I was shocked early this week to see our Board of Supervisors honoring a onetime local bank for 50 years of service. The former Santa Barbara National Bank, then Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, now Union Bank owned by Japanese investors, was founded by honest local lawyers who did a superb job until the talent ran thin and Ed Birch and George Leis, both with minimal experience, took over management.

Mistakes were the rule, and eventually the $35 stock was valued less than a dollar! All-night negotiations with a Texas investor were catastrophic for local investors, and eventually he sold to Japanese investors. Local investors who had been loyal to the bank lost close to a billion dollars — many their life savings! Local media ignored the crisis.

How can county government honor the bozos who were responsible for this fiasco and are still running the show?


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