The SBCAG Spending Strategy

James Buckley's editorial on Measure D (“Time Rolls Along On Measure D” www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/16/241/) criticizes SBCAG for financing Measure D regional construction projects with bond financing. As the 2005-2006 Civil Grand Jury reported, $48.57 million in bonds were issued in November 1993, to be repaid out of the 29.5% of Measure D revenues allocated to the Regional Program. This allowed 12 of the planned 15 original Expenditure Plan projects to be completed by the year 2000.

To quote the editorial, "We can't figure out how adding 5 to 6% every year onto the cost of a program saves anybody any money, except for the bond issuers and the banks ..."

The projects surely would have cost more if done later (look what happened to the cost of widening the 101), and we've had the benefit of using the improved interchanges and highways for all these years.

Here's a question for Mr. Buckley: Did you wait to buy your house until you accumulated enough cash, or did you take out a mortgage? Assuming you took out a mortgage, what part of SBCAG's bond financing strategy don't you understand?

Milt Hess

Santa Barbara

(Publisher’s Note: Nice try, Mr. Hess, but while taking out a mortgage does lead to the ability of purchasing a house without saving the money first, it certainly adds to the cost of that house in two ways: 1) because of the easy availability of mortgages, more people are able to compete for the purchase of a home, driving the price of it upwards; and 2) paying, let’s say 6.5% yearly interest – not to mention whatever “points” were paid to the lender – to an original cost of a house, or in this case, $48.57 million, adds some $3 million a year in additional costs, depending upon how long the bonds were issued for. If they were for 15 years, then we have effectively nearly doubled the taxpayer cost of whatever projects the funds were meant to complete. Sounds like a losing game to us taxpayers no matter how it is cubed or quartered. SBCAG’s strategy is simple and forthright: spend as much money as it possibly can as soon as it possibly can. Creating long-term debt will ensure a long-term funding source and even if the public is brave or smart enough to finally cut off the funding, the debts will remain to be paid and the spending will have been done. – J.B.)

Ode to the Road

When I was a bike a few years ago

With gears that they gave me I could go fast and slow

It was fun to pretend you were in a great place

Your rider hunched over, the wind in his or her face

With some generous bike paths we could ride side by side

Other so narrow there was nowhere to hide

But along came the bike god or was it a queen

Who thought that the bike trails should be more serene

So off to North Jameson that Road Guru went

Not caring a whit how the seven mil was spent

The road was closed for a year and a half

One reason I’m told was really a laugh

For a steel trout ladder they pleaded in tears

Though not one fish has been sighted in the last thirty years

I guess I should be thankful that bike paths are wider

Though it offends the skill of an experienced rider

I will miss the joy I’ll be honest to say

Of nudging cars over to get out of my way

Now just when I thought bike path changes would end

The bike gods found five mil they just had to spend

To protect all us bikes from a potential sill

They decided to flatten good old Ortega Hill

How little they know that was the thrill of them all

And that for all these long years there’s been nary a fall

Alas they’ve forgotten bikes have a mind of their own

So I think I’ll retire: my wild bike oats have been sown

Joe Bike

Santa Barbara

(Publisher’s note: You may bemoan the new bike path being built to bypass Ortega Hill but my dad doesn’t. He eagerly awaits the day he can ride from Montecito along that path to have lunch at Café Luna in Summerland. – TLB)

We Need a Truck

Casa del Herrero, a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization, needs a serviceable small truck, pick-up or minivan to be used locally as a service vehicle for the estate.

The property is located in Montecito at 1387 East Valley Road. The Casa's mission is to maintain, preserve and restore the house, furnishings, gardens and history of the 11-acre estate for the benefit of the community, visiting public, scholars, educators and students.

If you, or someone you know, would like to donate a vehicle, your donation would be fully tax deductible, and very much appreciated. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call Dan Eidelson at 451-1153. Also, if you would like to schedule a docent-guided tour of this beautiful property, please call the Casa office at 565-5653.

Thank you,

Sue Burrows

Trustee

Casa del Herrero Foundation

Part of the Problem

You won my admiration with your excellent brave editorial about the News-Press debacle (“An Inconvenient Truth” www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/15/208/). With full media coverage and even the L.A. Times entering the fray, the News-Press reader has to be confused. Which is the bad group? The publisher/editor, or the journalists? I have seen liberal bias daily in the paper’s news, but now journalists are crying “freedom in the press” when they advocate their own views. I hope the vanishing editors and writers will wake up to the truth – that they are part of the problem – and try a “fair and balanced” approach to news.

Forget the Duct Tape.

Sincerely,

Ann Edmonston

Montecito

(Publisher’s Note: The editors and journalists really don’t realize what they do because they honestly believe their opinions have “moral authority,” and that any opposing viewpoint is simply wrong. Ironically, it makes the writer seem insecure because he/she doesn’t trust readers to come up with their same conclusion. Universities suffer from the same ailment. If they really are morally and scientifically correct, why can’t they let people choose between opposing ideologies? After all, if they are speaking the truth, wouldn’t everyone come up with the same conclusion? – TLB)

Tomorrow’s Weather?

One of your reader’s letters in the recent Journal (“Letter’s to the Editor” www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/16/244/) went on for a full page. I found a plethora of PC platitudes, but little in the way of facts and substance.

To anyone who has watched the "Weather Channel,” or the local news weather predictions, it should be obvious that the “scientists” have much difficulty predicting weather from day to day, let alone accurately predicting climate for the next 50 or 100 or 1,000 years. Can we do anything about “the weather?” Probably not. And that is most likely a good thing! When men try to micro-manage nature ....

As far as governments "overseeing" the problem, I believe you covered that nicely in your response.

Keep up the good work.

Frank Diani

Goleta

(Publisher’s Note: Larry David, HBO’s “Curb your Enthusiasm” creator, once hinted that weathermen inaccurately predict weather so that golfers would cancel their tee times; those time slots would then be taken up by weathermen. Although it seems farfetched, this theory may shed some light on imprecise weather predictions. As for Al Gore and his “Inconvenient Truth,” all I have to do is remind myself of the polluting zinc mine he owned and operated on his property right up through the 2000 election for a good laugh. – TLB)

Being Homeless Is a Symptom, Not a Disease

I am the executive director for the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center and wanted to take a minute to thank you for your column on the panhandlers and illegal campers in the Village area (“Montecito Has A Transient Problem” www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/13/172/). Your analysis of the problem was on target, firm and respectful.

I was especially pleased to see that you did not refer to this group as “homeless.” While they are indeed without a home, this situation is a direct result of chronic inebriation, drug addiction and severe mental illness. It has become too easy to culturally label these folks “homeless,” when the lack of a home is the symptom, rather than the actual disease.

While it is true that many of these individuals have been dismissed from Casa Esperanza and more restrictive shelters, it is not so much that they do not want to follow simple rules, rather it is that the vast majority of these folks are utterly mentally incapable of successfully living in a large group environment that is overwhelming to them – and better housing solutions for them simply do not exist. By focusing on “homelessness” the South Coast avoids dealing with the frightening and murky issues of mental illness and the lack of resources and innovative solutions specifically targeted to those who cannot help themselves.

At Casa Esperanza we see hundreds of homeless people who are neither mentally ill nor substance abusers, who quickly return to productive, self-sufficient lives. Unfortunately, these resilient people are not the public face of homelessness. Giving cash to the chronically homeless feeds addictions and denial of mental health concerns and I appreciate that you reinforced this fact, while encouraging compassion and kindness.

Michael Foley

Casa Esperanza

(Publisher’s Note: I recently received a phone call from a transient who explained that because of our recent coverage, people are not as “generous” as they had been. Many people misunderstood that editorial and accused us of being callous and uncaring. We appreciate that folks like you – and Gerd Jordano in a previous issue – offer real solutions to real problems, for those capable of helping themselves see that by handing out money only prolongs their situation. If begging, or “holding cardboard,” became an unrewarding waste of time, many would seek shelters and try to remedy their condition. – TLB)

The New Yorker Founder

In James Buckley's lead editorial, “Time (and Tim) Gallops Along” (www.montecitojournal.net/archive/12/16/241/), he defends his son Tim's recent elevation at age 24 into the position of publisher at the Montecito Journal (it is unclear what provoked Mr. Buckley's perceived need to justify this appointment – it is, after all, his paper and his son). Mr. Buckley made his case by listing achievements of other notable people at 24 years of age, one of which was Horace Greeley who, we are told, "was 24 when he founded The New Yorker...." If you Google The New Yorker you quickly find that the first issue of the magazine was dated, February 17, 1925. There is no mention of Horace Greeley. Little wonder. When the first issue of The New Yorker appeared, Greeley had been dead 53 years (Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant, were, of course the founders of the magazine).

It would appear that the Montecito Journal's new publisher has some work to do in the paper's fact-checking department.

Dick Mahoney

Santa Barbara

(Publisher’s Note: Horace Greeley, at the age of 24, founded a newspaper called the New Yorker; unfortunately, it folded after six years. He then went on to found the New York Tribune in 1841. The New Yorker, as we know it today, was indeed founded by Harold Ross in 1925 and had no affiliation with Greeley’s failed publication. My dad apologizes for not clarifying that in the editorial. – TLB)

Party Loyalty, Voter Choice

When I reached voting age back in the middle 1950s, party choice was easier. My parents were small business owners. I was raised in Democratic diapers. FDR, HST and JFK were family icons, treasured as much as the Saturday Evening Post’s Norman Rockwell covers. The Democratic Party offered big ideas like Social Security and Equal Opportunity. My party’s goal was to create a better life for hard-working people of modest incomes.

Somewhere along the line my Democratic Party lost it. They forgot that there is a difference between helping the disadvantaged and redistributing income by taking from the thrifty, the industrious and the self-reliant, and rewarding those willing to become perpetual wards of a paternalistic state. Social engineering and expanding entitlements to solve all discomforts wins votes and power, but at a price.

Look at Democrat strongholds in Newark, New Orleans or Detroit, where years of political corruption, hopelessness and handouts have replaced our founding fathers’ concept of personal accountability. Cradle-to-the-grave entitlements require villains and they are there in the form of “greedy corporations” and “the rich,” defined as any family earning over $50,000 per year who must be plucked to establish a dependency culture based on “rights” rather than needs.

Intellectual Democrats point with pride to Old Europe where socialist governments have eviscerated their military power, adopted appeasement and dreary defeatism, and set tax rates at whatever level career politicians need to perpetuate themselves. France and Germany have shown us that spewing out regulations by the millions, generous subsidies for the unemployed, bigger and more intrusive government, and higher taxes on the most productive workers leads to slow or no growth, chronic 10% unemployment, crippling strikes by powerful public service unions, stifling bureaucracies, anti-competitive work rules and state ownership of key industries.

The better way to stimulate economic growth is to reduce the size of the state, lower tax rates to generate higher tax revenues and expand free trade. Rugged individualism, individual creativity, and a strong work ethic give our nation its competitive edge in the global marketplace and make this nation an inspiration to the world.

Republicans favor tougher punishment for criminals and sex offenders and secured borders before considering amnesty or citizenship for those who illegally pushed to the front of the line. They want a stronger military and a world that is safer from the threat of global terrorism. Democrats once had the stronger record of defending America’s security and promoting freedom around the world. What happened to the party of JFK that said, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty?”

Where are the Democrats like Sam Nunn and Scoop Jackson who favored a strong military and the use of force? Moderate Democrats like Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller, who reject withdrawal and support an unpopular war, have been purged from the party for failing to loudly and stridently bash Bush. Worst of all is the “Blame America First” crowd that says, “It’s our fault. We are the problem, not the terrorists.” Democrats seem willing to desert Iraq, ignoring the apocalyptic threat of an emboldened nuclear-armed Iran allied with radical Shiites in Iraq, who promise a jihad to wipe both Israel and the United States from the face of the earth.

Democrats need to be reminded that while no one likes war, diplomacy can’t solve every problem and freedom is not free. It must be fought for and defended by each new generation. As Thomas Paine noted in 1776, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Our security cannot be won by appeasing those who seek to annihilate us; or by retreating from the global threat of terrorism; or by cutting and running in this global fight against the people who want us dead.

Republicans are not without fault. They have not led well. They are too comfortable with the perks of power. They reward big donors and their own fat-cat faithful who want to feed at the public pig trough. Their record on corporate welfare, selfish earmarks and runaway federal spending is disgraceful. Republicans stand for making government smaller, but they keep making it bigger. They are at their worst when they pander to the religious right in denying stem cell research that even Nancy Reagan supports.

Republicans need to balance individual responsibility with more compassion and concern for the less fortunate and disadvantaged. They must recognize that volunteerism and community service alone cannot build a better and fairer society. They need to find ways to shrink government but still feed a hungry child, provide a quality education and offer affordable healthcare without bankrupting the finest healthcare system in the world. They also need to cultivate more youthful enthusiasm and more positive feelings about public service.

The winning party will be the one that positions itself not as the friend of Wall Street on the right, nor Easy Street on the left, but Main Street in the middle.

Bob Hazard

Montecito

Correction

In the last issue, Steven Libowitz’s “On Stage” incorrectly identified Y-NOT’s brainchild as Travis Elcommen. It should be Travis Elconin.