The trek

This week we have had more than the usual number of guests in our valley. The Rancheros Visitadores graced our towns and ranches prior to leaving on their ride to their permanent camp for the rest of the week. If you wondered why there seemed to be a larger number of cowboy hats in town than usual, this is why.

This group of men Ė yes, it is men only just like there are women-only groups Ė was formed in the 1930s by local ranchers and business people. My father was the last remaining original Ranchero. Over the years, the group has attracted many individuals who do not have connections to ranching per se but have enjoyed the week of camaraderie and horse events. Politicians, law enforcement and other well-known people have participated and become members. President Reagan was one of them.

As they make their way to camp, many people line the route at road crossings to cheer the riders on and take pictures. It is quite a sight with hundreds of horses riding by along with the colorful wagons carrying the viejos, the older members. We welcome their tradition of honoring the ranching traditions and wish them a safe and fun ride.


The facts donít matter

Did you attend the recent candidatesí forum at the Vets hall in Solvang, where a question-and-answer session for Doreen Farr and Steve Pappas, running for 3rd District Supervisor was the format? I didnít think so. There were a few people I recognized, some of whom I know well but the majority I have never seen before and wonder if they even lived in the Valley. If they do, they havenít been here long and donít understand the value of our life here and how it is substantially different from urban life anywhere.

The program began with remarks from both candidates which reflected some very basic differences between them. Then each candidate asked the other a series of questions, starting with a very insulting question from Farr asking Pappas to name the cities and communities in the district. What is this, a geography lesson? I bet she couldnít name the boundaries of the Meadowlark community or Rancho Estates. I think this was a misguided effort to paint Pappas as ignorant about anything but Los Olivos. He surprised her with a complete answer that she complimented him on. He then raised the issue of what the Regional Water Control Board is doing to agriculture, which she knew nothing about because she is generally not familiar with agricultural issues, even though it is an important industry in our county.

Several other topics were mentioned including the PIT (Process Improvement Team) and the different treatment of people by the county departments, depending on who you are. If you are not familiar with the PIT effort, it is something that came about as a result of years of complaints about how difficult it was for permits to be obtained, particularly for people in Ag.

I attended the first few meetings and sat through endless dialogues from county staff justifying why things were so complex. It became clear very quickly that staff wasnít interested in making things more user-friendly when they repeatedly got hung up on minutiae that werenít germane to the topic at hand. I decided I could better spend my time elsewhere. The process eventually collapsed under its own irrelevance. After that, with written questions from the audience, the candidates further explained their differences. Following that, an open mike was provided for the audience where some of the community asked questions that had not been addressed yet. One of the topics brought up was something Pappas had referred to earlier as the problem with Planning and Development (P&D) staff treating people differently depending on who they are. For example, one speaker brought up the situation her family ranch is dealing with, where ATV tours are being held that the county for some reason doesnít like, whereas another ranch holds bicycle races routinely, launches balloons, hosts large public events and such with no interference from the county. Why is this? I think the county needs to treat everybody the same, a point emphasized by Pappas. Farr was also asked if she supported voter photo I.D. and she responded in true Progressive fashion that laws like that discriminate against poor people. What hogwash! The only people who are discriminated against with photo I.D. laws are those who would disenfranchise others by stealing elections. After all, more than 80% of the American population supports such laws. Only the progressive politicians who have benefited from the lack of such laws are against them.

I asked a question regarding the ad Farr has running on TV claiming that Pappas wasted a lot of taxpayer money on his election contest which was patently false. I pointed out that the only taxpayer money that was spent was for court costs and that I paid them. I pointed out that I didnít think it was a waste of my money to try to restore the integrity of our election system in Santa Barbara County. I asked Farr if she would take the false ad off the air and could we expect more honest ads from her in the future? She replied by avoiding the question entirely and said it was a waste of Joe Hollandís time (though as county clerk/recorder it is his job and he is paid to take care of elections). She also stated that perhaps Pappas was running for the wrong job, as maybe he should be running for Joeís job. Iíll let you figure out my response to that! I was very disappointed in the meeting for a couple of reasons. First, it was obvious that a large number of the audience had been brought in by one of the candidates to stack the meeting and they were vocal every opportunity they had to clap or cheer. Second, there was a clear difference between the two candidates with one being smug, condescending and very negative, and the other (Pappas) being positive about what he considered priorities and how to bring positive changes to the district and the county, starting with the deficit and putting proper influence on safety and health, the only two mandated responsibilities of the county government.

I was also disappointed with how the lack of truth was so evident in one of the candidates. I know the facts about the voter fraud in this county because I have seen the documents as the sheriff has. He agreed that there were numerous violations of the election code. So who are you going to believe? The people who benefitted from the fraud, or the sheriff who examined the evidence? Fortunately, the criminal court case is not over yet despite remarks to the contrary from Farr. She claimed that the attorneyís fee case has been settled and she won. Nothing could be further from the truth. I look forward to hearing what the judges think about the evidence that has finally been brought forward, given the attempt to bury that evidence from the beginning. The truth will come out and you can judge for yourself. I also have some pretty interesting photos showing some of our current politicians with the third-party circulators who provided the fraudulent registrations. I will print those too when it will not impact the litigation and you can judge for yourself.


Interviews

Following the conclusion of the candidatesí forum, I was approached by a reporter from the Independent, a Santa Barbara publication. It is a free paper with mostly entertainment news and a very leftist bent. At first I wasnít going to allow the interview, because traditionally I have either been misquoted or things have been made up when I refused to be interviewed.

The reporter asked some interesting questions so we will see how they are reported. He asked what was the difference between my spending a lot of money on Pappas versus SEIU spending a lot of money on Farr. I answered that first, I am not a special interest, and second, I was not paying to steal the election like they were.

Another question he asked me was, why did I support Pappas rather than Farr? I answered that Farr thinks that agriculture and open space are the same thing, and Pappas knows they are not and acknowledges that agricultural properties are private properties first and foremost. For people in Ag, thatís a huge difference.


Clean-up crew

The calves are all gone, off to other pastures where they will grow into adults. The heifers will probably end up as someoneís cow herd and make wonderful calves when they grow up. Now that the cows have gotten over their loss, it is time for their next job. They are the best clean-up crew a person could have.

We move either the whole cow herd or part of it, depending on how many there are and how much grass we need to clean up from place to place. The point of this is two-fold: first, to feed the cows and, second, to reduce the amount of grass that when it dries becomes fuel for fires.

Every year, we move the cows first to areas close to the highway where thoughtless drivers toss their live ashes or lit cigarettes out of their car windows, tempting fate and the destruction of fire. Then they will go either to the airstrip, the area where hay is stacked, the old bull field, around the houses or the village pasture. Following the clean up in those areas, they will be allowed on the mountain where they have many, many acres to roam with fresh water from troughs placed at handy intervals. They will spend some time up there enjoying the fresh grass and sweet mountain water. They will stay until shortly before they are about to calve. Then they will be brought down, sorted into a couple of groups and put into the lower pastures to await the birth of their calves. Another cycle is about to begin.