Ross Camp Clean-Up, Court Update, and Resistance Strategy Planning; 10 AM Sunday April 28th

While the Temporary Restraining Order is still in effect, court testimony continues tomorrow Monday April 29th in Federal Court in San Jose beginning at 10 AM.
Ross Camp residents need help cleaning up the camp to present evidence in court tomorrow.
They will also be discussing the settlement proposed by the City, which amounts to an agreement to disperse and no additional shelter than that proposed before (the temporary campground at the Benchlands in San Lorenzo Park until May 1st, the boneyard-barbedwire River St. Campground at 1220 River St., the 7th Ave. Shelter, and the Laurel St. Shelter, plus some Motel Vouchers and a few extra beds at the Paul Lee Loft).  The numbers are insufficient to house those at Ross.
Additionally residents will be discussing various alternatives for new places for shelter, since the City is unwilling to provide such shelter.
Come on down and help out.
–Robert Norse
HUFF Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom

Save the Ross Camp:Actions Upcoming!

Emergency Protest to Defend Those Without Housing

Santa Cruz City Council to vote to violate Martin v. Boise ruling against Cruel and Unusual Treatment.






Sunday’s Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Radio Stream 4-21-19 9:30 AM-3 PM at & a Flashback to 3-15-96

STILL AVAILABLE!  REWARD ! :$300 for info leading to a 10′ X 10′ studio space indoors or outside with access to bathroom, internet, and power.  Free Radio Santa Cruz is also seeking a transmitter space where we can put up an antenna–a backyard, a multistory home, a high tree–help us spread the word.   Help us so we can help you!

Today’s show streams at and archives at  
On the show today:

  • Bathrobespierre Outlines the City’s Likely Ross Camp Agenda
  • Katzenjammer Keith McHenry’s “Emergency Alert at Ross 10 AM Tuesday”
  • Berkeley’s Carol Denney and Andrea Pritchett Discuss the History of the Current Crackdown on People’s Park
  • Raging at the Wreckers of Ross Camp
  • Susie O’Hara’s Storytelling Hour–the City Manager Spins its Tale to the Ross Camp Residents

Blasts from the Boulevard from Santa Cruz Fulltimer Vandweller Julie & Bathrobespierre
FLASHBACK to March 15, 1996 show includes:
  • 15 Days Into the 8-Month Long City Hall Sleepers Vigil
  • Videojournalist Patrick Lancelin on Community TV’s anti-homeless shenangans
  • Debob–Peppersprayed by the SCPD?
  • Skidmark Bob’s Gives a Copwatch Report on Officer Martin Over’s Backpack Thefts
  • Flashy Phil Free Weighs In
  • Dialogues at the Vigil
  • Crossroads Chris Brozda Flayes the Homeless Community Resource Center
  • Louise Santana on the SCPD Assault
  • River St. Refugees Update
  • Catch original 1995 show segment at


  • 1-4 PM Sunday April 21  Easter Excitement at the Ross Camp with Drew Glover
  • 1 PM Monday April 22 City Sues Ross Camp in Dept. 5 at 701 Ocean St.
  • 3 PM Monday April 22  Open meeting of Ross Camp Council with Drew Glover
  • 10 AM  Tuesday April 23 Closed City Council Meeting on Ross Camp lawsuit
  • noon or earlier Tuesday April 23 City Council Votes on #13–the Ross Camp Closure
  • 11 AM Wednesday April 24 Conscience and Action/HUFF meets either at Sub Rosa or at the Ross Camp itself to be announced.
  • 6-8 PM Wednesday April 24   Community Dialogue on Ross Camp at the Resource for Non-Violence at 612 Ocean St.
  • Support Ross Camp and other Real Alternative Survival Camps and Squats
  • Join the Ross Camp Lawsuit: Protect Survival Camps Everywhere! Contact Barracuda Mama at 831-431-7766
  • Join Campquest 2019–the Search for Community Shelter in Empty Buildings and Parking Garages for Refuge if Ross Is Depopulated and “Clean-Up” Restricted
  • Donate to Existing Homeless Encampments, not Poverty-Pimp Posturers– Survival Demands Blankets, Water, Tarps, Portapotties & Trash Pick-Up’s
  • Community and City Council Take Note!–Ross Camp Needs: Potable Water for Drinking and Grey Water for Washing, Laundry Access so Clothes Don’t Mildew, a Drainage System Against the Rains, More Space in Additional Spots.
  • Demand Immediate Council/Supervisor Support for the Hundreds of Homeless Refugees Outside in Wet and Freezing Weather
  • Support Food Not Bombs,  the Warming Center’s 24 Hour Storage Program, HUFF, Conscience and Action, Monterey County Homeless Advocates,  and other activists in documenting, providing resources, & publicizing the situation.
  •  Check out Ross Camp, The Santa Cruz Community, & Homeless Outside in Santa Cruz  on Facebook for updates.
  •   Read Updates and Post Them on Santa Cruz Indymedia at
  •   Back up homeless efforts to organize either in protest or to demand adequate and accessible facilities.
  •   Exchange information with other supporters there to generate more communication and better solutions in the future.
  •   Listen in to Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides at Thursdays 6-8 PM, Sundays 9:30 AM- 3 PM
  •   Hear archived shows at .  Call in with street reports and commentary: 831-423-4833.
  •   If you must, expropriate items from chain stores.  Don’t steal from vulnerable fellow homeless or local businesses!

Protest and Press Conference to stop the Demolition of the Ross Camp: Protest Tuesday 3:45 PM City Hall [1 Attachment]

Protest and Press Conference

Tuesday, March 19th 3:45 PM City Hall

Ross Camp Residents & Council Speak Out !

Back the Lawsuit ! No Homeless Bulldozing on April 17th !

Speak Out    Munchables Provided   Bring Friends 

Sunday March 17 4-6 PM Food Not Bombs Main Post Office: Pick up Tally Sheets to Document Shelter Insufficiency at FNB Table  7 PM St.Patrick’s Day Gathering at the Ross Camp

Monday March 18 3 PM Camp Pathway near the Bridge: Ross Council meets with Drew Glover

+++ On 3-12, the entire City Council dumped its February 26th promise to postpone any closure of the Ross Camp until there was adequate shelter or safe sleeping space for the entire population there.

+++ The Council’s “solution”:  Set up shelter for 100 people at the boneyard & another spot.

+++ The “solution” won’t shelter 100-200 Ross residents. It ignores the rest of the homeless population.

+++ The overcrowded Ross camp needs overflow shelter and services now not an April 17th deadline.

+++ Ross camp residents are preparing an Injunction with the assistance of attorney Anthony Prince of the California Homeless Union to force the City to respect the Martin v. Boise decision.  Support the lawsuit!

Flier byHUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 831-423-4833     3-16-19




Attachment(s) from Robert Norse | View attachments on the web

1 of 1 File(s)

9:30 AM Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Covers Updates on Marijuana, Syringes, and “Unreasonably Disturbing Noise” at City Council, Lapis Road Latest, A Taste of the Mime Troupe and More!–Tune in at 101.3 FM or

Today’s show includes Carol Denny on Pepperspray Politics in Berkeley, Tenant Activist Organizing in Santa Cruz, and Caustic Commentary by Bathrobespierre on Everything.

Contact 575-770-3377 to volunteer different kinds of support for the Survival Sleepers now dispersed to the Post Office and points along Pacific Avenue  and support Food Not Bombs locally and those whose only resting place is an illegal piece of sidewalk.

Leave your comments and questions at the same number.   Still a $500 reward for any info leading to Free Radio’s finding a 10′ X 10′  studio space for Free Radio Santa Cruz to rent in Santa Cruz.

Later in the day after the show has aired, the Sunday 9-17 show archives at

Free Radio Santa Cruz Temporarily Off the Air–Instead of Today’s Bathrobespierre’s Broadsides Show, a Grim Look at the Stay-Away Law that Passed First Reading at City Council Last Tuesday

Toxic Expansion of Stay-Away Ordinance Hit Council Agenda Tuesday, Returns for Final Passage in September
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Tuesday Aug 22nd, 2017 updated August 24 4:20 p.m.

There was no prior public hearings nor any media announcement of the new law which bushwacked the community on Tuesday, only appearing on the agenda a week ago.   On 8-22 City Council voted on the First Reading of a harsh law expanding Councilmember Terrazas’ 4-Year old Anti-Homeless law today at its 2:30 PM Session. The law targets homeless community members for sleeping, being in a “park” after dark, obstructing the sidewalk, etc. It vastly expands the unconstitutional sweep of the current 13.08.100.
Agenda item #20 carried the deceptive ““Schools Safety Enhancement Zones” label to describe the vast expansion of police power

Familiar anti-homeless language like “nuisance crime” and “illegal behavior” are the usual code words for harassing and expelling homeless people from public spaces in a city with no available shelter for hundreds.  The same words peppered the staff presentation (See )

The proposed law will include not just anyone within 300′ of a school, but anyone in any of the following parks as well as any adjacent sidewalks and public spaces: Arana Gulch, Neary Lagoon, Depot Park, Poets Park, Beach Flats Park, Harvey West Park, Pogonip (Open Space), Louden Nelson Park, Sergeant Derby Park, Mission Plaza Park, Star of the Sea Park, Moore Creek (Open Space), University Terrace Park .
Nice way to make the parks “homeless free” if you start giving longer Stay-Away orders (as has been regularly done for the last three years) to folks who sleep there at night.   And, of course, we know how massive a school children presence there is at night when homeless people are sleeping—particularly far away in the deep Pogonip, or down in the San Lorenzo benchlands.  It’s certainly a necessary precaution to sanitize the area by banning folks found sleeping there or just being there “after hours”.   We must have certain Rules of Conduct after all!

If you’re given a citation — even it’s unjustified, and dropped short of court — you are banned from the area (and other prior areas if you’ve received citations) for 72 hours.   If you return you face up to a year in jail and $1000 fine.

Since 2013, the use of “we don’t need to charge you in court” Stay-Away orders, have systematically and specifically impacted, if not targeted, homeless folks.

The “crime wave” being addressed is the usual: sleeping, being in a park after dark, smoking. Hundreds of citations and stay away orders were issued to folks.

No actual specifics regarding these “crimes” are provided in the staff report. Nor are there any particulars of the great threat to the schools that is used to label this grotesque expansion of police power.

It also provides massive police powers to criminalize protesters and outspoken Council critics, particularly homeless ones. The earlier 24-hour/1week Stay Away order was one device used to drive away Freedom Sleepers and the Survival Sleepers from City Hall.

Second reading will be required  at the next Council meeting which may give folks a little organizing time to speak against it in two weeks when it reappears for a rubberstamping.



This wording is horrendous in and of itself. It means if you are, say, given three infraction citations in three different places over the course of three days (or even three weeks, if the second ticket happens within a week of the first), the Stay-Away law empowers police to ban you for three months from all three areas.

All before you’ve gone to court to get a “fair trial”. And if you get a 4th ticket anytime within the next 18 months in any park or other area covered by MC 13.08.100, you can be banned for 1 1/2 years from all 4 areas. If at any time, you violate this police-imposed ban any time during these periods, you face a possible year in jail or $1000 fine. The standard fines are $200-400 for the original infraction crime.

The phony process for “appealing” a Stay-Away order involves going before an appointee of City Manager Martin Bernal, whose employees are the cops and rangers testifying against you if you file an “appeal” within 1 day. There are no “rules of evidence”, no official record of the proceeding, no provision permitting an audio recording, no right for the public or media to be present–in other words, no due process. Doo-doo process indeed.

The standard of proof is different before the City Manager’s kangaroo court–it’s “preponderance of the evidence” (51%) unlike the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of the courts. Hence you can be improperly banned for weeks from public property (particularly important for homeless people trying to survive by hiding out) before you get your court trial. And then even if found innocent, there’s no provision for reversing the Stay-Away.

To read the specifics of the “in-house” appeal of Stay-Away orders process, go to MC 13.08.100(b) at .

We’ve heard a token squeak or two from our timid local ACLU– whose regional and national affiliates have quadrupled their cash reserves since the Trump victory protest. As for actually sending volunteers to help folks expose this travesty? We’re still waiting.

Courts, of course, provide little real protection from infractions, even if you trek to and from the courthouse waiting for the citation to appear, getting to the arraignment, going to the trial. The overwhelming majority of unhoused folks getting the infraction citations that accompany the Stay-Away orders have neither time, energy, nor resources to do this.

In an infraction case, you get a “judge” rather than a jury trial. You face toxically police-partial judges–even if you disqualify the Dept. 10 Commissioner and send the case to a “real” judge. And even with video documentation of false claims, selective enforcement, and/or harassment by police or rangers, the “real” judges convicted activists Abbi Samuels and Keith McHenry in two separate trials recently. This had the appearance of being part of the City Manager/SCPD campaign to drive away peaceful Freedom Sleeper protesters and Survival Sleeper homeless from City Hall. Even from the half of the sidewalks adjacent where they slept every Tuesday night in protest.

Infraction cases normally go to the Commissioner in Dept. 10, previously the notorious Brimstone Baskett who went to great lengths to provide the semblance of fairness and then finds you guilty. Baskett has now been dumped on us as a “real” judge in Dept. 4. I have no new info on the new Commissioner in Dept. 10 who hears cases.

This latest giveaway to the “homeless get out” crowd at Take Back Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Neighbors, the SCPD, and conservative staffers comes out of the bowels of Vice-Mayor Terrazas’s “Public Safety” Committee. As far as I know, it’s done zero outreach among folks outside to determine the impact of the current Stay-Away law–which has harassed and excluded hundreds of poor people without shelter.

The map showing the dramatically expanded “Stay Away Even Before You Get Charged in Court” zones is at

Terrazas’s sedulous scare narrative whitewashes the actual bigotry agenda of this law. The protective clothing for this bigoted expansion of police power and invitation to vigilante action is “child welfare”–all without any statistical evidence. The boogyman label is “school safety enhancement” . If you examine the map, though, it’s mostly areas beyond the 300′ “safety zone” that suddenly kicks in triple stay-away times. (Again without a court appearance or finding of guilty).

The “evidence” used to back this police power expansion were anecdotal stories from two Take Back Santa Cruz activists who regularly sit in the City Council who’d heard a story about a child being threatened in a park and another eye-witness account of a fight in a park. The only police stats presented in the agenda packet were the “alarming” but actually quite predictable significant percentage of police “calls for service” and “citations” in the parks.

There was no breakdown, of course, as to what those citations were for, whether there were convictions, nor how many were accompanied with stay away orders. The police statistics actually presented were used to dramatize a misleading narrative of “bad behavior”, “failure to maintain behavior standards”, “environmental degradation” and, of course, “public safety for our children” in the park areas.

However HUFF’s detailed study of Parks and Recreation citations for 2013 documents these were status crimes involving non-aggressive survival behavior by homeless people like smoking, sleeping, and being in a park after dark (See “Stay-Away From Human Rights ! An Activist Examines the Escalating Stay-Away Orders Law” at

More stats on an earlier version of this law are at (“Nasty Anti-Homeless Stay-Away Laws to Get Exponentially Worse”).

To read some of the bigoted babble that goes on around this issue plus Sentinel coverage, go to .

Why bother with real evidence and argument when you have a locked-in 5-2 majority on the City Council (it actually passed 4-1 with Brown and Chase absent). It’s hard to believe that rational, reasonable, mellow-sounding people like Vice-Mayor Terrazas seems to be…that they can pass this kind of straightforward repression. Terrazas has been rubberstamping like measure for years, though, through his Public Safety Committee.

Perhaps it’s raw meat thrown to the right-wing constituency, angered at the appearance of increasing numbers of visible homeless people (ironically becoming visible through being driven out of the parks and downtown). The appearance of action without the substance. More laws for useless and unconstitutional police actions.

More on the City Council capers last Tuesday when I muster up the energy. Free Radio Santa Cruz is currently off the air due to equipment problems, but I hope to go into the broader Council meeting in more detail next Sunday.

“Progressives” Defeat Trump Wall Investment at City Council but Local Anti-Homeless Fencing Still Marches On at Evening Session; Survival Sleepers Seek Help

Looks like the threat of disinvestment from Granite Construction may have discouraged them from bidding for the anti-immigrant Trump wall on the border (Item #2 7 PM Agenda).     Council may also support disinvestment from Wells Fargo for its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline (Item #3 7 PM Agenda).  However at Tuesday night’s 4-25 Council meeting the Council will still be considering a “cost-effective” fence along the levee along with increased cops, surveillance cameras, and lighting to add to the “no loitering” enforcement, forbidden to sit rules, and high-pitched anti-homeless “Mosquito” boxes along the levee.

Agenda item #1 on the 7 PM Agenda of the last City Council meeting in April has the following item up for a vote:

Riverwalk Engagement Summit Results and Recommendations (CM)
Consider community stakeholder recommendations generated from the Riverwalk Engagement Summit, which include enhanced City leadership and coordination, improved amenities, revenue enhancement efforts and a coordinated community outreach and engagement plan to encourage greater public participation/activation on the Riverwalk and adjacent San Lorenzo Benchlands and Park.

TO READ THE STAFF REPORT: Go to item 1 on the evening agenda at .

The flowery language masks the reality: $138,000 for more cops and copcars (technically Rangers and their Rangermobiles) to move along and drive away the poor from the levee area, $50,000 for “security” cameras, $24,000 for lighting upgrades, and $5000 for a “Public Engagement Summit”
Also on the conveyor belt is proposed fencing along the levee, as they look for a cheaper contractor.

The previous “Summit” in March had no representation from renters, the unhoused, civil liberties groups, minority interest groups, or students. The proposal is being pushed by the true bosses of the City Martin Bernal and his underling Scott Collins–City Manager and Deputy City Manager respectively who remain unaccountable to the community and receive no regular public scrutiny by any independent oversight body.

Recent mass marches have highlighted opposition to Trump’s misogyny, his immigrant hostility, his tax returns concealment, and his “alternate science” weltanschauung and the upcoming Trump’s Climate Confusion walk next Saturday. There is little if any acknowledgement of the broader collusion or indifference of local politicians on prior policies which set the stage for Trump’s toxic expansions.

The most obvious aspect of this is the local silence in the face of recent bipartisian saber rattling and hypermilitarism escalating foreign wars that thrived under Obama (and that Clinton vowed to continue). Local opportunist Democrats are heightening the danger with ramped up Russophobia and McCarthyite hysteria to justify Clinton’s defeat and push Trump out of power (so we can get Pence?).

The same local misfocus is also true of any pressure for politicians to be locally accountable. However, item ##2 and 3 on the evening agenda involving divestment from Granite Construction and Wells Fargo on the evening agenda do indicate a positive change–though again, prompted by distant national issues and heavy Democratic Party mobilization “against Trump”.

Where there is no improvement–in fact, further deterioration, is around poverty, houselessness, and local policing.

The City’s involvement with the recent chain link fence at the downtown post office has been unclear in spite of e-mails from Councilmembers Mathews and Niroyan hostile to Food Not Bombs weekend meals there.

The post office fence is likely part of the drive against homeless sleepers under the eaves at night and Food Not Bombs patrons on the steps during the weekend. The alleged “Construction” supposedly being undertaken there has yet to appear–and it’s been weeks.

The whole thing is reminiscent of the phony “plant restoration” pretext given to rope off the levee space near the Soquel St. bridge across from CVS back in 2010. See “City runs off Drum Circle again, cuts down trees and cements AREA CLOSED signs along levee” at .

To register your opposition to the City Council’s latest gentrification move on the Levee, e-mail them at citycouncil [at] . To consider more direct action protest, check out the HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) meeting at 11 AM-1 PM Wednesday at the Sub Rosa Cafe at 703 Pacific, or give a call to 831-423-4833.

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More Bucks for Busts, Slashing Social Services & Rain Rousts- Come to Freedom Sleepout #72

Date Tuesday November 22  Time 4:00 PM – 4:00 AM

Location Details On the sidewalk outside City Hall as the City Council votes to cut back further its wretched services for the poor and those outside. 809 Center St. facing the main library. The protest runs from 4 PM Tuesday to 9 AM or so Wednesday. Rain possible. Bring umbrellas, tarps, and protective gear.
Event Type
Organizer/Author Keith McHenry (story by Norse)
Email keith [at]

For the 72nd time, community activists who call themselves Freedom Sleepers [FS] create a one-night refuge for homeless folks against the city-wide ban on sleeping outside in a city shelter for less than 5% of 1000-2000.

DARK AGENDA IN A DARKENING ERA (from City Manager Martin Bernal and his underlings)
For hardnosed veterans interested in confronting a Trump-minded City Council, here are a few of the agenda items and their approximate time:

12:30 pm [Open Interval of the Closed Session] City Manager’s Performance Evaluation City Manager Martin Bernal is the most powerful and highly paid official in town; the anti-homeless policies supporting increased police harassment of protesters and homeless must have his approval.
2 pm [Afternoon Session]
#16 $217,000 for more rangers and more surveillance to deal with “crimes” like camping and loitering
#17 More Talk about the Housing Crisis: no Funding.
#18 More power to ticket vehicles for the parking enforcers.
#21 Prohibits growing any recreational marijuana in your fenced off yard even if not visible from the street

5 PM (approx) [Oral Communications] 2 minutes or less at the whim of Mayor Mathews: say what you want to the audience, those watching on tv, and the (shudder) City Council but act with others to create the changes Council refuses to look at.

7 pm [Evening Session] Move to shaft the pitiful remaining social services: redistribute the $1,000,000 Community Programs budget to new areas and thereby substantially reduce awards to programs or projects that support Early Childhood Education, Seniors and Homeless Services. Petition opposing this at
e-mail the Council at citycouncil [at]

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The Right to Disrespect Abusers in Power: A Reminder

I wrote this letter this morning after Vice-Mayor Cynthia Chase attempted to stop me from speaking with my back to the Council during Oral Communications yesterday afternoon. It wasn’t clear to me that she was taking action to arrest me, but seemed like she was threatening to do so. It has to emphasized again that a violation of Council rules, unless it disrupts the meeting, is not a disruption, however much a presiding officer wants to paint it as one. The interruption and threat to the speaker is the disruption. Showing disrespect is not a crime and often a duty.

At issue was the SCPD slaying of Sean Arlt Sunday before last ( ) and their refusal to hand over audio and video as well as the Council’s refusal to take any action.  Mayor Cynthia Mathews reduced time for each speaker to one minute instead of extending Oral Communications time.   I requested Councilmember Micah Posner by phone before hand to move to extend the time, but he remained silent when Mathews asked if any Councilmembers had objection to her “one minutes and then shut up” ruling.

Cynthia Chase, Vice-Mayor
309 Center St.
Santa Cruz, CA


Council’s failure to either agenda-ize or allow at least a three minutes per speaker Oral Communications time last night (and a 5 minute period for groups as has been traditional) provoked a lot of justified anger in the community.

Council has failed to recognize, much less reign in a long out-of-control police department with a lethal use of force policy, a perpetual lack of transparency, and a history of class profiling. This means many have lost their faith that the Council will provide even the semblance of a discussion, much less action, on these issues facing communities confronting abusive behavior by police departments across the country.

I think other speakers (and common sense) has made it clear. Leaving everything to the same department (and its D.A. friends) who OKs 4 armed and armored police shooting a guy “brandishing” a rake 4 times in 20 seconds appears like a corrupt rubberstamping of an out-of-control police department.

Refusing to demand the department show its video/audio to the community seems further evidence of this. And the final straw, of course, is failing to protect the community by requiring Vogel either discipline his officers or be fired.

I’m writing you regarding your attempt to persuade me to face the Council when speaking. I actually wasn’t aware it was you speaking (though I should have been), incidentally. My comments were not intended to be personally insulting, but to attempt to finish my (1 minute only!) public testimony without interruption.

Without intention to insult you, I’d add that this wouldn’t have made any difference. As I’ve told the Council in the past, this is my right and the right of any member of the public which the Council is required to respect (though it seldom does). As the 9th Circuit Court has ruled in an early City Council attempt to arrest me and later avoid responsibility for a civil rights violation–violating a Mayor or a Council’s “rule of procedure” is not a disruption. On the other hand, repeatedly interrupting a speaker at the microphone during Oral Communications so as to materially interfere with their right to speak is.

It was those who repeatedly interrupted my attempt to speak that were creating the disruption. A disruption is something that materially impedes the progress of the meeting. I would go so far to say as shout from the audience while viewed as “disrespectful” are a part of the democratic process–which is often not polite and friendly.

I thought this whole matter was made clear to the Council in the lawsuit that cost the City $200,000 in the mock-Nazi salute case of 2002–which you may be familiar with. Mayors Lane and Mathews have thought better of trying to stifle an obviously First Amendment-protected activity at the microphone during a public comment period.

This is likely to happen again, depending on the behavior of the Council. It’s up to the speaker at the mike, not to the Council or the Council’s presiding officer, how a person makes their commentary. If they choose too be disrespectful, that’s something the no member of the Council has any business moving to repress with force or threats of force.

I’ve had little contact with you other than the brief friendly chat we had when I interviewed you last month outside City Council for Free Radio Santa Cruz. I don’t have much faith in your interest in restoring basic rights to the broader community or the homeless community–based on your track record. But I found you amiable and approachable.

Hence I’m writing to you to explain that my back-to-the-Council presentation was not intended as a personal insult to you. My raised voice was intended to make what I was saying audible because, indeed, as you pointed out, I was turned away from the microphone.

I was addressing my views to the community because the Council clearly intended to do nothing about the Arlt slaying other than leave it in the hands of the agencies who committed what appears to be a rather lethal crime. I encourage you not to take gestures of disrespect to the Council personally, but to regard them as a necessary (if unpleasant for you) part of the cost of being a public official facing an justifiably outraged citizenry.

I would be happy to discuss this matter more fully with you if you wish. I think it’s important for you to understand some of the history here as you are likely to be the next Mayor.

I can appreciate your wanting me to behave in a certain fashion and your asking me to do so. Repeatedly interrupting me so as to interfere with my speaking time, however, is another matter. Obviously, even more seriously, I cannot and will not accept the use of armed force to attempt to suppress free speech at the public microphone during public comment period. Please assure me that you will not do this again and will intervene on behalf of speakers there if other members of the Council attempt to do so.

Feel free to call me if you wish to discuss these matters more fully.


Unexpected Victory at Coastal Commission Overturning Nighttime RV Ban

The Coastal Commission today found by an 11-1 vote that the City’s midnight to 5 PM RV ban involved a “substantial issue” and so would require a new hearing in the months to come. Unimpressed with Assistant City Manager Scott Collins’s flimsy if not false claims that Santa Cruz provides RV alternatives, is dealing with an RV “crime crisis”, and is only duplicating what other cities have done.FLYER DISTRIBUTED TO THE COMMISSION AT THE HEARING

notes_for_a_coastal_commission_speech__final_flyer.pdf_600_.jpgDownload PDF


City councilfolks and staffers can bullshit themselves, but it’s harder to bullshit the Coastal Commission. In Santa Cruz, staff word is usually holy writ, so they can spin whatever yarns they want with challenge only from the occasional critic that the Council ignores. The Coastal Commission staff initially advised the Santa Cruz Council staff that last year’s proposed 8 PM to 8 AM RV ban would be too sweeping to pass muster once I’d filed an appeal at the recommendation of Councilmember Posner. The Coastal Commission staff, after months of consulting with the Scott Collins City Council staff, agreed to a “compromise” midnight to 5 AM ban, swallowing whole Collins’ specious arguments. The CC staff then recommended upholding the “RV’s Get Out!” law and denying my appeal.

Though they had plenty of time to research, both staffs failed to include the particulars. For instance, the (lack of) availability of RV parking in the City. Or the miniscule number of churches that actually allow an RV to park (where they have to compete with vehicles). In essence, Collins’ failed to come up with specific parking alternatives for unhoused people using RV’s as housing.

He had no specific statistics clarifying what “crimes” required passing such a Draconian city-wide ban. But claimed he had. A few simple questions from the Commission itself exposed the how unsubstantiated these claims were.

We brought up these issues repeatedly before City Council but were ostentatiously ignored. Arrogant politicians in an echo chamber suddenly run up against outside observers who, whatever their political preferences, have to consider real facts. Like denying coastal access to a whole class of people to please NIMBY neighborhoods.

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