I was most distressed to read the staff editorial, “Mission Statement,” on Nov. 18, in which you make the claim that the efforts of the California Missions Foundation are both “sneaky and misguided.” I think that your opinions are at the very least misguided as they are based on assumptions that show you clearly don’t have all the information you need to make such statements.
The CMF was founded by the administrative leaders, curators and directors of the 21 California missions with the intent of solving the problem of the complete lack of attention being paid to the collections in the California missions. The needs of the missions are extensive, ranging from structural reinforcement of the outlying buildings to their expansive art collections. The editorial pays no attention to the fact that the collections are primarily of Native American and Hispanic artworks, the likes of which don’t exist anywhere else in the world. This art is the best testament against the stereotype that the Native Americans of the mission period were uncultured or primitive, as their artwork is clearly the work of skilled artisans.
There is nothing in the article to back up the statement that the CMF’s actions are sneaky or misguided. I found out that the only thing sneaky about this article was the way the Nexus staff obtained the information for it. I took the liberty of showing the article to my mother, who I found out was interviewed on the subject for an article about Lois Capps. After being lied to, the information she gave was then completely ignored and misreported by the inept Nexus staff member. The funding that was to be set aside for the California missions was removed from the piece of state legislation mentioned because the Governor wanted to handle it through a different section of his government and then could not do so because of the budget crunch that ensued shortly afterward.
There are, however, many reasons why the California missions should be funded by the federal government, including the fact that many of them are national landmarks. Also, missions in other parts of the nation already receive money from the federal government. For example, there are missions in Texas that are operated and funded by the Feds in cooperation with the local church dioceses. The implication that the Pope should be heading up the group who would pay for this sort of restoration is absurd. If we go down a level, we encounter the problems we have with the internal political structure of the Catholic Church and the fact that no one group has complete jurisdiction over the missions. Two are state parks, two are owned by the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, one is owned by the Jesuit Order, and one is on a Native American reservation. The remaining missions are run by bishops from their respective dioceses, and they fall under the jurisdictions of not less than eight different bishops.
Mission Santa Barbara gets more visitors than any other public attraction in Santa Barbara, and the majority of these are families with 4th grade children and foreign visitors. It is of great interest for economic impacts in the Santa Barbara area, which is largely a tourist economy. For the 2000 fiscal year, of every dollar we sent to Washington in the way of federal taxes, only 87 cents came back to California. Don’t you think it is time we encouraged that number to come up a little, rather than keep getting stiffed by states like New Mexico, which got $2.07 back for every dollar it sent to Washington in the form of federal taxes?
Some could argue that this is pork barrel legislation, but not for the reasons mentioned in your article. I am somewhat saddened by the Nexus, which previously held with me a great deal of credibility. Now I look forward to your next staff editorial, as I always enjoy misinformation and poorly formulated statements about easy targets without consideration for background, ethical, financial or historical factors. Next time I read a piece about frivolous spending in your paper, I won’t be asking if I smell bacon, but I will be asking if I smell more Nexus horseshit.
Robert Foss is a junior computer science major.