Audio Idiocy and Bearcat B.S. Update from Santa Cruz


NORSE’S NOTES:  Indybay reporter Alex Darocy published an informative and well-illustrated account of the Santa Cruz City Council meeting of January 27th where, for a third time activists gathered to protest the Council’s surrender to SCPD pressure.  On 12-9 Council voted–in spite of overwhelming opposition–to get a turretless tank for Santa Cruz, or–in the words of manufacturer Lemco, a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck.  Alex’s  story “Activists Say Santa Cruz Police Lied to Secure Armored Vehicle Purchase” is at .

I include here a few notes on what happened to me there regarding the right to record as well as the search for my records. I record for these written reports as well as my twice-weekly Free Radio Santa Cruz show Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides at 101.3 FM and Thursdays 6-8 PST and Sundays 9:30 AM to 1 PM.   More info there, and in archived shows at .

Nervous Norse in the Front Row

by Robert Norse

Friday Jan 30th, 2015 1:54 PM

Thanks to all the folks who showed up at the rally and Oral Communications session.

City Council audio equipment was, as usual, spotty. Accordingly I sat up front near but not technically “attending” my trusty tape recorder (because not within arms length). I advised Sgt. Bush, the sergeant at arms, that the uncertain nature of the equipment meant I’d be making my own recording, not dependent on the city’s speaker system and decision when to keep it on and when to turn it off.

In the past, Bush has arrested me for leaving a tape recorder there and replacing it when he removed it. That “disrupting a meeting” charge, filed by Mayor Robinson, was never filed by the D.A. Last fall I filed a claim for damages against the City for false arrest, which was denied. I now have until April 1 to take Robinson personally to Small Claims Court, which I’m hoping to do.

For many meetings following, Bush would confiscate my recorders, requiring me to squat next to the tape recorder while it was on in order to comply with Robinson’s (and now Lane’s) “decorum” rules. Lane made squatting next the tape recorder a violation of the new “decorum” rules, so on January 27th I sat in the first row–not quite “attending” the machine, but near enough to it to grab it if some officious cop should attempt to grab it.

Which is what Bush several times tried to do. Bush informed me he’d be removing my recorder if I left it there. I did so anyway, and when he moved to take it, I intercepted it and retrieved it. When he resumed his sentry position by the side door, I replaced the machine. He again moved to take it. I again intercepted. This time he advised me that he’d take it from me. I told him that to do so he’d have to arrest me.

For the rest of the meeting, I nervously had to keep one eye on Bush and one eye on the tape recorder. After two assaults on the helpless machine, Bush took no further action Still, I was unable to make notes, move about the room, or speak with others, cause I felt I had to be ready to spring up and seize the machine before it could be confiscated–if that were tried again. I was able to hold up a sign visible on the TV (“Tanks, No Thanks!”) along with many others in the audience.

Still I must admit that having to guard my tape recorder from a cop on pain of exclusion from the meeting and arrest for “disruption” (as provided for under Lane’s new decorum rules– See “Council Armors Up” at specifically, ).

The same day I filed this Public Records Act request with the City:

From: rnorse3 [at]
To: npatino [at]
CC: kvogel [at]; citycouncil [at]
Subject: Public Records Act: re SCPD Contracts with Other Agencies
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:15:09 -0800

Nydia: Please make available for viewing or (preferably) in e-form (as usual) all contracts the SCPD has made with any other agencies since 2010 that involve the delivery or furnishing of goods, services, or money.

Thanks, Robert

The point was to determine whether the SCPD has been getting equipment and money indirectly from federal war enthusaists like Homeland Security, but doing so through third party agencies, It apparently did this in the case of the Bearcat through the City and County of San Francisco (see “Public Records Released by the SPCD on the Bearcat” at; specifically: ).

I encourage Bearcat opponents and those concerned with militarization and SCPD abuse more generally to parse the documents–both those already posted and those which I may obtain in the coming days. They’re supposed to respond by February 6th or thereabouts, if I understand the 10-day rule correctly.