Sunday, January 19, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 46

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on October 1st, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 31

CANARY: Mad scalawags

By The Canary

Well guys, the local oil company everyone—even the righty-tighties—loves to hate tried to have its bankruptcy proceedings on the other side of the United States, but Santa Barbara County wasn’t having none of that! 

When HVI Cat Canyon, better know ’round these parts as Greka Energy, filed for bankrupcty in a U.S. Bankruptcy  Court in New York, I was like “New York City!” What the hell are they doing over there in New York? Are there some ghostly Greka-fied oil wells wreaking havoc over there that I don’t know about? 

The Canary

Turns out, no. 

Santa Barbara County said, “Oh, hell no!” and filed a petition with the court to get the case moved to where in belonged: California, where everyone knows that HVI’s treated the earth, its people, and its tax obligations like they don’t matter. Initially, the company’s lawyers managed to get the case moved to Texas instead, because apparently one of their affiliates is going through a bankruptcy there. 

What’s up with all of these bankruptcies, guys? Did you forget how to manage all of that money you’re supposed to be rolling in? Or did all the fines for violations and unpaid bills finally catch up with you? 

The county persisted, insisting that the case come on home to the Left Coast, and several state agencies with bones to pick with HVI agreed. Come home, my little scalawag. Come home and pay your debts! 

And the judge sent Greka packing! 

So our little scalawag has reluctantly come on home, and the county is pissed that the company is being allowed to continue its operations—like paying its employees—when HVI owes the county more than $7.4 million in tax debts and regulatory costs! And HVI is supposed to be making weekly payments to the county throughout the course of its bankruptcy proceedings, and the county is saying HVI isn’t paying up!

This little company that couldn’t also owes the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources $12 million in fines for environmental issues! And there are liens, foreclosures, and other shady financial shenanigans that companies around the world are clamoring to get money for. 

Because nobody likes a scalawag. Nobody! 

And yet, the company is allowed to continue to operate. Basically like it’s not even in bankruptcy proceedings. Basically like it hasn’t committed a litany of environmental sins that make its fellow oil companies look bad (like, we’re talking, really bad). Or like its offices didn’t get raided by the Environmental Protection Agency. What’s it going to take to stop this madness!? 

Speaking of madness. What’s up with the majority of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voting against staff’s recommendation to locate a separate fire and emergency medical services dispatch center in the Santa Ynez Valley? Is it another one of those South County conspiracies? Because it’s hard not to see things that way if you live north of Gaviota!

That typical North County/South County split reared its telltale head at the Board of Supervisors Oct. 1 meeting, with (you guessed it) 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam and 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino voting against putting more county resources in the same little area of Goleta where every other service on the face of the Santa Barbara County planet is located. 

And if I remember correctly (I’m getting old, forgive me!), many of those service centers were evacuated or closed during the Jesusita Fire of 2009. Including the call center! 

What’s the point of separating fire and emergency dispatch services from the Sheriff’s Office-run law enforcement dispatch center if they aren’t going to be in different areas?

Lavagnino and Adam both mentioned that one of the reasons to separate the two was for redundancy, with Adam pleading the case for North County employees who have to drive all the way down to Goleta to work at the dispatch center (which, by the way, has a hard time staying fully staffed). Apparently, the head cheeses at the fire department would like it if the dispatch center was a convenient drive for them—even if it means all of the county’s dispatch eggs are in one very fire-prone basket. 

I smell another scalawag, and it’s burning. 

The canary knows a scalawag by smell, apparently. Send comments to

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