• Opinion

    Keep Laguna Seca Local

    For more than 50 years, SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula) has been stewards of the race track now known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the iconic track they built back in 1957. Back then, after major mishaps in the road racing world, the federal government deeded a portion of BLM land (which still abuts Laguna Seca Recreation Area) to provide a safe facility for racing. Part of the agreement was that it would become a county park and that SCRAMP, a non-profit corporation, be given a concession to operate the raceway. Proceeds from the park were to remain in the park. That portion of the agreement has not been honored by the Board of Supervisors and hundreds of thousands of dollars earned there have been spent in other areas of the county and not in Laguna Seca, because some Parks officials as well as Supervisors see it as a “cash cow.” But SCRAMP has well and faithfully operated the raceway in the park and made more than $50 million of improvement to the facility. More needs to be done. There’s arsenic in the water and there are geological problems. SCRAMP has been working on it. Read more…»

    Time Grows Short to Save an Old Forest

    D.E.I.R. Proves Alternate Sites are Superior for Pebble Beach Inclusionary Housing

    Read more…»

    The Elephant in America’s Living Room

    By Dirrick Williams

    Recently, during a conversation regarding the events of Ferguson, Missouri, a white friend asked, “Why do YOU GUYS always do that?”

    Read more…»

    I’m Tired of Lies and Exaggerations

    I went home the other evening and was preparing to recycle my daily missive from Cal-Am (and who doesn’t know that’s who is funding the “No on O” campaign?) when I was taken by the beautiful photograph on the cover. It reminded me of Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the San Lorenzo Valley, or  the Fall Creek Unit of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton.

    Felton. The mouse that roared. A small town of just a little over 1000 where the citizens revolted against Cal-Am’s skyrocketing water rates, forced an eminent domain court case, and saw Cal Am capitulate on the courthouse steps.

    I ought to know – at the time, we owned three parcels in Felton: a 5-acre parcel in the watershed, a residential lot, and a commercial office building. We supported F.L.O.W. in 2005.

    We knew the bond would run about $600 per year for 30 years and be added to our property taxes. Today a check shows the payment is about $466. And in 23 years it will be paid off.

    So who is this woman in TV commercials and popping up every time I open a page on the Internet, who claims her property tax bill has gone up by $13,980 as a result of the buyout? She must have purchased half of downtown Felton and be paying on multiple parcels, because that simply cannot be the increase for one residential parcel, though the commercial would have you believe it. Maybe she was talking about the next 23 years?

    Scare tactics. And untrue.

    Follow the money, as the saying goes. For some reason, Cal-Am is willing to spend more than $2.2 million in efforts to fight Measure O. They have to tear down a dam they didn’t maintain and they have to find some new source of water, being under a court order to stop drafting from the Carmel River.

    Wait. There was an appeal. We all got on a bus, for which Cal-Am paid, rode to a State Water Resources Control Board meeting and begged them to give us a little more time, despite the fact that we had made absolutely no progress in finding a new source of water in the previous 15 years. If you had seen the looks on the faces of the Board members, you’d have despaired. They did not extend the CDO. Cal-Am bought pizza for the ride home.

    But Cal-Am, thanks to the PUC, is not going to pay for tearing down the dam and building the desalination plant plus the aquifer storage and the groundwater replenishment project, which should have been going on for the past 20 years.

    In Felton, Cal-Am’s proposed increases would have had residential customers paying some $1,300 per year just for water, while today Felton water users are paying in the area of $1,200 per year…including the bond. So don’t let that woman, whoever she is, tell you that Felton ratepayers are being scalped. They’re not.

    Don’t let them tell you either they would not have done it had they known At a hearing in 2011, San Lorenzo Valley Water district manager Jim Mueller reported on a poll they’d taken which showed that voters in Felton said, overwhelmingly, they’d do it again.

    We’re not going to get away as easily as the Felton folks. We still need to build a desalination plant. And Cal Am’s infrastructure is in as sad need of upgrading here on the Peninsula as it was in Felton.

    Measure O doesn’t halt the plans for a desalination plant. It is not a “risk we can’t afford.” That was the risk Cal-Am and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District took by not doing anything for all these years. All Measure O does is fund a study by the MPWMD to see whether or not a public takeover of Cal-Am is feasible and beneficial. (Maybe that’s why Cal-Am attacked the MPWMD in one of those daily fly-swatters they send.) Then if it is found to be feasible, the MPWMD will commence proceedings to acquire Cal-Am’s water assets here. And if those negotiations fail, the district would have to begin eminent domain proceedings. We’ll pay for the study, but hey, we’re paying for the Mayors JPA to the tune of more than $400,000 per year, with no end in sight. We didn’t elect them to look for water, they don’t represent a good portion of the ratepayers, and they have no authority but they have managed to vote themselves a budget of more than $400,000, shared proportionally by the cities. (It started out at $33,000 for some stationery and a website, but you know how these things go. Spending money like water.)

    Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett, Chairman of the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority (the Mayors’ JPA) admitted at a debate in Seaside a couple of weeks ago that a takeover was not a bad idea. I heard him. But he insists that now is not the time for it.

    If not now, when?

    I for one am tired of the lies and exaggerations. I’m tired of paying for rented water and posturing. I urge a yes vote on Measure O.


    Shame on you Pacific Grove

    by Shelby Birch 

    Measure G has failed as I feared it would. I’m just not sure why though. Is it due to the lack of understanding of the measure? One that would upgrade and maintain educational software in every classroom. Is it because voters failed to understand the initiative? Did nobody tell you that rather than sit and let people tell you what an initiative would do, you might actually have to learn something for yourself? Did you forget that you need to actually go out and get your own answers and know exactly what you are voting for and against? Or perhaps it failed because this last Tuesday we held an election and nobody seemed to know. The shockingly apathetic turnout of 17% of the population is mind numbingly disappointing. You may not realize that that means that not even all the parents of the kids showed up to vote. Did you all forget that we are living in a society and that we all need to do our part to make sure it functions in a civilized manner? That means we all turn up to vote, we all make sure that our kids are educated, and we all do our part to make the city better. Read more…»

    Misguided Voters Defeated Measure G

    Letter to the Editor,

    On election night, I was one of seven people sitting in the audience of the historic preservation ordinance ad hoc committee meeting. As residents passed by the window on their way to the polling place next door, our pre-meeting conversation naturally turned to Measure G. All property owners, those around me nodded in unison when one person remarked that there were already too many line items for the school district on their property tax bill. “I heard that they were going to give an iPad to every kid in the school district,” said someone else. Heads shook in unison.

    Did they not understand that the tech bond would not start until after the parcel tax had ended so there would be no new line items on their property tax bill? Did they not hear that those iPads would be “loaded” with textbooks and interactive learning programs designed to engage every student at their particular learning level – advanced and special ed? Students would no longer be required to lug around heavy books and teachers would have more time and opportunity to teach.

    Were they not aware that educational technology is no longer the textbook of the future – it’s the textbook of today, that businesses and universities rely heavily on technology and that those students who learned in a tech-savvy environment are better prepared to succeed after graduation?

    Perhaps Measure G was more sophisticated than what the community understood and many voters did not bother to educate themselves, deciding instead to support the misnomer of no new taxes. As a small school district, PGUSD is known throughout the country for innovative education. But without the funds to support technology education, the school district could quickly fall behind, and families considering a move to Pacific Grove will now look elsewhere. Tell me, Measure G opponents, did you think that far ahead?

    Laura Emerson

    Measure G Makes Sense Financially, and for Education

    Dear Editor:

    Measure G will allow the students of Pacific Grove’s public schools to keep pace with changing 21st century educational technology while at the same time saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced borrowing costs.

    Numerous independent and diverse organizations have analyzed Measure G and all have come to the same conclusion: Measure G makes sense for both Pacific Grove’s students and its taxpayers.

    Consider these facts: The Monterey Peninsula Taxpayers Association endorsed Measure G, noting that it will “slash borrowing costs” and comes with “significant taxpayer protections.” The Monterey Democratic Party has also endorsed Measure G. The Monterey County Weekly endorsed Measure G, writing that Pacific Grove USD deserves an “A” for its vision and ambition. And the Cedar Street Times, in its article on Measure G, reported that, “… more than 90% of each tax dollar will go toward technology improvements for Pacific Grove USD students.”

    How is it that such a broad range of individuals and organizations have all stood up in support of Measure G? Simple. Measure G makes sound educational and financial sense.

    For our schools, it will upgrade educational software in classrooms throughout the district, increase student access to computers, equalize access to technology, provide ongoing funding to keep pace with 21st century innovations, provide for student performance assessment software for statewide testing and learning requirements, and help to improve classroom and campus security systems.

    Financially, it will do all of this without asking taxpayers to fund years of high-cost bond interest payments. Measure G will slash borrowing costs through an innovative structure that matches the useful life of the technology to a series of small short-term financings. These financings will, in turn, be overseen by an independent citizen’s oversight committee with the power to annually audit all expenditures.

    I know that some PG residents oppose Measure G because they are against all taxes, regardless of the benefit to our community or the need of our citizens. That is their right. But the claim that Measure G is unnecessary or too exorbitant is false and flies in the face of the facts. Pacific Grove USD’s Board of Education carefully studied its long-term technology needs and developed a plan that is both modest and limited to a timeframe of 15 to 20 years.

    As to the claim that information provided to voters fails to disclose the cost to voters, this too is simply untrue as anyone who has read the information contained in the sample ballot can attest.

    Thank you for your consideration and please join me and hundreds of other PG residents in voting Yes on Measure G!

    Kathleen Lee
    Chairperson, Technology for Pacific Grove Schools,
    Yes on G and Pacific Grove USD Parent




    Letter to the Editor: Measure G Makes Sense Financially, and for Education

    Dear Editor:

    Measure G will allow the students of Pacific Grove’s public schools to keep pace with changing 21st century educational technology while at the same time saving taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced borrowing costs. Read more…»

    Sam Farr’s Statement on the President’s State of the Union Speech

    Washington, DC – Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) released the following statement following the President’s State of the Union Speech: Read more…»

    OPINION: No $ for Mayors’ JPA. Pulling out is a better idea.

    As many feared, the Mayors’ JPA (Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority Board) is beginning to be expensive. Wednesday night, June 19 the City Council will consider an expenditure of $33,000 as Pacific Grove’s share of the costs of legal advice to the JPA Board, on top of $5,000 already appropriated as our share of a total budget – so far – of some $174,000 for the first year.

    We remain convinced that the Mayors’ JPA is redundant and expensive, as well as being “too little too late.” The Mayors have admitted that they do not have the expertise to undertake the question of water supply, so they seek to hire it done. Other agencies have been charged to do the same work, and instead of representing only 65.9 percent of the constituency as does the Mayors’ JPA, these other agencies represent the entire spectrum of ratepayers, both city residents and county residents.

    In fact, as Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala pointed out in his June 8, 2012 letter to California American Water, the “Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is the agency on the Peninsula charged with monitoring and managing our water supply. As a public agency with an elected body representing the entire Peninsula, the District should play a key role in solving our water crisis.”

    The same faces are at all the same meetings, including the Technical Advisory Committee. Ultimately the decision regarding water supply will rest with California American Water and the California Public Utilities Commission, which have already expressed a desire to use groundwater replenishment and aquifer storage and recovery as two points of a three-pronged system to provide water to the Peninsula. The Mayors’ JPA efforts at recommending those two systems is obviously a case of “preaching to the choir.”

    Cal-Am has already expressed their desire to “go it alone” without a public agency and build their own desalination plant. Why would they listen to the Mayors’ JPA?


    Pacific Grove has also undertaken an agreement with Moss Landing Commercial Park to build a desalination plant. (While allegedly set up to be a no-cost item for Pacific Grove, surely no one believes that will remain true in the long run.) Why are we participating in a potentially competing effort?

    The number of attorneys qualified to act in this capacity is woefully small in the Monterey Peninsula area, too. We already share our City Attorney with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. Part of the staff proposal involves the “concept of the JPA using our current City Attorneys at our meetings and as required.”

    We urge the City Council to, instead of appropriating $33,000 or even another cent to the Mayors’ JPA, withdraw from it at once. Our mayor and the mayors of the other five cities have serious problems at home and should be concentrating on those issues instead of duplicating the effort of others with more expertise, especially when the money could well be spent elsewhere in Pacific Grove.


    Opinion: A Tale of Two Cities + Response

    Was I the only one at the Pacific Grove Planning Commission meeting Feb. 2 who thoroughly resented the antics of those who opposed the application of the City to extend the hours at the Pt. Pinos Grill/Pacific Grove Golf Links? I don’t think so. Read more…»

    You already bought your ticket

    When I was in junior high school – called middle school here – and during my freshman year of high school, I lived in a small city in Wisconsin.
    It was still small enough that there was only one public high school, though it was growing and had split into two campuses. “South Campus,” the new complex that was meant for juniors and seniors, was the center of civic life in that city of 30,000. Read more…»

    Wasting our time and money

    From Cedar Street Times 01/20/12

    I have two items to talk about this week.
    The first is the Regional Water Authority, also known as the Mayors’ JPA, which I’m pretty sure is going to be a waste of money and time.
    The second is the “emergency” moratorium request to regulate adult-oriented businesses in Pacific Grove, which I’m pretty sure already was a
    waste of money and time. Read more…»

    Telling the Truth: Thoughts on Journalism and the Arts

    By Robert Lewis
    There is a clash of giants and percussion waves are pulsing through our culture and changing everything including the way we get out information and, ultimately, our truth. The clash is between the old way of getting the truth and the many new ways of getting it. This was the subject of the recent “Thinkfest” symposium held in Pacific Grove, California, called “I Read The News Today, Oh Boy!”. Titled after an exhibit that paired a poet and an artist together to respond to a news story in hopes of shedding light on this clash, the symposium, held in the chambers of the City Hall, was sponsored by the Poet-In-Residence program of the City of Pacific Grove. Here are my thoughts on the subject of journalism and the arts in this changing climate.
    The Origins of Journalism, A View
    One could make a case that the arts in earlier times were a form of journalism. They recorded and reported events that happened at a distance. Murals, bas reliefs, paintings, even buildings, though highly slanted to the benefit of the patron who sponsored it, told stories often but not always based on an incident, such as a battle, or a major event such as the destruction of a city. So, in that sense, the visual arts might be considered a forerunner of journalism. Journalism itself, the reporting of events as they happened, attempting to be faithful to the truth, is something that, like visual art, evolved out of a kind of royal propaganda. At some point the idea of truth emerged as a value in story-telling and at that point the best of journalism was born. Read more…»

    It’s time to stay out after dark

    OK, it seemed like a pretty flimsy way to go about it, but we were convinced it was legal and so were five of the seven members of the Pacific Grove City Council who passed an emergency ordinance to allow the dining purveyor at the Pt. Pinos Grill to remain open after “nautical twilight.”
    To echo the sentiments of many at the meeting, if not most people in town, “It’s time.” Read more…»

    The Butterfly Effect in Butterfly Town

    Vote or be quiet

    The voters of Pacific Grove have spoken.
    Sadly, only 2,833 of them had anything to say. That’s the number of people who voted on Measure U. Add another 720, probably from Pebble Beach, and you get the number of of people who voted on Measure V. Another 424, likely Carmel voters in Water District 4, voted in the race between Jeanne Byrne and Regina Doyle.
    There are 9,019 registered voters in Pacific Grove, so that means that 31.41 percent voted on Measure U. There are 12,679 registered voters in District 4 of the Water Management Board, of which 31.36 percent voted for their representatives. Of the 10,855 voters in the Pacific Grove Unified School District, 32.73 percent voted on the parcel tax measure. Read more…»

    Letters to the Editor and Editorials: Election Nov. 2011

    Note: We have noticed a lot of readers coming to our website as a result of certain search engine queries. These searches indicate to us that you, our readers, are looking for information and opinion about the water board candidates running in tomorrow’s election. Many, we know, have already voted. But for the others, we have taken all of the letters from our print version and lumped them here in this post to make it easy for you and, we hope, easier for you to make up your minds. The latest are the ones at the top and from there they go back in time. Editorials are at the end.

    Letter writers are wrong about Byrne and ‘scare tactics’

    Vicki Pearse, in her letter (October 21 issue) accused Jeanne Byrne of using “scare tactics” in her campaign. Time to set the record straight with facts.
    The Cease and Desist Order states as of December 31, 2016 Cal Am pumping from the Carmel River is limited to its legal right of 3,376 acre feet. Fact.
    The adjudication order for the Seaside Basin states Cal Am pumping from that basin is limited to 2,299 acre feet for 2017 and 1,820 acre feet in 2018. Fact.
    Residential water use will be limited to 35 gallons per day per person (current use, 60 gallons per day per person). Fact.
    This means the hospitality industry, for example, could be out of business without replacement water. 20,000+ jobs lost. $40 million of local tax revenues generated gone and TOT revenue drastically diluted, directly impacting city services. All fact. Read more…»

    Playing politics with public safety

    The embarrassing mess at the Sheriff’s Department stinks of sour grapes to us.

    We’re not arguing that an accused drug dealer should not have been arrested, no matter who his father is. But we think the whole thing was handled badly and that it was done in such a way as to embarrass Sheriff Scott Miller.

    Now we have the detective sergeant in charge of the investigation, Det. Sgt. Archie Warren, filing a lawsuit against his supervisor, Sheriff Miller, alleging that Miller jeopardized deputies’ safety and obstructed in the investigation and arrest of his son by phoning his wife moments before the officers arrived at the upstairs apartment.

    She probably already knew. Someone had tipped off the press and they were out there in droves, cameras rolling, as the arrest was made. So says our source, who was riding by on a bicycle.

    So who called the press? Not Sheriff Miller. We were on the phone with him within a short time and he assured us that he was unaware of the investigation and pending arrest until the officers were “knocking on the door.”

    Here’s who didn’t get a call: The Pacific Grove Police Department. When we called them, right after the incident, they were surprised. There had been — and rightly so — no indication that an investigation was taking place. Secrecy is vital to many investigations. But when armed men show up at a private residence in a quiet neighborhood, there’s a chance that someone will call the local police in a panic and mayhem could follow. We have confirmed with Pacific Grove Police Chief Darius Engles that there was not even so much as a courtesy call. Bad form on the part of Det. Sgt. Warren.

    Sheriff Miller has called for a California Department of Justice investigation. We applaud that action. Calling for any other jurisdiction to investigate would have had the odor of conflict of interest on the part of the sheriff.

    Now Warren’s attorney has tried to get a restraining order against Sheriff Miller and undersheriff Max Houser because Warren was questioned about the case, his office safe was searched, and he was transferred from narcotics to the coroner’s office and he felt it was retaliatory. The judge denied the request, saying that he just didn’t see anything to indicate that Warren was “facing retaliatory action.” In fact, what we learned Wednesday, July 13 was that Warren had been transferred because he tipped off the media about a pending pot raid on a cartel-run farm in Big Sur resulting, eventually, in the cancellation of the raid because of the disclosure to the public, and in yet-unknown costs for Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement helicopters and agents on the ground, not to mention their safety.

    Shortly after Jacob Miller’s arrest, we were advised that a man in South County was arrested on the same charges, but his name was withheld because it’s part of an ongoing investigation. So who made the meth that Jacob Miller is accused of offering for sale? Probably not him. Are they looking for the manufacturer now, who has been warned off by Jacob Miller’s arrest? We’d likely know if there were a meth lab in Pacific Grove. Meth labs smell a lot worse than sour grapes. Or do they?
    — Marge Ann Jameson

    Does this aluminum foil hat make my butt look fat?

    There were some very brave people at the City Council meeting last night — three representatives from PG&E. Not only were they in a serious minority, but they dared to sit with their backs to the crowd.

    And there was only one police officer present! (We should point out that that’s all there usually is, but the local Fox affiliate was freaked when three officers showed up for crowd control at the previous meeting. At that meeting, the issue of PG&E Smart Meters was taken up, and they had to continue it until this week.) The hoped-for riot never materialized, but the television station was there beaming high frequency messages at all of us, listening for a sound byte but only getting an interview with Cdr. John, also known as Det. Laid Back

    So last night everyone donned their aluminum foil hats and took their seats after the pledge of allegiance, those who could find a seat. It was not TRO, but SRO in the council chambers, with a long line for public comment when Smart Meters came up on the agenda. Me, I had my usual press box seat next to Kevin, who was reading a John Forsyth novel called “The Afghan.” I was reminded that I should have brought my crochet work to make some more of those tacky butterflies I’ve been making for the tourists, but it was too late.

    “They’re ruining my lungs!” “I’ll get brain cancer!” “My children! And my ability to have more!” “Save the butterflies!” Truth is, nobody knows for sure what these Smart Meters will do, but it seemed pretty obvious that a big issue with the speakers was that PG&E would have the ability to turn off one’s electricity remotely, whether to protect the power grid during peak use times or for non-payment of the bill. Anyone who has let their power bill float until the 24-hour notice arrives in the mail knows what that’s all about.

    No one rioted or tried to storm the councilmembers, but Dilbert did have a slide show and why was I not surprised? He tried to tie the Smart Meters to the San Bruno blast but no one questioned him. Good thing — we’d have been there all night while he made another slide show. Trouble was, those nudniks applauded, which likely will only make the show longer next time. Obviously they haven’t had to sit through 20 or so of these things as I have.

    Now, I have to admit that there was one little old lady who wouldn’t sit down and eat her mushrooms, but kept hopping up and down and shouting “Arrest me! Arrest me!” Maybe she had a crush on Det Laid Back. She finally got hoarse and gave up just as Darius was moving in for the grab. There was another in the front row who, having been squelched by the buzzer after her allotted three minutes, kept waving signs at the dais. She gave up when Bill said, “Ma’am, I can’t read your writing.”

    Besides the health issues. the question of allowing Smart Meters to be installed when only the babysitter was home also became one of personal power, or the lack thereof. “Don’t tell me I gotta keep up with the times, especially when these things are waving micros around.” “Never mind how long I talk on my cell phone every day!”

    It took three iterations and three separate votes, but the council finally voted not to do much. No ban, no moratorium, no strong message to Congress. Nope, after the debacle with the Citizen’s Retirement Initiative (during which they wouldn’t listen to the City Attorney or the City Manager who both cautioned that they didn’t have the jurisdiction and would wind up getting sued) that got us sued by the police department, the council decided they didn’t have the jurisdiction and voted to have staff do some more research.

    Meanwhile, deep in the dark woods of Rip Van Winkle Open Space, there lurks a hairless coyote who got too close to the cell phone tower out by the butterfly sanctuary. Maybe he will come testify April 6 when the item comes up again.

    As for the city council, they took a break and I took a hike.


    More Credible Info Needed on Smart Meters


    I must take issue with the Robert Frischmuth letter regarding Smart Meter deployment – on practically everything. Coming from the  electrical industry, Mr. Frischmuth’s opinions may be credible, but then again……. He wants to tell us what he knows, but apparently doesn’t know that much.  He claims that health hazards are mere perceptions, but tell that to the people who are currently suffering from EMF exposure. The frequency range that Smartmeters function in have been studied by the US military and have been rejected because they were too dangerous, and potentially lethal.

    As for FCC standards, well, aside from having some of the lowest standards in the world, Read more…»

    Smart Meters a Dumb Idea

    Dear Council People:
    Special Council Meter Meeting Wed @ 6 pm

    PG & E will pass the excessive cost of these 10.4 million new meters on to consumers @$245 per meter= $2.5 billion. It will take about 40 years to recoup the savings of not having meter readers anymore. By that time the meters may wear out and need to be replaced again. This is a bad investment that consumers will pay for.

    Here from a recent Wall Street Journal article on Smart Meters: Smart Meters a Dumb Idea

    “Concerns have arisen in California, too, where the state’s three big Read more…»

    Pushing all the wrong buttons

    By Cameron Douglas, Guest Snarker

    The huge copy machine sits near the front door of our newspaper office; a device of imposing physical size that could have been R2-D2’s bodyguard. We’ll call him MAX-1000. A proud machine that can make copies 87 different ways.
    I just have no idea how to make him do it. All my attempts to interact with MAX-1000 end with desperate pleas to my editor for assistance. After all, it’s her machine. The two of them go way back. I think they rode together in a holy crusade against the country of Xeroxia. She brought the mighty machine into the office to fill a need in the community, nobly making copies for anyone walking in the door for a tiny fee. I forget how much.
    It’s not that I don’t want to understand MAX-1000. There just isn’t time. In the busy world of journalism, it’s all we can do to maintain cordial relationships with our desktop computers, which, on occasion, plot with MAX-1000 in the dead of night to commit joint rebellions the next day.
    So when the demure lady walked in the other day asking how she could make copies, I panicked. Her Editorness was out of the office and it would be up to me. OK, I reasoned, I’m a grown man, there are buttons I can push, eventually something’s gotta happen. Unfortunately, the only buttons I pushed belonged to the demure lady.

    “How does it work with the copy machine?” she asked.
    “How many copies do you need?” The question drew a blank stare. So I elaborated: “One, ten, a hundred?”
    “Oh, I don’t need that many,” she replied. “Why, does it make a difference?” 
    It didn’t seem to be going well. I decided if I stood closer, we could communicate better. Big mistake. She recoiled as if King Kong were reaching his massive hand out to grab her up like Faye Wray. My efforts to be in command of the situation had gone awry. Was I being pushy? Was it my intensity, racing the clock against deadline? Was it MAX-1000’s forbidding stature? Or did she have something to hide in that shopping bag full of papers?
    “How much are the copies?” the lady asked.

    I didn’t know; so I did a song-and-dance, hoping MAX-1000’s long-time friend would return and save the day. “It depends,” I said. “Why don’t you show me what you have and we’ll figure it out.”  
    “Oh, never mind,” she snapped. She slammed the bag shut and started for the door. I got the feeling she didn’t want me to see the contents of the bag. My reporter’s mind wondered just exactly what she might be toting around in there. Secret plans to overthrow Pacific Grove? Torrid letters from some deliciously illicit love affair? Her life’s collection of grocery lists? 
    On her way out, she called over her shoulder, “You’re a little condescending, you know.”
    Condescending? My feelings were hurt. I thought I was at least overbearing. 
    MAX-1000 just sneered at me.

    Where’s the Condor?

    The Jan. 19 City Council meeting had all the marks of being another boring evening, if one were to judge by the agenda. The first clue, however, that it was going to be Another One of Those Nights was the sight of a certain retired attorney with a very large, bullying voice, lips tightly pursed, getting out of his Mercedes. True to form he got up at oral communications and berated everyone with his version of the CalPERS issue. Like he was going to surprise anyone. And he didn’t.

    Some woman from some group I never heard of got up to talk about the county economic report, and too late to take notes I realized that she was making sense. She was at the end of her talk before I realized why:
    She didn’t mention the King of the Chamber of Commerce, let alone credit him with anything. That explained the spluttering sounds I heard from the general direction of where I had noticed him sitting.

    Lee tried to convince us that having liquor at the golf course would result in people throwing up in her yard. Or was that last week? She doesn’t live very close to the golf course, however. Another familiar former candidate for mayor said something similar, with about the same effect. Or was that last week?

    Deputy Jim presented some potential changes in the litany of city employees, one of which was the elimination of the position of gift shop manager at the Museum. Well, that set the mayor off. “Is the gift shop manager eliminated because the job went to the foundation — are we still going to have it or is the person eliminated too?” Lucky for the unfortunate gift shop manager, she keeps her job as she now works for the Foundation. No point in carrying her on the books, you see.
    “Where’s the condor?” Dan-O asked.

    Best not to let that gift shop manager too far out of our sight — maybe she has something to do with the missing condor.

    They thrashed around the interim operation of the Pt. Pinos Grill, with staff asking for a whole bunch of money (like $220,000) and promising to earn a whole bunch ($230,000. Hello?) The point was made that they really only expected to have to have the money until the question of the new concessionaire and the potential liquor license were approved, plus lights to keep us from falling on your faces if we all get drunk.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the poor golf pro is running the show. “What does he know about running a restaurant?” asked Dan-O. Probably no more than he knows about the missing condor.

    The rest of the meeting was contentious, to say the least, with Dan-O showing his colors over the question of hiring a real pro at the tennis courts, not allowing himself to be recused even though he lives across from the courts (he rents, you know, and says he has no financial interest in the ancestral seat — how did that happen? Anything to do with a condor?) He wanted it to be about noise that could potentially annoy his twins if people actually used the tennis courts. Alan wanted to make it about Dan’s brother (You Know Who) and the fight was on. Much shouting (on Alan’s part)  and pointing of fingers and shouting (on Dan-O’s part) and shifting of seats on the part of everyone else, including Darius. The condor, he lay low.

    There were two 4-3 votes that evening, demonstrated a less-than-cohesive city council, and I only have one piece of advice: Saying “No!” louder doesn’t increase the count for your side.

    Trees vs. City Council: The Never Ending Story

    At the recent City Council meeting, Roger stopped by the Press Paddock to berate Kevin because the Herald had updated the count on its website to 250 people in favor of liquor at the golf course. Kevin allowed as how he had nothing to do with it, either the online survey or the golf course. Obiwank wished me a happy new year. The police were there congratulating themselves and pledging the flag, so I took their picture and put it in the paper.

    Everyone got all confused between Mo Roddick and Moe Ammar, but here’s how you can tell the difference: Mo Roddick wears a police uniform. Moe Ammar wears advertising T-shirts.

    The Usual Suspects (plus some hysterical blonde woman with a bad haircut whose name luckily escapes me) got up and ranted about the prospect of serving alcohol at the golf course, forgetting that the golf course was given to all the citizens of Pacific Grove and not just those who live there or nearby.  Roger said that the Herald had actually had the temerity to update the count on its website to 300 people in favor of liquor at the golf course, but I didn’t catch the part where he checked it again in between berating Kevin and getting up to talk. That extra 50 people were pretty speedy with the mouse.

    One very calm lady representing the women’s club got up and said she thought it was a grand idea.

    Snick sang some song about TOT (or was the meeting before when he sang us all a Christmas carol?) and we all settled down to business. Obiwank wished me a happy new year.

    The council thrashed around the consent agenda, with its life-changing items about laundry service and crack sealing. That one worried me, but no one else seemed concerned. Dilbert put in his two cents’ worth, but there was no slide show.

    Lynn from CDD sat in the hot seat and answered questions about the sign code, and  a new planner named Ashley sat in the hot seat and answered questions about windows. Dilbert put in his two cents’ worth, but there was no slide show. Kevin did the crossword from the Sunday Chronicle pink section, in ink.

    And then, sounding suspiciously like a broken record, the Tree Ordinance came up. The Ladies in Green were there, and allowed as how it was OK. Dilberry got up and put his two cents’ worth in, but there was no slide show. And then, after all these years and meetings and drafts and tears and hollering, the mayor actually moved to go back to the original one and just make a couple of changes. There were some resounding clunks as everyone’s chins hit their respective chests; but we survived, everyone ignored her, and we went back to the business at hand. They did not, however, pass the tree ordinance.

    Earlier I had raised questions (in writing, to save time) about the Visitors’ Center that Moe has plotted. If you read Cedar Street Times, you know the story: A mother/daughter-run restaurant got kicked out after 27 years in the same location because Moe wants the location, which is about three times as big as the one in Monterey for a city that’s not half as big. I had questions about the budget: $179,000 for four months, nothing matching, lots of stuff missing. Tom forwarded it to Moe and he answered in writing but unfortunately that also gave him time to strengthen his case and write a speech for Henry who dutifully got up and said it was a good idea, even though Henry is the Chamber president or manager or whatever he is, and the Visitors’ Center is supposed to be about HID. Here’s how the deliberation went:

    Moe: It will be a wonderful thing! The money is all there.

    Councilmember: So who paid the deposit?

    Moe:The Chamber.

    Councilmember: So whose Visitors Center is it, the Chamber’s or the HID?

    Moe: The HID. The chamber has nothing to do with it.

    Councilmember: So who took care of the insurance?

    Moe: The Chamber.

    Councilmember: So whose Visitors Center is it, the Chamber’s or the HID?

    Moe: The HID. The chamber has nothing to do with it.

    Councilmember: So who’s going to staff it? You have this $8000 item for payroll.

    Moe: Chamber volunteers. They’ll work for free,

    And so it went until the real question got asked:
    Councilmember: If the whole thing fails, who’s on the stick?

    Moe: The HID. The chamber has nothing to do with it.

    Councilmember: Not the city?

    Moe: No.

    So everyone patted each other on the back and OK’d giving Moe $179,000 and withdrawing the HID’s advertising budget. Kevin finished his crossword and ran out to file his story on trees, Dilbert commented three more times over the rest of the evening, and Obiwank wished me happy new year.

    Wait. Isn’t the HID a City entity? How is the city not going to be on the hook? Don’t ask me, I’m still looking for the condor.

    Saturday is the planning session. Don’t know if Dilbert will be there, but Moe probably won’t be. He’ll be in his advertising Tshirt supervising his new $179,000 Visitor’s Center.

    We are a society of slow learners

    Christopher Veloz, the 19 year-old accused of hosting a party where minors were served alcohol (against a Pacific Grove city ordinance), has pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge and, in an agreement among the defense attorney, the City’s attorney and the judge was sentenced to six months in county jail, suspended for one year provided Veloz submits proof he has finished 40 hours of community service by Jan. 7. The case will likely be reviewed in September and Veloz may seek to have the suspended sentence lifted and the misdemeanor conviction converted to an infraction.

    This is not even a slap on the wrist. It’s more akin to a disapproving glance. Read more…»

    Re: Mayor Cort Resignation

    Not only has Mr. Dilworth shown his total disregard for his city in threatening the Mayor with a recall, he’s also targeted Bill Kemp, Vickie Stillwell and Deborah Lindsay as people he thinks should go.

    What excellent timing! Is this what PG really needs right now? I’m sure a prospective City Manager will just jump at the chance to get all cozy with us Pagrovians now.

    What is this really about? Is this about Dan and these Council members voting on pay schedules for the City? No. Is this about the Library? The Dog Park? The Museum?


    This is, quite simply, about David Dilworths lifelong search for acceptance. He’s chosen crusade after crusade, not only to help the environment, to stop the spray, to keep the forests healthy, but to satisfy his own sense of self worth.

    Don’t get me wrong, us frogs appreciate the work he’s done on the environment, we really do, but this latest move shows not only a complete lack of understanding of the situation we are faced with, but a complete lack of honor. David has smiled into the faces of the same people he attempts to destroy.

    Most folks in PG understand this about David. It’s why he came in almost dead last in his bid for City Council.

    Thanks for the help on the forests David, but you really need to stay out of politics. You have hurt the city today.


    Farmers’ Market Conundrum

    An editorial feature by Jon Guthrie

    There’s just something special about a farmer’s market!

    But exactly what is hard to say.  There’re certainly the bins and barrels of fresh vegetables (Oh, those squash!) and the buckets of flowers; the trays of baked goods and fruit and candies.  There’s also the camaraderie, the companionship, the amity … the community solidarity and comradeship brought on by all sorts of vendors and all sorts of customers who become united neighbors in this brief moment of commonality.

    But there are those few who shun such community activities, give them little weight, set amity aside in favor of enmity.  According to these opinions, such events lower merchants’ income, are held in the wrong places, absorb too many already-scarce resources, cause traffic jams, and are general pains-in-the-neck.  These are the well-meaning factionists who-sometimes for sound reasons-fail to join the good spirits and revelry. Read more…»

    Pollaci Story Clarifications

    Editorial Comment by Marge Ann Jameson
    Editor, Cedar Street Times

    On Thursday, March 12, 2009, the Carmel Pine Cone was printed and distributed, but as of Friday, March 13, there were no copies of it to be found in the usual racks in Pacific Grove where it is distributed for free.

    Cdr. John Nyunt of the Pacific Grove Police Department said that it was not available in other cities, either. Read more…»

    Theft of newspapers to suppress story?