8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY june 13-19, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com news Joby Aviation may have passed on Marina as the spot for its massive production facility—instead opting for Dayton, Ohio in 2023—but the Santa Cruz-based air taxi company has stated it remains committed to California, having recently broken ground on a manufacturing facility at the Marina Municipal Airport. The $50 million, 226,000-square-foot facility is expected to pump out 25 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft annually, and employ about 360 people. A consultant’s report estimates the new facility will have an economic impact of $243 million annually for Monterey County. Joby is asking the City of Marina and County of Monterey to distribute new property tax revenues created by the facility to help offset construction costs. Known as an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD), the program would distribute a portion of new property tax revenues back to Joby over 25 years. A report by consultant Keyser Martson and Associates expects such revenues to be $162,000 annually, split between the City and County, and amount to $5.1 million over its lifetime. City officials will soon send a formal request to the County asking for its participation in the EIFD, according to a report by City Manager Layne Long. A coalition of local government officials and others in 2023 attempted to convince Joby to construct its planned 580,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Marina with property tax rebates and other incentives, but the company instead chose Dayton’s offer. Joby received a $9.8 million grant in November from the California Competes program to help finance its Marina expansion. Taking Flight Joby Aviation asks for new tax revenues to help finance its Marina expansion. By Erik Chalhoub In 2021, videos and photos of Salinas High School students stomping on and mutilating a Black baby doll circulated in national news. That incident may have faded from the collective memory, but for students in Salinas Union High School District, it’s still there. Rayanna Pasqual, a Black 13-yearold, says classmates at Harden Middle School regularly call her a monkey or the N-word. “When I say I don’t feel comfortable hearing that, then they just go off on me or make it seem like I’m the one in the wrong,” she says. Pasqual says she has reported several incidents, but the racist slurs haven’t stopped. “I feel like there’s not enough consequences for them,” she adds. The constant racist name-calling and bullying have affected her. She feels unsafe and disrespected on campus. “Sometimes I don’t like to go to school because I have to constantly hear things [that are] rude to my culture,” the seventh-grader says. She adds that some of her Black friends report similar circumstances on other campuses. “This happens [at] most of the schools out here. There’s always racism,” Pasqual says. Chastidy Frymire says her 14-yearold son, a top-grade student, has experienced bullying and targeting at school for being Black. Frymire moved her son from Harden to Washington Middle School, but she says the attacks and harassment continue, despite her reports to the administration and board of trustees. “I’ve been contacting people to help me with my child…he’s just trying to survive. He’s just trying to make it,” Frymire says. “He shouldn’t have to go to school and have to watch his back.” After a fight during the 202324 school year that just ended at Washington Middle, her son ended up with a fractured nose, a hematoma under his left eye and ruptured blood vessels. On April 23, Artis Smith, a senior pastor at New Home Missionary Baptist Church in Salinas, spoke to the SUHSD board highlighting the persistent issue of racism. “We need to figure out what we need to do to make sure our Black kids feel safe,” he said. Lyndon Tarver, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, says once issues are out of the spotlight, “They go back to their old ways.” Superintendent Dan Burns writes via email, “The Salinas Union High School District has committed to establishing a more inclusive, tolerant and anti-racist school climate with a variety of preliminary efforts to reflect, build awareness and collaboratively design best practices to support our students.” District efforts include hiring two district-wide Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JEDI) managers to develop opportunities and research and address racist incidents on campus. It also partnered with organizations including the National Compadres Network and School Yard Rap to promote diversity, inclusion and conflict resolution. In addition, it established an Anti-Racist Coalition, a group of staff, teachers and parents, to create a plan. Tarver says the district needs to do more than check the box for providing diversity training, and instead undertake transformational change. Smith says parents are considering filing a class-action civil rights lawsuit against SUHSD: “We want our children to be safe.” Artis Smith works as a Black Power Builder with Building Healthy Communities, and is helping coordinate parents in pursuing legal recourse against SUHSD. Black and White As issues of racism persist in Salinas schools, parents consider a civil rights lawsuit. By Celia Jiménez Joby unveiled its second prototype aircraft in April, and is aiming to launch commercial passenger service in 2025. The company’s 120,000-square-foot R&D facility in Marina opened in 2019. “He shouldn’t have to go to school and have to watch his back.” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss