Tuesday, April 20, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on October 14th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 33

Letter or spirit?


The Second Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1791. More than two centuries later, we’re still arguing over it. Because, quite frankly, it’s written weirdly—and, here’s a shocker, people who want it to mean certain things interpret it differently!


“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” the amendment states.

There are commas in random places. It’s a passive statement with sub-clauses thrown in the middle. And it’s vague. Who’s infringing on what? What exactly constitute “arms”? What the hell is “a well-regulated militia”? None of these things are defined. 

So it’s a guessing game based on the politics of the time.

Here we are—nearly 230 years later—still thinking that people will follow the intent of a law if it’s not explicitly spelled out in the letter of the law. Let’s take Measure G, for instance. That pesky Santa Barbara County redistricting law voters passed in 2018 that was supposed to take politics out of the extremely political process.

Guess what? It did no such thing! Surprised? Not even a little bit. 

Liberal members of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors are simply appalled at what’s transpired with the measure they wrote! About 200 applicants applied to serve on the 11 member redistricting commission, which will re-form after every census for the foreseeable future, as that’s when district lines get redrawn. The county elections official, who happens to be Jim Holland this year (2020, in case anyone forgot), is in charge of whittling the applicants down to 45—nine for each of the five supervisorial districts—based on qualifications outlined in the measure.

The one Holland seems to have misinterpreted is this one: “Experience that demonstrates an appreciation for the diverse demographics and geography of the county of Santa Barbara.” Whatever “appreciation” means. 

It’s pretty clear that the spirit of “appreciation” means actual diversity to 1st District Supervisor Das Williams and 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann

“You’ve created a skewed pool that is old, white, and male,” Hartmann told Holland during the Oct. 13 meeting where the first five members of the commission were randomly drawn bingo style. When she pressed him for specifics on the exact qualifications he used to narrow the pool of applicants, Holland was pretty peeved. 

“It does not request of me to take into account gender, age, or ethnicity,” he said. “So I selected the most qualified.” 

Whatever “most qualified” means. He declined to go into specifics and said he wasn’t consulted when the measure was crafted at the last minute, he didn’t ask for the job of narrowing down commission applicants, and the ordinance doesn’t specifically ask him to make public his list of qualifications. 

Yeesh. I get it, Holland’s pissed that they’re accusing him of being biased, but he’s not going to give us more than “most qualified”? 

Williams said he trusted the elections official—again, this time that’s our guy Holland—to narrow down candidates based on the intent behind the measure. So what happens 40 years from now when neither one of you is in county government? 

The canary thinks explicit language is the way to go. Send your interpretation to canary@santamariasun.com.

Weekly Poll
Do you agree with the Santa Maria City Council's decision to regulate mobile car wash operations?

Yes. There's a reason the city receives lots of complaints about them.
No. These are people's livelihoods on the line, during a pandemic no less.
I understand the need to regulate, but I still want access to quick and easy car washing!
Car washes are a waste of money; just do it yourself.

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events