<b>TRACTIONLESS:</b>  Peter Adam received little love from his fellow supervisors at this week’s board meeting.

Paul Wellman

TRACTIONLESS: Peter Adam received little love from his fellow supervisors at this week’s board meeting.

Adam Tries, Fails to Shrink Energy Division

Says Both State and Local Agencies Oversee Same Oil and Gas Regulations

Thursday, May 9, 2013
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While new 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam might get points for sticking to his guns, he has a 0-2 record in successfully arguing issues to the Board of Supervisors in his take-no-prisoners approach to fixing county government. His target this time around was the planning department and what he characterized as duplication by local departments and state agencies in oversight of oil and gas regulations. His hope was to get Planning and Development Director Glenn Russell to prioritize enforcement of the county’s code that deals with oil and gas regulations, which just went through an extensive overhaul in 2011 in response to the mess Greka’s notorious oil spills caused. In other words, he wanted to chop into P&D’s energy division, an area he didn’t hide his distaste for during his campaign last year.

No dice, the other four supervisors said in response. First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal called it “a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.” If anything, 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr said, any redundancy that might exist is probably important to enforcing the county’s regulation of oil and gas activity.

After the inevitable failure of Adam’s motion, he went on the attack. “We have to give up something,” said Adam, who has shown little regard for form or process in his time on the board. “If we can’t cut anything, anytime, anywhere, I don’t know how we’re going to get out of the morass. If you guys won’t help yourselves, I guess I’ll just sit here and be quiet.”

The rest of the supervisors were clearly not pleased with this statement, with board chair Carbajal explaining that they have endured deep cuts over the last several years to many departments and were not going to put the public’s safety and health in jeopardy by potentially eliminating oversight of activities that have a history of hurting Santa Barbara County’s environment.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Too bad about this. Adam may be the only Board member who realizes that something must actually be done about the finances and Farr and Carbajal are more interested, as usual, in protecting the county employees.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 9:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

At least Farr supports civil rights and not handouts to billionaires.
In addition, due to state cuts- we need more people in the field doing the job to protect us all from the next pipeline spill, refinery fire. Since we already have several stooges for corporations and millionaires on the Board, perhaps it's Adams who's duplicating services.

Both the public and responsible energy companies are served by the agency. He must be on Greka's payroll as well. (BTW, Greka's industry reputation is not good, not good at all. Exxon has a better industry rep than Greka. It's ironic that the area that "spawned the environmental movement" also is home to one of the worst polluters. But hey looks like they got their man on the board now.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 9:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Enforcement of the Petroleum Code is a relatively "revenue neutral" activity. Most if not all costs are ultimately borne by industry violators and not the County's general fund. If cost cutting is the goal, it would be wise to look elsewhere.

nathanalley (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 11:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)

First of all, like I've said all along, Adam's no compromise attitude will end up getting him rebuked by even his allies like Supervisor Lavagnino. Need votes? Try working with your counterparts occasionally.

Second, and the bigger point, is this county is sitting on black gold that could put us in the black, but with agenda's like that of the EDC even the safest, already developed, guaranteed money generators are said no to.

This whole "eradicating oil from SB County will save the planet" ideology is costing us dearly. It's pretty obvious we cannot cut our way to proper public safety and general infrastructure maintenance funding. WE NEED REVENUE!!! Every time you get tar on your feet at the beach think of it as longer wait times when you need help.

Just a prediction, but I think if the proper candidate runs for second district supervisor ideology will be Janet Wolf's downfall.


Validated (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 12:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It was "Black Gold" in 1913; in 2013 it's a greenhouse factor. And it won't be Janet Wolfe's ideology that is her downfall, it will be her sadistic decision to block cancer and other patients from safe, reliable medicine. That wasn't a decision based on ideology, it was a decision based on an outdated political assumption. Any candidate that is pro-reinstating the medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the county could defeat Wolfe or any of them.
Sucks having to constantly invalidate some commentators.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 12:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Revenue: raise taxes on the EXISTING oil and gas extraction industries in the county. Done.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 1:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ken's car runs on 85% idealism and 15% hot air; gasp in amazement as he fights climate change word by word.

cmetzenberg (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 4:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I ride a skateboard or walk whenever possible (and I enjoy doing both.) I avoid plastics, recycle and shop local as much as possible.
Maybe you can share with us some of the things you do to fight climate change cmetzenburg?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 4:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Politicians who stick to their guns get the whole process stuck. It's about working together, not whining and complaining when you don't get your way. Sit and be quiet then. You were not running for dictator.

spacey (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 10:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The education of Peter Adam. But at who's expense?

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
May 9, 2013 at 11:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Photo caption: "This pen is loaded".

billclausen (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 2:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I work in offshore oil and gas so....

cmetzenberg (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 8:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting that some people can't seem to believe that one can hold political view diffferent from their own without being on an "enemy" payroll. Adam is on Greka's payroll because he wants to make the regulatory and inspection process more efficient? Puleez. Ever bigger and more expensive government is not the solution to all problems. Nor will it eliminate all risk from life.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

hopefully Adam will just sit there and be quiet, as he has threatened. What a doofuss.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Nathan obviously doesn't understand how County government works. First, if you have an enforcement complaint, you have an enforcement officer, if hazardous materials exist, then you pull in Fire Haz Mat, then administrative direct costs for the writing of the reports, review and final determination. These are County government employees with salaries, pension obligations and benefits. How on earth is this "revenue neutral'? I guarantee if a cost benefit analysis was done, fines would come no where near covering expenses for these staff hours.

That being said, Adam is an extreme tea party boy, however, he does have a valid point. Cuts need to be made and pet projects need the axe first. $10 million upside down needs to come from somewhere. This groups of Supervisors have shown to be complete failures in addressing the long term problems, unlike most communities in CA that have made the hard decisions and are at least treading water instead of sinking.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
May 10, 2013 at 11:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It's pretty simple, really. The FTEs (full time equivalents) are covered by the fees levied at the time (or after) enforcement. In other words, the fees are directly paying the salaries of those public employees tasked with inspection, enforcement, etc. - implementing the Petroleum Code. I don't claim to be an expert on County government, although I am an attorney who regularly interfaces with P&D and the Energy Division; so I have a passing familiarity.... I would refer you to the heads of those entities for the full story. Budget hearings are coming up soon!

nathanalley (anonymous profile)
May 11, 2013 at 10:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Nathan Alley is correct. The Energy Division is funded by fees levied on the oil companies. If you cut the Energy Division you would actually cut revenue. General fund County programs are very difficult to maintain because the costs are rising faster than the tax base used to pay for them. This is due almost entirely to increased labor costs, especially in public safety. One way to address at least part of this problem is to get as many programs off the general fund as possible and fund them by charging user fees. Building permits should be priced at the cost of providing the service. County parks should have parking fees that pay for the costs of maintaining the parks, waste water treament costs should be charged to customers based on how much water each customer sends down the sewer pipe and should fully fund the costs of treatment and disposal of the waste. Certain public services such as police and fire protection and schools are not conducive to the fee for service model and must remain funded by general fund property tax (and sometimes sales tax) revenues. This bifurcation of funding sources would not completely solve the problem but would go some way toward a solution.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
May 11, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So basically we have Mini-Cheney on the Board of Supes?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 11, 2013 at 3:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

C'mon, Ken, you can do better....

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
May 12, 2013 at 10:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm sorry.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 12, 2013 at 11:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Fines pay for the entire cost of Energy Department staff? Wow, folks above need to do their homework. Where do you take into account long term obligations for pension/retirement benefits? One enforcement position, with benefits for mid level staff is close to $130,000 per employee, upper management is closer to $180,000. So unless we are collecting annual fees in excess of $1,000,000 to offset 6 positions for example, we aren't coming anywhere near close to recouping costs. So in essence, revenues do not offset expenditures. The County contributes a percentage for retirement out of the General Fund, which is where these positions are. And Nathan, there is a HUGE difference between FTE's (which included unbenefited positions such as part time, contracted positions) and Full Time Regular employees. Unlike you, I had family in both City and County government, so I'm intimately familiar with how they work. Also, like you, I have attended meetings. I encourage folks to tune in and actually see how messed up our County finances already is.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

All this being said, cuts need to be made or areas contracted out. This will be the 5th year the County submits an upside down budget, well, they will tell you it's balanced on paper, but once adopted, revisions constantly are made quarterly to "adjust" imbalance. Watch the circus unfold.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 8:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The article is about Supervisor Adam's recent attempt to re/de-prioritize enforcement of the Petroleum Code. Enforcement of the Petroleum Code is a revenue neutral activity funded by fines levied against offenders. I/we are not talking about "the entire cost of Energy Department staff" who work on a number of other projects and enforcement activities. Cutting enforcement activities under the Petroleum Code will not lead to actual cost cutting.

nathanalley (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 10:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Adams is just one more disgraceful extreme-to-the-max Tea Party politician. His obnoxious behavior may work in Washington but doesn't play well here. He'll never accomplish anything with his arrogant attitude. LaVagnino won't even support this jerk! I'm betting he'll be a one-term, accomplish nothing, Supervisor!!

Those unfortunate enough to be in his district are getting the shaft!! No representation would be better than this guy!

OffTheBeat (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at noon (Suggest removal)

Keep it up Adams, because you are resonating with a lot of voters who understand you now need a little help from some new friends, when the current supervisors next come up for re-election.

Seeing all these stacked votes against you only proves how far off-base these sitting incumbents are. Easy pickings. Keep building their public records, so voters know exactly what they are voting for or against next time.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Energy Division, like all County Departments, need to be reevaluated and reduced. There simply is not enough money to go around. And I disagree, from a dollar standpoint, enforcement fines do not cover cost for enforcement in this area. In fact, if there are other agencies that do the same thing, wether, it's state or federal, then it is a duplication of services and should be revamped. Again, I don't like Adam at all, but if we can reduce duplication of services, thereby reducing staff and long term pension obligations in this and other departments, then we need to take a long hard look. The County cannot continue business as usual.

BeachFan (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 2:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

After the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill the citizenry decided we couldn't "continue business as usual."
After the Exxon Valdez, BP in the gulf and now the pipelines bursting tarsands crude all over fertile farmland, homes, towns, natural habitat..

Been there done that.

Responsible oil-energy industry people agree that regulation is a necessary "evil" for the protection of the citizenry and ecosystem as well as for the industry itself. Otherwise we get pigs at a trough as exemplified by people who want to get rid of the regulatory agency.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 4:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Lame excuse. Oil operations have moved well into the modern world. Time to get out of the horse and buggy mentality about oil, unless you want to go back to driving one.

If you keep electing people who spend, spend spend, you have to create revenues for them. Oil is the last trough to empty in these parts.

You hate tourism. Others say no more taxes and mean it this time. Local economy flaccid. Public employee expenses grow every year, just by them sitting at their desks.

People wanted to destroy the local citrus industry just a few weeks ago refusing to control a new pest that could ravage that crop. Chumash are stingy handing over the bucks they need to mitigate the messes they have created.

Where exactly will new revenues come from? Even UCSB can't keep brining in enough drunks to pump up local retail sales in SB Old Town.

(PS: Bush's war and the banksters are not the answers.)

Adams is on the right track. Vote in a few more friends next county supervisors election for Districts One, Two and Three, so we can get this started.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 10:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm betting even Peter Adams writes in complete sentences.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
May 13, 2013 at 10:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Adams, if you want to cut bureaucracy look at building permits. They must have three to five times redundancy down there. Just count up how many different departments you have to go to. How about combining them into one?

lilbro (anonymous profile)
May 14, 2013 at 9:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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