Is our township of Santa Ynez going to pot?

Santa Ynez has a marijuana storefront coming, most likely by the end of the year. If one storefront was the only thing that was happening in the little township of Santa Ynez, that would be tolerable. The problem is, there are more developing behind the scenes.  A private business has an office in town supporting marijuana retail operations, and another marijuana delivery business is now in the permit process choosing Sagunto Street as its home. 

Santa Ynez appears to be a convenient place at the center of the county for the business of cannabis, but this will truly have a detrimental effect on our community. The township of Santa Ynez is a very family-oriented community. Young people are present throughout the day walking, riding bikes and skateboarding throughout the town. Storefronts, signage and advertising that promote cannabis in our town will be seen by children and adolescents on a regular basis, which can lead to the normalization of the consumption of another psychoactive drug. Product names, like Hawaiian Punch, are made to appeal to our youth.

Haven’t we learned anything from the alcohol and tobacco industries? The industry must be controlled now, not after the problems develop. Our county supervisors see only a tax windfall from allowing these sales and have not considered the costs or allocated sufficient money to control detrimental effects of cannabis in our community. 

Let’s tell our county supervisor that we do not want to be the county center for the marijuana industry.  

Rodney Smeester
Santa Ynez

Why I am supporting the recall of Gov. Newsom

In 1990, I spent over six months of my life investigating and prosecuting one of most ruthless murder cases of my career. That year, Michele Rene Scott stalked her ex-boyfriend Sam Twigg for weeks, and one night entered his condo in Solvang and cold-bloodedly shot him twice as he tried to exit the couch he was sitting on next to his new girlfriend, Elizabeth Yunck. He fell forward, and Elizabeth, frozen with fear — sitting with her legs tucked under her on the couch next to him — was executed by Scott. This image haunts me to this day.

Scott then fled. She had parked her Volkswagen station wagon 1,000 yards away, as she planned the murder, and now headed south to Ventura to her heroin addict mother’s home.

Scott’s mother, sister and complicit foster parents destroyed evidence in the car, ditched it and called an unscrupulous local attorney. The attorney, Richard Robins, subsequently kept her for three days, destroyed evidence on her clothing and hid the murder weapon in his garage.

Robins turned her over to me and my partner after coaching her for three days, but we weren’t done. We proved up her lies and arrested her mother and sister. We held off until after Michelle Scott’s trial to go after Richard Robins.

This was extensively covered by the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Santa Ynez Valley News. During the trial, Michelle Rene Scott lied on the witness stand, and I will never forget the daggers she threw at me with her eyes every time I was near her. She had the steely gaze of a true psychopath. 

The district attorney took the death penalty off the table, but the jury saw who she was, and the horror she caused to both Sam and Elizabeth, along with the pain to both their families. They convicted her straight up on two counts of first-degree murder, with enhancements, increasing the penalty to not just one, but two, life sentences without the possibility of parole — “Without the possibility of parole.” 

At the time that was the ONLY justice the families got in that case; but now apparently that justice just went away. I have learned that in June of this year, after former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown commuted her “no possibility of parole” sentence, current Gov. Gavin Newsom has released her from custody. Make no mistake, this had nothing to do with his compassion towards Scott — it was totally about the Benjamins he would save by reducing the prison budget line item. Cut their budget so he can give money away to people who don’t deserve it. Your money.

Who stands behind Sam and Liz, and their families? Certainly not Gavin Newsom and the bleeding hearts responsible for this killer’s release. If you were waffling about recalling the governor of California, this should make your decision crystal clear.

Ken Reinstadler

Prescott, Arizona 

Former SYV resident