The last issue of the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, a small weekly newpaper owned and published by rancher Nancy Crawford-Hall, came out Thursday, December 20.
Crawford-Hall isn’t selling the paper, rather, she is shutting it down “until we have a more reasonable government,” leaving the paper’s dozen or so employees out of jobs right before Christmas. The reason, she said in a column Thursday, is because of Obamacare. “Most everybody knows that changes are coming in January, and I am going to be hit hard with new taxes due to Obamacare,” she wrote. “As a result, I am unable to continue to pay reasonable salaries to the professionals working for this newspaper. Everything you have heard about how small business has been given 18 tax breaks is simply a lie. I have received no tax breaks on anything anywhere — and furthermore, I expect huge tax increases next year and the years following, because I am one of those who actually pay taxes. I guess you get what somebody may have voted for.”
The paper’s website has 10 people listed on its editorial staff, and it distributed 22,000 copies a week in Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Lompoc, and Santa Maria. Crawford-Hall purchased the paper for an undisclosed sum from Montecito Journal owner Jim Buckley in January 2007, and subsequently turned it into a weekly. She has used the paper largely to further her own interests.
The goals of the paper, according to its website, were “to provide local information about the area in which we live, including education about agriculture that is rarely covered in other local publications.”
“We have noted, over the years, that other local publications have either abandoned the concept of ‘local’ in their papers or have presented information that was not representative of reality,” the website says. “Public meetings would be described that bore little relation to the salient issues being discussed and did not reflect the actual community sentiments being expressed. We want to report what is really of importance to people.”
Crawford-Hall wrote a weekly column called “On the Ranch” — it gained the nickname “On the Rant” among many — where she spewed extreme right-wing rhetoric. She believed her newspaper balanced what she said is a liberal media. She’s waged war with the county over voter fraud and agriculture more than once. Many people believe Crawford-Hall, a staunch opponent of the Chumash Casino, heavily finances the Preservation of Los Olivos group, which pushes against pretty much anything the Chumash tribe does, especially when it comes to casino operations.
Perhaps more than any other subject, Crawford-Hall wrote about voter fraud. She was the main financier of Steve Pappas’s two failed runs for 3rd District supervisor in 2008 and 2012, spending $580,500 on the campaigns. Almost on a weekly basis after Pappas lost the 2008 election, Crawford-Hall used her column to further Pappas’s claim that voter fraud occurred, even though he lost a lawsuit and an appeal in which he made the same accusations, and investigating agencies declined to file any charges.
Years later, Crawford-Hall continued to dwell on the issue, claiming to have evidence that fraud was committed, though she never presented the proof. In her closing edition Thursday, she attempted to share some of that research, though she used only one voter’s information to prove her case, and even then it was difficult to understand what she was getting at. “We have a media, except us, who actively support the theft of everything and are more interested in reporting voter fraud in Egypt than the United States,” she wrote.
Apparently, though, she’d had enough of carrying the burden. “I intend to continue the work to its logical conclusion, but you can no longer afford to assume I will take care of everything as you have for the past four years,” she wrote. “There are several people who have assumed your burden for the last several years, energy-wise and financially on a number of topics important to everyone here. Whether it is voter fraud or casino expansion, a very few people have actually helped. While your kind words of support have been nice, they don’t produce energy, they didn’t defeat voter fraud and they don’t pay the attorneys bills. It is not up to me to ‘save’ the valley or anything else, as I have heard some people say.”
Crawford-Hall didn’t return an email seeking comment, nor did editor Jim Luksic. A man who answered the phone Tuesday wouldn’t address whether the paper was closing, only saying, “No comment.” But today’s issue made Crawford-Hall’s intentions clear.