Sunday, January 24, 2016

Senseless Murders

Young men are getting shot down in the streets of Santa Maria. This is a tragedy. We hadn't made it two weeks into the month of January when we already had seen two murders. These two most recent victims didn't make it past their early twenties. Another couple of “drive-bys” occurred a few days later.
The murdered young men were walking north on Oakley shortly after 6:30 p.m. when they were shot. Shell casings were strewn across about 20 yards, leading police to suspect the victims were chased prior to the shootings. Detectives are still trying to determine how many shooters were involved.
Last year there were 13 homicides, the last two, just after the Christmas weekend. This is both shameful and tragic. Memorials like the one pictured above are appearing too frequently.
Something needs to be done about these senseless murders. The city needs to get involved. Determining why and then getting into some type of intervention would be a productive way for the city to spend their money, instead of idiotic filing of charges against businesses regarding their landscape.
About half of last year's victims were involved with gangs. Apparently the two most recent murders were gang related.
The answer is not more meetings to discuss the problem, the answer is for these involved people who say they know the “whys” of gang life to get out there into these communities and identify the families, mothers, fathers, grandparents and whoever else is aware of the road the gang member or would-be gang member is taking.
It would be wonderful to see the mayor involved beyond the usually empty platitudes that she seems to enjoy uttering.  Cutting ribbons and hammering her little gavel at meetings isn't enough in the face of so much violence. The leadership of Santa Maria, beginning with her, looks clueless. 
This is a form of domestic terrorism and it must be met head-on, nothing else will make a difference. It's clear that having meetings to “discuss the gang problem” is not working.
The time for talk is over.

Friday, January 09, 2015

My Letter To The Editor At The Santa Barbara News Press

I'm including it here, because well...I can.

To the Editor,

When I opened my Saturday January 3, 2015 issue of the Santa Barbara News Press I had to laugh at the absurdity of the headline, “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses.”
I cannot say that I was offended as much as I was flabbergasted and appalled. Just using the word “illegal” in the headline is enough to rile up the righteous who dream of 40 foot walls at our southern border. This headline will be defended by this newspaper as fair and accurate and will be applauded by many who will not even consider the impact it will have on those so rudely referred to. Why should we care? After all, “those people” are in this country without permission, aren’t they? Since they arrived uninvited let’s just demonize them. Let’s not focus on basic human decency. Let’s not focus on the fact that they risk life and limb with the hope of making a better life. Let’s not focus on their back-breaking contribution to the vast agricultural industry that our own citizens refuse to do. Let’s not focus on the growers, farmers and ranchers who rely on their cheap labor to harvest their crops. 
Let’s instead focus on their cultural contributions when it suits us and when we can make a buck, because that is “The American Way” right? For example, let’s sell beer to celebrate cinco de mayo, without knowing or caring about the significance of that date. How about Día de Los Muertos?  Let’s put up booths and sell trinkets and clothes, perhaps some taquitos or burritos to go along with those little sugar skulls.
How about Mariachis and the Ballet Folklorico strolling around doing their thing during the Old Spanish Days Fiesta? Nevermind that both the Mariachi and Ballet Folklorico originated in Mexico, not Spain and anyway, what’s the difference? Same-same, right?
Despite its conservative leanings, I’ve stuck with this newspaper for years, after taking over the subscription from my mother. Despite derision from family members after the newsroom fiasco of 2006, I kept reading. Even more surprisingly, given my liberal thinking, I decided to keep subscribing even after Andy Caldwell was given a forum, because I knew I’d be able to cast my eyes on different parts of the newspaper so as not to upset my digestion.
However, this latest salvo has made me rethink my decision. I will cancel my mother’s subscription and tell everyone why.
I have no illusions that the entirety of my letter will be published, but since I’ll be posting it on my blog, I know others will see it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Train Wrecks

It has taken me a while to respond to the news that Orly Taitz wants to be California's Attorney General.
My original plan was to write immediately, but I got busy putting my eyeballs back into their proper sockets.
If you haven't yet heard of Orly Taitz, not only have you lived a charmed life, but you are evidently spending just the right amount of time on the Internet. I, on the other hand, am well aware of her. 
I'm evidently drawn to train wrecks.
Orly initially received media attention in 2008 when she questioned the eligibility of Barack Obama to run for president.
Of course those of you who have heard of Orly, know that she's known as the "Queen of the Birthers," having achieved that distinction by being the Birther Loon Movement's most tenacious litigant. Unfortunately for her, she and the rest of her fringe group have repeatedly failed to convince anyone of their far-flung born-in-Kenya conspiracy theories.
For reasons known only to her, this woman continues to file legally dubious courtroom funny papers in different jurisdictions to no avail. 
As a result of these many failures, more than one judge has told her that her filings and arguments make no sense. 
One even went so far as to say, "The Court is not willing to go tilting at windmills with her."
Another judge pointed out that she had urged some of her witnesses to lie. He finally said, "It began to become clearer and clearer to me that Orly Taitz had no understanding of the law."
Despite those slapdowns, as well as being fined for her silliness, she wants to be our Attorney General? Really?
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then it's quite possible that Orly is insane.
I hesitate to use the word "crackpot" so I'll just say she's a nut.
Don't take my word for it, just ask Bill O'Reilly. He called her a "nut" first, back in 2009. Orly wasn't too pleased, so she and ersatz pastor James David Manning, another one who's gone off the rails, organized a protest outside Fox News headquarters in New York City, which drew an estimated 15 to 20 attendees.
Before you vote, do yourself a favor and Google the type of people Orly aligns herself with, then Google her. It's as eye opening as it is dismal.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Miasma Of Misinformation Will Always Cloud Rational Thought

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency -ICE- as well as their supporters is doing their best to educate the huddled masses.
ICE is wanting to move their current facility into Santa Maria and out of the Lompoc Federal Prison in an effort to obtain more space as well as better conditions for the detainees.
However, it seems that Chicken Little has come to town, armed with a megaphone to spread misinformation, which in turn, sows the seeds of fear.
Los Angeles-based lawyer Christina Fialho said she’s concerned about negative impacts that would come to Santa Maria should the office open.
Fialho, a former resident of Santa Maria who co-founded the national group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, said she’s worried that the center could serve to extend the amount of time the local ICE operation could detain people. Because the Lompoc office operates out of old trailers inside the penitentiary grounds, they can’t keep people for very long.
She pointed to the decline of Adelanto after an ICE facility opened there saying, "There are no high schools, the elementary schools are failing, there are no after-school programs … instead it's a hub for mass incarceration."

Nonetheless, the city council took the first step toward approving the move at its last meeting despite protests that drew in more than 500 people.
As for comparing what's going on in Adelanto to what might happen in Santa Maria, it's apples and oranges considering that Adelanto sits in the Mojave Desert, as opposed to the rich agricultural lands found in the Santa Maria Valley.
CAUSE organizer Hazel Davalos says, "Thirty-six percent of the Santa Maria population is immigrants. Some are documented and some are not, but that is a third of our community that's generally opposed of having ICE here. There is still a memory in the community when raids happened."
She adds that if ICE moves in, many immigrants will live in fear.

Agriculture is a very big deal in these here parts and is a very big part of the city's economy. The Santa Maria Valley is home to an ever increasing number of vineyards, wineries and winemakers.
The agricultural areas found here are some of the most productive in California, with primary crops including strawberries, wine grapes, celery, lettuce, peas, squash, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and beans.
As a result, the growers who own these lands have very deep pockets and are extremely important to the Santa Maria economy.
The majority of the work force in agriculture is primarily immigrant. It's difficult back-breaking work that no one else wants to do.
There is absolutely no way ICE is going to round up this workforce. Growers storming city hall or the ICE offices is decidedly scarier than protestors waving flags.

According to Santa Maria City Manager Rick Haydon, the agency's mission has changed. He says, "They are now under the Department of Homeland Security and their primary mission is to protect the homeland."
Just about every day, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County Jails,  as well as the SLO Men's Colony, Lompoc Federal Prison and local police holding cells send a list of all foreign-born detainees who have completed their sentences to ICE.
ICE agents go to these facilities to interview the detainees. The level of crime committed by a person with a green card determines whether that person should be deported based on their criminal history. If for example, they have committee a felony, they will be deported. Misdemeanors could lead to deportation if there are several.
Undocumented people who do not commit felonies or repeated misdemeanors should not worry about the presence of ICE.
The next meeting to discuss the proposed ICE facility will be at the Santa Maria Fair Park on February 5

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Mispent Youth Leads To Poor Choices

As a Latina, I become more and more disheartened every time I read about crimes within the Latino community, the most recent crime being the murder of 28 year old Anthony Ibarra.
According to the Santa Maria Police Department, a total of ten people have been arrested in connection with his murder.
It took ten people to murder and cover up this vicious crime. 
Prosecutors are saying that this was a gang-related, torture killing and that there's a good possibility that drugs, as in selling, buying and taking, are involved.
Eight people, whose chosen lifestyle leads either to death or imprisonment, are all alleged gang members and have been charged with first-degree murder, numerous special allegations, including kidnapping, lying in wait, torture and gang enhancements. Several of them also face allegations that they have numerous prior felony convictions.
They are:
Robert Stan Sosa, 19
Verenisa Castillo Aviles, 19
Anthony Jesus Solis, 28
Jason Michael Castillo, 29
Manuel Santos Santos, 33
*Ramon David Maldonado, 37
*Reyes Gonzales Jr., 42
David Murillo Maldonado Jr., 55
They could face the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted. Five of them are under the age of 30, with two being under age 20. How pitifully young to be in a "going nowhere good" situation.
I find it tragic that the gang life was their choice of career. Who knows what they could have accomplished had they set their sights on educating themselves for their future and their future children.
The remaining two suspects are charged with being accessories after the fact for allegedly hiding at least one of the murder suspects, and with committing crimes for the benefit of a street gang.
They are:
*Carmen Danielle Cardenas, 28
*Pedro Torres Jr., 54
 Do any of these people have children that will now grow up without mothers or fathers? If so, it's even more tragic.

The investigation began on Sunday March 17th, when police say Ibarra was tortured and killed at 1142 West Donovan.  According to the search warrant, a witness walked into the home on Monday March 18th and saw a body of a Hispanic male lying naked on the carpet and the victim's face appeared beaten and neck appeared cut open. The next day, Tuesday March 19th, Ibarra's body was found in the back of a U-Haul truck in Orcutt.
It must be noted that some of the suspects arrested and charged in this murder were released from prison under AB 109.
AB 109 is California's controversial state prison re-alignment program that eases prison overcrowding by removing non-violent, so-called low level offenders and moving them to county jails or placing them on parole or probation.
Santa Maria Chief of Police Ralph Martin says he has seen a spike in certain crimes since AB 109 became law.
Apparently the County Probation Departments have developed programs to reduce the recidivism or re-offending rate of AB 109'ers.

Too bad it's not working since statistics are showing that those being released early on parole or probation are re-offending.
When should the education towards leading a productive life begin? In grade school? Let's go a step further, should sex education in high school not only include pregnancy prevention but parenting classes for the students, to get them to understand that babies are not accessories?