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District 4 Supervisorial candidates (from left) Jane Parker, Dennis Donohue and Alex Miller ponder during Thursday’s campaign forum at the Oldermeyer Center in Seaside.

Ex-Salinas mayor claims to be neutral on Monterey Downs despite strong letter of support

For all but about a minute of Thursday night’s campaign forum, political opponents Jane Parker and Dennis Donohue were as polite as they could be with each other but there were two brief periods when the claws came out.

Donohue the challenger, who repeatedly promised to push for more and faster redevelopment at Fort Ord, added a slight barb the last time when he said he would “support the Fort Ord Reuse Plan and not just say I’ll support it.” It was subtle but it was a dig at Parker the incumbent, who embraces a more deliberate pace with considerable time for environmental review.

But it was Parker who got in the bigger zinger. The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Sustainable Seaside, featured questions from the audience. One was whether the candidates support Monterey Downs, the hugely controversial proposal to build a residential and commercial complex at Fort Ord anchored by a thoroughbred race track. The proposal appears to be dying a natural death because of financial uncertainties but it remains a lightning rod issue on the Peninsula.

Parker said redevelopment of Fort Ord should be focused on creating permanent jobs and mixed-use communities and that gambling and racing don’t fit in.

Donohue skirted the question by saying that he might have to weigh in officially on the venture at some point so he was “not in a position to prejudge the project.” The major decision-making rests with the Seaside City Council and only then would his opinion matter, he said.

Parker seized the opportunity to counter-punch. She asked Donohue why, then, had he invited the Monterey Down developers to make a presentation to the Salinas City Council while he was mayor of Salinas, a presentation that led to a resolution of support.

In a draft of a letter to Monterey Downs managing partner Brian Boudreau on May 15, 2012, Donohue wrote, “I wanted to let you know how much the City Council appreciated the presentation on March 13 by Beth Palmer on behalf of the Monterey Downs project and how excited we are at the prospect of this economic ‘game changer’ at the former Fort Ord. In that much of the planned redevelopment of Fort Ord has been stalled, your project could be the welcome spark to bring many other initiatives forward, consistent with the adopted Fort Ord Reuse Plan.”

Donohue wrote that he understood that the local jurisdictions and environmental regulators were still reviewing the project and that the city supports a fair and rigorous process. Still, he continued, “we understand the importance of Monterey Downs not just as another attraction for Monterey County but the start of a new industry that provides jobs at all economic levels and also complements and supports protection of the unique environmental resources of the vast Fort Ord lands. We cannot overlook the creation of up to 3,000 direct and 2,000 indirect job opportunities for our citizens at a time when Monterey County jobs market lags both state and national employment rates and when we continue to struggle with keeping jobs already here. On behalf of the City Council and our community, we welcome the long-term investment that Monterey Downs is willing to make in this unique and high quality development and wish for your success in obtaining necessary government approvals.”

Because the forum was just that, a forum, and not a debate, Donohue had no immediate opportunity to respond to Parker’s questions and he didn’t get back to it in his closing comments.

Overall, Donohue repeatedly emphasized that his focus as supervisor would be on economic development and job creation.

“Job one is creating jobs,” he said.

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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyCorrection: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker’s re-election campaign had raised $96,580. That is the amount her campaign has raised this year and does not include her starting balance, for a total of about $244,000. 

Monterey County supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue is running away with the race for campaign cash, collecting more than double as much as incumbent Jane Parker thanks to an avalanche of money from business and ag interests.

Though Donohue’s campaign didn’t total the contributions in campaign reports filed Thursday, it appears to have raised about $464,000 so far, leaving Parker’s campaign well behind at about $244,000.

Donohue is the former mayor of Salinas and he’s campaigning on a platform of growth and economic development, which includes expanding his city and pushing for accelerated development at Fort Ord. His opponent is veteran Supervisor Jane Parker of Seaside, who has been the Board of Supervisors’ leading and sometimes only voice for the environment and slow growth.

In an interesting note, while Donohue has received a pile of six-figure checks from farming interests, Parker also received quiet support from key figures in the ag community. Mike Antle of produce giant Tanimura & Antle contributed $1,000 to the Parker campaign while Rosa Mata Boutonnet of Ocean Mist Farms and Dale Huss of Sea Mist Farms each contributed $2,500.

Parker’s other large contributors included Brigitte Wasserman of Carmel, $6,000; the Democratic Women of Monterey County, $5,000; Lowell Figen of Monterey and Constance Murray of Carmel Valley, $4,000; Edwina Bent of Carmel, Bruce Sterten of Carmel, and Peggy McMahan of Carmel Valley, $2,500 each; Donald Reed of Monterey, $3,000; Chris and Karen Mack, and Julia Bates of Carmel, $2,000; retired physician Charles Bates of Carmel and Bill Weigle of Seaside, $1,500 each; Michael DeLapa, $1,100; and Ethnobotanica of Watsonville, Andrew Allison of Carmel, Sherwood Darlington of the Ag Land Trust, consultant Shirley Devol, David Garnham of Carmel, Ann Helms, Jana Matheson of Carmel, the Building and Construction Trades Council, Curtis Spitler of Monterey, Gillian Taylor of Carmel Valley, $1,000 each.

Look for the Donohue campaign to point out that the lion’s share of Parker’s support is from outside the 4th District and for the Parker campaign to point out that the vast majority of Donohue’s support is from Salinas Valley ag interests, mostly with little connection to the district, which takes in Seaside, Marina and a slice of Salinas. Donohue works in the produce industry.

Donohue’s biggest bucks so far have come from the Monterey Bay Business PAC at $50,000 and the Salinas Valley Leadership Group at $40,000. The business PAC was formed by associations representing the Peninsula hotel industry, the Farm Bureau, the Grower-Shipper Association and the Vintner-Growers Association though the current president of the vintner group says it is no longer a member. It was created more than a decade ago largely to counter the influence of the environmentalist LandWatch Monterey County, which often shares positions with Parker.  The Salinas Valley Leadership Group was formed by contractor Don Chapin and has been one of the biggest contributors to local campaigns in recent years.

Contributing $20,000 apiece to the Donohue campaign were farming interests D’Arrigo Brothers, Church Brothers, Taylor-Fresh Foods, Gowan Seed, Mann Packing and JV Farms. American Farms gave $10,000 contributors and the following gave $5,000 apiece – Salinas Valley Ford, Rodney Braga, ASA Organics, Al Pak Labor, NR Partners, Gill Ranch, Scheid Vineyards, Bengard Harvesting, Seco Packing, Mary Orradre and Jane Allison. Growers Joseph Pezzini and Troy Boutonnet contributed $2,500 apiece to the Donohue effort

Developer Samuel Kobrinsky gave $5,000, Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey gave $2,500 and Bankers Casino in Salinas gave $1,000.

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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyParker getting support from labor and environmentalists

Monterey County supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue is running away with the race for campaign cash, collecting more than four times as much as incumbent Jane Parker thanks to an avalanche of money from business and ag interests.

Though Donohue’s campaign didn’t total the contributions in campaign reports filed Thursday, it appears to have raised about $464,000 so far, leaving Parker’s campaign far behind at just $96,580.

Donohue is the former mayor of Salinas and he’s campaigning on a platform of growth and economic development, which includes expanding his city and pushing for accelerated development at Fort Ord. His opponent is veteran Supervisor Jane Parker of Seaside, who has been the Board of Supervisors’ leading and sometimes only voice for the environment and slow growth.

In an interesting note, while Donohue has received a pile of six-figure checks from farming interests, Parker also received quiet support from key figures in the ag community. Mike Antle of produce giant Tanimura & Antle contributed $1,000 to the Parker campaign while Rosa Mata Boutonnet of Ocean Mist Farms and Dale Huss of Sea Mist Farms each contributed $2,500.

Parker’s other large contributors included Brigitte Wasserman of Carmel, $6,000; the Democratic Women of Monterey County, $5,000; Lowell Figen of Monterey and Constance Murray of Carmel Valley, $4,000; Edwina Bent of Carmel, Bruce Sterten of Carmel, and Peggy McMahan of Carmel Valley, $2,500 each; Donald Reed of Monterey, $3,000; Chris and Karen Mack, and Julia Bates of Carmel, $2,000; retired physician Charles Bates of Carmel and Bill Weigle of Seaside, $1,500 each; Michael DeLapa, $1,100; and Ethnobotanica of Watsonville, Andrew Allison of Carmel, Sherwood Darlington of the Ag Land Trust, consultant Shirley Devol, David Garnham of Carmel, Ann Helms, Jana Matheson of Carmel, the Building and Construction Trades Council, Curtis Spitler of Monterey, Gillian Taylor of Carmel Valley, $1,000 each.

Look for the Donohue campaign to point out that the lion’s share of Parker’s support is from outside the 4th District and for the Parker campaign to point out that the vast majority of Donohue’s support is from Salinas Valley ag interests, mostly with little connection to the district, which takes in Seaside, Marina and a slice of Salinas. Donohue works in the produce industry.

Donohue’s biggest bucks so far have come from the Monterey Bay Business PAC at $50,000 and the Salinas Valley Leadership Group at $40,000. The business PAC was formed by associations representing the Peninsula hotel industry, the Farm Bureau, the Grower-Shipper Association and the Vintner-Growers Association though the current president of the vintner group says it is no longer a member. It was created more than a decade ago largely to counter the influence of the environmentalist LandWatch Monterey County, which often shares positions with Parker.  The Salinas Valley Leadership Group was formed by contractor Don Chapin and has been one of the biggest contributors to local campaigns in recent years.

Contributing $20,000 apiece to the Donohue campaign were farming interests D’Arrigo Brothers, Church Brothers, Taylor-Fresh Foods, Gowan Seed, Mann Packing and JV Farms. American Farms gave $10,000 contributors and the following gave $5,000 apiece – Salinas Valley Ford, Rodney Braga, ASA Organics, Al Pak Labor, NR Partners, Gill Ranch, Scheid Vineyards, Bengard Harvesting, Seco Packing, Mary Orradre and Jane Allison. Growers Joseph Pezzini and Troy Boutonnet contributed $2,500 apiece to the Donohue effort

Developer Samuel Kobrinsky gave $5,000, Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey gave $2,500 and Bankers Casino in Salinas gave $1,000.

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An effort to save KUSP radio by returning to its roots

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If you listen to pubic radio station KUSP out of Santa Cruz, 88.9 on your FM dial, you likely have heard the emergency pitches for $300,000 in contributions to keep the station going past the end of the month. At the end of last year, the station dropped much of its public service programming and became a full-time purveyor of music that might be described as adult alternative. Below is a letter that went out today from Rachel Goodman, a veteran of the public radio battles in Santa Cruz and an advocate for turning KUSP back into a community resource featuring news, opinion and other public-service programming.

Retro old radio receiver on table front mint green backgroundDear Friends of KUSP,

On Sunday, KUSP’s board is planning to go off the air. That is the word behind the scenes from hosts who are planning their last shows. I have been invited to play a farewell concert on Cindy Odom’s last Celtic show Saturday.  This is a sad moment for our community, but also frustrating because is avoidable! What’s at stake here is retaining a locally owned media and our ability to debate and discuss what matters to us.

Exactly a year ago, KUSP’s board was on the verge of selling the station to Classical Music Public Radio. Sadly, after so much advocacy, letters and meetings, and even a statement that they would not sell, they are once again back where they started. (see attached statement that they are asking the foundation to vote on).

At their May 4th yearly meeting of the “Pataphysical Broadcasting Foundation, the entity that owns the license will take a vote to ascertain the will of the members toward selling. If approved, the board will enter into negotiations to sell and their criteria of who they want to sell to is so narrow it precludes any local entity from bidding!

KUSP FORWARD organized to prevent this sale, and strongly advocated for a station that was scaled to a sustainable size and operational plan that would serve the community’s needs.  Unfortunately this option was dismissed as untenable.We submitted numerous plans and budgets showing that a financially sustainable model was possible. You can tell this is too important to our community for us to give up easily.

While we appreciate the amount of hard work & good will that has gone into the survival of KUSP so far, the time has come for those who want to sell the license to step outside the corporate mind set of “CPB Qualified” and allow a volunteer run community station to rise from this wreckage. There are efforts underway to form a new entity and organize to do just that. Why not let the community decide what it wants?

We are calling on those who want to keep KUSP a local station that serves the community to come to the meeting May 4th  at 6pm at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County in Aptos and express your wishes about what will happen to this valuable community resource. Request transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the mission of community service that our donations built over all these years.  If you can’t be there, call or write the board.

Sincerely,
Rachel Anne Goodman

The following statement was sent from the KUSP Board to the Foundation, outlining its recommendation to sell.

Authorizing Ballot Measure Statement

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Colourful lollipop on green background with copy spaceExpect oil industry to pull out all stops to fight Monterey County anti-fracking initiative

Most Americans are familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying that, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” I think that’s good, as far as it goes but, nowadays, it doesn’t go far enough – and that’s where the Turner Corollary (TC) comes in.

The TC states that “With the help of a slick, professional, high-priced public relations campaign, you can fool most of the people most of the time.”

I tell you this because, if we are successful in our efforts to get an initiative on the November ballot to ban fracking in Monterey County, you can expect to be subjected to the slickest, most professional and most expensive public relations (PR) campaign to defeat it that the Petroleum Institute’s (PI) bottomless pockets can buy.

Although I have indulged my ego by naming the corollary after myself, I am certainly not the first person to notice the connection between corporate PR campaigns and the defeat of grassroots political campaigns.

John Stauber is a progressive political activist who noticed, in the 1970s, that he would enter a campaign (to halt construction of a nuclear power plant, for instance) with polls showing that his side had a 60-40% lead only to end up losing the election by 60-40%. He, also, noticed that the opposition (the nuclear power industry, for instance) mounted a very slick, professional and expensive PR campaign that was very effective in changing peoples’ minds. Very few of the factors that changed minds had anything to do with honestly demonstrating that nuclear power was safe or that the claims made by the anti-nuclear folks were wrong. Rather, by repeating lies and half-truths over and over in every media (TV, radio, print, mail – and add all of our new social media today) and even using people paid by the PR campaign canvassing door-to-door extolling the virtues of nuclear power. These folks did not identify themselves as being paid by the PR campaign and tried to appear, as much as possible, as simply concerned and involved citizens who just wanted to counter the anti-nuclear position.

Stauber’s growing understanding of how these PR campaigns were resulting in his causes losing elections led him to research the PR industry, in general, and the dirty tricks employed by these PR campaigns, in particular, that contributed to those losses. You can read about this in his 1995 book, co-written by Sheldon Rampton, entitled, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You : Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry. Although the book is over 20 years old, it is as relevant now as it was then.

Incidentally, these PR techniques work because (or only when) they are unopposed. And they are usually unopposed because legitimate grassroots organizations – like Public Water Now in 2014 and Protect Monterey County in 2016 – rarely have access to the millions of dollars that corporations have. In 2014 Cal Am outspent Public Water Now $2.5 million to $100,000 on the measure favoring public ownership. That’s a 25:1 advantage.

We can expect to see a similar asymmetrical assault by the PI against our fracking ban. As a matter of fact, it has already begun. Ads by the PI have been appearing on TV, for months, extolling the virtues of oil production in Monterey County. The good news is that the situation is not hopeless. It is possible for grassroots political campaigns to defeat the PR campaigns of these rapacious corporations with the application of “people power.” If we are successful in mobilizing enough people to go door-to-door talking to their neighbors, explaining our position and exposing the lies of the PR campaign and its shills who may also be knocking on doors, we can be successful in the general election.

One final thought. The unfair advantage that wealthy people and corporations with limitless funds have in U.S. elections has been going on for so long (long before Citizens United in 2010) that most Americans don’t even bother remarking about it – if they notice it at all. They act as if this money imbalance is just an inevitable part of the political environment – which it isn’t. But that discussion will have to wait for another essay.

Turner, a retired Monterey dentist, is a community activist.

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Business growth opportunity concept as a group of business people taking advantage of a tall tree grown in time to create a bridge to cross over and link two seperate cliffs as a motivation metaphor for financial patience and opportunismThe Partisan takes a timeout from its Truth-O-Meter series today to look instead at two recent endorsements by the Monterey Herald. It probably is not a coincidence that we chose these editorial endorsements because they ran exactly counter to the Partisan’s own choices.

We won’t argue the overall recommendations. Newspaper endorsements don’t have to make sense. Instead, we will pick and choose some of the key elements that seem to underly those choices.

More than any other topic, the Herald’s endorsement of Dennis Donohue to replace District 4 Supervisor Jane Parker focused on Fort Ord and the pace of redevelopment there.

It noted that the district takes in much of Fort Ord and says “the position and ideas of the District 4 Board of Supervisors candidates on reuse of Fort Ord are key factors in our endorsement, given the hopes pinned on Fort Ord reuse by the entire region for economic redevelopment, housing and jobs.”

The editorial, unfortunately, neglects to explain the governance of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, which is responsible for redeveloping the former Army base or, perhaps closer to the truth, for not really getting very far on redeveloping the former base, which closed in the mid 1990s.

The agency charged with redevelopment is governed by an unwieldy board of directors, 13 members with voting rights and a large cast of non-voting members. The voting members represent most of the government jurisdictions with a stake in the process, including the surrounding cities and the county. Four of the five supervisors are members or alternates. Parker is a member and so is Supervisor Dave Potter, who received the Herald’s endorsement in the other supervisorial race. By implication, the Herald seems to be faulting the FORA board in general for not doing more to turn old barracks into new shopping centers, but where exactly should that blame land? The Herald seems to be forgetting that Donohue was an active member of the FORA board while he was mayor of Salinas and, therefore, the newspaper made little of his  missed opportunity to speed things up. The Herald also seems to forget that a large segment of the local population isn’t all that keen on major new development at Fort Ord.

What’s that? One person can’t provide much momentum to the redevelopment bureaucracy. Our point exactly.

The Herald likes it that Donohue is in favor of the proposed but way-off-in-the-distance Eastside Parkway, a new highway that would run through Fort Ord to connect Highways 68 and 1. Again, as much as the Herald might wish it otherwise, while an individual supervisor wields considerable power on issues that come before the five-member Board of Supervisors, the same supervisor holds just one of 17 votes on the primary highway-building agency hereabouts, TAMC.

The Herald finds it telling that most of the city officials in the district support Donohue rather than Parker. The Partisan finds it telling as well. Those who support Donohue have histories of supporting virtually any project in their realms, everything from cookie-cutter fast food joints to the hugely unpopular Monterey Downs horse racing complex proposed for Fort Ord.

Herald political endorsements of late seem to hinge on the degree to which the candidate supports development, and while the development wish list always gives a nod to jobs and affordable housing, few public figures in our midst have accomplished anything of note in those arenas in recent years. Perhaps the newspaper blames Parker. If so, it has not been paying close attention. Peninsula residents, and to some degree all Monterey County residents, are witnessing a contest between the forces of commerce and the forces of conservation. While Donohue, like many other development-minded politicians, claims to be in favor of “smart growth,” he and his allies haven’t been able come up with concrete examples to propose or support.

The Herald’s endorsement of Donohue overstates the impact of one public official and mistakenly suggests that electing him over Parker would change the board and its direction. Actually, the opposite is true. Parker throughout her political career has been a nearly lone wolf fighting to protect the environment and she has been outvoted at nearly every turn by people in synch with Donohue. Keeping Parker in place and making changes elsewhere, such as in District 5, would amount to much more meaningful and positive change.

In case you didn’t notice, that was a transition. Moving along now to the Herald’s endorsement of District 5 Supervisor Dave Potter over challenger Mary Adams.

In the Potter endorsement, the Herald gives the incumbent big points for experience and tenure without mentioning what little has come of it.

“On water, Potter clearly knows the urgency of securing a new Peninsula supply,” the Herald writes. “He supports Cal Am’s desal project with reclaimed waste water as part of the total solution. Adams indicated she was still uncertain about the desal project, and she placed a higher emphasis on conservation.”

It is true that Potter “clearly knows” the urgency of securing a new Peninsula water supply. That’s because the state’s mandate that we cut back on our use of the Carmel River has been in effect the entire time he has been in office but his clear knowledge of the urgency has resulted in nothing except huge expense.

While serving on the board for two decades, Potter has worn a remarkable number of other hats. He has been on the state Coastal Commission and has forever been a board member for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. If there is any one public official who could have been expected to show leadership on the Peninsula’s water crisis, it was Potter. Yet the only leading role he seems to have taken was to help lead the county into a messy conflict of interest involving water official Steve Collins, a conflict that derailed years of work on a desalination solution.

It is true that Adams places a higher value on conservation. A large majority of Peninsula residents has lost faith in Cal Am and officialdom’s ability to complete a desalination project at anything approaching a reasonable cost and, out of necessity, also places a higher value on conservation.

“Potter has a much better grasp of all facets of the water issue, and there really is not any time for a steep learning curve on this critical issue,” the Herald opines. What Potter truly grasps is how a community spent 20 years failing to make measurable progress. If Adams is elected, it will take her about 20 minutes to get caught up on that history.

The Herald also likes it that Potter likes the idea of an Eastside Parkway and criticizes Adams for not knowing much about it. The Partisan’s suggestion is simply this. If it is so important to the local economy and well-being, perhaps some explanatory articles would be advisable. And perhaps the Herald can think of a way to give some special highway-building, job-creating, water-making powers to their favored candidates in case they win.

Partisan proprietor Royal Calkins is a former editor and opinion page editor for the Herald and, therefore, cannot convincingly assert that he is not disgruntled in at least some respects.

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Progress comes to The Partisan

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Over the last couple of days, we’ve been upgrading the email notifier for the Monterey Bay Partisan. This is the part of the website that alerts you immediately when a new post goes up.

The new notifications look a little different than the old ones — they’re more colorful, for one thing — but they serve the same purpose. Click on the link in the email and you’ll be delivered to the new online material.

It’s easy to sign up for email notifications: if you’re reading the Partisan on a desktop-sized monitor, put your email address into the box at the upper right-hand corner of the screen and hit enter. If you’re on a tablet or a smartphone, go to the Menu and select Sign Up. Put your email address in the box and tap enter.

If you decide you no longer want to receive an email every time there’s something new at the Partisan, click the highlighted word “Unsubscribe” on any emailed notification and you’ll be removed from the list.

We hope this slight change will make for more reliable notifications for those who have requested the service and minimal distraction for those who get to the Monterey Bay Partisan website through other means.

Let us know through the comments or through email how the new notification service is working for you.

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No Vacancy sign hanging on yellow painted cedar siding.Wake up and smell the new economy. It’s here. It’s global at 2.25 million homes in 191 countries and it persists regardless of bans, restrictive ordinances, or claims of eroded neighborhood character. It is the capitalist-defying act of peers renting to peers. It is the demolition of the vertical landlord/renter relationship and the construction of a horizontal economy; it is a trust-dependent transaction shattering an economy based on fear. It is the close look at existing structures and a turning of our eyes away from new construction. It is the celebration of the middle class and the eventual burial of the 1%. It is Home Sharing on Airbnb.

There are 1,900 vacant homes in Pacific Grove and 210 short-term rentals. Carmel suffers 46% of its housing stock standing empty and yet they ban home shares because they would change neighborhood character. A neighborhood of ghosts? Carmel’s infamous Supreme Court ruling (Ewing vs Carmel-By-The-Sea) cites that ”Short-term tenants have little interest in public agencies or in the welfare of the citizenry. They do not participate in local government, coach little league, or join the hospital guild. They do not lead a scout troop, volunteer at the library, or keep an eye on an elderly neighbor. Literally, they are here today and gone tomorrow-without engaging in the sort of activities that weld and strengthen a community.”

The ruling even mentions that they do not utilize day cares. In fact, there are no Carmel Boy Scout troops or day care centers while in contrast, my short-term renters have been physicians here to train your doctors on how to better save your character-rich life; Girl Scouts here for their 50th annual reunion who have inspired more character in young girls than you can throw a badge at; judges and lawyers here for special cases brought on by the bad behavior of your character-building neighbors; eco-conference and eco-farm save-your-world heroes while you watch your neighbors spray Round-Up; and a handyman or two who have helped my neighbors with do-it-yourself projects that your neighbor didn’t-avail-himself-to-do-yourself.

To those who argue that we are doing business in a residential district, I will assert this — the only business-as-usual transaction in my home is between me and Wells Fargo. I agree to buy a home for $700,000 with 20% down and an interest rate of 5% for 30 years. What does Wells Fargo get? $1,220,160. That’s business. When I rent my house out for a third less than a hotel or Bed and Breakfast, complete with a fenced-in yard, a kitchen and bedrooms for all, it’s a bigger bang for your buck and it is practice in fair trade.

It’s the economy of the future, a future wherein it’s our civic responsibility to use existing resources. My houses are 110 years old. The lumber has been felled, the water-loving cement cured, the furniture built. They were retreat houses 110 years ago and thus remain historically accurate as home shares. What I want to ask those of you who are in love with outdated zoning ordinances and you historic-preservation devotees – who the hell let permanent residents set up camp and ruin the character of our Retreat Area?

Joy Colangelo is a physical therapist and environmental activist who lives in Pacific Grove

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Hand holding out a stack of money tied to the end of a stick for briberyBetween them, Central Coast congressional candidates Casey Lucius and Jimmy Panetta have raised more than $725,000 so far to propel their campaigns, thanks in no small part to the generosity of investment bankers.

Several donors identifying themselves as venture capitalists, fund managers or investment bankers made the maximum contribution of $5,400 to the candidates, with most favoring  Democrat Jimmy Panetta but several opting to help the Republican underdog, Lucius.

Under federal election rules, the maximum contribution from an individual is $2,700 but that individual can double up by writing one $2,700 check for the June primary election and another for the November general election.

The latest campaign disclosure forms also show that Panetta, son of former Congressman/CIA Director/Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has raised $563,000 and is also receiving considerable help from the congressional crowd, including several members who worked with his father. They include Jim Costa, Tony Coelho, Steny Hoyer, Vic Fazio, Marty Russo, Bud Cramer, Dennis Cardoza and Zoe Lofgren as well as the lobbyist wife of former Sen. Tom Daschle.

Panetta, a prosecutor for the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, also picked up a fair measure of support from Monterey County’s budding marijuana industry. He received $1,420 from lawyer Jeff Gilles, whose firm specializes in representing marijuana interests, $1,500 from medical marijuana advocate Valentia Piccinini, $1,000 from commercial pot grower Mike Hackett and a contribution of free or discounted office space from Mike Bitar, who puts together investment syndicates for marijuana-related ventures.

(Incidentally, Bitar is a host of a fund-raising event tonight for Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter. It starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Estrada Adobe, 470 Tyler St., Monterey.)

Attorney James Panetta in court on July 25, 2013. (Vern Fisher/Monterey County Herald)Panetta is the obvious favorite because of the Panetta name and the Democratic leanings of the 20th Congressional District, now represented by the retiring Sam Farr, D-Carmel. But Lucius, a Pacific Grove city councilwoman, has raised some $162,000, the most ever raised by a GOP candidate in the district, and has impressed a serious slice of the electorate with her knowledge of international affairs and defense matters.  She is a former professor of national security for the U.S. Naval War College, the Naval Postgraduate School and other schools, a former naval intelligence officer and operations assistant to the U.S. ambassador to Hanoi.

Her largest contributions were $5,400 apiece from Tiburon investment banker Robert Hofeditz, venture capitalist Lloyd Alexander of San Francisco and Palo Alto asset manager Franklin P. Johnson of Palo Alto.

She received $2,700 from Charles Munger Jr. of Palo Alto, the California GOP’s biggest benefactor in recent years. Munger has contributed millions annually over the past several years, often targeting female and Latino candidates for help.

cbkmE29VAside from those contributions, Lucius has received mostly local money, including $2,000 from contractor Don Chapin, $1,000 from Margaret Duflock, who almost single-handedly financed the successful sheriff’s campaign of her son-in-law, Steve Bernal, and $500 from Salinas entrepreneur David Drew.

In addition to the investment bankers on the list, Panetta reported local contributions totaling $10,800 from the Antle farming family, $10,800 from the family of beer distributor George Couch, $10,000 from broadcasting executive David Benjamin and his wife, medical researcher Laurie Benjamin, and $8,100 from the Ted Balestreri family. He also picked up $500 from the girlfriend of local GOP stalwart Paul Bruno.

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As campaign season heads into full bloom, the Partisan presents the Truth-O-Meter, a sporadic examination of the claims candidates are making about themselves and their opponents. Partisan readers and all others are encouraged to send along any campaign materials they encounter, with or without comment. They can be emailed to calkinsroyal@gmail.com or mailed to The Partisan, 84 Harper Canyon, Salinas, 93908. If those options don’t work for you, give us a call at 484-5068.

The Truth-O-Meter was spinning rapidly Wednesday as supporters of the various candidates scoured the websites and mailings of the opposition in search of false claims and exaggerations. The big loser of the day was Monterey County Supervisorial candidate Dennis Donohue, whose campaign wrongly claimed the endorsement of a Seaside council member and, in a recent advertisement, prematurely proclaimed himself the winner.

But perhaps more interesting than either of those items, Donohue’s website lists him as having the endorsements of six (6) members of the Sand City City Council although there are only five. We’ll call that one an editing error rather than a falsehood, however. It turned out that the Donohue campaign cited endorsements from both Councilman Todd Kruper and Council Todd Krumper. One or the other does not exist.

More importantly, very real Seaside City Councilman Dave Pacheco says he learned Friday night that he was listed on Donohue’s website as having endorsed the former Salinas mayor over the incumbent, Jane Parker.

“I was really irritated,” Pacheco said Wednesday. “I had told Dennis from day one and Jane from day five that I was not endorsing anyone in their race. I’m fine with whoever wins.”

Pacheco said he made a few calls Friday night and connected with Donohue, who blamed the error on his campaign staff.

“I’ve had people coming up to me and asking why I was endorsing Dennis,” Pacheco said. “That wasn’t right.” Pacheco is no longer listed as an endorser.

NAACP- AdDonohue’s third strike came with the surfacing of an advertisement in the program of the annual dinner of the Monterey County Branch of the NAACP in March. Under a nice photo of the candidate and a quote from him praising the organization, Donohue is listed as “Dennis Donohue, 4th District Supervisor.” Not “Dennis Donohue for 4th District Supervisor.”

The Donohue campaign wasn’t immediately available to comment late Wednesday but any response will be posted here as soon as possible.

Score: The initial Truth-O-Meter installment earlier this week gave Dennis a B-minus for his most recent campaign door hanger. Today’s installment gives him a D for the Kruper/Krumper thing, a D-minus for the Pacheco mistake and a D for the NAACP ad.

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No Vacancy sign hanging on yellow painted cedar siding.It was early evening when the phone rang. I was groggy because I had been awake off and on for much of the day, so I didn’t exactly catch the information about who was calling. It was the robotic voice of a woman and I think she just said she was calling from the 805 area code. I think that’s all she said about who who she was.

She (it) was taking a poll and I’m a sucker for those because often they give me something to write about. What I learned from this call is that we soon will be hearing that likely voters in Monterey County are overwhelmingly supportive of regulations allowing short-term rentals. One of the questions, for instance, was whether I thought short-term rentals were A. The Best Thing Ever, or B. Even Better Than That.

OK, I exaggerate, but not by all that much. I was asked in a couple of ways whether I realized that short-term rentals are really important to the economy and whether I or anyone I know had ever used a short-term rental.

It seems that there are no rules governing short-term vacation rentals in unincorporated Monterey County and that county officials, acting upon complaints, sometimes send notices to short-term landlords telling them to knock it off. So, the Association of People Who Own Things That Can Be Rented Out For Big Money on Big Event Weekends (APWOTTCBROFBGBBEW) are lobbying the Board of Supervisors to enact an ordinance that would make it pretty much useless for the neighbors to complain.

The survey taker asked me if I thought it was a good idea that there be rules for such things so the landlords would be encouraged to pay the appropriate taxes. She also wanted to know if I realized that sometimes I might want to take advantage of short-term rentals to accommodate visiting friends or relatives, and whether I truly care about my friends and relatives or was I a horrible person. Or something like that.

Either to throw this intrepid blogger off the scent or to make some money from other sponsors, the survey taker also asked a few questions on other topics.

Did I plan to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries?

Which of the candidates for Senate would I vote for, either Kamala Harris or several people you’re never heard of?

In the race for District 5 supervisor in Monterey County, will I vote for Supervisor Dave Potter or “retired non-profit organization CEO Mary Adams?” It might just be me, but it seemed like the word I was supposed to hear was “retired” because she (it) said it more than once.

Usually in surveys like this you’re asked how you would describe yourself politically, either very conservative, kind of conservative, more conservative than not, moderate or one of those damned liberal pinheads. They didn’t ask it this time but they did have a question that stumped me. She wanted to know if I was A. “Over 65” or B. “Under 65.” The problem is that I am precisely 65. I realize that doesn’t make me “Under 65” but it sure as hell doesn’t make me “Over 65” either, OK?

By the way, if she had asked me a straightforward question about whether I think short-term rentals should be allowed, I would have said I didn’t really have a strong opinion either way.

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proxy_form-2.cgiAs campaign season heads into full bloom, the Partisan is launching  a feature we’re calling the Truth-O-Meter, a sporadic examination of the claims candidates are making about themselves and their opponents.

Partisan readers and all others are encouraged to send along any campaign materials they encounter, with or without comment. They can be emailed to calkinsroyal@gmail.com or mailed to The Partisan, 84 Harper Canyon, Salinas, 93908. If those options don’t work for you, give us a call at 484-5068.

In installment one, we take a look at a door hanger (see below) distributed over the weekend by Dennis Donohue’s supervisorial campaign. The former Salinas mayor is challenging incumbent Jane Parker in District 4, which covers Seaside, Marina, Del Rey Oaks and a slice of Salinas.

Donohue scored early in the campaign when his researchers discovered that Parker had been calling herself a college graduate though she actually fell a few credits short of a degree. Parker had a simple explanation. She says she thought she had graduated and didn’t realize the error until Donohue’s people dug it up.

In this campaign publication, Donohue doesn’t mention the opposition and remains in fairly close contact with the truth as he discusses his record.

It says, “While mayor of Salinas, Dennis modernized downtown Salinas.”

Because he cites no specifics, I’m not exactly sure what he means by that, so we’re inviting him to elaborate. He or his folks are encouraged to fill in the blanks.

Under the heading “Standing Up for Veterans,” Donohue says, “It’s a disgrace that those who fought for us overseas have to fight again for a veterans’ cemetery here. Dennis Donohue will take on that fight for our veterans.”

Again, not exactly sure where he’s going with this. The suggestion is that there is opposition to a veterans’ cemetery at Fort Ord and that the veterans are having to do battle to get one. The fact is that the only remaining barrier to establishing a veterans’ cemetery is financial. A sizable combination of private and government money is in place and the fund-raising effort continues amid an atmosphere of optimism. The project has received substantial community and political support. At one time, proponents of the planned cemetery let their effort become entangled with the controversy over a proposed horse-racing venture at Fort Ord but those political ties have been severed. If that’s what he’s talking about, he’s three or four years behind the times.

Under “Making Our Communities Safer,” Donohue says, “As Mayor of Salinas, Dennis rooted out gang violence by targeting it head-on. As supervisor, he’ll always prioritize community safety – because if our families aren’t safe, nothing else matters.”

Again, the language is vague enough to defy instant analysis. When Donohue was mayor, he made it clear that he was no fan of gang violence and the Police Department did everything it could to combat the gangs. But the Police Department was doing that long before Donohue came along and it continues the effort long after his departure. When he says he “rooted out” gang violence, he seems to be implying that he put an end to it or something of that sort. He does deserve credit for the amount of time and energy he put into that issue, as he did with many issues, but gang warfare continues to bloody the streets of Salinas at a record-breaking pace.

SCORE: We’ll deduct a few points for a bit of truth stretching in the cemetery and gang sections while adding points for not making any false claims against the opponent. We’ll give this one a B-minus.

Donohue Dennis 2016_04_18.door.hanger

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Amy White says goodbye to LandWatch Monterey County

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Amy White

Breaking news today from LandWatch Monterey County. Executive Director Amy White is stepping down after eight years.

Here’s the news release from the organization.

The Partisan had an inkling of this a couple weeks ago but couldn’t get Amy to give it up. She has done a remarkable job at the helm of this hugely important organization, a pressure-cooker job that requires the ability to work with bureaucrats, politicians, developers and environmental progressives – none of them a piece of cake.

She’s going back to teaching, which is good news for a generation of school kids.

More on this development later.

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Are both District 4 supervisorial candidates really for “smart growth?”

Most of us have a hard time envisioning 15,000 acres because we don’t deal with properties of that size. This should help. The existing Fort Ord National Monument is about 15,000 acres. The fort itself was about twice that size during its heyday. Toro Regional Park between Monterey and Salinas stretches deeper into the hills than you’d expect but still covers only 5,000 acres or so. It would take three Toros to equal 15,000 acres.

Remember the Rancho San Juan proposal? That was one of the big land-use controversies of the last decade. The Rancho San Juan community north of Salinas would have been huge but it would have taken seven of them to cover 15,000 acres.

Need something smaller? Maybe you’ve been to Spreckels, the cute community near Salinas. Set 200 of them side by side and you’d have 15,000 acres.

We’re talking about 15,000 acres here because that’s the amount of good farmland that would be turned over to development purposes under the proposed Economic Development Element to the Salinas General Plan. No, it wouldn’t be developed all at once, of course. It would happen in dribs and drabs, so most of the work wouldn’t set off any Rancho San Juan-style controversies.

Much of that development would be to the southwest and southeast of current Salinas city limits. Significantly, it would spread the city south beyond Blanco Road, which traditionally has been viewed as the firm and final dividing line between urban and ag.

We’re talking about that 15,000 acres now because it is a factor in the current political campaign between Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker and challenger Dennis Donohue, the former mayor of Salinas. It is a factor, an important factor even, though it has not yet risen to the status of a public campaign issue. That’s because Parker is a quiet sort, not one to shout about things, and Donohue maybe isn’t sure how to play it.

According to a handful of knowledgeable observers, including Supervisor Dave Potter, Donohue’s support for the Economic Development Element is a key reason that former Supervisor Lou Calcagno chose to endorse environmentalist Parker over agriculturalist Donohue in the June contest. It was a big deal, that endorsement.

Calcagno was a major force on the board, often the swing vote. And though he is something of an environmentalist, he was better known as a champion of both agriculture and development, as incompatible as those two industries might seem. What some folks don’t know about Calcagno, however, is that he is a fierce champion of preserving farm land. That’s why he has been active for years now with the Ag Land Trust, which helps provide tax advantages for farmers who agree to easements protecting their land from commercial or residential development.

Anyone who didn’t know about Calcagno’s position on farmland or the Economic Development Element must have been surprised to hear of his endorsement of Parker. By the way, did I mention that some of the 15,000 acres slated for development is currently covered by Ag Land Trusts?

SalinasEDE-LUmap

This map details the Economic Development Element of the Salinas General Plan. I do now know why it isn’t more clear. For a better version, click on the LandWatch link below.

So is Donohue really supporting the Economic Development Element, which still faces an environmental impact review before it will be eagerly adopted by the growth-minded Salinas City Council? He says he hasn’t really made up his mind.

“I could not begin to offer an opinion on the reasons behind why Lou endorsed my opponent because he never spoke to me about my candidacy,” Donohue said via email. “Additionally, to comment on the expansion of South Salinas would be completely irresponsible as I have yet to see any plans, formal or otherwise and to offer an opinion would be pure speculation.

“What I can definitively say, is that as the three-term mayor of Salinas and candidate for District 4 supervisor, I am in complete support of the revitalization of Oldtown Salinas, and feel our efforts should be focused on what we can accomplish in the near term.”

I had told Donohue in an email of my own that others believed that he is squarely behind the 15,000-acre plan but he didn’t address that point. He says he hasn’t seen any plans, formal or otherwise, yet the Economic Development Element has been around since 2014, has been unanimously approved by the Salinas City Council and has been the subject of at least one article in the Monterey County Weekly.

To be clear, the Economic Development Element proposes much more than merely gobbling up farmland. It pushes the concept of Salinas as a key player in the intersection of ag and technology, something Donohue had pushed hard during his tenure as mayor. It would provide space for industrial uses and promote significant highway construction and traffic reconfiguration, ending the near gridlock conditions that sometimes occur in and near the ag-related industrial zone near the airport. I figure the promise of change there is a big part of why big ag is supporting Donohue in a big way, campaign contributionwise.

The Economic Development Element makes no secret of its intentions. Its south-of-Blanco ambitions are spelled out in maps and its underlying intent is delineated here:“Lack of available vacant land within city limits and within the city’s sphere of influence is a key constraint to economic development.”

So you might be asking what this has to do with the Board of Supervisors? Good question.

The county comes into the equation at several levels. First, the county government is well-represented at LAFCO. That’s the agency that determines when cities can annex property or even widen what is known as their spheres of influence, the area of probable expansion. A Board of Supervisors that includes Donohue rather than Parker would be a Board of Supervisors more likely to support the annexation effort.

Urban boundaries also represent agreements between the cities and the county because the lines affect the provision of constituent services and the collection of taxes. The city of Salinas would find it easier to negotiate with a board that includes Donohue instead of a board that includes Parker.

For her part, Parker doesn’t have a lot to say. She’s like that. She has done little so far to trumpet Calcagno’s endorsement. She offered only a short take on the subject.

“As you know, I support smart growth and the preservation of farmland — both of which contribute to our economic vitality.  My understanding is that extending the city limits south of Blanco could violate an agreement between the city and county.  Right now, it’s important to focus on the economic vitality of downtown Salinas.”

Oh, by the way, LandWatch Monterey County has already had something to say about the Economic Development Element. Among other things, it has argued in letters to the city that considerable vacant and underutilized property now exists within city limits, that thousands of acres designated for residential development to the north and east of the city remains open and that development on the fringes of a city tends to discourage healthier and more efficient infill development.

LandWatch’s Amy White also makes a key point about water. Supporters of the Economic Development Element argue that industrial development generally does not require more water than the previous agricultural use. White counters that taking farmland out of production often results in cultivation of rangeland and other untilled acreage, resulting in a net increase in water use, a huge factor in the Salinas Valley.

So, it’s complicated, as you probably have concluded from the length and meandering nature of this missive. That’s partly why, as important as it is, you probably won’t be reading about the issue until well after the election, at which point it may be too late to do anything about it, depending on who wins.

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A Dave Potter for Supervisor sign has sprung to life at the Corral De Tierra shopping center property, either setting off or solving a political mystery

In the world of small-time journalism, Monterey County style, this might be something but then again it might be nothing at all. You decide.

It involves revisiting an old controversy about whether one large corner of the intersection of Highway 68 and Corral De Tierra Road should be made over as a fairly significant shopping center with a super market, dry cleaners, maybe a restaurant, that sort of thing, or whether it should remain as is, country funky with mostly bare grass and trees and an unused service station. Some people in the Corral De Tierra/San Benancio neighborhoods supported the plan. By my reckoning, they were mostly friends of the owners, the Phelps family, or people who would have some role in building or supplying the businesses to be built there. Most everyone I know in the neighborhood, my neighborhood, was opposed on grounds that they’d rather see the grass and trees left alone.

Couple years back, the issue went to the Board of Supervisors for a decision. The Phelps family, which owns the property, had been trying for decades to get approval for a shopping center and, finally, they got the vote they needed. It was 3-2. On the side of the Phelps family were Lou Calcagno, Simon Salinas and Fernando Armenta. On the losing side, Jane Parker and Dave Potter. Potter, not so incidentally, represents the territory involved in the dispute.

Potter’s no vote, combined with lack of any sign that he had worked behind the scene to combat the project, led to serious discussion among the political observers of Monterey County. Some, including yours truly, argued that Potter likely could have stopped the project if he had really wanted it stopped. He might have played a little politics, as politicians are wont to do, by trading something with one of the supervisors who voted yes. He might have stepped up and made some up-front arguments about what is wrong with the project. Water supply for instance. Our reasoning was that surely the hometown supervisor could have swung the vote against the project and away from his past campaign contributors if he really had wanted that result.

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Nearby, it’s the battle of the signs

Defenders of Potter said people such as myself were being unfair and seeing conspiracies where none exist. They said we were unfairly accusing Potter of trading votes with the only other potential no vote, Lou Calcacno, accusing without evidence. That position, I must admit, is not without merit. (As you might have guessed, the fate of the project is up to the courts.)

Now, fortunately for my piece of mind, another shred of evidence supporting my theory has surfaced in the form of a “Potter for Supervisor” sign that went up this week on the very property we’re talking about here. Let those who post comments at the end of Partisan pieces explain to me why the Phelps family would allow the posting of a sign for a supervisor seeking re-election if they truly believed he had attempted to foil their decades-long plan to turn their dormant land into some serious money.

To thicken the plot just a bit, signs for two other supervisorial candidates recently appeared on the neighboring property. They support Potter’s opponent, Mary Adams, and the other supervisor who opposed the Phelps project, Jane Parker. In front of those signs, on the Phelps side of the fence, a Potter sign quietly makes a recommendation of its own.

Am I reading too much into campaign signs? Probably so, but maybe not. Maybe the Phelpses are just the kind of folks who say yes to everyone wanting space for a sign. Or maybe I’m right and this is late-arriving and circumstantial evidence that I was right all along, which might be a first.

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