The Partisan: More than the usual suspects Local elections plus PG&E, Cal Am and a Carmel city attorney update

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OPINION | 

By Royal Calkins

The local elections this fall are an unusually interesting assortment and that’s largely because they include more than the usual suspects. Several fresh voices are threatening to mix things up in Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Del Rey Oaks and Salinas. Probably not enough fresh voices to actually fix things in Carmel, but sometimes even a little change is a good thing.

In Seaside, county Supervisor Jane Parker has avoided the safe route of simply signing her name to the various candidates’ endorsements. Instead, she sent out a mailer to voters in and around Seaside with detailed endorsements of three candidates, Councilwoman Kayla Jones for mayor as well as newcomer Jon Wizard and incumbent Jason Campbell for council.

Jones is running against a longtime former council member, Ian Oglesby, which means she is essentially running against longtime Mayor Ralph Rubio and the development interests that have been running things forever now.

Parker notes that Jones introduced city-sponsored child care during council meetings, established committees on homelessness and the environment and reformed the way the various boards and commissions are filled.

“Kayla has been very active and engaged, making a great impression on so many different people as one of our up and coming leaders,” Parker wrote.

Of Wizard, a Parker appointee to the county planning commission, the supervisor said, “He boldly took on the oil industry at his first meeting in January, leading a commission discussion that led to denial of a drilling permit.”

Parker writes that Campbell was one of the key figures in the successful fight against the Monterey Downs boondoggle and that he continues to lead efforts for sustainable development rather than the get-somebody-rich-quick kind.

The Seaside race is among the most interesting in the area, partly because longtime council member Rubio isn’t running and because of the great mix of candidates.

Also running for mayor is Lisa Ann Sawhney, a political newcomer running on a business-friendly platform with the support of former mayor Felix Bachofner.

Jones is probably the favorite, with the Democratic Party endorsement though she hasn’t been able to score an endorsement from important Democrat Bill Monning. Jones won her council seat by beating Oglesby. I expect she’ll beat him again this time.

It’s a tough race for the two council seats. Wizard, a former sheriff’s deputy with solid progressive credentials, is a clear favorite. For the other seat, progressive Campbell should have the advantage because of his incumbency and his key role in fighting off the decidedly unpopular Monterey Downs. But Regina Mason is a formidable foe. Mason, a former CPS worker, heads the NAACP locally and is married to local civil rights legend Mel Mason.

Council candidate Dennis Volk owns Mal’s Market, which makes great sandwiches. He’s the token conservative in the race.

The Rev. Sam Gaskins is running, too, mostly because he needs a forum to try to hold onto the church property that the Army provided to him decades ago. Now the Fort Ord Reuse Authority wants it back to accommodate Danny Bakewell’s latest venture. Gaskins says the property was a gift. The reuse authority says prove it. Gaskins says see you in court.

UTILITIES

Here’s the thing about those utility company commercials clogging up the airwaves these days. In both the PG&E campaign and the Cal Am campaign, they are bragging about doing nothing more than what they are supposed to be doing.

The PG&E campaign is particularly irritating. As part of the giant utility’s campaign to not be held responsible for the wildfires it caused, a position that the Legislature endorsed this week, the commercials feature fire chiefs from around the state declaring that when their crews go out to emergency scenes they often find PG&E crews there as well, dealing with the power and gas lines. Left unsaid is that PG&E and only PG&E is responsible for those power and gas lines and they sure as hell need to get out to those emergency scenes. Who else is going to do it. The PTA?  The Boy Scouts?

I’ve looked but can’t figure out how much the fire departments and other pro-PG&E outfits are getting for becoming PG&E shills.

The Cal Am campaign, intended to ward off the coming public ownership campaign, is nearly as bad. They boast of investing millions of dollars into the water supply, without mentioning that it is our money, not their money, that they are investing. And then they show a low-income woman who got help paying her water bill, as required by law, and a Cal Am employee who got a promotion after some training partially paid for by the company. As election day approaches, look for a Cal Am ad boasting about how they never put poison in the water.

DEPARTMENT OF MINIMAL VELOCITY

I had to go to DMV the other day, which is sort of like having a root canal but it takes a lot longer. The state Department of Motor Vehicles has been under tremendous political pressure of late because of accounts of day-long waits and revelation of a special DMV office just for legislators and the like.

It was clear from my visit that the employees were feeling the pressure. You could see it in their eyes. But was it helping speed things along? I don’t think so.

In an attempt to speed things up, they changed up the procedure a bit. Instead of standing in a long line in order to get a number so you can sit and wait forever for that number to be called, now you stand in a newly created long line in order to be told that you need to go stand in that other long line in order to get the number that qualifies you to sit and wait.

But not so fast, not that fast is the right word. Now, once you have your chair-qualifying number, you have to go to a bank of computers and put in a bunch of information. I was there to replace a driver’s license that another place lost when I had to go there for fingerprinting, but that’s another story. Back to the long line.

I cannot be sure, but it seems truly impossible that adding another level of triage serves to speed things up. The answer, it seems to me, is for Sacramento to turn loose of whatever money isn’t being used for the high-speed train and invest it in some better technology and additional DMV employees. Simply putting more pressure on already stressed DMV workers is not the answer.

WHO VOTED ON THIS THING ANYWAY?

Monterey County Judge Tom Wills has overturned a Board of Supervisors vote approving an 18-lot subdivision adjacent to my Harper Canyon neighborhood. Wills found that the county’s environmental impact report was an absolute mess, inaccurately assessing the water supply and most everything else.

I’m thankful to the Monterey Herald for bringing us the story of the Encinal Hills project and its apparent demise, but I have something to add. Voting in favor of the ill-designed project were two supes no longer around plus John Phillips, who is very much around. His stated reasoning at the time is that the would-be developers, the heirs of James Bond-movie producer Albert Broccoli, deserved credit for having worked for years and years to get the thing approved. Planning principles and water supply, not a big deal, Phillips declared through his vote.

CARMEL GOES TO COURT

I put this item last not because it isn’t important. It is, at least to me. But it’s about that silly city of Carmel, which is home to fewer than 2,500 voters. Voices has been accused of trying to build readership by taking on the Carmel power structure the way we have, but the numbers suggest that would be a terribly poor business strategy.

Anyway, for the 50 people who have been following the Glen Mozingo saga, the scuffle moves to the Monterey County Courthouse on Aguajito Road in Monterey on Friday. Put it on your calendar, 9 a.m. in Department 14.

The City of Carmel says, in court papers no less, that this writer is a failed journalist and a documentable liar with a history of making up stuff about powerful people. What that has to do with the paperwork in question is beyond me, but it made for an interesting read.

On the calendar is me and Transparency in Government v. the city of Carmel. At issue, whatever paperwork Mozingo might have shown the council back in June in response to Voices articles reporting on several fictitious passages in his resume’.

In case you’ve forgotten, he says he won the highly prestigious Congressional Gold Medal although he didn’t. He says he was special counsel to Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates though no one else can find any record of that. Scroll down the Voices pages and you’ll find the other questionable entries.

After the closed-door meeting with Mozingo, the council pronounced Mozingo’s resume’ to be beyond reproach but it wouldn’t share what it was that was so persuasive. Through my lawyer, Neil S. Shapiro, I argue that it is public record and that the public has a tremendously legitimate interest in knowing the truth about the most powerful person at City Hall.

The city, through Mozingo and a couple of his deputies, says releasing the items would be an invasion of Mozingo’s privacy and would violate this act or that one.

They also say, in court papers no less, that this writer is a failed journalist and a documentable liar with a history of making up stuff about powerful people. What that has to do with the paperwork in question is beyond me, but it made for an interesting read.

I haven’t said much in response, and I didn’t’ have to because Shapiro did a grand job of it in his most recent filings in the public records case. They are attached below but I’ll provide a highlight or two from the one about me.

Shapiro refers to the city’s attack as the Rose declaration because it was written by Deputy City Attorney Gerard Rose, the former councilman. Or least that’s what it says.

“The Rose Declaration in its entirety stands in sharp contrast to the proper standards of behavior expected by this Court,” writes Shapiro, who, like most lawyers, capitalizes too often.

“Rather than illuminating the record with facts relevant to this Court’s inquiry, it offers nothing more than a vicious and unfounded personal attack on Calkins. As such, it speaks more to the character of the declarant than it does to the character of Calkins.”

I had no idea Shapiro was such a good writer.

He continues, arguing that the declaration “is offensive to any reasonable practitioner and accomplishes nothing. To the contrary, it appears to be a sad attempt to deflect this Court’s attention from the reality that respondent City of Carmel-by-the-Sea lacks legal or local support for its refusal to disclose public records.”

OK, I’m probably not as objective as I could be on this one, but I think Shapiro makes a pretty good case on behalf of the good guys.

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Royal Calkins

About Royal Calkins

Contributing writer Royal Calkins has worked for newspapers in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Fresno. For the past couple of years, he has produced a local news and commentary blog, the Monterey Bay Partisan. He can be reached at calkinsroyal@gmail.com.

2 thoughts on “The Partisan: More than the usual suspects Local elections plus PG&E, Cal Am and a Carmel city attorney update

  1. Royal, I agree that those utility commercials are just fluff pieces designed to improve tarnished corporate reputations. But you are incorrect about how they work with first responders. Fire departments don’t just happen to “find” PG&E crews when they arrive at the scene of an emergency. 911 dispatchers will summon PG&E whenever an emergency involves gas or power lines. Typically, fire crews will arrive first and assess the situation then ask dispatchers to request service from PG&E when needed. The TV commercials depict PG&E and fire crews training together so they’ll know how to coordinate their efforts in a real emergency. I’ve listened to enough emergency calls on the radio scanner to understand how it works, and I believe you have, too, so I shouldn’t have to correct you.

    BTW, as with most big corporations I make a distinction between PG&E’s front-line employees who do the actual work of making things go and corporate execs who make company policy. The former I would trust with my life, while the latter scare the crap out of me.

  2. Hello, I am the third candidate written about in the article and running for the 2018 Mayoral Seat in Seaside. While I am a businesswoman and am an accomplished Organizational Development & Human Resources Professional, I am concerned and passionate about Seaside for many reasons. My candidacy includes three pillars: Safety, Stewardship, and Success and is about Serving and representing the many residents & businesses within Seaside.

    I’ve lived on the Peninsula for 6 years, 3 as a renter and 3 as a home owner in Seaside. I’m running to bring a fresh perspective to Seaside, a beautiful Coastal and University City

    As written about in the article, I wanted to share a bit more about myself. Please feel free to contact me at the details below.

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