The controversy over Mayor Schneider’s position on the widening of the 101 has turned ugly. She has been criticized many times in print, and she has been looked over for a political leadership role as head of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments by a group of her peers. The tone of many letters to the editor, editorial opinions, and columnists’ comments is that of censure, inferring that the mayor is misbehaving. The tone is often demeaning, especially when couched in comedic terms. This approach does nothing to address the issues the mayor has raised.
Mayor Schneider has made clear statements about her reasons for contesting the widening as it is now proposed. Foremost among her reasons is that the cost the voters approved in 2008 was a contribution of $140 million. Mayor Schneider explains that “ … The South Coast communities of Goleta, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and the unincorporated areas are also sacrificing an annual $13 million that used to be for local street maintenance and repairs. Now, through at least 2040, 100 percent of that money is diverted to the 101 project.” As Nick Welsh explains in “Bark Like a Dog, Walk Like a Man” (finally someone addressing her points), over the next few decades the freeway widening will cost local communities $360 million in lost gas tax revenue.
Mayor Schneider is not known to engage in wild exaggerations. Why are these numbers not of major concern to any taxpayer, especially in our difficult economic times? Will someone who opposes her views please comment specifically on the numbers she provides? It would be helpful to hear an intelligent counterpoint.
We have a political leader who stands up for what she believes and makes a concerted effort to explain her reasoning. Even if you have not agreed with her on every issue, have you not had faith in her integrity? Why should it be different now? In our opinion Mayor Schneider is not misbehaving as an elected official; she is doing her job. We support her efforts.