Bike Boycott and Homeless Harassment at City Council

A Teapot Tempest or Two at Oral Communications
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] )
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 3:13 AM

Bike Church supporters lined up to urge City Council to end the SCPD’s political boycott of The Bike Church and restore the flow of abandoned and damaged bikes stopped a year and a half ago. Bike Dojo bozo Rob Mills, the new Bike Mafioso who’s the SCPD’s designated dumpsite for bikes, spewed fire and brimstone at critics of his business. I played the infamous Ken Collins video showing Collins poking a homeless man in a sleeping bag as part of a Clean Team “clean up” operation.


Four months after the actual incident, and two months after it hit You-Tube (via Santa Cruz Patch) and was then removed, I played the Ken Collins video showing the fiery Ken and his Clean Team bigotistas harass a homeless man in a red sleeping bag.

Though the video has been repeatedly removed from You-Tube, it is still posted along with a lengthy story on Santa Cruz Indymedia at (“Video of Take Back Santa Cruz-supported Clean Team Harassing Homeless Forced Off Internet”).

Councilmember Comstock responded by denouncing me and attempting to distance her own Take Back Santa Cruz organization (of which she is co-founder) from The Clean Team.

Councilmember Robinson was not there, though reportedly was part of The Clean Team clean-up the day that Collins decided to abuse and denounce the homeless man in the video. She has made no statement on that expedition so far.

A tip of the hat to City Clerk/Administrator Bren Lehr, who assisted me in setting up the video after initially alarming me with requests that I allow “pre-viewing” so Mayor Bryant could “warn parents” to cover their childrens eyes and ears. Something the Council has been pretty good at doing generally regarding its abuses against the homeless.

Videos like this one are vital to show the public what’s really happening beneath the “Public Safety” pontificating and Needle Hysteria of The Clean Team, Take Back Santa Cruz, the SCPD, and associated right-wing groups.

Brent Adams’ video of Officer Vasquez dropping Richard Hardy face-first to the sidewalk in handcuffs is still a shocker (and still unexplained by the ever-evasive SCPD) (See “Use of force investigation not complete in videotaped arrest in Santa Cruz” at


The main action of the afternoon was a series of Bike Church supporters asking that the Council direct the SCPD to resume distribution of bikes cut off in a right-wing retaliatory move eighteen months ago and stalled by higher-up’s in the SCPD and City Manager’s office (specifically Assistant Manager Tina Shuul).

Bike Church supporters were on their best behavior, making little mention of the hostile and unjustified actions of the SCPD, the failure of Councilmembers Lane and Posner to take strong public action on this issue, or the complicity of the Bike Dojo in signing on to this “punish the lefties” action.

I suspect the decision by the SCPD was taken under cover of the Terrezas, Bryant, Mathews majority. See
(“Help Restore City Youth Bicycle Distributions”) and (“A Year Later, Youth Programs Still Waiting on City Bicycles”).

Steve Schnaar raised the issue nearly a year ago (“City Ends Successful Bicycle Distribution Program in Secret Back-Room Deal”at

Micah Posner claimed victory by noting that (a) the Bike Dojo was no longer receiving bikes from the City, and (b) there was now an open process to apply for that status. The question of why the bikes were stopped in the first place and why this issue was stalled for over a year and a half was “diplomatically” ignored. So apparently the SCPD will suffer no consequences for what appears to be abusive and arbitrary intervention denying distribution of bikes for over 18 months without warning or explanation.

Rob Mills and Paul of the Bike Dojo insisted that they were distributing hundreds of bikes to kids. Mills, however, had no problem with the SCPD’s using his group to steer bikes away from The Bike Church, even though Sandino of Barrios Unidos testified that bikes piled up undistributed over a period of months at the Bike Dojo. Dojo Bozo Mills (who kept insulting activists in a steady stream of invective both during and after the Council meeting) reportedly refused to allow the bikes to be distributed when a Watsonville group tried to wrest them from his clutches. This according to Sandino and Schnaar.

While it’s nice to hear prospects of the bikes being distributed again (Mills insisted the bikes had continued to go out over the last few months)–and potentially via the Bike Church–the failure of Posner, the Bike Church, and the Council to reveal the full extent of SCPD interference here allows them to walk away with clean hands from what seems to me like a rather dirty backroom business.

Mayor Bryant continues to violate the Brown Act by denying the public the right to speak on Consent Agenda items. She had no answer to my recent request as to why she is treating members of the public differentially (See “Mayor Cuts Off Comment in Consent Agenda Crackdown; Brown Act Complaint Rejected” at It’s hardly worth the public’s time to show up for the Consent Agenda unless they have an “in” with the City Council to have an item removed as a “favor” from a particular Council member.

However, to her credit, Bryant did allow all the speakers who wanted to speak do so at Oral Communications (when relatively few people were in the room compared to the normal session)–even though this meant spending 40 minutes or more (the usual time is half an hour) and giving each speaker 3 minutes. The Mayor may also have been more sensitive to this issue because an organized group (the Bike Church supporters) was present. Still, I thanked her for it afterwards.

It was all far too genteel to deter any repetition of SCPD/TBSC mischief in the future. And glossy flyers bemoaning the deaths of Butler and Baker were still stacked in piles to remind members of the community about who’s running the show at City Council.

Bike Church Calls for Restoration of Bike Distribution to Santa Cruz Kids Blocked by SCPD

NOTES BY NORSE:  I’ve spoken on this subject and interviewed Steve of the Bike Collective on Free Radio before (check and search for “bike”).  Indybay stuff can be found at (“A Year Later, Youth Programs Still Waiting on City Bicycles”) .

The issue seems to me part of a larger crackdown on services that help poor people spearheaded by the Bryant majority at City Council and “Hysteria Against the Homeless” groups like Take Back Santa Cruz, The Clean Team, the Downtown Association, and Santa Cruz Neighbors (not to mention the SCPD).   Politically motivated & legally suspect backroom deals free from meaningful public comment or notice seems to be increasingly the Council’s Path.

Personally I think mass occupation of the City Manager’s office and protests outside the Bike Dojo and the SCPD would be a more productive approach,  but public pressure on the City Council isn’t a bad thing either as the e-mail below suggests.

> Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 10:24:22 -0700
> From:
> To:
> Subject: Help Restore City Youth Bicycle Distributions
> Dear friends,
> Please help us reinstate a valuable City program of distributing
> unclaimed bicycles to youth in need by voicing your support at City
> Council on Tuesday, July 9th, 4:30pm, or by contacting Council members
> ahead of time.
> For years unclaimed bicycles were given by the Santa Cruz Police
> Department to the Bike Church, which in turn distributed them to
> various nonprofits like Barrios Unidos, Project Bike Trip, and Green
> Ways to School. The broken and severely dysfunctional bikes were
> salvaged by the Bike Church, which makes used parts available
> cheap-to-free to the community, giving some away through our
> free-to-youth and adult work-trade programs.
> Over the last year, the City has given unclaimed bikes instead to a
> for-profit business called the Bike Dojo, which has not invited other
> groups to participate, and which has sold many bikes which are
> supposed to go out for free to youth. Despite admitting these
> problems, the City has not taken any action to remedy the situation.
> Please ask the City Council to immediately reinstate the distribution
> of unclaimed bicycles to youth for free through the Bike Church or
> another qualified nonprofit agency, as required by the Municipal Code
> (SCMC 2.24.120). The Bike Church is also calling for distributions
> open to all interested nonprofits in the City, as they were under the
> Bike Church’s management, and for all years prior.
> For a more detailed account of the story you can see our blog entry:
> To contact your Council Members, come to Oral Communications on
> Tuesday, July 9th at 4:30pm, or contact the Council on your own:
> Hilary Bryant:, 420-5026
> Lynn Robinson:, 420-5020
> Pamela Comstock:, 420-5020
> Don Lane:,  420-5022
> Cynthia Mathews:, 420-5020
> Micah Posner:, 420-5028
> David Terrazas:, 420-5020
> Thanks for your support,
> The Bike Church Collective
> Dear Council Members,
> Thanks to the City for its years-long program of distributing
> unclaimed bicycles to youth in need through the help of the Bike
> Church. These distributions helped hundreds of youth gain access to
> bicycles, and I hope they are reinstated without delay.
> I also want to express my support for the Bike Church, which offers a
> great service by teaching people how to fix bikes for themselves, as
> well as recycling tons of usable parts which otherwise would go to the
> landfill. The Bike Church is the kind of positive community resource
> that the City should be proud to have. They have also proven to be the
> most effective managers of the youth bicycle distributions,
> coordinating with numerous other organizations to get bikes to youth,
> while salvaging usable parts from the junk no one else wants. Please
> reinstate the Bike Church as managers of the program.
> Thanks,
> **************