october 19-25, 2023 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT Sex (workers) and the city 8 | Holiday movie screamings 28 | Going on the Lamb 30 Salinas restaurateur Jeffrey Birkemeier has spent a decade pursuing one of the world’s most elusive titles. p. 18 By Dave Faries Master Class
2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com october 19-25, 2023 • ISSUE #1837 • Established in 1988 Rikk Kvitek (SONY ILCE-7RM5, ƒ/6.3, 1/4000, 600mm, ISO1250, Sony 200-600 G OSS) A surf scoter, seen here looking a bit like the main character in its own cartoon series, crests the lip of a Salinas River State Beach breaker at dawn. Surf scoters are large sea ducks native to North America. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to email@example.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: The wine cellar at Sardine Factory in Monterey, set up as if for a formal tasting. Sardine Factory hosted the first-ever Master Sommelier Diploma Examination held outside of Europe. It took place in 1986. Cover photo: By Daniel Dreifuss etc. Copyright © 2023 by Milestone Communications Inc. 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, California 93955 (telephone 831-394-5656). All rights reserved. Monterey County Weekly, the Best of Monterey County and the Best of Monterey Bay are registered trademarks. No person, without prior permission from the publisher, may take more than one copy of each issue. Additional copies and back issues may be purchased for $1, plus postage. Mailed subscriptions: $120 yearly, pre-paid. The Weekly is an adjudicated newspaper of Monterey County, court decree M21137. The Weekly assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Visit our website at http://www.montereycountyweekly.com. Audited by CVC. Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve firstname.lastname@example.org (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman email@example.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin firstname.lastname@example.org (x120) features editor Dave Faries email@example.com (x110) associate editor Tajha Chappellet-Lanier firstname.lastname@example.org (x135) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez email@example.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino firstname.lastname@example.org (x106) Staff Writer Rey Mashayekhi email@example.com (x102) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) firstname.lastname@example.org Staff Writer David Schmalz email@example.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss firstname.lastname@example.org (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi email@example.com (x105) contributors Marielle Argueza, Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Nic Coury, Jeff Mendelsohn, Jacqueline Weixel, Paul Wilner Cartoons Rob Rogers, Tom Tomorrow Production Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser firstname.lastname@example.org (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell email@example.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada firstname.lastname@example.org (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley email@example.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim firstname.lastname@example.org (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal email@example.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker firstname.lastname@example.org (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter email@example.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith firstname.lastname@example.org (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. email@example.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira firstname.lastname@example.org (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick email@example.com 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, CA 93955 831-394-5656, (FAX) 831-394-2909 www.montereycountyweekly.com We’d love to hear from you. Send us your tips at tipline.montereycountyweekly.com. We can tell you like the print edition of the Weekly. We bet you’ll love the daily newsletter, Monterey County NOW. Get fresh commentary, local news and sundry helpful distractions delivered to your inbox every day. There’s no charge, and if you don’t love it, you can unsubscribe any time. SIGN UP NOW Sign up today at montereycountyweekly.com/mcnow
www.montereycountyweekly.com OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 3 Breast cancer awareness month For more information visit chomp.org/breastcare. 8 tips to reduce your risk Get a mammogram. Talk to your doctor about when to start. Get active — do things you love. Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater the risk. Quit smoking. There’s a link between smoking and breast cancer risk. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer. Breastfeed. It may play a role in breast cancer prevention. Talk to your doctor about affects of hormone therapy. Eat a healthy diet. 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8
4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH India’s most famous living author, Arundhati Roy, is being prosecuted by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of whom she has been critical. Roy has been known for her involvement in human rights and environmental causes, inducing a critique of the Indian treatment of Muslims in Kashmir that she has been speaking about since 2008. The original complaint accuses Roy of giving speeches advocating for the secession of Kashmir from India, which partially governs the disputed region and claims it in full, as does neighboring Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Kashmir since an insurgency against Indian rule broke out in 1989. Roy is best known for her 1997 novel The God of Small Things, a critique of both British colonialism in India, and its caste system, for which she received the Booker Prize. Since 2014, India dropped from 140th to 161st on an index compiled by Reporters Without Borders ranking 180 nations’ media freedom. Good: Water use is a big deal around these parts, and CSU Monterey Bay’s work in water-use research received a boost in the form of a $1.13 million grant from the U.S. Geological Survey. The grant will aid CSUMB adjunct faculty members and research scientists AJ Purdy and Lee Johnson in their work with OpenET, a 3-year-old data program that provides satellite-based information on evapotranspiration—the process that sees water transfer from the land into the atmosphere, by way of evaporation from the soil or transpiration from plants. OpenET’s platform, collected with the help of NASA satellites, promises easily accessible water resource management data for agricultural users and other stakeholders, particularly in the western U.S. Purdy, Johnson and their CSUMB colleagues collect ground-based data in Central Coast agricultural fields to evaluate OpenET’s accuracy and reliability, and the funding will help them advance that work. GREAT: Residents of Pajaro and Watsonville can breathe a little easier after Gov. Gavin Newsom, on Friday, Oct. 13, signed AB 876. The bill, authored by state Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, will provide some environmental regulatory exemptions for the Pajaro Levee Flood Risk Management Project, which was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1966 but remains unbuilt. The bill provides that going forward, the project can rely solely on already approved federal environmental review documents and not have to undergo a separate state review process. That alone is expected to expedite the project by at least a year, if not years. In a statement, Rivas said the “Pajaro River levee needs upgrades now, and I am encouraged and relieved that we will be able to deliver them as quickly as possible.” The Army Corps of Engineers, which is building the upgrades, is ready to start construction next year. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Amount the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District’s Rancho Cañada Floodplain Restoration Project, which will restore a mile-long stretch of the Carmel River’s riparian corridor. It’s the largest grant awarded through the foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund in its latest round of funding. Source: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation $10 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “That was not under oath.” -Gustavo Morales, accused of murdering Salinas Police Officer JD Alvarado in 2022, testifying in his defense on Oct. 16. Morales claimed he lied in conversation with an informant in his jail cell about the killing (see more, mcweekly.com). million SHIP Grant Statement This project was supported, in part by grant number 90SAPG0094-04, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. It’s tIme to thInk about your medIcare coverage! For questions, please contact the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) at 800-434-0222 marina Library – thurs. october 19th at 11am (English) and 12:30pm (Spanish) alliance on aging (salinas) – tues. october 24th at 3pm (English) alliance on aging (salinas) – thurs. october 26th at 3pm (Spanish) soledad city hall – Wed. november 1st at 1pm (English) and 2:00pm (Spanish) www.allianceonaging.org Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program - ‘HICAP’ Learn more at one of our free medicare updates seminars Celebrate the season during this two-night self-guided walking tour event featuring entertainment and decor at over a dozen historic buildings in downtown Monterey. Angel image: Erica Franke, 1957 - City of Monterey CHRISTMAS IN THE ADOBES DECEMBER 9 & 10, 2022 5:00-9:00 PM HISTORIC MONTEREY'S BELOVED HOLIDAY EVENT RETURNS Info & tickets available at www.MSHPA.org beginning Oct 17 Brought to you by California State Parks & The Monterey State Historic Park Association (MSHPA) DECEMBER 8 & 9, 2023 5:00–9:00PM
www.montereycountyweekly.com OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 OUTPATIENT INFUSION CENTER DESIGNED WITH PATIENTS IN MIND Providing comprehensive cancer care close to home is a vital part of improving the health of our community. Salinas Valley Health Outpatient Infusion Center offers a more convenient, connected experience for our patients and their families. The center is centrally located and designed to ensure that every patient experiences the utmost level of care within a soothing and nurturing atmosphere. Patients can adjust the lighting to their comfort, and they can take advantage of free wholesome snacks and beverages. Scan the QR code for all the details of the services we offer in our Outpatient Infusion Center. Outpatient Infusion Center 515 East Romie Lane Salinas For more information about our cancer care services, visit SalinasValleyHealth.com/ cancer or call Salinas Valley Health Cancer Care at 831-755-1701. Comprehensive Care in One Convenient Location: • Chemotherapy infusion • Immunotherapy • Blood transfusion • Therapeutic phlebotomy • IVIG infusion • Iron infusion • Antibiotic infusion • Injections • Lab draws • Port-a-cath care • PICC line care
6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 On a sunny Saturday afternoon, dozens of children sit on the grass at La Paz Park in Salinas with Ranger, a dog mascot representing a new book. They are listening to a reading from Amor Salinas, in which young people learn to become superheroes in their own city—with superhero defined as someone dedicated to keeping the city clean. The project is a collaboration between graphic design students at North Salinas High School and the City of Salinas, and it happened by chance. Sophia Rome, Salinas’ community relations manager, took part in mock job interviews at the school. Rome sat down with student Myrna Gonzalez and saw that her resume included the completion of assignments in graphic design class—including a mural in front of Harden Middle School. Rome was impressed and contacted Gonzalez’s instructor, Jennifer Ghastin. “It was actually my students, talking about their previous work, that piqued the interest of Sophia Rome,” Ghastin explains. The collaboration led to the picture book Amor Salinas. It was the first time her classes designed such a publication, which involved a narrative and illustrations. The story follows the adventures of Ranger, Bucky and Esmeralda in Salinas. The paperback is the second phase of the Amor Salinas initiative, which the city launched two years ago. The focus of the initial phase was on organizing cleanups and encouraging a volunteer spirit, and was considered a success. Now that cleanups happen regularly with hundreds of volunteers involved, the program moved to its second phase: education. “We’re going to start making cultural and long-term changes within our community, having our kids understand the importance of loving our city,” Rome says. The goal of phase two is to instill in young residents the idea that they can take initiative and work with others to improve their community. Before Ghastin’s students started working on the storyboard or drawing the characters and backgrounds, Rome gave them a briefing about important places in Salinas, showing them before and after photographs of cleanups and spoke about the project’s goal. Students visited different parts of Salinas and took pictures to gather inspiration, picking up trash along the way. Once they explored the city, Ghastin’s students divided into groups, each in charge of different functions— editor in chief, storyboard and character development. Ranger, Bucky and Esmeralda would have to resonate. Time was pressing. There were six weeks left in the school term. But they turned Amor Salinas around in three weeks, driven by the hope it would get published before the end of the school year. Monica Navarro, the book’s editor in chief, says she was excited by the project, admitting that many felt intimidated by the scope. “We worked really hard on this book and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done and how it turned out,” Navarro says. Eddie Rincon was a character designer for Bucky. He arranged different Bucky presets, like arms and legs in different positions, that other students could use while making illustrations. Ghastin advised the students, but they took the lead on each character’s appearance and the layout of each scene. “I think that when we do anything for an audience greater than ourselves, it’s just much more powerful,” Ghastin explains. Navarro says they wanted readers to see themselves in the book: “We tried our best to design characters that would look like any other kid in Salinas.” The team reached out to Spanish teacher Claudia Verdin to make sure the English and Spanish version were similar. The team that put the book together are now high school graduates. This year, they’ve presented the book they designed to the Salinas Union High School District board, Salinas City Council—and to the public. The city printed 3,000 copies and will distribute them to local elementary schools. Amor Salinas will also be available at all Salinas Library branches. Clean Page High school students collaborate with Salinas to produce a children’s book and improve the city. By Celia Jiménez “You’re going to reach a lot of people in such a small area,” Sophia Rome says of the potential for a new children’s book to change culture in Salinas. Above, children participate in a reading at La Paz Park on Saturday, Oct. 14. “We’re going to start making long-term changes.” tALeS FroM tHe AreA coDe DANIEL DREIFUSS
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8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com news In a stunning win, construction students from Rancho Cielo in Salinas won the top prize at the Orange County Sustainability Decathlon on Saturday, Oct. 14, beating out students from top universities in the U.S. and England. Out of 10 categories, the team won first place in five categories and second place in three. The three weeks the vocational students were in Costa Mesa for the competition, they attended class everyday with a teacher who traveled with them. Unlike their competitors, Rancho Cielo students are still working toward graduating high school. “Miraculous,” was Rancho Cielo Executive Director Chris Devers’ response when the overall prize was announced in a ceremony at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. After being told by some that they’d never be able to build a competitive entry on campus in Salinas in time—to then take apart and ship the 750-squarefoot home in pieces by truck to Orange County and put it back together for the contest—“the first thought was, ‘We did it,’” Devers says. Rancho Cielo’s home was the first to pass inspections and one of only three entries out of 17 that passed all three inspections for construction, electrical and plumbing, Devers says. The win was a lesson that Rancho Cielo emphasizes to its students, he says, that hard work, perseverance and teamwork pay off. The other lesson is that it “takes a community to be really successful”—the team was mentored over the last year by construction professionals and others who also offered donations of materials to complete the home. An open house for the community to see the winning home is scheduled for 3-6pm Thursday, Nov. 9, at Rancho Cielo’s campus. Cinderella Story Rancho Cielo vocational students win big in an international sustainable building competition. By Pam Marino On a sunny Saturday afternoon on Oct. 14, a handful of women wearing high heels and little clothing are walking along Kings and Roosevelt streets in Salinas. A block away, on North Madeira Avenue and Kern Street, neighbors are protesting their presence—and that of other sex workers—in the city. Over the past year, the visible presence of sex workers walking the street has grown, from maybe five to 25 women, says Salinas City Councilmember Orlando Osornio, whose District 4 includes this neighborhood. Residents organized the march to bring attention to the paradox presented: to bring awareness to human trafficking, of which many sex workers are victims, but also to express to city leadership that it’s out of control. They say workers are in the area 24/7 sometimes wearing as little as G-strings or mesh dresses with no underwear, while parents take their kids to school or church. Traffic is another issue, with dozens of cars slowly circulating in the area. “On weekends it looks like Main [Street], as cars pass by very slowly,” Rocio Flores says in Spanish. Flores adds that men have approached her 31-year-old daughter, soliciting her for sex, unaware she is not selling. Patty Hernandez, who has lived at Las Casas de Madera for 40 years, says sex workers and johns frequently use residents’ parking spots to engage in sex acts and in the morning they find used condoms. “I understand that it’s not against the law to walk around, but you can plainly see they’re not just walking around,” Hernandez adds. “They are half-naked. That’s what we don’t want our kids to see. We can’t stop prostitution. We just want them out of our neighborhood.” For two hours on Oct. 14, neighbors marched with signs. At public meetings, they have voiced concerns; dozens showed up with signs to an Oct. 10 City Council meeting. Mayor Kimbley Craig did a police ridealong the following Friday, and talked with a couple of sex workers that night; they told her they traveled to Salinas from the Central Valley, and that it is “safer” to work here. The Salinas Police Department has successfully reduced the issue before using decoys to arrest johns, but SPD is severely understaffed. “We need to figure out how to address it comprehensively,” Craig says Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 357 into law, repealing penal code sections that made it a misdemeanor to loiter for the purpose of prostitution. (It did not decriminalize prostitution itself.) SB 357 aims to protect people from profiling, harassment and discrimination based on appearance and what they wear. “I do believe that decriminalizing loitering for prostitution is a roadblock for law enforcement to be able to engage in open communication with somebody who might be a victim of human trafficking,” says Donna Bakich, a deputy district attorney and prosecutor for human trafficking cases in Monterey County. This year, the District Attorney’s Office has won two convictions in cases involving human trafficking and sex work among minors. Craig says SB 357 is making a challenging problem more challenging: “It has caused problems in cities across California, and particularly smaller cities.” Salinas city officials may talk with state legislators Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, about rolling back SB 357. Marchers carried signs with messages including, “Stop! We want our neighborhoods back!” Councilmembers Kimbley Craig, Tony Barrera and Orlando Osornio joined. Oldest Profession Salinas residents are fed up with sex workers in their neighborhoods, and want them gone. By Celia Jiménez Several families of Rancho Cielo students traveled to Costa Mesa to see the school’s finished home. It will be taken apart and trucked back to the Salinas campus to be used for display. “We just want them out of our neighborhood.” Daniel Dreifuss courtesy Thomas Rettenwender
www.montereycountyweekly.com OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING Join us at The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa for a bountiful buffet of seasonal favorites specially prepared by Chef Michael Rotondo on Thanksgiving Day, or take home one of our thoughtfully prepared dinners available for pickup throughout the week. Thanksgiving Day Buffet 1pm - 6pm 400 Cannery Row, Monterey montereyplazahotel.com Thanksgiving-To-Go Pick up 10am - 3pm For reservations and to order To-Go montereyplazahotel.com/dining/thanksgiving-dining $135 ADULTS $49 CHILDREN (Ages 6-13; free under 6) $325FOR A DINNER SERVING 6-8 GUESTS Order by Sunday, November 19 Prevention, Education, Treatment & Recovery serving youth, adults and families in Monterey County, San Benito County & San Luis Obispo County Don't clown around with drugs. The effects are no joke and can lead to serious health problems. #RedRibbonWeek Support youth prevention services www.SunStreetCenters.org
10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Yong Soo Kim quietly lived alone in his one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in North Salinas for more than 20 years. Beyond a few friends in his Northgate Village housing complex, the divorced, retired Kim mostly kept to himself. His son, who works in tech in Silicon Valley, admits they’ve never had the closest relationship and that he seldom came down to visit. Few, if any, who know him realized that in recent years, the 84-year-old Kim began suffering from dementia. The condition, his family says, led to him lapsing on his $570-per-month homeowners association fees beginning in 2021. That prompted Northgate Village’s management to commence foreclosure proceedings against Kim, and by August 2023, his son Dow Kim received a call from the Monterey’s County Sheriff’s Office informing him that his father was being evicted, and that he needed to drive down to Salinas to help move out his belongings immediately. “This was a shock to me,” Dow Kim says. He describes his father, who paid off his mortgage on the condo 10 years ago, as an exceptionally frugal man. “There’s no way he’d do anything to compromise his home…He put all his life savings into that house, and I don’t know if it’s hit him that he lost it.” Despite the HOA and the foreclosure trustee it hired both claiming they mailed and posted numerous notices to the Kim’s residence alerting him of the situation, Dow Kim says his father was unaware of why he had been evicted. And since neither Kim’s son nor any other relatives were registered as contacts with the HOA, no one in his family was notified ahead of time. “This has been an ongoing, multiyear process,” says Bill Phillips, owner of Terra Vista HOA Management, which manages Northgate Village’s HOA. Phillips, who says the HOA was unaware of Kim’s mental state, describes it as “a real unfortunate situation,” but says the HOA had to move on Kim’s home on behalf of its homeowners. “All of the communication was done, all of the legal requirements were met. It wasn’t done in haste or callousness—it was done over years of trying to work with this person.” By the time Kim’s condo was sold in a foreclosure sale in November 2022, he owed the HOA nearly $19,000 in unpaid fees, according to Marsha Townsend, president of Sunrise Assessment Services, the foreclosure trustee hired by Northgate Village. Townsend says the foreclosure process gave Kim several opportunities to pay what he owed and redeem his property, but that Sunrise Assessments heard nothing from him and were unaware of his condition. The eventual eviction order against Kim was filed by Hero Homes, a San Bernardino-based company formed just last year as a tax-advantaged, nonprofit public benefit corporation. After the foreclosure, Hero Homes acquired Kim’s condo for $112,000 in March 2023, according to property records. (Kim received around $90,000 in surplus funds, minus what he owed the Northgate Village HOA, from the Hero Homes sale. He purchased the property for $165,000 in 2002.) In documents filed with the state, Hero Homes said its purpose “is to provide housing to veterans and single mothers in need”—a mission echoed by its managing director, Nick Benavides, when reached by phone. Hero Homes has no website nor public-facing presence, and lists as its address an industrial lot in San Bernardino occupied by Storm Trooper Coaches, a travel bus company also founded by Benavides. Since buying Kim’s former condo, Hero Homes has listed it for sale again, presently for $275,000. Listing details note that “special financing” is available for veteran and single-parent applicants, and add that the property is also available for rent at a discounted rate to single parents and veterans. Yet in evicting Kim, Hero Homes removed an elderly, ill South Korean military veteran from his home, according to his family. Additionally, Kim’s family and their legal representatives say they have repeatedly reached out to Hero Homes and Benavides with offers to reacquire the condo for around $175,000, only to be consistently ignored. Hero Homes and Benavides did not return multiple follow-up requests for comment. Dutch Meyer, an attorney with Monterey Peninsula Law, who filed the eviction order on behalf of Hero Homes, says Kim “ignored everybody who tried to interact with him” before he was forced out of the condo. Meyer adds that neither his firm nor his client had a duty to “pry into the capacity of the former owner.” Lawyers consulted by Kim’s family say there’s little “room to challenge the foreclosure or eviction process legally,” according to attorney Lindsey BergJames of law firm Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss. Still, Berg-James lays blame on the HOA for not doing more to help “an elderly homeowner who paid his fees reliably” for years, as well as with Hero Homes for not acting in good faith. She notes that Hero Homes’ nonprofit status let it take advantage of Senate Bill 1079, a 2020 state law allowing affordable housing-focused nonprofits to bid on foreclosed properties in the wake of a trustee sale. Kim is now living at another Salinas property owned by an extended relative, and his son says he may have to enter an assisted living facility given his condition. “I had no idea,” Dow Kim says. “I would have never let him go down this path.” Dues Date A Salinas man suffering from dementia lost his home. His family is trying to get it back. By Rey Mashayekhi news Home Team The annual Lead Me Home Summit brings together leaders from Monterey and San Benito counties to share strategies for reducing homelessness. 10am-3pm Thursday, Oct. 19. CSUMB @ Salinas City Center, 1 Main St., Salinas; free tickets are sold out, but the event is also viewable on Zoom. Free. 883-3080, chsp.org. House and Home Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and the cities of Soledad, Gonzales and Greenfield host a summit to discuss policies to increase housing affordability in South County. 6pm Thursday, Oct. 19. Hartnell College Soledad campus, 1505 Metz Road, Soledad. Free; refreshments provided. 915-2806, mbep.biz. Fall Cleaning Salinas Valley Recycles offers an opportunity to get rid of unwanted junk including electronics, computers and oil filters. (Furniture and yard waste are not accepted.) Available to Gonzales residents. 8am-1pm Saturday, Oct. 21. Fairview Middle School, 401 4th St., Gonzales. Free. (888) 678-6798, svswa.org. Ready, Go Local and state agencies host an emergency preparedness fair to offer resources and tips to be ready for a potential disaster. Learn how to use a fire extinguisher, create a family emergency plan, what to do with pets in case of an emergency or evacuation, and more. The first 500 attendees receive a free kit with emergency essentials. 10am-1pm Saturday, Oct. 21. Del Monte Shopping Center (near Macy’s and Starbucks), 1410 Del Monte Center, Monterey. Free. 625-4505, montagehealth.org. Black and White Celebrate LULAC #2055’s 50th anniversary and support its scholarship program. The organization’s black and white ball is back with a silent auction, dance-off contest and raffle. Wear your finest. 5-11pm Saturday, Oct. 21. Hartnell College student center, 411 Central Ave., Salinas. $125. 206-9089, lulac. org. Bus Route Point Lobos is a must-see destination in Monterey County, and California State Parks wants to provide options for visitors to get there safely and improve their experience. Point Lobos visitors are invited to take an online survey about their travel habits to and from the reserve to help develop baseline data. Tuesday, Oct. 31 is the last day to complete the survey. Free. bit.ly/surveylobos2023. Since purchasing elderly dementia patient Yong Soo Kim’s Salinas condo, the nonprofit Hero Homes has evicted Kim and rebuffed offers by his family to buy the property back. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TOOLBOX “He put all his life savings into that house, and I don’t know if it’s really hit him that he lost it. ” Daniel Dreifuss
www.montereycountyweekly.com OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 “For me, being a strawberry worker is a source of pride. Thanks to strawberries, I’m sending my son to the university.” ANTONIA CRUZ Salinas Farmworker “This job has given me the experience that no other one has.” BIANEY MEDINA Salinas Farmworker “It takes a lot of character and a lot of love for what you do to grow a perfectly good strawberry, and we’re determined to do that here.” JOSE LUIS ROCHA JR. Salinas Farmer BEHIND EVERY CALIFORNIA STRAWBERRY IS A STORY. WATCH HERE. Thank you for your tenacity and commitment to delivering the best strawberries for us all to enjoy. Celebrating California Farmer and Farmworker Month The California Strawberry Commission recognizes California’s hardworking men and women who grow and harvest fresh strawberries this month and every month.
12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Every June, makeshift booths pop up throughout Seaside with colorful signs that indicate whatever it is they’re selling goes boom, hiss, pop! Theoretically, that ignition is “safe and sane”— as legal fireworks are euphemistically described, regardless of whether they might drive a neighbor, or their pets, insane. It’s a tradition that goes back decades in the city, and while there are recurring complaints from scores of residents, there are also vocal, civically active residents who staunchly support the sale of legal fireworks in the city, as they are a fundraising source for local, youth-serving nonprofits. Meanwhile, the issue of illegal fireworks persists. The Monterey County Civil Grand Jury, after investigating a complaint from a Seaside resident about yearround use of explosive fireworks “and a perceived indifference by city officials to the issue,” published a report in May that took Seaside to task for its handling of fireworks, but mostly included deficiencies in the city’s website in terms of disclosing public information. A lack of Spanish in many parts of the website was called out, as the city’s population is roughly 45-percent Latino. The report did note, however, that Seaside officers confiscated 100 pounds of illegal fireworks around July 4, 2022, up from 30 pounds in 2020. And it was during 2020, when most people were homebound due to the pandemic, that momentum started to shift—in August of that year, Seaside City Council passed an ordinance banning the sale and use of so-called “safe and sane” fireworks in the city. But an organized group quickly sprung up to gather enough signatures to force the City Council to repeal the ordinance or send the matter to an election. Alex Miller, who was elected to Seaside City Council in 2022, recalls seeing the petition at the time. “When the petition was presented to me, it was like, ‘Do you support kids? Do you support nonprofits?’ It was not even clear to me it was a fireworks issue until I read it.” But there wasn’t enough time for the city to get it onto the November ballot, which meant the City Council either had to rescind the ordinance or approve spending well over $100,000 on an election. On Nov. 5, 2020, the council chose the former. A city report from that time states, “The issue of fireworks has been agendized for discussion by the City Council 40 times over the last five years. A strategy to maximize participation in the ultimate decision while minimizing costs would be to add this item to the November 2022 ballot. Voter turnout is significantly higher during a general municipal election.” That didn’t happen, but Miller still wants a vote. At a Thursday, Oct. 19 council meeting, he plans to ask if at least two other councilmembers will agree to consider putting the issue of making all fireworks illegal in the city on the November 2024 ballot. A citizen’s group, Seaside Association for a Fireworks Election (SAFE) is already coalescing toward that goal, with or without the council—the latter requires gathering signatures. Boom Town Fireworks are an annual fixture around Fourth of July in Seaside, but do its residents still want them? By David Schmalz Safe-and-sane fireworks go off low to the ground and are permitted in Seaside. Illegal fireworks, however, regularly go off in city skies in the weeks leading up to and after the Fourth of July. NEWS “The issue has been agendized 40 times over five years.” DANIEL DREIFUSS ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’23 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop ♦ 3 Card Poker ♠ Century 21st No Bust Black Jack ♣ Texas Hold’em ♥ Baccarat FULL BAR! BLACKJACK BONUS POINTS PAYS UP TO $20,000 SMALL TOWN BIG PAYOUTS! 1-800-Gambler • Gega-003846, Gega-Gega-003703, Gega-000889 Gega-000891 Gega-002838 The Marina Club Casino ensures the safety and security of all guests and team members at all times, while providing exceptional service. 204 Carmel Ave. Marina 831-384-0925 casinomonterey.com ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Just minutes from Downtown Monterey Where Monterey Comes To Play
www.montereycountyweekly.com OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 Tenants of two farmworker apartment complexes, Tesoros Del Campo in Salinas and Vista Del Valle in Chualar, received a shock in August, when their landlord, the Housing Authority for the County of Monterey, sent out notices of potential rent increases of 400-500 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2024. In one example provided on a notice for Tesoros residents, a two-bedroom apartment going for $650 a month was proposed to cost $2,675 instead. Alarmed, the residents turned to Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo for help. “We have families to provide for and bills to pay during [these] hard times and an increase on the rent is not going to help us,” states a letter to Alejo, signed by 44 residents, who all work in, or are retired from, agriculture. They said many of them work only seasonally and would not be able to afford an increase, adding, “We do not want to lose our home.” Alejo forwarded their objections to HACM and to the federal agency that will ultimately decide on increases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s loan and grant division, USDA Rural Development. “This has caused much stress and anxiety for these tenants,” Alejo said in a letter to a federal official on Sept. 8. While the notice was eye-popping, in reality increases will depend on household incomes, since all tenants of HACM pay no more than 30 percent of their adjusted income. HACM Executive Director Zulieka Boykin told the Authority’s Board of Commissioners on Sept. 25 that it’s possible some tenants will pay only $200 more, depending on income. HACM has “never charged the 30 percent” at the two complexes, Boykin said. “We have families making $100,000 a year but pay only $600- $700 a month in rent,” she said, adding that it’s created a situation that’s unfair to other tenants and puts a burden on HACM which depends on rents to cover maintenance and repairs. Another reason HACM is asking for increases is that the state made subsidies available to those complexes—but because the rent is so low that the subsidies have never been used. Because of that, HACM is in danger of losing those subsidies entirely. Alejo pointed out in his letter to the federal agency that the increases were above what’s allowed under California’s Tenant Protection Act, which dictates possible annual rent increases of 10 percent, or 5 percent plus cost of living, whichever is lower. However, subsidized housing for very low-, low- or moderate-income households by federal standards is exempt under that law. In addition, Alejo argued that HACM had held no meetings with tenants to explain “why the rents were being proposed to increase so dramatically” and asked that, at a minimum, any decision on an increase be postponed until HACM officials could meet collectively with residents, as well as individually. Boykin says a meeting was held with residents on Sept. 20, and that all tenants were offered one-on-one meetings if they requested one. Catch Up Rents could go up in farmworker apartments if the Housing Authority gets federal approval. By Pam Marino In a letter to County Supervisor Luis Alejo asking for his help, 44 residents at Tesoros Del Campo in Salinas wrote, “The affordable rent helped us to make a decent living.” NEWS “We do not want to lose our home.” DANIEL DREIFUSS The current agreement for Ambulance Services between the County of Monterey and American Medical Response is set to expire June 30, 2025. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agency is developing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for ambulance service for the County of Monterey Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) to begin on July 1, 2025. The EMS Agency is seeking feedback from members of the community, city and county officials, and the EMS system as a whole on the Draft RFP Scope of Work (SOW). The draft of the RFP SOW and a form to submit feedback are available via the EMS Agency’s website at www.mocoems.org. Public meetings are being held to provide additional opportunities to hear from our community. One of these meeting will take place on Wednesday November 8, 2023 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM at 1441 Schilling Place, Salinas. Public comments closes on Friday, November 17, 2023. The EMS Agency looks forward to hearing from you. RELEASE OF DRAFT RFP SCOPE OF WORK (SOW) FOR PUBLIC COMMENT = FLEXIBILITY IRA QCD + CFMC “Giving through my IRA allowed me to support the causes I care about” – Leslie Mulford Leslie Mulford Fund of the CFMC Leslie used her IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to create a field of interest fund at the CFMC. Read her story: cfmco.org/Mulford The CFMC can help you use your IRA QCD to: • Grant to several nonprofits with one gift • Donate through Monterey County Gives! 11/9-12/31 • Give to or create a charitable fund (not including donor advised funds) Learn more: 831.375.9712 | cfmco.org/IRA You can use an IRA charitable distribution to benefit the nonprofits or causes of your choice.
14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY october 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Water Works I’m happy with Cal Am (“MPWMD board votes to initiate eminent domain proceedings to buy out Cal Am’s local system,” Oct. 12-18). Keep government out of our water system! Gini Auger | via email In 2013, George Riley and Ron Cohen got tired of talking about water problems and decided to act. They founded Public Water Now and drafted Measure O. It failed in 2014, but Public Water Now continued educating the public. It took 10 years and the work of hundreds of volunteers to bring us to the Resolution of Necessity that was passed by MPWMD [on Oct. 10]. This is a huge victory for Public Water Now and the whole community that voted for Measure J. Melodie Chrislock |Carmel Note: Chrislock is managing director of Public Water Now. In General Thank you for your insightful piece on General Stilwell and his legacy with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and the people of China (“Joseph Stilwell was at home in both Carmel and in China. Now he is a catalyst in a new type of diplomacy,” Oct. 12-18). My mother was a contemporary and good friend of [his daughter] Alison Stilwell’s. How great to see that his grandchildren have maintained connections with China and student beneficiaries of the scholarships at MIIS! Thanks for your research and reporting. Bravo and keep this great journalism coming. Bill Monning | Carmel Thank you very much for this article. I have lived in the area for 44 years and therefore I remember when Stilwell Hall had to be removed—at that time, the mural was mentioned. I am touched by General Stilwell’s life and his way of thinking. I am impressed by the fact that through the Stilwell Scholarship his memory and goodwill are still here on the Monterey Peninsula. Claudine Benigni | Carmel Valley A couple of omissions from your article: China has led the way in murder by government from Mao’s Cultural Revolution, through Tiananmen Square, to the current murder and torture of Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners, as well as any other handy dissidents. As per Stilwell procuring armament for China in World War II, much of that was held back from use against the Japanese, both by Mao and “Peanut,” for their own civil war. U.S. aid to China was used to kill American, South Korean, and other UN troops in the Korean War. Richard Hellam | Seaside War Time I’m deeply appreciative of Bill Taylor’s service to our country and foreign policy expertise (“Bill Taylor, twice the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, is now focused on making sure it wins its war,” Oct. 5-11). It’s too bad the Monterey County Weekly didn’t take the opportunity to get a fuller sense of his vision for “winning” the UkraineRussia war. For instance: -Taylor described his enthusiasm for Ukraine to “hammer” Russia on our behalf for the low cost of 5 percent of the DOD budget (>$75 billion dollars). What’s the right amount of money to spend on an overseas war that Barack Obama described in 2016 as “not a core American interest?” -Taylor is on the record arguing that Ukraine should be admitted into NATO. What would it look like to “win” a war between nuclear powers? -Taylor served in the State Department Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2004 in leadership positions to support international aid and reconstruction efforts. What lessons learned, if any, can those experiences bring to bear on our involvement in Ukraine? Having read this article, I’m not clear on Taylor’s vision for peace. On such a serious issue, I’d like to see the Weekly do more than check the “vibe” in Kyiv. Reid Norris | Carmel Valley Where is the ceasefire and resultant peace talks? Nobody is moving in that direction. Why not? Why is the entire world watching innocent people get killed and a country destroyed? Peace now. Start peace negotiations. Jim Catalano | via social media On the heels of Congressman Jimmy Panetta’s statement on Indigenous People’s Day, it is notable the cognitive dissonance present in his acknowledgment of settler-colonial violence wrought by the United States, and yet he adamantly stands by Israel’s all-out war on Palestinian people (“Panetta and a congressional delegation meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu soon after Hamas attacks,” posted Oct. 12). For the past 75 years and into the present, the Palestinian people have withstood military occupation and the genocidal regime of Israel. It must be understood that colonization is the first violence to occur which makes the violence of liberation absolutely necessary. We must refuse to amplify propaganda and misinformation from Western imperial powers. I urge everyone to resist quick judgments and instead look at the larger historical context of what is one of the most important social justice issues of our time. Kayla Jones | via email Time to Fly Everything in the article on the airport is true, and it would be a boon to the area’s economy (“Grants bring Monterey Regional Airport one step closer to a new runway and terminal,” Oct. 12-18). The question I have is do we, as a community, want this to become like San Jose? With the increased traffic on our roads, it will necessitate widening to accommodate increased flow. Edward Nowak | via email To the wall Hooray for public art! (“We.Art, now the We.Mural festival, returns with new curators and an art battle,” Oct. 12-18.) Tanja Roos | Seaside Mix It Up This is such exciting news (“Montrio’s new mixologist plans to continue in the spirit of the past, while looking ahead,” posted Oct. 10). Andrea Brandt | Los Banos Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to email@example.com. Please keep your letter to 150 words or less; subject to editing for space. Please include your full name, contact information and city you live in.
www.montereycountyweekly.com october 19-25, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 Paul Hawken is a doer and a thinker on a large scale. You may know him from his successful footprint in the business world: In the 1960s, he founded Erewhon, one of the first notable natural foods companies in the U.S.; in 1979, he cofounded the gardening supply company Smith & Hawken. He’s gone on to become an author of eight books including The Ecology of Commerce and Project Drawdown, for which he collaborated with some 200 experts to rank different strategies for drawing down atmospheric carbon. His top ideas are surprisingly doable, but global—things like family planning, education for girls, high-tech refrigeration and tropical forest protection. Hawken’s most recent book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, explores ecological systems, with a focus on the food system. This is all high-level, global stuff. But as he prepares to speak in Monterey County on Oct. 25, at the invitation of Communities for Sustainable Monterey County and the Cannery Row chapter of the Rotary Club, Hawken is interested in how we can make change locally. “The only way you can achieve regeneration is in a region—it’s place-based, by definition,” Hawken says. “A place has people, land, food, pollinators, water, culture, relationships, community—that’s where it happens, it doesn’t happen at COP 28.” (COP 28, the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties, is scheduled to take place Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in Dubai.) Hawken is rightly skeptical of COP (“This is the 28th one— can somebody tell me what has come out of it, please?”). But for the challenges global climate negotiations present, he sees corrective opportunities at a community scale. “There is trust. Where you are is where you are going to be the most effective. I can do something about where I live, and the people I know.” Hawken is not pollyannaish— he’s interested instead in making scientifically based decisions to live and do better. Some of the examples that Hawken shares have documented local corollaries: The world is running out of sand, and Monterey County activists led a successful campaign to shut down the Cemex sand mine in Marina, leading to beach replenishment. Moths are disappearing at an alarming rate; locally, CSMC has been involved in measurable progress in planting pollinator species and native plants in gardens and parks. The Rotary-CSMC partnership that invited Hawken to speak locally has titled his talk “An Evening of Hope,” but Hawken is less interested in hope than courage—he sees fear as the stumbling block that too often stands in the way of progress. Whether it’s fear, despair or helplessness that keeps us from engaging locally, the team that invited Hawken has a baseline message to get over it, and go make a difference in the community that you live in. “We have a number of examples of how well we’ve done synthesizing big ideas on a global level and putting them into action at a local level,” says rotarian Tim Flanagan. “We’ve put big ideas into action in small, rural Monterey County.” (Flanagan is retired from ReGen Monterey, a forward-thinking solid waste agency with a track record of doing just that.) Cathy Rivera, president of CSMC, observes the community-building that is required for any successful initiative as sometimes the greater success than the outcome itself: “Actions have brought people together in a network—that gives me hope,” she says. “It is truly the connections to each other that give us the resilience we need. In silos, everyone wants to retreat.” This is very much what Hawken has in mind when he talks about regeneration. Environmental efforts should not leave us feeling depleted, but replenished. Regeneration, Hawken adds, is nature’s default mode—the very cells of our bodies are always renewing. There’s no reason except our own stubbornness for us to not live that way at a community level. “Monterey County can learn to be a better place for people in Monterey County,” Hawken says. “That’s regeneration. It’s fundamentally about care.” An Evening of Hope: A Conversation with Paul Hawken takes place from 4-7pm (5:30pm presentation begins; gallery and silent auction start at 4pm) on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at the Otter Student Union, CSUMB, 3118 Inter-Garrison Road, Seaside. $40; $20/student. 275-3113, sustainablemontereycounty.org/ aneveningofhope. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Forward Thinking A leading environmentalist has a message about change at the local level. By Sara Rubin Math Problem…Squid had plenty of shrimp-flavored popcorn ready when Squid curled up in the lair Oct. 10 to watch, via Zoom, whether the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s board would vote to pursue a buyout of Cal Am’s local water system, thus entering the fray of the eminent domain process (Cal Am is not a willing seller). The board did, unanimously, and their comments before voting spoke to the benefits of a publicly owned water system versus one owned by profit-seeking investors. That private system is calculating the potential hit. The morning after the vote, Squid’s colleague received a proprietary report from Northcoast Research, a Cleveland-based investment advisory firm for institutional investors, that already had an analysis for how the vote might impact the stock price of American Water, Cal Am’s parent company—Wall Street doesn’t sleep. Squid’s takeaway is that it won’t have much impact, in part because California represents just 5.6 percent of American Water’s customer count, and Cal Am’s Monterey system is just 22 percent of its statewide total. Doing the math, that means the local system includes about 1.2 percent of American Water’s customer count. The report also notes the company’s estimated value of about $35 billion. So, 1.2 percent of that is $420 million, more than $600 million below what Cal Am claims its local system to be worth. There must be gold in them pipes. Black and White and Gray… Squid is dusting off Squid’s finest for LULAC #2055’s black-and-white ball on Oct. 21. The “tuxedo and gown affair” serves as a 50th anniversary celebration and—at $125 a person or $1,500 a table—a fundraiser for the advocacy group’s ongoing scholarship program. In some past years, the City of Salinas has sponsored a table—but not this year. Chapter President Chris Barrera wrote to city leaders in May asking that they consider sponsoring it. Two days later, he followed up: “Upon further consideration, I am withdrawing my request.” (Squid viewed various emails via a California Public Records Act request.) There’s been a lot of innuendo and accusation in Salinas City Hall in recent months when it comes to paying for tickets for city leaders to attend events. “With all this hoopla, I didn’t want LULAC’s name to be dragged into it,” Barrera tells Squid’s colleague. A lot of the hoopla is coming from Councilmember Andrew Sandoval, also a LULAC #2055 volunteer. Sandoval says for now, until the city creates a policy on event sponsorships, non-sponsorship is the best outcome: “We want to make sure there’s public trust.” Squid is reminded of a saying that does not apply to Squid’s undersea lair: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “It’s fundamentally about care.” Send Squid a tip: email@example.com