It’s not over

I know that some of you were thrilled and relieved by the recent court decision regarding the 3rd District election challenge between Steve Pappas and Doreen Farr.

I also know that many others were distressed and saddened by the recent descriptions of a lack of evidence to support the claim of fraud in the case brought by Pappas.

What you didn’t hear about was the one incident allowed by the court to be presented where a young student testified that she had personally filled out her own form, turned it in, and voted only to find out that someone else had filled out another registration form with the very same information with the assistance of someone I shall call “Ali Baba” (and the forty thieves?) who was apparently paid $3,000 by Doreen Farr or her campaign for said services.

In this case, the judge was satisfied that this individual had been able to vote and decided that the potential second vote somehow didn’t matter or create a problem.

What we had learned earlier, I was present during the entirety of the case, was a claim that if two votes occurred seemingly from the same person, whichever one came in first was counted and the other was thrown away.

Although no evidence of this was actually presented, it does make me wonder how one can tell which vote is the legitimate one.

I can’t say that anyone was terribly surprised at the outcome of this first phase of the pursuit of legitimacy.

It seemed fairly evident even before the trial began that the court was not inclined to give much credence to the Pappas attorneys, while all manner of latitude was afforded the opposition.

It was a bit mind-boggling to see the group of people whose names you knew but weren’t aware of, just how cozy they all were. I guess it should not be a surprise as this election effort has been perfected probably by the same group over many years.

It is nice that the same script has been followed and now that that has been discovered, future litigation will have an easier time to expose it.

As I said at the beginning, this is not over. While briefs are being prepared and decisions are waited for, plans are being made to pursue our constitutionally guaranteed free and fair election to its logical conclusion.

In the meantime, be patient and be assured that the laws that have been passed to guarantee that who is voting is who they say they are will be followed.

If they have to dip their fingers in purple ink in Iraq to make sure people don’t vote more than once, why would Santa Barbara County want anything less? Apparently, there are some here who do.


Urgent notice

It has come to my attention that there is a move afoot to surreptitiously remove Williamson Act agricultural land by petition to our Board of Supervisors for cultural buildings, housing and other infrastructure developments for Native American Tribes or other tribal groups.

This legislation has been re-introduced by Senator Dean Florez (D-Bakersfield) and is being sponsored by our local “Chumash” or Mission Band of Indians. This bill was first proposed last year by Assemblymember Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia).

When this bill appeared the first time, it was opposed by the Farm Bureau because of how cash-rich tribes are expanding their real estate holdings without regard to the land’s agricultural preserve status. As California remains dependent on its rich agricultural production for income, it behooves all of us to help keep it viable.

If we do not act to keep our agricultural lands in agriculture, we will become beholden to some other country for our very sustenance, just like we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on foreign oil even when we have our own supply available.

Many of us in agriculture have worked hard to keep producing the sustenance people require and have been supportive of efforts by government to support us in turn by keeping the Williamson Act in place. It assures that land in productive agriculture will not be forced out by rising tax bills fueled by development speculation.

It is not clear to me why our local tribe is sponsoring this bill, but I am sure that we must encourage our representatives, local and state, immediately to oppose this bill until we understand better what the intentions are. We cannot afford to lose more agricultural land in this state and we need to respond quickly to have our voices heard. SB 170 will be heard in the Senate Local Government Committee sometime after March 17.


Weeds in the river

Last week I received a notice that funds were being applied for that would enable our county to apply for funds from our broke State of California to get rid of some weeds in the Santa Ynez River. The programs that would be applied to would be the Department of Water Resources Urban Streams Restoration and California River Parkways Programs to eradicate giant reed and tamarisk. These weeds can create flooding situations and erosion. Various chemicals along with hand removal are proposed as techniques to be used in accomplishing this task.

A letter has been sent to river property owners for permission to access their property for the purposes of removing the offending plants that have somehow been identified on their properties.

I believe I was told that an aerial survey was used although I wonder how accurate that is. I received a notice on the date of the first meeting and fortunately we had someone who could attend the meeting to get further information.

There will be two other informational meetings and I hope you will attend, particularly if you are affected. The dates of the meetings to be held in Solvang at the Veteran’s Memorial Building are March 25 and 31.

There are a couple of immediate questions I have. The county is asking for either 10- or 20-year access permission, which seems really excessive to me and I would not be inclined to agree for such a long term. And since when is the Santa Ynez River an “urban stream?”


On the road again

As I write this, I am driving over the Donner Pass between Sacramento and Reno on my way to Nampa, Idaho for another reined cow horse show. This time it is the National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Stakes for four- and five-year-olds. I also have a horse, “Bentley,” who will be showing in the Open Bridle for the first time.

We have just passed 3,000 feet and the sun has gone down. It is 45 degrees outside and we have another 5,000 feet to climb. There is snow everywhere and I only hope that the road stays clear until we get over the top safely and get down the hill to Reno without incident. The trees are all covered with snow and it is really quite beautiful but also requiring much caution. As dusk falls, I am anxious to reach Reno so we may have a nice dinner and rest before heading out again tomorrow for Nampa, near Boise. There we will see our horses and my oldest sister who lives there. I am looking forward to all of that.

We did make it safely over the pass with only a couple of stops for people who had spun out or who couldn’t keep their tires from making them waffle all over the road.

One such individual was doing this right in front of us, which was a bit scary, but eventually they got stopped and we were able to pass and go on our way. At the summit it was 34 degrees, two above freezing, and it was still cold in Reno. We passed Truckee, a town we have visited before with our friends from Reno, and it was seven big degrees last night. Eek!

The road from here, we turn off at Winnemucca, is supposed to be cold but clear. We shall see.

It is one more adventure under our belt!