Thursday, June 16, 2005

Be your own boss. Party boss, that is.

The Democratic Central Committee is the official body of the Democratic Party in Santa Barbara County. It is responsible for recruiting candidates for county and local races, chartering Democratic clubs, operating coordinated campaigns for state and national races, and increasing voter registration and turnout.

The Central Committee currently has one vacancy for residents of the 1st supervisor’s district, two vacancies for residents of the 2nd district, and another two vacancies for residents of the 4th district. In addition, virtually all of our seated members need alternates. Alternates work actively on Central Committee projects and represent their district at Central Committee meetings when their corresponding member is absent.

For more information on joining the Central Committee, please call our hotline at (805) 965-8030, or use the contact page on our website,

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Get your Lakoff on. Progressives have finally been getting, er, religion on how narratives and framing shape how people think about leading news stories of the day. Even while conservatives complain about the phantom "liberal media," they expertly push narratives through a corporatized and lazy Fourth Estate that put liberals on the defensive.

So for all you Lakoff graduates, this article on Arnold's first day campaigning for his special election initiatives should clearly lay out the game plan that conservatives will use from now until November. Although not a single initiative on November's ballot will deal with property taxes, the first photo-op of Arnold's campaign accused Democrats of wanting to roll back Proposition 13. The campaign will be filled with red herring accusations that Democrats will feel tempted to rebut, rather than focusing their message on the sinister propositions loaded on the ballot.

Even the reporting on the protest outside Arnold's event fit the desired right-wing narrative. Republicans will consistently dehumanize teachers, firefighters, police officers, and government employees during this campaign. To Republicans, they are not citizens in your community, they are the controlled puppets of powerful unions. To Republicans, they are not the people that provide your local services, they are special interests "more important to rival Democrats." Republicans can succeed only if they dehumanize your local public servants and damage their reputations one by one.

Don't let them. When you see Republicans or reporters waging war on your local community, make it personal. Ask, "Do you think our local teachers/firefighters/police are doing a bad job?" Offer this challenge: "Do you think that someone in Sacramento knows how to run our community services better than we do?" Everything about this special election is a war on your community. The cost of the election takes money away from local budgets, and the initiatives take away your local control. Apparently, the campaign for these initiatives will also vilify your friends and neighbors who serve your community.

Friday, June 10, 2005
God Bless Marty Blum. As most of the more regular readers of this site know, about a month ago I took a job in San Francisco and Jen and I had to move. This was after some months of being super-distracted by another project; in short, this space has been neglected. This is one of the basic problems with weblogging. If you're only doing it when the spirit moves you, it's going to be pretty inconsistent.

But events have transpired this week that merit comment. First though, a little history.

A few weeks ago, after a year and a half of keeping this site going, I was finally awarded a mention by name on the editorial page of the News-Press. I forget the exact wording of it, but the two, er, points Mr. Armstrong made were that this site was written by a small player (guilty as charged!) and that it was "just opinion." The irony of the latter charge is particularly sharp, as one of the original rationales for starting this project was to counterbalance the occasional vaccum of facts that News-Press editorials are seized with. Looking back, I think I've been reasonably successful at doing this, at least at times. The best posts here have been less heavy on the pure opinion and more heavy on the facts.

In the larger debate about blogging vs. real journalism, a kind of rule of thumb has emerged: a journalist is someone who picks up the phone. In a few cases, I've either picked up the phone or done some research or had the kind of inside experience that being an ordinary member of the Santa Barbara community could provide. That's where the value-add from blogging comes from, and I think the thousands of visits here indicate that I've been at least modestly successful at delivering on that promise.

When there's one main news source, an unfortunate dynamic tends to develop: it becomes nearly impossible for anyone in power or anywhere near it to critique that source, for fear of being an endless target. And as the NP article about the Mayor's letter indicated, there's never going to be any shortage of consultant types cautioning you to play it safe, to take no risks in your campaign and make sure you stay below everyone's radar. I don't know if he meant for it to sound this way, but John Davies' quote makes it sound like he wouldn't know an act of poltical courage if one walked up and bit him on the ass.

But that, I would say, is exactly what this is: an act of profound political courage. The Mayor has taken a great risk in sending that letter. But this was a risk that I would say, and I know many people in town agree, very badly needed to be taken.

The background that was missing in the story the NP ran about itself was the truly astonshing, community-wide, deep, broad dissatisfaction with the News-Press editorial direction. I have some measure of this because over the past year, I'd become something of the person that people would go to when they were unhappy about something that had appeared there. This happened to me hundreds of times, probably thousands.

This dissastisfaction showed up in some suprising ways, too. Knocking on doors and calling voters during campaigns, I heard dissatisfaction, puzzlement and even occasionally anger at the News-Press. So it wasn't just coming from the hardened activists.

The alternative that was most often proposed was to just keep quiet, to suffer the slings and arrows as they came. I certainly see the merits of this; as the adage goes, never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. The problem with this approach is that Santa Barbara just plain deserves better. Santa Barbara deserves an editorial page that isn't obsessed with comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. It deserves an editorial page director who will fight against the slide towards a plantation economy, who understands that spending half of a family's income on housing isn't healthy, who understands that government can and does solve problems competently and efficiently. The town at least deserves someone who can write an editorial without resorting to name calling.

So now the Mayor has used her bully pulpit to give voice to this dissatisfaction. She's doing everything she can to make this a better place. Just don't count on reading about it in the News-Press.

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