february 1-7, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT Black Gold In Them Hills 12 | listening in on local bands 28 | Something’s Brewing in P.G. 32 With big money on the line and golf’s best on the course, it’s a very different Pro-Am. p. 16 By Dave Faries Going Green
2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Chic and Cozy Carmel Valley Retreat 4 beds, 4 baths • 1.21 acres • $2,790,000 • www.27465LomaDelRey.com 27465 Loma Del Rey, Carmel Valley Renee Catania831.293.3668 www.ReneeCatania.com ReneeC@MontereyCoastRealty.com REALTOR® | DRE#01954589 Authentic FlAvors of Italy are brought to life at Gusto! • Live Music Tuesdays 5-8pm • Happy Hour 5-6 pm 25% off select Beer, Wine, and Cocktails Dinner: Tues-Sun Lunch: Sat & Sun 1901 Fremont Blvd, Seaside (831) 899-5825 www.Gusto1901.com
www.montereycountyweekly.com february 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 3 Your success is our bottom line Scholl & Company, LLP is proud to announce the promotion of Michael Arensdorf, CPA to Partner and a new firm name of Scholl & Arensdorf, LLP. Michael joined Bret Scholl, CPA six years ago leaving a large regional firm seeking new opportunities. “Michael is truly passionate about proactive planning and particularly getting to really understand what a client needs” says Bret. “Don’t get me wrong, Michael is a whiz at tax compliance and filing matters, but he has really embraced getting out in front of issues with planning as what really helps our clients succeed.” Michael grew up in Monterey County and is a graduate of Salinas High and Chico State. Outside of the office, Michael enjoys being active all the time finding him on hiking trails or at a local golf course hitting off the wrong fairway. Scholl & Arensdorf offers a wide range of services, including tax reduction planning, tax compliance, profit improvement planning, complete accounting and payroll services, outsourced CFO and controller services, tax problem resolution work and business sales and acquisitions. Scholl & Arensdorf have special niche expertise in several industries including real estate, construction, agriculture, manufacturing, commercial fishing and Canada cross-border tax planning. Even with their growing business portfolio, Scholl & Arensdorf is pleased to report that business is great, and they are always looking for more opportunities. If you or your business seek a better bottom line through planning – whether reducing taxes, improving cash flow or increasing profits, Scholl & Arensdorf can help. They offer a free, no-obligation consultation to explore your opportunities to increase profits and manage the tax bite. Call (831) 758-5966 or visit online at SchollCPA.com. They have strategies to help no matter where you are in your business life cycle, from start-up to moving your business to the next generation or grooming your business for the best acquisition prices. Michael Arensdorf joins Bret Scholl as new partner of Scholl & Arensdorf, LLP Scholl & Arensdorf, LLP 18275 Meadow Song Way, Corral De Tierra 831-758-5966 SchollCPA.com Michael Arensdorf, CPA
4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com february 1-7, 2024 • ISSUE #1852 • Established in 1988 David Lehrian (Sony RX100VA, Fantasea housing, Nauticam WWL-C wide angle lens and Inon S-2000 strobes. 1/125s f/4.5 ISO 200) A masking crab hangs out on giant plumose anemones, seen off the coast of Pacific Grove at Aumento’s Reef. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: A course marshal quiets the gallery overlooking the 7th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links as a golfer lines up a putt during the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Cover Photo: Daniel Dreifuss etc. Copyright © 2024 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: $300 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 email@example.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman firstname.lastname@example.org (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin email@example.com (x120) features editor Dave Faries firstname.lastname@example.org (x110) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez email@example.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino firstname.lastname@example.org (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) email@example.com Staff Writer David Schmalz firstname.lastname@example.org (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss email@example.com (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi firstname.lastname@example.org (x105) contributors Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Nic Coury, Tonia Eaton, Jeff Mendelsohn, Jacqueline Weixel, Paul Wilner Cartoons Rob Rogers, Tom Tomorrow Production Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser email@example.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell firstname.lastname@example.org (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada email@example.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley firstname.lastname@example.org (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim email@example.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal firstname.lastname@example.org (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker email@example.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter firstname.lastname@example.org (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith email@example.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. firstname.lastname@example.org Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira email@example.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick firstname.lastname@example.org 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. NOW IN YOUR INBOX Sign up today at montereycountyweekly.com/mcnow
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 Is it time for a Room Refresh? Your home is your sanctuary and should support personal growth. Let’s have a conversation about what’s missing in YOUR space… VENTANADESIGN.CO A Monterey Bay Interior Design Firm Peninsul ’ Downtow Shops, restaurants, hotels and businesses Spend some time with us Downtown… oldmonterey.org ’23 Celebrating 10 years in Downtown! Sunday–Thursday 11:30am-10pm Friday–Saturday 11:30am-11pm 426 Alvarado St. Monterery 831-655-BEER asb.beer Monterey County’s BEST LOCAL BEER/BREWERY BEST BAR FOR MILLENIALS BEST BAR FOR GEN XERS 11:30am-close, 10am Sat & Sun 484 Washington Street Downtown Monterey 831.643.9525 www.melvilletav.com WOOD FIRED PIZZAS, BURGERS, PASTA, SALADS & SANDWICHES INDOOR, PATIO DINING & TAKEOUT HAPPY HOUR FOOD & DRINK SPECIALS DAILY 4-6PM WEEKEND BRUNCH FREE $20 Promo Card when you purchase $100 in gift cards* MONTEREY 595 Munras Ave Ste 101 Monterey, CA 93940-3080 (831) 920-0272 *Offer available only in-location through December 31, 2023. TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY T O PROMOTIONAL CARDS AND THIS OFFER. See MassageEnvy.com/Holiday. Each location is an independen tly owned and operated franchise. ©2023 ME SPE Franchising, LLC. ME-DNLD-2093-00-001-8X11 MASSAGE FACIALS STRETCH The 24K Gold Rose Through a special process a Real Rose has been treated and preserved in 24K Gold. ALL GOLD $110 and COLORED ROSE $78 This Valentine’s Day, give her a rose that will last forever 447 ALVARADO ST • MONTEREY • 375-5332 ’19
6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY FEBRUARY 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH Slash-and-burn continues at major news outlets, with the Los Angeles Times the latest paper to lay off more than 20 percent of its newsroom, or 115 people. Billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong told reporters the paper was losing $30 million to $40 million a year. He and his family bought the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune for $500 million six years ago; they sold the Union-Tribune to MediaNews Group (a subsidiary of the hedge fund Alden Global Capital) in July. More than 350 staff members engaged in a one-day strike to protest the cuts. This comes amid cuts elsewhere; Business Insider is laying off 8 percent of its staff, less than a year after laying off 10 percent of its workforce last April. The Sports Illustrated staff was gutted, and 10 days later, on Jan. 29, unionized members of the NewsGuild at Sports Illustrated filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board. At Conde Nast, where the company plans to lay off about 300 people (or 5 percent of the staff), hundreds of NewsGuild members from various publications such as Vogue and Vanity Fair walked off the job on Jan. 23. Good: Good news for the Salinas art scene and particularly for young, aspiring artists comes via Artists Ink. After a winter break, the nonprofit brought back its training program, Cepanoa Arts, on Jan. 31. Workshops include animation, aerosol spray paint, open studio (every Friday from 5-7pm), ukulele and vocal classes. Jam Lab (every third Friday from 5-7pm) invites all musicians and musically inclined to bring instruments, vinyl or just a spirit of camaraderie with fellow musicians. As this initiative restarts for 2024, there is also a three-year celebration of First Fridays (5-9pm Friday, Feb. 2) featuring more than 20 local artists and artisans in Midtown Lane in Salinas as part of Artist Alley, co-hosted by Artists Ink and Co-Lab Studio. “Be a part of the artistic renaissance,” an invitation reads. Wherever you are in your journey as an artist/maker/musician—or just someone who appreciates it—there are ample opportunities to join in. GREAT: Last year, Sara Nantz-Konsia, who lives overseas, approached the nonprofit Big Sur Land Trust about giving it an 80-acre parcel of land in Big Sur she had owned since 1988 that’s surrounded on three sides by the Joshua Creek Canyon Ecological Reserve. The transfer was effectuated before year’s end, but before that, BSLT reached out to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife—which manages the Joshua Creek property— about absorbing it into the reserve, which Rachel Saunders, the trust’s director of conservation, says the agency is amenable to. “It’s a cool unexpected thing that happened,” Saunders says. “We’re grateful to Sara for her interest in seeing the land conserved.” Saunders, who recently visited the site with other BSLT staffers— it’s tricky to access, and they had to hike the last bit to get to the property—says it contains mixed evergreen forest, redwoods and oak and riparian habitat. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY Inmates released from Monterey County Jail into ICE custody in 2023. Prior to the passage of SB 54, the California Values Act, ICE picked up 213 people upon release from the jail in 2017. Since then it has been fewer—41 people in 2018, 52 in 2019, 23 in 2020, then two in 2021 and 2022. Source: Jan. 23 report by Chief Deputy Garrett Sanders to Monterey County Board of Supervisors 3 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “The only thing that lasts of any people is their art. That’s how we know the Greeks.” -Chicano art collector Armando Durón, whose family’s collection is now on display at the Monterey Museum of Art (see story, mcweekly.com).
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 Cupid’s Couple Package $320/ 80 mins. Immerse yourself in a blissful couples tub, while sipping on chilled champagne. Then, pamper yourself with an aromatherapy massage. It’s the perfect way to celebrate love and relaxation together. Bubbly Me Package $175/ 90 mins. Treat yourself with our exclusive Solo Spa Package. Immerse yourself in a blissful tub, and sip on champagne as you indulge in much-needed me time. Then, pamper your skin with an invigorating oxygen facial. VaSl epne ct ii anle s’ s Gifts Certificates can be purchased on-line at spaontheplaza.com and printed from home, and there is no expiration date. Voted Best Skin Care in 2023 for the 12th time and Best Spa 7 Times STEAM ROOMS - POOL - JACUZZI - FITNESS CLUB MEMBERSHIPS - WELLNESS CENTER - FREE PARKING 201 AlvArAdo St. downtown Monterey • 831-647-9000 SpAontheplAzA.CoM Landscape • Hardscape • Irrigation 831-624-4991 email@example.com f InsideOut Landscape Design CA LIC# 960809 w Landscape Design From An Interior Perspective Eliza DeCiantis believes that your landscape should be an extension of your interior space. Having received her Master Gardener’s Certification over 28 years ago, Eliza combines her 22 year career in television set design with her life-long passion for gardening to create beautiful custom landscape. Eliza is conscientious of our water management issues while creating a drought tolerant, deer resistant environment custom to your personal taste and budget. With a keen sense of attention to detail, Eliza will spruce up your existing landscape for a special event or create a new landscape to enjoy for years to come. InsideOut Landscape Design, Inc. can increase the value of your home, while enhancing the natural potential and beauty of your exterior space for your home or business. “I brought my Subaru to Hartzel on advice of a friend and I was so pleased with the service & attention I got from them. Not only finished on time, but under the estimate I was given. Very rare these days. So pleased with the whole experience & great peace of mind knowing it was done correctly. Highly recommend this guy.” —David F., Seaside 2/14/19 510 California Avenue | Sand City | 394.6002 hartzelautomotive.com EXPERT SERVICE WHEN YOU NEED IT. Subaru Mazda Lexus Infiniti Saab vintage MG SCHEDULE YOUR NEXT SERVICE ONLINE TODAY TRASHION ALLIANCE ON AGING KING CITY 2024 SHOW Tickets now on sale! Runway Seat: $100.00 Regular Seat: $90.00 Tables of 8 available Join us for an evening of glamour, innovation, sustainable fashion, and dinner at the Orradre Building, Salinas Valley Fairgrounds 625 Division St, King City, CA. Thursday, February 22nd, 5:30 PM Be part of the runway revolution! To purchase tickets, email Nicki Pasculli at Npasculli@allianceonaging.org or call 831.655.7564. A Fundraiser to Benefit Seniors Throughout Monterey County GARDEN PARTY SOUTH COUNTY Styl
8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 As a child, Willow Celeste experienced firsthand what it was like not having a stable place to live. Their family, led by two moms, faced frequent discrimination by landlords and sometimes there was no place to call the family’s own. “Growing up, housing was never really secure,” Celeste says. At 18, they were told they were on their own. “I didn’t have the support, my family was never there for me. So it’s kind of like, ‘you have to figure out adulthood for yourself,’” Celeste explains. They enrolled at CSU Monterey Bay. It was a struggle to find affordable housing, both on and off campus. Covid-19 hit during Celeste’s final semester as they completed their bachelor’s degree in cinematic arts and technology, and the reality sunk in that life after graduation wasn’t going to be what they expected. “It was a depressing time,” Celeste admits. A few months later Celeste saw a notice on Facebook about a new youth action board called Youth for Action created by the Coalition of Homeless Service Providers in Monterey and San Benito counties. Board members are required to be between the ages of 16 and 26 and have lived experience with homelessness. Celeste applied, was accepted and began their journey of learning how to speak up and out for youth who are experiencing housing insecurity. More and more, people with lived experience in homelessness are providing input into service programs, thanks to requirements at the federal and state level. The idea is that those who have experienced homelessness have valuable input. Older adults in charge may not understand what today’s youth are up against, Celeste says. “I’m trying to figure out a polite way of how to say this: They’re not youth anymore, they don’t know how it is to be youth in our current world,” Celeste adds. “It can be really hard when people in agencies are in power that are not people who have lived experience. Because if you’re not a person with lived experience, you’re going to come at that work very differently.” Since Youth For Action formed in September 2020, it’s been meeting regularly via Zoom and in person. Members are paid for their time, and besides the extra money, it gave Celeste a sense of purpose. Early on, the board was successful in contributing to the Coalition securing a state youth homelessness demonstration program grant of over $5 million. “That really showed me some of the power we have,” Celeste says. The Coalition was then tasked with deciding how to allocate the money to homelessness nonprofits for the specific purpose of serving youth. Youth for Action members served on the ranking and review committee, interviewing applicants and making the allocation decisions. “During these interviews the youth voice was intentionally uplifted,” Celeste says. Their feedback was more heavily weighted in scoring. Celeste says the other adults in the room didn’t always want to listen to what members had to say: “There’s always going to be adultism in those rooms.” But with the focus of the state grant program being on serving youth, members were given the power to speak out. “Because after all, that’s what these programs are supposed to be for,” Celeste says. “It’s important to really do what we can as youths to say, ‘This is our future. This is us you’re supposed to be taking care of. And what we say is important.’” Youth for Action has successfully been involved in other efforts, although not every initiative has worked. But Celeste says the experience and confidence they’ve gained in over three years on the board led them to getting their first office job, with Central Coast Center for Independent Living. The board is currently looking for new members. One goal this year is to produce a newsletter for youth, “tackling some common myths and misconceptions when it comes to homelessness,” Celeste says. To find out more about Youth for Action, or to apply, go to chsp.org/continuum-of-care/coc-activities/youth/ youth-for-action, or email Coordinator Sol Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org. Youth Vote These young leaders have experienced homelessness and they have something to say. By Pam Marino Members of the Youth for Action board, from left to right: Danielle, Willow Celeste, Jordi and Jonan. The group meets weekly via Zoom or in person to find new ways to help youth experiencing homelessness, something they all have experienced firsthand. “This is our future. And what we say is important.” TaLeS FrOM THe area CODe COURTESY OF COALITION OF HOMELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 Connect with eager couples and their families to make their Monterey County wedding even more memorable. Happily ever after begins in Monterey County for More info: 831-394-5656 Published by 2023-2024 Wedding GuideFREE Best of Monterey Bay® cover_WG23.indd 1 2/16/23 2:32 PM Best of Monterey Bay® Wedding guide CoMing MarCh Pacific Grove Hardware 229 Forest Avenue • 646-9144 Locally Owned and Operated OPEN DAILY 8am-5pm Your Hometown Hardware Store take $5 OFF ANY $25 or more regular items With this ad. Exp 2/29/24 One discount per transaction BEST Hardware Store ’09-’23 146 12th STreeT • Pacific Grove cantrip Cantrip is an Old Scots word meaning a charm, magic spell or piece of mischief, and it aptly describes the unexpected twists and turns in their musical arrangements. Swirling border pipes, raging fiddle, thunderous guitar and three rich voices blend to create a sound energetic enough to tear the roof off. Sun. feB 18•3Pm Doors open at 2:30pm AdvAnce tickets AvAilAble At www.celticsociety.org $30 AdvAnce / $35 door kids’ prices AvAilAble St. mary’s recognizes celtic Society discounts Call or text 831-224-3819 for more info. www.stmarysbythesea.org Central Coast Premier What I Want You to KnoW Free Documentary Film Friday, February 9 3-5pm Doors open at 2:30pm Reserve your seat at tinyurl.com/wiwytk-2-9-24-tickets or phone (831) 899-7322 Monterey Peace and Justice Center 1364 Fremont Blvd Seaside, CA www.vfp46.com WHERE TO APPLY: MONTEREY.ORG/SUMMERJOBS The City of Monterey is an Equal Opportunity Employer. THE CITY OF MONTEREY Now Hiring! APPLY Today! Do you enjoy helping children? Are you flexible and adaptable? Do you have a positive attitude? SUMMER JOB OPPORTUNITIES • Playground Recreation Leader • Day Camp Counselor • Field Sports Recreation Leader • Camp Quien Sabe Resident Camp Counselor, Support Staff (Kitchen Helper, Handyperson, Crafts Assistant), Crafts Leader, Lifeguard and Cook
10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news A contentious incident that transpired at Scribble Hill in Sand City last October is moving its way through the justice system: Max Steiner, who’s based near Chico and who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2022 as a Democrat, was charged Nov. 30 by the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office with one count of misdemeanor assault and one count of misdemeanor vandalism. The incident, which occurred Oct. 12, happened when Steiner, visiting from Chico, was cycling past Scribble Hill and confronted three female Monterey residents of Palestinian descent regarding a “Free Gaza” message they had constructed on the sand dune with plants. (Over the years, the dune has become a popular place to use plants to create temporary graffiti, of sorts.) In that incident, Steiner allegedly grabbed and threw the cell phone of a 13-year-old girl who had helped write the message and he also allegedly destroyed the scribble on the hill. Steiner was arraigned in Monterey County Superior Court Jan. 16, and his attorney, Scott Erdbacher, entered not guilty pleas to both counts. (Steiner was not present; defendants are not required to appear during arraignments for misdemeanor charges.) When reached for comment via email, Steiner responded to say that the Weekly’s initial story about the incident omitted facts, and suggested the Weekly’s editorial department has an anti-Israel bias. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1 in the Salinas courthouse. Given the trends of the justice system, it seems unlikely it will ever go to trial—Administrative Assistant Nichole Reed says the DA brings about 12,000 cases a year, but only about 100 go to trial. On A Hill An October dustup on Scribble Hill leads to misdemeanor charges and two not-guilty pleas. By David Schmalz Just after Monterey Peninsula College celebrated its 75th anniversary last spring, the campus welcomed MPC’s 12th superintendent/president, Marshall T. Fulbright on July 10. Now almost seven months into the job, Fulbright says it’s time to plan the next 75 years, and he wants the community to help determine the foundation of that plan, the college’s mission, vision and values. Fulbright has been making the rounds in recent weeks, showing up at city council meetings and other public arenas, inviting people from all over the Monterey Peninsula Community College District—a wide area that includes Marina to the north, East Garrison to the east and extends south to Carmel, Carmel Valley and Big Sur—to give their input. Specifically, Fulbright wants to know what kind of college the community thinks MPC should be. It’s a mandated exercise for accreditation to regularly review the college’s mission, vision and values, but Fulbright believes even without the requirement it’s healthy to revisit those statements. He also doesn’t want MPC to rewrite them without hearing first what the community thinks. “I know my values. I know where I want to go, but the institution doesn’t revolve around one person’s values. We’re a community college,” he says. Currently MPC’s website lists a mission statement, values statement and goals, all of which focus on items like encouraging student success, supporting students to complete their educations, hiring and retaining quality staff and providing the facilities and resources for an excellent education, among others. There are three community sessions scheduled for Friday, Feb. 2, Tuesday, Feb. 6 and Wednesday, Feb. 7. All are on campus, with free parking available—the first session will also be available virtually. Fulbright says once public input is received, a committee of people from the campus and the community will evaluate the input and contribute to creating a strategic plan for MPC’s next three to five years. Writing that plan begins next year. It’s not the only community input Fulbright and MPC leaders are looking for—later in February they’ll be convening three more community sessions from Feb. 21-27 to talk about expanding offerings at MPC’s Marina Education Center, a 12,000-squarefoot facility located off Imjin Parkway, opened in 2011. With thousands of cars passing by daily, “What would make you stop there? What do you want to see there?” Fulbright asks. A consultant’s report in 2020 recommended that the Marina center be expanded to better collaborate with nearby CSU Monterey Bay and the community at large. Later that year, over 62 percent of the voters approved Measure V, a $230 million bond measure to update and improve MPC’s facilities, including Marina. One example of what could be added, Fulbright says, is a culinary arts program to provide a seamless transition from an existing program at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District to MPC to the hospitality program at CSUMB. But does the community want or need it? “It would be disingenuous of us to put something there without getting community input,” he says. For detailed information on MPC’s community sessions in February, including Zoom availability, visit bit.ly/MPCinput. Marshall T. Fulbright was hired last year as MPC’s 12th superintendent/president. He’s asking the community for input about the college’s future. Vision Quest With a new leader in place, MPC asks the community’s help in plotting a new course. By Pam Marino A dune in Sand City is known as Scribble Hill due to the popularity of writing messages facing Highway 1. Max Steiner stopped on a bike ride in October to take apart letters that read “Free Gaza.” “What do you want to see there?” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss
www.montereycountyweekly.com February 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 Personalized Care: We get to know your pet’s unique needs and preferences to provide the perfect environment for them to feel relaxed and happy. Expert Staff: Our compassionate team of professionals is trained to care for pets of all shapes and sizes, including those with special medical needs. Clean & Safe Facilities: Your pet’s well-being is our top priority. Our facilities are meticulously maintained to ensure a clean and safe environment for your beloved companion. Outdoor Playtime: Our spacious, secured play area allows your pet to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and socialization while staying with us. PEt bOarding at Pacific Grove Animal Hospital Why we’re the best choice for pet boarding: 1023 Austin Avenue, Pacific Grove 831-318-0306 • www.pacificgroveanimalhospital.com VOTED MONTEREY COUNTY’S BEST VETERINARIAN THREE YEARS IN A ROW! ’23 ’22 ’21 Fort Ord Cleanup Program Online Community Involvement Workshop Learn the latest updates regarding the Fort Ord cleanup with specially pre-recorded presentations developed by the cleanup technical staff. Topics include: • Groundwater & Soil Cleanup • Landfill Operation & Maintenance • Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement The online workshop will be available starting February 10, 2024 at www.FortOrdCleanup.com This workshop will be available online until the next online workshop in February 2025 If you have any questions, please contact the U.S. Army BRAC Community Relations Office at (831) 393 - 1284
12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com If past tournaments are any indication, around 190,000 people or more could attend the AT&T Pro-Am between Feb. 1-4. Many need a place to park, but parking is in short supply in Pebble Beach. Years ago the tournament’s organizers, Monterey Peninsula Foundation, looked just 11 miles to the north for a solution, to a place with acres of empty lots, CSU Monterey Bay. The foundation and the university hammered out an agreement: In exchange for one lot during the tournament, CSUMB would receive tournament passes worth thousands of dollars. No cash changes hands. The passes are used for “donor engagement,” a CSUMB spokesperson says. It’s not known exactly who gets the passes, some of which are for entrance to the exclusive Palmer Club EIGHTEEN at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, named for famed golfer Arnold Palmer and located within view of the 18th hole, where the top golfers of the world will finish their rounds. Last year, per the agreement, the university received 20 tickets to the Palmer Club, along with seven parking passes to park in Pebble Beach. CSUMB also received 36 tournament general admission tickets. The Palmer Club tickets and parking passes were valued at $22,000, according to a CSUMB spokesperson; the general admission tickets had an approximate value of $3,300. When asked who receives the passes, the only answer given was that they are used for donor engagement, presumably meaning entertaining donors or prospective donors. MPF uses the lot to provide free parking and shuttles to spectators and tournament volunteers. According to the 2023 contract (obtained by the Weekly via a California Public Records Act request) MPF was allowed an office trailer, rented light towers, fenders and barricades, portable restrooms and signage in the weeks leading up to the tournament and removed within several days of the tournament’s end. There is a cost to the university for CSUMB Police and other staff to assist with traffic enforcement and perform other duties around opening the lot, about $8,000 per event. The university had no breakdown of possible maintenance expenses of the lot itself. In addition to the tournament passes, CSUMB was listed as a partner during the tournament, similar to major sponsors. It meant CSUMB could distribute information about itself in parking lots and other designated areas, as well as provide a promotional video to be shown on shuttle buses. A decade ago, activists worried about the dangers of fracking created momentum in Monterey County to curb oil and gas operations, which culminated in 2016 with the passage of Measure Z, a ballot measure that sought to ban not just fracking in the county, but also wastewater injection and new oil development. It passed by a 56-44 margin, and was quickly litigated by oil interests before it could take effect. That led to decisions, over the course of nearly seven years of litigation from Monterey County Superior Court to the California Supreme Court, that found Measure Z unlawful; regulation of oil and gas is strictly in the purview of state and federal agencies, not local ones, the decisions affirmed. And now, even as climate change accelerates and nearly every new year globally becomes among the hottest in recorded history, developing oil fields locally, remains an attractive investment for some. On Oct. 18, Bakersfieldbased Trio Petroleum Corp. announced its acquisition of a 22-percent interest in the McCool Ranch oil field, which is a few miles north of the company’s operations in San Ardo. Per the company’s statement at the time, there are about 7 million barrels of oil in the ground at the McCool Ranch property Trio is leasing. On. Jan. 4, Trio announced that its work to refurbish oil production on the property, which went idle in 2015 due to crude oil prices falling below $30 per barrel, is going favorably, and that the wastewater injection well on the site is in “excellent condition.” The property has four existing horizontal oil wells and two vertical ones, and per Trio’s Jan. 4 statement, has the potential capacity for drilling another 25 wells. “[Trio] believes that current oil prices and other considerations (e.g., approved permits) make this an ideal time to restart McCool Ranch, that the restart is going well, and that the field should soon be providing important cash flow to the company,” the statement reads. Full Lot CSUMB trades a parking lot for exclusive AT&T golf passes to court donors. By Pam Marino news Road Ahead The City of Salinas hosts a workshop focused on the future streetscape in the Alisal, specifically in the areas of active transportation, walking and biking, circulation and street design. Business owners, workers, commuters and residents along East Alisal Street, East Market Street, Williams Road and Sanborn Road are encouraged to complete a survey with feedback on the Alisal Streetscape Master Plan. 6-8pm Thursday, Feb. 1. Firehouse Recreation Center, 1330 E. Alisal St., Salinas. Free; food provided. For more information, call 758-7409. To fill out the survey, visit bit.ly/AlisalStreetsMP. County Priorities The County of Monterey hosts its annual legislative workshop. County officials check in with state and federal leaders on legislative priorities for the upcoming year. Hear the latest on clean drinking water for San Lucas, homeless funding formulas, dam safety projects on the San Antonio and Nacimiento, and more. 10am-noon Friday, Feb. 2. Monterey Government Center, 168 W. Alisal St., Salinas; or via Zoom at bit.ly/BOS322-22. The meeting will also be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. Free. 755-5066, co.monterey.ca.us. Chair Yoga The City of Gonzales and the Blue Zones Project are partnering to provide chair yoga classes. The kick-off on Feb. 3 includes a raffle and a guest speaker from the Alliance on Aging. 9-10am each Saturday from Feb. 3 to March 23. Vosti Center, 107 Centennial Drive, Gonzales. Free. 675-5000, montereycounty.bluezonesproject.com. talk to power Seaside City Councilmember Dave Pacheco hosts a town hall meeting to hear from constituents and provide updates. Speakers include City Manager Jaime Fontes and Police Chief Nick Borges. 6pm Monday, Feb. 5. Embassy Suites, 1441 Canyon Del Rey Blvd., Seaside. Free. 521-0577. Get Connected Internet is a basic tool people of all ages need for communication, commerce and education. Lowincome residents can qualify for discounted prices with the Affordable Connectivity Program. Government assistance offers a $30 monthly discount for home internet service and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet. Wednesday, Feb. 7 is the last day to apply. Open to residents enrolled in government assistance programs such as Medi-Cal or CalFresh. To sign up, visit internetforallnow.org/applytoday or call 866-745-2805. Drilling In Despite the will of local voters, the South County oil industry is showing new signs of life. By David Schmalz Monterey Peninsula Foundation gets access to the North Special Events Lot at the corner of Second Avenue and Fifth Street in Marina. e-mail: email@example.com TOOLBOX For one lot, CSUMB would receive passes worth thousands. Daniel Dreifuss
www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 On Thursday afternoon, Jan. 25, a group of Chinese nationals, including government officials and representatives from several companies are walking through the Salinas warehouse of FarmWise, a tech company developing robotics for agricultural use. “To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first time that China and the Salinas Valley have ever collaborated in any sort of agricultural exchange,” Salinas City Councilmember Steve McShane says. The delegation spent three days in Salinas before heading to Fresno and Bakersfield. The City of Salinas, Salinas-based Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology and Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce quickly organized the itinerary. In addition to City Hall and FarmWise, the group also visited Hartnell College’s Alisal campus; Fresh From DeVine, a short-haul trucking company; and Organic Girl LLC, which specializes in prepackaged organic salad. At FarmWise, the group showed interest in automated tools designed to detect and eliminate weeds. One of them is Vulcan, a tractor-towed machine that uses artificial intelligence and has scanners, lighting and tiny blades to eliminate weeds without damaging crops. “We focused on the things that will be most impactful—largely robotics and mechanization along with technology and food processing and logistics,” McShane says. (The group didn’t get into the field because of rain and minimal ag production in the area this time of year, before harvest.) Members of the Chinese delegation came from companies including fast food chain Home Original Chicken Group, HeadSCM Supply Chain Management Group Co. and internet provider Beijing Zhide Intelligent Internet Technology Co. Huang Gang, chairperson and president of HeadSCM, says China can learn about logistics from America, from planting to distribution. Gang hopes there will be cooperation between China and both Salinas and Silicon valleys. He says China and Salinas produce many similar crops, but U.S. ag uses more technology; in rural China, it is mostly manual labor. There are also similar challenges when it comes to recruiting enough farmworkers in both places—in China, it’s because agricultural workers are aging. Chang says the Chinese government will invest trillions of dollars in the ag industry and bring electricity to rural communities in the coming years. “In the future, technology is definitely going to be a big hit in the industry,” Gang says, adding he wants to bring U.S. technology to China and adapt it to Chinese growers’ needs. Karin Moss, CEO of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, notes several businesses in Salinas operate at an international scale. Whether or not it leads to sales, exchanges like these make “the area more vibrant,” she says. “It just enhances the business climate.” Government officials discussed building a sister city relationship between Salinas and Anhui province. Interpreter Ye Zi contributed to this report. On Farm A Chinese delegation visits Salinas seeking to build collaboration and modernize agriculture abroad. By Celia Jiménez A Chinese delegation tours Hartnell’s Alisal campus, home to the college’s food and ag vocational programs such as produce handling, storage and transportation. NEWS “Technology is definitely going to be a big hit.” DANIEL DREIFUSS Sun - Thurs 12pm– 8pm Fri & Sat 12pm – 8:30pm 720 BROADWAY AVE. SEASIDE Call 831-899-1762 to order DINE IN / TAKEOUT / DELIVERY Great Dough Great Pizza is Thin crust & Sourdough pizzas Salads & Calzones • Pasta • Subs Draft beer on tap • Wine • Dessert Serving handmade pizzas with fresh, quality ingredients At The Oven, we believe 9 MONTH CERTIFICATE 5.29%APY 22 MONTH CERTIFICATE 4.50%APY SPECIAL LIMITED Time CERTIFICATes APY = annual percentage yield. Minimum opening deposit $10,000. Maximum opening deposit $999,999.99 Funds to open this certificate must be new to Monterey CU. New to Monterey CU means the funds must not have been on deposit with Monterey CU in the last six months. Limit one promotional share certificate per member. This offer is available for a limited time starting January 1, 2024, and subject to change or cancellation without notice. Early withdrawal penalties apply. Visit us at www.montereycu.com or call us at 831.647.1000
14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 1-7, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Into the Frying Pan So sad. He is a talented chef (“Caterer Dory Ford is charged with defrauding the government out of $4 million in Covid relief funds,” posted Jan. 26). What causes someone to follow a path of dishonesty? Celeste Williams | Carmel Healthy Competition Thank you for your reporting. Kaiser coming in is excellent (“A new health care provider is coming to Monterey County. That’s great news or terrible news, depending on who you ask,” posted Jan. 24). They provide excellent service at an affordable price. Many friends and family of ours have Kaiser and are satisfied. No one should have to drive an hour one way for medical care. So, a big “yay” from us for competitive diversity in medical choice for our Peninsula. Barb Patchin | Marina Kaiser is a nonprofit and pays no taxes, including local property taxes. Per state law, this is so they may provide “community benefits,” mostly care to uninsured patients. But this is only done at Kaiser hospitals when uninsured patients enter the ER. Without a local hospital, in Santa Cruz and soon Monterey County they will “skim” the high-paying, healthier privately insured patients and not contribute otherwise to our health care system. That may please large employers but will destabilize our critical health care safety net. There is a simple solution: Santa Cruz County recently negotiated an agreement with Kaiser to require 2 percent of revenue be spent on community benefits like charity care or local grants. Santa Cruz County has a similar agreement with all large health systems requiring up to 7 percent of revenue for community benefits, and it should be fairly applied to all local providers. Two percent is far lower than the actual subsidy these health systems receive paying no taxes. Jason Johnston | Prunedale Oh great, Kaiser, the company most well known for overcharging and vicious litigation of medical debt. This should go well for our community. Are they still charging $10K-plus for a broken arm? (“Kaiser Permanente is at work on a Salinas location, and eyeing a spot in Marina,” Jan. 25-31.) Joseph W. Borawski | via social media Kaiser has been absolutely wonderful for us! I usually go to Gilroy or San Jose for care. • easy to get referred to a specialist • thoughtful, compassionate, and thorough doctors who don’t over-prescribe medicine • organized medical records • emphasis on preventative care They do a lot right!! They should be the model for overhauling the broken health care system. Monica Glatzel Williams | Prunedale In the Flow Who says there’s no good news these days? Thanks! (“An aquifer storage project is an example of a creative, workable solution to a problem,” posted Jan. 23.) Tina Walsh | via social media Service pay The Salinas City Council just gave itself a 300-percet salary increase while the folks in Salinas neighborhoods wait patiently for their streets and sidewalks to be repaired (“Salinas City Council approves increasing council compensation,” posted Jan. 25). It would seem there is a problem with the direction city funds are flowing. It would certainly be in the public’s interest to know the numbers reflected by the continuing success of the Downtown Vibrancy Plan, and give some sign of the city’s economic improvement over this period of growth, assuring its citizens that their local government is actually working for their benefit. Publishing these long-term successes would also deliver some overdue local governmental transparency and improve the relationship between the citizens and their city leaders. Kent Seavey | Pacific Grove Sleep Tight Thank you for your coverage and I would like to present an alternative that has proven highly beneficial for over 50 years (“Good sleep—in both quantity and quality—is the holy grail for a healthy mind and body,” Jan. 25-31). I sleep five-and-a-half to six hours per night with a 20-minute nap each afternoon. I wake fully refreshed each day and am accused of being the energizer bunny!!! Guidelines are one thing, however there are some of us that color outside the lines. Notice what works while being kind to your body. Annie Auburn | Del Rey Oaks Round and Round The Highway 68 Coalition is a joke (“A nonprofit was set to take over management of Laguna Seca Jan. 1, but the contract remains in limbo,” Jan. 11-17). Laguna Seca was established in 1957 to replace the Pebble Beach road racing which was becoming far too dangerous. Since its inception, the track has developed into a world-renowned track that has pumped millions of dollars into various charitable organizations as well as into our local economy. It’s called due diligence—research before you purchase your home. People move here for the prestige, then they say that one of the most prestigious tracks in the world does not belong here. Laguna Seca was here long before any of the new residents. Leave it be. If you don’t like it, move back to where you came from. All these Karens need to get a life! I now live in South County; our family purchased a ranch in between San Antonio and Nacimiento lakes. I have many fond memories of Laguna Seca, an outstanding, challenging track. Edward Alexandre | Bradley Note: Alexandre is a former racer of the SSCA Trans Am series and the IMSA Camel GT series, starting in the early 1970s. Democracy in the Balance Susan Romero writes, “I know Trump has his faults, but loving his country is not one of them” (“Letters,” Jan 25-31). Yes, he loves this country so much that he tried to overthrow the country, and destroy our democracy on January 6. Chris Romero | Pacific Grove Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 february 1-7, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 There are a few common metaphors about the unwieldy nature of government. Andrew Sandoval is familiar with them, but unfazed. “People think of the city as a big ship,” he says. “It’s hard to turn a big ship.” But Sandoval has made something of a lifestyle out of jumping on the ship, grabbing the steering wheel and asking uncomfortable questions. He first got involved when parents were getting obstructed by leaders of Oasis Public Charter School in Salinas in 2017. (While not all of his complaints were substantiated, some major problems were uncovered thanks to his persistence.) In 2021, Sandoval sued Hartnell Community College in a public records case. In 2023, he sued the Soledad Community Health Care District alleging Public Records Act violations, then the City of Greenfield alleging violations of the Brown Act, California’s open meetings law. Over the years, he has become a student of the workings of local government and connected with attorneys specializing in government accountability. He says would-be activists summon him to their causes when they are concerned about retaliation or uncomfortable putting themselves out there. “What’s right is right,” Sandoval says. “If I wait for other people to do things, it may never happen.” Sandoval ran twice for Salinas City Council and won in 2022. And he continues to prod with tough questions from the dais, sometimes ruffling feathers. He raised questions about an emergency authorization for a sinkhole repair last year, arguing there should be a fair and transparent process for going out to bid, or at least for allowing prospective contractors to earn city jobs. When he asked about the nonprofit Salinas Police Activities League, the PAL board eliminated the city’s spots on its board. (As that drama unfolded, California PAL’s director of operations emailed Salinas PAL to ask what was up with this persistent question-asker and wrote: “It certainly sounds like Mr. Sandoval has an axe to grind.”) For Sandoval, it’s not surprising that some of his inquiries are met with some combination of defensiveness or skepticism or derision. As he sees it, he’s just continuing to do the hard work of unearthing corruption. “I don’t see the need to stop being who I am because I’m elected. I’m not here for show,” he says. “Why do we need to fit into this box, now that we’re elected? Now you’re supposed to defend this agency? I give residents information on how to file claims against us…If we can’t have real conversations because it’s too sensitive, how are we supposed to improve?” Sandoval is often the only person meticulous enough to find the discrepancies and brazen enough to share them. Sometimes he finds wrongdoing. Sometimes he finds a vague sense of wrongdoing. It’s certainly not a way to make friends. And that’s where things get tricky. His eyes are now turned toward his colleagues on council. Sandoval has in the past raised worthy concerns about city funds going to the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Monterey County Business Council—an issue because, until a few months ago, two members were employed by those agencies (Steve McShane and Kimbley Craig, respectively; McShane no longer works for the Chamber). Sandoval asked the Monterey County District Attorney investigate Craig and McShane for conflict of interest. (The DA will not take action until the Fair Political Practices Commission concludes its pending investigation into McShane; the FPPC rejected a complaint about Craig.) Sandoval has reviewed years’ worth of city documents and found payments ranging from $30 to $5,000 to those agencies. These line items probably should have been removed and voted on separately—with a member recusing—to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. “I have worked to bring compromise and collaboration to our council despite our differences,” Craig says. “Things like this create divisinesess and conflict. It’s not helpful.” Sandoval wrote to McShane last year: “Integrity, honesty and accountability are crucial to serve the residents of Salinas.” He added that McShane appeared to have violated rules of decorum, including: “Avoid negative comments that could offend other councilmembers.” But Sandoval is also not following the rules of decorum. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at email@example.com. Move Fast and Break Things What happens when a government watchdog gets elected to serve? By Sara Rubin Party On…Squid keeps time in the sea based on the ebb and flow of the tide, a tried-and-true method. The Monterey County Democratic Central Committee, seeking to restore order after some chaos last year and even an attempted coup to oust the party chair, Karen Araujo, has implemented a new time-keeping method for meetings: shouting out the time so members know to hurry it up. So it was on Jan. 23 that members took up the night’s business—endorsements in the March 5 primary election—promptly at 6:50pm. But first, there was a debate about the process. Only Democrats may seek the party’s endorsement, even in nonpartisan races, like that of county supervisor. That meant smooth sailing for some—Luis Alejo is running unopposed and Wendy Root Askew is the only Democrat in her district. In District 5, there are two Democrats—Alan Haffa and Kate Daniels. Standard procedure means a vote on the contenders; 60 percent is required to earn an endorsement. If no candidate gets 60 percent, there’s a subsequent discussion about a dual endorsement, meaning both candidates can get some love. First came a proposal to do things differently—give members the choice to vote on Haffa, Daniels or an open endorsement from the start. Cue the opposition. “There seems to be a good amount of dysfunction in this organization,” said Cristina Medina Dirksen. “I would really like to restore faith in this organization by following our own rules.” “This is a tailor-made motion to favor Alan Haffa,” said Kilder Fuentes. “I urge everyone to vote no.” Esther Malkin gave a spiel asking everyone to stop with the spiels: “Let’s keep the disruptions to a minimum please, and stop grandstanding.” Finally, they voted to keep the regular procedure. Then came another disruption, when Araujo instructed Amit Pandya to stop recording the recorded Zoom meeting with his phone. “This isn’t a public meeting,” she said. (Squid checked the California Democratic Party rules, which state: “All meetings of the Democratic Party, at all levels, should be considered public meetings, with very few exceptions.”) Cephalopods may not register to vote, much less join a political party, yet Squid joined the Zoom just fine under the impression it was a public meeting. Squid isn’t sure what they might have been concerned about, anyway. Maybe the moment when Malkin interrupted the meeting to see if Steve McDougall was sleeping—turns out he was just leaning back in his chair, frustrated with the party’s antics. Eventually they voted on the prized endorsement, 19-10 for Daniels. It’s a blow to Haffa, long active in the party and a former chair. They went on to talk about a few other items before it was time for updates from the issues committee, of which Haffa is chair. But he’d already left the Zoom. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “Why do we need to fit into this box?” Send Squid a tip: firstname.lastname@example.org