A Letter from the Cone Kidnappers

We, the captors of cone 49 have taken note of the beginning of some work, even though thus far only a little shrubbery has been altered. We believe this is just a token gesture meant to appease us and the growing chorus of Montecito opposition. In an effort to show our fairness in this unfortunate matter, however, we're allowing the cone an unedited voice:

“Let me start by saying I am safe. This does not mean however I am without extreme hardships. For instance the 4 am nightly sprinklers, the dog's regular visits, and most painfully Barry Manilow's Christmas songs being blasted at me 24 hours a day...oh the horror! Please take my kidnappers seriously – I've heard them muttering under their breath about taking more cones or signage. I believe they're attempting to force me to reveal CalTrans' real plans and real schedule. I'm holding out as long as I can, but please hurry! If the public finds out the real schedule, I fear not only for myself but for all the other cones on Coast Village Road.

“P.S. Although they have masked me, I'm pretty sure the thin one with the beady eyes has placed some silly cap on my head...oh the shame.”

Cone 49

Location undisclosed

(Publisher's note: Cal Trans has done a terrible job minimizing the impact of its construction on fellow citizens and workers of Montecito. We pray for the safe return of the cone and hope that CalTrans engineers plan to start work on the project. What amazes me is that in Dubai they can put up a 1,500-foot skyscraper in less than a year and here in Montecito, it takes a year – or perhaps as many as four – to build a single lousy roundabout. ~TLB)

Revolt is in the Air

It seems Cal Trans is on the run! Well done and a deserved “Mission Accomplished” to the hostage takers of the construction cone as precondition of work completion on access road near northbound freeway entrance.

However, during a recent drive-by I detected no cones. Most curious! Were they all taken hostage? Had they been removed by CalTrans in the interests of public safety?

Instead of cones there were what could only be charitably considered “puny sticks” to mark the work zone. Puny such as envisioning a regal pink flamingo, with one leg in water and another tucked neatly under body – turned sideways, then on a diet. You get the idea.

Add a reflector atop said sticks for night driving identification.

But from all indications a happy ending, indeed. And the Journal had a major role in bringing this story to public scrutiny and elevating the public debate.

Some well-timed "revolt" in the local scheme of things is good for the soul, not to forget the public by-ways and thoroughfares.

Very truly yours,

David C. Phillips

Los Angeles

(Ed. note: Rumor has it the ongoing budget debacle is about to put a halt to construction in and around Coast Village Road until at least June, but that the large bulldozer blocking the onramp will remain. Boy, it’s a good thing voters approved another billion dollars in taxes via the recently passed Transportation Measure A; if not, why we may not have been able to afford the diesel fuel for that unused bulldozer, let alone the cones! – TLB)

Rock the Vote

I had the opportunity to work at a precinct in Isla Vista on Election Day 2008 and I would like to assure the residents of Montecito that, while we were very busy, the students and non-students who voted that day were engaged in the process, serious about their vote, and thrilled to be part of the process. There were students who weren't sure where they were registered and we helped them find their correct precinct. There were voters who were sure they had registered but didn't show on our lists and they were allowed to vote provisional ballots that would later be verified or denied.

One thing that should fill us all with pride and hope for our democratic process, is that UCSB "won" a national inter-collegiate friendly competition sponsored by Rock the Vote to see which campus could register the most new voters. One young man raced in early in the morning, voted, and then shared that he had been part of that contest and was now going to make sure that all those 10,000 plus voters actually got out and voted! Any American that would not applaud that kind of dedication to democracy really ought to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and re-read the Constitution of the United States of America.

I would also urge anyone who has concerns about the voting process to work a precinct during the next election. It was an eye-opening experience for me and now I know just how well Joe Holland and his professional team oversee our Santa Barbara County elections.

Laura Wilson


(Publisher's note: Everyone has the right to vote but only once. Having over 100% voter turnout should raise some questions. We hope those answers come in after the New Year. ~TLB)

Chairman of the Board

Silly Me! I had always thought that Mr. Frank Sinatra was “Chairman of the Board” (cover story, MJ # 14/50).

Granted, he drank, smoked, played “games” with the Mafia and was part of the “Rat Pack” and even got his hands dirty a lot!

But his ex-wives really cared for him after the divorces and his children always loved him – and he didn't have to give houses, villas or vast fortunes and jobs.

When Michael Towbes dies you can bet the Transamerica Building in San Francisco, or the Sears Tower in Chicago, or the Empire State Building won't trim the top with all blue lights and every restaurant bar and shop and radio station won't play "The Man and His Music" over and over all over the world!

"Old Blue Eyes" will always be " Chairman of the Board."

Your cover and title were way off base.



(Founder’s note: Well, Perhaps New York, Chicago, or San Francisco won’t mark the passing of Mr. Towbes – may he live forever! – but no doubt Santa Barbara and Montecito have been enriched and ennobled by his presence and shall be the poorer for his absence – J.B.)

Downsizing Option

As CFO of a business that employees 140 people, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barack Obama is our next president, and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a big way.

To compensate for these increases, I figure our clients will have to see an increase in our fees to them of about 8%, but since we cannot increase our fees right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off six employees instead. This has really been eating at me, as we believe we are family here, and at first I didn't know how to choose who will have to go.

But, this is what I did: I strolled through our parking lot and found eight cars sporting Obama bumper stickers and have decided these folks will be the first to be laid off. I can't think of a fairer way to approach this problem. These folks wanted change; I’ll give it to them.

If you have a better idea, let me know.


The Boss

Santa Barbara