Name It After the People

The Santa Barbara City Council is giving serious thought to naming the airport terminal after a former mayor at the behest of a well-heeled, very active group of proponents. We have 90 days from the City Council meeting of July 31 to come to a conclusion.

Why is it that people with property, power, and prestige want to name buildings after people with property, power, and prestige?

Some of the points made to support naming the airport terminal building, not the whole airport they were quick to point out, after the former mayor, whose name is not known to many these-a-days they say, especially the younglings, is that these latter may be motivated to find out who this is and, thus, study Santa Barbara’s history. If that is a good reason, then why not name it after one of the homeless people who died of exposure? Studying the history of how the homeless are treated, especially in Santa Barbara, would be a worthy pursuit. Perhaps a specialty in homeless veterans suffering from fear and trembling could become a thesis.

A lawyer propounded naming the building after the former mayor because he was a good lawyer. A lawyer advocating a building be named after a lawyer.

Why not have someone stand at the lectern before the council who is a garbageman, a baker, butcher, candlestick maker to advocate one of their own kind? Everybody eats cake. And, what of all those used-up memos and past reports, could the policy-makers survive and sally forth if their office were filled to the brim with papers wanting to be garbage bound? Ron Kalowski, now there is a working name – paper hauler, slurry swinger, shoulders for a city to be carried on.

Wherever there are 11 or 12 actors assembled, there shall emerge a self-gratulating awards show. Wherever there are people of prominence wanting to be prominated, there is a blank wall on a building waiting for them. Let us, instead, acknowledge the people who made them prominent.

The advocates made clear that only a portion of the airport, the terminal building, would receive the name. In Sion, Switzerland, in the main train station, there is a sign with three-foot letters over the comfort station that says, in screaming, bleached white letters: Pissoir. I want my vanity noted for a singular portion in our building. I kindly request a sign over the gentleman’s quarter state: Bob’s Pissoir.

No president, general, mayor, corporate head, or any leader anywhere ever did anything without the support of others, the typers, the planners, the constructioners, the road repairers, the park-tidiers, the mass and myriad of people who carry out the will of the leader. How about if we celebrate the people who drove the nails, covered the walls, and ran the electrical wires in the new airport – the people. How about if we celebrate the people who wanted it, planned for it, and paid for it – the people. How about if we keep this simple and celebrate the people who use the building, pay for the upkeep, and fly on the planes to and from the airport – the reason for the airport, the source of almost all the revenue – the people. So, how about a sign over the front door that says: Passenger’s Terminal. The People.

The Airport Commission recommended that nobody’s name be given to the building. To that I say: Hurray!

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