february 22-28, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT A New Research Frontier 8 | No More Big Tech Free Ride? 13 | Bringing the heatwaves 30 …and other bizarre restrictions from East Garrison’s HOA leadership. Residents want change. p. 16 By David Schmalz This Flower Pot is Illegal

2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com february 22-28, 2024 • ISSUE #1855 • Established in 1988 Katie Slupinski (Sony a7iii with FE 200-600mm lens + 1.4x Teleconverter. ISO 3200, f/9, 1/2000s) The brilliant colors of an Anna’s hummingbird shine on a rainy day alongside Ribera Beach in Carmel. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@mcweekly.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Ibrahim Shelton, a professor at CSUMB, and Mitsuyo Kohama, a night doctor at CHOMP, with one of the flower pots the East Garrison HOA has asked them to remove for violating its rules and regulations. 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 bradley@mcweekly.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman erik@mcweekly.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin sara@mcweekly.com (x120) associate editor Erik Chalhoub ec@mcweekly.com (x135) features editor Dave Faries dfaries@mcweekly.com (x110) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez celia@mcweekly.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino pam@mcweekly.com (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) aga@mcweekly.com Staff Writer David Schmalz david@mcweekly.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss daniel@mcweekly.com (x140) MONTEREY COUNTY NOW PRODUCER Sloan Campi sloan@mcweekly.com (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 karen@mcweekly.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell kevinj@mcweekly.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada alexis@mcweekly.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley lani@mcweekly.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim diane@mcweekly.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal george@mcweekly.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker keith@mcweekly.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter keely@mcweekly.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith kevin@mcweekly.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. atartsco@gmail.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira linda@mcweekly.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick rochelle@mcweekly.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. NOW IN YOUR INBOX Sign up today at montereycountyweekly.com/mcnow

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4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH People from the Monterey Bay to the South Bay were surprised in recent days to receive an unfamiliar newspaper on their doorsteps: The South Bay Chronicle. But savvy readers quickly found out that the publication was riddled with misinformation, typos and unauthorized ads, all wrapped in a convincing-looking package. According to an article by San Jose Spotlight, the paper attacks Rep. Zoe Lofgren and throws its support behind her congressional challenger, Charlene Nijmeh. Spotlight found that the paper was created by Nijmeh’s political consultant, Matthew Ricchiazzi, who is known for creating websites that peddle propaganda. Nijmeh told Spotlight that she was aware of the paper, but did not endorse it. In 2023, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Ricchiazzi published false news articles on a website called San Francisco Inquirer, and he has also been tied to pushing theories of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Ricchiazzi told Spotlight that he produces his own “independent journalism” as a “hobby” under various forms of media, and said his latest foray wasn’t produced or authorized by the Nijmeh campaign. Good: Books can open up a world of imagination and delight for young children—ensuring they have access is a good thing. Over 300 preschool-level books are now available to children at 13 preschools, thanks to United Way Monterey County’s MLK Jr. Day Book Drive, the nonprofit announced Feb. 13. It was the second year of the drive, created as a way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service—last year UWMC collected 150 books. Individuals and companies donated books at several drop-off sites and through an Amazon gift list from Jan. 1 to the Day of Service on Jan. 15. “Our office looked like a library for at least two weeks,” says Gabriella Schlesinger-James, UWMC’s marketing and communications manager. Two of the most donated titles were It’s Okay to be Different, by Todd Parr, and Katy Can: A Story About Special Needs, by Erin Palmer. GREAT: A local teacher was selected as a 2023 Elite 100 Teacher by IXL Learning. James Jones is a 6th grade teacher at Monte Bella Elementary in Salinas in the Alisal Union School District. This is the first time James has won this award along with 64 other teachers. “James’ dedication to engaging and empowering his students every day is remarkable, especially as educators continue to help students recover from learning loss,” a press release said. The Elite 100 recognizes teachers for their passion for education and their innovation and creativity in the classroom. The Elite 100 is a list of teachers that is selected from over a million teachers worldwide. This year the top winners are from the U.S., United Kingdom, China and Mexico. This is the 10th year of the contest. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY The approximate number of Monterey County residents ages 26-29 who were able to receive full-scope Medi-Cal insurance as of Jan. 1 regardless of citizenship or immigration status, thanks to approval of the expansion in the 2022-23 California state budget. Source: Staff report to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 6 18,000 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “These are some of the best photos of the Monterey Peninsula.” -Librarian Andres Garza, speaking about the historical works of Monterey photographer Rey Ruppel archived by the Monterey Public Library (see story, mcweekly. com). LOCATED BEHIND THE PORTOLA HOTEL & SPA | COMPLIMENTARY PARKING (831) 649-2699 | PETERBSBREWPUB.COM VOTED BEST SPORTS BAR BY MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY READERS 2 HAPPY HOURS 4PM TO 6PM AND 9PM TO 10PM NEW HOURS THURSDAY - MONDAY: 4PM TO 10PM TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY: CLOSED For Children and adults Consultation, testing and individual sessions for remediation of learning problems and learning disabilities. “I am so impressed with your services and the work you do. One of the members on the IEP list has credited you with saving her grandson’s educational life.” “...very professional and dedicated. I can say that Dr. Rita Rispoli is not only a specialist who loves working with students, but that she was born to her profession.” “We would like to thank you for your support. S__ was very happy to see his good report card and I, for the first time, realized how hard he has been trying to achieve what he wanted. We owe you tremendously. Again, thank you for your dedication to students like our son. We appreciate your sincerity and kindness.” rita rispoli Ph.d., BCet | (831)375-9450 1011 Cass Street, Suite 116, Monterey www.LDspecialist.com | rrispoli@comcast.net Difficulty learning?

www.montereycountyweekly.com February 22-28, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 “As your Supervisor, I will fight for affordable housing, renter protections, sheriff’s oversight, greater transparency, & community engagement.” Monterey City Council Member Board Member Professor Elect Dr. Alan Haffa Monterey County Supervisor www.electhaffa.org Paid for by Haffa for Supervisor 2024, FPPC #1461306 Landscape • Hardscape • Irrigation 831-624-4991 insideout1design@outlook.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. The 12th Annual John “Spud” Spadaro Hospitality Awards 501(c) (3) Mission Statement To honor hospitality professionals in our community and contribute to the future of the industry. Proceeds from the event fund scholarships for hospitality students in Monterey County. THANK YOU TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS Congratulations 2024 Hospitality Award Honorees Bert Simpson– Whaling Station and Anton & Michel Linda Williams– Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay John Gio Sercia– Sardine Factory and La Mia Cucina Lifetime Achievement Honorees David DiGirolamo– Angelo’s and Monterey’s Fish House Debbie, Jenny, Gina and John LaSala– LaSala’s Bi-Rite Market Humanitarian Award Charlie Higuera– Grove Market, Pacific Grove Chrissy Gundersen Homeless Advocate A Special Thanks To The Donors Who Made This Event A Huge Success Abalonetti Bar & Grill Alvarado Street Brewery Alyssa & Daniel Runnoe Beach House at Lovers Point Bert Cutino Bi-Rite Market Britannia Arms & Monarch Pub Cafe Mia Brew Bar & Bistro Casa Munras Garden Hotel Chris Johnson Coastal Kitchen– Monterey Plaza Hotel Coastal Roots Hospitality– Tarpy, Montrio, Rio Coniglio Italian Deli Doree Hyland Elroy’s Fine Food Erik’s Deli Escape Room 831 Esteban at Casa Munras Hotel George Kassal Gina Bianchi Glenn Reis I Heart Candles Ida & Ron Chesshire InSight Eyewear Jane & George Molano Jimmy Panetta Julie Ann Lozano Keely Richter La Mia Cucina Laguna Seca Golf Course London Bridge Pub Marie & Nino Favalora Mary Boland Melville Tavern Michelle & Larry Kerkhoff Monterey County Gives Monterey County Weekly Monterey Pines Golf Course Monterey Touring Vehicles Morgan Wine Oscar’s Playground Pacific Grove Golf Course Pat & Vito Spadaro Family Peter Neumeier Phyllis Grillo Portola Hotel & Spa RK Dusek Rockfish Harbor Grill Rombi Winery Rosine’s Safe Coast Seafood Sandbar & Grill Schooners– Monterey Plaza Hotel Spa on the Plaza Stokes Restaurant Ted Balestreri Teri Nickells That Garlic Stuff The Bench at Pebble Beach The Clement Hotel Monterey Tony Tollner & Julie Conrad Whaling Station Steakhouse Wine & Wrinkles Party Woody’s at the Airport & Del Mesa

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY February 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 “What did Martin Luther King do?” “Fought for civil rights,” the class answered out loud. With a PowerPoint presentation filled with pictures and questions, citizenship teacher An McDowell has her students studying a portion of the 100 questions a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer will choose from during their naturalization test. These are questions that even many American citizens might not know the answers to, such as Puerto Rico being a U.S. Territory or the Bill of Rights. Since December, five students in the Monterey Peninsula hailing from different countries including Mexico, Northern Ireland, France and India, have become American citizens. McDowell says when she worked in Salinas, about 100 students obtained their citizenship every year. In Pacific Grove, however, it is different. “I’d be lucky if 10 students go to their interview,” McDowell says. “This year, potentially, instead of 10 students, I might have 30, which is very exciting for me, so I’m calling it a flurry.” The classroom where McDowell teaches citizenship is decorated with flags from different countries. When the students practice the questions, they also learn about each other; sharing where they were during 9/11 or the cultural differences between their country of origin and the U.S. Among the students who passed the January test is Araceli Ramirez Espinola, a Seaside resident. Her green card was about to expire and instead of renewing it, she applied for citizenship. At the same time she learned the questions for the oral test, Ramirez Espinola was also learning English. She was in the citizenship classes for one year before taking the test. Once she knew the date, “I was so excited and said, ‘I can do this, I can do this,’” she says. Ramirez Espinola says her biggest challenge to obtaining her citizenship was improving her English proficiency. At work, she’s a housekeeper and rarely speaks it. To improve her proficiency, she took English classes at Monterey Peninsula College. Ramirez Espinola says her kids weren’t confident she would pass the test since her English still needs to improve. But when they learned the news: “They were more happy than me,” Ramirez Espinola says. Another student is Ritika Kumar, a Pacific Grove resident and founder of the nonprofit Art Abilities, an organization that helps kids and adults with different abilities express themselves through art. Kumar says having the right to vote was one of the reasons she decided to apply. “Even the small things that happen in the community, you’re losing the vote, you’re losing your voice, so I felt like I’m here. I’m here forever, so I’d rather be participating,” Kumar says. Ramirez Espinola and Kumar went to Santa Clara for their naturalization exam. While waiting her turn, Kumar studied the questions on her phone. “I spelled ‘Washington’ wrong. I was so nervous,” Kumar notes. For Kumar, filling the application form was the hardest part, as it asks for all addresses and trips outside of the U.S. from the past five years. The naturalization test has several elements, including going over the naturalization application, N-400, understanding of English and 10 questions from different topics including U.S. history, civics or government. As part of preparing her students for the exam, McDowell shows them a video with mockup interviews and a Q&A students can practice with. “I really wanted to have a vehicle to help people imagine what the interviewer is like and be fully prepared,” McDowell says. Ramirez Espinola and Kumar came back to the class and shared their experiences with the students, including the interaction with the examiner and whether they made any mistakes. Citizenship classes at Pacific Grove Adult Education are free. For information, email sdorantes@pgusd.org or call 646-6580. Newly Minted With the help of a Pacific Grove teacher, a growing number of students obtain their citizenship. By Celia Jiménez An McDowell has been teaching citizenship classes for four decades. She’s seen many changes to the naturalization process over that period, from cost to time. “I was so excited and said, ‘I can do this, I can do this.’” TaLeS FrOM THe area CODe CELIA JIMÉNEZ Presented By montereychamber.com In CelebrationOf: 2023 Citizen of the Year Mike Marotta Jr. Marotta Properties 2023 Ruth Vreeland Memorial Public Official of the Year Mary L. Adams Monterey County Supervisor, District 5 2023 Robert C. Littlefield Award for Lifetime Achievement Clarissa Rowe Monterey County Bank 2023 Community Impact Award Ron Johnson Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County Business of the Year Award To Be Announced During the Event GET TICKETS!

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 22-28, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 ou see the guidelines constantly: eat a healthy diet, exercise, and do not smoke. But if you have a family history of heart disease, you may still be at risk despite living a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease is Monterey County’s second-leading cause of death, with coronary artery disease being the most common type of heart disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when plaque build-up restricts blood flow to the heart, which can result in symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, heart failure, and a heart attack. “Being aware of your family’s health history can be lifesaving,” says Dr. Michael Jesinger, a Montage Medical Group cardiologist. “Tell your doctor if a close family member had a heart attack or stroke, even if you feel healthy. It could significantly increase your risk.” Having a first-degree relative with heart disease — mom or sister younger than age 65, and dad or brother younger than age 55 — can increase heart disease risk by 50 percent. For patients aged 40–79, doctors can estimate cardiovascular risk by calculating age, gender, blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking and diabetes status. If a potential risk is identified, other tests including a coronary calcium score, advanced cholesterol panels, and cardiac stress tests can further evaluate the patient’s risk. “Many patients I see don’t know that there is an affordable, simple screening test that can determine how likely they are to have a heart attack,” Jesinger says. That screening test is the coronary calcium score, which quantifies the amount of calcium plaques in the heart to determine the patient’s overall risk. “Once that risk is assessed,” Jesinger says, “we can work closely with patients to promote lifestyle changes and begin preventive medical therapies.” Jesinger’s heart-healthy recommendations include moderate exercise 30 minutes per day five days per week, eating a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables with limited meat, and not smoking. But as Montage Medical Group clinical nutritionist and internal medicine doctor Sattar Hadi learned, heart disease can make its way into even the healthiest lifestyles. Hadi lives what he describes as an “ideal lifestyle for heart health.” But when he developed shortness of breath and chest pains after brief periods of exercise, he was surprised to learn that his heart’s main artery was 95 percent blocked — a blockage notorious for causing the widow-maker heart attack. “There were indicators in my family history that I missed,” Hadi says, “but since I exercise regularly, I saw the signs of my coronary artery disease. When you don’t exercise, you may not realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. Even a labor-intensive chore can trigger a heart attack. My case is a testament to healthy living and listening to your body.” High-quality care for better quality of life “I’m proud of Montage Health’s work with patients who have cardiovascular health problems,” Jesinger says. “We have two cardiopulmonary wellness centers, and that’s impressive for the size of our community. Participating in cardiac rehabilitation can decrease chance of death by up to 30 percent if you had a recent heart attack or heart surgery.” Montage Medical Group also offers innovative technology that continuously monitors higher-risk patients’ health and identifies potential care gaps so patients do not miss important screenings, medications, follow-ups, or adverse health developments. “Most heart attacks and strokes are preventable,” Jesinger says. “By knowing your family health history, seeing your doctor regularly, and practicing healthy lifestyle habits, you’re more likely to live a longer, higher-quality life.” Visit montagemedicalgroup.org to learn more about cardiology at Montage Medical Group or scan the QR code. American Heart Month: Heart disease tips from cardiologist Michael Jesinger, MD Y PAID ADVERTISEMENT “Many patients I see don’t know that there is an affordable, simple screening test that can determine how likely they are to have a heart attack.” — Dr. Michael Jesinger Montage Medical Group doctors: (from left) Sattar Hadi, MD, Michael Jesinger, MD

8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news A farmworker housing project proposed in Pajaro abuts another such development under construction that faced litigation by neighbors. The County of Monterey Planning Commission was scheduled to consider the project on Wednesday, Feb. 14, but agreed to postpone its decision to April 10. Proposed by property owner Anthony Nicola, Inc. of Prunedale, the plans call for two three-story buildings to house up to 250 seasonal farmworkers on a 1.3-acre site at 124 Gonda St. Nearing completion next door on Susan Street is another project expected to house 360 farmworkers. Both projects sit next to the Pajaro River Levee, which breached a couple of miles east in March 2023 and flooded the town of Pajaro. A $599 million project to rebuild the levee is expected to begin in the summer. Christine Shaw, who lives on Susan Street and sits on the planning commission, joined other neighbors in suing the county in January 2023 following the board of supervisors’ approval of the project, saying a thorough environmental review should have been required. A Superior Court judge rejected the suit. Shaw is now questioning the safety of the current residents of Gonda Street as well as the future residents if the new project is approved, saying the narrow road leading into the property would be dangerous for people to evacuate in the event of an emergency. In a letter, she urged the county to conduct a full environmental review. “These three-story monstrosities, that loom over the neighborhood, will have an adverse impact on the human ecology of our neighborhood,” Shaw wrote. Seasonal Digs Farmworker housing proposed in Pajaro, next to another one under construction. By Erik Chalhoub Tucked away on the Moss Landing Harbor, mostly out of sight except for anyone driving along Sandholdt Road, is one of the world’s epicenters for marine science innovation—the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. There, scientists and engineers are free to experiment with new ways to understand marine life while harnessing the organization’s considerable technological assets. It’s that kind of creative freedom that allowed Jared Figurski, an MBARI ocean observatory engineer, to follow a hunch: could MBARI’s long range underwater autonomous vehicles, aka LRUAVs, be outfitted with cameras and attractors so they could observe predators and prey? “It’s a needle in a haystack issue,” Figurski says. “Predators can be very rare, they’re highly mobile, and they can be highly migratory. To adequately sample them, you have to be out in the ocean for a long time and at vast distances, which was prohibitively expensive before LRUAVs.” Figurski started working on the idea three years ago. After two years of pilot testing, he was able to present it to MBARI’s management team, who agreed to fund it indefinitely, but at a minimum of three years. The system, called Piscivore—animals that eat fish—is affixed to the LRUAV and records hundreds of hours of video in deployments which are then processed by MBARI’s artificial intelligence technology and matched with data the LRUAV is recording. The hope, Figurski says, is to give marine scientists reliable data on predator and prey ecosystems that are both dynamic with the seasons, but that are also changing as marine life evolves with climate change. Currently, MBARI’s Piscivore system is deployed about 10 days at a time, only at depths of down to 120 feet. The system isn’t yet equipped with lighting and must rely on ambient light, but Figurski says they’re working on that. The system aims to help resolve a longstanding problem for researchers: sonar technology detects biomass and acoustic devices pick up sounds. However, the picture is always blurred—what, exactly, is in the water right now? Such data could help inform not just scientists, but also regulators of fisheries, who are often forced to make decisions based on limited data. Figurski says MBARI engineers are at work on a deeper-ranging vehicle that can go as far down as 1,500 feet below the surface, and that Piscivore can be deployed on that once the lighting is solved. That would help Figurski learn more about the presence of salmon sharks and swordfish around Monterey Bay, something he’s taken an interest in—young salmon sharks, which look like great whites, wash up from time to time on local beaches. While they’re known to be abundant in Alaska, he thinks they just might be deeper here. As for local swordfish, he says, “They’re probably a lot more here than we think.” Figurski believes that MBARI will fund the system for many years to come—the possibilities for gathering data are vast, and presents immense potential value to regulators. “If they don’t have data, they have to make a lot of guesses,” Figurski says. “We can fill in the gaps. I think that’s going to be an important role of Piscivore, particularly for adaptive management—a lot of time policies need to change on the fly.” Attached to an autonomous underwater vehicle, MBARI’s new Piscivore system may answer questions about the ocean’s predators and prey. Prey Tell Harnessing new tech, MBARI engineers are unlocking the predator-prey cycle in Monterey Bay and beyond. By David Schmalz A housing development for farmworkers is currently under construction on Susan Street in Pajaro. Another project is proposed one block over on Gonda Street. “If they don’t have data, they have to make guesses.” MBARI Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 22-28, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 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 Apply at www.centcoastfcu.com, visit your local branch, or call us at (831) 393-3480 Big Becom Today Your NMLS# 786119 Become A Member Today And Access Your Home Equity A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be an easy, affordable way to nance home improvement projects, so go ahead, Dream Big! Seaside: 4242 Gigling Rd. Salinas: 1141 S. Main St. Soledad: 315 Gabilan Dr. King City: 510 Canal St. DreamBig Ready to unlock the hidden value in your home? *Terms and conditions apply. Apply at www.centcoastfcu.com, visit your local branch, or call us at (831) 393-3480 SUMMER CAMPS • ACTIVITIES • HEALTH • SCHOOLS Best of Monterey Bay® PRINT | WEB | MOBILE Published by PUbLISHIng April 4 Ad dEAdLInE MArch 21 TOPLACE yOURAd: 831-394-5656 With summer on the horizon look to Best Of Monterey Bay® Family magazine for insight and information. FamilyFREE 2023-2024 Published by BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® • SUMMER CAMP LISTINGS 2023 • THE OCEAN AS CLASSROOM • GAME TIME FOR ATHLETES • YOUTH LEAD THE WAY Family

10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Over the past year, the city of Salinas has lost several people from key leadership positions, including the finance director, city manager, airport director and lastly, the chief of police. Salinas is making progress to fill those seats and on Feb. 20 the City Council announced it had relaunched the process for one of them: the chief of police. Kelly McMillin, former police chief of Salinas, told officials that appointing a chief is a crucial decision, and in this case has been flawed. “This current selection process is occuring almost entirely out of the publice eye. It seems to contradict the principles of open government and transparency,” McMillin said. Open Vallejo, a non profit news outlet in the Bay Area, reported on Feb.12 that interim Vallejo Police Chief Jason Ta was resigning to accept the police chief position in Salinas. City officials confirmed there was a potential candidate, but didn’t confirm or deny if it was Ta for confidentiality reasons. “I’d like to see someone wihin our department. We have qualified officers to step up,” says Claudia De La Rosa, a former councilmember. On a cloudy Saturday morning, Feb. 17, the council made progress toward filling the city manager seat, interviewing several candidates for the position left vacant by the firing of Steve Carrigan on Oct. 4, 2023. On Feb. 20 Mayor Kimbley Craig announced the council had selected a candidate and the city is working on the contract. Residents felt the special meeting on Saturday was rushed and that few people were aware of it. “They need to find a better way to notify their people, each district needs to let their people know, ‘hey, we’re having a meeting, come join us.’ But they’re not doing it,” Victor Cervantes says, underlining public frustration with proceedings. Cervantes, who worked closely with Carrigan to overturn the city’s cruising ban, says staff and the council should work together for Salinas. “I’m not a proud resident of Salinas,” Cervantes says.” Salinas is upside down and we need to change that.” While city manager in Salinas, Carrigan had announced that he was a finalist for the same position in San Bernardino. He later sent an email to city staff and the council stating he dropped out from the process. “We are losing people right now,” says De La Rosa. “Why are people leaving in such a big turnover? Because we have no leadership.” A judge denied granting a group of neighbors over $400,000 for attorney fees in their lawsuit against the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District over a stadium lights project at Monterey High School. In the Feb. 2 decision, the court didn’t find any significant issues with the environmental impact report, and determined the neighbors’ motivations to sue were based on their self-interest and that it didn’t provide a significant benefit for the community. The battle lasted five years and it has been the longest Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh has experienced in his time at the district. “We’re just thankful that we can invest that money back into our students where it belongs and not have to waste taxpayer money on lawyers’ fees,” Diffenbaugh says. Molly Erickson, who represents the neighbor group Preserving the Peace, says the lawsuits weren’t about money but making sure MPUSD will focus on upgrading its facilities, such as classrooms, electrical systems and replacing windows, to benefit all students and staff. “Those projects are essential, would help all students and staff, and would not have environmental impacts. That is what the voters thought they were getting,” Erickson says. According to MPUSD’s 2018 facilities master plan, MHS needs over $95 million in upgrades. There is no mention of improving the stadiums at any of MPUSD’s high schools. Diffenbaugh says the master plan was a general overview of the district’s needs and notes the focus on the stadiums was based on community feedback they received. Since 2015, MPUSD has invested or plans to invest $33.3 million in Measure P and Measure I funds; it includes $12 million for the stadium project and $14 million for the science innovation center. Preserving the Peace is planning to sue the Division of the State Architect for approving MHS stadium’s lights project. The stadium project upgrades will start in the spring. Seat Time Salinas restarts police chief search and has a candidate for city manager. By Celia Jiménez news SPREAD AWARENESS Help raise your voice to prioritize breast cancer prevention strategies and interventions at the Breast Cancer Community Meeting: Central Coast. The Breast Cancer Prevention Partners are looking for community activists, policy experts, scientists, healthcare providers, survivors and advocates to make an impact on spreading information. 4-7pm Thursday, Feb. 22 at United Way Monterey County Community Impact Center, 232 Monterey St., Suite 200, Salinas. In-person or virtual. Reservations required. eventbrite.com. UNITE HERE Members and friends of the United Nations Association Monterey Bay are meeting to discuss business and planning for 2024. A short film will be shown about the United Nations following the discussion. 5:30-7pm, Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Marina Library Community Room, 190 Seaside Circle, Marina. Refreshments provided. RSVP to unamontereybay@ gmail.com. JOB FAIR You can speak to dedicated and supportive Monterey County Office of Education staff about their day-to-day work at their Annual Recruitment Fair. MCOE has several positions available and is looking for team members who are passionate about education. 9am-noon, Saturday, Feb. 24, at Hartnell College Student Center, 411 Central Ave., Salinas. To see current open positions visit edjoin.org/montereycoe. TAX HELP United Way Monterey County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service is here to help put money back into the pockets of working families, or at least to file taxes in a timely and accurate manner. Families and individuals who earned less than $60,000 in 2023 can make an appointment at one of several VITA sites with a team of IRStrained and certified volunteers. Walk-in and appointment-only sites are available at several locations throughout Monterey County until Feb. 24. Visit unitedwaymcca.org/freetaxprep or call 372-8026. OPEN HOUSE Interim, Inc. is opening a new location for MCHOME, ACT, Keepin’ It Real and other programs to be housed in Soledad. Come for a guided tour of the new office and meet friendly staff at their open house to learn about how these programs will better help residents with mental health challenges in South County. 11am-12:15pm Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2149 H Dela Rosa, Suite 203, Soledad. RSVP optional. 800-7530, ext. 205. Lighting Up Judge denies attorney fees to neighbors who sued over Monterey HS stadium lights project. By Celia Jiménez Kelly McMillin, former police chief of Salinas, says he underwent an exhaustive interview process when he applied for the position and urged officials to reevaluate the process. e-mail: toolbox@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “Why are people leaving? Because we have no leadership.” celia jiménez

www.montereycountyweekly.com February 22-28, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 It’s a stressful time for Jordana Henry’s seniors at Rancho San Juan High School in Salinas, due to a delay in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid program. Normally students apply in October and by March they know how much they will receive. That amount often determines which college they will commit to. This year a three-month delay in the release of the FAFSA application could alter students’ plans—so much so it might even derail the most vulnerable students from attending college in the fall. “I’m worried it will impact our first generation community from taking that step and going to a four-year college,” Henry says. “It doesn’t affect kids from more affluent communities, but for our most vulnerable communities [the FAFSA delay] will have a huge impact on access.” Henry co-leads the Puente Project at RSJHS, which works to improve college acceptance rates of underrepresented and first-generation college-track students. Of the first 30 “Puentistas” who graduated last year, 97 percent were attending a four-year college. Normally, the FAFSA application is opened online on Oct. 1. But this year the U.S. Department of Education redesigned the form and didn’t make it available until a soft launch on Dec. 30. Millions of students across the country quickly applied—over 3.1 million by Jan. 30, according to the department. However, that meant students wouldn’t be hearing how much aid they’re receiving until after universities start accepting students and expecting commitments for the fall. The result is that families will be under pressure to make quick decisions with significant financial implications. “It puts them and their families in a bind,” Henry says. “Everything starts happening rapidly because you have to start paying for things right after you make a decision.” For parents who have never been to college, “sending their child to college is like sending them to the moon,” she adds. In response to the FAFSA delay, the California State University and University of California extended the deadline for students to commit from May 1 to May 15. Henry says that while it helps, it condenses the amount of time families have to make decisions. Puente Project educators are encouraging students to research universities’ fees now, instead of waiting for FAFSA. The FAFSA delay puts CSU campuses in a bind, as well. Enrollment is a nagging concern for the CSU system, which collectively lost 27,000 students from 2020-2022, and was projected to lose more. Campuses with more than 10 percent decreases could see budget cuts next year under a plan announced by CSU officials last year. CSUMB saw a 5-percent decline, but increased from 6,373 students in fall 2022 to 6,742 in 2023. The campus draws heavily from first generation students: 48 percent of students are first generation. Fifty percent of students are from an underrepresented group and 29 percent are low income. CSUMB officials declined to answer questions about possible impacts to enrollment due to the FAFSA delay. Dreams Delayed A hold up in federal financial aid leaves both students and universities in precarious positions. By Pam Marino A three-month delay in the federal college aid process known as FAFSA prompted California’s public universities, including CSUMB, to extend the deadline to commit for fall. NEWS “The delay will have a huge impact on access.” DANIEL DREIFUSS 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 Is it time for a Room Refresh? Your home is your sanctuary and should support personal growth. Visit our website to schedule a complimentary call to discuss rejuvenating your space. VENTANADESIGN.CO A Monterey Bay Interior Design Firm

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Board is Out of Touch Although I appreciate the endorsement the Weekly’s Editorial Board gave me for my re-election campaign (“Candidates and measures on the March 5 primary ballot offer their vision to chart the future,” Feb. 8-14), the Editorial Board just couldn’t help but add misleading comments or outof-touch commentary to it. For instance, the Editorial Board criticized me for supporting the expansion of acreage into the Soledad city limits during a LAFCO vote in December 2022 which aimed to build 2,400 units of housing. Thirty-two percent of it would be affordable, the highest of any development of that size. The Editorial Board states I should have instead supported “smart growth,” whatever that means today. The comment is just so out of touch and it’s partly why we have a housing and homelessness crisis across our county and the state. Monterey County’s new Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers provided by the state requires our county and 12 cities to build 20,295 new units of housing over the next seven years by 2031 of which 3,326 are to be in the unincorporated part of the county. Achieving this enormous task will take many courageous actions by local elected leaders, and such criticisms by the Editorial Board is partly why there’s been so much inaction in getting enough housing built in our county. Meanwhile, thousands of our local working families, especially in the Salinas Valley, continue to suffer from overcrowded housing, high rents or the inability to afford buying a home in their own communities. The Editorial Board also criticized me when it claimed I “towed Big Tobacco’s line” on Modified Risk-Tobacco Products. But they completely omitted the fact that in January 2020, I was the supervisor who proposed the ban of all flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes in the first place to protect our youth, and that no such exemption for FDA-approved “harm reduced products” was ultimately approved by me or any of my colleagues. Moreover in 2019, I also successfully led the smoking ban from our county parks and buildings. I’ve been proud to be the county’s leader in protecting our youth and community-at-large from second-hand smoke, flavored-tobacco and e-cigarettes by authoring the last two major county ordinances on the subject matter. Luis Alejo | Salinas Note: Alejo is Monterey County Supervisor for District 1. I am surprised and disappointed you endorsed only Kate Daniels in the race for County Supervisor, especially because your stated reason was her assessment of her ability to “bring all voices to the table and come up with solutions.” Alan Haffa, who is running for this same seat, has a proven track record in his 12 years on the Monterey City Council of doing exactly this. Alan is exceptionally gifted at not only “bringing people to the table” but making them comfortable enough to express their thoughts, even if they were initially hesitant to speak. He studies issues. Consequently, Alan can often help forge agreements among people with diverse viewpoints. Alan is honest, ethical and a public servant in the best sense of the term. He is highly qualified to be County Supervisor. You should reconsider and promptly publish a dual endorsement. Barbara Moore | Monterey Crisis Point I am writing this because of the insurance crisis that homeowners are facing in California (“The state’s fire insurance crisis means Skyline Forest homeowners face steep rate increases,” Feb. 8-14). I find it somewhat hard to believe that insurance companies are subject to the monetary losses that they claim they are suffering. According to the Public Policy Institute, there are approximately 7 million homes that are owned in this state. For the sake of this argument, let us assume that the average homeowners policy costs $275 per month, multiply this by 7 million households times 12 months per year, this is a huge sum of money that insurance companies are raking in every year. Our insurance has gone up dramatically since Farmers dropped us because we live in a “fire zone.” Our annual insurance has risen from $4,200 per year to $22,000 per year through the “California FAIR Plan.” Let me assure you, there is nothing “fair” about the plan. The question that I have for the insurance regulators in this state, is this just a “ruse” by insurers to drive up the cost of obtaining insurance? Edward Alexandre | San Antonio/ Nacimiento Lake Slip and Slide They need to completely recut and reinforce Highway 1 around Big Sur (“Two slides in span of three days extend Highway 1 closure in Big Sur,” posted Feb. 12). That corridor simply can’t maintain the road any longer. Better to lay deep structural pylons and build bridges than trying to maintain these current roads. Joseph W Borawski | via social media Win for Kindness I appreciate your act of kindness in saving the injured seagull (“The do’s and don’ts of rescuing an injured seagull in the middle of a busy roadway,” posted Feb. 15). Everyone else drove past it, but you stopped to rescue it. Only through small steps of humanity can we achieve a better world. Stu Berman | Palo Alto Thanks for rescuing the seagull. In your list of resources, you did not list The Marine Mammal Center, which responds to stranded, injured or ill marine mammals: sea lions, seals and sea otters. The phone number is 415-289-SEAL (415-289-7325). This number is the main dispatch number; they will take the information and send it to the response team, which is dispatched from Moss Landing. Thank you for getting the seagull out of traffic, but may I add, never attempt to rescue a marine mammal. Thanks again for loving the animals. Andrea Noble | via email Correction In Hot Picks (Feb. 15-21), in an entry titled “Black Boys,” we made a typo in the organization’s website address. Black Leaders and Allies Collaborative’s website is blaac.org. Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to letters@mcweekly.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 february 22-28, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 In the past couple of weeks some interesting financial news has been reported in national and local media outlets. Say you wanted to catch up and find out the amount Donald Trump was ordered to pay in the civil fraud judgment in New York last week, or how much money the candidates in the race for Supervisor in District 5 in Monterey County have each raised. You Google it. Google has become so ubiquitous, so completely ingrained in our daily lives, that the proper name of the search engine has become a de facto verb worldwide. Google’s technology benefits users greatly. The technology benefits Google even more. In 2023 its parent company, Alphabet, had earnings over $300 billion—almost all of it from advertising. Google paid nothing to the originators of that content. One of the major reasons for newspapers’ eroding financial position is that tech giants Google and Meta control what gets viewed, and collect ad revenue to be that gatekeeper. And now with the newest search results being bolstered by AI, Google increasingly doesn’t even send users off its own site. They have harvested billions in advertising revenue, and have never paid any money to the journalists who create the content. The California legislature is set to change that. Following in the footsteps of laws enacted in Australia and Canada, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) introduced the California Journalism Preservation Act. The bill will require tech companies to share a portion of the revenue earned from the content with news media companies. Last year the bill was approved unanimously out of the Judiciary Committee, and then passed on the floor of the Assembly last summer by a bipartisan vote of 55 to 6. The bill now sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee where it is getting amended to make it more similar to the Canadian model. In an interview last week in the Columbia Journalism Review, Wicks expanded on the need and the intent and the law. “It requires the tech platforms to pay for the content they repurpose. We’ve lost about one hundred publications in California in the last ten years. The bill has bipartisan support. I think that is really important. A lot of the colleagues who became big supporters of the bill came from local offices. When they were in city council or on the county commission, they’d have these Tuesday night city council meetings where they’re making budgetary decisions and policy decisions that impact people’s day-to-day life, and there was just literally no one covering it.” Danielle Coffey of News Media Alliance spoke in support of the bill, telling the committee, “Google and Facebook systematically and deliberately feed users our content to drive engagement. They do so within their walled gardens and personalized feeds so that they can collect your user data, your personal information and then target you with advertising.” Likely the payments to news organizations will be based on newsroom head count under the amended bill, as opposed to its original Assembly form, which was based on internet traffic alone. This change will avoid rewarding clickbait and ensure that the money is divided proportionately amongst large and small news organizations. The bill is opposed, unsurprisingly, by Meta and Google. Meta has pulled news from its platform in 2023 throughout Canada rather than share any revenue with journalism companies. Google threatened the same in Australia, but was back to posting search results from trusted journalism sources within two days— essentially demonstrating that its revenue model really depends on quality content. Ryan Adam, Vice President for Government Relations at Canada’s largest media company, the Toronto Star, was in Sacramento two weeks ago meeting with the Chair of the Judiciary committee to help move the bill forward. He said, “Meta choosing to block news rather than pay content creators their fair share underscores the power of the Google/Meta monopoly and demonstrates that tech companies will always choose profit over people. This is why regulation of big tech and legislative solutions are needed to protect more newsrooms from closing.” Erik Cushman is the Weekly’s publisher. Reach him at erik@mcweekly.com Fair Share The California legislature has the chance to boost local journalism. By Erik Cushman Dept. of Disinformation…Among the ways Squid’s tentacles take the community’s pulse is through NextDoor, despite the tendency for conversations on the platform to devolve into negativity. Recently, Squid discovered it’s also a place for Pacific Grove Councilmember Luke Coletti to spin pet issues. Coletti posted an agenda report from the Pacific Grove City Council parklet subcommittee, on which he serves. (The council was scheduled to discuss it Feb. 21, after the Weekly’s deadline.) Despite overwhelming support for parklets, the subcommittee proposed demolishing two parklets in favor of extending sidewalks that will result in smaller dining areas. The report states that two “stakeholder” meetings were held, with three restaurant owners and two property owners. Only one owner had strong objections, the rest said, “‘just build it,’” according to the report. The “one” was Liz Jacobs of Wild Fish and she jumped on Coletti’s post contending it was misleading. For example: One of the restaurant owners was also a property owner, so there were four stakeholders, not five, she said; two restaurant owners objected to the plan, not one. The third is losing his parklet to a state law, Assembly Bill 413, prohibiting parking spaces near sidewalks and corners so he’ll benefit from an extended sidewalk. Squid will be munching shrimp-flavored popcorn while watching how the spinning spins out when the council finally gets a say. Sunday School…Squid’s always been fascinated by organized religions. That’s because each of them is built upon stories that fulfill a human need for narrative and meaning—before Netflix and TikTok. Per recent polling, church attendance has dropped precipitously in recent decades in America. Exactly why falls outside of Squid’s expertise, but perhaps people are finding community in other ways and places. That said, Squid was surprised that Del Rey Oaks residents recently received a letter in their mailboxes addressed to “Beloved of God” from Church of the Oaks, the city’s sole house of worship. Pastor Robert Hellam, who wrote the letter, asked fellow Christians in the city why there are only three or four residents in attendance at church services. Hellam estimates there are about 250 residents who attend church on Sundays, and asks, “why worship in other cities?” If residents don’t step up, he writes, the city will—“(God forbid)”—no longer have its own church. Church of the Oaks may not have the “bells and whistles” of other ministries, Hellam concedes, but he asks residents to bring in new energy to “ring those bells!” and “sound those whistles!” Squid will be curious to see how residents respond to Hellam’s plea, but when Squid lifts a tentacle above water, the wind has a prevailing direction. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “Tech companies choose profits over people.” Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com