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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tim Smith November 18, 2016, 10:45 am

    This bears repeating! Thanks!!

  • Gordon Smith November 18, 2016, 12:53 pm

    Thanks for writing this Royal. At best Jack Stewart really doesn’t understand the issues; at worst he is again putting his name on some developer propaganda letters. After the Monterey Downs / Veterans Cemetery fiasco no one believes what Jack says anymore. As a retired Army sergeant, Jack should take advantage of some of his retirement benefits, like taking advantage of free military hops throughout the world on some USAF aircraft. Maybe enjoy some nice tropical beaches for the winter with Sid Williams.

    • Jan Shriner November 18, 2016, 6:44 pm

      Jack Stewart and Sid Williams did the same thing for Marina Heights back in 2004. The tricky part is that some people have a notion of “carpet baggers” or reasons not to share info or to silence opposition of sprawl while ruthless profiteers go around with a playbook strategy to manipulate small towns and their volunteer elected officials.

  • Susan Ragsdale-Cronin November 18, 2016, 1:15 pm

    I was at the Press Club last night for a community event to process the Downs. Everything went well, we exchanged papers explaining why we were for or against the Downs. I could feel that the pro-Downs group really believed that the project would bring jobs and low income housing. Just when I was feeling comfortable, I explained that if Broadway is built out and modernized with housing, dining, and entertainment…. jobs would be plentiful, as well as giving the community a beautiful place to walk and shop with their families after work. Residents of what I imagine could be apartments on top of business, would be able to use public transportation and walk to entertainment and shopping.
    A lady that sat next to me said that vision can not happen without the Downs because the project would bring in the tax base to pay for it. Hold the truck up- what?…
    I also mentioned that quite a bit of the water allocated to Fort has already been used for other projects, such as Seaside Highlands, etc. She said that the Seaside Basin is not overdrafted and cited that she is on the Water Oversight Committee…. what? I said we’ve had salt-water intrusion since as long as I can remember… and with the drought it can only be getting worse….
    I had to leave and I feel bad for the presenter, she had a great idea… I just couldn’t get over the pseudo-facts beings spewed like they are reality.

  • Susan Ragsdale-Cronin November 18, 2016, 1:41 pm

    Sorry for the rant Royal. I have some honey for you. On another note I want to do a fieldtrip to Castro St in Mountain View. Their downtown looked very similar to Broadway before a planner got the impetus to make it amazing. How he did it is online, step by step for everyone to see. Hopefully we can generate some interest for visiting this most amazing street, they even have 2 bookstores…
    Let me know if any of your readers are game. Kayla Jones and Kay Cline want to go.

    • Jeanne Turner November 18, 2016, 6:09 pm

      Me too.

    • Frank Lambert November 19, 2016, 4:10 am

      Susan: I was on Castro St on a Friday night several weeks ago and it was amazing! Every restaurant and outside seating was filled with people and the lights and all was just breathtaking. People walking around…reminded of Times Square area in New York in the 50’s. It’s a very vibrant setting and if you go, try going on a Friday evening.

  • Bob Coble November 18, 2016, 2:43 pm

    At Thursday night’s Seaside City Council meeting the mayor and his two rubber stamps, as well as a long lineup of pro-Monterey Downs folks, continue the dishonest litany claiming that stopping Monterey Downs project dooms the Veterans Cemetery. None of them made any reference to the fact that Congressman Sam Farr and State Senator Bill Monning, and others, took care of the funding for the Veterans Cemetery. Most of them also claimed that the folks opposed to Monterey Down are anti-growth. In response to my reminder that over 56% of the Seaside voters voted AGAINST him in what was really a referendum on Monterey Downs, Mayor Rubio said that 62% (I think that’s the number he used) voted against stopping the Monterey Downs project (in the election several years ago). Of course that earlier election was the one in which Monterey Downs paid several slick campaigners to go to forums and lie in favor of the project.’

  • Marc Del Piero November 18, 2016, 2:43 pm

    The Monterey Downs “crew” of paid, out-of-town PR shills and Sacramento-based lobbyists have not and will not hesitate to lie and deceive the residents of Seaside, particularly about the so-called “costs of the project”. Sadly, The Downs “crew” knows that some folks in Seaside are so desperate that they will believe any “fairy tale” to try to promote “so-called” economic development. The “Downs” project has no water supply, it never has. The only way that it will get one is by having CalAm’s hapless rate-payers who live in Seaside (and everywhere else on the Peninsula) pay to subsidize the “Downs” proportionate bills for CalAm’s overpriced water development project. CalAm’s rate payers are paying for the pipeline costs whether the “Downs” are built or not. But, the Downs will take full advantage of that rate-payers’ subsidized system by using the water supply for which existing residents are forced to pay. And before these statements are dismissed, look at your ever-increasing water bills, ladies and gentlemen.
    The sad, deceived rate-payers in Seaside will be subsidizing the “Downs” multi-million dollar water infrastructure costs for the next three decades. There is the economic benefit, unfortunately the economic benefit will flow out of residents’ pockets and is going into the pockets of the out-of-town developers and CalAm.
    Remember, we just had to vote to raise our own sales taxes (Measure X) to pay for regional road repairs, in large part because the out-of-town developers of Fort Ord have not been required by our local elected officials to pay their own funds to develop additional highway/infrastructure capacity necessitated by their ever increasing sprawl. “Preserving our quality of life” is not achieved by giving away all of our highway capacity to out-of-town developers who will “take the money and run”. The “Downs” has no highway capacity, and they have never intended to pay to widen the regional highways (Highway 1 and 68) that are already operating far worse than the worse “F” levels of service. Widening those roads would actually be a benefit to our communities, but the “crew” are not offering that as a benefit to Monterey County’s current residents. The morning commute of bumper-to-bumper traffic from Marina to the mouth of Carmel Valley will not be fixed by “the Downs”, IT WILL GET WORSE, A LOT WORSE!
    Everyone needs to pay attention to the real honest truths about Monterey Downs, please. These are the sad, miserable consequences of the “DOWNS” that everyone has to look forward to . . . deceptive and deceitful propoganda/constant television advertising/and massive direct mail campaigns from paid out-of-town shills against the referendum; massive, unmitigated and permanent traffic jams; huge, unaffordable houses that will be marketed to Silicon Valley professionals because average Monterey County residents (and their children) cannot and will not be able afford them; and ever-increasing water bills. Make no mistake, the only economic benefit of the Downs project will flow to the out-of-town developers, not to the residents of the Monterey Peninsula. And, sadly, Seaside will have squandered its’ economic future chasing “fairy tales”.

    • john m. moore November 18, 2016, 2:56 pm

      Agreed. The $120,000 cost for the election is a red herring. Why? because if the council failed to adopt the Initiative or Referendum challenging the council approval of the project, the project will be soundly reversed by the voters. That is the purpose of the processes.

      Time is critical because, with council approval of the project, the developer will act swiftly to show reliance on the approval in an attempt to establish a right that would be expensive to reverse.

  • Louis MacFarland November 18, 2016, 2:46 pm

    I remember Castro Street in Mountain View before the changes, the street literally had a bad odor and was considered a dangerous neighborhood based on neighboring Los Altos and Palo Alto.

    It is amazing how it has evolved, my wife and I often stop there when traveling through the south bay.

    Done correctly, Broadway in Seaside could be a destination for locals and tourists, and is a great location that does not require people coming from the north having to drop all the way down into Carmel or back into Monterey.

    I imagine the probability of a Broadway re-design happening that generates new, long term revenue for the city being much greater than that of Monterey Downs happening, Monterey Downs will likely end up costing the city a great deal of money and will probably never take flight.

    Citizens of Seaside should keep an eye on the real costs of Monterey Downs, the legal bills alone could have substantive impacts to the city’s budgets over time.

    And shouldn’t it be called Seaside Downs or Rubio Downs or Potter-Rubio Downs ?

  • Susan Ragsdale-Cronin November 18, 2016, 2:57 pm

    Dear Louis- Thanks for the back-up… it is now called Monument Village and Seaside Horse Park.
    I hope I’m not correct when I say, the names were probably changed to confuse voters… I just got my invite to collect signatures… I hope everyone will join me.

  • Eric Petersen November 18, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Jack Stewart is a retired Veterans’ Service Officer who only favors veterans who think like him — which is kind of scary.

  • bill leone November 18, 2016, 8:50 pm

    One more Seaside City Council seat & the vote will be 4 to 1 against Monstrosity Downs, Monumental Pillage….or whatever, regardless of the well-funded propaganda by carpetbaggers & their shills.

  • Susan Schiavone November 18, 2016, 10:26 pm

    The pro Downs minions have finally realized that they have lost the majority on the council and are now blindly poking nasty accusations at the people who just happen to have gotten elected by a majority of votes. That must say something. Jack Stewart should be ashamed but he isn’t. And the cemetery parcel he keeps whining about that needs to be sold to help maintain the cemetery can be put back on the open market for a new developer, who may actually pay more for it in today’s market. The thing is, Rubio and the gang, keep going with the old song that they need this project for economic salvation for Seaside–they don’t and it isn’t. The economic analysis is deeply flawed, with the city paying a lot of costs. There is little coastal property left in this state to develop so its worth is increasing not lessening–and preservation of oak woodlands should be a priority. Yes, they will say anything to push this project through. Oh, and don’t forget, because the mayor said the “trees are dead” we should believe that, too.

  • Pris Walton November 19, 2016, 8:10 am

    Love it! Thumbs Downs it is!

  • david fairhurst November 19, 2016, 1:57 pm

    Once again the “will” of the people is being circumvented by bad politics, excessive greed and some dreamed of “pie in the sky” manna from heaven for hoodwinked bureaucrats (while the rest of us get to shovel all their Horse $h!t). I thought this issue was settled and “D.O.A.” by the election of Ms. Mary Adams whom we elected, in part (but a very large one) to prevent this hideous, community resource consuming, wasteful and unwanted project. It is designed to benefit a very few (from far away) at the expense of the many local redidents. It us, the people of North Monterey County who will suffer from it, water, traffic, crime, trash, air quality, the loss of parkland, etc.
    Potter again is like a vampire and his wrongs (I’d use the word evil) continue to haunt (snowball) us even now from his political grave. Potter is our modern day Lernaean Hydra, (with the reference to legendary water monsters intended as per other community issues too).

  • bill leone November 19, 2016, 3:23 pm

    I concur with every word, David.

    • david fairhurst November 20, 2016, 9:28 pm

      Bill, Thanks, I know we disagree on a lot of things (but I think we are both sincere on our beliefs and believe in them for a common good). I hope you take comfort, as I do, when we can agree on a specific issue. (sorry once again about my typos)

  • James Toy November 19, 2016, 5:17 pm

    Here’s a thought: The Main Gate shopping center/hotel project doesn’t have a developer. Why not see if Brian Boudreau wants to take on that project instead of Monument Village (aka Monterey Downs)? Except for the equestrian component, they’re fairly similar projects, but only one is controversial. Seems like it could be a win-win for everyone.

  • bill leone November 21, 2016, 6:45 pm

    David, Yes, I do take comfort when we agree on an issue. Furthermore, I sincerely believe what the Mayor of New York City, LaGuardia, said about specific local issues: It doesn’t take a complicated political ideology to figure out how to keep the streets clean….just grab a broom!

    I have faith & hope that nearly all the people I consider friends (which includes Trump supporters) can come to an agreement on solving many of these glaring economic, social & environmental issues.