Measure J Defeated

The citizens of Carpinteria successfully defeated Venoco’s oil-drilling initiative in Tuesday’s election:

Measure J lost big: Of 3,262 votes cast, there were 2,284 “No” votes (70%) and only 978 “Yes” votes (30%). The Gulf oil spill was a factor, obviously; Carpinterians still remember the 1969 wellhead blowout that fouled local beaches for more than a year. With the benefit of hindsight, I’m sure Venoco CEO Tim Marquez wishes he’d picked a different time to try to get Carpinteria voters to set aside local oversight and grant his company carte blanche.

Even without the Gulf disaster, though, I think Measure J would have lost. It might have been able to get 40% of the vote, and maybe even 45%, but I don’t think it could have reached 50%. Among informed voters Venoco started off way behind; we saw that clearly in the No on J campaign. The company’s only hope was to dramatically outspend us (which it did; Venoco spent about $600,00, compared to about $80,000 spent on our side), and hope it could pick up most of the late deciders. But amidst all the news about oil-soaked beaches, undecideds broke the other way. Live by the low-information voter, die by the low-information voter.

One aspect of Venoco’s campaign that was particularly interesting to me was the company’s repeated charge that the No on J campaign was lying. Venoco wasn’t able to make that charge stick, mainly because it wasn’t true; it was Venoco that consistently made misleading statements, statements that were routinely knocked down, in accurate and devastating detail, in the letters section of the Coastal View News, our local paper.

I heard a story (third-hand, so I don’t know how accurate it is) that in the wake of Measure J’s defeat, Gary Dobbins, publisher of the Coastal View, has been threatened with lost advertising from pro-Venoco business interests unhappy with the paper’s coverage. From my perspective, though, the Coastal View did an admirable job throughout the campaign, and served its readers really well — not by slanting its coverage, but simply by doing what a newspaper should do: reporting the facts. It’s just that in this case, the facts had a strong anti-Venoco bias.

A few days before the election, Venoco distributed a faux “newspaper” called Carpinteria Coastal Preservation News. I haven’t seen a copy, but others in the No on J campaign who have say it looks a lot like the Coastal View — misleadingly so. One thing the mock newspaper did that particularly incensed many in the No on J campaign was to accuse our side of engaging in a Nazi-style “Big Lie.” No on J volunteer Niels Johnson-Lameijer wrote in his blog:

Taking a closer look at their publication a quote on page 5 caught my eye. It is a quote by Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister J. Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Venoco Inc. states a little further: “Opponents of Measure J seem to have perfected this technique to such an extent that even J. Goebbels would have been proud.”

As you may know I am Dutch, and my home country (the Netherlands) was occupied by Goebbels’ Nazi-regime from April 1940 to May 5, 1945. All of my grandparents fought in the resistance and I grew up hearing first hand WWII stories. We all know about the terror the Germans spread over Europe and I can tell you it has left deep marks on Dutch society that are still visible now, almost 70 years after the first Germans marched into the Netherlands.

I am sad to say that with comparing their opponents with one of the masterminds behind the Nazi’s Holocaust, Venoco Inc. has crossed a line, a line I never thought they would even come near. I don’t know who is responsible for comparing the “No on Measure J”-voters to a regime that resulted in an estimated of 50-70 millions deaths and millions more people severely traumatized, but I suggest they pay a visit to the Ann Frank Museum in Amsterdam. This will for sure help give them a little more perspective.

Ultimately, I think Venoco overplayed its hand with the whole “the other side is lying” angle. Maybe the company’s strategists felt they didn’t have any choice, but the reality is that many of the most prominent people in the No on J campaign have reputations in Carpinteria for honesty and fair-mindedness. Former mayor Donna Jordan came out of retirement to fight Measure J. So did former mayor Dick Weinberg. Current mayor Gregg Carty, a lifelong Carpinterian whose family has strong ties to Venoco, such that many of them publicly supported Measure J, nevertheless elicited gasps of surprise from the crowd attending a packed City Council meeting in February when he announced that after careful consideration, he was encouraging the public to vote against the initiative.

Donna Jordan, Dick Weinberg, and Gregg Carty are three of the most honest people I’ve ever met. They have demonstrated — for decades in some cases — that they are willing to listen to all sides of an issue, set their own interests aside, and make the decision that they honestly believe is in the best interests of Carpinteria.

I live in a small town. In some ways it feels like a throwback to an earlier time, which can be both good and bad. But one of the good things about it is that people here tend to relate to each other as individuals. We know Donna Jordan, Dick Weinberg, and Gregg Carty. We know them not as public figures, but as neighbors. We know their character.

These are the people Venoco was calling liars. Maybe that could have worked in a big city, but I don’t think it was ever going to work here.

11 Responses to “Measure J Defeated”

  1. shcb Says:

    Timing is everything in politics. Glad you did so well. The story reminds me of the movie “Welcome to Mooseport” a funny movie but the lesson is the same, trust those you know first.

    We won this month as well, a bill was signed into law that should start to rein in out of control HOAs, Tuesday is my night on the stage to announce it to our council since they are woefully ignorant of anything that goes on outside their little club, should be fun.

  2. knarlyknight Says:

    JBC, I read this when you posted it and had no comment except bravo!

    On another topic, I wanted to provide a Final update about an incident we discussed at length last year: Death by Tazering of a confused Polish immigrant at Vancouver’s airport. Why the update? Because after a full public inquiry it has been determined that my initial assessment was correct and shcb’s support for the excessively combative authoritarian actions was completely wrong:

    At least the people in Canada still expect to be treated with respect by the police forces they employ.

  3. shcb Says:

    It seems to me all they are saying is they are going to reopen the case because of political pressure, am I reading that right?

  4. knarlyknight Says:

    LOL, no.

  5. shcb Says:

    I read it again, Leyne is sprinkling his opinions, the opinions and beliefs of those of a like mind with official positions in such a way it seems there is more there than there is. But there isn’t much in this article other than the investigation is being reopened because of political pressure. Understand I don’t care, if the Mounties were wrong and committed criminal acts fine, toss them in jail, if they were justified and the poor man was just a crazy man with a bad ticker, well, sorry, he died. Let the Mounties get on with their lives.

  6. shcb Says:

    Well I got my first taste of socialized medicine today, I can now say with some authority it is going to be a wonderful worker’s paradise we will live in comrades, long live the state. We are going to kill people so a few can have the same half assed care the rest of us are going to get. I went in for my annual physical and my doctor spent 5 minutes explaining that they have decided that they shouldn’t do prostate exams anymore since they only have about a 2% success rate treating it if it is particularly aggressive and so they are treating 98% of the people that will die anyway. Why should we pay for all that when we can just let them (the 98% and the 2%) die. As far as I could tell this was with one study. He said they have stopped doing the exams in the socialized countries already. So they are ahead of us in killing people with medicine, goody. By the way, I told him to get a glove on and get out the KY Jelly and stick his finger up my ass. Fuck Obama and the other socialist pricks, I want my 2%.

  7. knarlyknight Says:

    You’re killing me, shcb. I’d respond but it would be like shooting ducks in a barrel.

    btw, Canadians men get routine prostate exams so that must mean we aren’t a socialized couintry.

  8. shcb Says:

    Goody for you, you do live in a country with socialized medicine, only you are moving back to private insurance, I wonder if you can get a prostate exam without supplemental insurance? My point through this whole debate isn’t that medical care will go away it is that we will either get less care or pay more for comparable care. He didn’t deny me the exam, it didn’t cost me anything, the insurance paid for it, he is just setting the stage for next year. If I were to buy the BS he has obviously bought he would hope I will say that I really don’t think I need an exam. In a few years the government will say that there are fewer and fewer men getting these exams and since the government is the sole provider with no competition there is no need to get this exam. They will say, as my doctor did, that is in effect the duty of those 2% do die with dignity at 50 or 60 so others can have care. Then folks like me will either pay out of pocket for something that is included now or we will have supplemental insurance even though we are paying more than we are now with our taxes, we’ll either pay more or get less, and for damn sure a good portion of that 2% will die needlessly, but a crack whore will have insurance, lovely.

    For as long as I can remember the prostate exam was the most important part of the physical since early detection was the best way to survive, but money seems to be more important now. We are seeing the same with women’s screening as well, they have added 10 years to the recommended age for examinations. Reminds me of McNamara’s bullet to body count in Vietnam. Funny how the liberal mantra of “if it only saves one life wouldn’t it be worth it” goes out the window with government expansion and socialism.

  9. knarlyknight Says:

    LOL. Careful comparing yourself to a crack whore shcb, others might not see things the way that you do.

  10. enkidu Says:

    wwnj – PSA is more accurate than the DRE, but if you think it’ll be fun or finally find your missing cerebellum, then you go girl

    Just keep blaming Obama for everything! Reasonable people know that it’ll take at least a decade to undo all the damage form the gwb years.

  11. shcb Says:

    Too bad you’re only going to have 4 (maybe 2?) years

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