6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY January 11-17, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH We know that protest is clearly protected as free speech by the U.S. Constitution. A standard-issue feature of protests are signs that read, “Honk if you support __.” It’s a way to amplify the message. Only problem: Such honking is illegal in California, where vehicle code prohibits using a car horn for any purpose other than ensuring safe operation of a vehicle. David Loy, now legal director at First Amendment Coalition, was legal director for the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties in 2017, when Susan Porter was ticketed for honking her horn in solidarity with a protest. In 2018, ACLU challenged the law on Porter’s behalf, but lost in the district court and again at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. In November, FAC filed a request asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the matter, with implications for 41 states with similar bans. “We live in a politically charged climate, where all kinds of noise— shouting, singing, cheering and yes, horn-honking— are part of civil discourse,” Loy wrote. “We’re not saying anyone should be allowed to honk their horn at any time at any volume. We’re saying the government can’t ban the use of horns for self-expression.” Good: The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History celebrates 140 years of existence and its beloved icon, Sandy, the life-size gray whale sculpture created by artist Larry Foster. Through February, guests can enjoy a temporary exhibit highlighting people and events over the past century-and-a-half. Among the historical characters featured in the exhibit is Sandy. For decades, Pacific Grove residents have enjoyed climbing on or taking photos with the whale statue, which has rested in front of the building on Central Avenue for over 40 years. The museum has an array of events leading up to Sandy’s birthday all about whales and whale migrations: an animal camp (Jan. 15), a lecture on whales by local author James Dorsey (Jan. 20) and “Science on Tap” with brews from Peter B’s (Jan. 25). The celebrations will culminate with Sandy’s birthday party: a free “Science Saturday” event 10am-3pm Sat. Jan. 27. GREAT: While New Year’s resolutions might still be on your mind, they are also front and center for the City of Salinas. With $300,000 allocated by City Council in the 2023-24 budget process, a judging panel has decided on six community-based organizations to receive prevention and wellness grants this year. The grantees are César Chávez Fútbol Academy, which provides mentoring and coaching to 70 teen soccer players; California Youth Outreach, focused on reducing recidivism and gang activity for youth; Harmony at Home, which offers bullying prevention programs; YWCA Monterey County, which offers therapy and other services to survivors of domestic violence; Community Homeless Solutions, which provides drug and alcohol counseling to unhoused adults suffering from addiction; and Youth Orchestra Salinas, which has a new mariachi band. Each group received $40,000-$60,000. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Hospital admissions for flu in California the week of Dec. 29-Jan. 5, a 6-percent decrease from the previous week. In the same time period there were 3,122 hospital admissions for Covid, a 2-percent decrease. Source: California Department of Public Health 1,593 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “Leaving this position comes with a heavy heart.” -Salinas Police Chief Roberto Filice in a resignation letter submitted on Jan. 5. He is leaving after a little over two years on the job for the East Bay Regional Park District (see story, mcweekly.com). We are pleased to announce that Communications Systems Specialist, Jacob Newman and Coach Operator, Omarr Wilson have been selected as MST’s Employees of the Year for 2023. On October 11, 2023, while working in the Communications Center, Jacob received a call from a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer reporting an unconscious and unresponsive passenger on Line 23 as reported by another passenger onboard. Jacob calmly and efficiently coordinated with the CHP officer to identify the bus and its location while simultaneously directing Operator Wilson to pull the bus over at a safe location and apprising him of the situation. After safely pulling over, Operator Wilson assessed the unconscious passenger’s vital signs before public safety officers and medical responders arrived. Recognizing the gravity of the situation while responders were on scene, Operator Wilson calmly cleared the coach of passengers to ensure the needed space for the rescue. Additionally, Operator Wilson assisted an elderly, mobility-impaired passenger off the bus and ensured that all customers experiencing delays received extended transfers, avoiding additional fare charges later in their journey. Thanks to the professionalism and quick actions of Jacob and Omarr, public safety and emergency medical responders arrived promptly and quickly delivered lifesaving treatment to the passenger in need. Congratulations to Jacob Newman and Omarr Wilson for their outstanding dedication and teamwork, which exemplify the values and commitment of MST’s employees. Connecting communities. Creating opportunity. Being kind to our planet. Congratulations 2023 Employees of the Year EmplOyEEs Of thE mONth JANUARY Lori Lee FEBRUARY Mago Rodriguez MARCH Marzette Henderson APRIL Matthew Deal MAY Navin Nischal JUNE Francisco Castillo and Alejandra Chavarin JULY Manuel Garcia Villareal AUGUST Yohana Reyes SEPTEMBER Renaldo Hernandez OCTOBER Vince Dang NOVEMBER Omarr Wilson and Jacob Newman DECEMBER Aventor Kubulan Jacob Newman systems specialist Omarr Wilson Coach Operator