Kate & Gregg: Winners & Losers of the Week
Kate Ford and Gregg Hart top Newsmakers’ pre-holiday list of Best and Worst political performances this week - one for keeping faith with voters and the other for shattering it.
When Cary met Kate. Elected to the SB school board with promises to bring more accountability and transparency to the district, Ford started cashing in her vows by getting all up in Superintendent Cary Matsuoka’s grill about 12 seconds after she was sworn in.
Unfailingly polite and respectful while unflappably relentless, Ford wouldn't let Mr. Supe wriggle out of direct answers to her direct questions about his proposed process for picking a new principal at embattled San Marcos High, after he’d been called out by parents in public testimony for trying to low-ball the matter, the better to keep power in his hands while giving short shrift to the SMHS community.
“I don’t think that answers my question,” Ford said with a stiff smile, after Matsuoka put on a master class of prevaricating evasiveness, delivered in his familiar tone of well-modulated reassurance. “I’d like to hear from other board members,” chary Cary snapped a moment later, as she persisted.
With a key assist from Laura Capps, Kate got the San Marcos principal search proposal sent back for a redo, a small tactical victory that, for that moment at least, made clear who works for whom at SBUSD.
Why non-partisan offices should not be partisan, Chapter 326. The Internet is not a large enough space to hold all the reasons why Gregg Hart’s final big play as a city council member, which saddles taxpayers with a union-only Performance Labor Agreement policy for public works projects, is an ill-advised and incongruous deal for Santa Barbara.
Hart's PLA program will require all trade workers for city projects of $5 million and above to come via union hiring halls, fixing a problem that didn't exist in an open, competitive-bid system by screwing over some of Santa Barbara's longest-established, most community-minded, family-owned local businesses.
In his final days before leaving for the Board of Supes, Hart recurrently claimed -- without evidence -- that city of Santa Barbara workers were disadvantaged under the current system; speeding the PLA policy through to passage by imposing his genial wiles on the bureaucracy, he easily harvested the predictable votes of the council's other three lefties, each of whom has collected thousands for their campaign from the crafts unions that directly benefit from the change (Trade union contributions over the past two years via campaign finance reports: Mayor Cathy/$29K; Hart/$17.5K; Eric Friedman/$12K; Oscar Gutierrez/ $8K).
Alas, while Smilin' Gregg and cronies celebrate a short-term win, their exercise in hardball politics in the long run will only feed the cynicism of citizens and erode the public trust: In passing Measure C last year, voters agreed to tax themselves in order to build a new police station and perform needed street repairs - but, oddly, heard not a peep from supporters like Hart about PLAs, nor a word of how the $22 million a year spun off by the ballot measure would instantly transmogrify into a new revenue stream for a special class of unions that fuel the campaigns of the PLA 4.
In-n-Out burghers. Mega-kudos to retiring Supervisor Janet Wolf, who got a heartfelt send-off from her colleagues at the board, as described in Nick Welsh’s nice piece comparing and contrasting her politics and personality with Gregg's: "Wolf is outspokenly independent, ready and willing to clash with her own side of the proverbial aisle as she was to throw down with Sheriff Bill Brown,” the Great Man writes. “By contrast, Hart—a policy wonk blessed with an incandescent congeniality—has played the role of consummate party loyalist to perfection.” Indeed.
Witless Protection Program. If ever there was a time for Supervisor Peter Adam to shave it's now: the FDA just fingered his family farming firm as a source of the E coli outbreak and National Romaine Lettuce Scare; any sane local politician in his circumstance would go incognito until the federal heat's off, and what better disguise for Adam than chopping that surreal ferret pelt off his face.
Where's Kelsey Brugger when we need her?
Image: City Council member swears in Kate Ford as a new member of the SB school board; Smilin' Gregg; Janet Wolf; Peter Adam (Paul Wellman, SB Independent).