Friday, October 2, 2009

Santa Barbara elections will NOT be bought! -- Updated 10/01

Cross posted at Upfront hosted by City 2.0

There ought to be outrage that must translate into action in the city of Santa Barbara immediately.

Democracy- Equal access to information so that voters can make decisions that they feel is in their best interest- regarding elections, or any other aspect of their life is something that we strongly believe in. A Democrat (beyond party politics but rather a person who hold values such as Democracy as core beliefs and rules of this game) needs to be informed about an attempt to buy the SB municipal election this year. Furthermore, such said DEMOCRAT, should activate and fight to keep this from happening.

Now this has been reported in the Santa Barbara Independent and in Craig Smith's Blog and it is our responsibility to get the word out and send a message that Santa Barbara Elections are NOT for Sale!

Santa Barbara's municipal election is being bought by a Texas Developer-Randall Van Wolfswinkel (let's call him "Van W")- whose political action committee has already raised $243,000.

"Preserve Our Santa Barbara has taken out $90,000 in media buys on local TV, and another $40,000 for radio ads."

The INDEPENDENT stated that "Van Wolfswinkel's dollars alters the basic chemistry of the campaign."

Craig Smith raised the question that remains unanswered, "So you may be wondering, why is "Tex" contributing so much money to influence an election that he can't even vote in?"

Regardless, our Democracy is under threat.

During my studies as a Political Science student at UCSB, one of the biggest lessons I learned and strongly believe is that World War II did not end because of the Nuclear Bombs, but rather because of the THREAT of more. Likewise, if "Van W" buys this election, it will not just be a statement that money from any outsider will buy sufficient influence and votes but rather it will set a precedent that this is doable, acceptable and will be undoubtedly repeated again and again. Which race, or when, we won't know. Whether one chooses to buy any of our next elections, Supervisorial, Assembly, Congressional, and others is a very likely scenario if we send the message that elections are easily bought in our Central Coast.

We must say NO to Randall Van Wolfswinkel and send a loud message that Santa Barbara elections will NOT be bought! If we lose to "Von W's" money and this becomes a pattern, we will not know until it is too late.

This is such an important issue and I find it invaluable to use the resources that we have to spread the word and win this fight. We can't however do it alone and without some sort of organization, (of organizing, not of .org) and the rightfully suited group to carry on this fight is none other than the Democratic Party.

The SB Democratic Party has a group of endorsements, however, this fight is one for Democracy. Our city and many democrats during this election have played into the game of a wedge issue that is dividing and marring the debate and the real values that our community holds dearly. Independent of the little "d" politics, this overarching threat that is a common one for all of us who believe in the Democratic process should be paramount.

I invite you to become active in this fight:

1. Inform others of this information (this blog, twitter, join & invite others to the facebook group

2. Send a contribution to the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara to fight this giant to Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee, PO Box 22435, Santa Barbara, CA 93121

I wanted to write my first blog about the title of my blog, and a little background info, however I felt "Santa Barbara elections will NOT be bought!" deserved priority.


I want to share with you that today, Newspress Editor, Travis Armstrong published the following opinion piece. Of course it is isn't surprising to see, but I hope that it will further be a reason of outrage.

Opinion: Why they're smearing Randall Van Wolfswinkel

Travis Armstrong
October 1, 2009 6:53 AM

How predictable. The smearing of Randall Van Wolfswinkel has started, courtesy of the usual suspects. Santa Barbara's politicians, their local high-density developer friends, subsidized housing activists and biased journalists can talk all they want about the need to be civil.

But these are the folks who come out with personal attacks whenever people refuse to kowtow to them. They'll make anonymous accusations filled with innuendo. They'll make excuse after excuse for government leaders whose official actions have harmed your quality of life.

So the attacks on Mr. Van Wolfswinkel were to be expected.

I recall thinking about this months ago when having lunch with him. Does anyone really want to put himself or herself in the firing line of this cabal of incivility?

I wanted to tell Mr. Van Wolfswinkel, for his own sake, that he just forget about getting involved. He's a contemplative, rather quiet fellow who doesn't need the headache. He has a family to care for and a company to run.

But Mr. Van Wolfswinkel's concern for his hometown's future means he'll endure the name-calling and insults. He's become a major contributor to reform-minded mayoral and council candidates. He supports Measure B, a ballot initiative aimed at stopping tall development.

Mr. Van Wolfswinkel is a local kid. He attended Cleveland Elementary School, Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School. He made it big after college. His company builds single-family homes in Texas.

But Santa Barbara has never left this heart.

Like many of you, he's fed up with overdevelopment, gang violence and the mismanagement of city finances. He says he wants positive change in our community.

Here's his story, in his own words, as I first relayed to you in a column in August before his $243,000 in contributions made the news. He says:

"When I was young, I mowed lawns in the neighborhood and started my own sprinkler service. I used to ride my bike to school and the different routes I would take whetted my interest in architecture and the beauty of many of our Santa Barbara homes and buildings.

"Later, I went away to college, attending Cal State Northridge. Soon after, I moved to Texas to work with my brother who was building homes, and a year later I started my own home-building company.

"I have built many homes in Texas and I feel like it is an appropriate place for growth with all the open spaces, freeways and resources which are very different from this community. Santa Barbara is largely built out to capacity and cannot handle many more people.

"My family still lives in Santa Barbara and I'm here quite often. I bought a home in (this community) three years ago because my goal is to live here full time.

"In recent years, my family, friends and I have been distressed to see the impact of overdevelopment, lack of fiscal responsibility, crime and vagrancy on Santa Barbara. We see the majestic community that drew us here over 40 years ago quickly disappearing . . .

"Cynics and doubters say, 'What's in it for you?' The truth is there's nothing in it for me other than the satisfaction of knowing I helped -- in some small measure -- to maintain our 'American Riviera,' our paradise by the sea. There's no personal financial gain as my company does not build homes in Santa Barbara, nor does it have any plans to do so. Any such accusations or insinuations are wrong."

The accusations or insinuations may be wrong, but that's never stopped those who are running Santa Barbara. Or should I say, those who are running Santa Barbara into the ground?

So to Mr. Van Wolfswinkel, I say thank you and apologize for those who'd treat a hometown kid with a good heart in such a way.

At this point, you're more than entitled to fight back in any manner you wish.

Travis Armstrong is the editorial page editor of the News-Press and host of a weekly talk show on AM 1290.

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