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CLICK ON THE LINK AND YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SAY YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET INVOLVED

This is from the Monterey County Nonviolent Action Committee website, which contains the line of the week:  “At least five different Indivisible groups have started up in Monterey County.”

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President Trump salutes the world

Anyone have anything to say about immigration, walls, Bannon, the good old days of last month?

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Salinas Police Department dispatch traffic posted on You Tube early Friday provides a glimpse into the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Marlon Rodes-Sanchez but stops well short of a complete account.

Two Salinas police officers, Manuel Lopez and Jared Dominici, shot the teenager the afternoon of Jan. 18 at the Terrace Street home where he reportedly had been renting a room. Officers were dispatched to the residence near Cesar Chavez Park when other residents reported that the youth had armed himself with a butcher knife and was acting erratically.

In all, about 14 Salinas police officers were dispatched. Deputy District Attorney Ed Hazel, who is in charge of the investigation into the shooting, has said that before the fatal shooting officers shot the boy with rubber bullets and tasers and arranged for the Salinas Fire Department to spray him with a high-pressure hose in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the knife. Most of the confrontation occurred outside the residence but the boy was shot when officers pursued him into the vacated home and, according to Hazel, turned toward them with the knife in hand.

(Previous Partisan post on the shooting)

Witnesses and officials have indicated the confrontation lasted for more than an hour but the scanner traffic posted on the You Tube website runs slightly less than 22 minutes start to finish. The dispatch traffic provides little information about the use of the fire hose. Use of rubber bullets does not seem to be mentioned.

The audio recording appears to have been posted by an Ohio woman, Shelley Ginther, whose Facebook page indicates that she views herself as a law enforcement watchdog. She said in an email that she believed the youth was retreating from officers when he was shot but the recording does not seem to back that up. Recordings of police dispatch traffic are public records but often are withheld until formal investigations into the underlying event have been completed.

The recording begins with a dispatcher alerting units to a male “5150” armed with a knife. The number is  the Welfare & Institutions Code designation for someone with mental problems. He is described as wearing a red sweatshirt and white pants.

By the time patrol units start arriving, the dispatcher provides them with the boy’s name. One of the first officers at the scene advises via radio that he could not tell exactly what Rodes-Sanchez was doing. “He seems to be talking to himself… He is scraping the knife on the cement … He’s not responding to us.”

Three minutes into the incident, an officer reports that the youth appears to be sharpening the knife. The reporting person, the one who called police, lives at the residence, the dispatcher reported.

Four minutes in, officers repeat that the boy was not responding but was talking to himself. A family friend who was there at the time told the Monterey County Weekly that the boy was high on drugs, something he had smoked, but that he did not, in his view, pose a threat to officers.

Officers at the scene called for more units and asked to be provided with a shield. They said via radio that they wanted to remove other occupants from the residence but feared that without a shield, they would be exposed to the boy and his knife.

At different points, officers on either side of the property warned others that if there was gunfire, they might be in the line of fire.

At the 5 minute, 45 second mark, an officer at the scene asked the dispatcher to contact the fire department about using a water stream to disarm the boy. A fire engine arrived less than three minutes later

Officers reported that the boy still was not responding. They discussed removing some fence boards in an attempt to evacuate the residence.

“We’re still trying to talk to him. He’s talking to himself and sharpening the knife.”

At the 12:15 mark, an officer said they were waiting for a fire battalion chief to give the go-ahead to use the fire hose. Fifteen seconds later, at the 12:15 mark, an officer used the radio to say the boy had briefly dropped the knife but “continues to ignore us.”

At the 13:30 mark, there is a brief mention of a police dog. At the 14:00 mark, an officer says, “We’re letting him know that he’s under arrest at this point and needs to comply.”

Fourteen minutes into the incident, an officer reports that they would be deploying the water hose. It sounds as though he says something else would be deployed as well but it is indistinct.

Around the 15 minute mark, an officer says, “He’s moving…. He still has the knife.” At 15:22, “He’s walking back to the house…. He still has the knife.” At 15:45, “He’s back in the house.”

About 90 seconds later, an officer reports “multiple tasers deployed. Ineffective.” He says the boy is behind a wall and is still holding the knife.

Some 17 minutes into the incident, an officer reports that the boy is still not complying and is sharpening the knife.

At the 18 minute mark, someone reports “Shots fired. Shots fired.”

An officer reports that one round had come from inside the residence, had gone through a wall and had struck his patrol car. Though family members have said authorities did not send an ambulance, someone on the radio says “Send medical. Start AMR (American Medical Response).”

At the 18:40 mark, an officer reports “Suspect is down. Send the medical,” and seconds later another officer reports that the neighboring residence had been hit by gunfire. Just under 22 minutes after the recording began, it ends.

Authorities have  declined to publicly release body cam video or witness statements. A police spokesman has indicated that the video likely would be made available after the DA’s investigation is complete, a process that generally takes several months or longer.

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The hardest thing about watching Wednesday night’s ABC interview with Donald Trump was deciding afterward which was the most troubling part. There were several contenders.

Was it when he talked about torture, saying he had decided “it works,” but justifying it only by pointing to ISIS beheadings. To Trump, torture would seem to be less about strategy and more about punishment.

Or was it about building the border wall? He said the process by which he gets Mexico to pay for it could be complicated but he never even hinted at what makes him think the Mexicans would pay to be insulted so dramatically. Might they just bend to his will because it is such a strong and beautiful will?

Maybe it was the part about his speech to the CIA.

“I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it.

“They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.”

The New York Times reported that, actually, most of his CIA audience sat throughout the speech.

Was it when he talked about the note President Obama left him and how nicely the outgoing president had treated him after the election? At first it seemed as though Trump was complimenting Obama but when he started choking up, it became fairly clear that he now believes, after all the campaign rhetoric, that Obama respects and maybe even loves him. To Trump, Obama’s kindness was not a reflection of Obama’s character but of his own greatness and loveability.

The interview with ABC’s David Muir made it obvious that our new president is obsessed with his popularity, obsessed to the point of fantasizing about it. Despite ironclad evidence to the contrary, he was still insisting that the crowd at his inauguration was the largest ever and he showed off a huge framed photo that he said proved his case.

“We had a massive crowd of people. We had a crowd. I looked over that sea of people and I said to myself: ‘Wow.’ And I’ve seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd. When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches. I said, the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again. Therefore, I won’t allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, D.C., from faraway places because they like me.”

Later, gazing the photo, he referred to the crowd as a “sea of love.”

When he wasn’t talking about his wonderfulness, it seemed like Trump was arguing with himself. Take Obamacare, for instance. He said, more than once, the smart thing for the GOP would let it collapse of its own weight so the Democrats would get the blame but, no, it would be better for the people if the GOP would go ahead now with a better plan that insures everyone, but, well, it would be smart to let it collapse of its own weight, but then again….

When he talked about the potential evildoers among Middle Eastern refugees, he said “most of them some of them” twice in the same breath. At least though, for the moment, he wasn’t talking about himself.

I watched the interview looking for something that would help me sleep. I wanted to go away convinced that the office would improve him and that he had left his worst ideas behind on the campaign trail. I’m afraid quite the opposite happened.

Go ahead, Trump supporters. Tell us to give him a chance. Tell us that he will grow into the job. Tell us that this is about us, not him. I’m hoping you are right. I really am. Because if me and my friends are right about him, we’re in for a terribly scary ride through Donald Trump’s House of Mirrors.

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SOLVING THE TRUMP PROBLEM WILL REQUIRE MORE THAN ONE APPROACH

OK, here’s the important thing now. As the Trump administration devolves into chaos, it is vital that those of us who want to fix things don’t get lost in battles over strategy and technique.

The signs carried by millions of people on Saturday contained a wide range of messages, and the people who carried them have a wide range of concerns. What happens next, if history is any guide, is that those most interested in a specific issue will go one direction and others within that group will spin off into some other direction, etc., etc. And that’s just those united by the topic of their concern. There likely will be countless directions for countless topics.

Would it be better if the progressives settled on one approach? Maybe so. Could that possibly happen? No. So let’s not waste energy worrying about it.

Some will want to write letters, others will want to organize more marches. Some already are getting involved in the next round of congressional elections in order to eliminate the GOP majority. Those are all fine ideas and they should be pursued. If you think any one of them is misguided or stupid or counter-productive, great. Busy yourself with your better idea.

If Trump does what he says he is going to do, there also will be a need for active resistance. Sit-ins and even blockades. Boycotts will be logical and tax protests. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to become involved, that’s just dandy. Do what you can and try to enjoy the show.

If I was smart enough to take my own advice, I’d stop arguing with the knuckleheads on the other side. I made a point long ago to forgive and forget those who voted for Trump because they feel discouraged or disenfranchised by the way things are. Those aren’t the deplorables. The deplorables are the ones who do know better, who should know better, but I know that it isn’t doing any good to argue with them, so I am trying to stop, I really am. If only they would stop acting like that.

Speaking of wising up, hope abounds that Trump will wise or that his handlers will wise him up before he destroys their economy, and maybe that could happen. But even at his very best, I see little chance that he won’t be the very worst. Trump adviser Steve Bannon helped write Trump’s inauguration speech, which, put to music, could become a nationalist anthem. Bannon says he is simply a nationalist, not a white supremacist or a white nationalist, but read his publication and decide for yourself. Sure, the racism isn’t always right there out in the open. He uses code words.

And don’t tell me that Trump-style nationalism will make the world safe from U.S. imperialism. On his second day in office, he was talking about going back into Iraq for the oil. No, I don’t think he was joking.

If you think this country can do better, if you worry about the old people and the young and the poor and the black and the brown, you’re going to want to do something. Great. Do it and ask for help. There is plenty of room on the bus. And if you don’t like the something I choose to do, well that’s fine, too. I’ll try not to get in your way.

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It was a diverse crowd Saturday at CSUMB and the issues were a diverse lot as well

REAL PEOPLE WITH REAL CONCERNS

It was nice to see quite a few familiar faces at Saturday’s women’s march in Marina – but it was much nicer to see so many unfamiliar faces. At least 2,000 of them, I’m guessing.

Even someone as dismissive as Donald Trump can’t dismiss this crowd — even if it was among the smaller of Saturday’s 600-plus marches meant to demonstrate that the new administration has no real mandate.

This was not a crowd of the usual suspects. These were not Democratic activists. These were not people who have time to protest because they don’t work. These were nurses and doctors, teachers and students, security guards and bank tellers, mothers with their children, fathers with their children, farmers and field hands.

We ran into a close friend of my daughter who was there with her family. Mom and dad, both longtime Republicans. I saw the wife of one of Monterey County’s most admired police officers. I talked to high school students and saw two Monterey County supervisors and a former supervisor. OK, the last three are Democratic activists, but they were the exceptions.

The march was at CSU Monterey Bay but it was not a college crowd. One woman held a sign that said “I’m Tired. I’ve Been Holding This Sign Since the Sixties.” Others carried signs warning Trump not to mess with their health insurance, their Social Security, the environment or, more than anything else, their bodies. There were a lot of pink caps.

There were lots of signs about reproductive rights and climate change. One sign said “Too many issues for one sign.” One woman complained that she had forgotten to bring her sign, “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA.”

The CSUMB crowd would have been bigger but a lot of Monterey County women, and people who care about women, had traveled to Santa Cruz to march or to San Jose or Oakland or Washington to dare Trump to ignore them. It is entirely likely that Saturday’s actions represented the largest mass protest in U.S. history, topping even the huge protests spawned by the war in Vietnam.

I saw that a former CSUMB president, President Peter Smith, joined a much larger rally in Santa Fe, N.M. That’s significant because Smith, before coming to the Peninsula, was the Republican lieutenant governor of Vermont and one of the state’s GOP members of Congress. In fact, he left Congress when he lost to Burlington independent Bernie Sanders. (One strike against Smith was that the NRA supported Sanders because Smith had supported a ban on assault weapons.)

I saw friends at the march and we caught up by sharing stories about Trump’s latest fumbles, about his press secretary warning the media that the White House will be holding them “accountable,” about the lame speech Trump gave after his CIA briefing. But mostly I saw strangers stretching for perhaps a mile from the student center to the sports center. I couldn’t get a good vantage point to attempt a real count of the crowd, but I know from basketball games what 2,000 people look like. This was at least 2,000.

Don’t let the Trumpistas tell you that Hillary Clinton organized this remarkable demonstration of resistance or that the protesters are trying to change the election results or set limousines on fire. The marchers were properly and calmly exercising their right to tell the new president that he doesn’t have a clue but that he and his wrecking crew need to find one fast.

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Nationally, the increase in the number of videotaped police shootings has caused the courts and many law enforcement agencies to become more transparent about their procedures and about the incidents leading to fatal encounters.

In Monterey County, the opposite seems to be occurring. The best example came this week after Salinas police shot and killed a knife-wielding teenager after efforts to subdue him failed. You likely have heard little about it. Because little information has been made public, the news coverage has been slight.

It happened around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 600 block of Terrace Street in Salinas. Fourteen officers were involved and seven have been placed on routine administrative leave pending internal investigation into the event. Why so many? Who knows? We likely will never know.

The Police Department said the boy, rumored to be 16, had been wielding a knife, that officers had arranged for fire fighters to spray him with a fire hose and then shot him with rubber bullets and a stun gun. After he entered a residence, he was confronted by two officers and was shot when he turned toward them, according to Deputy District Attorney Ed Hazel of the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

Beyond that, authorities aren’t saying much, and are not even identifying the youth. Early on he was reported to be a teenage boy but even his age was withheld. Hazel told the Monterey Herald that his office was still deciding whether to publicly identify him because of his age. Hazel said at that time that the name would not be released this week.

UPDATE: Friday afternoon, the DA’s Office released the boy’s name as Marlon Joel Rodas-Sanchez. Witnesses told TV station KION that the youth had been renting a room in the area

At the Salinas Police Department, Chief Adele Frias said there would be no comment.

So what are we left with is that brief description of the incident from Hazel. It’s in the paragraphs above. That’s about it.

Under the previous Salinas police administration, a political decision was made to have the District Attorney’s Office take the lead on investigating police shooting cases, making it Police Department policy not to make any comment on the incident or the process. No matter what questions arose. No matter whether the officers’ actions were being misconstrued or mischaracterized. No comment.

When Hazel was asked for more information this week, he said he couldn’t provide it because he didn’t want to interfere with the Police Department’s criminal investigation. Not any investigation into the shooting but into the actions of the boy. Police Department refers questions to DA. DA says can’t comment for fear of interfering with the police.

Contrast this with what has happened elsewhere.

In Ohio last year, when police fatally shot a 13-year-old boy with a BB gun and a 12-year-old boy with an airsoft gun, the names of the boys were made public within days. (In fairness to local authorities, it appears from the news coverage that the names were released by Ohio authorities but the information might have come from the families.)

In Aptos in November, a sheriff’s deputies shot and killed 15-year-old Luke Smith, who was high on LSD when he stabbed some of his family members. Within days, authorities there released police video of the incident, which showed officers making repeated attempts to have the boy drop the knife.

When can we expect to see body cam video from Wednesday’s shooting? Probably never unless a news organization goes to court to try to force the issue. Protocols haven’t been established on when videos will be made public in Monterey County, or at least as far as we know.

Salinas police and the District Attorney’s Office have succeeded in limiting any immediate fallout from this boy’s death but it comes at a cost of maintaining trust in the community. Helping to keep things quiet is the reality of media shrinkage, with local news crews generally too small and overworked to knock on doors in order to find out what witnesses saw.

I have no reason to suspect the police did anything inappropriate, though every case like this should raise questions about the general police approach to erratic behavior and should prompt comparisons to how such situations are handled in other countries. I am not pushing for additional information because I think it will make the police look bad. I want to see more information to see if there are any lessons to be learned and I don’t want the police to be the sole judge of that.

Back to the identification. Hazel said Thursday that he has not released the name because he is researching the law to see if it is permissible. He could not cite a statute, case or anything else sanctioning hiding the name of someone shot by police, juvenile or adult. State public records law makes it clear that information should be released absent statutory authority or a compelling reason to keep it private. The law does shield the name of juvenile offenders in most cases but those rules have not been construed to apply to the deceased. (Despite official interest in protecting the youth’s name and reputation, do not be surprise if his criminal record, if any, leaks out.)

Hazel correctly noted that the law also allows information to be kept private if its release would jeopardize a criminal investigation. In this case, I suspect that release of the name might lead an additional reporter or two to knock on a door but it is difficult to imagine how any investigation would be compromised.

In cases like this, authorities often adopt the view that information that can be withheld should or must be withheld. The result, I’m afraid, is suspicion that shades opinions of law enforcement even when law enforcement has acted entirely appropriately.

What happens next is this. The District Attorney’s Office some months from now — or longer —  will announce that no criminal charges are being filed against any of the officers involved but it will reject any request for reports from the investigation on grounds that state law allows them to be kept secret. Allows. Not requires.

The Police Department will conduct an internal investigation and decide whether any of its rules were broken. We’ll never hear the results. The details of what happened in the 600 block of Terrace Street will never become public unless the family files and pursues a lawsuit. The authorities are asking us to trust them to handle such situations properly and then to fully investigate. In fact, we do trust them for the most part  but the trust fades when they won’t treat us like adults.

In many parts of the country, authorities have become more transparent, and that’s a good thing. In the short term, the release of more information rather than less can cause a temporary hardening of attitudes, but in the long term the public will be comforted knowing that the truth is not being hidden.

Fourteen officers were involved in an incident that resulted in the death of a 16 year old boy and the community doesn’t know much more than that. That’s transparency, Monterey County style.

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I’ve been trying to start this piece titled “15 reasons to not sink into bottomless despair over the Trump presidency” for several weeks.

After much reading, reflection and assiduously following the Trump transition, I figured the best thing would be a more realistic, reasoned approach. I decided to rename the article “10 reasons to not (etc.)”

Still, I couldn’t find the spark to get going. Time was flying by and the Inauguration was fast approaching. Lots of people were producing woeful predictions of what President Donald J. Trump will mean for America — and Russia.

Long lists were composed of potential victims who will be tied to the tracks as the Trump Train bears down. Everyone from immigrants and women to people anxious about apocalypses triggered by world climate change, nuclear exchanges or the rise of red-white-and-blue fascism.

I wanted to follow the lead of President Obama, a man with an inexhaustible supply of optimism despite having weathered eight years of pure political hatred from the same people now talking about showing respect for the incoming president.

Obama has handled the transition with class and gone out of his way to say positive things about Trump, who only begrudgingly acknowledged his American citizenship a few months ago. I wanted to follow Obama’s example. To know there is evil in the world but to believe in a fundamental goodness in the American spirit.

I decided to rename the piece “Five reasons to not sink ….” Ten still seemed too big a number. Trump will take the oath at noon Friday, so I’d best start.

  1. Trump’s ego will deter him from making a colossal mistake and starting a nuclear World War III. While the showman in him may make him want to supersede President Truman’s mark for deploying two atomic weapons, Trump should realize he would go down as the worst president ever if he unleashes a nuclear Armageddon. Of course, this presupposes some future presidential historians will be around after emerging from glowing rubble.
  2. As president, Trump will have to correct two of his most prominent habits — whining about everything and lying his ass off. There is nothing presidential about a person in charge who constantly complains about the media, the haters or the losers, and runs for the Fox News clubhouse to gripe about it. Trump, who already faces record unpopularity as he assumes office, will find he needs to start telling it straight, if he wants most Americans to believe their president at all.
  3. The 2018 midterms aren’t far off, and Trump already has energized the Democratic base far beyond what the Iraq War and a disastrous bid to privatize Social Security did to fire up opposition to the Bush administration before its big midterm losses in 2006.  A scorched-earth campaign of deep social spending cuts, military adventurism and attacks on civil liberties likely would put Trump in the White House two years from now facing a decidedly less friendly Congress.
  4. After eight years of a no-drama, scandal-free Obama presidency, Trump has already positioned his presidency for possible doom by a thousand paper cuts. Filling his administration with a gallery of rigid ideologues, partisan billionaires, science-deniers and good old fat-cats promises a parade of holy-crap exposés, damaging leaks and tin-eared embarrassments. Trump’s refusal to divest his real estate and branding businesses will color every move by his White House with multiple appearances of conflicts of interest.
  5. Already a 70-year-old man with lots of acquaintances but few friends, Trump may very well find solace in the adage about life in Washington, D.C. — if you want a friend, get a dog. I hope so.

He’s the first president in 150 years who will enter the White House without a dog, cat or any pet. That fact is startling by itself. As far as I know, Trump has never had a pet. It could be that the renowned germaphobe is repulsed by the thought of puppy or kitten licking his face. Or, more likely, there never has been room in Trump’s self-centered life for a pet that might piddle on a fine marble floor or lick a lowly doorman as soon as The Donald.

He should get a shelter dog or cat. He’d never sink in their polls. They could console him through the inevitable dark days, as every president faces sooner or later. That’s one of the things I love about our three cats and two dogs, or as I now refer to them: five more reasons to not sink into bottomless despair over….

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Big Dallas backer up for city attorney post in Carmel

Two years ago, Carmel lawyer Glen Mozingo resigned from his city’s Library Board with a blast, saying he was upset by the administration of Mayor Jason Burnett and City Administrator Jason Stilwell. In an interview with the Carmel Pine Cone, he even accused the two Jasons of stealing newspapers from the racks whenever they contained critical articles.

The year before, Mozingo’s wife, Heidi Burch, had resigned her post as Carmel’s city clerk and assistant city administrator for similar reasons, disgruntlement with Burnett’s management style and Stilwell’s personnel policies. Their resignations were among the storms in a long-playing controversy that ended with Stilwell’s  resignation and Burnett’s decision not to seek re-election.

That was then. In the 2016 election, Mozingo was a key supporter of successful mayoral candidate Steve Dallas, who defeated Burnett ally Ken Talmage, and he is now considered a good bet to be the next city attorney. Longtime City Attorney Don Freeman still holds the part-time, contract position but he acknowledged Wednesday that “there could be an announcement in the near future.”

Freeman said he doesn’t believe Mozingo’s appointment is a done deal, however.

“My recommendation would be to do a national search for someone with the right experience and temperament to serve the city of Carmel,” Freeman said. Freeman, 75, is also city attorney for Seaside and represents the Peninsula mayors’ water authority and the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.

Sparking considerable speculation, the city recently retained Mozingo to assist the city in negotiating its next contract with the non-profit organization that operates the city-owned Sunset Center. Mozingo said his work for the city is limited to that role for now but he acknowledged he might be interested in the city attorney’s post.

Much of Mozingo’s law practice has been in Southern California. He is currently a partner in the firm of Mozingo and Patel, which lists offices in Carmel, Irvine and London. According to its website, it specializes in estate planning, business law and civil litigation. The website goes into considerable detail about the firm’s specialties and representative clients but doesn’t mention any government work or municipal clients. Mozingo, however, said he has represented numerous local government agencies, all in Southern California, mostly as a litigator. He mentioned that he also represented former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates for 18 years.

The website also lists several awards for Mozingo, including the “American Jurisprudence Award in Trial Practice,” a 2003 Top Lawyers in California award from the American Lawyers Council, and a 2003 Congressional Medal of Distinction.

The American Jurisprudence in Trial Practice designation is awarded to high-achieving students in many law schools. Mozingo graduated from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego in 1979.

The Top Lawyers award is given by American Lawyers Media, which operates a number of legal publications and directories. The Partisan couldn’t find any record of the American Lawyers Council.

The Congressional Medal of Distinction is awarded periodically to top financial contributors to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Dallas didn’t return messages seeking comment Wednesday. His campaign Facebook page features a video of Mozingo addressing Dallas’ campaign kickoff event with a 16-minute denunciation of Talmage and Burnett.

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Back in the 1940s, when I was in seventh grade, I took a class in home economics. Once a week, my classmates and I would divide into groups of about five. Each group would cook something. Then we’d eat it.

Every student would have a specific group task. One day my group was making spoonbread. My task was to stir the batter. Suddenly, the gum I’d been chewing fell out of my mouth and into the batter. Since I was decorous back then, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone what had happened. So I just kept quiet and passed the bowl containing the batter (and the gum) to the next student. S/he didn’t notice the gum when pouring the batter into the baking pan and placing it in the oven.

After the spoonbread was baked, another student removed it from the oven and dished up some for each of us. Our group was the only group that had marbled spoonbread.

This created a stir. The teacher came to our group to see why we were not eating our spoonbread. She marveled, saying she’d never seen such a thing before. By now, there was no way in the world I was going to tell anyone what had happened, so I just kept quiet.

I think a similar thing happened in Pacific Grove during 2016 in connection with the April election regarding whether to rezone the American Tin Cannery site to allow hotel use. Voters were told by the mayor and others that if the 4.88-acre site was rezoned to allow hotel use, the purportedly prestigious development group Domaine Hospitality Partners LLC, of which Gen. Wesley Clark was a partner, would construct a world-class, LEED-platinum certified hotel there. An economic analysis projected that such a hotel would increase Pacific Grove city revenue by $3 million to $4 million annually, and the classy Domaine website showed world class hotels that Domaine Hospitality Partners purportedly had developed. The vote on April 19 was 3,016 yes and 2,111 no.

One of the selling points for voting yes was that venture, Project Bella, would not financially burden Pacific Grove since Domaine was going to pay the processing costs. Two months before the election, on Feb. 17, the City Council had approved a reimbursement agreement with Domaine Hospitality Partners LLC. However, that agreement didn’t get signed until June. In the meantime, the city incurred substantial Bella-related expenses on Domaine’s behalf. But the City would be reimbursed for everything, right?

Here’s where the chewing gum analogy applies. The February reimbursement agreement is for Domaine to cover the city’s “additional costs associated with the acceleration of City’s Local Coastal Program entitlement process,” whereas the June agreement omits any mention of Coastal Program acceleration costs. In May, the Council approved paying a consultant $101,056 for such costs, but in September the city manager said the city has no agreement with Domaine to cover such costs. Domaine will reimburse the City for everything, right?

Another example is that the February version of the reimbursement agreement was with Domaine Hospitality Partners LLC, whereas the June agreement is with Domaine Pacific Grove LLC. That switch hasn’t been explained either.

There is a discomforting Bloomberg News article  about Gen. Clark lending his name to some sketchy companies. Additionally, Domaine’s classy website has been edited to delete some of its earlier claims, and a former representative of Domaine alleges Domaine is more than six months overdue paying $150,000 to its contractors.

Now, here’s where the keeping-a-secret analogy applies. As far as I can tell from listening to videos of council discussions about Project Bella and reading accompanying agenda reports, neither staff nor the council has disclosed the discrepancies between the reimbursement agreement approved in February and the reimbursement agreement executed in June.

And here’s the culprit analogy. Just as I never confessed to how the spoonbread became marbled, Domaine may be silently preparing to drop its gum into the batter. By this I mean that Domaine now has a much more valuable lease on the American Tin Cannery site than the lease before the site became zoned for hotel use. The lease is with the Cannery Row Co., owner of the American Tin Cannery, and is for a term of 99 years.

Suppose Domaine transfers that lease to a less desirable hotel developer, pockets the increase in value, and waves goodbye to Pacific Grove? The city would be obligated to approve any hotel meeting applicable standards. Thus, Pacific Grove could wind up with a low-revenue-producing, ordinary hotel on the site of the former cannery, which is not what city officials and Domaine said would result from passing Measure X.

Am I concerned? You bet. I love Pacific Grove. I think the city staff needs to look into these matters, tell the public what’s going on and guard against that lease being transferred. Then, if facts so warrant, city officials should say, “Dear Voters, we goofed. Let’s have another election to eliminate hotel uses from the American Tin Cannery site.”

Jane Haines is a land-use activist and retired lawyer.

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Monday’s MLK March in Seaside was the biggest one yet

NOTE LOCATION CHANGE FOR FRIDAY RALLY

Here is the latest info on the various local rally/protest/peaceful gathering type stuff in preparation for the inauguration, courtesy of the Monterey County Nonviolent Action Committee.

For a more aesthetically pleasing version, you can see the actual MCNAC post right here .

  1. Thursday, January 19

PAUSE THE CALLS: Black Lives Matter -Seaside 
4:00 – 6:00pm
Monterey Peace and Justice Center
1364 Fremont Blvd.

Starting at the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, 1364 Fremont Blvd, ending at the intersection of Fremont Blvd. and Obama Way (Broadway). If it rains we will have the speakers speak inside of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center.
Cost: Free Event.

This rally is being organized by a group of community members in solidarity with the broader movement and sentiment of Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter-Seaside is not an official chapter of the Black Lives Matter Network or any other specific organization.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1846974185524041/
For more information, contact nolackms@yahoo.com

  1. Friday, January 20
    People’s Rally for Unity and Equality
    IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Because of the weather, the location of the People’s Rally for Unity and Equality has changed. The rally will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula at 490 Aguajito Road in Carmel by the Sea from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.
    http://www.uucmp.org/
    Carpooling is encouraged. Do NOT call the church for information. For more info, call Phillip at 831-869-2834
    This is a peaceful, family-friendly, NON-PARTISAN event. Everyone who is in general agreement with the stated purpose of the rally is invited.We will have signs available. But please feel encouraged to bring your own signs and banners expressing messages in the spirit of the rally’s message of unity and equality.For more info, contact montereynac@gmail.com.
    Or visit: www.mcnac.org

    https://www.facebook.com/events/1617447898557698/

    Friday, January 20

 

3. Hands around Closter Park!  Hands of Salinas Valley!
A Rally to Promote Unity and Solidarity
Closter Park, 401 Towt St., Salinas

Sponsored by the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council
For information, call:  831-710-5694

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/montereybay.clc/

  1. Saturday, January 21
    Women’s March at CSUMB

1:00pm

We march to show that women’s rights are human rights and that women, their partners and their children are ready to advocate for policies that affirm the value of women in our society.

The march will kick off at 1:00 pm in the Main Quad and the rally will begin at 1:30 pm. Several speakers and students will address key issues. Local organizations will also table to provide resources to march participants.

SPEAKERS:
Democratic Women of Monterey County
Elizabeth Winchester-Planned Parenthood
Dr. Julie Altman- CSUMB MSW Program Head
Karen Araujo

MARCH AGREEMENT:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UuvnyTC_eqoB85_YoYtmN3S2UlVqZq0SnxoX7qGmi9w/edit?usp=sharing

CSUMB PARKING/PARKING PERMIT INFORMATION:
https://csumb.edu/sites/default/files/images/st-block-147-1452298063713-raw-campusparkingmap.pdf

https://csumb.edu/parking/permits

MST BUS SERVICE TO CSUMB INFORMATION:
https://csumb.edu/sites/default/files/images/st-block-149-1445361491300-raw-campustransitmap.pdf

More information here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/583617928506054/

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PAUL KARRER: MLK Day through fifth-grade eyes

On the Friday before Martin Luther King Junior day last year, I asked my fifth-graders if they knew why we had the day off. One suggested, “To celebrate MLK’s birthday.”

To be honest, for a 10-year-old, that wasn’t bad.

“No,” Another piped in, “It’s cuz he fought for blacks’ rights.”

“Good and you’re 100% correct,” I replied.

Let’s call the child who piped up with that answer Isaiah. He’s perceptive and often sees the big picture.
I thought it would be appropriate to show a short clip on both Martin Luther King Junior’s accomplishments, and his struggles. Not many of the kids knew he had been stabbed nor that his house had been bombed.

The same film showed the iconic footage of police dogs being set upon blacks and of high-pressure water cannons hosing protesters. Rosa parks was mentioned and the famous bus boycott. My kids made shocked noises now and then. I also viewed a short clip about his assassination. I mentioned that when I was a kid, my mom took me from Connecticut to Florida on a train and that once we hit the South, bathrooms clearly stated WHITE or COLORED. I honestly told them I was way too young to remember it.

Isaiah raised his hand, “Were you a racist?”There was no malice, no wise guy intent in his question. Every child watched me with their predominantly Latino/Latina eyes. Isaiah is a brilliant, great kid. A high-level thinker. He just put the facts together and made a logical conclusion. Our teacher is Anglo. Anglos were racist. He lived then, therefore he must have been a racist.

The quick response out of my mouth was, “No, of course not.”

And then I thought, This child has just dared to ask you a question from his heart. A question, if a teacher had a thin skin might have gone the wrong way.

“Isaiah, you make me happy. You always ask good questions. You just made me re-think my answer.

“Yes, Isaiah. I’m sorry to say when I think about it, my family and I were ignorant and racist sometimes. I think I’m not any more.”

One of my girls said, “That’s why you teach us huh?”

“Yes, I’d like to think so.”

Another one piped in, “And your wife is Korean.”

Wow, they’re defending ME! Man, I love these kids.

“You know what? We are having recess a couple of minutes early.”

A shout of communal joy rang out and I dismissed them. I thought my moral lesson for the day had been learned, but I was wrong. One girl hung back, waiting until all the kids left.

“Mr. Karrer, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot right?”

“Yes.”

“You ever been shot?”

Her eyes plumbed my depths.

“No.”

“My dad was shot. He’s in prison now. Elissa’s dad was shot too. He’s dead you know.”

“Yes, I knew about her dad.”

She smiled, “See you after recess.” Put her books in her backpack and left me alone in the room with much to ponder.

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

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It was 1962 and it was June, so it probably was terribly hot and humid in Hampton, Virginia. School was letting out for the summer and it was time to say goodbye to sixth grade at the Langley Air Force Base elementary school and goodbye to my friend Deborah Mariner, nicest kid in the class.

Most of us from the sixth grade would be going to a regular public school in the fall. Deborah, though, would not be welcome at Jefferson Davis Junior High School because she is black.

I thought about Deborah and our tearful goodbye when I first heard about the hit movie “Hidden Figures. “ It tells the story of three remarkable black women who overcame ridiculous obstacles to become important figures at NASA, which was based at Langley AFB until moving to Houston in 1963.

The movie is a powerful account of pervasive, institutionalized racism. The centerpiece of the show is Katherine Goble, the mathematics genius whose name is now attached to the engineering center at NASA’s Houston complex. She was a key to helping the U.S. catch up to the Russians in the space race even though much of her time was wasted having to use the “colored” restroom in a building blocks from her work space in the NASA engineering center at Langley.

I might have had a hard time believing the indignities suffered by Goble and other women in the “colored computational group” if I hadn’t had a taste of Virginia circa 1962. Some people probably come away from movies such as “Hidden Figures” pleased to know how far we have progressed. I shared that feeling but it pained me to remember that things like that had happened, right out there in plain sight, within my lifetime and that people put up with it. I’m white, so I sustained none of the real sting of the racism I witnessed, but I will never forget it.

I might not have noticed some of it if I had grown up in Hampton, like most of my junior high schoolmates. But because my stepfather was in the Air Force, I had lived on Air Force bases most of my young life and attended base schools. Oddly enough, considering the NASA nonsense, life on the bases was mostly integrated. I don’t recall any “whites only” drinking fountains on base or any “colored” restrooms at my schools. However, I do remember staring at the signs for the segregated facilities at the Maritime Museum, the frequent destination of school field trips, and at a department store in downtown Hampton.

Federal law was slowly erasing the stain of segregation but it was particularly slow to come to Virginia. My mother worked for NASA at the time as a receptionist and secretary. She doesn’t remember much about the job but she does recall that no blacks worked in her building. At the base school, there were a handful of black kids in my classes and we thought nothing of it. We were far more interested in the class celebrity, Jan Cooper, daughter of one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Gordon Cooper. She was smart, and popular and could run faster than any boy in school. When she was nominated for student body president, the principal forced me to put my name on the ballot as well. He wanted a show of  democracy. She won by something like 90 to 5. Deborah said she voted for me but I doubt it.

Astronaut Scott Carpenter was my Little League coach one summer. He arranged for Joe Dimaggio to stop by, in slacks and tie, to show us how to hit. I’m pretty sure Marilyn Monroe was in the convertible nearby but my 11-year-old brain might have made up that part. The four-team league–the Pilots, Jets, Rockets and Flyers–was nicely integrated.

I moved into the real world on that last day of sixth grade. I don’t remember how we found out that our black classmates wouldn’t be joining us at Jefferson Davis Junior High, but it was awful. That was probably the only time in my life that I didn’t care if someone saw me crying.

Three months later, Jefferson Davis was a shock to the system. The sports teams were called the Rebels, of course, and a confederate flag flew with the stars and stripes. Many of the kids who weren’t bused in from the base seemed rich. Rich and white. Madras was in and pineapple haircuts for the boys. That’s a buzz cut but with short bangs.

I was in the band. We wore Johnny Reb uniforms, grey with little confederate soldier caps. The drum major dressed up as the Gray Ghost, with a plumed hat and a saber instead of a baton. I didn’t know much about anything yet, I was only 12 then, but I know I felt like a fool when we marched into the football stadium at all-black Hampton Institute to perform a halftime show.

The low point of my Jefferson Davis existence occurred at another football game. Though Jefferson Davis was a junior high, it was a big one and football was the tackle variety with cheerleaders and grandstands, the whole deal. One night in the fall of 1962, we all gathered at our little stadium for a game against the school my friend Deborah was attending. Phenix Junior High was named after George Phenix, an important black figure in Hampton history. Jefferson Davis was newish and modern. Phenix was old and decrepit.

I wasn’t ready for what happened at the start of the game. Some of you will remember the old Nestles chocolate jingle. “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles Makes the Very Best, Chocolate,” with “Chocolate” all drawn out. Well, just before opening whistle, the white kids and adults on my side of the field loudly belted out a jingle of their own. P-H-O-E-N-I-X, Phenix Makes the Very Best, Chocolate.” They were misspelling Phenix — either because they didn’t know how to spell it or because they simply needed the extra syllable for the sake of the jingle. Apparently they did this every time Jefferson Davis played Phenix. I didn’t know much, but I knew I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was a long time ago, sure, but it was only yesterday. The civil rights movement was new in Virginia, and the folks across the field sat there quietly. I don’t remember who won the game but it probably was Jefferson Davis. Our players in their grey uniforms were big and well equipped.

I looked for Deborah in the stands on the other side but couldn’t find her. I was kind of glad about that. I wouldn’t have wanted her to associate me with any of it.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, but we we’ll have to go a lot farther before we can be proud of ourselves.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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Courtesy of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, here is your nifty guide to the when and where of the upcoming local marches, rallies, etc., starting with Monday’s MLK Jr. events in Seaside.

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Intended Decision

A Peninsula environmental group has prevailed in litigation challenging the Fort Ord Reuse Authority’s decision to effectively approve plans for the proposed Eastside Parkway project without first performing an environmental impact report as required by California law.

Monterey County Judge Lydia Villarreal found that FORA and its project partner, Monterey County, took numerous actions and spent considerable amounts of taxpayer money to essentially lock in the location and design of the highway that is intended to provide additional highway access to Fort Ord while linking Highway 68 to Highway 1 on a route skirting the east side of the former Army base.

The group Keep Fort Ord Wild, through attorneys Michael Stamp and Molly Erickson, has argued that the project would promote inappropriate development and that the decision-making process advanced well beyond the proposal stage without the required environmental studies and public input.

“Respondents (FORA and the county) claim their public statements promising CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) review demonstrate the project was not approved,” Villarreal wrote in her notice of intended decision. “But the issue is not necessarily whether there will be environmental review, it is whether there will be meaningful environmental review. If approval is a foregone conclusion, the CEQA process is but a formality, undermining public accountability, one of the primary purposes of CEQA.”

Villarreal provided considerable detail about engineering and route-planning work performed by various engineering firms under contract to FORA, and she cited several court rulings in support of Keep Fort Ord Wild’s position. The group was formed partly to oppose plans for the Monterey Downs horse racing development, which has collapsed of its own weight.

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