MARCH 7-13, 2024 montereycountyweekly.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT local election results 8 | love of country 29 | olives into oil 32 | oscars predictions 36 For International Women’s Day, women thinkers, leaders and authors—including Anne Lamott— take the stage. p. 18 By Agata Pope˛da Women in the Spotlight

2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com March 7-13, 2024 • ISSUE #1857 • Established in 1988 Ginger Root (iPhone 13 mini) Is a puppy-and-rainbow kind of day as special as a unicorn-andrainbow day at the beach? This friendly beagle puppy, Gemma, says yes from Spanish Bay. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@mcweekly.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Bestselling writer Anne Lamott will celebrate International Women’s Day in Monterey County. Cover photo: Courtesy of The Steven Barclay Agency 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

www.montereycountyweekly.com MARCH 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 3 Classes and support groups  Anticipating parenthood transitions with a baby Monday, March 4, 4–5 p.m.  Serenity now Tuesday, March 5, 5:30–7 p.m.  Navigating fatherhood with a baby Thursday, March 14, 5:30–7 p.m.  Fathers group for new and expecting dads Wednesdays, 5:30–7 p.m.  Mom’s corner Mondays, 9:30–11 a.m. Classes and support groups held in Ohana conference room, 6 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Monterey Register and learn more at montagehealth.org/ohanaclasses Building mental fitness

4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH What’s the line between allowing robust speech and reining in hateful, extreme speech? In 2022, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 587 into law, requiring social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism on their platforms, and report data on their enforcement of the policies. In the same year, Newsom also signed AB 2273, known as the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, into law, requiring entities whose content is likely to be viewed by people under age 18 to default to stringent privacy and safety settings. X Corp. sued over the first law, claiming it is unconstitutional; X lost in court, and has appealed. Regarding AB 2273, the tech industry group NetChoice sued and won in federal court—the State of California has appealed. Both cases are now pending before the Ninth Circuit, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is weighing in on both, arguing that both laws are an overreach in amicus briefs filed in February. “The First Amendment’s protection for the exercise of editorial judgment is virtually absolute,” RCFP wrote. Good: The local crab fishery has for years been delayed from a traditional mid-November opening date to…whenever conditions improve. In recent years, it’s been the presence of humpback whales in Central Coast waters that can become entangled in traditional crab fishing gear, which involves dropping a trap to the seafloor with a buoyed rope attached to it. A new innovation involving ropeless crab gear—a weighted buoy is released to the surface through wireless technology—is getting more attention as a result, and it took a step forward with the California Ocean Protection Council’s approval Feb. 29 to purchase enough ropeless gear to equip 20 crab fishermen with experimental permits they can use once the traditional season closes this spring. If successful, it could be a precursor to permanent approval of the gear, which could mean a regular return of crab feasts during the holidays. GREAT: Interim Inc. has long played an important role in serving adults with serious mental illness in Monterey County, providing a range of resources including housing through its MCHOME program. Great news comes thanks to the nonprofit’s move to open in South County, with a new location in Soledad (located in a shopping center just off Highway 101 at 2149 H Dela Rosa St., Suite #203), which hosted a community open house on Feb. 28. Staff for three of Interim’s programs will now be permanently based in this new office, better positioned to serve the South County community. Those programs are MCHOME; Keep It Real, which offers harm reduction support services to people with substance use disorders who are in recovery; and Assertive Community Treatment, which aims to reach individuals in need of mental health treatment where they are at and who are not easily engaged in available service. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY The three-year average value of all gifts received, cash and non-cash, by CSU Monterey Bay from 2020-2023. The three-year average value for all 23 CSU campuses was $497 million. Source: California State University $6.83 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “Before we even opened, we had voters outside ready to come in.” -Monterey County Registrar of Voters Gina Martinez, speaking about early voting on the morning before Election Day (see story, mcweekly. com). million There is great need for healing in the world today, and Christlike humility can help us to meet that demand. Saturday, March 16, 2024 11:00 am PST First Church of Christ, Scientist 780 Abrego Street, Monterey An in-person talk on Christian Science by Mark McCurties, CS Member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship For more information, please call 831-920-2300 www.christiansciencemonterey.org Sponsored by First Church of Christ, Scientist, Monterey, California Humility that “Overcomes the World” 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

www.montereycountyweekly.com MARCH 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 For Children and adults Consultation, testing and 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?

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com 831 Salinas native Walter Wagner is on a mission to save the place he was born. That place is the original location of the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, once a clinic and research facility built in 1930, just outside of Carmel city limits. The building has been sitting empty behind a cyclone fence for approximately 10 years now. Before that, it served as a convalescent hospital for 40 years, after CHOMP moved in 1962 to its gleaming new facility up the hill in Monterey. Everytime Wagner drove by the empty Spanish-style building off of Highway 1 on Valley Way, he wondered why nothing was being done to revitalize it. Last fall, his curiosity reached its limit. He found out who the property owner was and contacted the man living in Los Angeles. The owner told Wagner he had tried to redevelop the site, to no avail. Wagner, who has a varied background in construction, physics, teaching and medical insurance, said he would gladly act on behalf of the owner to find a new life for the facility. There’s a sentimental reason for his quest. Wagner and all four of his siblings were born inside the hospital, along with about 10,000 other babies he believes were born there from the early 1930s to 1962. “It was considered to be the better hospital,” Wagner says. The historic property has a fascinating backstory. It was built with money from Grace Deere Velie Harris, granddaughter of John Deere, founder of the famous tractor company. Harris was suffering from diabetes, heart trouble and “acute boredom,” according to her doctor, Rudolph A. Kocher, in a speech he gave in Carmel in 1962, as reported in newspapers at the time. Harris had built a home in Carmel Highlands and planted a “showplace garden,” but soon lost interest. She was worth several million dollars and had no heirs. Kocher suggested Harris donate some of her money to create a clinic in Carmel. She pledged $75,000 and work began on the Grace Deere Velie Metabolic Clinic. Sadly, Harris died in 1929 at the age of 57, bringing construction to a halt as her will was sorted out. Her generous pledge and a subsequent bequest to the clinic were whittled down by relatives who contested the will. Kocher had to raise money to open the clinic in 1930. Four years later the clinic was on the brink of closing, until Kocher organized area doctors to form a community hospital, and thus the forerunner of today’s Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula was born. In his remarks in 1962, Kocher mentioned that Harris had “buried two husbands,” but that wasn’t true. The real story was that Harris divorced her first husband, Stuart Harper, amid a scandal that made headlines in 1911. She had taken up with a chauffeur, Sidney Harris, from England, a married man. Harris’ first wife sued the soonto-be new Mrs. Harris for $150,000 for “alienation.” The suit was quietly settled for around $6,600. “Mrs. Harris obtained a divorce from [Harper] leaving his heart free to wander where it willed,” The Cambridge Journal reported on July 22, 1911. “Then came the tragedy of the story. Stuart Harper, broken in body and spirit, went to Denver and died in a sanitorium...And now comes fate and writes the final chapter.” Wagner is determined that the final chapter hasn’t been written yet for the clinic-turned-hospital property. He formed the Old CHOMP Restoration Association, LLC in October, and began contacting anyone he could think of who might be interested in restoring the old building and putting it back into service. He’s reached out to medical systems, including Montage Health, parent to CHOMP, to gauge interest. “It’s important to save it because it’s been an iconic building for many people in the area for quite awhile,” Wagner says. “Generally speaking, I believe in preserving older buildings to preserve our history. I focused on this one because it’s part of my history.” For information about the Old CHOMP Restoration Association, contact Wagner at ocra2023@hotmail.com. Hospital Rebirth A Salinas man is determined to save the Peninsula’s original community hospital in Carmel. By Pam Marino Walter Wagner outside of the Carmel stone gates of the old CHOMP hospital, which was built 94 years ago. He says the building is gutted down to the original steel-reinforced concrete walls and could be repurposed for other uses. “It’s part of my history.” TALES FROM THE AREA CODE DANIEL DREIFUSS 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 MARCH 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 7 EASTER BUFFET Celebrate Easter at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa and enjoy a thoughtfully prepared buffet of seasonal favorites and coastal specialties by Chef Michael Rotondo SUNDAY, MARCH 31 | 9AM - 2:30PM $115 ADULTS $49 CHILDREN Ages 6-13 Free for children under 6 Tax and service not included RESERVATIONS (831) 645-4058 JOIN US EVERY SUNDAY BEGINNING MARCH 10 FOR 400 CANNERY ROW, MONTEREY coastalkitchenmonterey.com 400 Cannery Row, Monterey | montereyplazahotel.com 3 COURSE CHEF’ S TASTING MENU WITH FREE FLOWING CHAMPAGNE with available enchancements including signature Seafood Tower Sundays 9am – 2pm $75 per person Brunch Sunday

8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com news As District 4 County Supervisor Wendy Root Askew is getting onto the elevator with her husband Dominick at the Hilton Garden Inn in Monterey on March 5, she pegs her reelection numbers—in terms of percentage of the vote—at 60 percent. They are on their way to the election night party of Kate Daniels, who’s running for the District 5 supervisor seat. Inside that party, District 2 Supervisor Glenn Church has a more bullish outlook—he guesses Askew’s vote share will be around 70 percent, a lofty number in a politically polarized nation. Askew, who was first elected in 2020, is running against Jeremiah Pressey, who also ran for a seat on the Monterey County Republican Central Committee. (Per Monterey County Elections reporting, Pressey received just 4 percent of the vote, not enough to get him elected to the committee as the lowest vote-getter out of 12 candidates. Pressey did not respond to the Weekly’s requests for comment on Election Day.) When the early results are announced to a packed second floor room at the Hilton, jubilation ensues. Daniels garners nearly 60 percent of the vote, and Askew 79 percent—a landslide. A few minutes later, Askew says, when asked for a response given her prior prediction: “I’m just really excited to continue getting good work done for the district and the county. I feel really positive, so positive, about the direction we’re moving in, and the path that we’re on, and I think it’s so reassuring to know that the voters feel the same way and that we’re going to continue doing this work together.” With more votes counted by 12:30am on Wednesday, March 6, Askew held 78 percent. On A Roll Wendy Root Askew easily fends off a challenger, sailing to re-election as county supervisor. By David Schmalz The modestly sized second-floor meeting room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Monterey was packed from front to back before 8pm on Tuesday, March 5, primary election night, with about 200 people anxiously awaiting two things: the arrival of Kate Daniels, candidate for the District 5 seat on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, and the initial results of the election. Daniels arrived at just before 8:10pm—she says she believes in campaigning right up until the polls close at 8pm, and is superstitious about showing up to campaign parties until after 8:00. The election results were not in yet, but when the Monterey County Elections Department posted the early results a few minutes later, the crowd erupted in cheers. Daniels captured 59.75 percent of the first results, with 26 percent of the vote counted. There was no way for her competitors, Monterey Councilmember Alan Haffa and water policy activist Bill Lipe, to catch up. Haffa was showing just 24 percent of the vote, Lipe 16 percent. (If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters go to a November runoff. As of 12:30am March 6, Daniels holds 59.04 percent.) “The enthusiasm out there in the field, everywhere we went, the organizational support—whether it was labor, the business community, MCAR (Monterey County Association of Realtors), the environmental organizations—so many people came forward and were excited in a way I hadn’t really seen in other elections I had worked on,” Daniels says. “It was a very large coalition that was very broad, and I think they were getting excited about the possibilities of what we could do together.” She was endorsed by current supervisors Mary Adams, Glenn Church, Wendy Root Askew and Chris Lopez, as well as by Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto. Daniels will replace Adams, who chose not to run for a third term. Daniels raised a significant amount of money compared to her competitors. In campaign reporting last month, she reported raising $259,945 in 2023, 13 times more than Haffa, who raised $19,546 in the same time period. Lipe raised just $3,400 in 2023. Housing was at the top of the list of what Daniels ran on since launching her campaign in May 2023, after her mentor, Adams, announced she was not running. She advocated for both creating more housing at all levels, as well as protecting housing from vacation rentals. Other key issues included increasing the water supply and finding solutions to homelessness. Daniels had worked for Adams for two years, and was appointed to the Monterey County Planning Commission by Adams in 2020. It was Adams who asked Daniels to run her campaign in 2016 after Daniels offered to volunteer. Daniels told the crowd that Adams changed her life. After leaving Adams’ staff, Daniels went to work for State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, as a policy adviser. Although Haffa did not win in his bid for supervisor, as of Wednesday morning, he was the top vote-getter in an 11-way race to be re-elected to the District 5 seat for the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee. He led by 1,413 votes over the second-place candidate. Kate Daniels, right, celebrates the election results. People at her election night party included Democrats and Republicans, business leaders and labor organizers. Big Win Kate Daniels clinches an early victory for the District 5 seat on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. By Pam Marino Wendy Root Askew celebrates a landslide victory on election night. In seeking a second term, she drew only one challenger who never campaigned and said he did not oppose her policies. “It was a very large coalition that was very broad.” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountyweekly.com MARCH 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 9 Apply Today! From a House to a Home Turn your house into your perfect home with a Home Equity Line of Credit. 831.479.6000 or toll-free at 888.4BAYFED, ext. 304 www.bayfed.com/HomeLoans 1524 N. Main Street | Salinas Federally Insured by NCUA | Equal Housing Lender 2024 FOUNDATION MONTEREY PENINSULA COLLEGE MPC   € 5 beds, 4 baths • 3,350 sq. ft. • $1,850,000 • www.2977HaydenWay.com Modern Luxury with Peeks of the Ocean 2977 Hayden Way, Marina Renee Catania831.293.3668 www.ReneeCatania.com ReneeC@MontereyCoastRealty.com REALTOR® | DRE#01954589

10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com About a dozen people gathered on election night, March 5, in support of a different direction for Soledad. They chanted, “No on P / Ansaldo Si,” referring to their dual mission: to vote no on Measure P, thereby repealing a five-district map for future elections that City Council approved in October, and to vote for Fernando Ansaldo in a race for a vacant seat on City Council. The group was small, but their margins of victory were massive. Early election results showed Ansaldo—a former member of the Soledad Community District Advisory Committee—winning with 65 percent of the vote over competitor Phillip Nickerson, and Measure P defeated with 85 percent of the vote. “It’s a massive win for the people,” Mayor Anna Velazquez said. After City Council voted 3-2 to approve the five-district map—with a rotating mayor, rather than a four-district council map and a mayor elected at large—residents quickly organized for a referendum. They created the Soledad Committee for Voting Rights and collected about 1,400 signatures. (As of 12:30am Wednesday, the No on P votes total 680, compared to 117 yes votes.) Council approved a map drawn by former mayor Fred Ledesma, who was ousted by Velazquez in 2020. She and her political ally on council, Fernando Cabrera, were the two no votes; Velazquez could not seek re-election in 2024, because the approved map put her in Cabrera’s district and his term goes until 2026. The newly elected Ansaldo shifts the 3-2 political dynamic. He supports the same four-district map as Velazquez and Cabrera. He doesn’t have a political background, but says seeing the same people at council meetings and Velazquez’s 2020 campaign motivated him to be more involved in his community. “We need some better representation, transparent representation, folks that are interested in serving their community,” he says. Ansaldo, 28, is the youngest person ever elected in Soledad. “I will definitely do my best to represent the millennial generation and also Gen Z. I’m in the middle of both generations,” he says. The Measure P result is a rejection of the existing district map; City Council will still need to approve a new map. Monica Andrade, a spokesperson for the committee behind Measure P (and also Cabrera’s wife) says the results were satisfying. “We wanted to make sure that it was clear to the council that this is what we’ve been wanting the whole time,” she says. A Salinas Valley cannabis grower is spearheading an effort to repeal a 2018 tax, saying it is burdensome to a struggling industry already hammered by excessive fees. That tax supports operations of the Monterey County Regional Fire District, with its chief saying the revenue is crucial for its work. The 2018 voter-approved Measure H adds a tax on cannabis facilities based on their square footage. Currently, those rates are $0.21 per square foot for cultivators, $0.12 for nurseries and $1.19 for dispensaries and manufacturers. According to Michelle Hackett Williamson, president of Riverview Farms in Salinas, that amounted to nearly $64,000 for the previous fiscal year for her family’s business. MCRFD Chief David Sargenti says the smallest operator pays around $2,700 in the tax annually. Over the years, the County of Monterey slashed its cultivation tax from $15-per-square-foot to under $2-per-square foot, while the state eliminated its cultivation tax. But the fire district’s tax still stands. Riverview Farms is leading an initiative to repeal the tax, with the hopes of gathering enough signatures to qualify for a measure on the November ballot. The proponents filed a notice to begin circulating the petition on Feb. 26. The group has 180 days to gather 841 qualified signatures of voters residing within the fire district’s boundaries. Williamson is quick to note that the goal of the petition is not to hurt the fire department, but rather to level the playing field for cannabis businesses. For the current fiscal year, the district expects to collect $375,000 from the tax. “The loss of these taxes would cause critical impacts to our ability to support and respond to the cannabis industry needs,” Sargenti says, adding that an election would cost the district $180,000-$260,000. “These are very significant losses of revenue for our fire district that is already struggling with engine company staffing below that of our neighboring agencies and industry standards.” Change Up By a massive margin, Soledad voters reject a fivedistrict electoral map. By Celia Jiménez news Recovery Mode The County of Monterey has launched the Pajaro Unmet Needs Disaster Assistance Program for individuals, households and small businesses affected by the March 2023 flood. The County is conducting community outreach efforts to inform residents about the application process, and has a series of community meetings. 6-7pm Thursday, March 7; Wednesday, March 13; Thursday, March 14. Our Lady of Assumption Church, 100 Salinas Road, Pajaro. Free. 755-3400, readymontereycounty.org/recover. Beach Time The California State Parks Natural Resources volunteer team invites you to work in a greenhouse and to collect seeds, plant native plants and remove invasive species. Youth ages 8 and up are welcome with adult supervision. 9am-noon Friday, March 8. Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove. Tools, gloves and training are provided. volunteer.monterey@parks.ca.gov. Healthy Living Montage Health offers classes for new parents and those looking to learn healthier habits. This week they offer a breastfeeding education class and a meal planning and preparation class. The breastfeeding class happens 11am-1pm Saturday, March 9 at the Ohana Center for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health, 6 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Monterey, 625-4704. The meal prep class happens 11:15am-12:15pm Tuesday, March 12 virtually, 649-7220. Free; registration required. montagehealth.org/classes-events. How’d We Do? After the March 5 primary election, political organizer Vinz Koller presents on voter registration data, turnout and strategies to increase voter participation locally. A Q&A session follows the presentation. Noon Wednesday, March 13. Virtual event; email LWVmryco@gmail.com to RSVP and get a link to attend. Free. 648-8683, lwvmryco.org. College Class Hartnell College is accepting applications for general scholarships for the 2024-25 academic year. Students with a GPA of 2.0 or better who are enrolled in at least nine units for the Fall 2024 semester are encouraged to apply through an online application portal. Monday, April 8 is the deadline to apply. Learn more at workshops 6-8pm Wednesday, March 20 and 1-2pm Wednesday, March 27. Hartnell College, 411 Central Ave., Building B, Room B110, Salinas. Free. 755-6806. Visit the application portal at hartnell. academicworks.com to find and apply for scholarships. Cut Back Growers hope to repeal 2018 tax on cannabis businesses. By Erik Chalhoub Fernando Ansaldo, center, became the youngest candidate ever elected in Soledad. He says it feels great, but hopes others set new records in the future. e-mail: toolbox@mcweekly.com TOOLBOX “It’s a massive win for the people.” celia jiménez

www.montereycountyweekly.com MARCH 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 JOIN US FOR FREE CONSERVATION WEBINARS Join us for free, interactive workshops in March, presented by Green Gardens Group via Zoom. The Monterey Peninsula is a leader in water conservation. Thank you for your commitment to being water wise! Learn more at: greengardensgroup.com/monterey-peninsula-classes Thursday, March 14 Beautiful Gardens, in Drought or Downpour 6 p.m.–7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 Outdoor Leak Detection 6 p.m.–7 p.m. 2020 INFORMATIONAL SESSIONS AND INTERVIEWS TO BE HELD AT 2:00 PM AT THESE LOCATIONS THE SUPERIOR COURT URGES YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN IMPROVING YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT! Greenfield Tuesday May 12 Monterey Wednesday May 13 www.monterey.courts.ca.gov/grandjury (831) 775-5400 Extension 3014 Salinas Thursday May 14 Monterey Courthouse May 8 at 2:00 pm Salinas Courthouse May 9 at 2:00 pm King City Courthouse May 10 at 10:30 am The 2024–2025 Civil Grand Jury Needs You! 2024 Informational session AND INTERVIEWS TO BE HELD AT THESE LOCATIONS

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY MARCH 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Inside downtown Watsonville’s newest spot to see and be seen, those concerned for the future of Pajaro Valley’s hospital gathered at Watsonville Public House, where they sipped beer created by pastor-basketball coach-brewmaster Robby Olson as they wound down a busy Election Day and awaited the fate of Measure N, a bond meant to upgrade the deteriorating healthcare facility and further cement its public ownership. A small but steady stream of people trickled into the brewpub, including Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo, who was unopposed in seeking his third term. As they grabbed a tamale and a plate of fruit, they turned their gaze to the projection on the screen, where Olson was trying to find a news station with local results but ended up on CNN. As the clock turned to 8pm, the lively chatter dulled as attendees were glued to their phones, refreshing Santa Cruz and Monterey counties’ election websites, anxious for information. Measure N requires two-thirds in favor to pass. According to the latest results as of March 6, it garnered 65.6 percent of the vote, just below the needed 66.7 percent cutoff. The measure received 68.6 percent in Santa Cruz with 8,822 votes counted, and 63.6 percent in Monterey out of 473 ballots counted so far. When the first round of results on Tuesday night showed 70 percent in support, it landed about where earlier polling indicated, says Tony Nuñez, president of the Pajaro Valley Health Care District board, which placed the measure on the ballot. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he says. “Everyone put in so much work and did everything they could to get us to tonight.” Watsonville Community Hospital is the closest hospital for roughly 6,500 North Monterey County residents, about 15 or so minutes closer to the next facilities in Salinas. The hospital was saved from closure after last-minute legislation by State Sen. John Laird to create the Pajaro Valley Health Care District and a flurry of fundraising to purchase it from former owner Halsen Healthcare, which filed for bankruptcy in December 2021. The $64 million purchase brought the hospital back into public ownership after more than two decades of ownership by various for-profit entities. While the efforts staved off the closure, the hospital’s new operators say the job is far from finished. The $116 million bond would add $24 per $100,000 of assessed value on property tax bills for the next 30 years on properties within the district. Funds would go toward renovations, including for the emergency room, HVAC systems and other areas, as well as purchasing new equipment such as CT scanners and MRI machines. “From the second this board was put together, it was, ‘OK, the hard work is done, now the hard work begins,’” Nuñez says. “If it passes, let’s make sure we follow through on everyone’s commitment. Our community needs this. It’s not just Watsonville, it’s not just the Pajaro Valley, but the entire Central Coast. We’ve got to put on the big boy pants and do the work.” Pending Diagnosis Watsonville hospital’s leaders are ‘cautiously optimistic’ as bond measure is within range of passing. By Erik Chalhoub Santa Cruz County Supervisor Felipe Hernandez (from right), Ramon Gomez and others gathered at Watsonville Public House to receive Measure N results on Election Day, March 5. NEWS “We’ve got to put on the big boy pants.” ERIK CHALHOUB ♦ 3 Card Poker ♠ Century 21st No Bust Black Jack ♣ Texas Hold’em ♥ Baccarat FULL BAR! BLACKJACK BONUS POINTS PAYS UP TO $20,000 SMALL TOWN BIG PAYOUTS! 1-800-Gambler • Gega-003846, Gega-Gega-003703, Gega-000889 Gega-000891 Gega-002838 The Marina Club Casino ensures the safety and security of all guests and team members at all times, while providing exceptional service. 204 Carmel Ave. Marina 831-384-0925 casinomonterey.com ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Just minutes from Downtown Monterey Where Monterey Comes To Play ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES Stop By To Shop And Find Your Vintage Treasure OVER 100 DEALERS 21,000 SQUARE FEET The Largest Antiques and Collectibles Mall on the Central Coast 471 WAVE STREET MONTEREY (831) 655-0264 P M canneryrowantiquemall.com Open Daily 11am-6pm ’23 Voted Monterey County's Best Antique Shop

www.montereycountyweekly.com March 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 In its heyday, the apartments at 359 Larkin St. in Monterey’s Old Town neighborhood were gems, two rows of cottage-like buildings built in 1932 with a neatly manicured lawn down the middle. Last fall, the complex was visibly falling apart from the outside while inside some units were filled with mold, broken heaters and other issues. City officials condemned apartments one by one beginning in December 2022, while trying to work with owner Leslie J. Flores to get them back up to code. On Feb. 13, city officials put Flores on notice: They were on the brink of filing a complaint in Monterey County Superior Court asking a judge to appoint a receiver for the property “to abate the substandard conditions,” according to a letter from Civica Law Group, an outside law firm hired by the city for its experience in pursuing such cases. The complaint was filed in court on Feb. 26. It’s only the second such receivership complaint the city has filed over the past four years, according to Monterey Chief Building Official Lori L. Williamson. The Civica letter mentions officials had met with Flores recently, but at the time he was unwilling to enter into a written agreement to make repairs. On Tuesday, March 5, it appeared that work is being done on the property. The buildings have recently been painted and there were workers outside a couple of apartments. Apartment #1, which previously had been packed with belongings from tenants who moved out due to mold issues, had been cleared out. There is much to fix at the property, which includes 11 permitted and three unpermitted apartments discovered by city inspectors. Past city inspection reports listed a hole in the ceiling of one unit, broken windows and heaters and disintegrating roofing, among other issues. Eight units are redtagged, two more than last August. Williamson says most of the work needed to bring units up to code would require a permit and painting and cleaning do not require permits. She says a request for a plumbing inspection was filed by someone representing Flores on March 5. The city is willing to work with Flores, she adds, but they will continue the court process. One way or another repairs will be made. “It will at some point be made safe and habitable,” Williamson says. If for some reason a judge grants a receivership, the appointed receiver—a third party not with the city—would determine what needs to be fixed and coordinate repairs. The city would pay for repairs, recouping those costs when the property is sold in the future through a lien placed on the property. A court hearing about the receivership complaint is scheduled for June 25. In the meantime, Flores has other problems. He’s facing three active felony cases, along with multiple misdemeanor charges. One felony case stems from a bar fight in downtown Monterey in 2022. He was arrested in September 2023 after Monterey Police found an unserialized weapon, or “ghost gun,” in his possession. He was arraigned on Jan. 4 after he was accused of making felony criminal threats against a Jane Doe. Receive This Monterey takes action to force repairs at a dilapidated apartment complex. By Pam Marino In August 2023, six of the apartments at 359 Larkin St. in Monterey had been tagged by the city. Cosmetic work has begun on the complex, but no permits have been pulled for bigger issues. NEWS “It will at some point be made safe and habitable.” DANIEL DREIFUSS GET CCFCU PRE-APPROVED! Getting Pre-Approved* for an auto loan can make the process of purchasing a new vehicle simple and straight forward. Benefits of Pre-Approval include: •• YEoa us i’el lr kt on odwe chi doewomn uacvhe hyoi cul ec an b or row •• FE il ni md i pnoa tt ee ns tui ar pl cr irseedsi td ius rs iunegs b ne faonrce ihnagn d fi Give us a call at 831-393-3480 to get you into a new vehicle today! *Pre-Approval subject to credit check and other qualifying factors. NMLS ID: 786119 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

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY march 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Dining Out Writing as an artist and designer with architectural background, I applaud your sketch and your comments (“So long, eclectic Pacific Grove parklets,” posted Feb. 29). I lived in Stuttgart, Germany for a couple of years and likewise enjoyed the people-oriented places along European streets. I agree that we need more, not less of these kinds of people-friendly places. Joe Aki Ouye | Pacific Grove There is nothing “quaint” about the parklets in P.G. They were always intended to be temporary and they look it. You talk about European cities. Well, they mostly don’t build structures like those. Instead they have wide sidewalks or plazas where tables are placed, often with umbrellas. But there’s an open air feel to it. Parklets don’t achieve that sense. Aside from their temporary nature, the parklets obstruct views and just look like sheds. To a lot of us they are just plain ugly. The new arrangements will be far more aesthetic than these temporary structures. I for one, can’t wait until they are gone. Paul Jacobs | Pacific Grove Nice piece about the P.G. parklets. As a retired city planner, I appreciate your comments about place-making, parking and design. And I applaud your taking on those who mischaracterize the parklets as appearing like “homeless encampments” or such. The City Council may have some valid reasons for modifying or removing parklets, but visual clutter should not be one of them. Curtis Williams | Pacific Grove You are right on. Pacific Grove has been famous for shooting itself in the foot for anything innovative, progressive and consumer-friendly. The voters chose. Jonathan Siegel | Carmel Valley I love the additional seating provided by outdoor dining, and we’ve dined often in the parklets. However, the space for walking (or pushing my husband’s wheelchair) has become very narrow, the structures are not meant to be permanent and are deteriorating, and it is somewhat dangerous to drive or walk and make a turn at some corners. We are delighted that the expanded sidewalks will preserve outdoor dining, provide more passing room for pedestrians, and help us feel safer on the corners. I look forward to what the hardworking P.G. restaurant owners come up with next. Sharon Miller | Pacific Grove Home Work Wow, this completed project is VERY impressive, and it seems to me that this could be used as a blueprint to help in dealing with our state’s homeless crisis (“Building farmworker housing was and is the right thing to do,” Feb. 29-March 6). Bravo to all those involved in this innovative approach to our local agriculture’s challenge of providing housing for their workers. Derek Dean | Monterey Last week you covered the flood recovery in Pajaro (“The floodwaters have long receded from Pajaro. But one year later residents and businesses are still struggling to stay afloat,” Feb. 29-March 6) and ran an editorial on the boom in construction for H-2A visa seasonal ag workers. Both excellent pieces, but could we please clarify H-2A housing is not housing for the 80,000 farmworkers living in Monterey County? H-2A housing satisfies local Big Ag’s labor needs but has no impact on our local housing crisis, besides maybe taking jobs from local farmworkers so people have to move. Local farmworkers are a part of our community and need their fair share of public resources and housing too—just look at the historical neglect of Pajaro. Imagine if the 4,000-plus H-2A residences built recently could be matched by low-income housing? Jason Johnston | Prunedale Balancing the Budget The problem isn’t just revenue versus spending, the problem is the city creates facilities without a proper budget for maintaining those facilities (“The City of Monterey has lavish revenue, and expenditures. The latter is coming home to roost,” Feb. 29-March 6). Any homeowner knows that without periodic maintenance, your building will fall apart. If the City fixes or replaces the fire station or library or anything else, I bet they’ll once again do it without recognizing how much money has to be set aside for proper future upkeep or modifications, and they’ll eventually just find themselves back in the same situation they are now in. Joe Snyder | Monterey Another terrific article, informative yet concise. Thank you! Glen Grossman | via email Home Base I am sure you have done your research and interviewed many of my neighbors in East Garrison but certainly not any of us on Watkins Gate Road who love our community and while we don’t always love our HOA meetings and rules, realize that there are far worse HOAs not only in America but in California as well (“For some residents of East Garrison, their dream home has become a nightmare,” Feb. 22-28). I have been part of others and they all have rules residents don’t love. Those people should not buy homes in HOA neighborhoods. For the neighbors who are complaining about their potted plants, we bought our house over seven years ago exactly because we didn’t want to garden and are thrilled that the HOA takes care of our front and back. If people ignore the planting rules, it makes it hard for the landscapers to service those yards. People will always find something to complain about but living in East Garrison has been wonderful. Hope you will print the other side. Andrea Brown | East Garrison Is Squid being sarcastic when calling anonymous commenters cowards? (“Squid Fry: Bully Pulpit,” Feb. 29-March 6.) The Squid column is anonymous. Who is Squid? What’s your real name? Squid constantly criticizes others without revealing who you are. I sometimes agree with your criticisms, but other times not. I would have a lot more respect for you if you revealed who you really are. Stanley Mellin | via email 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 march 7-13, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 I keep my health insurance card in my wallet, but I admit I’ve never spent much time reading the fine print on the back, mostly a list of phone numbers related to claims. The insurance cards of some 2,500 local people who are insured through MCSIG, plus their family members, have a similar back-of-card list, followed by the following proclamation in all caps: “NO MONTEREY COUNTY HOSPITALS ARE COVERED UNDER THIS PLAN.” It’s a wild carveout, leading to horror stories of people seeking care in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and elsewhere. As of March 1, that carveout is no longer in effect, thanks to a new agreement with Salinas Valley Health, which now accepts patients enrolled in this low-cost plan. MCSIG stands for Municipalities, Colleges, Schools Insurance Group, and started in 1982 as a joint powers authority, composed of various government entities that pooled into a collective insurance group. (The current insurance provider is Blue Shield—that little card with the now-outdated proclamation on the back bears the Blue Shield logo, which handles claims, but the coverage itself is negotiated by MCSIG leadership, not Blue Shield.) Today, MCSIG has 27 member agencies, including school districts like Monterey Peninsula Unified, Carmel Unified and Pacific Grove Unified, as well as the City of Seaside. Employees of those agencies can choose to enroll themselves and their families in a plan. Most payors choose the PPO Select plan—the lowest-cost to the employee. Each employer has its own contribution arrangement. Employees of Salinas Union High School District, for example, pay no monthly contribution for themselves for the most popular PPO Select plan, or $530.21 for a family. The next most popular plan includes better coverage— including at local hospitals—and costs $544.61/month for an individual, or $2,396.21 for a family. The big takeaway from those numbers is something we already knew: Health insurance is expensive. And most people choose the lowest-cost option available and hope they will stay healthy instead of paying a ton for health insurance up front. Local health providers, meanwhile, have the task of negotiating rates with various insurers, like MCSIG, Anthem or Blue Shield. They don’t get the opportunity to negotiate with government insurance providers Medicare or Medicaid, which reimburse at a standardized rate that pays less than the actual cost of care. With a large population insured by Medicare and Medicaid, that leaves local hospitals especially reliant on reimbursements from commercial insurance companies—the rates that they can bill MCSIG, Anthem and Blue Shield. Salinas Valley Health and Anthem hit an impasse last year, finally negotiating a deal to keep at least 11,000 Anthem-insured patients in-network, a sign of how fragile these insurer-provider agreements are. Negotiations with commercial insurers like MCSIG are a little different than those with a big faceless insurance company like Anthem because MCSIG has good, old-fashioned union organizing on its side. Teachers union leaders Steve McDougall and Kati Bassler are both on the MCSIG board. They deal with all sorts of issues among members, but increasingly the top line is health insurance. Bassler realized in 2019 after getting mammograms for a decade at SVH’s Nancy Ausonio Breast Care Center that suddenly, it was out-of-network. “I went marching over to MCSIG and said, ‘What’s going on here?’” she recalls. It was the beginning of an education in health insurance. MCSIG members stacked SVH board meetings, and MCSIG eventually negotiated a special agreement to cover mammograms— members would get a voucher to bring to the breast care center indicating it should bill MCSIG directly, rather than handing over their usual Blue Shield cards. Perhaps the mammogram arrangement set the stage for successful negotiations regarding the PPO Select Plan. “Our members win. They have an in-network hospital,” McDougall says. “Good on [SVH] for working with us on this. Maybe we can get similar things done with other hospitals.” Already, union leaders have met with Montage administrators. SVH may just be the first domino to fall. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@mcweekly.com. Healthy Agreement A health insurance agreement with Salinas Valley Health is a milestone. By Sara Rubin Court Drama…Squid did a double-take while reviewing the agenda for a Feb. 28 meeting of the Monterey Peninsula College Board of Trustees, after seeing there was a closed-session discussion about “the threat of litigation by a Trustee against the District.” Such items are purposely vague for legal reasons, but after checking Monterey County Superior Court records, Squid had a hunch who the trustee might be. It turns out Trustee Debbie Anthony sued MPC in small claims court last June for $3,000, claiming the college owed her for attorney costs to defend herself “against a false claim of breach of confidentiality by [the MPC board].” A judge denied her claim on Aug. 29. Squid’s colleague contacted Anthony to ask if she was filing a new suit. Anthony says she is not and was surprised to see it on the agenda. Her version of events is that she was asked to leave the closed session meeting, and refused. “How can they discuss something that you never discussed with me?” she says. She told them they would have to call the police to escort her out. The board canceled the conversation. It’s not the first time Anthony has been at the center of controversy, and Squid expects it will not be the last. If it ever does wind up in court, Squid will be there for the fireworks. Connect the Dots…Earlier reporting by the Weekly brought to light the big bucks that it is costing Pacific Grove to address controversies surrounding P.G. Councilmember Luke Coletti and his treatment of employees. In September, the paper estimated it was at least $534,000 since January 2022, totaling only the costs of an investigator and other attorneys surrounding a complaint filed by former city manager Ben Harvey (three of his allegations were sustained) and Harvey’s severance package last July. With at least three other complaints filed by current and former employees in the last couple of years, the cost total is a lot more, but it’s difficult to pry any information about billing from City Attorney Brian Pierik. A Pacific Grove City Council budget hearing on Feb. 28 may hold a clue. It was reported that day that the 2023-2024 mid-year estimate for the cost of attorney services is $1,144,480—that’s more than double the 2022-2023 total of $538,146. Of the $1.144 million, a little over $510,000 is estimated for services provided by Pierik’s firm. The remaining $634,000 is for outside attorneys, whose tasks certainly include handling all of those investigations. Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Peake suggested the jump could be partly due to an accounting change. Maybe. Squid is still waiting for the receipts. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “I said, ‘What’s going on here?”’ Send Squid a tip: squid@mcweekly.com