Family seeks reports in police shooting

Henry K. Lee
SF Chronicle, July 20, 2012

Relatives of a man shot and killed by Oakland police lashed out at the department Thursday, saying they have been unable to obtain a full accounting of what led to his death.

Alan Blueford, 18, was shot after witnesses said he pointed a gun at an officer early May 6 during a chase near 92nd Avenue and Birch Street in East Oakland, according to police.

But Blueford’s relatives reiterated Thursday that they didn’t believe the police version of events. They said they want to see the police report to learn more about the circumstances of the slaying, including why the officer opened fire and whether Blueford received medical care after being shot.

“I cannot begin to tell you what this has done to my life and my family,” said Blueford’s mother, Jeralynn Blueford, 46, of Tracy, at a news conference outside the coroner’s office in downtown Oakland. “I, as his mother – we, as parents – deserve to know what happened to our baby.”

Adam Blueford, the dead man’s father, said, “We want the truth. We’re not going to stand for anything but the truth.”

Representatives of police and the district attorney’s office said they have not turned over their findings to the family because the investigations are still open.

“We established lines of communication with the family early on, and we have continued to share information as it becomes available for release,” said Sgt. Chris Bolton, chief of staff for Chief Howard Jordan.

The incident began when an officer, identified by sources as Miguel Masso, and his partner saw Blueford and two companions on the 1900 block of 90th Avenue shortly after midnight. Blueford appeared to be hiding a gun, police said.

Blueford ran and twice pointed a gun at Masso, who responded with four shots, according to Masso’s attorney, Harry Stern.

Three shots hit Blueford, and the fourth hit the officer in the leg, police said.

Several independent witnesses said they had seen Blueford point the gun, Bolton said.

A gun was recovered at the scene, police said. Investigators do not believe it was fired.

Blueford was on the verge of graduating from Skyline High School in Oakland. He was on felony probation for a burglary conviction from San Joaquin County, Bolton said.

Dan Siegel, an attorney who previously served as legal adviser for Mayor Jean Quan, said at the news conference that authorities’ disclosure of Blueford’s criminal history and their reluctance to release information was “absolutely contemptible” and “slander.”

Stabbing suspect shot by SF police has died

Associated Press

July 19, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco police say a man shot by an officer has died after he allegedly attacked a co-worker at a chocolate factory moments earlier.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said the shooting occurred Wednesday in the city’s Financial District shortly after the 30-year-old temporary worker slashed his co-worker in the arm with a box cutter at the TCHO New American Chocolate at Pier 17 along the city’s Embarcadero.

Suhr said a female officer giving chase ordered the suspect to drop the box cutter when he lunged at her with it. She shot him twice in the upper torso.

Suhr said officers began performing CPR on the suspect as he was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries. The suspect’s name has not been released.

Police say the slashing victim at the factory suffered minor injuries.

Facing Foreclosure After 50

NY Times: July 19, 2012

T. Lynne Pixley for The New York Times
Roy Johnson, 79, recently lost the home he built 48 years earlier in Georgia to foreclosure. Older Americans are increasingly facing this problem.

MABLETON, Ga. — Roy Johnson fell so far behind on his $1,000-per-month mortgage payments that last year he allowed the redbrick, three-bedroom ranch he had owned since 1963 to lapse into foreclosure.

“I couldn’t pay it any longer,” he said. “One day, I woke up and said, ‘Hell, I’m through with it. I’m walking away from the house.’ ”

That decision swept Mr. Johnson, 79, into a rapidly expanding demographic: older Americans who have lost their homes in the Great Recession. As he hauled his belongings by pickup truck from this Atlanta suburb and moved into his daughter’s basement, Mr. Johnson became one of the one and a half million Americans over the age of 50 who lost their houses to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011. Of those, the highest foreclosure rate was for homeowners over 75.

Once viewed as the most fiscally stable age group, older people are flailing. On Wednesday, AARP released what it described as the most comprehensive analysis yet of why the foreclosure crisis struck so many Americans in their retirement years. The report found that while people under 50 are the group most likely to face foreclosure, the risk of “serious delinquency” on mortgages has grown fastest for people over 50.

While the study classified even baby boomers as “older Americans,” its most dire findings were for the oldest group. Among people over 75, the foreclosure rate grew more than eightfold from 2007 to 2011, to 3 percent of that group of homeowners, the report found.

“Despite the perception that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than three million are at risk of losing their homes,” the report found. “As the mortgage crisis continues, millions of older Americans are struggling to maintain their financial security.”

The report was based on nationwide loan data that covered a five-year span. The profile of those facing foreclosure has changed since 2007. As the average age and wealth of those people rise, their foreclosures are less likely to involve high-interest loans. In fact, most foreclosures are now the result of prime loans rather than subprime ones, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Instead, older Americans are losing their homes because of pension cuts, rising medical costs, shrinking stock portfolios and falling property values, according to Debra Whitman, AARP’s executive vice president for policy. They are also not saving enough money. Half of households whose head is between 65 and 74 have no money in retirement accounts, according to the Federal Reserve.

At CredAbility, an Atlanta-based credit counseling agency, the average age of callers needing help has risen to 49 from 43 in recent years. Scott Scredon, a spokesman for the agency, said most older Americans facing foreclosure are frugal but are unable to live on fixed incomes with the rising cost of living.

“When we think of foreclosures, we think of someone who was a little reckless and spent beyond their means,” he said. “The older the person, the less likely that is to be the case.”

Foreclosures create unique challenges for older people, Ms. Whitman said. They are less able to find new jobs and more vulnerable to becoming homeless, analysts say.

In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Charlotte Orton’s three-bedroom apartment has been under foreclosure for four months. Since losing her job as a real estate agent, Ms. Orton’s only source of income has been Social Security payments of $1,200 per month.

If she is evicted, Ms. Orton, 69, who has no family members in Florida, says she does not know where she will live.

“This is the lowest point in my entire life,” she said. “If I were in my 30s, it would be easier to get employment. But all they want to know is what your recent experience is, and the real estate market has collapsed.”

Other older foreclosure victims have managed to negotiate with banks to stay in their houses. Josephine Tolbert, 76, was temporarily evicted from her house in San Francisco for two weeks. Protesters from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment staged a sit-in at Bank of America, and eventually Ms. Tolbert was able to renegotiate her loan.

“At my age, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “But let me tell you, it was a fight.”

Selling houses is also a challenge for many older people. The value of real estate has collapsed, especially in wealthy suburbs of Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and other sprawling metropolitan areas.

For Mr. Johnson, it was painful to watch the house he built 48 years earlier sell for only $33,000 at auction last year.

Now he lives in what his 55-year-old daughter calls his “man cave” in her basement. It is an hour away from his old house. Although Mr. Johnson is grateful to have been helped by a relative, he misses having space for all of his belongings and the tree from which he made pear preserves.

“I planned to die in that house,” he said. “But I guess it won’t work out that way.”

One-Way Relationship

City funds bus tickets out of Santa Cruz for homeless people

Dan Woo

Good Times, 17 July 2012

Up to 375 homeless people could be riding buses home courtesy of the City of Santa Cruz by this time next year. This is the hoped-for result of $25,000 the city council devoted to the Homeward Bound Project when they approved the city’s new budget at their June 26 meeting. The council used the name of an existing program run by the Homeless Services Center (HSC), which has helped about 75 people per year leave the area since 2006, according to HSC Director Monica Martinez. The effort has been funded by private donations.

The city funds will boost HSC’s coffers for bus tickets to $15,000, while also providing $10,000 to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department and $5,000 to Downtown Outreach Workers (DOWs) for the same purpose.

Martinez says these bus tickets home are one of the most sought-after services at the center. “We could probably spend as much as anyone would allocate for this,” she says of the demand. “Our current funding depletes very quickly.”

In doling out these passes, Martinez says the HSC is not simply pushing the issue of homelessness on to other communities. Case managers contact family or friends who are in a position to help the person at their chosen destination. They also explore likely job opportunities that may be waiting when they arrive.

This process is new to the Sheriff’s Department and DOWs, and although the core principles are the same, there are differences to be addressed before the money starts being spent.

One of these distinctions arose when residents outraged by recent violence proposed that homeless inmates at the Santa Cruz County Jail be sent to their former homes upon release. This is impossible in many cases because released inmates are free to go where they please unless the courts bar them from a certain area, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said in a May Santa Cruz Sentinel article. But with the proper resources to research a person’s destination they could conceivably offer tickets out of town to selected former inmates.

Good Times contacted Sheriff’s Deputy April Skalland for an update on how they are resolving these issues, but received no reply as of this writing.

The DOWs’ role in the program is more similar to the HSC’s, as they often deal with homeless people asking for a way out of Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz City Manager Martin Bernal’s office is currently working out who will oversee the new parts of the program run by the Sheriff’s Department and DOWs to find the most compassionate and effective way to give out the tickets.

City councilmembers Hilary Bryant, Lynn Robinson and Ryan Coonerty are also offering ways to make the program work in the Sheriff’s Department, according to Assistant City Manager Scott Collins.

The $10,000 addition by the city to the HSC’s private funds will result in some oversight of the HSC program, according to Mayor Don Lane, but he expects that to be minimal.

“There is no agreement with the Sheriff’s [Department] or Downtown Outreach [Workers] yet on how it will work,” he says. “It’s easier with the HSC because they have an existing program, so the city manager will just make sure their system is working.”

New York City has a similar program, on which they spend $500,000 each year, according to a New York Times article from July 28, 2009. Social workers there follow up with ticket recipients up to three weeks after a person’s departure and even cover some living expenses while a person gets their life rolling again.

Robert Norse of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) says that the program isn’t a solution.

“[Homeward Bound] is less about providing services to people and more about getting people out of Santa Cruz that the merchants don’t want here,” says Norse.

Martinez estimates that less than 10 percent of people who receive bus tickets return to Santa Cruz. However, she adds that the only way they would know is if the person returned to their facilities again.

She offers advice that could help the program in all three involved agencies.

“The most important part is understanding their needs and identifying the opportunities at their destination,” she says. “We don’t in any way want to be shipping homelessness around.”

Surfer, carpenter father makes first Santa Cruz City Council bid: Jake Fusari wants to create more jobs

Santa Cruz Sentinel 07/17/2012

SANTA CRUZ — At 28, surfer and carpenter Jake Fusari is hoping what he lacks in political experience he can make up with a fresh perspective that looks out for young families like his.

Fusari, a third-generation Santa Cruzan, hopes his focus on job creation, tourism promotion, public safety and cleaning up the beaches will resonate with residents in their late 20s, 30s and early 40s. The first-time City Council candidate wants to raise tax revenue to better equip police for fighting gang violence, prostitution and aggressive panhandling downtown and in the beach area.

“What we are lacking is common ground between people who want to grow and environmentalists and developers to find solutions where we can grow a little bit,” Fusari said. “We need to generate more revenue for the city to afford the things we need for cleaning up our streets.”

The Westside resident’s message mirrors that of a trio of candidates — Hilary Bryant, Lynn Robinson and David Terrazas — who won seats in 2010. Those council members are in their 40s or 50s, and each had some civic service under their belt before running for council.

But Fusari only sees his youth as an advantage.

“I want to encourage other people of my demographic to become more involved in politics and in the community,” he said. “It’s our time, and it is our responsibility as natives to say, ‘We are going to put a better foot forward. We have to get out there and make a difference.’”

Fusari was disappointed by the state Coastal Commission’s denial in November of the plans for a full-scale hotel at the site of the crumbling historic seaside La Bahia. He hopes another plan is developed by the property owners, saying too many regulations on development keep new business at bay and strangle job creation that keeps youth and others out of trouble.

“I view the system failing all of us as the problem,” he said.

Fusari, a Santa Cruz High graduate who has surfed for 20 years, wants to help clean up Cowell Beach, a legendary surfing spot plagued by pollution. As for another critical environmental issue, he is cautious about a proposed desalination plant likely to be voted on by the council in the next two years, saying its potential marine impacts and high-energy and financial costs should make it a last resort for water supply.

Fusari works as a carpenter for his father’s Fusari’s Construction and George Bros. Construction, whose owner supports Fusari’s designs on bettering the economy and making Santa Cruz more affordable.

“What does Santa Cruz have to offer a young family?” Matt George said. “How is he supposed to thrive if there is not a focus on helping to create opportunities and a livable wage?”

Fusari and his wife, the former Keshia Caviglia, whose family owns the new Louie’s Cajun Kitchen and Bourbon Bar that replaced Clouds downtown, have a 19-month-old son.

Four seats are up for grabs in the Nov. 6 contest. The nomination period opened Monday and closes Aug. 10.

Other candidates are Take Back Santa Cruz board member Pamela Comstock, Mayor Don Lane, former mayor Cynthia Mathews, county Democratic Party chair Richelle Noroyan, nonprofit director Cece Pinheiro, volunteer Steve Pleich and bicycling advocate Micah Posner.

PETA pans S.F. plan on panhandlers, pups

Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross
SF Chronicle, July 15, 2012

Animal rights activists are offering San Francisco $10,000 to halt its plan to pay panhandlers to take care of unwanted pups, saying the city’s idea is tantamount to playing “Russian roulette” with the pets.

In a sharply worded letter to Mayor Ed Lee, PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – called the paid-pet partner idea “a disastrous plan that will come back to haunt the city.”

Former San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, now the mayor’s homelessness chief, recently announced the pilot program – dubbed Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or WOOF – to have panhandlers living in city-funded supportive housing give up begging. In exchange, they would get $50- to $75-a-week stipends to become foster parents for puppies that might otherwise be euthanized at the city’s animal shelter.

“Ultimately we want to see people live purposeful and full lives, and this is a step in the right direction,” Dufty said.

Teresa Chagrin, a rep for PETA’s cruelty investigations department in Norfolk, Va., called the plan “slapdash” and “ill-conceived.”

“Most former panhandlers are financially destitute because of struggles with substance abuse and mental-health issues,” Chagrin wrote to the mayor. “Placing any animal with them is risky at best, (and) it should be out of the question to play Russian roulette with these animals, allowing them to be used as lures or pawns.”

Rather than have San Francisco risk the dogs’ injury or even death by handing them to “troubled people,” Chagrin said, “PETA is willing to put up $10,000” – equal to the private grant being used to launch the effort – if the city will instead institute a program for the down-and-outers that is “100 percent animal-free.”

From the looks of things, however, PETA is barking up the wrong tree.

Dufty says the city is committed to the two-month pilot, which is scheduled to start early next month, using five dogs and 10 caregivers who have gone through screening.

If it works as he expects, says Dufty, he’ll have proved “it’s great to give both dogs and people a second chance.”

Judged: That convicted car burglar who blew his probation by walking out of Judge Lillian Sing‘s neighborhood court last month in San Francisco and breaking into her car has been slapped with the maximum three-year jail sentence.

Under state sentencing guidelines, Phillip Bernard, 32, will actually serve only eight months, according to prosecutor Omid Talai.

After Bernard pleaded guilty Friday in Superior Court, visiting Santa Clara County Judge Leslie Nichols revoked his probation from a previous car burglary and handed down the new sentence.

Besides the jail term, Bernard – who is homeless – was ordered to pay $250 in restitution for smashing Sing’s car window.

After he was arrested, Bernard allegedly told officers, “I will keep breaking into cars and houses. I will keep doing it and doing it and doing it.”

Not for a while at least.

Hybrid vote: Ranked-choice voting takes another turn at the table Tuesday when San Francisco supervisors decide what changes, if any, they want to put before voters this fall.

The only race under consideration is the mayoral sweepstakes.

Supervisor Mark Farrell is proposing a straight-up September primary, followed by a November runoff.

Board President David Chiu is countering with a hybrid of a ranked-choice primary that would whittle the field down to two – followed by a runoff.

Port play: With the threat of a recall behind her, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is making her move on the city’s Port Commission – bouncing one of the members whose threatened removal had prompted African American activists to start one of the recall efforts.

On Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to replace commission member Margaret Gordon with health care executive Bryan Parker. Gordon’s backers were among those who failed to get a Quan recall on the ballot.

At the same meeting, Quan will also ask that businessman Ces Butner replace Port Commission President Pamela Calloway.

As for the politics: “What you have is two African American men replacing two African American women,” said council President Larry Reid.

And finally: After a contentious meeting with San Francisco officials, Graffeo Coffee owner Luciano Repetto pretty well summed up the reaction of fellow merchants to that plan to tear up a North Beach intersection for a temporary drilling shaft as part of the construction of the Central Subway to Chinatown:

“North Beach gets the shaft – and Chinatown gets the benefits.”

Former schools trustee, CTV executive to make City Council bid: Cece Pinheiro joins fray in Santa Cruz’s November contest

Santa Cruz Sentinel 07/14/2012

SANTA CRUZ – After seven years directing a nonprofit for special education families, former school board member Cece Pinheiro is taking a second shot at elected office.

Pinheiro, 54, who remains politically well-connected after leaving the board and a leadership post at Community TV, will be a candidate in November’s City Council election. Having moved back to Santa Cruz in May after a number of years living in Live Oak, Pinheiro announced her candidacy at the Dike March on June’s Gay Pride weekend.

“I have been waiting all these years for a lesbian to run, and nobody has stepped up,” she said. “We live in this little bubble of Santa Cruz. We have gay rights, but people are still being discriminated against.”

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, she became enthralled with politics during an American government class at Santa Cruz High. She hoped to run for office someday, getting her chance in 2002 when she campaigned successfully for a seat on the board of Santa Cruz City Schools, where she worked for 15 years and served as union president for classified workers.

She was part of a majority of trustees who voted to close two elementary schools to cut costs – a decision that roiled the community.

“It certainly felt it was the right thing to do at the time,” she said of the 2005 decision. “In hindsight, could we have done it differently? Maybe. Would we have been able to maintain staffing?”

She said she was worried at the time about aides and other lower-paid workers losing hours.

“Any special ed teacher will tell you, ‘You can’t run a classroom without an aide,'” she said.

Pinheiro resigned her seat a year before her term was up to take the helm of the Special Parents Information Network, a nonprofit that provides support for parents of children with special needs. Previously, she worked as assistant director for Community TV and served on that organization’s board.

“She’s very approachable and accessible. I think those are important qualities for anyone serving on the council,” said the station’s former executive director, Geoffrey Dunn. “Cece can relate to a very broad spectrum of Santa Cruzans, regardless of their political perspective. She puts people over politics.”

On the council, Pinheiro said she would focus on the local economy, drawing on the university’s high-tech influence to bring more visitors and business. She’d like professors to do continuing education units at the Tannery Arts Center or Museum of Art and History.

The nomination period for council candidates opens Monday. There are four seats up for grabs in the Nov. 6 contest.

Other candidates who have filed a statement of intent are Take Back Santa Cruz board member Pamela Comstock, resident Jake Fusari, Mayor Don Lane, former mayor Cynthia Mathews, county Democratic Party chair Richelle Noroyan, volunteer Steve Pleich and bicycling advocate Micah Posner.

Volunteer makes second bid for Santa Cruz City Council: Steve Pleich opposed to desal, wants more affordable housing

Santa Cruz Sentinel 07/13/2012

SANTA CRUZ – Steve Pleich will be hard to miss as he and other City Council candidates line up for November’s race.

At 6 feet 5 inches tall with a shock of platinum blond hair, Pleich wears Hawaiian shirts and is a fixture at community events. And he’d like to move from his usual seat in the third row of the Council Chamber to the dais.

The 53-year-old part-time grant writer and avid volunteer is making a second effort to join the council. In 2010, he placed second to last in a field of eight, didn’t raise much money and had no real campaign structure.

This time around, Pleich said he’s more prepared, actively fundraising so he can buy yard signs and seeking endorsements of his main message – to make government and all the services it provides more accessible. A member of Occupy Santa Cruz and a longtime advocate for the homeless, Pleich believes the city needs to be more responsive to the community.

“Our City Council has not moved quickly enough nor strongly enough toward supporting the creation of affordable housing and the creation of more jobs here,” Pleich said.

Rather than invest $3.5 million in a new stadium for the Golden State Warriors Development League team, Pleich said he would rather see the city refurbish the Pogonip clubhouse or tackle other long-standing projects.

The next council likely will vote on a proposed desalination plant. As a supporter of Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives, Pleich is opposed to the facility, saying he believes conservation and other measures could make the costly supply-boosting project unnecessary.

Pleich volunteers with Save Our Shores and helps with the annual Community Thanksgiving dinner. He worked with other community members last year to raise money and interest in reopening the big pool at Harvey West Park, which the city did in June on a temporary basis.

Pleich, who grew up in the East Bay and came to Santa Cruz in 1999, lives in an RV that he sometimes parks at the Circle Church on the Westside, an arrangement he made with the church a couple months ago. Pleich said he moved there from Live Oak expressly to qualify for the council contest, but he also works with the church and several others on a homeless shelter program.

Pastor Steve DeFields-Gambrel said the church often allows people to stay in the church lot for varying lengths of time. Any more than three parties would violate the city’s camping ban, and he said Pleich is rarely there during the day anyway because he is often on the go.

“We work out an understanding with each individual person,” he said.

City Clerk Bren Lehr said, according to the county elections division, Pleich qualifies to be a candidate because he registered to vote using the church address. Records show he changed his registration from Live Oak in May.

Pleich is one of eight candidates who have filed statements of intent to run in the Nov. 6 contest for four seats on the seven-member council. The nomination period opens Monday.

Other candidates are Take Back Santa Cruz board member Pamela Comstock, resident Jake Fusari, Mayor Don Lane, former mayor Cynthia Mathews, Democratic Party chair Richelle Noroyan, nonprofit leader Cece Pinheiro and bicycling advocate Micah Posner.

Local Democratic Party leader launches bid for council: Richelle Noroyan to seek office for first time

Santa Cruz Sentinel 07/09/2012

SANTA CRUZ – A longtime fixture in the background of local politics, Richelle Noroyan is ready to test her own electability.

The Santa Cruz native, who this month will leave her post as chair of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party, has said she will be a candidate for City Council in November.

“I love the town I grew up in and brag about it all the time,” Noroyan said. “Being part of making decisions and making the community better are very exciting to me.”

The nomination period for the Nov. 6 council race opens July 16.

Noroyan, 43, the granddaughter of Armenian immigrants whose parents ran a convenience store and the former Hugo’s Armenian Restaurant on Mission Street, is a member of the city’s Transportation and Public Works Commission. She served five years as district director for former Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Los Altos, before becoming a marketing consultant for a small web-based firm.

Noroyan’s top priority as a council member would be spurring job growth that keeps workers in Santa Cruz rather than Silicon Valley. The Santa Cruz High graduate said she supported the La Bahia Hotel project for its construction and tourism jobs, and would support new high-tech industry here built around the gaming department at UC Santa Cruz and other ventures.

“I saw a lot of friends I went to school with, kids from blue-collar homes, not be able to stay in Santa Cruz,” she said. “We need to make an effort to bring jobs that allow people of all income levels to stay in town.”

Outgoing Councilman Ryan Coonerty, a former two-time mayor, said he believes Noroyan has the experience and pragmatism to serve on the council, including helping to deal with take-aways from Sacramento.

“She and her husband have tried to find jobs in this community, and that really informs her experience when trying to vote on projects,” Coonerty said. “Certainly her work with the Legislature and her other relationships will be helpful as the city continues to be victimized by the state of California. She also has experience in and appreciation for the private sector.”

Noroyan, who wanted to be a music teacher growing up, said she developed an interest in government early on. She realized as a music student that schools took a funding hit when Prop. 13 passed in 1978.

“We always had to do fundraisers,” she said. “That made me angry because we are doing something good for the community.”

She also understood the abuses of government, having listened to stories of relatives who survived the Armenian Genocide during World War I.

“It made them conscious about human rights,” she said of how her parents raised her. “It made me socially conscious and aware.”

After graduating from Fresno State University, now known as CSU Fresno, Noroyan worked for the state Democratic Party as a campus outreach coordinator and field representative and was the project manager for the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California.

Noroyan also has held posts at UCSC, Apple and Caldera Systems.

Two new candidates joined the frey Monday for the four seats up for grabs in the Nov. 6 contest. Take Back Santa Cruz board member Pamela Comstock and resident Jake Fusari filed statements of intent with the city clerk Monday.

Those who have already filed are Mayor Don Lane, former mayor Cynthia Mathews, nonprofit leader Cece Pinheiro, homeless services advocate Steve Pleich and bicycling advocate Micah Posner.

Jury Trial date set for Linda Lemaster October 15th

Becky Johnson: One Woman Talking

July 8, 2012

Original Post



 A depiction of the outrage of the Sleeping Ban as depicted by a local homeless artist.


Trial date set in case of Santa Cruz Peace Camp protester Linda Ellen Lemaster

First published:   07/06/2012 08:09:28 PM PDT

SANTA CRUZ – A trial date of Oct. 15 was set Friday for Linda Ellen Lemaster, a community activist involved in a controversial homeless protest in 2010 on the steps of Santa Cruz County Superior Court and City Hall.

Lemaster, a homeless activist and projects facilitator for the Santa Cruz group Housing Now!, is charged with illegal lodging for her participation in the demonstration. The protest, called “Operation Peace Camp 2010,” gathered activists opposing parts Santa Cruz’s camping ban.

The occupation comprised a group of more than 50 people who slept and held signs on the courthouse steps. It lasted three months, before deputies began warning, ticketing and arresting protesters under a criminal misdemeanor law for unlawful lodging.

Attorney Ed Frey, Robert “Blind Bear” Facer, and Linda Lemaster confer at City Hall
during Peace Camp 2010, a protest against Sleeping Bans. Photo by Becky Johnson

Lemaster appeared in court with friends Friday. Her attorney Jonathan Gettleman said he filed a writ of habeas corpus with the 6th District Court of Appeals in San Jose. The 53-page writ requests the court to hear and dismiss Lemaster’s case, linking it to the protection of freedom of speech under the First Amendment.

“This matter is very serious as far as we’re concerned,” Gettleman said. “This case could really injure people’s ability to engage in protests.”

Gettleman said the illegal lodging law was misused to put an end to the protest and violated the constitutional right of people to assemble peacefully and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Gettleman said he not only hopes to clear Lemaster, but also to make the illegal lodging law unconstitutional. The federal court should decide whether to hear the case in the next few months, before the beginning of the Santa Cruz trial in October.

In a previous case related to the protest, two other activists, Ed Frey and Gary Johnson, were sentenced to six months in County Jail last October.