Endorsements

Measure H

The County Split? Absolutely Not

This Tuesday, June 6, voters go to the polls to voice their
preferences on a plethora of state- and county-wide races and
measures. The Independent does not provide an endorsement on all
potential ballot choices in a primary election. What follows are
endorsements on what we deem the most critical votes — most
importantly the County Split (Measure H) and 2nd District
Supervisor. Don’t forget to vote on June 6.

2nd District Supervisor

Janet Wolf

An opponent once described Janet Wolf as a steel magnolia. It’s
a good description. Wolf is a listener, not a shouter, and those
who’ve mistaken her quietness for weakness have learned to regret
it. Wolf cut her political teeth serving three terms on the Goleta
School Board. For those who think school boards have a walk in the
park, think again. No constituent is more intensely involved or
more easily enraged than a concerned parent. Wolf began her 12-year
stint on a board that was facing highly charged issues. As a
cost-cutting measure, the district wanted to close two schools.
Outraged parents went into overdrive, while school administrators
panicked. Wolf kept her now-famous cool, but led the charge to keep
both schools open. She saved one of the two schools. Wolf brought
environmental reforms into the schools by finding funding for a
recycling program and by reducing the use of harmful pesticides.
When the Boy Scouts were under national fire for their anti-gay
policies, Wolf took the lead, insisting local Boy Scout troops
change or stay off campus. Not a popular position, to say the
least. But she didn’t go along to get along. She went to work,
instead, to secure a unanimous vote from her board colleagues.

We need a supervisor with these skills, one who can sort out the
muddled issues that find environmentalists opposing social
activists, and private property rights conflicting with
agricultural protections. The board is now controlled by a solid
3-2 property rights-minded majority. Whoever is elected must forge
meaningful political relationships with members of that majority in
order to protect the quality of community life.

That’s why we support Janet Wolf.

And though this might seem a minor point, Wolf, if elected, will
be the first 2nd District supervisor in decades who actually lives
in Goleta. Given that the hottest land-use wars are taking place in
the Goleta Valley, it is important that in Wolf we will have a
supervisor who has lived there for 18 years. True, she does not
have a background in land-use planning, but she has proven to be a
smart, fast learner.

Living in the district — as a parent, business owner, and
householder — has brought Wolf closer to the issues. She will
uniquely be able to weigh the competing values associated with each
undeveloped chunk of land. And though the three other candidates
are all smart, serious men, we believe Wolf is the most sensitive
to the crisis of housing affordability, and can bring all the
players together to find solutions.

Lastly, we like Wolf because she tries to talk about issues
other than land-use planning. The highest percentage of uninsured
children in California lives in this county. Wolf will fight to
change that. As a woman who lost her family home in the Painted
Cave Fire, you can be sure Wolf will focus on securing funds for
fire protection, as well as for finding solutions to traffic
congestion and proper watershed management.

Janet Wolf is the best candidate and the best person to
represent the 2nd District.

Sheriff

Bill Brown

The Sheriff’s Department is in serious need of help. And that
help must come from a new sheriff who is not part of the current
infighting, public debacles, or divided loyalties now afflicting
the department.

Police Chief Bill Brown fits the bill perfectly. He has the
right mix of leadership skills, political savvy, and common sense.
With 28 years’ experience as a law enforcement officer — 10 years
as Lompoc police chief — Brown has proven to be tough, creative,
shrewd, and compassionate. Chief Brown has reduced crime, built
public trust, and recruited high-quality officers.

An innovative crime-fighter, Chief Brown obtained court
injunctions barring known gang members from congregating in
specified areas around Lompoc, becoming the only law officer in the
county to do so. It proved a useful tool.

But Chief Bill Brown also knows how to combine the carrot with
the stick. A genuine champion of community-oriented policing, he
has built a remarkable rapport with Lompoc’s diverse ethnic,
business, and agricultural communities, and has led an impressive
fight against domestic violence and child abuse. When Chief Brown
took over the Lompoc police force he confronted the same problem
the Sheriff’s Department now faces: poor recruitment and high
turnover. Brown worked within his limited resources to develop
officers locally. Today, his department is at full strength, with a
sizable waiting list.

Chief Brown enjoys widespread respect among law enforcement
agencies throughout California. He has led both the state’s and
Santa Barbara’s police chief associations, directed the regional
narcotics enforcement team, and is a graduate of the FBI
Academy.

By contrast, incumbent sheriff Jim Anderson has made political
ineptitude a campaign virtue, repeating over and over, “I’m a cop,
not a politician.” While we endorsed Anderson in the last election,
we’ve been under-whelmed by his lack of judgment.

Another candidate is Sheriff’s Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi, a
straight-talking, hardworking, great cop for 37 years. But he is
not a politician. After watching Sheriff Anderson stumble into one
political fiasco after another, it is clear that political skills
are as essential to the job as being an experienced law
officer.

Then there is the candidacy of Jim Thomas, who was sheriff from
1990 to 2002. He unquestionably possesses the skill, experience,
and authority to handle the job. But under his leadership the
Sheriff’s Department became extremely politicized.

The deputies of the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department deserve
to be led by a seasoned, professional law enforcement executive who
has the savvy to find the monies and methods necessary to make our
county safe without getting involved in polarizing politics. The
man for the job is Chief Bill Brown.

District Attorney

Christie Stanley

The most striking thing about this year’s race for District
Attorney is who isn’t running. When Tom Sneddon announced he was
retiring after six terms in office, one might have expected an
avalanche of contenders to enter the contest. Had that happened, we
might have enjoyed a vigorous public discussion about the changing
demands of law and justice in the 21st century. Instead, just the
opposite has occurred. Only three contenders have announced. And
only one rises to the level of viability: Christie Stanley.

For the past 26 years, Stanley — who has been endorsed by
Sneddon — has worked competently and diligently in the Lompoc and
Santa Maria District Attorneys offices, ultimately rising to the
post of North County’s top prosecutor. Based on our experience with
Stanley, we believe her to be fair, honest, and
responsive — essential attributes for someone vested with the
awesome powers of the District Attorney. Running against Stanley is
Gary Dunlap, a skilled and colorful defense attorney with a
penchant for in-your-face theatrics. Those who find train wrecks
entertaining might be inclined to vote for Dunlap, but we don’t
recommend it. Also running is Doug Hayes, a dedicated defense
attorney and former prosecutor. One of Santa Barbara’s better known
courthouse characters, Hayes can be counted on for a trenchant
observation and a gracious exchange. But we’re not persuaded that
either of these men have the experience or the discipline to run so
vast an enterprise as the District Attorney’s office.

Judge

Arthur A. Garcia

Although the bench now occupied by Garcia is a North County
position, residents countywide get to vote. We recommend Garcia
because he takes his duties as a juvenile court judge every bit as
seriously as they are, and brings to his bench a rare passion for
the post. By contrast, most judges regard the juvenile bench as an
intellectual insult and a curse.

A native of Santa Maria, Garcia was first appointed to the bench
in 1996 as a Superior Court Commissioner to preside over juvenile
court. In 2003, he was appointed by then-governor Gray Davis to
fill the vacancy created when Judge Barbara Beck stepped down. It
was an inspired choice. Garcia continued with many programs Beck
had started. He has worked tirelessly to keep young offenders from
becoming permanent members of the penal system and to find
successful programs to help felons get off drugs. Despite his
length of experience, Garcia has not become cynical. He runs a
courtroom that believes the people who appear before him are human
beings, and as such, are capable of redemption, not just
incarceration. County voters would have to be crazy not to reelect
Judge Arthur A. Garcia.

Prop 81

$600 Million in Library Bonds Yes

Proposition 81 calls to mind the old bumper-sticker bromide: If
you think education is expensive, try ignorance. If passed, Prop 81
would authorize the state of California to sell $600 million worth
of bonds to finance the construction of new libraries and to
remodel and improve existing ones. Like all infrastructure demands
confronting California, the need for libraries is vast.

Right now, there are about $4 billion in unmet library needs in
the state, whose population is growing by half a million people a
year. Prop 81 is a great deal. For every $100 spent, the
proposition is designed to leverage an additional $35 from city and
county governments responsible for California’s library system,
meaning that, when all is said and done, it would raise $810
million. When you figure the annual debt required to make this
happen, it translates to just over a dollar a year for every state
resident. Remember libraries rank among the greatest social tools
the human race has ever invented. Public libraries are uniquely
American. In most towns, libraries have served as the physical
space where the community comes together. Little wonder that in
Santa Barbara, the public library ranks as the single most powerful
magnet drawing people downtown. For those who enjoy the
unquenchable joy of a good read, but can’t afford the high cost of
books, libraries are notoriously affordable. And for those who just
need a place to get out of the rain, or to hold a meeting, or to
read out-of-town newspapers, or to take out books on tape, or to
use the Internet, public libraries are a public miracle. But they
sorely need our help. Now is not the time to begrudge them a buck a
year.

Prop 82

The Free Pre-School Initiative Yes

On the face of it, Proposition 82 seems like a slam dunk. It
promises to provide one year of free preschool to any Californian
who wants it, filling a glaring social need and providing an
undeniable social benefit. Prop 82 would pay for this by increasing
taxes on the richest 0.06 percent of the population.

There’s a huge gap in academic achievement separating
California’s white and non-white students that transcends the
language barrier. A substantial reason for this is rooted in the
disparity of preschool opportunities. Currently, roughly 62 percent
of preschool-aged children in California are now enrolled in
preschools. But that number is misleading. According to a recent
article in the Los Angeles Times, only one-third of eligible Latino
children are enrolled, compared to three-quarters of all children
in households earning $75,000 or more. Compounding this are the
exceptionally squishy standards that currently apply to preschools;
quality care is expensive and not many can afford it. The chief
advantage of Prop 82 is the higher educational standards it would
impose. It would help expand the training for existing preschool
teachers; it would also pay for new teachers. None of this is
cheap. The program is estimated to cost roughly $2 billion a year.
Those revenues will be raised through a slight tax increase on
individuals now earning $400,000 a year or households making twice
that.

Most of that money will go to teacher pay. Under the terms of
Prop 82, qualified teachers would be paid on par with K-12
public-school teachers. Admittedly, this cost makes us nervous. But
what makes us even more nervous is the status quo in which the
financial compensation for the vast majority of preschool teachers
is abysmally sub-standard.

A host of studies show how dramatically a quality preschool
education can help students master basic reading skills by the
third grade, and how a good preschool education reduces the dropout
rate, juvenile delinquency, and even child abuse. One recent study
by the RAND Corporation estimated that for every dollar invested in
preschool, society saves $2.62. Another study — based in
Chicago — estimated the savings was closer to $10 for every dollar
spent. People can quibble about the dollar amounts saved. They can
argue that the Legislature should be doing its duty and fix these
problems in Sacramento — but at this time that is no more than a
pipe dream. So that brings us back to Prop 82. We need it. In the
final analysis the program just makes common sense.

Voters’ Cheat Sheet

Measure H, the County Split: No

2nd District Supervisor: Janet Wolf

S.B. County Sheriff: Bill Brown

S.B. County District Attorney: Christie
Stanley

Judge: Arthur A. Garcia

Prop 81: YES

Prop 82: YES

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