Schoolhouse Blues

The backburner county-split debate heated up in the downtown
public library’s Faulkner Gallery last Thursday in a well-attended
public forum that flipped north-south party lines by pitting former
Santa Maria planning commissioner and split resister Nancy Johnson
against Santa Barbara city resident and former Boulder (CO) city
manager split sympathizer Ted Tedesco. Arguing against North County
secession, Johnson urged South County dwellers not to forsake the
low-wage workers and county employees in the north who might be
laid off or paid less in the advent of the proposed Mission County.
Johnson implored the powerful South County environmentalist
community not to isolate northern environmentalists in the fight to
preserve open spaces from development.

Tedesco — pro-split despite overseeing a county commission that
concluded it was infeasible — offered the unique argument that not
only was northern economic development hampered by the
anti-development south; the South County was repressed by the
north, and blocked from fully realizing its more urban,
progressive, and environmental values. Noting the current 3-2
north-south split on the Board of Supervisors, Tedesco asked, “Does
anybody want to bank on what the Gaviota Coast will look like in
five to 10 years?” Moreover, he claimed that smaller counties are
more financially efficient than large counties, adding that if the
north wanted to maintain current levels of social service it could
easily do so with a one-cent sales tax. The forum was sponsored by
the Santa Barbara County Action Network, which has taken a strong
stand against the formation of a new Mission County.

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