The Partisan: Setting the Agenda for City Officials


By Royal Calkins

Now that everyone has had a chance to rest up from the mid-term election, now that most of the votes in the local races have finally been counted, it’s time to turn our thoughts to governance rather than the personalities of politics.

Locally, the voting turned out pretty well, with the Cal Am takeover measure passing handily and some strong new candidates succeeding at the polls. But will it make a difference? Will the slightly updated city councils of Seaside and Monterey and Salinas do a better job defining and dealing with problems or will all that new energy be drained by endless discussions of easements, pensions and the other mainstays of municipal decision-making?

In support of option A, the one about doing a better job, here is an attempt to help set the overall agenda for some of the jurisdictions in case the newly elected are distracted by all their new friends with agendas of their own.


The leadership of Monterey County’s largest city has been putting considerable time, energy and money into addressing the city’s largest and closely related problems of homelessness, crowding and the need for more affordable housing. It is slow work, however, and each new shelter has a barely noticeable impact on the tent cities that ring the city center.

Meanwhile, some of the neighborhoods are glutted with people crowding into houses and apartments designed for fewer people. Even though some landlords are profiting handsomely, the crowding drags property values down and puts sizable swaths of the city on a downward trajectory. Living conditions for some of the hardest working people among us are dreadful.

Housing deserves nearly complete attention. Sure, there are other issues, but when hundreds of people sleep on the streets each night and thousands of people sleep in garages and sheds and kitchens, the priorities are obvious. Better housing is a better investment than almost anything else.


It’s almost hard to believe these two cities are in the same county, that’s how opposite Salinas and Carmel are. So many of the lovely homes in Carmel are weekenders that on a typical Wednesday night you might have a hard time finding enough people in some neighborhoods to put together a game of bridge.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. Unfortunately, the biggest one at the moment has nowhere near the visibility of tents on sidewalks. It is simply the city attorney, Glen Mozingo, who was swept into the job a year ago on the strength of his campaign support for Mayor Steve Dallas and his friendship with city councilmember Carolyn Hardy. He got the job despite applications from truly qualified candidates and a resumé in which he grossly exaggerated his experience with municipal law. Though he had practiced estate and business formation law for four decades, he was seriously ill-prepared to advise city officials on the matters before them.

Unfortunately, even after his inflated resumé became known, Mozingo persuaded the council to grant him a five-year contract, to let him hire a couple of deputies, and to agree that it would take four out of the five council votes to get rid of him. Until Mozingo came along, little Carmel got along with one half-time city attorney.

Fortunately, voters chose just this month to remove Dallas and Hardy from office, effective this week. It remains to be seen whether the replacements, Dave Potter and Jeff Baron, can muster the four votes to expeditiously send Mozingo back into retirement. But it does seem that Potter, Baron and holdover Bobby Richards could manage to rid the city of Mozingo’s expensive contract by arguing that he got the job under false pretenses. If he decided to fight such a move in court, I’d want a front row seat.

One more point that no one else seems to have raised. What happens when the city is in the midst of big litigation and the other side challenges the city’s assertions by pointing out the fabrications in Mozingo’s resumé? Until he is gone, almost anything the city tries to do will be suspect.


The city’s popular and progressive mayor Bruce Delgado survived a serious challenge from retired cop Bob Nolan, but he should not take that as an endorsement of how he has handled things the past few years. Delgado lost the backing of close council allies by becoming too cozy with the developer of the SpringHill Suites hotel and pushing to provide him with city subsidies without adequate documentation of his claims.

Moving forward, it is critical that the city have a complete understanding of the hotel finances and that there are no fuzzy side deals.


Homelessness and affordable housing continue to be critical issues in each of the cities, or at least they should be. Seaside can’t be the only city providing affordable housing and no one should expect Salinas to be the leading purveyor of curbside camping.

But another important if less obvious  issue also unites the Peninsula cities. It’s the future of Cal Am and the current move toward a public takeover of the private company’s local operations.

Peninsula voters this month said yes to Measure J, which requires the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to commission a professional feasibility study of the takeover idea and to move ahead with buying out Cal Am if the study shows the effort makes financial sense. The next step is for the district board to decide how to proceed on the feasibility study and to hire consultants to do the work. Simple? Not so much.

Cal Am spent a fortune fighting Measure J and it is likely committed to spending another fortune and all the political capital it can muster to block the takeover, largely by making the company appear to be worth considerably more than it actually is. If there is a way to scuttle the feasibility study and subvert the wishes of the voters, they will find it.

So that’s where the cities come in. Sometime soon, the mayors of the various cities will gather to choose one of the mayors to join the board of the water management district. And that’s where you come in. If you support the idea of putting Cal Am under public management, if you are concerned about water rates that are already the highest in the U.S., you might want to contact the mayor or your city, or the council members of your city, and urge the selection of a mayor supportive of the takeover effort and a credible study.

The best bets – mayors who would support an honest and meaningful feasibility study and a straightforward takeover process – are the mayors of Monterey and Del Rey Oaks, Clyde Roberson and Alison Kerr. Not so good, Ian Oglesby of Seaside, who promises to follow in the political footsteps of outgoing mayorRalph Rubio, who has been one of Cal Am’s closest allies on the water board. Also not such a good idea, Dave Potter, the newly seated mayor Carmel, who was a valuable friend to Cal Am during his many years as a Monterey County supervisor.

No, this issue isn’t going to show up on a city council agenda near you. They won’t be asking for public comment the second Tuesday of the month. But while much of politics isn’t played in public, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate or that you can’t get your favorite newly elected council member to push your message forward.


Lawyer and former planning commissioner Bill McCrone ran against Roberson on a platform of cleaning up the Fisherman’s Wharf leases, sweetheart deals negotiated decades ago and continuing to cost city taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Without McCrone pushing the issue, the rest of the council is likely to ignore this one. Making political patrons pay full freight is a perilous path. But if the Monterey council doesn’t do something soon to end the city’s subsidization of profitable enterprises, look for the grand jury to take a long and close look.


During the campaign, we heard a lot of candidates talking about “transparency.” Don’t expect to hear much again until the next campaign.

For the most part, the government agencies in Monterey County have done a horrible job of making it easier for the public to look over their shoulders at such things as campaign finance. Monterey has made campaign finance reports easy to find online. Seaside and Carmel have put campaign finance reports online but good luck finding them ifyou don’t know where they’re tucked away.

The technology to make campaign contribution reports easily accessible is cheap and readily available. Any jurisdiction that doesn’t get up to speed before the next election needs a whole new cast of characters.

Have something to say about this story? Send us a letter or leave a comment below.


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

6 thoughts on “The Partisan: Setting the Agenda for City Officials

  1. I for one am very happy Bill Peake will be Pacific Grove’s next mayor. If my expectations materialize, P.G. will replace evasiveness with significantly greater transparency.

  2. There will not be sufficient housing of any kind, on the Peninsula or anywhere else, without water. To continue to lobby for affordable housing on one hand and fight against adequate water on the other is the height of political hypocrisy. Unfortunately, too many of our electeds are willing to play that game (politics), while too many of the voters are distracted just trying to make a living. This along with a small army of well financed do-gooders, acting in cooperation with one another, backed by a cadre of environmental attorneys, are all trying to save us from ourselves.Or is it, save them from us?

    Our area is a product of past decisions that were made. The Salinas Valley is a Ag Center and the Peninsula is a Tourist Haven. If it weren’t for Government spending in the form of the County, Cities, Agencies, Education, and the Military and our burgeoning Medical Sector we would look like a big Plantation with many working in the fields and many others cooking, cleaning, and tending the garden. Our economy is not diversified. Because of this we live in an area with limited economic opportunity. Too many of the jobs available are low paying and they won’t support home ownership and make it difficult for those who rent.

    This is the reality we live in and only the strong will survive. America was built on Dreams and unfortunately too many of those were broken. In an area which is restricted and limited as it is, you must be willing to sacrifice to an extent greater than the norm and don’t expect much help from those who have their boot on your neck. As for those who speak of affordable housing but won’t augment the water to needed levels, well, they are either fools or liars.

    There has to be some balance as we all seem to be trying to keep the “Goose that lays the Golden Eggs” (our area) alive and well. But, there also has to be some equity in how those eggs are distributed among the vast amount of workers who tend the Golden Goose so they too, can live without care.

    1. Ron, will you please specify who you refer to when you say there are political hypocrites lobbying for affordable housing who are concurrently “fighting against adequate water?”

  3. The issue of transparency is not just an apple pie campaign issue. Clyde Roberson, Ed Smith, and Dan Albert Jr were the authors of a closed session decision to give away a 20-year extension of the Old Fishermen’s Grotto lease at 1/4 the Fair Market Rent, costing the public millions of dollars over 20years. Several other Wharf leases will expire in the next 3 years and the odds are that this group will give away the farm if given the opportunity. Are the people of Monterey going to stand for more long term public subsidy for wealthy restauranteurs on the Waterfront?

    This Monterey City Council has done exactly nothing about planning to increase our supply of affordable/workforce housing in the past 4 years. Will someone step up to lead a viable effort to increase supply? The tools are available, but will NIMBY advocates like Roberson and Smith continue to kick the can down the road in the mistaken belief that excluding the working people from living here will keep the small town feel that was lost 20 years ago?

  4. Of course the answer has been with us all the time. To paraphrase Einstein, you cannot create the solution from the paradigm that the problem existed. Most of the problems mentioned are but those created by government to begin with. Let’s deal with one problem, housing. Government in it’s desire to “fix” the problem created a slew of unintended problems. To “pay” for housing for some, they will charge others in the form of taxes, fees, assessments and the like. This then creates regulations to justify or excuse the increase in costs. These costs are then passed on to those who actually buy the homes, assuming that a builder or developer is willing to front the fees. Eventually all this good doing led to fees of over $80k per home. Imagine if you could say cut that to $20k, do you think a savings of $60k would benefit the community at large? That doesn’t include the interest that would be wasted by financing that amount, etc. Instead government decided that somebody else should get to spend that money to “solve” the problem. And then it has to hire staff, and all the expense that goes with that, to administer that. Then to “protect” their new found source of revenue, the interest parties on the receiving end propose regulation that protects that, so any new solution has to be put in the box, meet said requirements, often costing significant outlay, and prohibiting some from ever venturing to provide a solution, it is cost prohibitive. Now the city has a “problem” it’s not meeting it’s stated goals, but they still have the outlay for staff and regulation enforcement, so off we go to find other “new” sources of revenue. We know them as, sales tax, property tax, utility tax, special use tax, district tax, increase of fines, bonds, all manner of names except the truth. They are in essence stealing from the earners a portion of their income without providing anything of real tangible service except paying for the debt previously incurred in the name of the tax payer. More government is never the solution, and whatever “better” government is? Good government seeks to infringe as little as possible. Government was never intended to give you something, it knows only one thing, to take from you. It serves it’s own interest, not yours. It is time to step up, figure out the solutions, with or without government. Figure out how to make it at the very least self sustaining, better is for people to profit, this will incentivize future generations to continue the good work. The government is you, and based on the way it appears, you (and me by default) have no interest in your community. You are perfectly willing to let someone else do it, and unquestioningly accepting of the bill they send you.

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