Full of Blarney

After reading Lynda Millner's account of her husband, Don, and how he kissed the Blarney Stone ("Seen Around the World" MJ # 14/41), I was reminded of my own experience at Blarney Castle. My husband, Jim, and I were in Ireland and I, even though seven months pregnant with our son Tim, sought to ensure he'd be born with "the gift of gab." After an exhaustive climb up the stone steps, I turned on my back as Jim and another man helped lower me down so that I could kiss the Blarney stone in the traditional way – backwards and upside down.

Upon reflection, there's no doubt about it: kissing that cold dirty rock guaranteed our son's glibness. Certainly Tim has proven to be more full of Blarney than anyone has a right to be!

Helen Buckley

Montecito

McCain Is No Moderate

Re: Letters to the Editor MJ # 14/41

A moderate presidency with John McCain? Veer to the left with Barack Obama? What Kool-Aid are you drinking? Be real, your Republican government has sunk this country. I don't know if you have any equities, but if you did, you would understand that your party has partied and partied and partied. Sure, you will come back with Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan, but, you moron, your party has been in control for eight years!!! What is it that causes people to be dyed-in-the-wool whatever the cost? You say, "I'm a Libertarian, but I think the Republicans are more fiscally responsible.” Jeez, are you even awake? Veer Left? What is that, maybe a correction from a car wreck? You are really embarrassing yourself with your stubborn mule-like stance. I feel sorry for you.

Mark

Santa Barbara

(Editor's note: I agree that Bush & Company are a huge disappointment, but they had help destroying the financial system with the likes of Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, et al. As far as Obama taking the country on a left turn, can there be any doubt? He is independently rated, based upon his voting record, the number one liberal in the U.S. Senate. Number two is Ted Kennedy, three is Joe Biden, and number four is self-described socialist Bernie Sanders. In order to be even more "liberal" than a committed socialist, one must be... let's see, I don't think the answer is conservative. See next letter. – TLB)

Up From The Gutter

Barack Obama and his fat campaign wallet appear unstoppable, so let's look ahead to a very real danger. Obama will imagine himself to be the new FDR, anointed to rescue America from Hoover's Depression with a spate of new government programs.

At this point, it would be good to review our history lessons. The deepest depths of the Depression were not the years of Hoover. By all quantifiable measures, the worst was in the years 1937 and 1938, after four years of Roosevelt. Even then, FDR's programs did not lift the country out of recession; only the run-up to World War II pulled our gross domestic product and our employment levels out of the gutter.

Guy Strickland

Santa Barbara

(Editor's note: That's what we are afraid of around here: the downward spiral that has already begun with "stimulus package #1, "Wall Street Bailout," and now "stimulus package #2." - TLB)

The Need For Measures A & G

Thank you for sharing several editorials (and various letters) about the qualities a "good" vice president needs. History teaches that we never know what latent reserves of leadership apparent backbenchers hoard, or how the best credentialed candidate might react in a crisis. On paper, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Woodrow Wilson, and GHW Bush, should have been among our finest presidents, while Jackson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Truman, seemed to many like in-over-their-heads long-shots.

We can't really know what Palin or Biden would bring to the job unless (God forbid) they're ever called upon to try. Our neighbors who are so passionately wrapped up in this presidential campaign that they can't give any benefit of the doubt to two pairs of candidates most of us have never met, let alone know well, are both uncivil, and sad. National issues are shaped by welters of people, dollars, issues, forces we dimly perceive, 3,000 miles away from the policy maze that is Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, we do know where to reach our local electeds, or appraise what our local communities require to keep them nice, and over time, make them better. That's why I politely disagree with your recommendation to vote against SB County Measure A and City of Santa Barbara Measure G ("Editorial" MJ # 14/41).

These are extensions of existing local piggyback tax supplements whose need is genuine, and whose value has been proven repeatedly before our eyes over a whole generation.

It's more than pothole and sidewalk repair, better streetlights, and improved signage. It's also been new interchanges at 101 and Las Positas, La Cumbre, and 154, turnouts on San Marcos Pass, and passing lanes in the Santa Ynez Valley "death strip," where fatalities once were common. Improved MTD service; Easy Lift for people with disabilities; local freeway landscape and design plans which far exceed "legal minimums" Caltrans usually puts in; bikeway and rideshare system improvement; computer chips to synchronize traffic signal progressions on busy streets; Safe Routes to School for our children, etc.

These existing local fees give us huge leverage for state and federal funding on big, expensive projects, like state highway, freeway or bridge improvements. The State Transportation Commission gives automatic major preference for projects from "local match share" communities. Measures A and G help provide that local "match."

Don't know what that's worth? Ask any elected official in Ventura County (which doesn't have one) and they'll tell you, without exception, they'd kill to get a secure "local match" that we have now. Ventura County projects are near the bottom of most competitive state and federal processes because they don't have anything like Measures A and G to work with. It would be catastrophic for local transportation to just throw that away.

This is local money, under local control, and public oversight, for local projects, based on local assessment of local needs. Money the state can't hijack every time there's a Sacramento budget shortfall; money the feds can't re-allocate to the next "Bridge to Nowhere." Money applied for at open, public, televised local hearings, where any resident can participate or respond. A local tax subject to local oversight and professional, outside audits, applied only to the intended purposes listed in the ballot description. As "Measure D" and the City "Utility surcharge," these have worked well for us, out in the open for all to see and judge, for many years. If my old friend, Barry Siegel, were still alive, I know he'd join me in saying: Renewal of County Measure A and City Measure G have earned the right to be extended.

I think he'd also join me in congratulating the Journal's editor on the occasion of his recent wedding, regardless of the results of the November election. Keep up the good work,

Lee Moldaver

Santa Barbara

(Editor's note: Thank you for the kind words regarding my recent marriage; as for Measures A & G, while your support seems genuine, we cannot recommend voting for any additional spending until the state puts its fiscal house in order. Additionally, it would be good for all Santa Barbara County residents to enjoy what amounts to a billion-dollar tax relief. Besides, if things improve, there's always another election in which to pass a similar measure. Once it's locked in for thirty years, however, well, it's locked in for thirty years. - TLB)

More Costly Bonds

In a recent issue of the L.A. Times there is an article that explains how, because of the current financial turmoil, that bonds are not selling, or if they are selling, the interest rate that issuers must pay is significantly higher than what taxpayers were led to believe they would pay. This means taxpayers will most probably pay more than what is represented on the ballots.

It would be important for MJ to alert local voters that the final cost to them for tax measures may be significantly higher than they are being told.

David Strauss

Montecito

(Editor's note: May our readers now be so informed - TLB)