#childsafety | From Our Inbox: Letters to the Editor for the Week Ending Oct. 16, 2020 | Opinions


Oh. My. God. Paulina Conn’s Oct. 16 letter to the editor is absolutely chilling.

Her mindset, although no doubt well-intentioned, reveals why the United States of America is far closer to socialism than at any time in our nation’s history, and why there may be no turning back — sooner than we think.

Take just one of her solutions:

“Quarantine everyone worldwide immediately for two weeks or up to two months. Forbid all travel everywhere. There would be no crossing of any borders by planes, trains, buses, cars, bicycles, walking, nothing. That includes from house to house, walking within a city, no crossing of county lines, nothing. STAY AT HOME! The virus would have died out for lack of ability to infect.”

Would that utopia be so simple. It’s not, not even under a repressive regime. And when Conn’s total lockdown solution fails to work, the repression inevitably has to get … more repressive. No thanks.

Dan Helms
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Regarding Patricia Birdsell’s Oct. 16 letter to the editor, has anyone told her that “Santa Barbara’s wonderful nature preserves” and Hendry’s Beach have always been open to “large numbers of younger folks”?

In her kingdom, are those of us who are under 65 just supposed to be confined to our homes until she decrees we can come out?

Bonita González
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

If Paulina Conn wears her tinfoil hat when she walks in Shoreline Park, no one will come near her.

E. Wright
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

I got a fraudulent phone call today saying that my Southern California Edison bill was overdue and that I needed to call an 800 number to resolve the problem. I did not call. (The number the phony caller left was 800.709.3621.)

I checked my Edison account online and saw that this month’s bill had been paid as usual. The phone number on the Edison website was different from that left on my message machine. The phony phone caller sounded suspicious as well.

I tried to contact Edison but the company does not take emails and the phone tree does not allow one to speak to anyone. So Edison cannot be contacted to alert them to this fraud. How frustrating.

It would be a public service to let people know that they may receive such a call.

Betsy Gallery
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

I would like to voice my support of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s sex education program for junior high school students. A very vocal group is protesting against it.

There is a simple solution for this group protesting: They can very easily opt their child out if they don’t like it.

I am upset that they are attempting to block my child from it. I want this program for my child!

Americans speak precious little to their children about sex, and school is the only place most kids will get “correct” information from trained teachers.

Kids today are getting sex ed information from:

» Peers (often ill-informed)

» The Internet, ie. pornography

In 2020, the average age for a child to see their first porn is 11! This isn’t like finding a Playboy magazine under the mattress. This is hard-core stuff that is very easily accessed and shared between our kids. I have heard some disturbing stories lately from fellow moms of elementary school students!

I am the daughter of teen parents. They were 16. Education is empowerment. When kids have correct information about sex, they are more likely to make good decisions for themselves.

What the Santa Barbara school district is doing is correct and right. Educating our kids about this very important, natural part of life is the right thing to do.

Paige Swanson
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

In response to Kathy Ireland’s Oct. 11 commentary, I am sorry she feels personally attacked in my Sept. 11 letter to the editor.

Her opposition to Teen Talk is because it “violates science … oversexualizes our children, … violates our precious children and … does not deal with the aftermath.” My criticisms assumed perspective affects experience. Using fear and shame as an argument against comprehensive and inclusive sex education only provides a breeding ground for sexual hang-ups, not education.

And Ireland’s negative, fear-based view of sex is echoed in the opening pages of the HEART: Healthy Education and Relationship Training curriculum for seventh grade. Puberty is compared to the “dangerous” re-entry of a spacecraft into the earth’s atmosphere, defined as a time with the “highest risk of death”, alleviated when we manage this risk with sex education, framing puberty and sexuality as fraught with danger.

The HEART curriculum also asserts that the only effective method of sex education for students with strong sexual drives is the intention of the students to abstain from sex until marriage.

The perspectives of Ireland and the HEART curriculum are flawed because they reveal a disparity between the world they want and the world that exists.

To Ireland and the HEART curriculum, the sexual experience is a dangerous mine field rather than a natural human experience requiring responsibility and knowledge. They measure successful sex education as compliance with what they deem is the only proper social response: abstinence, and use fear and shame as methods of influence.

And the HEART curriculum is NOT inclusive. Referring to stereotypes as helpful, HEART uses the acronym LGB rather than LGBTQ — denying the sexual/gender reality of more than a few young people — with regular references to same-sex attraction as a temporary stage or phase of youth.

The reality is that both Ireland and the HEART curriculum reflect a narrow and provincial attitude toward gender and sexuality. And while I would never deny Ireland her right to express her opinion, what she argues for has no place in public education.

Maggie Light
Carpinteria

•        •        •

On Oct. 16, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration quietly issued six new fracking permits to Aera Energy LLC, bringing the total of approvals since April to 54.

As a candidate, Newsom promised to oppose fracking. During our recent wildfires, he took to the national stage to declare that climate change is real. Yet he continues to allow free rein to fossil fuel companies — which have spread climate denial for decades and whose product is fueling the fires — by issuing more than 1,700 new oil permits and dozens of fracking permits in 2020 alone.

California is one of the largest oil-producing states. More than 5 million of us live less than a mile from an active oil well. Evidence links exposure to toxins from drilling to asthma, lung and heart disease, birth defects, cancer and more.

Ours is the only major oil-producing state that has no regulations regarding the proximity of oil and gas infrastructure to communities. In Santa Barbara County, as elsewhere, this affects mostly people of color and low-income groups, many of whom live within 2,500 feet of oil drilling and who are already at higher risk from COVID-19. Permitting drilling in these communities upholds the racist systems Newsom claims to oppose.

Moreover, Newsom could save us another battle with Big Oil locally if he simply stopped approving permits.

Tell Newsom: It’s time to stop issuing fossil fuel permits, drop existing oil production through a just transition, and roll out 2,500-foot health and safety buffer zones between oil drilling and the places where we live, work and play. Sign the petition here.

Rachel Altman
Montecito

•        •        •

The Lompoc City Council on Oct. 20 passed a resolution stating: “The City Council does not consent to the inclusion of the City of Lompoc in the BID.” This was in response to a petition from 32 Lompoc wineries opposing the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Wine Business Improvement District. The petition signers are a number of Lompoc’s and Santa Barbara Wine Country wine pioneers and well- known wineries.

The Santa Barbara Vintners have been working on a Wine BID for more than two years. Its fourth version proposes to tax 1 percent of all California Direct to Consumer (DTC) Santa Barbara County wine sales. According to the Vintners’ website, this would raise $1 million, of which $465,000 would be spent on “salaries, overhead and reserves.”

The Vintners’ website states that BID No. 4 will be brought to the Board of Supervisors in November/December to be effective in January. The Vintners’ contend the Wine BID will promote “the entire wine region.”

If the supervisors approve the Wine BID, each incorporated city in the county must affirmatively vote to be included in the Wine BID for it to be effective in each city.

At a meeting of the Lompoc wineries in February, in response to what the Vintners would do if a city voted not to opt in to the Wine BID, the Vintners’ executive director replied that the Vintners would “cut out” that city’s wineries and tasting rooms from the Wine BID’s marketing programs.

Cutting out Lompoc wineries and their tasting rooms is antithetical to the justification and purpose of the Wine BID — to promote the “entire” Santa Barbara Wine Country and its wines.

We anticipate that after the Nov. 3 election, the city councils of Buellton, Santa Barbara and Solvang will have the opportunity to express their views on this important issue.

Steve Pepe
Clos Pepe Vineyards
Lompoc

•        •        •

Loved that you ran Jerry McGovern’s “Ode to Susie-Q” in the Obituaries section. Respectful and not at all inappropriate.​

Maria Brant
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

I am shocked to see a commentary on Noozhawk that is so far out of the norm that it is alarming!

Jim Langley’s Oct. 17 column, “Seeking Truths in a World Filled with Lies,” shocked and astounded me. I felt it had nothing to offer except to “stir the pot” of divisiveness in our community. It offered no constructive thoughts or advice. No thoughtful statements to help me understand where this opinion was coming from.

As a news organization, I feel it is Noozhawk’s professional and moral obligation to publish articles that help people understand all points of view, and even though this was a commentary, I feel it crossed the line and should not be given a place on your site. The only thing this article will do is incite hatred and confirm the opinions that divide us.

Don’t you think we have enough of that?

Chris Henry
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Montecito has a chance to elect three superb directors to the Montecito Sanitary District on Nov. 3.

» Dorinne Lee Johnson currently chairs the Montecito Association’s Land Use Committee, where she’s tackled huge subjects like debris basins, roundabouts, under-grounding utilities and the Montecito Sanitary District’s buildings and permitting missteps. She is well qualified as an engineer and entrepreneur. Johnson is all about serving our community.

» Don Eversoll is the former head of the Nature Conservancy in New York. He knows all about sanitary districts and recycling facilities; he’s built them. We would be extremely fortunate to have his technical expertise coupled with his innate boardroom skills. With recycling of water being our priority, Eversoll’s experience and environmental background will hasten our progress.

» Edwin Martin is an attorney who has represented victims in toxic environmental cases. Because of his legal investigative mind, he is able to slice through documentation to get to the heart of an issue and make his case. Martin is a big fan of good governance and transparency, both of which will be extremely valuable to our sanitary district and community.

As your elected directors, these three candidates have our full endorsement. With your help, we will be excited to get them on board to make scalable recycled water a reality, end ocean discharge to protect our environment, focus on the district’s priorities and convert as many septic properties to sanitary service as possible — again, protecting our environment.

They’ll bring strong fiscal responsibility and open government practices. With Johnson, Eversoll and Martin on Montecito Sanitary District board, all criteria required for the variety of expertises will be met!

We urge you to vote for Johnson, Eversoll and Martin.

Dana Newquist and Woody Barrett
Montecito Sanitary District board members
Montecito

•        •        •

The Goleta Unified School District is fortunate to have somebody of the qualifications of Vicki Chen Ben-Yaacov run for a position on its board. I was introduced to Vicki by John MacFarlane, who encouraged me to join the board of a new nonprofit organization she was creating a few years ago to support science education in our schools.

Vicki is a highly trained scientist/engineer, she is a mother of two, and she is passionate about education, particularly in the STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, art and math). She applies her passion with almost unlimited energy and devotion.

Most important, Vicki is also deeply knowledgeable about education, from the perspectives of the classroom, school administration and parents. She is conscientious in listening to stakeholders as she pursues her passion for excellence in education. I cannot think of a better qualified person than her, and I endorse her enthusiastically.

Karl Hutterer
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

Anyone paying attention to the current Santa Barbara Unified School District school board campaign might be impressed to hear how often the word “literacy” is thrown around — literacy as a human right, literacy as a social justice issue, literacy as a fundamental part of each child’s education.

It would be quite impressive if all the candidates had a deep understanding and working knowledge of the complex issue of literacy and what it takes to implement sound practices to improve the literacy levels in our schools for students who are born with the hereditary condition, dyslexia.

Only Monie de Wit can speak broadly and in depth about literacy. She is the only candidate who, for years, has been advocating for improved practices to address literacy in our district and in our community. She has spoken in front of the school board and advocated for children in low-income families whose dyslexia has gone unidentified and untreated in the Santa Barbara school district.

While de Wit has tirelessly spoken out at school board meeting on the subject of literacy for nearly a decade, the current school board members have totally ignored and dismissed her plea to help these children.

Through her 20 years of volunteer work at the Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center, de Wit discovered her son had unidentified dyslexia. Using the resources of the center, she learned how to advocate for her son to get him the appropriate services he was entitled to. De Wit spent may years fighting the district to get services for her son.

De Wit only spoke Dutch when she started school.As an English language learner herself, she is very familiar with the literacy struggles faced by a huge percentage of the students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. She is the only one of the candidates who understands how this underserved population can be taught to read, write and spell, and why the current methods utilized by the district are so inefficient.

When the Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center closed it doors some years ago, its board voted to offer its considerable resources to the Santa Barbara school district. The center’s library held the largest collection of books, videotapes and parent training material in the country, at an estimated value of more than $200,000. Benefactors included The Paul and Natalie Orfalea Foundation, Charles Schwab Dyslexia Foundation, The Hutton Foundation, The Irvine Foundation and multiple state and local foundations.

Fortunately, Superintendent David Cash was excited to move the complete center into the district office, where it was renamed the Parent Resource Center. Cash hired Cheri Rae to run it and train the parents, and the center flourished — supported by philanthropists, educators and even politicians — and brought great accolades to the district for its proactive approach.

Shockingly, when Cash retired and Superintendent Cary Matsuoka took charge, he and the incumbent school board members — now running for re-election — allowed the Parent Resource Center to close. They deprived the community and parents any access to these valuable resources.

The closure of that innovative Parent Resource Center shows just how much the school board members do not understand the needs of students with dyslexia. To this day, I wonder what they did with the valuable resources entrusted to their care.

I hope you will vote for Monie de Wit for school board and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Joan Esposito
Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center founder
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

In the race for Goleta Union School District board, one candidate stands out: Vicki Ben-Yaacov. Over the years, she has developed a keen understanding of how the Goleta school system works, has navigated the bureaucracy across our schools, and has cultivated relationships with principals and administrators in the district to more effectively work on behalf of our children.

As a professional working in the environmental field, I believe Ben-Yaacov is the only candidate who truly understands how important sustainability is and will bring a voice to amplify the importance of environmental issues across the education system. She has also directly improved the STEM offerings in the district — leading and developing a robotics after-school program in collaboration with UC Santa Barbara’s engineering department.

Ben-Yaacov’s enthusiasm and passion for STEM education and environmental issues is contagious, and as a board member she will fight for students of every background to have greater access to unique educational experiences.

Dima Reda
Goleta

•        •        •

On the afternoon of Oct. 18, I was honked at and booed by a parade of expensive cars painted with Yes on L2020, the Cold Spring School District school bond. Then the Vote NO on L2020 signs my husband put up were stolen.

I have lived in this community for 35 years and have never been treated this rudely. Even worse, there were kids in the cars. Is this what they are teaching the children at the Cold Spring School? Harass people who don’t share your viewpoints?

I went on NextDoor and read a post that the school board policies had been changed so that only the board president is allowed to ask questions of the district superintendent. Apparently all board members need to funnel their questions to the board president, who has the power to decide not to ask the questions. What’s the point of an elected school board? Is that even legal?

At this point I will be shocked if L2020 passes, but what I really want to know is what happened to all the money from Measure C? That bond was for a lot of the things listed in L2020. The district is legally required to have an Oversight Committee for Measure C; who is on that committee? Where are the meeting minutes? How much money has been spent and on what?

Maybe instead of driving around making a big ruckus, these parents should start asking more questions. Unless the board communication policies apply to the rest of us as well.

Esther Greene
Montecito

•        •        •

I am voting YES on L2020, the Cold Spring School District bond, and I hope you will, too.

The main reason I am voting yes is because there is an undeniable need. Regardless of whether L2020 passes, the portable classrooms have to be replaced and the smaller infrastructure projects have to be completed. The question is how.

If these projects are completed without a bond, then we will get another set of portables and the other projects will be spaced out and kicked down the road. I don’t think that is in the best interest of the kids, teachers or our community.

The portables were originally put there with the intention and hope to be replaced with real classrooms. This has been in the facilities master plan since the early 2000s. In addition, now is the time to take advantage of low interest rates. The $130-140 annual cost per $1 million of tax assessment is very low for a $7.8 million bond.

If the bond passes, our local school district would have real classrooms in a safe building and the other projects will be completed so that our teachers and administration can focus their efforts on the most important aspect of their job: the education of the children. And what a great job they do!

Does Cold Spring deserve our vote? YES!

The administration, teachers, and parents at Cold Spring school work tirelessly to ensure that our children get an amazing education. We are a small district so almost everyone has multiple roles in order to keep the parts moving. The fact that our test scores make us the No. 1 school district in California prove that something is working right. Not only is our school recognized for its scholastic achievements, our teachers and our superintendent/principal have been recognized for their talented work as well.

Our community has the extraordinary advantage of having an amazing gem of a school that has become a model for other schools. I hope you will consider voting yes so that the district can build the necessary classrooms and facility improvements to match the quality education that is happening inside.

I have been dismayed and concerned about the misinformation posted on a social media platforms. Those posts are NOT monitored for accuracy and almost everything I have seen written by the opposition has been false or misleading at best. The Cold Spring School District has been transparent about information regarding the bond through mailed fliers, our website, a webinar and public discussion at board meetings, with minutes available on our website.

Jennifer Miller
Cold Spring School District board president
Montecito

•        •        •

I’m not sure if voters are aware, but the “abbreviated” description of the Cold Spring School District L2020 bond measure is not the entire measure. The complete “RESOLUTION NO. 2019-20/16” is 11 pages of complicated, ambiguous and potentially costly language — that includes more than “safe drinking water” and “quality teachers.”

I oppose L2020 because it provides no assurance that promised projects will be constructed or completed. It allows ridiculous freedom to only seven people who get to decide what they want to build, when and where they want to build it, and how much they’ll pay themselves to do it — all without accountability or recourse. Don’t believe me? READ THE BOND.

“In the absence of state matching funds … the district may not be able to complete all of the projects …” You mean they need more money from the state, too? And if they don’t get it? Well, they tried.

“Based on the final costs of each project, certain of the projects described above may be delayed or may not be completed.” So what happens when the contractor the district curiously hired from Santa Maria needs an extra $200,000 to finish the incomplete administration offices? What project gets nixed because “final costs” exceeded expectations? The security system? The HVAC improvements? The Art and STEAM rooms? No big deal. They can just add those to the next bond measure.

“Demolition of existing facilities and reconstruction of facilities scheduled for repair and upgrade may occur …” Demo-what? What recourse does an oversight committee have if it meets a week after your daughter’s classroom was demolished? Probably not very much, considering everyone on the oversight committee will be hand-selected by the district governing board.

Proponents of the bond have insisted that bond money will not pay “administrative salaries” or “pensions, teacher and school administrator salaries …” Interesting how this statement makes no reference to DISTRICT staff — salaried or unsalaried — not being paid. Especially when earlier verbiage (page 8), states: “Proceeds of the bonds may be used to pay or reimburse the district for the costs of district staff when performing work on or necessary and incidental to bond projects.”

Does this mean district staff members can earn money from L2020, as long as they work on the very same project that “may” be paying them?

Neither the district staff nor the governing board has developed a prioritized schedule, predicted timeline or an overall master plan. They say plans will be determined after the bond passes.

So the surrounding neighbors (many of whom are parents and grandparents of alumni), who spent decades building the heart and soul of this amazing little school — and who were not solicited for their experience or input — now face the burden of the third multimillion-dollar bond tax (previous bonds passed in 1996 and 2008), so seven employees who share a mutual agenda can spend nearly $16 million of their money?

Perhaps the district staff and Board of Trustees should revise its mission statement to read: “Put up AND Shut up.”

Katie Cusimano
Montecito

•        •        •

Anyone paying attention to the current Santa Barbara Unified School District school board campaign might be impressed to hear how often the word “literacy” is thrown around — literacy as a human right, literacy as a social justice issue, literacy as a fundamental part of each child’s education.

It would be quite impressive if all the candidates had a deep understanding and working knowledge of the complex issue of literacy and what it takes to implement sound practices to improve the literacy levels in our schools for students who are born with the hereditary condition, dyslexia.

Only Monie de Wit can speak broadly and in depth about literacy. She is the only candidate who, for years, has been advocating for improved practices to address literacy in our district and in our community. She has spoken in front of the school board and advocated for children in low-income families whose dyslexia has gone unidentified and untreated in the Santa Barbara school district.

While de Wit has tirelessly spoken out at school board meeting on the subject of literacy for nearly a decade, the current school board members have totally ignored and dismissed her plea to help these children.

Through her 20 years of volunteer work at the Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center, de Wit discovered her son had unidentified dyslexia. Using the resources of the center, she learned how to advocate for her son to get him the appropriate services he was entitled to. De Wit spent may years fighting the district to get services for her son.

De Wit only spoke Dutch when she started school.As an English language learner herself, she is very familiar with the literacy struggles faced by a huge percentage of the students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. She is the only one of the candidates who understands how this underserved population can be taught to read, write and spell, and why the current methods utilized by the district are so inefficient.

When the Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center closed it doors some years ago, its board voted to offer its considerable resources to the Santa Barbara school district. The center’s library held the largest collection of books, videotapes and parent training material in the country, at an estimated value of more than $200,000. Benefactors included The Paul and Natalie Orfalea Foundation, Charles Schwab Dyslexia Foundation, The Hutton Foundation, The Irvine Foundation and multiple state and local foundations.

Fortunately, Superintendent David Cash was excited to move the complete center into the district office, where it was renamed the Parent Resource Center. Cash hired Cheri Rae to run it and train the parents, and the center flourished — supported by philanthropists, educators and even politicians — and brought great accolades to the district for its proactive approach.

Shockingly, when Cash retired and Superintendent Cary Matsuoka took charge, he and the incumbent school board members — now running for re-election — allowed the Parent Resource Center to close. They deprived the community and parents any access to these valuable resources.

The closure of that innovative Parent Resource Center shows just how much the school board members do not understand the needs of students with dyslexia. To this day, I wonder what they did with the valuable resources entrusted to their care.

I hope you will vote for Monie de Wit for school board and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Joan Esposito
Dyslexia Awareness and Resource Center founder
Santa Barbara

•        •        •

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