Saturday, July 21, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 20

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on October 10th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 32

Townie politics

By the canary

There’s nothing quite like city politics. All politics are local, they say, and you don’t get more local—or heated—than that!

Of course the Lompoc City Council is always entertaining, with all the finger-gun waving and accusations of insubordination. They’ve decided not to fire City Manager Patrick Wiemiller, and gave him a vote of confidence, which is progress of a kind, I guess.

The vote of confidence came after Councilman Jim Mosby called for a review and “possible termination” following Wiemiller’s recommendation that Councilman Victor Vega and other council members stay in their lane regarding cutting city positions.

After getting roundly chastised by numerous city residents—including one who likened council members to her bickering grandchildren—the council agreed to a “discussion” about their roles.

I doubt they sang “Kumbaya” together or went out for coffee afterward, but maybe this is a sign the council is moving forward.

The Solvang City Council made some progress recently as well, when they agreed to appoint the last election’s runner-up, Karen Waite, to the seat vacated by Hans Duus when he moved out of town. Mayor Jim Richardson and Councilwoman Joan Jamieson were all for appointing the runner-up—it is city code, afterall—but Councilmen Neill Zimmerman and Ryan Toussaint locked the vote.

But then Toussaint had a change of heart. Zimmerman stuck to his guns, abstaining from a vote on appointing Waite, saying that a special election was the way to go. He had called the protocol in place, “a horrible policy” before.

Well, it sounds like Toussaint actually listened to the numerous city residents who spoke during public comment, wrote letters, and generally complained that the council would waste time and money on an election rather than just follows its own bylaws.

And now we get to the Santa Maria City Council and the recent hemming and hawing over the Public Art Master Plan.

Well, art can be very controversial—I’m recalling when 4th District County Supervisor Peter Adam had a piece of art that read “BUY SEXUAL” taken down from a Santa Barbara County Arts Commission exhibit in Santa Maria—but you wouldn’t expect public art to be such a sticking point.

Well, it all comes down to money, of course. The City Council was reluctant to pass the cost of public art in Santa Maria on to developers, and so voted on “kicking this can down the road,” as Councilman Jack Boyson put it. A new committee will go over the proposed plan, again, and try to come up with something else.

Santa Maria doesn’t have a reputation of being unfriendly to developers—just exit Highway 101 at Betteravia Road and look around—but it does have a reputation as a lackluster incubator for the arts and not the easiest city on the eyes.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love Santa Maria and there’s a lot to be proud of, but do the City Council and these developers care what other Central Coasters say about the way it looks?

Or, do they want a city that works for the pocketbooks of a few, rather than seeing a bigger, more colorful picture? μ

The Canary is open to pose for a public art piece. Send your thoughts to

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