Thursday, June 22, 2017

[Santa Barbara County] Canary: Ain’t it grand?

I don’t know about you, but when I think of people throwing shade, the last thing that comes to mind is “grand jury report.”
These days, people mostly talk trash to each other in comments sections, on Twitter (you know who I’m talkin’ about), in text messages—anything but face to face. And now it seems like the Santa Barbara County grand jury is slinging it up and down the coast.
First off, the recent county report on water management in the county—including at the Cachuma Reservoir—may not seem like a huge deal, but it is to the water districts. The report said that local water purveyors weren’t working together like they should, naming names and calling districts out!
“What do you mean we aren’t managing the water effectively?” they say. And according to Chris Dahlstrom with the Santa Ynez Water Management District, the report is full of errors and misunderstandings!
Well geez. I get it though—sometimes government is hard to understand. It’s why so many throw up their hands and say the government is corrupt, or that it doesn’t know what it’s doing, rather than actually try to understand how it works.
Another recent grand jury report went to the mat, this time with Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino for her task force on youth safety. The task force is designed to address the gang problem in Santa Maria, but the report said that Patino is limiting the scope of the endeavor by taking the lead on it, pushing the county out, and that there isn’t enough of a cross section of Santa Marians on the task force.
The gang problem in Santa Maria has been a slow burning one, which flared up in 2015 and early 2016 when the city saw an unprecedented number of homicides. Locals have a serious sense of urgency toward that problem, and they don’t want to be left out in doing something about it.
It’s also an issue that many are wondering how Santa Maria’s new Acting Police Chief Chris Hansen will handle after Chief Ralph Martin retires. Hansen retired from the LA County Sheriff’s Department, like Martin, so will it be more of the same?
Chief Martin has definitely earned some accolades for his work with the Santa Maria Police Department. Martin took a department in serious crisis after former Chief Danny Macagni retired and turned it around. Martin made steps forward in fighting local street gangs, and most recently spearheaded Operation Matador, which arrested more than a dozen alleged MS-13 gang members.
But Martin hasn’t been completely uncontroversial. When Santa Marian Marilyn Pharis died after two men attacked her in 2015, including one who was in the country illegally, Martin decided to play politics. He blamed Gov. Jerry Brown and the administration of President Barack Obama for the policies that barred him from handing the attacker over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
And let us not forget the ruse press release Martin put out last year to help with Operation Matador—it earned him a Fake News Award, after all!
Hey, where’s the grand jury report on that?
June 21, 2017
Santa Maria Sun
Commentary by The Canary

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