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The Partisan is under the weather …

boy wipes his nose with a tissue… but will return soon ready to fight the good fight.

BTW, funny cartoon in latest New Yorker. Folks descending to hell are concerned that it might include a comment section.

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Monterey Downs is gone but the stake remains to be driven

Business people horse racingThe death of the Monterey Downs project has been slow in coming. Unfortunately it did not pass peacefully in its sleep but has held on for all of us to watch the sad spectacle. Now we are told that, for all practical purposes, the project is kaput, finished, over and done but a formalirty remains before we can finally declare that the witch is dead. If all goes as planned, look for the death certificate to be signed at the Seaside City Council meeting this evening.

It should be interesting to watch the city change roles, from being a promoter of the project to becoming an adversary attempting to collect unpaid bills owed by the developer.

Here is the funeral notice from the city and the letter of surrender from the developer

161130-monterey-downs-llc-press-release-2

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Dishonest businessman telling lies, lying businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his backDale Doig for president

For reasons too obvious to share, I have been thinking lately about bad public officials, people who never should have been elected.

Surprisingly, in my 40 years of scrounging for news, I haven’t come across all that many total duds. Most of the mayors, supervisors, council members, township trustees, senators, etc., that I wrote about have been decent folks working long hours for little reward. There were glaring exceptions, though.

One of the worst, in my humble view, was Michael Morrison, who was a member of the Marina City Council starting about 16 or so years ago. Just about everything Morrison did or said was suspect. There was the time he claimed he had been hired by the Secret Service to provide an extra layer of protection for a presidential candidate’s wife. And the time he forced his own wife to hide from him. And when he pretended to be doing research for the city so he could get trade information about a competing business. (He then blamed the competing business for making it too easy to steal its secrets.)

But the worst and least effective political figure I ever covered was a one-time mayor of Fresno. His name is Dale Doig and he was elected mayor in 1985, so long ago now that I don’t remember whom he ran against.

Doig once told me the secret to his political success. The night before each election, he would call around to busy restaurants and bowling alleys to have himself paged. It created a connection to the voters, he explained.

Before becoming mayor, Doig was on the City Council. He had campaigned as a reform candidate who would stand up to the developers who were building whatever they wanted wherever they wanted. But on his first day on the council, he had lunch with a couple of developers and instantly became a former reformer. Doig used to brag that he was a better poker player than the developers because he always seemed to win.

After he had been on the council a few years, it was Doig’s turn to become mayor pro tem, essentially the council president. But during a council retreat, the rest of the council lectured him harshly about how he’d have to get serious and learn the job. He later explained to the local newspaper, the Fresno Bee, that his colleagues were worried because he had a drinking problem. He said he had solved it by getting his wife into a program. He was entirely serious.

I was a reporter for the Bee back then and I was assigned to write about Doig’s first 100 days as mayor. My clearest memory from the piece was one paragraph. Remember, this was for a mainstream newspaper 30-plus years ago, not some alternative paper or cheeky blog. The paragraph read very much like this: “Interviews with dozens of past and present city officials and employees reveal an almost total lack of respect for Doig both as a person and as a public official.”

Doig really had no agenda, no plan for the city. He launched no initiatives, convened no panels, attempted no reforms. He did appoint a convicted cocaine dealer to the city’s economic development commission after the dealer arranged for a friendly pimp to send a hooker to visit the mayor a time or two. (She later told a TV station she wasn’t the kind of hooker who would sleep with a mayor.)

Fresno was a great place to be a reporter because it was every bit as crooked as Monterey County. Doig’s best friend and adviser was a garbage company lobbyist who wanted the city’s business. I’m not going to write about some of the things they did because nobody would believe it.

When Doig was considering re-election after four years in office, his developer buddies wanted rid of him. His political clumsiness was making people suspicious. The king of the development community, John Bonadelle, called me with a plan. He correctly guessed that I had other tidbits about the mayor in my notebook, things I hadn’t been able to print without corroboration. His suggestion was that I write them and he would swear that Doig had admitted all of it to him. For real. Doig decided not to run.

So why am I telling you this? There’s not a lot of interest in Dale Doig these days, not even in Fresno. It comes down to two points, I guess. First, that Fresno somehow survived Doig’s years, which suggests that our political system is stronger than it looks. And second, I’m thinking that, on reflection, even hapless Dale Doig would probably be a better president than the one we’ve got coming.

What’s that, you say. Oh, come on. You can’t mean it. You’ve gone over the top, Mr. Partisan.

Well, maybe so. But consider this. Doig never stood in front of a crowd and mocked a disabled person. He seldom made promises he couldn’t keep, and while it’s true that he seldom made promises at all, is that worse than making false promises?

There isn’t a single Donnie Trump promise that appeals to me, so I’m hoping that he continues on his current path of breaking campaign vows. His cabinet appointments scare me and what makes it worse is realizing that those who accept are the kind of people willing to take orders from a sociopath.

Doig, for all his flaws, never would have considered appointing Rudy Giuliani to anything except possibly official carnival barker. Unless Rudy sent hookers. Doig might have taken advice from the likes of that Breitbart guy but on nothing more serious than a city garbage contract. Doig read books. He knew how government works. As far as I know, he never grabbed a woman and certainly never bragged about it. He was at his most Trumplike when he let developers take him out for lunch but kept the receipt so he could turn it in.

Still, considering what a “successful” Trump presidency might look like, I’d take a Doig administration over a Trump regime anytime. Doig was a do-nothing mayor. Nothing would make me happier than seeing little Donnie Trump become a do-nothing president. That we might be able to survive.

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AMY WHITE: On leaving Havana

img_2719-jpgThe airport surprised me in its efficiency and cleanliness. We had an hour before our flight so I went to the bar to enjoy a rum and not enjoy a cheese sandwich. The cheese sandwich was definitely my worst meal on the trip. The rum was fantastic. I knew it would be my last in Cuba, and I felt nostalgic but ready to leave. My best friend Hunter Harvath and I decided to spend Thanksgiving in Cuba. I arrived home yesterday, and I’m now realizing what an overwhelming trip I just experienced.

img_2737-jpgA gentleman at the airport bar nervously inquired my country of citizenship. We began to chat, as is common with Cubans, only this conversation was different than those I’d had before. The man wore a McCain Palin / 2008 sweatshirt, and it was amusing to tell him who they are. Our chatting was friendly enough, but his shifty eyes and skittish movements alarmed me. After the usual niceties, he revealed his travel plans: abandon Cuba for Venezuela to search for work, maybe in construction or tourism. He said he has $300 in his shoes and no plan for when he arrives. I was immediately ashamed of my narcissistic rendering of travels through his country, a nation that he feels has so few opportunities that he’s going to Venezuela, a nation of political turmoil, staggering inflation, and debilitating food shortages. It wasn’t my limited Spanish that prevented my understanding of his situation, but rather my privileged lens that limits my ability to relate. Despite my overwhelming compassion for this man, I had to force myself to continue talking as my discomfort about these realities were difficult to digest.

Cubans are transparent in their feelings, and surprisingly open with discussing their government. I did not seek out political discussions, however when I said I was from the United States, our president-elect became the topic de jour. And these conversations propelled me to wonder: “What is the United States’s responsibility to the world?” With the opening up of Cuban relations, will the U.S. begin to send aid here? Our president-elect spoke often of ending our massive support to foreign countries, and while I did not cast my vote for Trump, his stance on foreign aid appealed to me a little.

U.S. Americans (note – I identify the “U.S.” because during my travels in Panama in 2002, I replied that my citizenship is American to a Panamanian woman. She looked disgusted that I failed to realize that she too is an American, as is everyone living in North and South America) are known for believing in the luck of birth. If you’re lucky enough to be born in the United States and maybe even with the privilege of wealth, good for you. You’ve been blessed. There’s no assumption to share.

But what is our responsibility? I struggle with all aid to foreign countries from the United States because I’m frustrated with our crumbling schools and terrible infrastructure. But then I wonder if our nation’s wealth was managed better, would we have enough for our great country and aid to others? I’m not informed enough to make that call.

I began writing this piece as a humorous tale of Hunter and my travels through Cuba. I have hilarious and unbelievable tales to tell: the music and dancing; the language misunderstandings; the missed flight to Canada that took us to Mexico… I’ll save those for my journal because as I began to type, I learned that Fidel Castro died. I am stunned. What will happen to all the protest billboards claiming the “U.S. embargo is genocide” or the one claiming “socialism or death”? Will the political indoctrination change? Will the oppression and the hidden poverty continue? I say hidden because most travelers only see the charm of Havana and the stunning beaches along the coast.

My last evening in Havana was spent at a restaurant filled with locals. I spoke with a man named Peter whose English was perfect and passions were intense. He wanted to talk politics, so much so that I suggested we leave for a table outside on the street. He wasn’t nervous, but I was. His sons are in Miami, and his parents are in Italy. He has successful businesses in Havana but complained that he can’t purchase a car. He explained that if he presents money for the purchase, the government will demand business records and then demand high taxes on every peso he has, preventing any accumulation of wealth or “luxury” items. He became so animated as he told me of country clubs and 10 bedroom homes and private beaches and brand new Audis for government officials, all while he spends his business profits on food for his elderly neighbors and what little comforts he can obtain without attracting the government’s attention. I noticed his gold watch and impeccable clothes. I also noticed the very elderly woman working as the bar’s bathroom attendant who was napping on duty at 1am. As if on cue, a disabled man arrived to our table selling peanuts. Peter gave him a fistful of bills and refused the nuts.

Amy White formerly headed LandWatch Monterey County.

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BREAKING NEWS: Monterey Downs project on last legs

Business people horse racingSomething to be particularly thankful about today: Monterey Downs developer Brian Boudreau has told the city of Seaside that he no longer wishes to proceed with the project as it was approved by the City Council earlier this month and that he won’t indemnify the city as required against potential litigation over the various approvals. As a result, city officials will ask the council on Thursday, Dec. 1 to rescind its approval and send the venture back to the Planning Commission for possible revisions.

Monterey Downs, under the recently changed name Monument Village, is the large housing and commercial development long proposed for a wooded site at Fort Ord. It originally was proposed to be anchored by a horse racing arena but opposition to that and other aspects of the venture caused the developer to downplay that feature, leaving some question about the direction and viability of the project.

Opposition has centered on the need to remove thousands of trees and the developer’s inability to demonstrate any sustainable water supply. The City Council approved the overall venture earlier this month on a 3-2 vote but the Nov. 8 election has changed the balance of power on the council, creating the very strong likelihood of a 3-2 vote against the project. LandWatch Monterey has launched a referendum against the project, which would prompt another council vote.

The information about the apparent collapse of the project is included in the agenda for the Dec. 1 council meeting,  posted late Wednesday and discovered by Molly Erickson, lawyer for the Keep Fort Ord Wild group. The agenda item follows in full:

TO: City Council

FROM: Craig Malin, City Manager
BY: Lesley Milton-Rerig, City Clerk
DATE: December 1, 2016

Item No.: 10.A.

SUBJECT: CONSIDERATION OF RESCISSION OF: 1) RESOLUTION NO. 16- 97 AMENDING THE SEASIDE GENERAL PLAN TO INCORPORATE THE CENTRAL COAST VETERANS CEMETERY, MONUMENT VILLAGE, AND SEASIDE HORSE PARK SPECIFIC PLAN (FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE MONTEREY DOWNS AND MONTEREY HORSE PARK AND CENTRAL COAST VETERANS CEMETERY SPECIFIC PLAN) ADOPTED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2016; 2) ORDINANCE NO.1031 ADOPTING THE CENTRAL COAST VETERANS CEMETERY, MONUMENT VILLAGE, AND SEASIDE HORSE PARK SPECIFIC PLAN (FORMERLY REFERRED TO AS THE “MONTEREY DOWNS AND MONTEREY HORSE PARK AND CENTRAL COAST VETERANS CEMETERY SPECIFIC PLAN” ADOPTED ON NOVEMBER 17, 2016, AND 3) ORDINANCE NO. 1032 AMENDING TITLE 17 OF THE SEASIDE MUNICIPAL CODE AND THE OFFICIAL ZONING DISTRICT MAP (Z 12-02) TO INCLUDE THE CENTRAL COAST VETERANS CEMETERY, MONUMENT VILLAGE, AND SEASIDE HORSE PARK SPECIFIC PLAN (FORMERLY REFERRED TO AS THE “MONTEREY DOWNS AND MONTEREY HORSE PARK AND CENTRAL COAST VETERANS CEMETERY SPECIFIC PLAN”) ADOPTED ON NOVEMBER 17, 2016.

THE COUNCIL WILL ALSO CONSIDER DIRECTION TO STAFF TO TAKE ANY AND ALL ACTION NECESSARY TO EFFECTUATE THE RESCISSION OF THE PROJECT APPROVALS AND TO FURTHER REMAND THE MATTER TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION FOR POSSIBLE PROJECT REVISIONS AND FURTHER CONSIDERATION.

PURPOSE

The City Council, at meetings on November 10, 2016, and November 17, 2016, approved
amendments to the General Plan, adopted a Specific Plan, and adopted revisions to the City’s Municipal Code and official Zoning District Map for the proposed Central Coast Veterans Cemetery, Monument Village, and Seaside Horse Park Specific Plan (formerly known as the Monterey Downs and Monterey Horse Park and Central Coast Veterans Cemetery Specific Plan). The Project Applicant, Monterey Downs, LLC, informed the City on November 22, 2016, that they do not wish to proceed with the project as currently approved, and declined at this time to enter into an indemnification agreement as required by the approvals for the General Plan Amendment, Specific Plan, and Zone Text and Map Amendments. Therefore, the City Council will consider rescission of the approvals, direction to staff to effectuate that rescission, and remand the Project to the Planning Commission for consideration of further Project Revisions that Project Applicant may wish to propose.

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the City Council take the following actions regarding the subject applications:

  1. Consider Rescission of Resolution No. 16-97 Amending the General Plan, Ordinance No. 1031 Adopting the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery, Monument Village, and Seaside Horse Park Specific Plan, and Ordinance No. 1032 amending the Municipal Code and Official Zoning District Map.
  2. Consider Direction to staff to take necessary steps to effectuate rescission of the foregoing approvals
  3. Consider Remanding the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery, Monument Village, and Seaside Horse Park Specific Plan project to the Planning Commission for consideration of possible project revisions as may be proposed by the Project Applicant.

BACKGROUND

There is no written report for this item. A verbal discussion will take place at the meeting.

FISCAL IMPACT

None.

ATTACHMENTS

None.

Meeting Date: December 1, 2016

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While we are all feeling thankful today, we should also reflect on this piece from the New York Times about the realities of food and lack of food just across the Lettuce Curtain.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/in-a-california-valley-healthy-food-everywhere-but-on-the-table.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

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160_f_1249591_0wtu4etym9fpuhafuhrwgl9fu8eoyd-1Ran into a guy I know the other day. He’s one of the hardest-working persons I know. He works two jobs that keep him running six, maybe, seven days a week. He’s a leader of his Neighborhood Watch. He runs a men’s Bible study group at church.

He mentioned the next day was his birthday, and for the first time in many years he was taking a day off to spend with his family. He said he needed to take a day to try to relax, to relieve some of the pressure that’s building up inside.

He and his wife have three children. The oldest is a boy, 10 going on 11. He said his son hasn’t been able to sleep the past couple weeks. The boy is worried about what will happen next. He said he comes home from one of his jobs, usually after midnight, and finds his son with the light on in his room and tears in his eyes.

He said he has talked with people at his son’s elementary school. They told him there are many kids feeling the same way, so many that they might bring in professionals to talk with the anxious children.

“What do you think is going to happen?” he asked me.  It was anything but an idle question.

In his mid-40s, he has lived in the Salinas Valley since he was a teenager. He married here about a decade later. His three children are U.S. citizens. His wife, too, has the legal right to be here. He doesn’t.

That’s why his son is so worried. He is afraid his father will be taken away from him. Incoming president Donald Trump has made it clear that large-scale deportations of undocumented immigrants will be a key to his presidency.

But Trump, as is his style, hasn’t been specific. He called Mexicans rapists and criminals when he started his White House campaign, and almost grudgingly allowed that some may be good people.

Trump has spoken glowingly of the barbaric “Operation Wetback” deportations in the 1950, but most recently has talked about focusing on the expulsion of 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Trump doesn’t differentiate among felonies, misdemeanors or parking tickets, but repeatedly told rally crowds that vicious immigrants are preying every night on the streets of the nation to commit horrible violence. No matter that others put the number of undocumented immigrants with criminal records at 1 million. This is Trump world, where feelings, not facts rule.

“Whatever happens isn’t going to happen right away,” I told him. “Have you ever been arrested?”

No, not even a parking ticket, he said. I told him that’s good. Of course, I don’t know if it’s good at all.

I struggled to answer his question, to try to calm him a little. But what the hell do I know about what happens next? I fell silent.

Trump’s electoral victory seems to have unleashed fresh waves of bigotry and ignorance upon the land. Hate crimes are up, swastikas are scrawled on more walls. Nazis wearing nice new clothes met over the weekend in Washington, D.C., to soak up all the old lies about white supremacy and publicly celebrate the new president.

The worried man broke the silence, saying there was a community meeting coming up that he planned to attend. Yes, I said, there already have been several in Salinas. People are getting organized, they are getting unified. Just the other day, I went on, about 1,000 students at Alisal High School over in Salinas marched in a show of unity and peaceful resistance.

We’d reached the point where we had nothing more to say on the subject. I was tired of my attempts to lift his spirits. I thought I sounded like some idiot in Germany, who told his neighbors that those men with the funny salute are fools and surely won’t last.

I asked about his birthday plans. His wife would cook the kids’ favorite tacos with green sauce. They’d go to church in the morning. With a smile, he added he’d already gotten a birthday card from his son, the one so worried that some day coming soon his father will be taken away.

The kid probably didn’t want to wait another day without giving him the card and its message of love. It’s never too early to do that, especially these days.

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horses neonBack when the Monterey Downs development was the subject of dueling ballot measures, Jack Stewart was a key part of the disinformation campaign supporting the venture.

The Monterey Downs developers used every trick in the book to win that round. The worst was convincing gullible voters that those opposed to the racetrack project were also opposed to veterans and the veterans cemetery at Fort Ord. There was a slight connection between the project and the cemetery but it was a weak one created only to create a talking point for the project backers.

Stewart was one of the faces of the opposition and he was a good choice. He’s an older fellow and a veteran and people tend to give the benefit of the doubt to older veterans. Unfortunately, he abused that trust and he’s at it again.

His latest ploy is his letter to the editor in Friday’s Monterey Herald. He writes that two Seaside City Council members and a council member-elect, Kayla Jones, support a ballot measure that would overturn the council’s recent approval of the project. If he had stopped there, he would have been right. Council members Jason Campbell and Dave Pacheco are opposed to the venture, as is Jones.

But Stewart goes on to say that the ballot measure, which is being pursued by LandWatch Monterey County, would result in a special election that would cost the city $120,000.

“The majority is willing to expend city revenues because they don’t want to make a decision that may affect their future political ambitions,” Stewart writes. “They hope voters will forget about the expended city revenues and hope the veterans community won’t mind being thrown under the bus.”

But here’s the thing. If project opponents collect enough signature to force a ballot measure, which won’t be a problem,  the measure doesn’t have to go to the ballot. The council has the option of accepting the will of the people and voting to kill the misbegotten project. There is no need for a ballot measure to stop the horse racing/housing/commercial project.

That’s what happened when the public collected signatures in opposition to cutting down a zillion trees in order to build a bus yard at a site near the proposed Monterey Downs property. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors had voted to proceed with the bus project but it reversed itself when presented with a referendum petition.

“Upon further reflection,” the supes said, demonstrating some belated political wisdom.

I probably should also mention that Stewart’s letter also accuses the budding council majority of throwing the “veterans community” under the bus. The referendum has nothing to do with the veterans cemetery, which is already being built. Stewart knows that but it worked once.

By the way, now they’re calling the project Monument Village and saying that it only kinda, sorta involves horse racing. I’m thinking maybe they should have stayed with the horse racing theme and called it Thumbs Downs.

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Better Than Before Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds and Sky.HELP UNDO THE DAMAGE

We could borrow a page from the newspaper industry, which tells us each time the product shrinks that it is actually NEW! and IMPROVED!, easier to use, and packed with even more ITEMS THAT MATTER!, like yesterday’s news tomorrow. But we’re not going to make any silly claims about the new look of the Partisan. We have a new photo atop the home page, and a new color scheme, mainly because we spotted the cool photo by our former Santa Cruz Sentinel colleague, Shmuel Thaler.

Shmuel graciously agreed to let us use his shot of a solitary sailboat on a sparkling bay. We found that we couldn’t simply swap out the photo without changing the color scheme and making a few other tweaks to the look. We hope you like it, and when I say we, I mean Paul Skolnick, my old friend who handles technical matters for the Partisan. He does it because I was stumped trying to change a ribbon on the old Underwood and was left behind on all things technological decades ago.

The timing of the change is actually more significant than the change itself. Like many or perhaps all Partisan readers, I am bummed to the max by last week’s election results. I’m figuring that whatever we all did to let that happen can’t be allowed to happen again, so it’s time for changes big and small, real and symbolic. Even such little things as photos and color schemes.

We went from a look with a fair amount of red and a look with quite a bit of blue. Subconsciously, I suspect that’s because we wanted to see more blue on the maps the next time election day rolls around.

Here’s where you come in. Here at Partisan HQ, we had contemplated retiring the effort shortly after Election 2016, but events have persuaded to keep at it for a while longer, perhaps even until sanity is restored. While the Partisan is principally interested in local news and opinion, the nonsense in Washington is going to have plenty of impact on things close to home. Isn’t it time for more voices rather than fewer?

On these pages, I have grumbled repeatedly that more of you haven’t taken advantage of this platform. It remains my hope that new voices will emerge in these dark days, voices who can share what they know and can find out about the impact of the decisions made in Washington. My contacts in the Muslim world, the world of undocumented workers, are limited. I don’t know a lot about Obamacare or climate change. But you do, and it’s time for you to share, dammit.

Wanna write something? Wanna be a reporter? Wanna change the world one blog post at the time. Wanna be the Big Sur correspondent or start a Partisan outpost in Santa Cruz County? Gimme a shout at calkinsroyal@gmail.com, or call me at 484-5068 and we’ll try to figure it out together.

By the way, we always can use money and we’ll need more if we are able to grow the way we should. There’s a Paypal button up in the top corner (yes, I read somewhere that Paypal is a Trump supporter, so we may have to change this up, too.) And there is a mailing address, 84 Harper Canyon, Salinas, 93908.

Cheers.

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New House BuildingUPDATE: Due to a challenge by another long-time land-use activist, Janet Brennan, the thrust of this post is under review. It will be updated. For details of Brennan’s concern, see her response below the post.

 

Fifth District Supervisor Dave Potter is abandoning all pretense of caring about good development in his final months of office. It used to be that Potter would shed crocodile tears about always losing on 3-2 votes for projects in his own district, while quietly making sure – wink, wink, nod, nod – that a majority was in place to approve bad developments. Think September Ranch and Ferrini Ranch subdivisions, or the shopping mall at Corral de Tierra and Highway 68. After having been trounced (I wonder why?) in his bid for re-election, Potter is now going all out to fast track the Rancho Canada subdivision at the mouth of Carmel Valley before his terms expires. Apparently he still owes favors to his developer friends.

The Rancho Canada Subdivision (RCS) application is a fraud being perpetrated by the developers with the active collusion thus far by Monterey County, thanks to Potter. The Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the application Wednesday and the Board of Supervisors in three weeks in the mad rush to get it done.

I don’t take the term fraud lightly, so let’s begin deconstructing the application. Years ago, the RCS developers started an application process, but its environmental impact report was so poorly done that the developers withdrew it and the project died. Lazarus-like, RCS is back, and the developers claim that it must be considered under the old general plan, which was replaced six years ago. Here, then, are the first two parts of the fraud: insisting that it must be considered under a long dead but more lenient general plan, and doing so to try to avoid the county’s binding legal commitments.

In 2012, in order to settle a lawsuit brought by the Carmel Valley Association, the county committed to cap new units created in the Carmel Valley Master Plan area to 190. This is a legally binding commitment that the county cannot simply set aside. During the discussions that reached the 190 cap – I was one of CVA’s negotiators – Rancho Canada was specifically discussed as being included under that cap amount.

By accepting a 281-unit subdivision application, the county is acting in bad faith and risks wasting taxpayer dollars in defending what would be an easy case against it. Simply asserting that it is considering the application under a general plan that was replaced in 2010 is nonsense and would never stand up to scrutiny.

But here is the real play that is going on: the 281-unit subdivision application is a Trojan horse, designed to get into the gate and approved instead a 130-unit “alternative” for the subdivision. A reasonable person may ask: why not then just apply for the 130-unit subdivision under the current 2010 general plan as that would fit under the 190-unit cap?

Here is where the fraud deepens. There are at least four reasons that taking this obvious and correct step would probably not work, and thus why the developers – and Dave Potter – insist on considering the application under the long-dead general plan.

First, even at 130 units the numbers might not work for RCS. Of the 190-unit cap, at least 30 units have already been allocated, leaving at most 160. But the 2010 general plan also specifically allocates 24 of those units to a project at the old Carmel Valley airport, leaving at most 136 units available. But we would need to see a full accounting of the allocated units first to be able to say for sure that 130 units were still even available.

If, in fact, 130 units are not available, then the county would need to make a general plan amendment re-allocating some of those airport units to RCS – and that is the second problem. Making general plan amendments under the current 2010 general plan is much more difficult than under the old general plan, and Potter does not have the time to wait. Under no circumstances could the county make a general plan amendment removing the 190-unit cap.

A third (political) problem would then arise: RCS would use up by itself essentially all the remaining unallocated units from the 190 cap, leaving no one else outside of the airport owners the ability to subdivide. Politically, Potter does not want the heat for effectively denying all other applicants outside of the RCS owners, so the fraud about considering RCS under the old general plan got ginned up.

Fourth, RCS is inconsistent in a multitude of ways with the current general plan, as both the Carmel Valley Association and Landwatch have pointed out, thus the developers have pushed for the friendlier confines of an expired general plan written nearly four decades ago.

Hopefully not lost in the fraud surrounding the application is that the 130-unit “alternative” itself is just straight up a bad project. It represents the worst of leap-frog, sprawl development that we have seen too much of in California. As well, the one commendable item in the original 281-unit application – 50% of the units were allocated to workforce housing – has been put aside in lieu of the county’s bare minimum standard of 20% affordable housing. There is nothing compelling about this subdivision application at all once that 50% workforce housing element was removed. It would also violate policy CV 1.6a that gives preference to projects that include “50% affordable housing units.” It is just another run-of-the-mill bad sprawl development with nothing to recommend it.

Potter’s support of RCS will undo his one really good achievement during his time as supervisor: the building of the “climbing lane” on northbound Highway 1 up Carmel Hill. Traffic congestion was utterly horrible at the mouth of Carmel Valley before the climbing lane was built. Part of Potter’s marketing of the climbing lane as found in various county documents is that it would be “no growth inducing” and was meant only to relieve extant congestion. But this was more than a marketing pitch; it had legal consequences. By framing the issue as “no growth inducing” Potter was able to bypass CEQA and not do an EIR for the project. Can anyone imagine RCS being contemplated with the congestion we had before the climbing lane? By considering RCS now, the county is violating its legal and moral pledge to the community that the climbing lane would not be used as an excuse to approve more development.

The Planning Commission should not be party to Potter’s rush to approve RCS. Compel the developer to return with a suitable project that is consistent with the current general plan and the legal commitments that the county has. The Planning Commission would do well not to be complicit in the RCS fraud.

Robinson is a professor who has long been active in Carmel Valley land use issues.

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Dear Ones,

As you might imagine, we have been severely highjacked again by an irrepressible urge to rant while searching between the ears for remnants of the Homeland Inspiration Espiritu.

How is your emotional hangover? The what just happened numbness.

We’re agape, aghast and our PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE to the flag’s at half mast

Blindsided, horrified, gut-punched and wounded.

AND THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS

Never before have we taken it so personally, so physiologically, and never before has it felt like a national time of mourning and dissolution along with disillusion.

The day after, we find ourselves out by the mailbox pulling weeds in the fog, trying to root out the sadness and face it head on while admiring our Yes on Z lawn sign.  Yes, the Citizens Initiative in Monterey County to ban fracking was a success! We fended off a $5.5 million dollar+ blitz of loathsome lies plastered upon us by the oil and gas industry giants.

mr-gas-pants

mr gas pants

We sort out thoughts like weeds and save some seeds. Watching the last cartoon gasp of white imperial dominance flaming itself out.  Woman-with-too-much-baggage overtaken by the monstrosity we’ve created. We (we) (they) (just who is they?) watched, (we) ate it up and allowed ourselves to be devoured.

WHITE WOMEN? Huh? Wow ladies, how could you???? Of all people, acting out of fear instead of love. Now do you feel “safe”?  Maybe you are still mad about the cookies?  Did you feel threatened by a woman who is that intelligent and composed? Are all ya’ll so beaten up that you need this man like a pimp?  What gives?  Evidently not pride or support.  Well gals, do you know what you signed up for?  Do you know what bus ride you just got on?  Is your amnesia that deep?  Go on back to sleep now with the TRUMPsteak over your eyes.

ONE NATION (wait  – is this the problem?)

Poles of the polarity stretched so deep that we’re melting the ice caps in double double time. Tickle, trickle drip drip the venom, a different kind of waterboarding the election cycle was.

As the woman on the spin cycle next to us said, “I feel so stressed, I feel like it’s Christmas”  Out of breath, we commiserated the civil discourse come unhinged.

Though it appears that the country ached/voted for change, what they’ve demonstrated instead is fear of change.  And that is change that has already happened.  We are peopled here with a multi-cultural and creative earth-loving intelligence.  Huge steel mills aren’t coming back. The “change” they voted for is really the worst of the “more-of-the-sames”, such as misogyny, and trickle (not at all) down economics.

home

home

BLOWHARD DONALD and his little PINCHED PENCE

(I’m so going to miss Obama’s relaxed smile despite how arduous it has been)

We must hand it to hand it to the Donald for manning the communication waves.  He managed to be somehow fascinatingly repulsive.  A sort of Jabba the Hut of a pre-roasted, angrysickballsack thing. A cotton candy topped greed-based narcissist, snake oil salesman who achieved brand recognition, suspense and terror while barely spending a dime.  Bombarding the bullyism upon those with weakened understandings (or something).  And the ever devouring piranha of his lips, mangling civility as he went. All twittered and frittered and fried into indigestible lumps of negativity.

Oh ELECTORAL COLLEGE vote – despite his propagandizing to the disenchanted, the “blue collar” left-behinds, it’s the ELECTORAL COLLEGE (drafted in the 1880s) that clinched it.  Now looking like an obscure, elitist, collegey, fake, complicated, obfuscated Credit Default Swap.

one nation(?) indivisible, with liberty and (justice) for all.”

“WRONG”

INDIVISIBLE, hmmmm

WITH LIBERTY(surveillance) AND (JUSTICE) FOR ALL (some)

blown-gasket

blown gasket

Now they talk of (the wall) as not a real wall you know, but a system.  The Trump con/ card worked.  We are at the Casino now and we’re pretty sure that we know what is going to happen.

Whoah. Feeling freighted with the weighted. As the offspring says: “Stop talking mom!”

Breathe breathe breathe – locate your your chi ball in the rubble and confusion and we attempt to stoke it with some rays of hope.  Breathe all the way into your bones, and give yourself extra oxygen these days.  And as  Bob NO WOMAN NO CRY Marley said,

(observing the ypocrites)

MINGLE WITH THE GOOD PEOPLE WE MEET ALONG THE WAY….

It’s their art and music and writings and hope and humor that are going to get us through.

the-d

the-d

Melissa Smedley is an artist, educator and writer living in the unincorporated area of Monterey County. She teaches at the Visual and Public Art Department at CSUMB. She also helps implement public art projects throughout the Central Coast and the Bay area while continuing her daily creative and civic research. This first appeared on her blog, Homeland  Inspiration.

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[20100505 (LA/B2) -- CASE: Frederick Salyer faces antitrust charges. -- PHOTOGRAPHER: KSBW-TV] *** [Scott Salyer, CEO of S K Foods. Credit: KSBW]

Scott Salyer, image courtesy of KSBW-TV

 Sipping a coffee in The Cherry Bean in Salinas, a friend asked me, “Hey, whatever happened to O.J. Simpson?”

I replied, “I think he’s doing time in Nevada … for a robbery.”

“Really! Robbery? You sure?”

“I think so.”

“You should write about it and while you’re at it let people know the status of some of the other local baddies.”

And so I have…

  1. O.J. Simpson

After escaping conviction for the deaths of Nicole Simpson and Richard Goldman, O.J. Simpson was arrested in September 2007 during a robbery gone wrong in Las Vegas. He and a group of men barged into a hotel/casino to steal his own sports memorabilia. Problem is he did it at gunpoint. He was charged with kidnapping and armed robbery and sentenced to 33 years at Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada. He’s eligible for parole in October 2017. Bets are he doesn’t get out. (Apparently what one does in Vegas actually does stay in Vegas.) He is 69 years old.

  1. Tomas Pollacci (Pebble Beach)

A serial rapist, Pollacci grew up in Pebble Beach. He had a distinct method of dating: drugging unsuspecting women, then raping them. He often did it in the family liquor store on Lighthouse Avenue, in Pacific Grove. Pollacci was sentenced to eight years but then had another six added on when more victims came forward.

However, the state Department of Mental Health will assess him before his sentence is completed to determine if he should be placed indefinitely into the state Sexually Violent Predator Program. He is currently in Valley State Prison in Chowchilla (possible parole 2024) He is 56.

  1. Jodi Arias (Salinas)

The infamous black widow murderer was convicted of brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, a motivational speaker and Mormon. He had been shot in the head and stabbed more than two dozen times, and his throat had been slit from ear to ear. Arias received a life sentence without the possibility of parole after 25 years. With talks of an appeal underway, Aria will serve time at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville. (Unfortunately, she was from our very own Salinas.) She is 36.

  1. John Franklin Kenney (Carmel Valley)

Murdered his neighbors over a boulder in the driveway. Kenney, a Carmel Valley resident shot (twice each) to death his neighbors Elizabeth and Mel Grimes over continued driveway right-of-way issues – a boulder in the end. He was sentenced in 2008 to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is incarcerated in Richard J. Donovan Correction Facility in San Diego. He is 82.

  1. Frederick Scott Salyer (Pebble Beach)

This scion of one of California’s most prominent agriculture families pleaded guilty in a federal bribery and conspiracy case in which he was accused of trying to corner the nation’s market for tomato products. His crimes included bribing buyers to purchase his products over those of competitors, of mislabeling products that were old or moldy, and of stashing millions of dollars in Luxembourg as part of a plan to flee rather than face prosecution.

Prior to his guilty plea, Salyer spent eight months in custody, most of it in the Sacramento County Jail, before his lawyers succeeded in having him released on $6 million bail and placed under house arrest and electronic monitoring at his Pebble Beach mansion.

He was sentenced in February 2013 in federal court in Sacramento to six years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for racketeering and price fixing. He is at the U.S. Penitentiary Atwater in Merced County and scheduled for release Nov. 30. Salyer is 60.

  1. Manoel Antonio Errico (Monterey/Brazil/Argentina)

Seven years after being on the lam and indicted on 31 federal charges, former Cedar Funding investment company loan servicing manager Manoel Antonio Errico was extradited to the United States from Argentina to face charges. The indictment accuses Errico, of defrauding investors. He allegedly induced victims to invest in loans purportedly secured by deeds of trusts. About 1,600 investors, many of them Central Coast residents, sank nearly $150 million in Cedar Funding’s mortgage pool and loans on individual pieces of real estate.

Errico fled the United States in June 2009 while the company was under federal investigation and returned to his native Brazil, which does not extradite its citizens. Errico was snagged in April 2016 when he unwisely traveled from Brazil to Argentina. Oooops. Errico is 61.

  1. David Nilsen

David Nilsen, Cedar Funding’s owner and president, pleaded guilty in 2011 to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and was sentenced in 2012 to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $69,828,833 in restitution. (Good luck on that.) He is being held at Sheridan, Ore.. Federal Detention Center. His release date is June 15 2018. Nilsen is 66.

Paul Karrer is a retired teacher. This first appeared in the Salinas Californian.

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All was not lost on election day, at least not locally

edit_14232393_1166055086801312_6162782396031943489_nOn the way home from therapy on Wednesday, I stopped along the highway to pick up an election souvenir, a green-and-white YES ON Z sign. It now rests next to my computer as a reminder that all is not lost, that sometimes the good guys win.

I’m sure I will look at the sign often while reading about the latest groaner from the Trump administration. I am hoping that it will ease my despair and keep me focused on the positive and the local.

While the national election was an unmitigated disaster, it was a mixed bag locally. You had to look closely for the positives, but they were there.

Measure Z, of course, wins first prize for greatest success in the face of overwhelming money. It was the anti-fracking measure and you know all about it so I’ll spare you the normal details except for how the oil industry spent at least $5.5 million to fight it. (I’m hoping our friends at KSBW and elsewhere in electronic media spend their campaign advertising fortune wisely.)

Co-conspirator Larry Parsons and I made the rounds of election parties Tuesday night. We tried to stop by the Measure Z party in Salinas but a goodly share of the Measure Z camp is, well, it’s older now and the lights were off before 10 p.m.

We did stop by the Yes on Y affair. Medical marijuana, another ballot winner. I thought for a minute we had made a wrong turn and had ended up at a Pebble Beach Food & Wine after-party. There were lots of very pretty people, young and well dressed. I didn’t recognize anyone.

Monterey City Councilwoman Libby Downey’s party nearby was a quieter affair filled with older folks in comfortable clothes. Libby was just as gracious in defeat as she always is, saying that if Dan Albert Jr. had to knock one of the progressives off the council, which he did, it was better that it wasn’t Alan Haffa. For Downey, being on the council has meant also being on the mayors water authority and the boards of TAMC and the transit authority and the sewer board, etc., etc. It has meant almost daily meetings and lots of work. She deserves a standing ovation as she steps aside.

The Seaside results can be interpreted in different ways. I see it as a victory for common sense because even though Ralph Rubio will stick around as mayor, the fact that he didn’t receive an outright majority tells me that the people of Seaside aren’t so keen on the Monterey Downs project. Kay Cline came in a close second on a platform led by her opposition to the racetrack/housing venture. Give her the votes of the other two candidates and she would have won.

Cline’s party at the Press Club was upbeat even though no one in the room was enjoying the national election coverage on the bank of TVs.

Supporting my Seaside thoughts was the defeat of Councilman Ian Oglesby, who once was a promising newcomer but who fell into the trap of doing what Ralph wanted him to do. He will be replaced by Kayla Jones, a rising star with a progressive view of Seaside’s needs. Dave Pacheco was re-elected, a good thing because every council needs someone who is only looking out for the people.

Seaside was the setting for Sen. Bill Monning’s intimate victory party, populated mostly by campaign workers and elected officials such as Jane Parker and Mary Adams. Mel Mason was there, looking well. The Monning affair was at DeMarco’s Pizza, my go-to place for pizza. Monning and Haffa are also regulars there and you should be, too.  (This is what they call a plug. DeMarco’s is on Broadway (Obama Way) across the street from Goodwill.)

In Salinas, the big news was that odd-man-out Councilman Jose Castaneda is all the way out, finishing fourth in a four-way race for his seat. All went as expected in Pacific Grove. Nothing new there. Same with Marina, though it was gratifying to see Kevin Saunders fall flat, especially after he lobbed some anti-Semitic nonsense at Weekly editor Sara Rubin. Go off somewhere and torch one, Kevin, and leave the rest of us alone.

The Hartnell bond was approved and the transportation tax may have been approved. It needs two-thirds approval and had almost exactly that as of last count but there are thousands more ballots to count before we rest.

Could have been worse. Not nearly good enough to salve the sting of the Trump victory but good enough to keep some good people in the game for a few more cycles.

Congratulations to the Measure Z camp, especially Jeanne Turner, who did a remarkable job of organizing the petition drive and keeping her colleagues focused.

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“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The unthinkable has occurred. The Brexit effect has kicked in. Donald Trump will grab the brass ring and become president of the United States of America.

Democrats and media have been feasting on the mantra that the Republican Party is doomed, dead and demised. We’ve heard — the party of Lincoln will not recover from the schism between the tea party (evangelicals) and the financial elites (advocates of business, finance and lower taxes).

Hillary’s numbers, her on the ground based machine, and the electoral system were in her favor, a bit… except for the LATimes. They called it right.

Trump winning means his voters were more enthusiastic than Hillary’s. And all evidence shows that to be true. It also means huge, vast teeming numbers of voters were so turned off by her they didn’t go to the polls or they voted independent or …worse… they clandestinely voted for Trump.

The Trump win means there will be a fiery accounting. A lot of hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth and new unparalleled disgust and contempt for both Clintons will grow throughout the land. Hillary will have brought this catastrophe on the Democratic Party and, worse yet, on the United States of America. And it will be by those who forcefully had to vote for her. Democrats will be outraged.

Some will falsely blame the army of Bernie Sanders folks. Sorry, that blame is sorely misplaced. The blame will lie solely with the very weak, poor, terrible, candidate. It is the duty, job, obligation of the candidate to rally the troops. She didn’t have to do much — only beat the worse Republican candidate in history. Worse than Palin, worse than Bush.

She is a candidate held in contempt by much of the populace. Sanders was so much the better man. Independents liked him, Libertarians liked him, students liked him. Even some Republicans liked him. He had a record of genuine, authentic service to the public.

Hillary merely wanted to be president. If one watched PBS, again and again commentator David Brooks asked, “What does she offer? What does she represent?”

The other commentator, Mark Shields, the liberal, had no answer. He had to agree.

The public knows what she represented; self-interest, banking, hawkish military interventions, pro-Israel pandering, flipping on trade agreements. And as a former public teacher, she frightens me with her cozy ties with Eli Broad, the hedge-funders’ hedge funder who is all for privatizing charter schools across the country. So she pats public school teachers on the back and then elbows forward for profit-making charters.

The Trump win means there will be a great gnashing of the teeth by Democrats. Lists will be made, heads will fly. Liberal think tanks will try to formulate what went wrong. It is simple — Hillary grabbed the machine and put people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the top of her power pyramid. It is apparent to all, Hillary has spent years laying the groundwork for this. She has schemed, planned, connived and manipulated. It just feels like every move was calculated, coordinated and orchestrated. Many of us think her closeness to Bill gave her the false idea that charm can rub off or be manufactured — it can’t. It’s genetic. Her genes lack it.

There will be many changes: Obama Care, environmental issues , gun control, the Supreme Court, the influence of Religion in the public sector, Common Core, immigration.  The world changed on Nov. 8.

Paul Karrer is a retired teacher who worked in Castroville, Korea, Samoa, Connecticut and England.

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masksI just watched the sober  and inspiring day-after speeches by the president and Hillary Clinton.

Their words, while tinged with the sorrow of defeat at the hands of Donald Trump, were appropriately considerate of the norms of American democracy. The president said he would do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition from the Obama administration to the Trump White House.

They spoke of continuing to battle for rights and opportunities for all Americans, not as Democrats sore about losing to Trump, but as patriots who believe in the nation’s founding principles of life, liberty and dreams for all its peoples.

I found myself, as I did many times during the past 18 months, taking momentary comfort in these words that now seem as similar and outdated as big-hearted folks in a Normal Rockwell painting. I found myself momentarily sentimental over the lofty political rhetoric. Their words seemed to come from a distant country, as far away today as the never-defined America that Trump has promised to restore to greatness.

Those words don’t cut it anymore. Not after the tidal wave of vilification, threats and promises of raw power uttered by Trump and his supporters, which were distilled in all the chants, T-shirts and memes of “lock her up” and “bitch.”

Clinton closed speeches on the campaign trail with the cloying phrase “Love trumps hate.”

Not this time. A bombastic, vainglorious candidate who called immigrants rapists, Muslims prime suspects, women targets and journalists scum rode on to a narrow victory.

Already I’m tired of the conflicting analyses. Clinton won the popular vote, stupid Electoral College. Democrats ignored their working class base, yet the poorest voters gave her majorities.

Trump appealed to those left behind by global trade, but he ran stronger in areas with some of the best job growth. White men supported him heavily, but he also ran strong among white women. The Obama coalition didn’t turn out, but minority voter suppression was widespread. The polls got it all wrong, but social media sites advised young Trump supporters to conceal their views from pollsters.

On Tuesday night, as I had watched Trump’s victory unfold, I felt like an old man dropped into a foreign country, where public bigotry and denigration of others are the coins of a strange new world.

A couple SUVs sped past a friend and I as we walked from an election-night gathering. A few occupants shouted “Trump, Trump” as their tires squealed around a tight corner. “Man, the goon squads are already out,” I joked without laughing.

In his speech today, President Obama said he would root for a successful Trump presidency in uniting and leading the country. That is what outgoing presidents do, though the handover of power to the man who questioned his citizenship for five years must gall Obama beneath his cool exterior.

But presidents must rise above the fray. They are not just party leaders or leaders of a band of loyalists, but leaders of the whole nation. They must use words and perform deeds that evoke the best of our democracy’s identity.

Whether Trump can, or even can try, to make that long pivot is a question that weighs heavily today. He has yet to demonstrate anything remotely presidential.

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