≡ Menu

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


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.


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

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

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

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

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