Opponents of the proposed county split — on the countywide
ballot this June as Measure H — have raised nearly $25,000, while
advocates of the split have filed no campaign finance report at
all. That’s because Jim Diani — county split advocate and Santa
Maria developer — says they don’t have to; he argues his group,
Citizens for County Organization, is legally exempt from campaign
finance disclosure requirements because it is a nonprofit
educational — rather than political — organization. Diani also said
they haven’t raised a dime so far.

County split foes — led by former Santa Barbara city
councilmember David Landecker — insist the campaign reporting law
applies. “It couldn’t be clearer,” said Landecker. Diani predicted
split opponents would seek to make an issue of the identities of
any prospective contributors, distracting voters from the real
issue. According to county elections officer Bob Smith, it’s up to
the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to settle the
argument, not his office. The Coalition Against the County Split
(CACS) collected $15,000 of its contributions from the Service
Employees International Union — $10,000 from the union’s local
political action committee and $5,000 from the statewide

The split faces an uphill battle: If passed, about half the
county’s current employees would lose their jobs. And a commission
appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to study the split’s economic
feasibility concluded the proposed new Mission County would start
out $30 million in debt. Split supporters have dismissed the
commission’s findings as exaggerated and argue that any financial
shortfall would be absorbed by increased service efficiency and
government responsiveness.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.