The county supervisors voted unanimously to reject allegations, leveled by Andy Caldwell of COLAB (Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business), that the board had violated the state’s open government act by voting last week 3-2 to apply for a $200,000 grant to study the effect of sea level rise on Santa Barbara County. Caldwell, a conservative pro-business lobbyist, charged that the vote was legally suspect because three of the supervisors — Salud Carbajal, Doreen Farr, and Janet Wolf — had attended a conference held by a climate change organization where they had expressed general support for governmental action to combat climate change. Caldwell argued the presence of three supervisors at that conference — not noticed in advance to members of the public — constituted a breach of state laws designed to ensure governmental designs were not made out of plain sight. But even the two North County supervisors who voted against pursuing the grant money — Steve Lavagnino and Peter Adam — rejected Caldwell’s demand that the vote be rescinded.
Staff working for the South County supervisors pushing the measure noted that the supervisors had unanimously adopted a policy to minimize the cause — and impact — of climate change where locally possible four years ago. The county administrator at the time, they noted with ironic glee, was Mike Brown, now a COLAB associate of Caldwell’s. At the time, Brown was anxious to get such a policy adopted so the county could compete for federal bailout funds. Today, Brown writes diatribes denouncing local environmentalists as hypocrites intent upon economic ruin by regulation.