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    The Road to Tyranny by Don Jans

    Political Spoils Are Abounding In Santa Barbara

    By Andy Caldwell, COLAB

    Political patronage is defined as the practice of dispensing government resources as a reward for political and electoral support. State resources can include lucrative public sector contracts or a prestigious role in the civil service. In other words, politicians buy off people who can cause them trouble, while they pay off those who can do them favors! Whereas there has always been a democratic/progressive political machine firmly in control of local politics, the control was for the most part ideological, with a specific emphasis on anti-growth measures which relied on and served overwrought environmental concerns.

    Having said that, I have observed several examples of political patronage. The most routine and obvious, which goes on to this day, has to do with campaign managers getting cushy government jobs as a reward for serving the political interests of the elected they work for, rather than the general interests of the public. Another longstanding tradition of patronage arises in the case of public unions, such as the Service Employees International Union, which represents most county employees.

    They have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars per election cycle to county supervisor races. In return, the cost of salaries and benefits, including retirement costs, continue to skyrocket. It is a very comfortable relationship among mutual backscratchers; “Keep me elected and I will keep you gainfully employed”. For instance, during the covid shutdown, we believe not one single county employee was laid off having been deemed “non-essential”. Recently, instances of political patronage have skyrocketed.

    The biggest example is what is called Project Labor Agreements or Community Workforce Agreements. It is no secret that nearly 100% of union campaign contributions go to democrats, and democrats are in control of most unions. Both the county of Santa Barbara, and the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara, are creating a scheme by which union contractors alone will be able to secure lucrative government construction contracts, thereby eliminating 85% of the local workforce (that is non-union), from working on taxpayer-funded projects that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in total.

    Now, in addition, your county supervisors have handed out $250,000 in patronage monies to several non-profits, including $100,000 to an adjunct organization of the Black Lives Matter movement known as Healing Justice Santa Barbara. The vote was unanimous. I suggested instead, to no avail, that the supervisors should personally sponsor a private fundraiser for these organizations to raise money from the community rather than using taxpayer dollars.

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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