On February 12 of this year, the Indy staff published a seemingly hasty and illusory endorsement of Das William’s for 1st District County Supervisor. This endorsement smacked of a once-alternative press turned gravely establishment. It was an endorsement made with scant inclusion of a bounty of dissenting viewpoints.
“Every election year, the Santa Barbara Independent researches the issues and the candidates as carefully as possible,” the Indy Staff proclaimed. “In the races where we see clear choices, we make endorsements. We do not endorse in every race, but in those we do, we do so with confidence, or at least with a clear understanding of why we support one candidate or one ballot initiative over another.
“But after following Williams’s position on cannabis legalization for years, we are convinced that Williams’s support for the new industry is not a politically corrupt one,” they continued. “As long as he has been in elected office, Williams has been a proponent of legalization, regulation, and taxation. He was that way when he served on the Santa Barbara City Council; he’s that way now.”
In light of yesterday’s scathing Grand Jury report on the relationship between the County Board of Supervisors, specifically William’s role, and our local cannabis industry, I ask the Santa Barbara Independent promptly retract their endorsement of Williams.
Some of the points highlighted in the Grand Jury report, many of which were vocalized concerns from a multitude of community members during the election, state:
“The testimony obtained from witnesses during the investigation, as well as documents produced pursuant to a request by the Jury, describe the granting by the Board of easy and frequent access to cannabis industry lobbyists during the creation of the ordinances. … there was an apparent lack of limits as to when these contacts occurred, including just prior to or even during Board meetings with cannabis decisions on the agenda (sic)”
“Documents obtained by the Jury, that had not been previously disclosed to the public, show voluminous emails from cannabis lobbyists and cannabis growers to Board members. While the Jury understands that sending emails to advocate positions favorable to the interests of their client is part of the job of a lobbyist, it was unnerving to the Jury to see both the tone and timing of these emails.”
“On March 20, 2018, the most extreme example was an email sent by a Board member to a lobbyist, during a Board meeting, asking the lobbyist if they agreed with a P&D staff recommendation.”
These are only but a few of the blistering findings included in the Grand Jury report. Each of the supervisors have 90 days to respond. Obviously, there has already been enough evidence taken into record for this report to be compiled. Given as much, it is an ethical decision for the Indy staff to recognize their collective error in endorsing William’s and issue a public retraction.