The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors usually works in a congenial collaboration. Members are all smart people, and understand that working together is just part of the job.
But disagreements pop up every now and then. Last week was one of those occasions. The board split on a couple of resolutions, one calling for residents to support National Gun Violence Day, and another backing the ideals in the Green New Deal proposal being floated in Congress.
Regarding the gun violence question, 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam voted against the resolution, stating the obvious, that everyone can agree gun violence is a bad thing, but then challenged fellow board members on the matter of showing “common sense.”
That comment left the four other members a bit baffled, especially after Adam declined further comment. They approved the resolution, without Adam’s vote, and added support for a gun buyback event at Earl Warren Showgrounds this Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
A resolution calling upon Santa Barbara County residents to wear orange this weekend in recognition of the National Gun Violence Awareness Day…
The board majority’s apparent support for a buyback may make some people feel comfortable, but research indicates such events are essentially ineffective. Taking a few hundred old guns out of circulation in a nation of more than 300 million firearms is like baling sea water with a tin can to fight sea-level rise.
Still, if just one of the guns that is not part of the buyback ends up killing someone, such efforts will be worthwhile.
The more contentious spat occurred when the board considered a resolution supporting the principle of the Green New Deal, congressional House and Senate resolutions intended to foster federal policies to move the U.S. economy into 100-percent clean and renewable energy by 2030. The “New Deal” part refers to government steps taken to end the Great Depression.
Adam and 5th District Supervisor and board Chairman Steve Lavagnino voted against the resolution, objecting to what Lavagnino referred to as “honorary resolutions.” There are no specific programs or projects in the resolution, thus Lavagnino’s “honorary” honorific.
A resolution supporting the principles of the Green New Deal was approved Tuesday by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on a split vote that reflected the philosophical and sociological ideologies of the board members. Following comments by 14 members of the public, prepared statements from two supervisors and additional comments from the other three, the board adopted the resolution on a 3-2 vote, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam and Chairman and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino dissenting.
And even though 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart supported the Green New Deal resolution, he felt compelled to add he would “rather see us spend time doing constructive projects …”
Amen to that, and it was evident that members of the audience at last week’s meeting agreed. The county is not exactly lolling in budget heaven and is facing other major problems. Think a massive unfunded retirement benefits obligation, and an extensive backlog of neglected maintenance of county structures and properties.
Adam, who has been the board’s maverick since his election, is being especially vociferous, in part because he has announced he will not seek re-election, thus removing the politically-correct component nearly every politician must consider.
Lavagnino also made the point that the county has not ignored the potential impacts of climate change, mentioning the $1 million in taxpayer dollars the county spent on its 300-page Climate Change Action Plan.
In all fairness, while these relatively rare public disagreements among board members may seem hostile and contentious, they are a necessary part of this county’s political process — especially because North and South are miles apart geographically, and light years apart ideologically.
Santa Barbara County’s libraries were “saved,” cannabis taxes will be audited and longtime deficiencies in the district attorney’s Santa Maria office will be dealt with as a result of allocations made Tuesday in the final 2019-20 budget adopted by the Board of Supervisors. In a hearing lasting about three hours and 15 minutes, supervisors hashed out revisions to the staff-recommended budget and approved the final result on a 4-1 vote, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting.
The board, as a collective, needs to stop wasting each other’s time on basically meaningless resolutions, and focus on the much bigger picture, which of necessity includes solving the dangerous fiscal problems created by the unfunded benefits issue, and figuring out how to pay for proper upkeep of stuff the county owns.
Don’t get us wrong, having divergent opinions in politics is vitally important. But save the heat for the county’s big issues.