Holy Cow! The three Council Members who are on the City ballot – Dale Francisco, Randy Rowse, Michael Self – have done an about-face and are espousing radical concepts like services for the homeless, public safety, and neighborhood traffic calming instead of doing what they usually do: fighting them.
I don’t believe them. I have watched Dale fighting all of the above for four years. I have watched Michael Self and newcomer Randy Rowse voting with him most of the time against traffic calming and against the homeless while calling for “a cleaner downtown.” In the forums, in their ads, and in their press conference they suddenly love calm traffic, services for the homeless, and our police.
My first inkling of the about-face occurred when I watched incumbent Dale Francisco at the League of Women Voters forum in the library saying his highest priority for the City is to make it walkable and bicycle-friendly. I pinched myself. Is this the same Council Member who fought every traffic-slowing measure ever brought to the Council?
In the last Council, Das Williams and I went round and round with Dale on slowing traffic in various areas of the City. He wasn’t listening to the staff or the people. When a man died on De la Vina, it was business as usual for Dale. And now he didn’t bat an eye when Eva Inbar, famous for Safe Routes to School, asked for a light at Milpas and Ortega in honor of two people who have been killed by cars there in the last couple of years. I didn’t hear his answer, but I remember Michael Self always calling for more and more police officers to give traffic tickets. That was her answer for every traffic issue, for every traffic death. A couple of years ago she called the Mayor’s radio show wanting to get rid of anything that slows traffic, and she advocated for police officers in every neighborhood. When she ran for Council the first time, it was her own nine cars she pointed to very proudly in her ads.
Tonight I heard incumbent Michael Self on the news calling for neighborhood traffic planning. Whoa! Another pinch for myself. Is this the same person who questioned the City’s traffic planning with the neighbors in the bungalow area? Those neighbors came up with a plan which had only begun to be implemented but was stopped because then-candidate Michael Self fought their plan tooth and nail. She then undermined planning in the Cottage Hospital area, causing the City to scuttle neighborhood traffic planning altogether. Now she wants to lead the City in making the neighborhoods do traffic planning? I sincerely hope she doesn’t meet someone like herself who will undermine the neighbors’ plans like she did.
Then there is Randy Rowse whose “clean up downtown” mantra – a lightly veiled “get rid of the homeless” – wasn’t gaining traction, so he was on TV using the word “sustainable,” but not about the environment. Instead he was pointing to a more sustainable police force and a balanced budget. Another pinch for me. The City Council balances the budget every year because it is the right thing to do, and it is required by the City Charter. In addition, as long as I served on the Council, the Police Chief was empowered to overhire police officers because they take a couple of years to train and are often on injury leave. So those two issues are easy.
However, it is curious in this election that the police officers have endorsed three other people instead of the incumbents. Maybe the police know when people are telling the truth and when they are not. This City deserves better, and I deserve not to be pinched so much! I am worried if we vote for the three incumbents, they will feel empowered to change their rhetoric back. Their actions speak volumes; we deserve an honest City Council. I, for one, am not voting for any of the incumbents.
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Marty Blum is the immediate past mayor of Santa Barbara