The following article was posted on January 6th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun – Volume 21, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]

The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] – Volume 21, Issue 45

Info underload


Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown dropped some jaws on Dec. 1 when he pronounced that most serious violent crimes were up by 10 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, reports of forcible rape were up by 14 percent, robberies by 30 percent, and arson by 41 percent, he told the county Board of Supervisors.


Rural crimes? Up by 52 percent!

And it gets worse, he said, when you throw in stats from Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.

Wow, Billy. This sounds bad.

Tell me, what are the actual numbers? Was there, like, one rural crime in 2019 and two in 2020? Ten confirmed robberies in 2019 and 13 reports of being robbed in 2020? What’s a serious crime? We need context to really understand these numbers you’re just throwing at us willy-nilly, you know what I mean?

Well, we asked the Sheriff’s Office for more details on the numbers he was referring to, and the public information officers told us they wouldn’t be available until mid-2021. They also asked us to hold tight, as the Sheriff’s Office was working on a press release about these apparently top secret crime statistics that Billy Boy had already spoken about at a public meeting but for some reason his public information people didn’t have access to them.

Oh yay! We just love press releases. Not.

The SLO County Sheriff’s Office gave us what we were asking for lickity-split. Their public information guru Tony Cipolla, who isn’t always so forthcoming with the information we ask for, just had them at his fingertips. Serious crimes—homicides, rapes, robberies, domestic violence, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny and vehicle theft, and arson—jumped 20 percent between January to October 2019 and the same time period in 2020. The numbers that support that percentage? About 1,140 of these crimes were reported to the SLO County sheriff in those 10 months of 2019 and 1,370 in 2020.

See? Easy.

You know what’s not easy? Whatever the hell is going on with the Natural Healing Center and the building that once again houses the Old Town Market. After receiving a somewhat vague and confusing press release from the marijuana company’s spokesperson, Joe Armendariz—formerly of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, which is weird; I thought your people hated the devil’s lettuce—about how the Old Town Market was back, we just had to ask some questions. Pesky journalists.

The Natural Healing Center purchased the building that housed the market in early 2020 because it wanted to open a dispensary, Old Town Market owners the Stellers felt they had no choice but to close, and the community erupted.

The market finally closed its doors on Dec. 3, and 20 days later, it reopened again with new building owners (no longer the pot people), new store owners, and a chance of still becoming a pot shop in the near future.

If the county approves a dispensary for that spot, the Natural Healing Center is apparently going to buy the building back from the people it just sold it to.

Confused? Yep. Us too.

The Canary has a problem with muddy information. Send thoughts to [email protected]

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