenuous, Mr. Joyce never engaged in a difficult conversation with Mr. Solomon.

Is this the leadership we need for our city?

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”   — MLK

DYK received a heads-up the week of Sept 15, that Councilmember Meaghan Harmon was going after her challenger, Nina Johnson, for Ms. Johnson’s contribution-reporting deadlines. How did she know about this and who gave her the information? The lack of civility/decorum in a city council race we haven’t seen to this degree.

Even the Santa Barbara County Democratic party email blast charged “make no mistake – special interests and conservative Republicans are trying to buy this election. They are spending big to reverse the progress our democratic city leaders have made over the last 4 years.”

Really? It looks like the Dems are doing the infighting. Not one Republican is in this race. Remember this is a nonpartisan position, of which everyone is to be represented equally. The endorsements last time got us to where we are today. 

Shouldn’t Santa Barbara get what we pay for?

We do pay top dollar. Ask any person who contacts City Net for services to the homeless. When the city puts out a media release and one can’t contact the sender because the return email is typed incorrectly, and then on the city TV channel for the available jobs, one is listed as “progect” planner, it’s disconcerting. It is a typo — but it is an uncorrected mistake, same as on the title of the media release. And no one corrects it!

And then that becomes the norm, or “good enough for government work.”

Just like weeks ago, on a media release, a city employee typed in parentheses: “good place for the mayor to enter a comment.”  (We had to laugh) Unfortunately — the next person pressed “send” without proofreading.

So education and attention to detail is so important.

We hear that the schools want to arrest citizens as domestic terrorists for engaging in public comment. Public comment brings to the forefront issues that are a concern to the stakeholders and are an important element of social discourse.

The son-in-law of Attorney General Merrick Garland owns the company Panorama. This company is the founder of an education program that promotes critical race theory, among other questionable school products.   The parents are railing against these programs.

But instead of someone listening to the parents’ concern for their children, the parents are being reported as domestic terrorists to the FBI. How absurd is this?

In contrast, the Olympic gymnasts went repeatedly to the FBI to report the sexual abuse by an Olympic doctor, and after a dismal response went to the Senate. However now, the FBI’s focus is the parents, and grandparents who object to the programming of their children.

What would Walter Capps, a UCSB professor of religious studies, have done? 

The teachers and their unions have a phone number to report parents to the powers that will arrest them, instead of hearing their side of the story.  We again are paying them to teach reading, writing and arithmetic.

The Democrats have a vision of their future that leaves no option or room for a different opinion and even labels such as “misinformation.”

You will never get the best outcome or the truth, if you don’t listen to both sides of an issue. An informed choice is impossible if there are no other options.

If any of these people are re-elected, we will continue to reap more of the same.

“I’m in the civil discourse business. I think it takes all kinds. And more power to everybody.”  

— Jim Lehrer, former PBS commentator and news anchor