Monday, July 4, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 18

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on June 22nd, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 17

No mama drama


Benign, boring budget hearings usually snooze themselves into oblivion, but every now and then a little heat enters the building—as it did during the June 14 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hearing. 

What was the fight over? Extra dollars. Unallocated money. Up for grabs and ready for takers! 

County staff recommended that the board put that $400,000 away for a rainy day, but 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino had a more noble plan: Give $200,000 of it to Growing Grounds Farm in Santa Maria. 

And that little request opened a “can of worms,” which 1st District Supervisor Das Williams did his damndest to yank the lid completely off of. I guess he couldn’t get too crazy earlier that day, since his daughter was sitting on his lap at the dais (And I just don’t know how I feel about that, really: Is it unprofessional? Yes. Is it kind of cool to see a dad bearing the brunt of lost child care? Yes.)—so he waited to pounce. 

But it was a strange pounce, one that included an accusation that Lavagnino was making an assumption that other districts didn’t have the same needs. That’s an interesting statement, considering that the nonprofit Growing Grounds Farm isn’t even in Lavagnino’s district. 

“I think we have to think about whether partial funding for this group this year is worth opening up Pandora’s box,” Williams said, adding that other nonprofits that wanted funding and were turned away will be back “in mass” next year. 

He then referred to “the old days,” where people apparently put “knives to the jugular” for the last slivers of funding. 

That’s kind of aggressive. 

“If it’s something you’re not comfortable with, I’d rather you just say no,” Lavagnino said. 

Later adding: “Then don’t vote for it. … It’s  real easy.”

And then, after waylaying this seemingly simple request, Williams made a motion to give Growing Grounds the requested $200,000 and divvy up the remaining money among the districts for other project needs. What? 

So confusing. Almost as confusing as Solvang City Council’s struggle to maintain normal operating procedures during a recent meeting. The June 13 hearing about water and wastewater rates went off the rails a little, when City Councilmember Mark Infanti couldn’t hold his responses in until after the public comment period was over—interrupting to give his 50 cents to the audience. 

He mansplained why water and wastewater rates are increasing to the meeting’s attendees, who apparently didn’t understand that the city’s aging infrastructure needed maintenance and repair funding. Nor did they understand that saving water doesn’t mean that water costs won’t increase. 

“It’s kind of like property taxes. The property taxes are necessary to run your city and run the county and the state,” Infanti said. “These are necessary to run the water and wastewater departments.” 

Infanti then said he conserves water, but not with the expectation that his bill will decrease. 

But when members of the audience thought it was their turn to respond—since the hearing was still in the public comment period phase—Mayor Charlie Uhrig said “not right now.” 

“I need you to sit down, we need to keep moving,” Uhrig said before closing the public comment period. 

That’s not fair! In fact, it seems downright out of order.

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