Replace the Real Power in the City–the Staff Heads–or Slog the Swamp Some More

Pushing Past the Censure/Recall Distraction at City Council

At the 10-8 City Council meeting, Mayor Watkins gave staff the usual expansive and unnecessary presentation time for prior items. She then eliminated group presentation time on the pointlessly returned censure of Krohn/Glover item. Initially refusing again to recognize a Councilmember, she again tried to hide behind the City Attorney as back-up. Failing this she cut back public comment time severely, allowing a special favored group presentation by the discredited City Commission for the Prevention of Violence to Women. I prepared this speech of which I was only permitted to read part of at the meeting:
Instead of booking the Civic Auditorium for the Council meetings expected overflow crowd, Watkins insisted (again) on using the crowded Council chambers. This resulted in further delay as people were hustled out of Council chambers, prompting angry response from former Councilmember Ed Porter who denounced the police directions as “shameful”.

Watkins several times interrupted speakers to shush audience comment. Even though speakers seemed to have no problem with the occasional public voice. In so doing, Watkins took up additional time and embarrassed the proceedings with her usual inappropriate authoritarian treatment to the proceedings.

The entire issue ended hours later, as was expected, with a 4-3 vote rejecting the censure proposal–which had not been recommended by the Rose report in the first place.

Oral Communication was subsequently cut back to a minute and a half, then one minute.

A line of tenant supporters at Oral Communications brought up the pending winter eviction of Section 8 elders and disabled folks in the Lower Ocean neighborhood. In response, Councilmember Glover made an emergency motion to put rent control/just eviction back on the next agenda. Councilmember Krohn initially second the motion, but withdrew the second when he learned it was intended to protect all tenants, not just the Lower Ocean folks. Brown and Cummings, supposedly tenant advocates, remained conspicuously silent, and Glover’s motion died for lack of a second.

This cowardly and useless strategy of going hat in hand to Mayor Watkins to put items on the agenda instead of installing the items with a 4-3 vote is sad. It seems to reflect the advise of “Progressive advisers” that the Councilmembers walk on eggshells so as not to offend Matthew’s more rabid recall supporters.

What needs to be done is to return to real issues, baldly, clearly, and repeatedly stated. Loudly, as necessary,. And by those of outside the chambers.

Wasting time with the ridiculous recall/censure discussion, talking of “reconciliation:” and “bringing the community together” is simply blind to the reality: There is a clear power division in this community between predatory commercial, real estate, and bureaucratic interests and those of renters, workers, students, elderly, and homeless folks. Recognizing that it is a power struggle that must be won is vital.

As I mention in the speech I was unable to complete, a direct action crisis approach is being taken all over the country (and indeed the world) by various movements and needs to be repeated here.


No Curfew Without Due Consideration: Stop Martin Bernal’s Rush to Close the Main Beach at Night

Stop the “Hide the Poor” Beach Curfew
Open San Lorenzo & City Bathrooms at Night

ReOpen the Louden (London) Nelson Bathrooms!

  • No one, including 1000-2000 homeless folks,  have actual bathroom facilities for nighttime use (except for 3 wretched portapotties downtown)
  • Santa Cruz City Council debated then ducked the issue of reopening the Louden Nelson bathrooms & passed it to the CACH (Community Advisory Committee on Homelessness). The LN bathrooms were closed to all but “patrons” in March 2018.
  • The CACH, run by Assistant City Manager Susie O’Hara, ignored the issue,
  • CACH met at LN & scheduled months of future meetings there, a slap at homeless.
  • At Drew Glover’s regular agenda meeting 9-6, neither he nor Councilmember Krohn took action to require the reopening by agreeing to require a future agenda item on 9-10.
  • Police Chief  Mills, Parks and Rec boss Elliot, and City Manager Bernal are rushing to Council Tuesday (7:30 PM 9-10) to shut down the Main Beach & continue bathroom closure there at night.  Their staff report includes no documentation for this closure.
  • Conscience and Action, Food Not Bombs, HUFF, the California Homeless Union, and Give a Shit! volunteers directly opened Louden Nelson bathrooms recently in direct actions that they intend to repeat until the city’s potty pinchers get the message.


Sign Up For DIRECT ACTION ALERTS to restore public access.

No Curfew Without Consideration

Santa Cruz City Council Chambers

Tuesday  September 10  7:30 PM

  • Police Chief Mills, Parks and Rec boss Elliot, and City Manager Bernal want to shut down the Main Beach and continue bathroom closure there at night. 
  • As with last spring’s Depot Park plan, there has been no community outreach
  • The proposal supports the agenda of right-wing activist Lynn Renshaw whose letter in the Sunday Sentinel seemed to indicate advance knowledge of the proposal.
  • The Mills/Elliot Bernal staff report has zero specific documentation for this closure.
  • No hearing before the Parks and Recreation Commission—the normal procedure.
  • No hearing before the new homeless CACH Commission.
  • Vice-Mayor Justin Cummings is a fan of the CACH Commission and “more data” (i.e. staff, city, and county buy-in) when it comes to transitional encampments, bathroom closure, and police harassment of homeless.  On this homeless removal issue to be fair and consistent, he must vote to postpone unless and until data are available.
  • E-Mail jcummings@cityofsantacruz.com  citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com
  • Be up for Direct Action to Counter Bernal’s Agenda in the days ahead


Flier by Norse of  HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833   www.huffsantacruz.org     9-9-19

CAMPGROUND STRUGGLE

The struggle for a homeless campground is no new thing.
So is the mechanical, persistent and relentless official movement to crush such campgrounds or turn them into super-regulated prison-like areas that serve only a few. Back in 1996, Becky Johnson explored the refusal to reopen the Coral St. Open Air Shelter.
Three years before the City Council’s useless Homeless Issues Task Force final report in 2000 (http://sccounty01.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/bds/Govstream/BDSvData/non_legacy/agendas/2000/20000502/PDF/020.pdf), she and other HUFF activists struggled to get the poverty pimpster Citizens Committee for the Homeless [CCH] (numbering Darrell Darling and Paul Lee among others) to restore the Coral Street Open Air Shelter.
That campground served 200 people at its height and was located on the site of the current Page Smith Community House, what was known back in 1996 as the “back forty”.
It was destroyed by the City Council in collusion with the CCH in violation of agreements made with the campers organization SOS (Save Our Shelter).
Part of the story was recorded by dissident CCH (and active HUFF) member Becky Johnson at http://www.huffsantacruz.org/StreetSpiritSantaCruz/016.For%20The%20Poor,A%20Campground%20Is%20a%20Illegal%20Dream=12-96.pdf and
pp. 123-127, Street Shit Sheet’s ##151a, 152 .
CACH is caught in the same snare as activists “working in the system” were then.
Even temporary and partial initiatives by city officials are only prompted by Direct Action from activists and homeless people themselves.
Thus the San Lorenzo Campground opening of 2017-2018 during the winter happened after homeless people began camping in numbers along the Post Office fence after City Manager Bernal and Chief Mills had driven them away from City Hall’s Survival Sleepers protest.
And last year Ross Camp was “created” because sleepers on the beach were driven first to Depot Park by Mills, and then to Ross. But it was the de facto formation of a campground at San Lorenzo and Ross that required the City (finally) to put in portapotties and wash stations and provided a focus for community attention.
This year’s situation is no different—arguably worse.
“Progressives” are in full flight under pressure from phony Recall and Investigation distractions. They are responding to bad advice to “keep a low profile” as the winter looms for those outside.
Accordingly no attempts are even being made to force Mayor Watkins to agenda-ize long-delayed items like selective police enforcement, survival encampments, and opening bathroom facilities. Those who should be sitting-in in Cummings office with long overdue demands are nervously debating Recall opposition stratagies.
And meanwhile renters are fleeing the city as Brown nervously warms her chair while pal-ing up with Cummings for crumbs (reopening the City Hall bathrooms for a trial trial month period).

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Upcoming city bureaucrats and politicians gather:
Parks and Recreation meets today 9-9 at 4 PM at City Hall (tell them No to the Curfew, Open the bathrooms (city-wide at night, to all at Louden Nelson). Neither of which are on their agenda, just the De La Vega Golf Course and the Harvey West Pool–as a rush to fill out Watkin’s agenda for the next day at City Council.
CACH (Community Advisory Committee on Homelessness) has another wheel-spinning activist-distracting meeting at 6 PM Tuesday 9-10 at (of course) Louden Nelson Center. Near the same time as…
7:30 PM 9-10 City Council (the Cummings-Watkins majority) is poised to push through a Beach curfew running homeless folks in tents there off to nowhere.
11 AM Wednesday 9-11 Conscience and Action/HUFF meet to plan next Direct Action in the wreckage of City Council’s Tuesday meeting (or perhaps to celebrate a minor victory) at Sub Rosa Cafe 703 Pacific
9-13 Caravan to Monterey to support the Salinas Homeless Union in their 9 AM Court Appearance in Dept. 13 Superior Court demanding an injunction to stop the Sherwood Park sweeps. Call 831-423-4833 for more info.

Keeping Up the Pressure: Open the Bathrooms ! 2:30 PM Sunday September 8th San Lorenzo Park

We will be flyering and inviting folks to join future events prior to and after the the Mime Troupe performance.

The issue: reopening the Louden Nelson bathrooms. (See “Demonstrators Keep the Restrooms Open at Louden Nelson Center” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/09/03/18825952.php). As well as opening the San Lorenzo park bathrooms at night. The City’s 1000-2000 homeless have no actual bathroom facilities (though three very limited portapotties) for nighttime use currently.

Santa Cruz City Council has ducked the issue of reopening the Louden Nelson bathrooms and passed it to their talk shop, the CACH (Community Advisory Committee on Homelessness). At their Tuesday meeting, they avoided any action on the issue in spite of the City Council’s direction.

End Bathroom Banditry! Restore Community Access to the Louden Nelson Bathrooms: Direct Action Protest Tomorrow 1:30 PM Tuesday September 3

Direct Action Protest

Liberate the Locked Lavatories at London Nelson (aka Louden Nelson) Center
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
1:30 PM
301 Center St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Come at 1 PM to Help Make Signs, Set-Up
Demand Open Bathrooms !
•    Parks and Recreation [P&R] Supervisor Iseth Rae continues to
keep the public Louden Nelson bathrooms closed to all but “program
participants”.
•    Her boss P&R Director Tony Elliot, his boss City Manager
Martin Bernal, and the City Council majority, headed by Vice-Mayor
Justin Cummings continue to deny the elderly, the ill, the disabled, the
homeless, and the general toilets, reversing decades of free access.
•    Public Records show no documentation justifying the year-long
closure  other than the usual vandalism caused by an increase in use.
This was prompted by the closure of homeless facilities and Bernal’s
institutional failure to provide more bathrooms city-wide.
•    Activists from Conscience and Action, Homeless United for
Friendship & Freedom, Food Not Bombs, the California Homeless Union and
other groups are continuing the Freedom Sleepers “Give a Shit” campaign
from 2017, demanding decent and fair bathroom access.
•    Louden Nelson Staff claim the “nearby” police station
bathrooms are accessible; however police say they are only open when the
Community Room is in use—which is irregularly.
•    Rae additionally backs a dangerous and discriminatory
“homeless are dangerous” narrative with fences around the park, a First
Alarm guard, and a new set of restrictive regulations
•    Appeals to Elliot, Rae, Bernal, and the City Council have been
shined on or ignored for over a year. Councilmember Drew Glover’s direct
attempts to have City Council open the bathrooms have been indefinitely
delayed by Mayor Watkins and Vice-Mayor Cummings.

Council Locks Out Elders, Disabled, and Poor from Louden Nelson Bathrooms: Protest Tomorrow 9-2 Tuesday 1:30 PM at Louden Nelson Center 301 Center St.

A City Council meeting that lasted to 11 PM or shortly thereafter last Tuesday night (8-27) featured long anecdotal presentations by London (Louden) Nelson Community Center [LNCC] Supervisor Iseth Rae and her boss Parks and Recreation chief Tony Elliot. A long line of speakers and a list of organizations tried with no success to reason with the Council.  Senior, disabled, homeless, & basketball players will continue to be excluded from the Louden Nelson bathrooms.

Come to LNCC tomorrow and support an immediate “open bathrooms” policy !

august_31st_flyer.pdf_600_.jpg
AGENDA MANIPULATIONS,PUSHBACK BY THE PUBLIC, SILENCE FROM THE PROGRESSIVES
Mayor Watkins whittled down a long line of speakers at Oral Communications at 7 PM, a number in support of Councilmembers Krohn and Glover. Some attacked the Glover-Krohn recall, with charges the paid signature gatherers were involved. Others denounced the public smear of Glover and Krohn embodied in the months-long “investigation”. Another singled out City Manager Bernal’s latest memo of last week instructing staff not to communicate with Glover except through him and the staff heads.

Krohn attempted earlier in the day to move the Council Meeting Calendar back to its position near the end of the agenda, from which Watkins had moved it in June. His motion failed 3-4.

Neither he, Krohn, nor Brown attempted to require the Mayor to bring back survival encampments, the selective enforcement against homeless people of infractions, a public process for setting the agenda, or other matters raised months ago by Glover.

Any of these items could have been proposed for forced inclusion on the next agenda by motion and majority vote….


LONGER STORY, COMMENTS, AND FLYER CAN BE ACCESSED AT https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/09/02/18825901.php

City Attorney Stonewalls Homeless Activists on Settlement Conference



After leveling the Ross Camp, sending its 200-300 residents fleeing into the parks, greenbelt, downtown, and neighborhoods, and fencing off the area, the City is now refusing to sit down and work out compromise settlement terms as suggested by Judge Edward Devila. It apparently prefers to incur more costs.at the expense of its homeless residents.

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This flyer presents the proposals made and rejected by the City Attorney without any discussion publicly or in open City Council session. And without comment from any Councilmember, including the “Progressive” faction.    City Attorney: Dump, Disperse, and Disappear Those Outside
For more details, to post and read comments, go to https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/08/29/18825795.php .

Protest/Press Conference Today at the River St. Campground–1220 River St. 10 AM Thursday August 29th

Time for More Privacy, Decency, & Accessibility at Salvation Army’s 1220 River St. Camp
iCal Import into your personal calendar
Date Thursday August 29
Time 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Event Type Press Conference
Organizer/Author California Homeless Union/HUFF/C&A/FNB
Email rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Phone 8314234833
Location Details
1220 River St. in front of the Salvation Army’s 60 tent “no walking in or out” Campground
The press conference/protest follows up on last May’s appeal to the Salvation Army management.

That event urged the Army to allow greater freedom and privacy for camp residents and to provide important upgrades in the living conditions there such as showers and protection from the heat.

See https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/2019/05/13/activists-question-new-santa-cruz-homeless-camp-operations/

Today’s event is again sponsored by the Santa Cruz Homeless Union, Conscience and Action, Food Not Bombs, and HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom).

It will be followed by a supportive visit to Monterey Superior Court (1:30 PM, Department 13, 1200 Aguajito Road ) in support of the Salinas Homeless Union’s court suit seeking to stop the police harassment of folks outside at Sherwood Park in Salinas.

It follows a partially successful challenge to the City’s discriminatory closing of bathrooms prompting City Council last Tueday night to act. An unusually cohesive Progressive majority voted 4-3
(1) to reopen the City Hall bathrooms (closed since the Freedom Sleeper protests of 2015-2017);
(2) to refer the Louden Nelson bathrooms issue to the homeless-focused CACH group, and
(3) to require the Parks and Recreation manager Tony Elliot get approval from City Council for any future closings of City facilities.

Activists have also scheduled a Direct Action ‘Open the Damn Bathrooms” event for Tuesday September 3rd at 1:30 PM at Louden Nelson Center. Concerned community members are invited to attend, witness, and/or participate.

1220_river_st._protest_8-29.pdf_600_.jpg

City Council To Back Louden Nelson Bathroom Lockout 7:30 PM Tuesday August 27th

Who Will Change City Council’s Dirty Diapers at Louden Nelson and City Hall?

Item #1 on the City Council’s Evening Agenda at 7:30 PM on Tuesday 8-26 endorses the Continued Exclusionary “Closed Bathroom” Policies of Louden Nelson Supervisor Iseth Rae and her superior Tony Elliot. The Parks and Recreation [P&R] Commission have essentially reversed Councilmember Drew Glover’s original proposal, which Mayor Watkins and City Manager Bernal successfully delayed for six months.
AGENDA ITEM
http://scsire.cityofsantacruz..com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1173&doctype=AGENDA lays out the City’s thin case for its “exclude the broader community” policy.

BIGOTED BACKGROUND
In spite of the lack of specific documentation justifying her action, Louden Nelson Supervisor Iseth Rae closed and locked the Louden Nelson bathrooms in March 2018, reserving their use to “those in programs”. Tony Elliot of the City’s Parks and Recreation oversees Iseth Rae’s management.

When the San Lorenzo Winter Campground was shut down without providing adequate alternate sleeping facilities for unhoused residents, those without shelter began to sleep in Laurel Park, adjacent to the Louden Nelson Center. Use of the bathrooms increased.

Though masking the discriminatory policy as being concerned with “illegal” behavior (such as sleeping near the Center, using the washrooms to shave and wash, and “drug use”), the wholesale exclusion was clearly intended at unhoused people.

It also significantly impacts the entire community. The nearest bathrooms are blocks away (with the exception of the police department, which is usually not available, according to a beat officer).

At the same time, Rae and the P & R created a “Security Patrol” at Laurel Park, as well as a locked fence. Rae upped the ante in March 2018 by locking the public bathrooms and requiring users to get a code. That code was only given out to authorized individuals, that is, those “participating in programs” at the Louden Nelson Center. Using the park, visiting the Center, and simply needing to use the bathroom were not enough. Even if you were disabled, ill, a minor, a senior, or afflicted with a medical condition.

SCANT DOCUMENTATION FOR THE LOCK-OUT
When asked to present evidence for the need of this policy, Rae responded by describing several incidents in 2016 and 2017, but had no documentation showing unusual amounts of vandalism or lawbreaking or behavior that “threatened” children.

Close analysis of the public records involving staff memos, bills for repair, etc. revealed no regular or extensive damage at the bathrooms. At the P & R Commission meeting this summer, Rae presented no written evidence justifying her exclusionary policy.

COMMUNITY PROTEST AND COMMISSION REFUSAL
She did note that some conservative neighbors and a few neighborhood groups had complained about the “inappropriate behavior”. By contrast, the ACLU and at least one musical performer (David Rovics) reacted with outrage and moved their meetings elsewhere in response to the anti-homeless policies.

When one member of the P & R Commission noted state law seemed to require that public bathrooms in public buildings be open to the entire public, not simply those chosen by the managers, the Commission voted to continue banning bathroom use even to regular Laurel Park users until such time as the City Attorney advised otherwise.

Louden Nelson Center was originally named after London Nelson, a former slave, who donated the property to the school district in the mid-1800s. London’s first name was erroneously changed to “Louden” in documents after the 1930s, but almost no documents before that time show his name as anything other than “London.” according to local historian Phil Reader. I use the altered name “Louden” accustomed to this usage.

Bathrooms at City Hall have been closed since 2015 in spite of repeated protests–the apparent purpose to shut down the “Freedom Sleeper” protests of 2015-2017. The City has spent thousands of dollars tearing up the grass and replacing it with rocky ground, hiring First Alarm “security” patrols, and making it a crime to circulate a petition on City Hall grounds after dark.

E-MAIL THE BATHROOM BLOCKADERS
The swing vote on this issue is, as usual, Vice Mayor Justin Cummings, who has declined so far to meet with HUFF on this or any other issue.

E-Mail him at jcummings [at] cityofsantacruz.com or phone him at 420-5020 to demand a restoration of decency and fair treatment there. The entire City Council can be reached at citycouncil [at] cityofsantacruz.com .

DIRECT ACTION MAY FLUSH AWAY THE BLOCKAGE
Repeated protests on this issue and meetings with P & R higher-up Carol Scurich, City Manager Martin Bernal, and current P & R boss Tony Elliot have led nowhere. A Direct Action protest held some weeks ago did open up the women’s bathroom for an hour.

Another protest is planned for 1:30 PM at Louden Nelson Center Tuesday September 3rd in the event that City Council continues its “no homeless” policies.

NEGOTIATIONS PROVE FUTILE
“Access and Hours of Parks and Recreation Facilities” –the only item on the evening agenda at
Tony Elliot’s justification for locking down the bathrooms can be found under Memorandum on Louden Nelson Communty Center Restrooms. No dates and costs are mentioned. Nor is any comparison made with upkeep costs for other bathrooms. After two hour-long meetings, Elliot has still not responded with any specifics to the concerns raised by Conscience and Action and HUFF.

PREVIOUS STORIES AND FLYERS
“Direct Action–Liberate the Locked Louden Nelson Bathrooms ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/07/13/18824679.php
“Time to Get Off the Pot: Louden Nelson–Reopen Your Bathrooms to All the Public ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/07/06/18824484.php
“Parks and Rec Set to Sabotage Glover “Open the Bathrooms” Proposal ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/07/01/18824343.php
“Liberate Locked Lavatories ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/09/30/18817923.php
“Bathrooms, Winter Survival, and Community Caring — A Rally — Join Us! ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/09/18/18817622.php
“Pee & Poo Protest: Reopen Essential Bathrooms for the Public and the Poor ” at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2018/07/14/18816456.php