Our rights

I have been writing lately to keep you informed about what has been happening with water rights, our water rights, with regard to the originally innocent bill, AB 2686, that seems to have a worm contained within it that keeps reappearing. Once again, after the local water district changed some definitions in the bill that were not contained in the original version and were not in the version the State Assembly voted on, but which showed up prior to the Senate vote on it, we thought that problem was solved. The bill with the new revisions went on to the Senate, only now there were some equally fuzzy references included that we had not seen before.


All of this would seem like the paranoia police should be called in to help, were it not for an off-hand comment by an attorney from the district’s new law firm (which, by the way, is known for its gaming litigation skills) that they had approval from the tribe for the changes. Huh?

Why would approval be necessary — or even desirable — if they are a customer like all of the rest of the 10,000 customers in the valley? For that reason, I believe, the Governor has been contacted to hold the bill until this mess can be straightened out. It seems apparent that someone is manipulating this bill to gain an unfair advantage that some of your fellow residents are determined to prevent. Keep tuning in.


Another right that we have all taken for granted for too long is that of private property, which is something that distinguishes the United States from most other countries in the world.

The right to own property free and clear and pretty much do with it as you see fit is unique and powerful.

Whether you own a million acres like Ted Turner, or a tiny cottage in the middle of a large city, you are automatically guaranteed the ability to control who has access to that property and what they do on it, among other things.

Even law enforcement cannot access your property without your permission absent exigent circumstances. I personally have had a long history of cooperation with local law enforcement and appreciate all they do to keep the rest of us safe from criminals.


Over the last few years, however, I have had some serious concerns over what I perceive to be a negative political agenda overcoming the officers’ ability to follow the law and protect my rights to control who has access to my property and what they do there. This past Sunday we had an incident on the ranch. Four young men dressed in camouflage outfits stopped their pickup on Highway 154 at the Santa Ynez River Bridge; two got out, hopped the fence and proceeded to walk up toward the dam in the riverbed.

An employee of mine, who was returning home, saw this occur, called another ranch employee who was located upriver to watch for them and called the sheriff’s department. After the officers apprehended both the two in the truck, which had moved to a location down below my house and parked, and the two in the riverbed, they searched them for weapons, of which they found none. The deputies then came over to me and announced that because they could not find any weapons on the persons whom they had apprehended, they could not cite them for hunter trespass even though it was probable that they were scouting for deer.

In addition, they refused to cite them for trespass because the river was “a navigable river” and therefore anybody could go there.


I attempted to be civil when I explained that the riverbed from the dam to the ocean was all private property, with the exception of the River Park in Buellton, and that the Santa Ynez River was not a navigable river, as I had a copy of the “Navigable Rivers of California,” a legal document, and this river was not on that list. Also, a Supreme Court case had settled that issue many years ago and had not been challenged since. In addition, I added that my absolute ownership of that parcel — the riverbed — on which I pay taxes and on which my family before me had paid taxes for more than eighty years, just last fall had been verified by the court. He wanted to know if I had proof of this, and I replied that of course I had or I would not be saying so.

He wanted copies and I informed him that I had given copies to the Sheriff and numerous deputies over the past couple of years when this started to be a problem. I told him that there were a couple of activists in the DA’s office and in the sheriff’s department who were giving out misinformation, and I intended to get to the bottom of this and get it stopped.


Neither my employees nor I had the time to be to be doing what was supposed to be law enforcement’s job and I would seek legal remedies if I was forced to.

Not only do I intend to pursue this issue vigorously on behalf of the ranch, but there are hundreds of property owners down the river, some of whom are members of The River Committee, who have complained for years about people riding motorcycles, quads, horses and other motorized vehicles up and down the riverbed with no response from the authorities.

I think their properties deserve protection as well. It is unfortunate that our law enforcement has become so uninterested in enforcing the property laws. One of the deputies tried to tell me that I didn’t have any “no trespassing” signs where the young men crossed into the river.


I was pretty angry by this time, and, as politely as I could, I pointed out that people steal these signs all the time, virtually every other day, and we simply didn’t have the time to replace them every week. Besides, I went on to recite to him Penal Code Section 661, which states that any property that is fenced, posted or cultivated is considered private and is subject to those laws. I explained that I grew up here and had been educated from a young age on trespassing and hunting laws, because we have had poachers for as many years as I can remember. The policy my grandmother established of no hunting or fishing will continue as long as I am alive and, I believe, long after I am gone. I intend for law enforcement to help me enforce that.



Politics as usual

By the time you read this, the Democratic National Convention will be history and we will all be waiting to see what happens at the Republican National Convention. One cannot avoid either the ads promising one thing or another to get your vote or the news reports on who said what about whom today. I was bored months ago and now find the national election to be offensive.

All the promises of change have gone by the wayside and what we find is an individual who, although a proficient speaker, offers the same class warfare strategy to the American people as a way to appeal to some voters with the “hopes” that they will be given what they want.


What a fraud! Like this is going to be different from the eight thousand promises of the same sort made for the last hundred years!

People who want something for nothing need to learn that they need to work to get what they need — just like the rest of us.

Unfortunately, I am finding that many otherwise intelligent people are being swayed by the flamboyant rhetoric, but they need to be aware that talk is just that, talk. Demonstrations of encouraging people to become their very best with a hand up when they need it are so much more positive for everybody concerned. Even John Kennedy inspired a whole generation to volunteer their services to others who were less fortunate, as opposed to threatening to take away someone’s hard earned money to give to someone else who may not be willing to work at all.

After all, aren’t we all striving to become successful? Isn’t our success very often measured by one’s financial status? So, if you become successful, why would you try to elect someone who will penalize you for it?


Do you think it is productive either to discourage a nation of people from succeeding or to encourage them to hide their success in off-shore accounts like many politicians do?

I hope you realize that that’s why so many politicians pass this type of legislation — because they themselves will never be impacted by it.

So, as the election season wends its way through our lives over the next few months, pay careful attention, not so much to the charges and counter charges, but to what is not said. Listen not to how many houses a candidate has or does not have; listen instead to why anyone would care.

If a person has been successful, do you value their success or do you resent that they have done better than you? This says more about you than the candidate, and I suspect that this attitude will make you more prone to support politicians who advocate taking from one group of people and giving it wholesale to another, whether they’ve worked for it or not.


Be aware that the backbone of America, small businesses, will be targeted within the suggested guidelines, and we really cannot afford to destroy them.

They, too, deal with the same economic factors that you do, and their margins are not very different from yours.

They also provide the majority of the jobs, do not “ship” jobs overseas, and keep rural America and her families alive and well.

You still have time to think about it.