Santa Maria Sun / Community
Citizen's AlertBenefits, Meetings, Protests, Forums and Public Meetings
Community Notebook 11/20/14-11/27/14
MONDAY, NOV. 24
• The Solvang City Council has its regular meeting at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 1644 Oak Street, Solvang. Agendas are available at cityofsolvang.com.
• The South County Advisory Council has its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Nipomo Community Services District Headquarters, 148 S. Wilson St., Nipomo.
• It’s Thanksgiving all day long.
Political Watch 11/20/14
• California Gov. Jerry Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval kicked off the third meeting of the Western Governor’s Drought Forum on Nov. 13. The governors offered opening remarks at the two-day meeting held in Sacramento. It was the third of four held on Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Agricultural Sector, according to a press release from the Western Governors’ Association. Sandoval opened by noting that California isn’t the only state in the West facing a drought. He said that 97 percent of Nevada is experiencing some level of drought. Brown said California’s historic drought will continue “to test our imagination, our science, and our political capacity to collaborate,” according to the release. “The Drought Forum fosters regional dialogue in which Western states and industry can share best practices on drought policy, preparedness, and management,” the release stated. “Participants in Drought Forum workshops identify ways to avoid and mitigate the impact of drought on communities, economies, and the environment.” Discussion topics included California’s approach to addressing the impacts of the drought, what impacts are affecting the agricultural sector, and how to approach drought through technology and policy.
• On Nov. 12, state Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara)—chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee—and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)—incoming chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus—organized a roundtable discussion at UC Santa Barbara on improving the handling of sexual assault complaints, strengthening education and prevention programs, and expanding resources for assault survivors. According to a release from Williams’ office, an estimated one in five women will experience sexual assault during their college career, and research suggests that less than 5 percent of those incidents will be reported to law enforcement. It was the second roundtable at a UC campus. The first took place at UC Berkeley in September. On Nov. 12, UCSB and Santa Barbara City College provided statistics regarding disciplinary outcomes associated with sexual assault cases. At UCSB: 42 cases filed with the Office of Judicial Affairs between 2010 and 2014 resulted in only three where a student received formal discipline, a suspension of between one and three quarters. At City College, seven complaints were filed in the 2013-2014 academic year, resulting in four student suspensions of five years. Students and victims spoke up during the discussion to say why cases weren’t being reported. According to the press release, a UCSB student spoke to the group on the condition of anonymity, saying: “At every step in the process, I felt discouraged; investigators and law enforcement lacked sensitivity.” Lt. Brad McVay of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said (according to the release) it was the first time the department had heard these concerns. McVay guaranteed that the Sheriff’s Office would take the issue seriously.
• Guadalupe Director of Public Safety Gary Hoving sent an “open letter to the voters of Guadalupe” on Nov. 17 thanking them for passing three tax initiatives on Nov. 4. “The voters of Guadalupe sent a very strong message during [the] election: They want their local government to remain intact, even if it costs them more,” he wrote. The initiatives passed by an almost 80 percent margin and will increase the city’s sales tax by 0.25 percent, take the cap off utility fees, and change up the city’s business license fee structure. Without passage of the initiatives, Guadalupe might not have been able to continue as a city and been forced to disincorporate. In his letter, Hoving also addressed a secondary message he felt the city’s voters had sent: “The community does support local city government but demands that we make smart business decisions with the tax dollars to avoid a repeat of our current fiscal crisis. While they do support us and have faith in the management[’s] ability, there will be no second chance to return to the voters for greater increases,” he wrote.