<b>TOP CROP:</b> The U.S. Department of Justice has ruled that tribes — including the Chumash — may grow and sell marijuana, as long as they follow the same rules established for states.
Paul Wellman (file)

CHUMASH POT? Now that the feds say they won’t crack down on Native American tribes growing and selling marijuana, will the Chumash cash in on the cash crop? Offhand, I doubt that the Chumash will join in the grassy bonanza; enough green is probably being harvested at the casino without digging up a new controversy. I’ve queried the tribe and await a reply.

Barney Brantingham

HOARDING: Once again, the New Yorker cast its eye on Santa Barbara, but not on a subject we’d be proud of: hoarding.

The December 15 issue included an article by Joan Acocella about “hoarding disorder,” what shrinks now call a form of mental illness. The author tells of her late mother, who enjoyed the heck out of saving food containers. When Meals on Wheels arrived at her Santa Barbara apartment, “she wanted no part of the food,” Acocella said. What she lusted for were the containers it came in. So once a year Acocella flew in from New York, cleaned out the cabinet, and threw them all away. Then, a year later, she’d return to toss out the new batch her mother had stashed during the previous 12 months.

It’s by no means the most flagrant case of hoarding disorder, or HD, as the American Psychiatric Association calls it, and nowhere near as nauseating as the shocking scenes shown on TV reality programs.

I know someone with a mild form of it, and probably you do, too, if you could get past their door. Rare? By one estimate cited by Acocella, up to 15 million Americans are pathological hoarders.

LOOKING TO 2015: Will the Santa Barbara City Council gracefully okay district elections or will it face our town being branded as racist? Will it settle Barry Cappello’s lawsuit or find itself dragged into court on April 6 ​— ​and certainly lose after being slammed from coast to coast for resisting equal rights for a minority?

Sorry to put it so bluntly, but let’s face the facts. In a city that’s 38 percent Latino, only one has been elected to the City Council in the past 18 years. That’s the energetic Cathy Murillo, now sitting on the council.

I mean, is this America or what? Is this quasi-liberal Santa Barbara or some redneck high-desert town? I’m reluctant to point this out, but we can be pretty smug people. “Hey, I’m all right, Jack. Majority rules, and they ain’t in the majority.”

But the California Voting Rights Act says different. If it can be proved that our voting pattern is polarized, it’s not legal. And the legal remedy is City Council elections by district. Right. Cut the town up into a system of electing council folk by neighborhoods, the way we did before 1968. (Only with better results, I hope.) After Cappello sued the city to force district elections, an April 6 Superior Court trial was scheduled, to be presided over by Judge Donna Geck. There seems little doubt that she’ll find us polarized to heck and gone, and order district voting.

But after a week of testimony, our shining reputation will be in tatters. So far, the council has dug in its heels and opposed going to district voting, for reasons that escape me. True, under great duress the council has set a November 2015 election on the issue. Cappello told them, “We’ve dragged you kicking and screaming to this issue, and you don’t like it.”

Such a vote may be moot if wiser heads settle the issue first ​— ​and a closed-door session this week was followed by talks on Wednesday. Setting all-important district boundaries may be next. Let the gerrymandering begin!

FIESTA IN JANUARY: It’s been a while since Santa Barbara had an entry in the Rose Parade, but after much work, Fiesta El Presidente Cas Stimson will lead an Old Spanish Days contingent to Pasadena on January 1. Four Belgian horses will pull a wagon carrying Pasadena-born Stimson, his dentist wife, Kathy McClintock, and other Santa Barbarans. They’ll be flanked by 10 dancing “Spirits of Fiesta” and the storied De la Guerra wedding couple on horseback.

BEST OF BROTHERS? I have a twin (yes) brother, and we always got along. But in the current Ensemble Theatre production of The Best Brothers, Hamilton (Michael Polak) and Kyle (Kasey Mahaffy) don’t always see eye to eye, sometimes comically, sometimes deadly serious. Speaking of which, their late mother also takes the stage ​— ​depending on which brother dons the elegant hat and gloves. Call it a black comedy if you like, but you never take your eyes off the boys to see what they’re up to. (Through Sunday at the New Vic.)


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