NAME GAME: Politics, like war, seems to bring out both the best and the worst in us. Greed hides behind ballot initiatives that glow with idealism, and crackpots scream to the heavens while hope struggles for attention.

Speaking of hope, the mayor of little Guadalupe (pop. 7,080) believes that changing the name of the tiny farmworker town will lure tourists, their dollars, and, hopefully, a hotel yielding bed taxes, sales tax, and more. Guadalupe has had a 6-percent bed tax for years but no hotel beds, Mayor Lupe Alvarez told me.

Barney Brantingham

When I drove through recently, I spotted nary a surf shop or even a single surfer, or hardly anyone on the street for that matter. But Alvarez pointed out to me that what’s known as Guadalupe Beach is just five miles outside town. And, he noted, “The city motto is ‘Gateway to the Dunes.’” The big lure to Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve is that it’s where director Cecil B. DeMille secretly buried sets for The Ten Commandments in the sand.

Will the measure pass? “I think it has a good chance,” he said. Residents rejected a utility tax hike a couple of years ago, but the name change wouldn’t raise taxes.

Up the road in San Luis Obispo, the former Grover City renamed itself Grover Beach, and “it helped tremendously,” Alvarez said. “We have to do something.” The recession has devastated the economy, which wasn’t exactly booming anyway, and the state killed the town’s redevelopment program. Guadalupe’s pride and joy, the famed Far Western Tavern restaurant, moved to Orcutt.

The Grand Canyon
Sue De Lapa

THERE IT GOES AGAIN: Not content with trying to take over the federal immigration policy, the state of Arizona wants to grab the Grand Canyon, along with all rights affecting “air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources” and just about everything else. They can’t do that, you say? Well, there it is on the ballot, put there by the Republican majority in the Legislature.

Should the Grand Canyon belong to all Americans or just Arizonans?

If it passes, and knowing the way Arizona politics seem to work, it may, it looks like a Lawyers Full Employment Act due to the legal mess it would kick off. Why take on financial responsibility for hundreds of thousands of square miles? Well, one of the proposal’s backers, State Senator Sylvia Allen, gives a hint. The way things are now, with the feds selfishly preserving all that beautiful, wide-open space, “We’re not able to bring in industry” to rural areas, Allen said. Strip mining, here we come.

MEANWHILE: Scanning the various ballot measures around the country gives a rough idea of what’s bugging people, or at least those with enough money to get the stuff on the ballot. Issues include the right to gamble, hunt, tax marijuana, use public funds to support your favorite religious sect, commit suicide, bear arms, wed a person of the same sex, and have an abortion (if you’re against it, don’t have one), as well as whether your state should opt out of Obamacare.

Here in California, Proposition 34 asks whether the state can keep legally killing people. Not as many as Texas, surely, but our share. Capital punishment is very expensive and doesn’t seem to stop people from illegally killing other people.

If you’re driving through Needles to and from Arizona (papers, please) and want to buy a little weed, the dispensary that sells it to you will be assessed a 10-percent marijuana business tax if the town’s ballot measures passes. But get this: “This measure does not legalize or otherwise permit marijuana businesses in the city.”

SCOUT APPEAL: A Santa Barbara family is still awaiting an appeals court decision on its molestation suit against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). At least 1,600 confidential files were recently made public due to an Oregon case, but that doesn’t automatically eliminate the BSA claim that opening up the so-called “perversion files” in Santa Barbara violates the privacy of people named in them, according to the family’s lawyer, Tim Hale.

After Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna Geck earlier this year ordered BSA to turn over thousands of pages of files, BSA appealed to the 2nd District appeals court, contending that they were irrelevant to the case and violated privacy rights. The case involves the molestation of a 13-year-old Santa Barbara boy by a volunteer, who pleaded no contest to the charges and served a prison term.


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