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Retired Judge Terrance Duncan introduces Mary Adams, who hopes to knock Dave Potter off the Monterey County Board of Supervisors

The seeds of Mary Adams’ campaign for a seat on the Board of Supervisors were planted, figuratively at least, in the sugarcane fields of Cuba or perhaps during a tour of one of the country’s farming co-ops.

It was on a trip to Cuba in the spring of 2014 that a group of politically active Monterey County women started pushing the idea of an Adams campaign against seemingly entrenched Supervisor Dave Potter.

Making the trip were 15 members of the Democratic Women of Monterey County, among them Supervisor Jane Parker, Judge Susan Dauphine, former Supervisor Karin Strasser Kauffman and trip organizer Priscilla Walton. Though Potter is a longtime Democrat, he has lost most of his support from the progressive side of the political ledger, which accuses him of failing to protect his District 5 from unwanted development. He has also rankled the left by his behind-the-scenes support for the hugely controversial Monterey Downs racetrack development.

Potter beat back a strong challenge four years ago from another former county supervisor, Republican Marc Del Piero, a relatively recent convert to the slow-growth side, who received considerable support from environmentalists. To at least some degree, however, Del Piero’s campaign was hampered by lingering concerns about whether his political transformation was complete.

Del Piero, now a registered Democrat, said Wedneday that he is undecided about running against Potter in the upcoming election.

With Del Piero uncommitted, political insiders for the past couple of years have mulled over many names as Potter’s replacement. Adams said recently that she was totally surprised, but ultimately flattered, by the suggestion that she take on such a challenge.

“I hope I know what I’m doing,” she said.

Potter’s district includes most of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and, of particular importance, unincorporated Carmel Valley. Dissatisfied with the county’s land-use decisions affecting Carmel Valley, valley residents mounted an ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful effort late in the last decade to form a city. Among the strongest supporters of that effort were Walton and Strasser Kauffman, who were on the Cuba trip. Also highly active were Amy Anderson and Glenn Robinson, who were present for Adams’ campaign kickoff announcement Wednesday.

Potter’s name was never mentioned during the speechifying, but many of the candidate’s comments were pointed right at him.

“As I meet with neighborhood groups, community leaders and people on the street, I have heard complaints and frustrations,” Adams said. “Frustrations about the actions, and also lack of action, by supervisors, by a tone of secrecy that seems to prevail, with the dismissal of community input and a lack of progress o pressing needs.”

Adams continued, “People are tired of being disrespected and no longer want to accept the creeping stagnation compounded by decisions that seem to cater to special interests rather than the will of the people.”

Retired Judge Terrance Duncan helped introduce Adams along with Margaret D’Arrigo Martin of Taylor Farms. Other notables in the crowd include water activists George Reilly and Ron Weitzman, LandWatch officials Amy White and Chris Fitz, philanthropist Morley Brown, and Monterey Downs opponent Bill Weigle.

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LARRY PARSONS: Texas, an agitated state

Texas LonghornsWhen I was 13, my best friend was a Texan whose family had relocated to the Central Valley, exchanging one hot, flat expanse of cotton fields, dust and Dixie-forever attitudes for another.

Like many Texans, my friend was proud of his home state. When he began playing guitar in hope of what millions of adolescent males hoped for back then — “Dig me, girls” — he soon mastered “Remember the Alamo.”

The 1836 battle in a San Antonio mission between outnumbered Texan rebels and a Mexican army went down in history, film and Tex Ritter’s song as a portrait of glory for the Republic of Texas and the Lone Star State.

Remember the Alamo. The tale was fixed in the head of Texan school children, just as generations of California fourth-graders memorized all the missions established by priests and soldiers along El Camino Real.

Today the rest of the country may only remember the Alamo when the modest-sized monument is shown during telecasts of San Antonio Spurs basketball games. I won’t begrudge Texans their roots and fond Alamo memories. But I sure hope a bunch of them will long remember another, more recent Texas military standoff — Jade Helm 15 — and how monumentally stupid they were about it.

Some background is needed here because of the rapid turnover of right-wing, paranoiac fever dreams whipped up by blame-stream media like Infowars, World Net Daily and the like. Of late, they’re likely fixated on the communist pope, a 14-year-old Muslim kid’s homemade clock and whoever Donald Trump called a loser in the last news cycle.

It is too easy to forget the alarmist drivel these lunatic barkers shouted about the coming apocalypse presaged by Jade Helm 15, now that the event has come, gone and begun to fade like a cow skull under the West Texas sun.

Jade Helm was a military exercise held in Texas and six other southwestern states from mid-July to mid-September involving about 1,200 special operations troops. The Army said it was routine training.

But among right-wing babblers, nothing since President Obama took office is ever routine. He is constantly moving on to another front to destroy America — be it Ebola virus carriers, firearm seizers, health-insurance brownshirts, LGBT-rights agendistas, race-war warriors, FEMA camp guards or secret terrorist fist bumps.

Of course, these folks are never right. And they weren’t right about Jade Helm being a cover for a military takeover of Texas that would involve the rounding up of patriots on cattle cars and imprisoning them beneath suspiciously vacant Wal-Mart stores. But they stirred enough fear on the tin-foil network to draw action from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and sympathetic attention from three candidates then running for the Republican presidential nomination — Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

To ease the fears of his deluded constituents, Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor just what U.S. troops were up to with Jade Helm. Cruz asked the Pentagon about the plans and blamed the conspiracist freakout on six years of the White House disrespecting “the liberty of its citizens.” Perry tried to have it both ways, supporting the military but blaming Obama for the paranoia. Paul simply promised he was on the case.

Other Texas politicians laughed off the supposed threat of martial law, but not without more Obama-blaming.

Wal-Mart had to publicly state it wasn’t allowing some stores to be converted into concentration camps. That had to be quite a special day in the corporate communications office.

In the end, nothing like a zombie army invasion of Abilene or a hostile takeover of Huntsville occurred.

The only people to lose their liberty were three dupes from North Carolina who tried to arm themselves to the teeth to resist the federal oppressors surely on the move under the Jade Helm banner.

But nowhere has anyone responsible for peddling, enabling or, in Sen. Cruz’s case, cynically using the Jade Helm exercise shown the slightest remorse for whipping up unnecessary concern. There were no apologies, no red-faced admissions of, “Hey, we were wrong.”

Some probably believe their alarms prevented the REAL Jade Helm invasion from happening. One almost expects Sen. Cruz to hold a ceremony to award Lone Star patriots their Jade Helm campaign ribbons. And Gov. Abbott, who could have demonstrated real leadership by telling the right-wing fanatics to forget the whole looney thing at the outset, has been quiet since the training exercise ended a couple weeks ago.

No paper trail of expenses or post-action reports by the mobilized Texas guard has surfaced. The governor evidently received oral, not written, monitoring reports during the Jade Helm exercise. One imagines they went like this: “Day 5: Again, no cattle cars filled with patriots observed. Proceeded to Whataburger for food resupply.”

A Facebook site called “Jade Helm and Beyond” this week was busy with postings against Muslims, Obama, immigrants and the like, interspersed with cheesecake photos of pleasant looking young women, including 12 shots of Ivanka Trump “proving” she will be “the foxiest first daughter in history.” Nothing about the big intelligence failure on Jade Helm. But, hey, that was weeks ago.

I say, “Remember Jade Helm –the battle royal to keep Texas sovereign and free — that never happened.”

And to keep the flickering flame aglow, I penned a new chorus to the good old song about Jim Bowie, Santa Anna and the “hundred and seventy-nine.”

“Hey, you darn yokels, they’re destroying your brains for dough,

So fools can forever forget, the Jade Helm fiasco.”

I should ask my old buddy for help with the verses.

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????As ideas go, this one was short-lived, lasting just long enough for the feds to get wind of it.

It first raised its head at the June 22 meeting of the Monterey County Water Resource Agency, the arm of Monterey County government that is mainly responsible for ensuring that the growers of the Salinas Valley get enough water for their crops.

The idea was put in the form of a motion: Let us consider easing the the impact of the drought by using just about every ounce of water stored in the county-owned Nacimiento Reservoir. Put another way, let’s open the floodgates so that the flow reaches 250 to 300 cubic feet per second rather than the minimal seasonal level of 60 cubic foot per second designed to provide some irrigation water while also maintaining the riparian habitat and the wildlife it supports.

It took only one day for the idea to travel all the way to the offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with protecting the ocean environment and the waterways that sustain it.

It took four pages for NOAA to say what it thought of the idea, but it can be summarized in two words. No way!

In a letter of July 1, recently obtained by the Partisan, regional NOAA official Gary Stern said reducing the flows so dramatically would severely jeopardize the already threatened steelhead population.

National fisheries experts believe “the highly impaired status of the population has been further impacted by the prolonged drought conditions, which has greatly restricted or eliminated migration for adult and smolt life stages,” Stern wrote. “…The lack of river flow has precluded all steehead reproduction for at least the last two years and the potential for reproduction the previous two years was very low, if any.”

Stern said the flow was seriously impaired in 2014-15 in part because of the limited storage in the Nacimiento and San Antonio reservoirs and the operation of the Salinas Valley Water Project in back to back dry years, 2012 and 2013. The water project is a principal provider of irrigation water to Salinas Valley farms.

“Implementation of the proposed flow release plan would result in an acceleration depletion of the remaining reservoir storage and would increase the likelihood of precluding a third consecutive steelhead year-class from reproducing,” Stern wrote. Reducing the flow as proposed by county officials would “provide temporary benefits to a very limited number of stakeholders and beneficial uses” while likely resulting in “mortality to all aquatic species present.”

In other words, don’t even think about it.

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When it comes to cars, I’m not nearly as cool as I thought

FullSizeRender 2Until a week or so ago, I considered myself an OK guy when it came to the size of my carbon footprint. I wasn’t Mr. Green or anything but I was at least an average recycler and a better than average reuser of old stuff.

On top of that, I drove a car that gets great mileage and pollutes less than most.

Or at least that’s what I thought when I bought it.

Yes, indeed. It’s a Volkswagen but not just any Volkswagen. It’s a Jetta diesel. A TDI to be more precise. A 2009, the first year California officials welcomed Jetta TDIs into our fair state, like little toxic Trojan horses intent on quietly choking us all.

In case you were wondering, TDI stands for Turbocharged Direct Injection, a description of the technology that supposedly made these Jettas and Passats and Audis simultaneously peppy, fuel efficient and clean. Of course, what we all learned in the past week is that what TDI really stands for is Turkey Decision, Idiot – a description of those of us who fell for it. Alternatively, I guess you could say it stands for Tricky Deceptive Imposter or you could make up your own.

In case you missed it, what we have learned in the past several days is that VW, which stands for Very Wicked, sold millions of these TDI cars after installing mechanisms that enabled them to belch out all sorts of pollutants most of the time but then politely switch into acceptable emissions mode when they were being tested at smog check time. Sort of like what happens when you invite Eddie Haskell over for dinner, but on a much larger scale.

In other words, in just a couple of news cycles, I have gone from smart, environmentally conscious guy to gross polluter guy. Once I had an image of myself tooling down the highway, easily passing the Priuses but comforted knowing that the extra little zip in my engine was causing very few children to contract asthma. Now I see myself wallowing down the road, tossing cigarettes, germy diapers and dirty needles out the window.

I had felt so smug when I decided several years ago to buy the Jetta, influenced a little bit by the reviews and research I had read but even more so by something more influential and important – trying to look cool in the eyes of the cool guys. By the cool guys, I mean several fellows I knew in water polo circles and who were tooling around in Jetta TDIs. Guys like Matt, an NPS instructor who specializes in computerized something or other and who, therefore, must be really smart. And Gary, an Olympian with the quickest skip shot on the Central Coast. And Sean of the great backhand and Dave, whose spin move in the pool convinced me to take up golf instead. As a longtime half-ass, wannabe water polo player, what more did I need to know about cars?

Have I learned my lesson? Probably not. I probably will buy my next car because of the color or whether I can fit comfortably in the driver seat. Fortunately for me, neither of those factors is likely to result in a recall order that will make it impossible to sell or re-register the contraption.

So what’s next. First, of course, I need to find the right kind of tape to cover up the TDI logo on the car for those rare occasions when I need to drive the filthy monster. Late at night, perhaps. Then I will wait for the news to tell me when the formal recall begins, when I will be instructed to sneak the car into a VW dealership so that factory-certified technicians can make it more sluggish and reduce the gas mileage, which, come to think of it, is precisely what some factory-certified technicians have been accomplishing for years now

FullSizeRender 3Then I will wait some more to see what comes of all this talk about repairing the damage that the Tremendously Dumb Initiative cars have done to the environment and, now, the creditworthiness of VW customers. There is talk about refunds from VW, potentially large enough to offset the instant depreciation caused by the revelations, but there is also talk of little more than coupons for a free windshield wiper inspection during our next $1,000 tuneup at the dealership.

I suppose I could cling to the fantasy that the decision to end the import and sales of the TDI cars will make my car rare, a classic, driving up the price. But then I recall that I sold my second car, a Corvair, for pretty good loss. What of the first car? Let’s just say it was towed away. A perfectly good Rambler and they towed it away.

In the end, I’ll probably decide on the course of action by stopping by a water polo tournament and asking around. In the meantime, I plan to spend some quality time wondering why it took six years for the regulators to figure this out. And why some VW competitor, curious about the technology that made these cars seem so special, never dug into the bowels of the beast to see how it supposedly was done and never discovered the secret. Or whether it’s possible that some competitors did just that but kept quiet about it, for reasons of their own. Plenty to think about while I’m shopping for something more in line with my new self image. A Hummer, perhaps, or a garbage truck. Diesel of course.

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Sit.For a long time, it has been the opposite of cool to say you saw something interesting on Facebook. While it is how many of us receive a remarkable amount of our information, publicly acknowledging it can put you well down on the B-list. Sometimes, though, something there does inspire reflection. That was the case with a recent posting by Greg Ward, who used to wear the head honcho robe at the Unitarian outlet on the Peninsula. It was about his dad and baseball.

Ward posted a couple of nice pictures of himself with his father at an A’s game in Oakland. Ward wrote that it was the first baseball game he had attended with his father in 11 years.

“How we once loved to go to the games together!” he remembered. “And what a joy to get a chance to do it again–thanks to the kindness of David Keyes to make it happen. My Dad would never have agreed to go unless it was a gift, as he believes baseball games are too expensive.”

Here’s where I come in. Ward’s posting reminded me of one of the great regrets of my life. Which is simply that I never thought to take my dad to a baseball game.

Donald E. Calkins was a Yankees fan by virtue of having grown up in Willsboro, N.Y., a tiny town on the banks of Lake Champlain. It was a lovely place filled with people of slight aspirations. Canada was less than 100 miles away but I don’t think any of my relatives ever made it that far. New York City? It might as well have been in China.

From Willsboro you could see Burlington, Vermont, on the other side of the lake but that required a ferry, and the ferry required money and why would you pay money to go somewhere unless you really, really had to?

Anyway, as I was growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, baseball was Little League or something you watched on TV. Fortunately for my dad, the NBC Game of the Week featured the Yankees as often as not. It became a ritual, him in his easy chair eating pretzels and clam dip and drinking Olympia while I sat in my mother’s smaller chair being glad he was in a good mood. We laughed at the silly things announcer Dizzy Dean had to say.

Dad and I were fans of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra, of course. It never occurred to me until I read Yogi’s obituaries this week that he and my dad were the same age. Apparently quite a few things never occurred to me, such as taking Dad to a game. Never sharing a game that wasn’t on TV.

I now realize there were several reasons for that. My dad was in the Air Force and I mostly grew up on or near Air Force bases, none of them close to a major league city. We were stationed in Marin County for a time but that was before the Giants had moved west. Later we were in Germany, Oklahoma, southern Virginia, Las Vegas and the San Joaquin Valley. No big league teams there. But a bigger reason, I now understand, is that we weren’t the kind of people who went to baseball games.

It wasn’t all about the money. My dad’s dad never took him to a ballgame unless it might have been a contest between Essex and Elizabethtown, so my dad really didn’t know how to go to a ballgame. He was an NCO in the Air Force. Going to games, that was something officers did. If you go to games, you know how to go to games, how to pick your seats and where to park, etc., etc. But if you don’t, you don’t.

We traveled a lot, and we often came close to places with big league teams. I remember a summer trip through the lower Midwest when it seemed like every radio station was playing a song about Stan Musial, the great Cardinal. I remember how excited I was when we drove through Cleveland one night and I could actually see the lights from an Indians game. I remember saying something like “Oh, my God, Dad! Rocky Colavito is right over there!” But when your cross-country trips mean sleeping in the back of a ’59 Chevy station wagon and eating baloney sandwiches, you don’t find your dad stopping at a stadium, pulling out his wallet and saying, “We’ll take four of your best seats, please.”

Unfortunately, we never talked about this. I never said, “Hey, old man, how come we never went to a ballgame?” And, even more unfortunately, I never thought to ask him, even when he was living near San Diego in his later years, “Hey, old man, would you like to go to a ballgame?”

In his later years, we didn’t talk about baseball much. He didn’t care about the Padres or any of the new breed of Yankees. If they had shown reruns of Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling a Yankees-Tiger showdown, he might have whipped up some clam dip, but they didn’t.

Fortunately, my brother and I did think to take him to Las Vegas one last time, so he could sit in a lounge with a view of the pool, order a shrimp cocktail and say, “This is the life,” At that point, it probably was better than a ball game. Fewer stairs, shorter lines. But there were times when the Yankees flew into San Diego and I wish to hell now that I had thought to show up in my own version of a Chevy station wagon to say, “Hey, Dad. We’re going to the game.” Even if the names on the uniforms were unfamiliar, he still would have recognized the pinstripes.

This column, by the way, has very little to do with baseball.

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imagesGood ideas can come along ahead of their time, as the extensive collection of Leonardo De Vinci drawings for wondrous skateboard parks dramatically attest. The Italian Renaissance master’s visions were 450 years ahead of the appearance of the first crude skateboards with roller-skate wheels nailed to chunks of 2-by-4s.

Good ideas, unfortunately, can sometimes come along too late, as is amply displayed any Monday on San Francisco Bay Area sports talk radio shows, where all sorts of plays, personnel moves and coach firings are suggested that would have prevented the latest ignominious trouncing suffered by the once-great San Francisco 49ers franchise.

I’ve just had a good, and possibly great, idea that could take some of the rancor out of the rancorous debate over Monterey Downs, the proposed equine-themed mega-development in Seaside. Unfortunately, I did a little checking and found that I evidently stumbled upon this great idea too late to comment on the draft EIR for the project. But since the people who push Monterey Downs paper will be pushing project paper for years to come, I tardily apply to add the following comments to the record:

Dear Seaside Subalterns:

I must alert you to a rapidly growing sport that is sweeping the globe and racking up Youtube views faster than Mr. Burns’ hounds on “The Simpson’s”  Of course, I’m speaking of dachshund races.

Just this morning, I saw many delightful photos and a riveting video of a sellout set of dachshund races in Melbourne, Australia. There were individual races for miniature and standard dachshunds, as well as others for costumed dachshunds and dachshunds fleeing from the sounds of digiridoos. The vast crowd was greatly entertained.

This comes on the heels of another dachshund race held a fortnight ago on the home field of the Minor League baseball team, the El Paso Chihuahuas. Videos of this race, as they say, went viral, and so delighted throngs of Chihuahuas fans that they all but forgot how dismally their team may have played this season. One of the frisky steeds won accolades for checking the entire field after the race for something to eat.
These two examples are but two stars in the vast constellation of dachshund races being staged these days at county fairs, sporting events and, yes, even, horse racetracks. The sport, which I call The Sport of the Rest of Us Who Aren’t Kings, is so popular you can’t go anywhere without stumbling over a pack of dachshunds hurtling toward the finish line.

Despite this exciting trend, I believe there is no racetrack in North America dedicated solely to dachshund racing. I believe there is a solution to this shocking fact within the still-coagulating plans for the Monterey Downs project. Just substitute a state-of-the-art dachshund racetrack for the proposed horse racetrack. This would mitigate many of the associated project impacts. To wit:

— A dachshund racetrack is much smaller than a horse racetrack, thereby saving many acres of woodland and woodland creatures from the cold steel of the bulldozer blades.

— Race dachshunds require far less water than race horses, which would make more water available for luxury resort hotels or wildland firefighting, whichever comes first.

— Dachshund racing is not marred like horse racing with animals being horribly injured and having to be put down. This animal-friendly feature would clear much-needed space in local letters to the editor sections to handle the coming onslaught of letters bemoaning the traffic mess when the In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Seaside finally opens.

— Dachshund racing has none of the social ills — gambling, loansharking, losing one’s shirt, poeticizing like a cheap knockoff Charles Bukowski — often associated with horse racing. Organized crime has a hands-off rule when it comes to dachshund racing because the first hood who even suggests muscling in on the territory would be whacked or, more likely, laughed out of the gang.

In conclusion, seriously consider a dachshund racetrack in the Monterey Downs project rather than a horse track. While you’re at it, change the project name to one that would then be more apt: Monterey Low Downs.
To critics of this recommendation, I say, Weenie Up!

Technical difficulties and the limitations of the Partisan’s proprietor resulted in an incorrect byline atop this piece. The name attached to the headline, Larry Parson, should, in fact, be repeated in the byline. It may be properly placed there some point in the not too distant future. Apologies to all, especially to Mr. Parsons.

11am PT 9/24 — Mr. Parsons’ byline is now in its proper and rightful place.

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Making partisan politics poetic

FullSizeRender copyNear the north shore of Maui is a little town that is unremarkable except for its location and wonderful name. Haiku.

En route to another destination, we took the long way so we could pay it a visit. I was hoping for a picture of a “Welcome to Haiku” sign but no luck. If there ever were any, they likely have been stolen. By poets.

While passing through, the radio was on. Something about Donald Trump and I was inspired. A contest. A haiku contest. A Partisan haiku contest. About the campaign.

Refreshing your memory, it goes like this. Seventeen syllables. Five on the first line, seven on the second, five on the third. But since this is about partisan politics, if you are a Republican, the rules don’t apply. You can make up your own, If you’d like, you can even make up your own definition of syllable. If you are Carly Fiorina, you can enter by submitting a video even if it does not exist.

Here’s my entry, lame as it is.

Planned parenthood, no.
Immigration, no never
I’m running for president

I suppose we need a prize. For the best entry of the GOP variety, I’ll think of something. For you others, would you settle for the thrill of victory? You can submit your entries by typing your best efforts, and your worst, into the comment box below.

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Rep. Jeannette Rankin was proudly Republican but also proudly anti-war

I had had enough, so I missed the final half-hour of the second Republican presidential debate this week, which I believe is just about to wrap up now on CNN. The first 150 minutes already had given me plenty to think about or shake off, so I missed some highlights as the thoroughbreds rounded the final turn.

Sen. Rand Paul outed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a hypocrite for having smoked marijuana 40 years ago without suffering any legal consequences. After confessing that, yes, he is not only a Bush brother but a one-time doobie brother, Jeb said how disappointed his mother would be to hear this. Which, I believe, was the prime source for his campaign’s curious logo: “Jeb!”

There was the primitive dance by several of the freedom-loving candidates — primarily by real estate dealmaker Donald Trump  — around the thoroughly debunked issue of childhood vaccinations and autism. Bottom line: vaccines may be good, but freedom (to catch and communicate diseases) is more important.

Then Florida Sen. Marco Rubio used the field’s blanket denigration of climate change as an issue for the United States to seriously address in order to impart a geography lesson for any youngsters left in the audience after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee scared the bejesus out of everybody with homespun tales of nuclear annihilation.

“America is not a planet,” Rubio, R-Obvious, stated.

This is true. America may become part of a planet with swollen seas, choking heat, violent weather, massive population displacement and little opportunity to chill with Netflix, but it will remain not a planet. Well-played, senator.

I really regret missing the segment when the candidates picked their choices for a woman to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. Their answers, pundits and armchair psychologists said, were evocative, revealing and beguiling. I thought the Republican standard-bears revealed they knew precious little of the history women have played in their party.

Not one suggested former First Lady Nancy Reagan, though the marathon debate had taken several hours off the life of her husband’s presidential library.

Bush suggested former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Mother Teresa. I’m surprised Trump didn’t demand a wall around our national greenbacks to keep the foreigners out.

Huckabee said his wife, whose vote he presumably already has secured, while failing to suggest Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, last seen being carted away by irreligious despots to resume her $70,000-a-year government job with one fewer duty to fulfill.

Dr. Ben Carson nominated his mom, but I think a national tattoo program requiring everyone who already doesn’t have a Mom tattoo to get one would be better, provided the work is done by the private sector. That’s by the private sector, not in one.

Three candidates favored pioneer civil rights activist Rosa Parks, perhaps ignorant that Parks once served on the national board of Planned Parenthood, which was roundly assailed all night as a $500 million criminal conspiracy.

Wait a minute, I thought, there must be a few Republican women in history worthy of consideration. I dived deep into my research — all the way to the Republican National Committee’s history web page and found three worthy GOP female pioneers.

Former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, R-Far Out, author of the critical Lightbulb Freedom of Choice Act of 2008, was not among them, which may explain how these trailblazing GOP women slipped the collective mind of today’s party standard-bearers.

To tell the truth (a necessary deviation from the norm at the debate-palooza), the biographies of these three GOP women may not square with principles of today’s Republican Party. But let us not overlook them. They are:

— Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana, who became the first woman in Congress in 1917 before achieving one of her primary goals, a national right for women to vote.

A lifelong pacifist, Rankin was one of 56 members of Congress to oppose U.S. entry into World War I. Rankin was the only member to oppose going to war against Japan after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack at Pearl Harbor. After that vote, an angry mob chased Rankin, and she had to call the Capitol Police to rescue her from a besieged telephone booth.

Late in her life, Rankin said she didn’t regret her action.

“If you’re against war, you’re against war regardless of what happens. It’s a wrong method to settle a dispute.”

Rankin wouldn’t recognize today’s GOP, where talk of regime change is just like “slipping into something comfortable,” and military might would settle everything from bar tabs to border crossings.

— Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, who in 1949 became the first woman to serve in both the House and the Senate. A strong supporter of women in the military, Chase became known as the “Mother of the WAVES,” the female division of the Naval Reserve.

A moderate New England Republican, Smith often broke ranks with her party, supporting much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program and voting against a permanent House Un-American Activities Committee.

She campaigned long to make the rose the official U.S. flower and wore a single red rose every day in public office. After the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Smith placed a rose on the desk Kennedy had used in the Senate.

Smith is best-known for her June 1950 speech on the Senate floor, known as the “Declaration of Conscience,” in which she took to task Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the “irresponsible sensationalism” of his zealous anti-communism crusade.

“The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.”

Today’s GOP, in which many find solace in bashing immigrants, Muslims, the poor, gays, blacklivesmaatter activists, public employees, liberals and one another, could benefit from reviewing the whole speech.

— Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, a child from an Arizona cattle ranch who grew up to be the first woman on the Supreme Court after her 1981 appointment by President Ronald Reagan.

Considered a moderate conservative, O’Conner’s unanimous confirmation was supported by both Barry Goldwater and Ted Kennedy, but opposed by anti-abortion groups. O’Conner started as a “federalism” advocate seeking narrow court opinions, but became a swing vote as the court became more conservative.

She most often sided with the conservative bloc, but supported a fundamental right to abortion under the 14th Amendment, defended citing foreign laws in court decisions and later lamented the court’s controversial role in the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, which halted the disputed Florida count of presidential ballots.

O’Conner may be too liberal for some Republicans today, who view Chief Justice John Roberts as a flaming lefty. But she came from the same territory of the American West that sustained Goldwater and Reagan, two pillars of the modern GOP.

O’Conner, along with Smith and Rankin, are deserving of being honored as pioneering Republicans. It’s a shame their names have slipped the minds of all 11 leading candidates vying to be the next Republican president.

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Spoiler alert: The following does not constitute political commentary despite the fact names of several national and local politicians come up. As previously stated, I forswear punditry until the field of candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination is reduced to a manageable number.

It’s true former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has suspended (prairie dog speak meaning “I quit”) his campaign and trimmed the number of GOP hopefuls to only 16.
But for Pete’s sake, the field still includes Jim Gilmore and George Pataki, and, possibly, someone named Pete, running an #onlyPete’slifematters campaign with the slogan “For Pete’s Sake.”

This makes serious commentary about the candidates an exercise akin to herding cats before deporting them back to wherever so-called domestic cats came from. It was Egypt, and you know what that means. The NSA better ramp up blanket surveillance of cats for national security reasons, which should bolster the all-important domestic supply of adorable cat videos.

No, this column will take a familiar path favored by the likes of David Brooks, George Will and Peggy Noonan — imbibing nostalgia and pining for a noble America that existed in Norman Rockwell paintings and the first term of Ronald Reagan.

I, too, am overcome by longings for the past. It’s been more than a year since I left the last newsroom in which I worked. Time and distance have blurred some unsavory aspects of the job — the periodic name changes of distant corporate entities that squeezed the lifeblood from newspapers and complex expense-reimbursement forms that always crashed one’s computer.

But I do miss several irreplaceable features of the newsroom — the corroded coffee pot, exasperated callers who get through the automated phone system to reach an actual human being and betting on elections. After months of covering and observing political races, I adhered to a personal tradition of trying to find a little election-night action among my highly intelligent colleagues.

There was nothing unethical about this. Never did I slant, say, my coverage of a high-stakes cemetery board race in hopes of guaranteeing a $2 payoff when the ballots were exhumed. My system didn’t rely on skewing the odds, but keen observation and a few basic rules:

1. Do not bet on any candidate you’ve come to admire.

Many people make this mistake, particularly journalists who have covered races for months and know who the jewels are and who the nincompoops are. They are easy targets for winning bets. I took $20 from a former conservative colleague in 2012 whose detestation for President Obama convinced him the country was poised to elect Mitt Romney. He left a $20 bill on my desk the day after the election, and we’ve spoken little since.

2. Always expect the worst.

This was my fretful mother’s outlook on everything from my wild cowlick as a youngster in Bakersfield to the mechanical integrity of the family car every time she rode in it.

My cowlick, she was certain, would spring free audibly during church, throwing off the minister’s sermon and making the choir screech off key. Any strange car noise she heard could only mean the engine would fall out within minutes, probably at the base of the Grapevine grade over the Tehachapis.

For the election bettor, expecting the worst is almost a fool-proof system. This is why I have already booked one bet with an erstwhile colleague on my firm belief that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. While I don’t believe Trump will reach the White House, he is resurrecting that thoughtful Tea Party 2009 spirit, which guaranteed Obama would be a two-term president.

3. Don’t bet with slickers who actually know a little electoral history.

A decade ago I covered the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and had occasion to make political small-talk with Supervisor Dave Potter, now in his 19th year on the board. I tried to widen my pool of bets that year with Potter — he wasn’t running — but found when we went down the list of races and measures, we saw eye-to-eye on every one. Neither one of us wanted to make a bet against our own bettor judgment.

My point is that Potter, despite what one thinks of his record, knows local politics and betting against people like that would be kissing your money goodbye.

Which is why my ears perked up at a recent going-away gathering for a Monterey Herald reporter when I heard the reporter crowing about $5 wager he’d put on Pacific Grove City Councilwoman Casey Lucius, a Republican seeking to dethrone Democrat U.S. Rep. Sam Farr in next year’s Central Coast congressional race.

I’m not in Mitt Romney’s financial class, ready to make an off-the-cuff $10,000 bet, but I quickly said, “I’ll take $20 of that action.” I shouldn’t have added, “Hell, I’ll take $100,” because my would-be pigeon tucked in his feathers and stopped crowing. I was too eager, and that always scares off the marks. Besides, $100 is a small fortune to a reporter.

A Farr — Sam and, before him, his father Fred — has represented Monterey County in Sacramento or Washington, D.C., for much of the past 60 years. It would take the longest of long-shots for that to change in 2016, given Farr’s left-leaning district and the fact that, while Trump may be awesomely fabulous, his coattails won’t reach California’s coast. Bet on it.

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It’s all sustainable

And there’s this from Communities for Sustainable Monterey County:

This year, on Sunday, September 13,  is the 6th Annual Sustainable Living Tour being presented by Sustainable Seaside (an action group of CSMC – Communities for Sustainable Monterey County) and sponsored by the Stormwater and Education Alliance and the Seaside Garden Center.

The tour will have  8 locations. There are 5 local residences featuring food gardens, rainwater irrigation mulching, composting, raised beds, and drought and pest-resistant ornamental plants. We also are pleased to be showcasing an after school garden project created by children. We are promoting low-impact development (LID) practices which minimize water use and protect the bay by reducing urban runoff.

We have a new feature this year for folks who may not want to try to move from location to location. At one site we will be having an information fair from 11 am-4 pm  with consultants on backyard chickens, fog catchers, low-cost financing for energy and water-saving upgrades, ways to attract songbirds, soap making, essential oils, bike safety when commuting, and much more.

Sustainable Seaside created the first Sustainable Living Tour in our county in 2010. During the last 5 years, we’ve had over 1,000 people attend the tour and we have featured 20 different residential sites and 8 community and school gardens in Seaside. For the last 3 years we’ve been listed on the Mother Earth News International Homesteading Website and we’ve drawn people to our city from all over the county and beyond , with over 200 people coming each year.

The tour is FREE, but we need you to register so we know how many brochures to print. If you register online or by email, you will get the tour details the night before the event.

Register online: seaside-sustainable-living-tour-2015.eventbrite.com or by email: sustainablelivingtour@gmail.com or by phone: 394-1915.

Please come and join us on Sunday, Sept 13, 11 am–4 pm to learn about inexpensive practices that can improve our lives and make us more resilient as we face depleting resources and climate change.

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LARRY PARSONS: You say it’s your birthday

I turned 64 today. That’s an auspicious number for me and, most likely, millions of others who were teenagers in 1967. That was the year the Beatles released their eye-popping Sgt. Pepper’s albums, which was on everybody’s turntable nonstop from summer through fall.

I first heard one of the album’s more celebrated songs, “A Day in the Life,” one evening in the family station wagon — on radio KYNO, then Fresno’s purveyor of teenage pop music and many pizza ads — while waiting for my father to drive home. He’d picked me up after school, but first had a late-afternoon appointment with his urologist.

It was getting dark when the new Beatles song was announced, and I listened spellbound to the quavery distortion in John Lennon’s voice, caught absolutely none of the references that made literary critics swoon, and decided, “I must hear this again.”

It was a perfectly apt setting for introduction to the world-weary song, whose opening line I’ve recast in my mind for years as, “I went to the urologist today. Oh boy.”

One of the strangest tunes for any 15-year-old hearing the album was the jaunty, clarinet-goosed, music-hall number penned by Paul McCartney called “When I’m 64.” It is a remarkable leap, for a co-writer of such teen romance songs as “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” to a song questioning whether any vestige of desire would still burn in the heart of a lifetime mate for the narrator, an anonymous man imagining himself an elderly pensioner.

None of us hearing the album could imagine turning 30, let alone 64. That was the age of our grandparents who lived a long time ago, before talkies, television and “Ticket to Ride.”

But here I am, 64, and it’s not “many years from now” anymore. Oh boy.

I want to check my own entries in reaching this year against what McCartney’s narrator saw for himself down the long and winding road.

— “When I get older, losing my hair …”

Check: For me, this process ended about the time you could dub Sgt. Pepper onto a cassette tape. I’m not losing my hair, I lost it. It’s not coming back. Oh boy.

— “Sending valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine.”

Partial check: Cupid’s arrow hasn’t drawn blood on my droopy backside for quite a few years, but I still receive birthday greetings aplenty, primarily on Facebook where it takes three nanoseconds to type such wishes as “Happy Birthday, “Enjoy Your Day,” and “Oh Boy.” Unfortunately, wine now triggers allergy attacks, so I’d gladly receive a nice box of hankies in lieu of gifts from the wine god Dionysus.

— “Been out ’til quarter of three.”

No check: It’s tough staying awake until midnight, let alone past closing time in California. I sometimes wake up just after 4 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep. This is no revel, but an unwished-for chance to groggily read, binge watch on Netflix, or worry about something in the dark.

— “Mending a fuse, doing the garden, digging the weeds.”

Check: Such domestic pursuits have become, as unlikely as it would seem to myself at 15, a growing source of satisfying dither. Just going to the hardware store can be as exhilarating as riding a helter-skelter. Topping it off with finding just the right fuse or odd batteries you need — oh boy!

On the downside, this summer’s heat has taken its toll on our garden lettuce, and I swear climate change has produced new varieties of intractable, drought-resistant weeds that almost snarl when I bend to the task.

— “We shall scrimp and save.”

Half-checked: For me, having been raised in a home where my parents foresaw Great Depression-like financial ruin around every corner, scrimping and saving seemed the natural order of things. Just as it would for four kids in bleak, post-war Liverpool,

But it’s been the opposite for many of the Sgt. Pepper generation and their Veras, Chucks and Daves. We Americans have amassed Himalayas of consumer debt and have saved precious little for a rainy day, let alone retirement. Pricey rental on the Isle of Wight? Put it on plastic. Oh boy.

— “Send me a postcard, drop me a line stating point of view.”

Checkmate: Better yet, send an email or just text me. Repost, link to, or cut-and-paste that article, screed, essay or video that sums up perfectly whatever you kind of think about Syria, religion, cats, Obama, Trump’s hair cloud or Hillary’s pantsuit focus group. I promise I’ll hit like.

— “Will you still need me, will you still feed me …. ?”

Check: Making it to 64 means those questions have been answered, “Yes, yes,” for many years by a chain of family, friends, colleagues and community with links of love and sharing that I never could have imagined at 15.

I trust I’m good for a few more years. I certainly hope so because, as the one and only Billy Shears sang in that other song, “You know, it don’t come easy.” Oh boy.

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While preparing to ask Monterey County voters to approve a sales tax increase to finance highway improvements, the Transportation Agency for Monterey County is also preparing to repay the state $821,858 because an audit found the agency had failed to follow standard procurement procedures when it awarded four construction-related contracts totaling $9.4 million.

The procurement problems, including lack of competitive bidding, loose purchasing protocols and non-existent spending limits, were uncovered in a Caltrans audit of TAMC contracts from for July 2011 through May 2013.

A 2014 letter from Caltrans to TAMC identifies the recipients of those contracts as the Parsons Transportation Group, which is one of the nation’s largest engineering and consulting firms, and a California company, Harris & Associates, which maintains an office in Salinas.

TAMC originally awarded Parsons a $974,000 contract to design light rail systems connecting Monterey to Marina and beyond and connecting Salinas to the Bay Area. Caltrans auditors complained that the contract was awarded without appropriate competition, without any valid cost estimate for the work to be performed, and without any cost cap or completion date. Over time, the contract was amended and extended 12 times and ended up costing TAMC just under $9 million although the rail projects remain unfunded. As with most TAMC projects, Caltrans was the source of most of the money.

As a result of the audit, Caltrans initially sought to collect some $9.4 million from TAMC, contending that numerous standard contracting procedures were violated. In one case, Harris received a contract after having been hired to essentially write the specifications for that contract, Caltrans found. Auditors contended that amounted to a conflict of interest.

TAMC officials disputed most of the points raised in the audit but have adopted numerous procedural changes recommended by Caltrans and have agreed to provide procurement training to its staff.

While Caltrans sought to recover the $9.4 million,  two years of negotiations between the agencies resulted in an agreement in June under which TAMC will reimburse Caltrans $821,585 each year for 10 years. The money is to come from the local agency’s reserve funds. The agency’s executive director, Debbie Hale, told her board of directors that the agency could pay the full amount now but decided it would be better to keep the reserve fund healthy.

TAMC is essentially a transportation planning agency and joint powers agency linking most of the political jurisdictions in the county. It is governed by a board consisting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and representatives of most of the cities in the county along with other agencies. The Caltrans audit faulted TAMC for having lent money in the past to some of the member agencies, most recently Monterey-Salinas Transit.

Hale said this week that her staff provided Caltrans with ample documentation to disprove many of the audit findings, “but basically they had their mind made up – you can tell that by the tone of the audit.”

She denied that Harris was involved in any conflict of interest and said that regional Caltrans officials approved TAMC’s processes only to be overruled by state-level officials.

Hale said TAMC agreed to receive additional training so the agency, along with regional Caltrans officials, can understand what the auditors want to see. She said the agency has prepared a 200-page procurement manual that awaits Caltrans approval. Among the auditors’ concerns was that the agency had few written guidelines for procurements and the awarding of contracts.

Hale said the state agency appears to be conducting audits of relatively small transportation agencies in an effort to prop up its budget because it is difficult for a state agency to increase its revenues. Such actions, she said, demonstrate why TAMC needs an additional revenue stream, the planned sales tax measure.

“Frankly, this is exactly why we need local money. It is locally controlled with local oversight, and the state can’t take it away.”

The agency hopes to put a sales tax measure on countywide ballot next year, one that would raise the sales tax by three eights of a cent. Because of other potential tax measures on the ballot, however, the amount sought might have to be lowered.

The larger amount would raise about $20 million annually, some of which would be used directly for road work and some of which would be used to leverage additional state and federal dollars.

TAMC has been conducting surveys and performing various outreach efforts in preparation for the tax measure. It awarded a $135,000 contract earlier this year for those purposes. TAMC’s last effort to boost the sales tax received a majority vote but fell short of the required two-thirds vote.

The audit and the $821,000 penalty are no secret – many of the details are posted online — they have received virtually no public attention until now, something of a surprise considering that more than a dozen elected officials sit on the TAMC board. One board member, who asked not to be identified, speculated that no board members “saw any advantage to speaking up.” A representative of the Monterey County Taxpayers Association was at a TAMC board meeting in June at which Hale gave a brief update on the plan to reimburse the state.

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contentMy father played doubles tennis well into his 70s. He only could play doubles because he used a cane to support a bad left leg and his court range was limited.

The reason that leg was weak and smaller than his other could be found written in a homemade label he’d determinedly taped down the length of the cane.

He would affably show it to anyone curious to read the message written vertically in black capital letters. It said, “I played football. It’s dangerous!”

I think of him using that cane to quickly pivot and return a ball with a crisp backhand every year when the weather itself turns crisp and thousands of American boys (and yes, a smattering of girls) suit up to play football — from the peewees to the pros.

My father wasn’t a latecomer to the legions of doctors, parents, former players and their family members who are sounding alarms over the physical trauma — particularly brain damage from multiple concussions — often incurred by football players. He died 24 years ago at the age of 85. His left leg was thinner and weaker than his right for more than 60 years.

That was the reason, my mother told me when I was small, that he always wore long pants when we went to the beach and everyone else in the world was in swim suits. He simply hid the evidence of his brief football career.

He suffered his leg injury — a nasty compound fracture — in his senior year of high school in the mid-1920s. He was a lineman, and his San Pedro school team was playing a team of sailors from one of the Navy ships docked in the Los Angeles harbor.

As he told the story, “We were kids playing full-grown men.” That was his succinct explanation for a football injury that would change his life. The leg never healed properly, irrevocably marring a pitching delivery that had been able to unleash the best fastball in the L.A. area, as the Los Angeles Times prep sports section reported.

His big-league dreams faded, but my father continued to coach baseball and play tennis for many decades. And his antipathy for football — which he viewed as a destroyer of lives — only grew.

He never once sat down to watch a single play as I watched pro football games as a boy on our black-and-white TV. He grumbled in silence when my mother bought me a Los Angeles Rams football uniform — pads and all — from the Sears catalog for my 10th Christmas. He drove me to my flag football games in elementary school, but didn’t stay to watch.

When I reached high school, it was the era when every facet of society was decoded through the “generation gap” explainer — be it war, ambition, sex, religion or music. At our home, the battle between father and son exploded over football.

I secretly worked out in spring practices without pads, first as a quarterback prospect, then the next year as a tight end. But when fall practices rolled around  — with the pads, helmets and full contact of true football warriors — my father steadfastly refused to sign the permission slip to allow me to play the game for which young male hormones cried out. Football, then as now, was king, the game in which foes literally were left broken and bleeding.

I never confronted my father over his barring of my entry into this fraternity of budding men. Instead I relayed angry messages about his intransigence through my mother. I hope she never told him that I vowed to hate him forever for his bullheadedness.

Now almost 64 myself, with the usual aches and pains of advancing age, but free of trick knees or other “old football injuries,” I still feel shame when I recall my stupid tantrums about not getting to play football.

I admit this was one of those instances when the adage, “You’ll thank me when you get older,” which the young and invulnerable always mock, turned out true. I don’t miss not having played football. I would have been a mediocre player, at best.

And I don’t miss watching football either. For a variety of reasons, the NFL and college games don’t hold any interest. All the talking heads, the commercials, the ginned-up drama, and the paucity of play during a three-plus-hour broadcast are part of the reason for my disinterest.

Primarily, it’s the body count during any game — players writhing in pain from injured ankles or knees or eerily laid out motionless on the turf from a head or neck injury — that has drained any enjoyment, for me, from watching the weekly wreckage.

This past weekend, a Louisiana high school player died after an on-field hit, a Georgetown University running back was left possibly paralyzed from a broken neck, and two San Antonio high school players face possible criminal charges after vicious blindside hits on a referee.

The regular NFL season hasn’t even started, after another schedule of preseason games marred by large numbers of players getting hurt, and talking heads debating the need for so many costly preseason games.

Though many parents may be following my dad’s practice in steering their children away from football, any notion the game is headed for extinction is ridiculous. Football is America’s game, a wildly popular sport for a society thrilled by hitting and getting hit. A perfect sport for a nation that blithely embraces staggering carnage from firearm deaths and injuries as an appropriate price for liberty.

Football will remain and continue to thrive, despite the sniping back and forth that has made it yet another culture wars flashpoint. Conservatives complain the constant tinkering to make football safer is yet another part of an overarching liberal scheme to “wussify” the United States.

To this former fan, the trend hasn’t been a feminization of football, but a dehumanization of the players.

As football players increasingly resemble outsized humanoids wrapped in complex exoskeletons engineered to withstand super-sized punishment, I see football paralleling another sport increasing in popularity and built on similar premises of speed, danger and collision.

As their human features disappear behind more elaborate protective visors and face guards, today’s football players are not unlike NASCAR race cars — engineered for power and speed and commanded by invisible persons. They must wear baseball hats on the sidelines or victory stage to show a smile, a grimace or any human emotion.

They vanish again when the whistle blows or the green flag unfurls. And should they leave the field or track by ambulance, another combatant will step up to guide the machine like another interchangeable part.

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If you’re worried about fracking, read this and worry more

The Associated Press produced a fascinating and troubling story about fracking, Gov. Brown, campaign contributions and the results last Thursday. I’m surprised it wasn’t on the front page of every paper in the state. You can read it here.

Oil and gas well profiled on sunset sky

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Wooden mallet and diary on a white backgroundNEWSPAPER’S RESPONSES HAVE BEEN INAPPROPRIATE

This past June, the Monterey County civil grand jury published an investigative report regarding the management and governance of the city of Carmel. A recent editorial in the Carmel Pine Cone by publisher Paul Miller exudes strong disrespect for the grand jury. This is the second editorial penned by Mr. Miller making a personal affront to individuals participating in grand jury service. His June 26, 2015, writing described the grand jury’s work as stupid and worthy of contempt. Last week, he stated that “the grand jury set out to try to make things worse, instead of helping … Farewell, grand jury, and same thing to the horse you rode in on.” It’s apparent that Mr. Miller was hoping for an indictment of the former city administrators. He also took issue with the finding that the Pine Cone influenced the city’s governance. When the report didn’t meet his expectations, he chose to belittle the jury members instead of focusing on his opinion.

In America, we don’t serve the government, the government serves us. There are a number of ways that we have to ensure that this arrangement continues. I’m certain that Mr. Miller is familiar with freedom of the press. There are other ways, too—separation of powers, the right to vote, freedom of information, and yes, civil grand juries. Civil grand juries are mandated by the California Penal Code. The code grants powers to the grand jury to examine local governments, commissions and agencies, special districts, elected officials, etc. The grand jury does not have the authority to enforce its recommendations, but it does report its findings to the citizens. The citizens can then act as they see fit.

I fully respect Mr. Miller’s views regarding the city matters addressed in the grand jury report and his disagreement. I welcome his alternative suggestions to improve the city’s governance. His personal attacks on the jury members, however, are an affront to the democratic process. The 2014/15 civil grand jury was comprised of 19 educated and committed members. It included Ph.Ds, attorneys, CEOs, business school professors, and independent business owners. The members worked diligently to develop information that informs the public and effects sound choice. The grand jury did not choose to investigate Carmel. Carmel residents and the City Council made that decision. The work of the panel was performed honestly, competently, completely within the law, and with integrity. Whether Mr. Miller and the public agree with the findings or not, the panel members were honored to serve and continue to hold their heads high.

Panetta is a faculty member in the School of Business at California State University Monterey Bay and an adjunct faculty member at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He was a member of the grand jury committee that examined Carmel City Hall during the period leading up to the departure of City Administrator Jason Stilwell. Among other things, it concluded that his departure was sparked in large part by highly slanted reporting by the Pine Cone and the City Council’s failure to back him up.

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