≡ Menu
Share

This past weekend, I read an interesting article in The Intercept, “US Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel.” It caught my eye because I’ve had the privilege of meeting and discussing this boycott campaign with one of the founding members of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement, Omar Barghouti. What I know about the movement leads me to conclude that it comes nowhere close to being a threat to the state of Israel, if that country is serious about ending its occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.

The subject is the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, H.R. 1697, that would make it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or Israeli businesses called by the United Nations, the European Union or any other “international governmental organization.” Violations would be punishable by fines of up to $1 million and imprisonment for up to 20 years.

I did a double take when I saw that one of the many co-sponsors of the bill is our 20th Congressional District representative, Jimmy Panetta. What follows are the comments that I would share with him in a letter or face to face:

Dear Congressman Panetta,

I wonder if you can explain to your constituents why you’ve chosen to attach your name to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, HR 1697.

In the first place, its title is misleading and it tries to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. It is NOT anti-Semitic but rather it is against Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and, like that successful movement, is non-violent in nature and simply aimed at giving Palestinians the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Secondly, HR 1697, an AIPAC-sponsored proposal, appears to impose civic and criminal punishment on individuals solely for their political beliefs about Israel and its policies. Doesn’t that violate the 1st Amendment? Strictly speaking from a constitutional perspective, this bill seems to be antithetical to the very ideals Congress seeks to uphold. So, again, Mr. Panetta, why are you co-sponsoring it?

Thirdly, why would a congressman from the 20th District – one based on agriculture and tourism – feel the need to be a part of this bill? You sit on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees, not Foreign Affairs or Financial Services. Additionally and ironically, we live in an area that was affected by a boycott of its own back in the 1960s. What’s the difference between UFW supporters of that historic grape strike in Delano – like Caesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Bill Monning – and BDS supporters? How is your co-sponsorship of HR 1697 going to impact Monterey or Santa Cruz counties? And, on the other side of the world, what kind of message is this bill sending to the Palestinians and Israelis when things are heating up once again in Jerusalem over the Al-Aqsa dispute?

In an effort to urge you to reconsider your co-sponsorship, I would be happy to provide you neutral and accurate information about the BDS movement, if you’re interested in being fully informed. Additionally, you undoubtedly are aware there are many Palestinians and other Arabs who are your constituents here on the Monterey Peninsula and in the rest of your district. Many of them, I am sure, share my concern over your seemingly needless support of HR 1697. If you’re interested, we could meet with you to give you information that might make you rethink your support of this unfortunate bill.

Sincerely,

Celeste B. Akkad

If Partisan readers feel as I do about this issue, I urge you to contact Congressman Panetta.

Celeste Akkad lives in Carmel.

{ 45 comments }
Share

UPDATED WITH INFO ON HOLLISTER ARREST

Look for the upstart cannabis industry of Salinas, and possibly a wider swath of the community, to be shaken by a law enforcement search Thursday of the Salinas home of medical pot grower and restaurateur Mike Hackett.

As first reported by the Monterey County Weekly, marijuana and a plastic bag of white powder were found in an SUV parked in front of Hackett’s Maple Park home while the residence was being searched by the San Benito County Unified Narcotics Team early Thursday.

The Weekly has now reported that no bag of white powder was found.

The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office later reported that is had seized 150 grams of marijuana, scales, packaging material for sales, suspected marijuana pay-owe documents, firearms, and ammunition and had found a large amount of currency.

The news release said the search was an outgrowth of Hackett’s arrest July 1 during the Hollister Independence Day motorcycle rally. It said he had been arrested for possession of cocaine for sale. A sheriff’s official said he had been spotted openly sharing small quantities of cocaine with others at a bar.

The Weekly reported that Hackett was handcuffed during Thursday’s search but his lawyer, Tom Worthington, said there had been no arrest. Worthington said the search was authorized by a warrant signed July 14 by a San Benito County judge but authorities would not provide him with a copy of the law enforcement affidavit detailing grounds for the action. Such affidavits are generally made public two weeks after a search.

Worthington said he had known Hackett professionally and personally for many years “and we expect a very favorable outcome.”

A Hackett associate said he understood that law enforcement had received a tip about Hackett’s activities after he was arrested during a bar fight in Hollister during the annual Fourth of July motorcycle rally there.

Hackett owns Casa Sorrento restaurant in downtown Salinas and formerly was a partner in Hacienda Mexican Grill in North Salinas. Article updated to make clear that Hackett is no longer involved in Hacienda. As president of River View Farms, Hackett also has become one of the most prominent players in the Salinas Valley’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry. He was well situated when the industry started blossoming because he had purchased two commercial greenhouses that had been used by flower growers before trade agreements killed the local flower industry nearly two decades ago.

When Monterey County supervisors started handing out permits for commercial marijuana production, they limited the permits to operations within existing greenhouses. The stated intent of that rule was to keep the marijuana industry contained in easily monitored spaces. The result was a real estate boom among the rows of seemingly abandoned greenhouses south of Salinas. A Los Angeles Times article from last year explains the situation well.

Hackett has been quietly active in Salinas-area politics as a campaign contributor and occasional host of political fundraisers. Local law enforcement organizations and politicians have routinely used Casa Sorrento for fund-raisers, with Hackett sometimes donating the space. He was among several commercial pot growers to contribute last year to Jimmy Panetta’s successful congressional campaign, chipping in $1,000.

Hackett is a longtime friend and associate of another significant campaign contributor locally, David Drew, founder of the Growers Pub bar and restaurant downtown. Growers Pub has been the site of numerous political gatherings, which has proved controversial at times because of Drew’s decades-old convictions and prison terms on marijuana- and cocaine-related charges.

Hackett was featured prominently in a recent Sacramento Bee profile of the Salinas marijuana scene.

“Hackett grew up in the valley, the son of a lettuce and celery farmer. He graduated from North Salinas High School and has worked in nearly every aspect of agriculture, including planting, picking, property leasing and farm-pallet manufacturing,” The Bee reported.

“Most recently, in an area surrounded by strawberry and broccoli fields near the Salinas River – the ‘crossroads of heaven,’ he calls it – Hackett was growing poinsettias, succulents, carnations and snap dragons in aging greenhouses. Now he is converting family property to produce cannabis in a venture called Riverview Farms.

“Hackett never has grown pot before, but has no shortage of confidence. ‘I have the best agricultural scientists right here in the Salinas Valley,’ he says. ‘I have the best soil scientists. This is a plant just like anything else. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to use our technology here and incorporate that into cannabis.’”

“Hackett says one of his greenhouses did ‘a sizable trial’ with marijuana cultivation last year and he was ‘very pleased with the results.’ He is planning on going into the business in a big way, exploring expansion beyond cultivation to a potential retail dispensary and a concentrates manufacturing facility.”

{ 2 comments }
Share

Sessions

The Central Coast’s new congressman, Jimmy Panetta, cut through a bit of the fog today by calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be investigated for his Russian contacts during last year’s presidential campaign. Sessions recused himself from the broader investigation into whole Russian affair but Panetta wasn’t satisfied.

Here’s the news release from Panetta’s office Friday morning:

“The reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions perjured himself during his confirmation hearings about his meeting with officials from Russia are alarming.  An independent special prosecutor should open an investigation into his interactions with Russian officials during last year’s presidential campaign.  If the reports are true, Attorney General Sessions must resign.  This revelation reemphasizes the need to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia.”

{ 45 comments }

The Monterey Bay Partisan tries to tell you how to vote

Share

160_f_120626248_g4tp9zjjlz9bglrzr86wd5wixngadl3kIF YOU WANT SURPRISES, YOU’RE IN THE WRONG PLACE

Back when I was editor of the Monterey Herald, I found it amusing to compare our political endorsements with those of the Monterey County Weekly. The Herald was, of course, the local headquarters of the mainstream media and the Weekly was the alternative.

But for a brief period, I was able to drag the Herald’s endorsements a little to the left, far enough that the choices of the daily and once-a-week publications became a rather close match. I imagined the ink-stained wretches at the Weekly gnashing their teeth, at least a little. Part of the job description at alternative papers everywhere is to huff and puff about those corporate suits over at the daily.

I suspect the fine folks at the Weekly don’t mind at all that the Herald in my absence has done a much better job of being the voice of the establishment. For proof of that, look no farther than its support for the Monterey Downs horse-racing, home-building venture despite flaws such as no water and no financing. Or its upcoming endorsements in the local political races. Last time around, the Herald even endorsed Marina water board member Howard Gustafson, the Donald Trump of Peninsula politics.

Today, I set out the Partisan’s endorsements in the local political races and I am afraid that close observers will notice a strong resemblance to the choices made this week by the Weekly. In my decidedly subjective view, the Weekly made some wise choices and I found the presentation to be excellent as well. Short, to the point, easy to follow and filled with entertaining tidbits.

I’m afraid that this exercise will accomplish little except to reinforce the choices in the latest Weekly. I’ll flag any variations.

CONGRESS: Jimmy Panetta

I don’t care for political dynasties either, but being Leon’s son should give Jimmy a big head start in Washington. While his GOP opponent, Casey Lucius, would be one of many new faces in Congress, Jimmy’s Rolodex will be overflowing with the names of ready-made allies.

dscn0594

Panetta

Panetta is the smart, engaging former prosecutor who served in Afghanistan and never did anything wrong. Lucius may be right when she says he wouldn’t be on the verge of congressional office if he was, say Jimmy Williams or Jimmy Smith, but, then again, he just might be.

Lucius has gained excellent name recognition and a crowd of admirers. She’d be wise to put that into a race for state office, but because of her military and other federal experience, she seems interested only in Washington. I imagine the 20th Congressional District seat will be Panetta’s for as long as he wants it. If Lucius really has her heart set, she’d be wise to make a run at the Assembly in a few years. Her politics are a bit conservative for the region but she has already shown an ability to win people over.

dscn0597

Lucius

Lucius constantly makes the point that she deserves the job because she has worked hard for it and really, really wants it, and that Panetta is the favorite in part because of his lineage. That resonates with voters who are tired of what Washington has become. But elections aren’t about being fair to underdogs or rewarding earnestness. Panetta brings everything that Lucius brings to the job and he will be a particularly able representative from day one.

STATE SENATE DISTRICT 17: Bill Monning, no matter who might be running against him.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 29: Mark Stone, no matter who might be running against him.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 30: Anna Caballero. This one gives me pause. She’s not in the same realm as Monning and Stone. While they are true public servants, she is more of a career politician/bureaucrat. She had no problem accepting tons of money from wherever, especially the charter school movement, which is a thinly veiled attempt to weaken the teachers union.

Despite some drawbacks, Caballero still inspires more confidence than her opponent, Karina Cervantez Alejo, the former Watsonville mayor and wife of soon-to-be Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo, the former assemblyman. There seems to be a tag team approach to the Alejo campaigns and at least some element of mystery to their agendas.

Monterey City Council: Incumbents Libby Downey and Alan Haffa

This is about balance of power on the council, old school vs. new school.

Representing the old school is challenger Dan Albert Jr., son of the former longtime mayor. To a large degree, he is the candidate of the longtime Fishermans Wharf interests, Cannery Row and the closely related hospitality industry.

unknown-4

Downey

Downey, a retired school nurse, and Haffa, a Monterey Peninsula College, are running as an unofficial slate. Though they have had their differences, they are united by their effort to reform the city’s leasing practices at the wharf, where businesses that signed leases decades ago are living off sub-leases costing the tenants many times more. Albert’s father was a major player in adopting the old order on the wharf. While the elder Albert deserves credit for major accomplishments, including the Monterey Sports Center and the fantastically successful Windows on the Bay initiative, he also remained a close ally of the corporate interests that have pulled the strings at City Hall for decades.

By electing Albert over either of the incumbents, voters would be tipping the scales to the corporate side and away from the reform side.

Albert was a long time teacher and principal in the Monterey Peninsula school system. He recently retired as assistant superintendent of the district, a position in which he did not distinguish himself. He turned much of the district’s bond financing work over to a Clovis-based consultant who has since been fined by the Securities & Exchange Commission for conflicts of interests and who is currently embroiled in an FBI investigation in Fresno that focuses on a school contractor that also did considerable work here under Albert’s watch. I will be surprised if some of the Monterey district’s bonding troubles aren’t incorporated into the Fresno investigation.

The $100 million bond measure that Albert oversaw for the Monterey schools began with a political campaign financed largely by the same bonding companies that later received contracts to execute the bond. The state Treasurers Office has since banned such arrangements, something that should have happened decades ago.

unknown-5

Haffa

Despite being past retirement age, Downey is a tireless representative of the city at various other agencies and a voice of reason on transportation and water issues. She is more of a moderate than the aggressively progressive Haffa, who was active in the Occupy Wall Street movement and who was a Sanders delegate. He brings political passion to the council task but he also has shown a pragmatic side when necessary.

Marina mayor: Bruce Delgado

Delgado is a true believer in environmental causes and the inherent goodness of people. He is an idealist who has learned to support intelligent economic development for the good of his constituency. He is an effective mayor and a truly nice guy in a city that doesn’t always play nice. His opponent, Kevin Saunders, is all about medical marijuana and creating a fuss.

Pacific Grove mayor: Bill Kampe

Kampe is so solid as to be downright boring. He’s good with the administrative aspects of the job and he has dived into the technical aspects, including the water issues that dominate local governance. In my view, he’s been too friendly with Cal Am and other corporate interests, but he can back up his positions with a reasonable amount of logic.

His opponent, Councilman Dan Miller, loves his city but he simply doesn’t have the temperament for the job. His friends say he has been getting calmer over time but it could be a while before he’s ready to pick up the gavel.

Salinas mayor: No endorsement

Incumbent Joe Gunter, the former police detective, is a throwback to simpler times in a city that faces every type of big city problems, including heavy duty crime and homelessness. His support for law enforcement hasn’t translated into putting more cops on the street, though, and remarkably the Police Department has even had to close its narcotics bureau simply to keep the numbers up on the streets.

Gunter runs an OK meeting but he has shown little of the leadership that the city needs to build its economy, reverse some of its blight and quiet the gangs. The previous mayor, Dennis Donohue, was too much of a dreamer, a big spender chasing elusive rewards. Gunter is too much the opposite.

Unfortunately, his opponent, auto repair shop owner Amit Pandya, has a somewhat sketchy reputation in business circles and he hasn’t been able to demonstrate where he would find the money to finance his big promise to add lots of officers to the force. The Weekly endorsed Gunter.

Salinas City Council District 1: Brian Contreras

For as long as I can remember, Contreras has been the talking head that media types turn to for comment whenever gang activity spikes in Salinas, which is often. He founded the Second Chance Family and Youth Services organization, and he does know as much as anyone about the gang problem. He stands out in a weak field.

Incumbent Jose Castaneda mouths the type of politics that the Partisan embraces, seriously progressive and inclusive, but it’s all for show. His pouty opposition to everything has become an obstacle and a distraction. He needs to go away. Sheriff’s union leader Scott Davis is a creation of contractor Don Chapin’s pro-development political machine and a shill for Sheriff Steve Bernal.

Salinas City Council District 4: Virginia Mendoza

I don’t know much about her but I’m at a loss to think of a reason to vote for De La Rosa. The Weekly gave her a thumbs up.

Salinas City Council District 6: Incumbent Jyl Lutes

She has a long record of public service, representing progressive views for the most part, and her opponent, Tony Villegas, hasn’t give any good reason to support him.

Seaside mayor: Kay Cline

1471302419

Cline

Cline started as a one-issue candidate, but it’s the biggest issue in town. Monterey Downs. She has been an active opponent of the misbegotten project along with her husband, retired meteorology professor Bill Weigle. Though there is some support for the big racetrack/housing project in Seaside, it’s mostly the short-term variety bought and paid for by the would-be developer. The project is a fiasco and incumbent Ralph Rubio’s support for it is one reason he should go. Rubio has been a solid mayor but it was often difficult to tell if he was wearing his mayoral hat or his Carpenters Union hat.

Cline has been a leader of the Sustainable Seaside environmental group for a decade now and she is on the side of transparency and economic development that enhances the city without simply enriching the developers.

Former Mayor Felix Bachofner is making another run at the office and he also represents a decent choice. The downside is that he mostly a budget wonk and, well, he’s already had his chance. Newcomer Gertrude Smith could make a great councilmember and/or mayor someday.

Seaside City Council: Kayla Jones and Dave Pacheco

I was impressed by Ian Oglesby when I met him a decade ago. Mature, articulate, he was like a reborn Jerry Smith with additional skills. But he has been a major disappointment on the council, showing himself to be a follower instead of any kind of a leader.

Jones is the freshest of fresh faces, just 23 years old, but articulate beyond her years. She comes from a political family and already understands city politics, and its needs, as well as Oglesby.

Incumbent Dave Pacheco is the nice guy that every council needs. He is the former city recreation leader and he oozes concern for youth. For him, this is about service, not politics.

That’s it, folks. I’d like to make recommendations in the Pacific Grove and Del Rey Oaks city council races, but I don’t know enough about the candidates to make intelligence choices. For the PG council, the Weekly went with Cynthia Garfield, Robert Huitt and Jenny McAdams. In Del Rey Oaks, the Weekly went with Mike Ventimiglia and Kristin Clark.

{ 42 comments }
Share

dscn0594

Congressional candidate Jimmy Panetta’s name recognition shouldn’t be used against him

I beg the indulgence of the Partisan’s legion of readers as I temporarily depart the realm of local happenings and drift into the national arena. It will be brief and it occurs mostly only so I can ask a question.

Robert Lucius of Pacific Grove, the spouse of congressional candidate Casey Lucius, was the author of a letter to the editor published in today’s Monterey Herald. He had two main points. The first was that he cannot support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The second was that the media have failed the public, mainly by not covering Clinton more critically.

He writes, “Clinton has also benefitted from media coverage, much of it fawning. Indeed, some have called out on her lifetime of self-serving political machinations and poor judgment, from ‘travel-gate’ to ‘email-gate,’ but she has also gotten countless free passes because of her family name and the aura of inevitability it provides.”

So here’s the question for Mr. Lucius. Please provide us a few examples of the “countless free passes.” I don’t expect a countless list. Just three or four examples will be fine. You can email them to me at calkinsroyal@gmail.com or you can just hit the comment button below and have at it.

OK, I promised to be brief, but before I go, one more point. It occurs to me that while Mr. Lucius was writing about Clinton, he may have had another political family in mind. That would be the Panettas, as in father Leon and son Jimmy, Casey Lucius’ opponent in the November election. A running theme in the Lucius campaign is the unfairness that results when one must campaign against a familiar name, a powerful presence, a potential dynasty. She told me recently that the local media is “afraid of the Panettas” and she offered at a recent campaign forum that Jimmy Panetta wouldn’t be the Democratic Party’s candidate if he was a Williams instead of a Panetta.

I get it. I truly do. Jimmy Panetta had an automatic advantage going into the race. Positive name recognition. His father is a remarkably popular fellow, having been the Central Coast’s congressman for years, a White House chief of staff, director of the CIA, defense secretary.

I completely understand why Ms. Lucius resents this, why she feels that no matter how qualified she is, no matter how hard she works, no matter what happens in the campaign, Jimmy is almost certain to win. No, it isn’t fair.

In her TV ads, she argues that voters shouldn’t support political dynasties and she implies, unfairly, that Jimmy Panetta wants to go to Washington to bask in his name recognition rather than accomplish anything. I say it’s time for her to give it a rest, and here’s why. A congressional race isn’t about fairness. Voters aren’t being asked to pick the candidate who works the hardest or comes off the most earnest. It’s about finding the right person to represent the people and the interests of the Central Coast in Washington. It’s about deciding who can be more effective in the political and bureaucratic jungle of the federal government.

I was at the Weekly’s most excellent debate this week between the congressional candidates, and I came away impressed by both. Lucius is well-spoken and is up on most issues, and she clearly is not intimidated by the Panetta presence. She stumbled by not knowing much of anything about methyl bromide and when she essentially endorsed Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who would eliminate most gun laws and environmental protections. But she is an accomplished young woman and an impressive young politician.

But Panetta more than stood his ground. He was fully conversant on every issue put to him, from Obamacare to immigration to national defense. He understood the broad issues and the details, the nitty gritty. He displayed his knowledge with every bit as much poise and confidence as Lucius and he seemed never to be fishing for the politically popular answer.

If this was a job application instead of an election, voters would be obliged to pick the applicant best qualified for the job and most likely to be able to execute it successfully. Washington is deluged every couple years by a flock of fledgling legislators, all eager to make a name for themselves on the national stage. An objective observer picking the applicant most likely to be effective would have to conclude that Panetta offers everything Lucius offers plus the name recognition and all that goes with it, factors that will open doors in Washington and make the Central Coast’s representative a key player from day one.

It isn’t about fairness. It has been conventional political wisdom on the Peninsula for several years now that Jimmy would replace Sam Farr in Congress. Lucius knew that when she asked for the chance to run. Perhaps people shouldn’t vote for Jimmy because he’s a Panetta, but it would be a bigger mistake to vote against him for the same reason.

{ 35 comments }
Share
dscn0597

Casey Lucius gearing up for debate

Editor’s note: See modified section on Panetta’s opinion of Measure Z.

Republican congressional candidate Casey Lucius’ new campaign ad takes a big swing at opponent Jimmy Panetta, but she manages in the course of just a few seconds to drop the bat rather than launch a home run.

The TV spot has a dramatic opening with a narrator sounding an ominous tone. There’s a black-and-white photo of Panetta, without his characteristic smile. Tough words scroll across the screen.

“Washington is broken, because of people who want to be someone, not do something, because of a corrupt system based on who you know, not what you can do.”

The commercial uses two photos of Panetta. In the second, he looks kind of menacing, his image large against the Capitol in the background. At one point, the word “corrupt” goes from black to red.

It’s a provocative start. Then the bat slips out of Lucius’ hands. Black and white gives way to a nice color shot of the smiling candidate and her family and the thread of the commercial is lost.

dscn0594

Jimmy Panetta, shown here leaning slightly to the left

Here’s how it goes from there:

“I’m Casey Lucius. I joined the Navy, earned a PhD and became a professor. This election cannot be about political connections and dynasties. This election is about opportunity. It is about believing in our country and our community. I haven’t been handed anything. I have worked hard. I want to work hard for you.”

It’s not a long piece, but by the time it’s over, the viewer is likely to have forgotten the ominous opening and is left with the Hallmark portion of the piece, “This election is about opportunity. It is about believing in our country and our community.”

If Lucius had followed up on the opening with some meat about how Panetta’s famous father (Leon, for those of you who moved here 20 minutes ago) had done the Central Coast wrong, which he didn’t, or how the Panetta family foundation was being used as a shakedown tool for the Democrats, which it isn’t, she might have had something. Instead, we’re mainly left with the impression that Lucius really, really wants to go to Congress and it would make her family really proud of her if that happened. What was that about corruption?

Not enough to swing my vote.

If I had been given the chance at Monday night’s debate between Panetta and Lucius, I might have asked Jimmy to compare his belief in our country and/or community to Lucius’ belief in same.

I hadn’t seen the commercial until after the debate and I’m guessing that neither had the other 250 or so souls who filled the Weekly’s juice bar and meeting space to get a closer look at the candidates. Regardless, the commercial created the biggest drama of the evening, particularly when Panetta gave it back to Lucius.

Said Lucius: “If this was Jimmy Williams sitting here, he wouldn’t be sitting here.”

Said Panetta: “That’s absolutely offensive to the 70 percent of the electorate who voted for me in the primary.” He went on about how his family name hadn’t helped him while serving in Afghanistan, or prosecuting criminals in Oakland.

In the primary, he said, “They didn’t vote for Panetta. They voted for Jimmy.”

She got a good hand for her opener and he got an equally good one for his closer.

It is absolutely true that Panetta began the race with a huge advantage. His father was a congressman forever and then he was the head of the CIA and Secretary of Defense. Somewhere in there, he became the best known and best liked political figure on the Central Coast, likely the most powerful person in the region.

To her credit, Lucius recognized the uphill nature of her task and she has worked hard. From a fairly modest station, the Pacific Grove City Council, she has attracted a substantial following of people impressed by her presence, her military background and her willingness to break with the Republican Party from time to time. Making that easier, of course, is that the GOP recognized early on that she has no chance against Panetta, who has worked at least as hard as she has in community affairs and civic door knocking over the past several years. Since the party hasn’t funneled any money into her treasury, she isn’t obliged to follow its script. She constantly makes the point that Panetta is getting help from the fat cats of Washington, D.C. She hasn’t had the opportunity to demonstrate how she would respond to similar circumstances.

Often, the candidates agreed on key points Monday. They both said they are opposed to Measure Z, the anti-fracking initiative on the November ballot. Panetta says he doesn’t believe fracking will ever occur here, so he doesn’t think the measure is needed to  prevent fracking in Monterey County. He said he fears it could have a negative impact on the oil industry. Lucius said pretty much the same thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Listening again to Panetta’s response via You Tube, the above needs to be amended. He said he would support Measure Z enthusiastically if he believed it was aimed solely at preventing fracking but he feels the need to delve more deeply into the measure’s fine points.

They agreed the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform and that Obamacare needs work.

They had different takes on the future of the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, which is in charge of redeveloping the former Army base.

Lucius, who currently sits on the FORA board, said she sometimes finds it dysfunctional. She said the agency should be allowed to fold as scheduled in 2020. At that point, she said, the cities with pieces of the base should be allowed to develop the property as they wish, particularly if that wish is to create affordable housing.

Panetta said he didn’t believe the various cities were ready to accept the responsibility for the base cleanup and other complications that go along with redeveloping the land.

Panetta said he will vote for Hillary Clinton. Lucius said she was thinking about voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Panetta jumped in, saying that his opponent had said at a high school speech last week that she would vote for Johnson — despite his campaign promises to repeal all gun laws and environmental regulations.

Both candidates displayed a strong grasp of most of the issues of the evening. Lucius would spin it one way, saying a solution would be at hand if the Democrats would “reach across the aisle,” and Panetta would spin it the other, complaining that the GOP might as well be opposed to everything.

Lucius repeatedly criticized Clinton’s handling of Middle Eastern affairs and, in response to a question from the audience, said the president should be required to have served in the military. Panetta countered by noting that that would disqualify about 99 percent of the population.

Lucius said she opposes the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in California. Panetta, though he is a prosecutor, said he supports it. She said she supports the death penalty. He said he does not but he didn’t get the chance to elaborate.

{ 55 comments }
Share

My focus in Tuesday’s state primary election, I confess, is on the presidential race.

It’s been captivating in the same way that a car crash, five-alarm fire or circus high-wire act is. You can’t avert your eyes, despite the underlying grotesquerie and potential for disaster unfolding before you.

Obviously, many people in Monterey County share my attentiveness to the races at the top of the tickets. Thousands turned out in the past two weeks in Salinas and Monterey to see Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders make campaign stops in their hard-fought race for the Democratic nomination.

I’m sure thousands — supporters and protesters alike — would have turned out if presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had graced any our hometowns with one of his freestyle stump appearances.

But the federal office that will be solely decided by voters on the Central Coast will be the 20th District Seat in Congress being contested by leading candidates Democrat Jimmy Panetta and Republican Casey Lucius. The winner won’t be decided until November with a general election runoff between Panetta and Lucius.

Because of my interest in the presidential race, I wondered which of the candidates Panetta and Lucius voted for in Tuesday’s primary. It would seem a very important election for them, since it goes toward determining who will be in the White House should they enter the next Congress.

I put the question to Panetta and Lucius — via their campaign Twitter accounts — mid-morning Tuesday and wondered whether they would respond.

Lucius answered within 18 minutes. She said she voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of the last candidates standing before Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee. Former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said this week he, too, voted for Kasich in the California primary.

Lucius, in a tweet, cited, “experience, moderate, real policy positions” as reasons she went for Kasich and not Trump or Ted Cruz.

I figure Panetta voted for Clinton since he warmly introduced her to the crowd a couple weeks ago at her Salinas rally at Hartnell College. And his father, Leon Panetta, served in Bill Clinton’s administration and with Hillary in President Obama’s cabinet. Those are nice potential allies for a would-be freshman congressman.

An hour later, I was still awaiting Panetta’s response on what I assumed would be his obvious choice. Perhaps he’s too busy Election Day to respond. Or doesn’t want to unnecessarily alienate any of those 7,000-plus Sanders supporters who turned out last week in Monterey.

I only hope he does what everyone should do today — vote for the candidates of your choice.

{ 7 comments }
Share

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.

{ 16 comments }

PARTISAN News Quiz 2015: No one will get all these right

Share

110_F_66851562_fFaspr2gJRZ649D8HnBiDZyATXAzuOcPThe people of the Central Coast are an enlightened lot, but just how enlightened? To find out, we designed this quiz to test how well Partisan readers were paying attention in 2015. As always, go to the comment box at the end and let us know how you did.

A. Which of the following happened in 2015

  1. Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo retired
  2. The various Peninsula agencies agreed on a plan to increase groundwater storage and expand conservation efforts
  3. A sheriff’s deputy with no management experience became the head of  the county’s largest law enforcement agency
  4. The Salinas murder rate went down
  5. None of the above (hint hint)

B. Cal Am continued to make progress on

  1.  A test well
  2. Plans for a test well
  3. Plans to study a test well
  4. The hiring of consultants without conflicts of interest to study plans to study a test well

C. Which of these development projects continued to exist, at least on paper, despite demonstrably inadequate water supplies:

  1. Monterey Downs
  2. Ferrini Ranch
  3. Corral de Tierra shopping center
  4. All of the above

D. GOP political consultant Brandon Gesicki

GOP campaign manager Brandon Gesicki

GOP campaign manager Brandon Gesicki

  1. Changed his registration to Democrat
  2. Went into partnership with campaign manager Alex Hulanicki to form the Icki Group.
  3. Was elected to public office
  4. Started taking a correspondence course to become a bail bondsman

E. Which of the following comics attracted record crowds

  1. Don Rickles
  2. Don Knotts
  3. Don Trump

F. A sequel was produced for which of these movies

  1. The Graduate/The Retiree
  2. Star Wars: Luke Skywalker/Star Wars: Luke Buys a Walker
  3. The Godfather/The Great-Godfather
  4. Groundhog Day/Groundhog Day

G. The Pebble Beach Co.

  1. Announced plans for more gates with entrance fees on a sliding scale
  2. Banned American cars
  3. Bought Del Rey Oaks for employee housing

H. The Transportation Agency for Monterey County chose as its top 2016 priority

  1. Construction of a roundabout at Highway 1 and Holman Highway
  2. A study of roundabouts on Monterey-Salinas Highway because it has been free of construction delays for several weeks
  3. Approval of a sales tax measure to finance additional study into the need for an additional sales tax measure

I. The following decided to run for Sam Farr’s seat in Congress

  1. Jimmy Panetta
  2. Jimmy Panetta’s offspring
520986e1f3cd9.preview-300

Howard

J. Howard Gustafson of the Marina Coast Water District said 

  1. The Surfrider Foundation should “go F— yourselves.”
  2. He had once been engaged to Jane Fonda
  3. He gets all his information from the Partisan
  4. Voters would be better off replacing him randomly

K. Two homeless men apparently died of exposure in downtown Monterey, leading to 

  1. A communitywide effort to build housing for the homless
  2. An outpouring of blankets and warm clothes
  3. Pretty much nothing

L. Officials at the Monterey County Weekly disclosed that the Squid Fry column

  1. Is written by Paul Miller
  2. Is edited by Dave Potter
  3. Is a repeat of the column from exactly a year earlier

M. Sand City officials announced plans to

  1. Rezone the beachfront light industrial
  2. Annex Seaside
  3. Eliminate sales taxes throughout the shopping district
  4. Cancel municipal elections

Beach campfire on lake with sand shore. burning wood on white sand in daytimeN. The city of Carmel eliminated beach bonfires and banned

  1. The sale or marketing of necessities
  2. Any public references to Jason Stilwell or Sue McCloud
  3. Children

O. The city of Marina approved plans for

  1. A citywide no-parking zone
  2. A gluten-free, cheese-free, meat-free pizza truck
  3. Shrinking the city limits to cover two walkable square blocks

SCORING: Because we attended Christmas Eve services at a Unitarian church, we encourage you to decide for yourselves which answers are correct. If you answered all 15 questions correctly, you are a liar and a cheat and need to know that there is plenty of time to take out papers for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. If you correctly answered 10-14 questions, you are Mary Duan, editor of the Monterey County Weekly. If you got 6-9 questions right, you’re more than qualified to start your own blog or, at least, write your own editorials. Fewer than 6 right? You had help from either Howard Gustafson or Paul Bruno

{ 13 comments }

The Partisan’s 2015 wish list, toward a better tomorrow

Share

christmas tree lightA review of the Partisan’s posts of 2015 reveals that we did a reasonably good job of accentuating the positive and avoiding unnecessary criticism. In that spirit, we are taking this opportunity to distribute some presents of sorts with the barest amount of advice necessary to provide context.

City of Seaside: A gift bag filled with enough wisdom to realize that this horse-racing thing is never going to happen. You need to know this before you waste more time and money. It might have come to something if the centerpiece of this proposal was something other than a horse racing track, but that’s what it is. Horse racing was a dying enterprise even before the public started recognizing how many horses actually die at the tracks. On top of that, the location is wrong, the developers’ own financial forecasts don’t support the idea and the development team seems to think it can force it down the community’s throat.

Craig Malin: For the incoming Seaside city manager, a subscription to the Weekly and the Partisan because you’ve shown yourself to be a fan of good local journalism.

Sand City: Don’t be jealous about Seaside’s present. Here’s a box of reality for you, too. That hotel on the beach? It was a bureaucratic fluke that got the proposal this far but if you think the community is going to let you build a hotel on the sand, knowing what happens when buildings go up on the shore, you need to get out more.

City of Mared christmas backgroundrina: Your gift is a back brace to help continue to build a people-friendly community rather than a conglomeration of shopping centers and parking lots. Yes, people want restaurants in their commercial districts but the City Council can and should set standards. Time will prove the council right.

The City of King City: A whole new start.

Salinas Police Department: May the big shiny box behind the tree be filled with at least a few months of peace. The way your officers stepped up to contribute money for the 9-year-old abuse victim in the recent child homicide case was truly heartwarming. They deserve something other than crime scene after crime scene.

Jane Parker: Here’s hoping Santa brings you two new colleagues this year. Imagine a board trying to work together to serve the public! Yes, it sounds crazy, but we’ve all heard of Christmas miracles, right?

Dennis DonohuBirch forest in wintere: The former Salinas mayor won’t come right out and say he will run against Parker, though he’s already collecting campaign cash. Our gift is a simple reminder that to beat Parker, he’ll have to take loads of money from people he wouldn’t to have as neighbors. It’s about governance, Dennis, not commerce.

Pacific Grove: A city engineer who can figure out how to use the new hotel tax money to get the ancient sewer system fixed.

Carmel: A few dozen barbecue grills and a mural at the Post Office depicting the good old days of beach bonfires.

Sam Farr: Some fishing tackle.

Jimmy Panetta: A challenge from the left to keep you honest.

Casey Lucius: A professional campaign manager.

Monterey County Democratic Party: Leadership.

Monterey County Republican Party: New leadership.

Cal Am: A conscience.

{ 16 comments }

Monning to announce plans Tuesday

Share

Unknown-1

State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, plans to announce his intentions regarding the congressional race at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Colton Hall in Monterey. No way to be certain, of course, but the expectation is that he will say that he will run for the seat now held by Sam Farr, also D-Carmel.

This is good news for voters who believe campaigns should be about issues. Already on the Democratic side of the primary ballot is prosecutor Jimmy Panetta, son of former Congressman Leon Panetta. Others are expected. On the Republican side there is Casey Lucius, a member of the Pacific Grove City Council, someone who had been expected to give Farr his first significant challenge in years.

Stay tuned.

{ 4 comments }
Share
west-wing-rob-lowe

Which Rob Lowe? If the actor runs for Congress out of Santa Barbara, as some Republicans hope, he wouldn’t be the liberal Rob Lowe from The West Wing but instead would be the libertarian Rob Lowe from Montecito

Congressman Sam Farr, although he has made no noise about retiring, won’t be in Congress forever. And when he does exit, Central Coast residents can expect a crowded field of wannabe House members to throw their hats — though no one wears hats much any more — into the race.

There will be a throng, not unlike the two-round, special 1993 election that Farr won to succeed Leon Panetta, who left Congress to become President Clinton’s budget chief.

That year, Farr and 26 other candidates lined up in a wide-open primary field, which included 11 Democrats vying for their party nomination. Because of the district’s heavily Democratic makeup, Farr really won the seat by besting the 10 other Dems in the special primary.

Farr went on to beat Republican Bill McCampbell by 10 percentage points in the runoff election and has cruised to easy re-elections since. That likely will keep happening until Farr decides to hang it up — despite the flurry of publicity being enjoyed by first-term Pacific Grove Councilwoman Casey Lucius for merely thinking about taking on Farr under the GOP banner.

Central Coast residents can get a sense of how the political gusher will gush when Farr retires  — Jimmy Panneta, Bill Monning, how many others? — by looking down the coast toward Santa Barbara.

Longtime Democrat Rep. Lois Capps said this week she won’t run for re-election next year, and the number of possible candidates is already approaching the number of oil rigs in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Capps’ 24th District is different than Farr’s 20th District. Democrats only hold a slight edge in the district that runs from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara. That makes the 2016 race even more wide open, for both Democrats and Republicans, than an open race in the 20th. Here’s an early take on what will be a very competitive race from Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee.

Absent from that list is one of the 24th’s most famous residents and current darling among some Republicans — actor Rob Lowe, who resides in Montecito. Though Lowe’s only political experience was as a fictional Democratic White House aide on the TV show “The West Wing,” some conservatives are hoping he runs next year for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer.

If Lowe decides to be the latest actor-turned-politician  in California, Lowe shouldn’t suffer for lack of name recognition. Until this month, he and several inferior alter egos were featured in a curious series of elitist TV commercials for DirecTV.

Lowe makes his bones on the libertarian side of the Republican tent. He’s for individualism over big government, except for big-ticket items, presumably like Pentagon budgets.

But he may have to convince voters he isn’t the Rob Lowe who peaked, not in high school like in the TV ads, but as Sam Seaborn, urbane and liberal policy wonk on “The West Wing.”

And, of course, there was the notorious video of Lowe having sex with two young women he met in an Atlanta club on the eve of the 1988 Democratic National Convention. With today’s GOP electorate, the sex tape may not mean as much as what Lowe was doing at the DNC — campaigning for eventual Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis.

{ 9 comments }