Video: Spotlight on Santa Maria

msnbc.com
updated 6/10/2005 4:13:47 PM ET 2005-06-10T20:13:47

Michael Jackson's trial is not only taking a toll on the King of Pop, but also the city where the trial is being held. Located in an agricultural area famous for its winemaking, Santa Maria was a peaceful environment before it was thrown into the middle of the Jackson circus. Now, the spotlight that is focused on the trial is also hitting the town, its inhabitants and its businesses.

MSNBC's Lisa Daniels spoke to Santa Maria Deputy Mayor Marty Mariscal to discuss the town and how its residents are coping with the newfound attention.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video clip, click above.

Lisa Daniels: Well I can tell you that shop owners are thrilled that the trial is here because business is soaring. They're happy campers, but what about the townspeople? Mayor, by now millions of people know the town, Santa Maria. What is it all about? Who lives there?

Marty Mariscal: This is primarily an agricultural city but it is also a community of professionals, educators and blue-collared workers that work very hard to run their daily lives and raise their children.

Daniels: Michael Jackson has always had a ranch here for the past couple of years, about 20 or 30 minutes away. Do the townspeople feel like Michael Jackson is one of their own or is he viewed more as a transplant?

Mariscal: Santa Maria is a growing community and as such, there's a lot of transplants from all over the country that are here now so I don't think that they feel that way about Michael Jackson in particular. But he really isn't involved in the community on an ongoing basis and that's a very important component from the people who live here.

This is a very giving and active community and we really take care of ourselves to a degree that many other communities don't. Does that mean they think anything less of him? I don't believe so. I think they're going along with their daily lives doing the things they need to do and quite frankly, I think they're just as curious about the outcome of this trial as anybody else and most of them are watching it on television as opposed to being outside here as you can see.

Daniels: So bottom line when all is said and done, is it a good thing the trial is in Santa Maria?

Mariscal: I think it's a good thing from the standpoint that we were able to be prepared for what is taking place, probably more so then some of the other communities in our country.

It does in fact bring Santa Maria into a spotlight that we appreciate but we'd like to think that the people, who already knew about Santa Maria, already knew that it was a good community to be in, to live in and to raise a family in.

Daniels: Is this what you want Santa Maria to be known for, because reality is, it probably will be so for the next couple of years?

Mariscal: Not for the trial in and of itself but for the caring and giving community of who we are and how we go about doing the things we do.

The one thing I'd like to reiterate is that throughout this whole process, Santa Maria has not lost the identity of who we were, who we are and we will continue to be.

So from that standpoint, I think we're weathering the storm pretty well.

Daniels: As I said in my introduction, a lot of shopkeepers are happy about the trial, business is soaring, but It know that security here is very tight and its costing a lot of money a day. Give us some idea how much it is costing.

Mariscal: Well, at our last estimate, at our city council meeting last Tuesday, we had estimated about $215,000 in cost up to that point but we did do some pretty great planning and were actually going to make money at this point.

Before starting her broadcasting career, NBC's Lisa Daniels was an associate with the New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School.

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