Santa Maria City Council member Gloria Soto is extremely concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline. 

It was in full swing between 1997 and 2021 in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, if you take her comments at a recent board meeting at face value. 

“The last thing I want to do is perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline or make our students feel like they are being watched or that they’re being seen as criminals,” Soto said at the City Council’s Aug. 1 meeting during a discussion about reinstating the school district and Santa Maria Police Department’s school resource officer (SRO) program. 

I guess when the SROs stopped showing up in 2021 on high school campuses in town, students finally had a chance to extricate themselves from the prison pipeline. So why is the school district’s board requesting for the program to come back? 

Obviously, it thinks that pipeline is pretty empty! Not. It could be the increase in gang activity around town, all those drug overdoses on campuses where Narcan needed to be deployed, or perhaps, as Police Chief Marc Schneider said, to keep shady non-high school students off campus. 

Soto, I’m not sure if you realize this or not, but those shady elements in your city are what’s causing the school-to-prison pipeline, not SROs who are in uniforms on local campuses. 

But if she’s right, maybe we should be putting SROs in the well-watered carrot fields of the Cuyama Valley. Then, we could have a carrot-to-prison pipeline where industrialized carrot-growing kingpins get arrested for corporate malfeasance and committing orange-collar crimes like overpumping aquifers and filing lawsuits to stymie sustainability measures. 

Apparently Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms, which filed a quiet title lawsuit over groundwater rights in the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin two years ago, didn’t notify all the landowners overlying the basin about the lawsuit. The first phase of their adjudication case was set to move forward in early August with more than 150 landowners signed on to defend themselves against their corporate overlord neighbors. 

The judge in the case pushed the start date to October because the moneyed pockets of Big Carrot simply couldn’t pony up the dough to publish a notice about the lawsuit in a local newspaper or notify all the impacted landowners. More than 300 landowners still need to be notified before the adjudication can move forward, and these water-sucking jerks can’t be bothered to move any faster. 

But locals are doing what they can to defend themselves from orange-collar crimes. They’ve put together a petition to get Big Carrot to drop the lawsuit and are attempting to rally everyone who cares to boycott Grimmway and Bolthouse products—especially those orange-colored root vegetables.

“You should never turn your nose up at a boycott,” Cuyama Valley landowner and LA attorney Kay March said. “Boycotts are extremely powerful.” 

They can be, but they need consistency and they need to be widespread to have an impact. The two commercial carrot growers have fields in Southern California, Arizona, and beyond, shipping carrots across the nation and farther. 

Those are some pretty big carrots to take down. Some real David and Goliath-style action needs to happen. I say go get ‘em.

The canary is in! Send boycott recommendations to [email protected].

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