A Blue Ribbon For Jane And Red

“There's no way,” she says, “I could even think of winning the blue ribbon at the recent three-day jumping event in Santa Ynez. I was praying just to stay on!” Funny enough, she not only stayed on her thoroughbred chestnut gelding Caught Red Handed during their first-ever event together, but 70-year-old Jane Burkemper also went on to win the blue ribbon. She and her horse came in first in their category.

On the first day of the competition, she received “an average score” in dressage. The next day was cross-country jumping, and, well, we’ll let Jane tell the story from here:

“It was a mile and a half of galloping full speed up and down hills, over fences, gates, in and out of water, eighteen obstacles in all. As the timer clicked down ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, go, I tried to remember all those things my trainer, Christine Davidson, had tried to drill in my head. Sit back, toes out, calves tight on the horse’s belly, look up in the distance at the jump, no rein jerking, etc., etc. Oh boy! Advice from my three-day-event participant daughter Hilary Niemann was ‘Relax and have fun, Mom.’ Easy for her to say. She's a whiz at the sport and is in a much higher level of competition.

“Unbelievably ‘Red’ and I cleared all the obstacles and had no time penalties. We flew around that course, as I remember. The next day was stadium jumping – a complex arrangement of jumps that takes a different kind of skill. We cleared all these and after our exit from the arena my trainer rushed up and said, ‘Jane, if you don't have any time penalties you have won this whole event.’

“I received a double-clear score and did indeed win. My competitors had all been given time penalties or been scored down because of refusals (their horse had stopped at the jump and refused to go over it.) All ages participated, from ten years old, to fifty, to seventy. I was the only seventy-year-old in the competition.

“I kept remembering what my friend Marilyn Schuermann told me after hearing I had entered the competition: ‘If you fall off and die , Jane, I'll never speak to you again!’ My friends and husband were not too keen on my doing this either, but I assured them I would be careful and had a seasoned horse that knew his job. My children, naturally, took it all in stride. It is thanks to my daughter, Hilary, that I got involved in this sport in the first place. What a thrill.”

In addition to hanging on galloping horses and jumping over gates and fences, Jane admits to being a “tennis addict” too. Her USTA tennis team recently won the regional competition in Santa Barbara and will be off to Long Beach soon to compete for the sectional championship.

“What a year,” she marvels, concluding that she is “for sure, one lucky woman.”

We’d add courageous and talented too. For sure.

DeDominic Rules!

Who says women don’t rule Montecito? Not us. Here’s yet another accomplished lady whose most recent exploits are worthy of exposure:

Longtime Montecito resident Patty DeDominic was honored with the “Artemis Award,” given by the Euro American Women’s Council (eawc.org) at the 11th Annual Global Forum in Athens (and Mykonos), Greece on June 19, 2007. The EAWC bestows the Artemis Award upon leaders from around the world that have “contributed to the growth and advancement of economic and societal achievements on a national and international scale. In areas of business, politics, academia, and the arts, honorees personify outstanding business principles including fair competition, teamwork and cooperation.” Hope Ranch residents Eva Haller and Yoel I. Haller were also recipients of the award.

Patty was named “CEO of the Year” by the L.A. Business Journal in 2006. In 1979, she founded PDQ Personnel Services, Inc. and built it to become one of the largest staffing services in California. PDQ Personnel Services, Inc. & CT Engineering was sold to the Select Family of Staffing Companies, a billion-dollar privately held Santa Barbara firm, in November of 2006. She is past Chairman of the LA Area Chamber of Commerce (www.laacc.org) and the Foundation for SCORE (www.score.org), and past national president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (www.nawbola.org). She founded a business consulting & angel investment firm in 2006 called DeDominic & Associates. You can visit her web site at www.dedominic.com.

In League With The Navy

It’s no secret that the Navy League of the United States, Santa Barbara Council, may be the most effective organization of its type, perhaps in the entire country. It is certainly the most popular, especially among the sailors of its adopted ship, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

“You cannot walk on board USS Ronald Reagan and not be reminded of the Santa Barbara Navy League,” its skipper, U.S. Navy Captain Terry Kraft, noted while giving a short speech during a barbecue and get-together for some of the ship’s officers and crew held at the Hope Ranch home of Carolyn and Bob Duncan on Thursday July 12. “And, it’s not just in the commanding officer’s cabin,” he continued. “It’s down on the mess decks every single day… big screen TVs, the Hollywood motif on our mess decks, Ronald Reagan’s movie posters, our chief’s mess named Rancho del Cielo [the name of Reagan’s Santa Barbara ranch], all of that.”

Captain Kraft then revealed that the USS Ronald Reagan has been underway “more than any other ship in the navy; as of April of this year we’ve just been gone,” he said. “They sent us out to the Western Pacific,” he continued. “We did exercises with the Koreans and the Japanese, stopped in Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Hawaii, picked up some of our friends from Santa Barbara Navy League, and came on back.”

President Karen Crawford outlined some of the recent Santa Barbara Navy League events, including a trip to San Diego to greet the USS Ronald Reagan as it returned from its second gulf deployment. While there, they gave the $10,000 raised during the first Reagan Golf Classic, held in Santa Barbara. On July 4, the U.S. Coast Guard gave Navy League members a tour of Santa Barbara harbor, and members attended the first change of command for AirPac Squadron with Lt. JG John Landsberg.

Ms Crawford credited the Woods/Claeyssens Foundation for its help and donations over the years, and then noted that the new Santa Barbara Navy League TV series is hosted and produced by her husband, Doug Crawford, and directed by Cliff Baldridge. Episodes can be seen on Cox Cable Channel 17 Sundays at 8:30 pm, Mondays at 9 am, Tuesdays at 3 pm and again on Fridays at 7 pm..

The Santa Barbara Navy League received the 2006 “Best of Film Production” Award and is looking for additional grantors and endowment funds “to achieve self-funding to cover our six-figure budget.”

Upcoming events include a Santa Barbara ship visit in the near future, the new monthly no-host bar Members Mixers held on the last Tuesday of the month. The next is scheduled for Tuesday July 31 at Bay Café, beginning at 5:30 pm, and the First Annual Big Band Bash and Swing Dance Contest scheduled for Saturday night, September 8. The League is sponsoring the Second Annual Reagan Golf Classic to be held in Coronado (the first was held in Santa Barbara).

A highlight of the event at the Duncan home was the special presentation of a family heirloom offered by Navy League member Warner Owens.

“This presentation is made,” Owens began, “because [Captain Kraft] has so many similarities and connections with people he had not met before, meaning my wife, Sandra, and her family. In 1911,” he continued, “naval aviation had its start. My wife’s father was in the navy. He subsequently became the then-governor Ronald Reagan’s first judicial appointment. So, we have here a man that is not only a naval aviator, but he is the captain of a ship named after the governor that appointed my wife’s father to the bench.”

Owens then presented Captain Kraft with a medallion struck in 1961 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of naval aviation that had been in Sandra Owens’ family. Captain Craft pledged to display it in his cabin, “as part of our trophy case of significant things on our ship.”

A New, All New, GOP

The reception, peopled by perhaps as many as 60 attendees who’d paid either $250 or $1,000 to attend, held at the Montecito home of Tom and Mary Belle Snow was a qualified success, especially in light of the short amount of time available to organize and arrange it. The two featured speakers – former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele and former EPA administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman – made some friends and some headway. Steele was introduced by former U.S. Representative Michael Huffington.

There was truth to be told by the speakers. For example, Mr. Steele regretted that his political party had “lost touch” with the American people. “We said we’d be frugal with your money,” he opined during his introductory speech, “but over the course of twelve years we moved away from that.”

Steele went on to say the Republican Party needed “to recapture the trust and confidence of the American people,” and suggested that was what the Republican Leadership Conference that he, Ms Whitman, and John Danforth had co-founded, was about. As chairman of RLC-PAC (Political Action Committee), his stated goal is “to identify and train and groom candidates for this and future [election]cycles. This is our farm team; this is our opportunity.”

Steele said, half-jokingly and deadly seriously, that “The next eighteen months are going to be Ug-Ly,” and said it again: “Ug-Ly. But, in all the ugliness that will come out,” he continued, “know that there are some bright spots beginning to emerge, that the Republican Party is alive and well and serving the legacy of Lincoln.”

Mr. Steele then introduced Christine Todd Whitman, who began by refuting the charge that she is not a real Republican: “My father was state chairman (of the Republican Party) for ten years,” she stated. “My mother was a National Committee woman for ten years; even my grandparents were party activists, so I’ve been in the party awhile. There are those that say I’m not a Republican, but I beg to differ.”

Then, she made a plea to broaden the party’s base. “I cut taxes in New Jersey over fifty times,” she said, “but I’m pro-choice, so what am I?” Noting that “The average voter turnout in a primary is ten percent,” she asserted that meant “it’s the zealots that choose” candidates and agendas and that such a process was counter-productive.

Host Tom Snow seemed sympathetic when, in the course of asking another question, he quipped that his observations led him to believe that, “There’s not a Democratic Party or a Republican Party; There’s a Cocktail Party going on in Washington.”

Before the event, I had a chance to talk with both Mr. Steele and Ms Whitman via a conference call. The following is some of that conversation:

Q. Ward Connerly suggested I ask why you don’t support his position on race preferences, that position being completely opposed to any preference based upon race, gender, etc.

A. (Steele) “My response is that I look forward to convincing him to support mine. As someone who grew up in the age of affirmative action and who actually learned of its history and its meaning and its importance at the knees of the father of affirmative action, back in the early 1980s, I’m one of those who believes that although every opportunity is there, sometimes, as Thurgood Marshall said, you need someone to help you hold on to that opportunity.

To turn our back on affirmative action and to think we are at the point where we have achieved utopia in terms of a color-blind society belies the reality of those that struggle socially, economically, and other ways.

The U.S. Supreme Court seems to be moving in Ward’s direction now; any comments on that?

Steele: I disagree. What the Supreme Court has tried to get is to recognize at the state level and in individual communities that, while it is important to recognize race as a factor, it is not dispositive in determining the outcome of education.

I reject the proposition out of hand that in order for my child – a black child – to get a good education, that he must be in a classroom with white kids.

Justice Roberts wrote in his majority opinion that the way to get rid of race discrimination is to quit discriminating by race. How could anyone disagree with that?

Steele: Yeah, Justice Roberts is right. The way to get rid of it is to stop it, but we’re a long way from seeing it stopped, and to think you can gerrymander a result by creating these school districts wherein a white or black child can attend depending upon the number of his peers attending that school, is a denial of that education opportunity that, I believe, Brown vs. Board of Education is all about.

By continuing to discriminate by race, however, you perpetuate discrimination, and avoid the issue of raising the quality of a school, don’t you?

Whitman: “It’s not a question of ‘discriminating by race.’ It’s a question of offering opportunity. What you’re going to see many states move toward is a system whereby you’re providing [a first-rate] education. I don’t believe anybody – Republican or Democrat – should argue with that [premise].

Steele: I agree; that’s the thumbnail I’m going to put on it.

One of the reasons our family moved here – from New Jersey – was because our property tax bill had doubled in the course of three years. Would your group support a Prop 13 kind of initiative in any state, anywhere? Is this the kind of agenda your group could get behind?

Whitman: “Right now, we’re not supporting anything like that; it would be up to the board of directors if they chose to take that on. From the perspective of the RLC, what we’re trying to do is remind people that the Republican Party was built on one central core of central beliefs. The problem we have had over the years is when we try to define how we think on every issue; our country is too diverse for that.

What makes either of you think that your attempt to “bridge the gap” between Democrats and Republicans is worthwhile. President Bush has made many attempts to do so, but Democrats have not responded positively.

Whitman: If you look at all the greatest legislative accomplishments of our country, they were all based on compromises, starting with the revolution. Almost all the major pieces of legislation that currently supports the way that we protect the environment today was signed in that period between 1970 and 1990 by a Republican president working with a congress that was largely in the hands of the Democrats. And the votes were very rarely close. Since 1990, we’ve had one bill passed – the Brownfields Revitalization bill. And, that’s not because the environment has stopped needing protection; it is because the two parties stopped working together. And we lose as the American people. That’s what Mike and I are trying to remind people: this isn’t about giving up on our principles or walking away from our ideals. It’s about saying it’s all about serving the public.

Steele: If you look at my race for the U.S. Senate, how else do I get five sitting incumbent Democrat elected officials and a former County Executive to stand up and endorse me for the U.S. Senate, knowing the barrage that would come after that happened? How do I get a Russell Simmons and others in entertainment, for example, to support what I was saying about poverty and empowerment? It’s recognizing where the two ends are and bringing them closer together and sometimes actually having them meet.

What does a compromise on, say, health care look like?

Steele: That’s for people who make a lot more than I do to figure out, but I think the compromise begins by taking the politicians out of it. The same is true in energy. Why can’t we convene a national summit on health care, a national summit on energy? Get the people with the degrees and the knowledge and the expertise in a room: people from Exxon and Mobil, the people who do solar, and nuclear, and then you’ve got the parameters for politicians to work with.

Why do you think, Mr. Steele, that you were only able to win 25% of the black vote in your run for the senate?

Steele: You say only twenty-five percent of the black vote? Do you know what a typical Republican running statewide in Maryland gets? Nine percent!

But, you’re a black Republican!

Steele: Don’t make this assumption that just because I’m black, all black voters will vote for me. The reality of it is that at the end of the day I’ve aligned myself with the historic party of the African-American community. That same party walked away from the Civil Rights agenda in ’64. Walked away from a number of issues that were important to African-Americans. They didn’t leave the party; the party left them.

You really believe that?

Steele: Oh, absolutely. Pursuant to their other strategy of going after the Bubba vote, which they ultimately lost in ’92 when Bill Clinton was elected. So, now, all of a sudden the party is sitting there going, ‘Okay, we don’t have Bubba; we don’t have the South like we thought we’d have; we don’t have African-Americans and are losing white women and suburbia, so all of a sudden those tactics have to change. And the tactic becomes ‘How do we begin to engage the voters on the issues of importance to them?’

My hope, certainly working through RLC-PAC and through the RLC is to talk about those issues. The civil rights issue is one that we own; it’s what the Lincoln Republican believes in.

Your group has expressed dismay over the defeat of Immigration Reform. Why?

Whitman: My dismay is because Congress failed to do anything. It is one of the most important issues we face and we elect people to solve these problems. There gotta be answers out there, and for Congress to say not only are we not going to pass this bill but we’re not going to deal with this issue now until after the next election cycle, is an example of what is wrong. The American people want this issue solved.

Isn’t it better to leave it alone rather than deal with it badly?

Steele: I would not say ‘leave it alone,’ but you definitely don’t want to handle it badly. The American people have clearly indicated what they wanted and the core of that was to get something done. The fact that the members of the Senate decided to punt and point fingers of blame is another reason why the American voting population is annoyed right now and will continue to express that annoyance at the ballot box.

Steele: Doing something was better than what we saw played out over the last few months.

Most Americans, I believe, are pleased that nothing was done. The laws on the books can deal with enforcement first.

Whitman: Then, there’s the issue of people not feeling that the laws are being enforced.

Does the RLC have a position on immigration?

Whitman: We’re not taking positions on individual issues. Our point is to get people engaged in dialog, and have them be able to disagree, but not to the point where they start to shout and hate one another, but so they can get together and try to solve problems.

Are either of you considering running for higher office?

Whitman: Mike still has a future ahead of him.

Steele: We’ll take a look at a couple of options in Maryland over the next couple of years and see where things land.

Would either of you accept the VP nomination if it came your way?

Whitman: I don’t see that in my future, but in this business you never say never because nobody ever believes you.

Steele: I don’t see that in mine either.