Nature vs. Nurture

I support the continued funding of long-range planning for the Gaviota coast. Yes, it’s true that the county faces onerous budget decisions in the face of a budget deficit and its looming aftermath. But preserving one of the last tracts of coastline is a priority, which the Board of Supervisors must deal with in a careful fiscal way but also with courage to stand up for something that is so important.

The county literally wastes millions of dollars every year, and they should address issues of waste and unfairness before they consider funding cuts for issues such as the preservation of the Gaviota coast. Actually, before the board makes any budget decisions, it first should inform the public of the obligation the county has to fund retirement benefits by specific employee group category. This won’t happen because the county doesn’t want the public to know where the largest bulk of retirement benefits are being spent. In this regard the board has utterly failed to inform the public that retirement obligations are basically steered by a myth that we are loosening any priority of public safety matters if the board does not cave in to retirement benefits for public safety employees that don’t make sense.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Public safety is and has been and will continue to be the highest priority. But that ought not to include exorbitant and lucrative retirement benefits. Most other county employee retirees receive modest benefits and are made to look as if they are also getting these out-of-whack retirement benefits. Every county retiree deserves his or her well-earned retirement.

But some groups are making more than a sensible retirement. The board is treating those specific groups much like the Wall Street money managers who need a bailout from the federal government. And that is simply not right.

Nevertheless, the county has the money to continue the funding of long-range planning alongside the Gaviota coast for the benefit of all in the present and for future generations. — Gil Armijo, Santa Maria


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