Saturday, May 26, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on June 17th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 15


I’m not going to make a big deal out of this, because I can’t even begin to pretend to understand the complexities of how governing laws work between Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. But I am going to boldly wade into the shallow surface of my understanding and say one thing: What is your problem, supervisors?

Any time Chumash leaders bring a proposal in front of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, I know what’s going to happen. They’re going to reject it. Despite their often making good sense—to me and my limited understanding, anyway—and sometimes despite pleas from very smart, capable people, the offers are dashed.

It’s happened with land annexation issues. It happened recently with public safety, when the Chumash proposed paying the county $850,000 for a 24-hour sheriff’s deputy patrol on and around the reservation. Sheriff Bill Brown said that his department already has to do that anyway, so he practically begged for the money.

Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta resignedly told the board that he expected a “no” vote, since that’s what he gets every time, no matter what.

And he got it.

No surprise there. Actually, as much as I expect our supervisors to lock the doors when they see members of the tribe walking up with wheelbarrows full of cash, I do feel a twinge of surprise at the fact that our local leaders, on the whole, repeatedly fail to recognize that these deals are—as far as I can tell—of benefit to the county, a way to cement a partnership instead of a contentious relationship, and inevitably on the table for a very limited time.

How bad does the budget need to be before the supervisors get over whatever block is holding them back? Sooner or later, the tribe is going to stop coming forward with these offers. I mean, look at the recent history there. If they want land annexed, they get it annexed, whether the county wants that to happen or not. If they want deputy patrol, they get it—are already getting it, in fact. Our supervisors (Steve Lavagnino excepted, this time) look stubbornly obstructionist and shortsighted at best.

Maybe I’m missing something?


The Canary would be willing to patrol for a fraction of the original offer—say, $150,000? Send comments or tips to

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