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The Unsung Hero of America's Thanksgiving

President Lincoln first declared the final Thursday of November to be a national holiday in 1863, in a proclamation that included an ask for Divine intervention to “heal the wounds of the nation” amid the horror of the Civil War. Though the "Proclamation of Thanksgiving" sounded themes that Lincoln would later voice at Gettysburg and in his Second Inaugural, our greatest writer president had a close collaborator in crafting it, in the person of William Seward, Secretary of State in his “Team of Rivals” Cabinet. Historian Ted Widmer recounted the political and personal backstory behind the collaboration in the Washington Post last week, poignantly reaching for lessons to inform America's new

Op-Ed: Public Finance Key To Election Reform

(Editor's Note: Today Newsmakers presents an opinion piece from Supervisor Das Williams about political ethics and campaign finance reform. Laura Capps, Das's challenger in the First District, wrote on the subject earlier this week). Action speaks louder than proposals. I am proud of my two-decade public service record of election and campaign finance reform. Serving this community for nearly 20 years, including six as state Assemblymember, has granted me deep insight into what local residents want. Three key issues come up repeatedly: 1) overturning Citizens Unitedand reforming independent expenditures; 2) ending gerrymandering; and 3) providing public financing of campaigns. While I was ru

Op-Ed: Why SB County Needs Ethics Reform

(Editor's note: Today Newsmakers presents an opinion piece by SB school board member Laura Capps, who is challenging First District Supervisor Das Williams in the March 3, 2020 election, elaborating on her proposal for local campaign finance and ethics reform, on which we've previously reported. We've asked Supervisor Williams for an equivalent piece on the issue, which we'll publish in coming days). On Nov. 6, I released a well-researched campaign finance reform proposal for our County to improve accountability and ensure all voices are heard. It’s a five-point plan that: 1) sets new campaign contribution limits (because we have none); 2) bans contributions from anyone with business before

TV: How Much Housing (and Pot), for Whom?

A new episode of Newsmakers TV premieres this week as the panel takes on two of the most schismatic and intractable policy problems facing Santa Barbara’s cities and county government: housing and cannabis. Nick Welsh leads off with his own special brand of singular take on the Weed vs Wine conflict in the Santa Ynez Valley, which recently surfaced before the county Planning Commission and resulted three split decisions for the contestants. Then Delaney Smith updates the complex public and behind-the-scenes machinations over the city’s AUD program, including a new – long overdue? – decision by council members and planners to target State Street as the locus of new rental construction. And in

Winners & Losers: CA Dems Play Long Beach

In the 1950s, Long Beach was known as “Iowa by the Sea,” thanks to multitudes of Midwestern emigres who called the place home. Last weekend, as thousands of delegates descended for the California Democratic Party convention, the town had a decidedly different buzz. “Welcome to one of the gayest places in Long Beach!” shouted Robert Garcia, the city’s gay mayor, to a packed convention fundraiser called “Dems, Drinks, and Drag Queens” at Hamburger Mary’s, a genderfluid downtown saloon. Hosting Long Beach’s first state convention, Garcia was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the affair. Some other winners and losers: Heroes and Zeroes... Winner: Adam Schiff. Chair of the Democratic impeachmen

Calbuzz: Joe & Liz Lead New Key CA Poll

Six in 10 voters likely to cast a ballot in the California Democratic primary on March 3 support one of the moderate candidates for president – with former Vice President Joe Biden leading at 24%. This compares to four in 10 voters who support a progressive — with Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 23% — according to the latest survey from the Public Policy Institute of California. Despite California’s rep among East Coast politerati and bloviators as a bastion of steaming socialism, voters actually self-identify almost neatly into thirds: 35% liberal, 29% middle-of-the-road and 32% conservative. California leans a bit left – but it’s not Berkeley everywhere. Six in 10 Californians also believe it is

TV: What's Behind Jason's Stunning Loss?

Jason Dominguez’s excruciating 8-vote loss to Alejandra Gutierrez in the Eastside city council race is this week’s lead story as Newsmakers TV returns with analysis of the biggest stories in local news. Shortly before we went into the studio, the ousted incumbent confirmed his concession to Josh Molina, who dissects the stunning upset, while Nick Welsh attributes it directly to the Democratic Party’s targeting of Jason and Delaney Smith talks about Alejandra’s strengths as a candidate and her indefatigable door-to-door hunt for votes -- before the panel discusses how the surprise winner and Mike Jordan, who won an unexpectedly easy victory on the Mesa, are likely to change things around City

Proposing Reforms, Laura Hits Das on Pot $

Laura Capps called out First District Supervisor Das Williams on Wednesday for taking $62,000 from pot growers while crafting Santa Barbara County’s cannabis ordinance, as she proposed a broad package of campaign finance and public integrity reforms. “I’m raising the bar on ethics,” Capps said at an event outside the county administration building, where she was joined by prominent supporters. “We need to change the way business is done in this building,” she added. “Special interests have too much power in how decisions get made.” In a response to Newsmakers, Williams called her five-point proposal “a poorly thought out political stunt” that would damage the ability of public safety unions

The Morning After: 3 Election Nite Takeaways

More than 1,500 ballots remain to be counted from Santa Barbara’s vest-pocket election on Tuesday, but Newsmakers refuses to let a small thing like mathematical certainty stop us from limbering up for some serious punditry. Three quick takeaways: Our money's on Alejandra. Sure Jason Dominguez is “leading” challenger Alejandra Gutierrez by 31 votes in the District 1 council race for now, but it spoke volumes when Mayor Cathy Murillo broke into applause as those first returns were displayed at City Hall last night. No, Cathy wasn’t confused and cheering because arch-foe Dominguez was in first place, but because of the likelihood that late-arriving ballots yet to be counted down in Norwalk (!)

Deadline: Last Chance to Win Elxn Pool Prizes (Oh Yeah -- And Don't Forget to Vote, Either)

All you need to know about Tuesday's high-stakes, low-information mini-election in Santa Barbara emerges from the comments below Edhat’s morning post about this singular exercise in local representative democracy: “What election?” barked one of a number of readers in the dark about the balloting for contested city council races on the Eastside and the Mesa. “Where are the ballots? Is this some kind of joke? I love how this is posted on Nov. 4 w/ info about Nov. 1 and 2.” To the surprise of some citizens who apparently are not huge fans of Newsmakers TV, the last chance for neighborhood voters in Districts 1 and 2 to weigh in on who they want representing them at City Hall for the next four y

DA: No Criminal Charges in MAD Affair

The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office will not pursue criminal charges stemming from parents' allegations of adult "sexual predation" of students at the Multimedia Arts and Design Academy, DA Joyce Dudley told Newsmakers on Monday. In an emailed statement in response to our inquiries, Dudley said there is “insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt” that Pablo Sweeney, a former longtime employee of the non-profit foundation that supports the Santa Barbara High School-based academy, interacted with two students “with the intention of committing a sex crime.” After receiving a report from the SB Police Department, the DA’s office also concluded that there was not enough e

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