www.montereycountynow.com june 13-19, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 June is Pride Month, which at this point in our American history is widely celebrated in a variety of ways. That includes family-friendly festivities, sexier adult-only festivities, parades, and corporations marketing products with rainbow flags. It also includes government jurisdictions raising rainbow pride flags and issuing proclamations. When Carmel City Council convened on Tuesday, June 4, the night’s agenda included a read-out of a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month. Councilmember Jeff Baron first shared a brief story about how he’d met his husband at a pride party years ago—the occasion for him is not just about pride, but his own anniversary—then read the proclamation aloud. “Whereas, continued discrimination against LGBTQ persons makes it important for cities to stand up and show solidarity and support for our LGBTQ residents and those in the community at large,” Baron read. “Whereas, it is of great importance to respect one another and appreciate our differences…” Then Mayor Dave Potter opened the microphone for public comment. There were remarks about Carmel Culinary Week, housing, bus transportation—standard stuff. Then a speaker (who called in rather than showing up in person) criticized the pride proclamation. “There is Black History Month, [Asian American] Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Arab American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month. There’s not one for white men…Everyone else deserves recognition except for them. I find that disgusting,” the caller said. “We really need to stand back and appreciate our white, straight men.” What the caller missed—and if you’re reading, I’m happy to share, as a straight, white, able-bodied, American-born woman who enjoys 99 percent of the privileges available in this world—is that every day, every month, every year is effectively that month. The zero-sum idea that equity harms white people is wrong—and harmful. But never mind my dreams, because the pro-hate agenda is alive and well. The next caller to Carmel City Council stated his objections to the LGBTQ+ rights movement, then said: “I’m an actual, literal Nazi.” Potter quickly (and rightly) muted him. “Nazi speech is unacceptable,” Potter said. Of course, the most extreme and explicit remarks like these are easy to shut down. People can call in from far away in an orchestrated attempt to troll the public and disrupt a meeting; it would not be the first time such hateful conduct has happened locally, prompting some cities to rethink the opportunity to allow remote public participation. Speech like this is theatrical by design. The more insidious comments and ideas that reinforce homophobia and antisemitism and racism are harder to isolate and address. (For more on ongoing efforts—and failures— to tackle anti-Black racism in Salinas schools, see story, p. 8.) Irit Perla of Salinas was raised in Israel, and moved to the U.S. some 30 years ago. She is Jewish, and met her ex-husband, an Arab Muslim, when both were working in hospitality in Egypt. She remembers people were suspicious as they courted, who thought (wrongly) she was recruiting him as a spy. She became suspicious of the reasons people are so divided by race: “If you are next to Arabs, you can fall in love with an Arab. So they separate Jews from Arabs.” Perla was visiting family in Israel during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, and has been back since—she describes PTSD symptoms like waking up screaming in the middle of the night. But she’s also observed something more subtle in the past few years, here at home: “After Trump became president, it became more extreme—people would talk out loud, say what they think.” Since Oct. 7, discourse has become more heated. One man spit at her, she says, and told her: “I hate you all.” Interjecting to say, “That’s not acceptable” is hard to do even from the mayor’s seat. It’s harder to do in relationships, in conversations, but we must—it’s something Baron strives to do to advance awareness, instead of tacit permission. And it’s the way we must behave in our shared world. Perla turns to a biblical reference, the story of Isaac and Ishmael, as a guide for Jews and Muslims. “They are brothers, and brothers always fight,” she says. “At the end of the day, it is family—one big, stupid family.” Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Read her at sara@montereycountynow.com. Haters Hating It’s 2024, and yet—people are still identifying as Nazis. By Sara Rubin Tune In…Many sea creatures think Squid is odd for watching public meetings as a source of entertainment. But with a never-ending supply of shrimp-flavored popcorn, Squid is always on the edge of Squid’s kelp forest to hear what comes out of our local elected officials’ mouths. Squid recently found out that, thanks to the proliferation of artificial intelligence, Squid is not alone. One day, Squid searched for Monterey City Council meetings on Google, and felt vindicated by the results. At the top of the page, Google lists the council as a “TV program” that aired its first episode on Dec. 30, 2018. A prompt on-screen asks viewers if they like this TV show by clicking on either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon (no tentacle options, unfortunately). Squid can also check if Squid has already watched the show, or add it to Squid’s queue to watch later. In mid-May, Google showcased its new AI capabilities to answer questions that are typed in the search bar. But like anything with AI, it had unintended consequences, and has come under fire recently for providing advice such as encouraging humans to eat at least one rock a day or mix glue into their pizza sauce. Squid, though, hopes the AI-driven results hang around for a little bit longer. Squid plans to scalp tickets for the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, since Google encourages its searchers to “buy tickets and watch it live,” according to the top result. Letter of the Law…Election season is gearing up, and that means Squid is oozing around the county to campaign launch events, and to the Monterey County Elections Department to see how campaign fundraising is going. The Salinas Valley Leadership Group got off to a strong start early in 2024, raising $4,700 just from Jan. 1-Feb. 17 (the most recent reporting period available), leaving a balance of over $32,000 in the bank. Cash came from leaders in construction (Pete Scudder, Don Chapin Jr.), real estate (Jim Gattis, Catherine Kobrinsky Evans) and agriculture (John Massa, David Pedrazzi). Then along comes the California Fair Political Practices Commission, responsible for policing campaign fundraising activity, with a proposed fine of $670 for failures to file forms for this same early 2024 time period on time. Turns out Squid is not the only one poking around for such records. So is Andrew Sandoval, a Salinas City Council member and perma-watchdog who filed a complaint with the FPPC about these missing forms. (Five other complaints Sandoval has filed since 2020 have been rejected by the FPPC.) When the FPPC convenes on June 13, Squid expects they’ll approve the SVLG penalty as a routine action. But Squid will get the popcorn out—Sandoval himself is also under investigation by the FPPC. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. “Nazi speech is unacceptable.” Send Squid a tip: squid@montereycountynow.com