Santa Cruz Mayor Stonewalls Transparency Demands

NOTE BY NORSE:   The demand for a Mayor’s meeting with lobbyists is an important part of knowing who she’s being influenced by.  Her public appearance calender provides critics and supporters alike to meet with her in public places and petition for a redress of grievances, if such is needed.  Robinson is probably the most explicitly anti-homeless Mayor in some years.  A lot of rhetorically pro-homeless Councilmembers steep themselves in pro-homeless rhetoric like former Mayor Don Lane, but then decline to take obvious measures to support homeless people

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                    I’m extremely ambivalent about the utility of attending City Council meetings (even before I was arrested for audio recording) since the deck is so stacked there.   The most pro-homeless activist Pat Colby has dropped out of the Council race, as has the rhetoric-heavy Steve Pleich.  City Council meetings have largely been a stage or an occasional platform to broadcast to the broader community the machinations of the 1%-dependent politicians.   Requiring the Mayor to keep the public advised of who she’s meeting with and when she’s appearing in public opens up other opportunities to raise issues that can be squelched by “decorum” demands and staff-dominated process at Council meetings.

Mayor Robinson Still Refuses Transparency, Won’t Reveal Appointments, Public Appearances
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Aug 5th, 2014 11:14 PM

Santa Cruz Mayor Lynn Robinson refuses to reveal the history of her meetings with lobbyists, her appointment book, or announcements of her upcoming public appearances. This is not unusual, however contrary to the public interest, as most mayors have done the same (with the exception of former Mayor Don Lane). Robinson was initially asked to come clean and public last March, but declined to respond. Three days after the request I was arrested at City Council for “unattended” audio recording (see “Video of the False Arrest…” at

The following is the e-mail record of the requests for the documents:

From: rnorse3 [at]
To: lrobinson [at]
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 11:50:07 -0800

Lynn: Thanks for your reply.

Requiring an individual to “attend” a recording device clearly limits their ability to speak with others, participate at City Council, and otherwise engage in traditional and constitutionally protected activity. It also particularly hampers independent media, who like to circulate among the audience and speak with them–often outside to avoid disrupting city council business.

I’m sure you intend no such thing, but have some good and sufficient reasons for changing city council practice. For the past decade or more mayors have had no difficulty with my inconspicuous use of a tape recorder to capture segments of the Council meeting for subsequent air broadcast.

I’ve requested all documents relating to complaints and problems with the traditional practice from the City Clerk. However, since I was advised that you personally are creating a new policy, please advise me of any actual problems and complaints you have that might justify such a fundamental and restrictive shift.

I’m including prior correspondence on this issue for your reference.

Thanks, Robert (423-4833)

P.S. When will you be available for an audio interview?

On Saturday, March 29, 2014 4:25 AM, Robert wrote:


Last December, as an addendum to our correspondence regarding audio recording at City Council under the decorum rules, I requested the traditional interview I do with the new Mayor. When will you be available for that?

I include a copy of the earlier correspondence below.

Additionally, previous mayors (though not all of them) have opened up their calendars to the public, noting in advance scheduled public appearances as well as contacts with lobbyists. When will you be doing so? I enclose below an e-mail demonstrating how Don Lane did so in this regard.

Thanks, Robert

From: rnorse3 [at]
To: lrobinson [at]
Subject: Public Records Act Request for Appointment Calendar as well as Scheduled Public Appearances
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2014 13:09:54 -0700


Please make available for viewing (preferably in e-format) your appointment calendar since you became Mayor in 2013 detailing whom you met with, where, and for how long.

Please also make available similarly any documents announcing future public meetings at which you will be present during the rest of your tenure. Former Mayor Don Lane’s calendar is included as an attachment (and hopefully a good example and an inspiration).

I’d have preferred you do this out of respect for transparency and accountability in Santa Cruz government, but since you’ve declined to even respond to such requests in the past, this is a Public Records Act request which requires a timely response.

I include below prior requests for this information as well as for an interview with Free Radio, which virtually all over Mayors have not been afraid to do.

Thanks, Robert Norse

[For former Mayor Lane’s response, see “Mayor Lane Releases History of Community Contacts” at

Additional Note: Robinson’s arrest of me for audio recording on April may also have been a response to an e-mail I wrote her three days before asking her to clarify for the community that walking away from one’s tape recorder would not be the basis for her sergeant at arms seizing the recorder or punishing the reporter using it.   See “Robinson’s Revenge” at .