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What Does Das Williams Have to Hide? Supervisor Chickens Out of Newsmakers Interview -- Again

The greatest braggarts are usually the biggest cowards. - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

At 7:58 p.m. on Thursday, Supervisor Das Williams sent a peculiar email, cancelling a long-scheduled appearance on Newsmakers TV -- the second time this year the re-election candidate cut and ran from an interview at the last minute.

We've been trying since 2024 began to get Williams to sit down and answer questions on camera about his record on the Board of Supervisors, as part of an ongoing series of conversations with candidates in key March 5 election races, in partnership with our colleague Josh Molina and his "Santa Barbara Talks" podcast.

Williams, who's seeking a third term as SB's First District Supervisor, first agreed that he'd come on the show on Jan. 26. Two days before, however, his campaign manager called it off saying Das had "a family matter come up," while agreeing to a makeup date of Feb. 9. Then last night came word, from no less a figure than the Great Man himself: not only was he standing us up again, but he'd decided not to come on at all. Because...something:

I have a lot of respect for what you did at the News-Press. However, you do not appear to be able to be objective when it comes to my work in office, and you have made it clear to your audience that you disdain everything about me. I can’t pretend that this show engages in balanced journalism - which I deeply believe in, and think that deep down, you do too. I will be doing an energy efficient water heater inspection and trying to help someone who is losing their home find a new place to live during our scheduled time tomorrow, but I do not pretend it is merely a scheduling snafu. I don’t believe that appearing on the program is in service of the public good. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Um, okay. Energy efficient water heater inspection, indeed.

What is Das afraid of? Look, we stipulate that Newsmakers has been tough on Williams, not least for his epically disastrous county cannabis ordinance. It is the most brazenly, pro-industry such local law in California, which he cooked up in secret with a few lobbyist pals and credulous colleague Steve Lavignino, blindsiding local residents and dropping it like a noxious stink bomb on the good citizens of Carpinteria.

It is also true, however, that an "objective" view of that policy debacle, along with other of his political misadventures, aligns more closely with our media watchdog perspective, than with the scornful, sneering, and triumphalist take peddled by the candidate and his posse of sycophants. (Secret teleological memo to Das: in looking for an "objective" view of yourself, it's generally best not to bank on your own view of, you know, yourself).

Consider: A career politician and policy shape shifter who's been feeding at the public trough since 2003, Williams has not been subject to sustained, day-in-day-out coverage of his actions in office since 2006, when the morning paper melted down and began its long, slow slide to bankruptcy. Now, during a "campaign" without a single face-to-face forum with his challenger, Carp City Council member Roy Lee, Das blanches at the prospect of answering a few tough questions from truth-to-power journalists who've had the temerity to criticize him.

Williams evidently is intimidated by the mere notion of speaking with a couple of interlocutors disinclined to accept at face value his glib political spin and overweening self-regard -- unlike fellow local libs who've taken a few shots from the Newsmakers TV gang, but still graciously accepted invites to come on the show (viz. Salud Carbajal, Monique Limon, Gregg Hart, Laura Capps, Joan Hartmann, Eric Friedman, Meagan Harmon, Kristen Sneddon, and Oscar Gutierrez, to name a few) - let alone national stature lefties like Gov. Gavin Newsom, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders, all of whom have cheerfully and effectively braved hostile questioning on the ignoble Fox News Channel.

As Williams seeks yet another term beyond more than two decades in office, he seems to think the election should be more coronation than campaign.

"His basement strategy is not working out," said one veteran local pol, granted anonymity because of Das' well-earned reputation for retribution, referring to Joe Biden's Covid campaign of 2020. "He still should (win big), but he just can't believe everyone doesn't bask in his wonderfulness."

Loyal readers and viewers may be sure that, despite this shameful retreat from accountability by a self-entitled local politician, Newsmakers will soldier on to publish analyses and commentaries on the issues about which we'd hoped to have a conversation with him -- starting today, asJosh and the genial host discuss the Great Das Williams Wimp Out.

Plus: All the latest from the Third District race, and decoding a mystifying ballot measure confronting city voters.

All this, and more, right here, right now on Newsmakers TV.

Check out our political update via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here, TVSB, Channel 17, broadcasts the show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and on weekends at 9 a.m. KCSB, 91.9 FM, airs the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.


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