So, the whole thing about the $50,000 project to realign some benches to keep panhandlers from harassing people...if you haven't heard of it on the local news, maybe you caught it in the LA times or the San Francisco Chronicle.
Let's look at this problem from a few different angles...First and foremost, the fiscal one. RDA funds, happen to be in great risk of being taken by Sacto due to the dire fiscal state of California. Is this really the best way to spend part of the funds? (Mind you this is the price tag for the removal of only 14 benches.)
Secondly, thinking about the effectiveness. The homeless people I watch on State Street are there begging, but many, are just sitting there, all day. If they aren't facing the street, they are still going to be sitting there. They will still be seen by everyone walking on State, and I'm pretty certain if a position of a bench is uncomfortable, they'll find a different place to sit. As someone well pointed out in the LA Times story, this approach will only move the homeless from State Street- appeasing business owners- to the neighborhoods, which will then create an outcry from neighborhood associations in only a matter of time.
If we wanted to go with an ineffective, illogical approach, we might as well put a Sit-Lie ordinance- similar to the one Newsom sought to pass in San Francisco- which fines these individuals incrementally every time they sit or lay on sidewalks and streets during the hours of 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.- on the 2011 ballot, since we already are set to have the expenses of running our own elections on off years. The reason this type of ordinance wouldn't work is because it wouldn't fix the problem, it would only further criminalize it. (Assuming that if passed it would not create a law suite from the ACLU similar to the one that made us repeal previous ordinances on the books.) These people would be fined, time and time again, possibly go to jail (which taxpayers pay for), they would fail to receive any type of supportive services they need and they would be back on the streets (literally) within days. Would it solve the problem> No, but it could give the illusion that the problem is being addressed, although it would be an expensive illusion to maintain.
Turning around the benches as was the decision of DO and RDA, is many steps removed from a sit/lie ordinance, yet it also creates an illusion that steps are being taken to address the "issue of homelessnes" which in truth, I feel, everyone knows that nothing is going to change.
The Downtown Org and City were on a good track with the unveiling of the Real Change Not Spare Change campaign, yet it hasn't had the follow through. Like with all new ideas, there were fanfares at the beginning but the marketing of it to the public has just not been there to actually make a difference.
The city was also on the right track when they implemented the Safe Parking program in conjunction with New Beginnings. While these programs alone cannot and will not solve the end result of homelessness or any of the root causes, we should for our own good, seek pragmatic solutions, or no solutions at all, but we should avoid expensive, "pseudo-solutions" that only give the illusion of addressing the issue.
Coakley loses in MA and everyone wants to know why. More importantly what are the lessons for any 2010 candidate (at every level).
Many democrats (think Obama) isn't progressive enough. Change (of politics as usual) has not happened. 2 wars remain, bailouts of corporations have occurred, and people have tangible items that symbolize a recession- whether they are foreclosure notices or unemployment benefits- people feel this economy and the politics of the previous administration (of 8 yrs) and it's failure and the immediate failure of Obama to make it all "puppy dogs and rainbows as promised." I have to be honest and tell you I have tuned out a little (and only have been following this election perfunctorily).
What I hear though of all the different analysts are many rookie mistakes. So, please just remember to take note since a bad Jan election is always a good warning to avoid a bad November.
1. Coakley's campaign didn't define the issues- Please define your issues. A campaign must know what they want to put forward, and how they are different from their opponent in a way that it will matter to the voters, this is how campaigns are won.
2. Coakley's campaign didn't define their opponent - I understand that Brown defined himself as an Independent (that voted w/Reps 90% of the time, until last year when he voted with Reps 96% of the time)-Average Voters (as much as I love it when they vote) for the most part are not as enthralled as my peers and I with data and facts. (I was briefly in Law School, where we often discussed the Reasonable Person - which doesn't exist- likewise, we must target campaigns to the Average Voter- whom also doesn't exist). Voters will hear the information (or spin) fed to them, if it's a lie from our opponent or massive spin as in this case- we must call it out- people will listen, and evaluate and come to a decision, but if facts aren't dispelled, people will not have that info to inform their decisions. (trust me, most aren't sitting there at their jobs, fact checking ads they heard on their drive to work!)
3. They didn't go in all the way for the general (Coakley "was on vacation 3 wks/20days" before the election.) - Apparently the Coakley campaign put most of their effort toward the primary (against other Dems) instead of going all out for the general. Now, this one, gets me big time!!! What good does winning a primary do you if you aren't going to show up and show out when it matters?
4. Female independents- Please pick a target demographic that has strength in numbers not some obscure demographic. What matters is strengthening your base and adding to it, but I cannot believe that Kennedy's seat (won by reelection in 2006 with almost 70% of the vote) had female independents as the largest demographic to target.
5. VOTER TURN OUT/ grassroots activism- I did not receive messages for action on facebook until today. Yes, facebook is not the "end all and be all", however a campaign created by grassroots seeks to get out as far and wide as quickly and actively as possible. Democratic campaigns need to be able to better plug into a network of activists nationwide- It is the only way we can continuously win. (Thinking of Maine- Prop 1 in 2009- which, while it didn't go as we hoped, it was still well known and worked for by progressives nationwide)
Admittedly, I was nowhere near close to knowing all the ins & outs of this race, but it is true that times are rough for Democrats and we are going to have to fight hard for every re-election seat in 2010 that is a partisan race. My experience in 2009 (working on a sales tax campaign) and chatting with my colleagues, tells me people are angry at the national politics and translating that directly to their votes in local elections, so unless you are a Dem who has been a VERY GOOD elected, then you probably should worry. I think it is fair to say, as I believe, mediocrity is the first of all evils, and voters are ready to toss out -given uncertainty of the time and unexceptionalism- any democrats who have been outstandingly mediocre- as they probably should but not as a knee jerk reaction, but rather logically and for better, more values committed candidates- (though often they don't run to oppose mediocre candidates in fear of splitting the base vote). Recently, Gov. Bill Ritter (D) and Senators Byron Dorgan (D) and Chris Dodd (D) have said they will not run for re-election in 2010. As Dems, we must focus on supporting good candidates to replace them and work hard to make sure that our numbers hold and increase in the Senate and the Congress.
Locally, we need to rally around those that hold or could win seats that are invaluable (hint, if a democrat has it, it's valuable to hold- if we don't it is valuable to win). Rumors have it that a certain former Republican Supervisor (Firestone) is thinking about running in California's 23rd Congressional district (currently held by Lois Capps). We have the 35th state Assembly seat that must continue to be held by a Democrat, and we also have Supervisorial elections (2nd District) and even Goleta council elections that we want to win for Dems. So let's learn our lessons or relearn our lessons, quickly and decisively and get to doing the hard work that is necessary to make sure we will not wake up in a state of dismay on November 4th, 2010.
Wouldn't you much more rather that somebody tell you they won't do something (because they can't or don't want to) than them telling you they will, so you rely on them and then they don't come through
Just be upfront about things that's all.
I find that in communication, both personal and professional there is too much tip toeing around feelings, egos, motives. Which in turn forces us to say even less and be less open which leads to much more disapointment than anything. We get so caught up in our own biases and lose objectivity and the ability to find a balance, cut the bs and move forward.
Here's an example. In the 08 election, all the very strong Obama supporters were overly enthusiastic, which made me a little nauseous. (to be honest) For months I heard this candidate speak in generalities and promise non-substantive stuff (hope...etc). I'm not a cynic (much), but I really like details, and dates, timelines, whatever substance. In a very eloquent manner Obama hypnotized the nation, and what upset me was the expectations that he raised.
At the time I blogged on Daily Kos (the progressive blog) a rough criticism of what I saw happening and also included this image (that I created).
When I created it, (and now) it means, if you are voting expecting everything to be fixed, you will be disappointed, it's unrealistic to expect everything he promises.
I also created this image depicting the Obama: All puppy dogs and rainbows mentality But on Daily Kos I got 116 messages of disbelief, most likely I was a troll (not someone who genuinley blogs, but one that is just there to destroy). At some point someone pointed out that in previous posts, I had legitimate criticisms of policy from a progressive perspective and maybe I wasn't a troll.
The point is, people both online and offline didn't give legitimacy to my criticism and today when Obama doesn't stand up and is upfront about taking a hard and ultimate stand against the health care $$$ and doesn't demand (if you will) a public option, doesn't exit Afghanistan, doesn't relinquish the Patriot Act, people are all of a sudden disillusioned. Not me. I am very proud of the things he HAS accomplished and is sure better than the "one" we had in office before. Sure, Obama is now stuck with a country that has been falling apart for so many reasons, and he will work hard, but he needs the cooperation of others. It's my thought if we get rid of the blinders and are upfront about how we perceive him and the criticism and expectations of him (and all other electeds) we will be living and working on a reality we can all handle, not this impassioned, useless visions that are unrealistic.
I think president Obama is a good one, a real one, one that has ideals I relate to, but I don't overestimate him. It would be foolish to do so and not attain to reality. Now, there are Republicans that HATE anything and everything the president does. Likewise, Democrats that LOVE everything he does. That's not the way it works, nothing works this way, and I'm one to call things out like that (maybe less than I'd like to) because without the straight forwardness we can't move forward.
This Obama example is just one, where everyone takes sides and we can't call things as they are and not be called, unpatriotic, compromising, traitor or whatever. That's the reason for this blog being named upfront. (I am guilty) of like everyone else tip-toeing around feelings, egos and motives, but I do feel that is the cause of our stalemates.
I was reminded to post this blog & example today, because like the days of campaign 08, Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize today. This move, based on the hope and promise he offers reminds me of not too distant rhetoric and warm fuzzy feelings I heard about non-stop, but dared to question until something could be substantive. I find it either hopeful or patronizing, and I'm not sure which I dislike more.
Cause as we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
If I write a blog on here, it will be upfront, and if it's not, I welcome the challenge to be more so. That does not mean disrespectful, it just means, not useless.
"When a man and a woman are equally qualified and she shares your same principles she should always be your choice of candidate!" Suddenly this came out of my mouth, loudly and unequivocally as my younger sister and I discussed candidates in various political races.
I first was surprised by the determination of the statement and secondly by all that it implies. It is fascinating to watch political endorsements get made for political races, time and time again. Some endorsements are ever so predictable; others seem to be pulled from a hat. Organizations & newspapers do (or should) have a process that is respectable and guidelines that are clear which advance the mission and principles of said entity. Likewise, when we vote or endorse candidates, those decisions too should be made as a process and as a reflection of stated core principles, beliefs, standards and who we are.
I for one am a feminist. I am a pragmatic progressive. I am young and I am Mexican-American and I am a Santa Barbaran and I believe ethics in politics are paramount. When I look to support a candidate I carefully evaluate whether the candidate will, for the most part, represent my values and all that I believe, not necessarily that they will vote on everything the way I would like them to, but that their general vision of their jurisdiction matches mine.
It is so easy to be swayed by carefully crafted campaign slogans, articles written by biased (or bought) reporters or by expensive ads, but at the end of the day, does your vote and therefore your independent endorsement reflect who you are, the values that you hold and the vision that you have conceived? If not, it is always a good time to create a process that yields congruent personal endorsement.
Tags: political endorsements, elections, values, vision, santa barbara, vote, sbopinion
There ought to be outrage that must translate into action in the city of Santa Barbara immediately.
Democracy- Equal access to information so that voters can make decisions that they feel is in their best interest- regarding elections, or any other aspect of their life is something that we strongly believe in. A Democrat (beyond party politics but rather a person who hold values such as Democracy as core beliefs and rules of this game) needs to be informed about an attempt to buy the SB municipal election this year. Furthermore, such said DEMOCRAT, should activate and fight to keep this from happening.
Santa Barbara's municipal election is being bought by a Texas Developer-Randall Van Wolfswinkel (let's call him "Van W")- whose political action committee has already raised $243,000.
"Preserve Our Santa Barbara has taken out $90,000 in media buys on local TV, and another $40,000 for radio ads."
The INDEPENDENT stated that "Van Wolfswinkel's dollars alters the basic chemistry of the campaign."
Craig Smith raised the question that remains unanswered, "So you may be wondering, why is "Tex" contributing so much money to influence an election that he can't even vote in?"
Regardless, our Democracy is under threat.
During my studies as a Political Science student at UCSB, one of the biggest lessons I learned and strongly believe is that World War II did not end because of the Nuclear Bombs, but rather because of the THREAT of more. Likewise, if "Van W" buys this election, it will not just be a statement that money from any outsider will buy sufficient influence and votes but rather it will set a precedent that this is doable, acceptable and will be undoubtedly repeated again and again. Which race, or when, we won't know. Whether one chooses to buy any of our next elections, Supervisorial, Assembly, Congressional, and others is a very likely scenario if we send the message that elections are easily bought in our Central Coast.
We must say NO to Randall Van Wolfswinkel and send a loud message that Santa Barbara elections will NOT be bought! If we lose to "Von W's" money and this becomes a pattern, we will not know until it is too late.
This is such an important issue and I find it invaluable to use the resources that we have to spread the word and win this fight. We can't however do it alone and without some sort of organization, (of organizing, not of .org) and the rightfully suited group to carry on this fight is none other than the Democratic Party.
The SB Democratic Party has a group of endorsements, however, this fight is one for Democracy. Our city and many democrats during this election have played into the game of a wedge issue that is dividing and marring the debate and the real values that our community holds dearly. Independent of the little "d" politics, this overarching threat that is a common one for all of us who believe in the Democratic process should be paramount.
I invite you to become active in this fight:
1. Inform others of this information (this blog, twitter, join & invite others to the facebook group
2. Send a contribution to the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara to fight this giant to Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee, PO Box 22435, Santa Barbara, CA 93121
I wanted to write my first blog about the title of my blog, and a little background info, however I felt "Santa Barbara elections will NOT be bought!" deserved priority.
I want to share with you that today, Newspress Editor, Travis Armstrong published the following opinion piece. Of course it is isn't surprising to see, but I hope that it will further be a reason of outrage.
Opinion: Why they're smearing Randall Van Wolfswinkel Travis Armstrong October 1, 2009 6:53 AM
How predictable. The smearing of Randall Van Wolfswinkel has started, courtesy of the usual suspects. Santa Barbara's politicians, their local high-density developer friends, subsidized housing activists and biased journalists can talk all they want about the need to be civil.
But these are the folks who come out with personal attacks whenever people refuse to kowtow to them. They'll make anonymous accusations filled with innuendo. They'll make excuse after excuse for government leaders whose official actions have harmed your quality of life.
So the attacks on Mr. Van Wolfswinkel were to be expected.
I recall thinking about this months ago when having lunch with him. Does anyone really want to put himself or herself in the firing line of this cabal of incivility?
I wanted to tell Mr. Van Wolfswinkel, for his own sake, that he just forget about getting involved. He's a contemplative, rather quiet fellow who doesn't need the headache. He has a family to care for and a company to run.
But Mr. Van Wolfswinkel's concern for his hometown's future means he'll endure the name-calling and insults. He's become a major contributor to reform-minded mayoral and council candidates. He supports Measure B, a ballot initiative aimed at stopping tall development.
Mr. Van Wolfswinkel is a local kid. He attended Cleveland Elementary School, Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School. He made it big after college. His company builds single-family homes in Texas.
But Santa Barbara has never left this heart.
Like many of you, he's fed up with overdevelopment, gang violence and the mismanagement of city finances. He says he wants positive change in our community.
Here's his story, in his own words, as I first relayed to you in a column in August before his $243,000 in contributions made the news. He says:
"When I was young, I mowed lawns in the neighborhood and started my own sprinkler service. I used to ride my bike to school and the different routes I would take whetted my interest in architecture and the beauty of many of our Santa Barbara homes and buildings.
"Later, I went away to college, attending Cal State Northridge. Soon after, I moved to Texas to work with my brother who was building homes, and a year later I started my own home-building company.
"I have built many homes in Texas and I feel like it is an appropriate place for growth with all the open spaces, freeways and resources which are very different from this community. Santa Barbara is largely built out to capacity and cannot handle many more people.
"My family still lives in Santa Barbara and I'm here quite often. I bought a home in (this community) three years ago because my goal is to live here full time.
"In recent years, my family, friends and I have been distressed to see the impact of overdevelopment, lack of fiscal responsibility, crime and vagrancy on Santa Barbara. We see the majestic community that drew us here over 40 years ago quickly disappearing . . .
"Cynics and doubters say, 'What's in it for you?' The truth is there's nothing in it for me other than the satisfaction of knowing I helped -- in some small measure -- to maintain our 'American Riviera,' our paradise by the sea. There's no personal financial gain as my company does not build homes in Santa Barbara, nor does it have any plans to do so. Any such accusations or insinuations are wrong."
The accusations or insinuations may be wrong, but that's never stopped those who are running Santa Barbara. Or should I say, those who are running Santa Barbara into the ground?
So to Mr. Van Wolfswinkel, I say thank you and apologize for those who'd treat a hometown kid with a good heart in such a way.
At this point, you're more than entitled to fight back in any manner you wish.
Travis Armstrong is the editorial page editor of the News-Press and host of a weekly talk show on AM 1290.