june 27-july 3, 2024 montereycountynow.com LOCAL & INDEPENDENT a search for salinas’ top cop 8 | fireworks (and more fourth fun) 26 | sand into art 29 And more on how to live a literary life in Monterey County. p. 14 Beach Reads Summer Reading issue

2 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY june 27-july 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com June 27-july 3, 2024 • ISSUE #1874 • Established in 1988 Jem San Pedro (Canon EOS RP, EF85mm, f/1.8, 1/320sec, ISO 1000) Emily Garber poses for her big reveal as the “Wiz” with the Carmel Delights Dance Company’s production, titled Delightfully Wicked, at the Sand City Art Park. Monterey County photo of the week Send Etc. submissions to etcphoto@montereycountynow.com; please include caption and camera info. On the cover: Long summer days mean extra hours of reading time. Whether you’re braving the breezy beaches or finding another location to catch up on favorites, this season is as good as any to get lost in a great book. 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, prepaid. 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.montereycountynow. com. Audited by CVC. Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve bradley@montereycountynow.com (x103) Publisher Erik Cushman erik@montereycountynow.com (x125) Editorial editor Sara Rubin sara@montereycountynow.com (x120) associate editor Erik Chalhoub ec@montereycountynow.com (x135) features editor Dave Faries dfaries@montereycountynow.com (x110) Staff Writer Celia Jiménez celia@montereycountynow.com (x145) Staff Writer Pam Marino pam@montereycountynow.com (x106) Staff Writer Agata Pope¸da (x138) aga@montereycountynow.com Staff Writer David Schmalz david@montereycountynow.com (x104) Staff photographer Daniel Dreifuss daniel@montereycountynow.com (x102) Digital PRODUCER Sloan Campi sloan@montereycountynow.com (x105) contributors Nik Blaskovich, Rob Brezsny, Michael Dadula, Robert Daniels, Tonia Eaton, Jesse Herwitz, Jacqueline Weixel, Paul Wilner Cartoons Rob Rogers, Tom Tomorrow Production Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser karen@montereycountynow.com (x108) Graphic Designer Kevin Jewell kevinj@montereycountynow.com (x114) Graphic Designer Alexis Estrada alexis@montereycountynow.com (x114) Graphic Designer Lani Headley lani@montereycountynow.com (x114) SALES senior Sales Executive Diane Glim diane@montereycountynow.com (x124) Senior Sales Executive George Kassal george@montereycountynow.com (x122) Senior Sales Executive Keith Bruecker keith@montereycountynow.com (x118) Classifieds business development director Keely Richter keely@montereycountynow.com (x123) Digital Director of Digital Media Kevin Smith kevin@montereycountynow.com (x119) Distribution Distribution AT Arts Co. atartsco@gmail.com Distribution Control Harry Neal Business/Front Office Office Manager Linda Maceira linda@montereycountynow.com (x101) Bookkeeping Rochelle Trawick rochelle@montereycountynow.com 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, CA 93955 831-394-5656, (FAX) 831-394-2909 www.montereycountynow.com We’d love to hear from you. Send us your tips at tipline.montereycountynow.com. now [nou] adverb at the present time or moment Monterey County Now Local news, arts and entertainment, food and drink, calendar and daily newsletter. Subcribe to the newsletter: www.montereycountynow.com/subscribe Find us online: www.montereycountynow.com

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4 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com THE BUZZ FREE SPEECH Watchdog journalism organization Media Matters for America laid off more than a dozen employees, due in large part to its ongoing legal battle with Elon Musk’s social media platform X. Media Matters earlier published its research that showed the proliferation of antisemitic and pro-Nazi content on the social media platform. In November, X sued Media Matters, claiming that the organization “knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content and then portrayed these manufactured images as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform,” the complaint states. Media Matters President Angelo Carusone called the lawsuit “frivolous,” but said the organization was forced to go through a round of layoffs not only due to a shifting media landscape, but because “we’re confronting a legal assault on multiple fronts.” The case is scheduled to go to trial in April. A judge in March tossed a similar case X filed against another group, Center for Countering Digital Hate. Good: Good news for artists in Salinas. On June 18, the Salinas City Council approved $150,000 for the Alisal Vibrancy Plan’s Salinas-Based Artist Grant Pilot Program. The pilot will provide funds for Salinas-based artists to create public art for the Alisal Greening and Beautification Project. The funds are from the Alisal Vibrancy Plan’s capital improvement program. The public art projects will include two sculptures—one at the roundabout on Alisal Street and Skyway Boulevard, and another at the Bread Box Recreation Center; a mural at Closter Park; and murals or wraps at trash-recycling corrals. Councilmember Tony Barrera said he was excited about this pilot, noting this program will positively impact the Alisal Vibrancy Plan (not to mention actual neighborhood vibrancy). Community Development Director Lisa Brinton said the goal of the program is to support local artists. GREAT: The nonprofit Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas was awarded a $3.4 million grant, U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, announced on June 18. The federally qualified health center provides “vital services to some of the most vulnerable families in the Central Coast,” Lofgren said in a statement. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Center Program, designed to fund centers that provide affordable, accessible and quality primary care to underserved communities. This is the second federal HHS grant Clinica de Salud has received this year—in January it was announced it was receiving $2.2 million. The organization includes 13 clinics across the Salinas Valley, as well as Castroville, Pajaro and Seaside. It became the first federally qualified health center in Monterey County in 1989. GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK THE WEEKLY TALLY The amount LCB Communications LLC received in grant funding from the California Public Utilities Commission. The funds will go toward LCB’s Aromas-San Juan Project, which aims to build a broadband network to 1,101 locations across Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. Source: California Public Utilities Commission $29.5 QUOTE OF THE WEEK “The team had to do a really risky strategy— too risky, in my opinion.” -Alex Palou, driver of the no. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, speaking about a plan that gave him the IndyCar win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, June 23 (see story, montereycountynow.com). million FOR MORE INFO + REGISTRATION MONTEREY.ORG/REC (831) 646-3866 SCAN ME! REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! THE CITY OF MONTEREY BEST SUMMER EVER! CAMP QUIEN SABE OVERNIGHT CAMP WHISPERING PINES DAY CAMP TINY TOTS SUMMER CAMP SPORTS CAMPS SPECIALTY CAMPS LEGO, GYMNASTICS, WOODWORKING AND MUCH MORE!

www.montereycountynow.com JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 5 Thursday 10 a.m. Alvarado & Calle Principal CITY OF MONTEREY’S Celebration & Food Fest Live Music, Food Vendors, Fun for All Immediately following the parade until 5 pm Colton Hall Lawn, 580 Pacific St. FREE MONTEREY FIREFIGHTERS CHARITY Pancake Breakfast Pancakes, Eggs, Sausage & Coffee 7:30 –10:30 am Fire Station #11, 600 Pacific St. TICKETS $15 Purchase in advance, mymuseum.org/july4 MONTEREY STATE HISTORIC PARK’S Living History Day Guided Tours & Early California Activities: Rope Making, Leather Craft, Games, Tortilla Making and More 11am– 3 pm • The Memory Garden, located behind the Pacific House Museum at Custom House Plaza FREE WWW.OLDMONTEREY.ORG U.S. Bank | Carolyn B. Harris, Attorney at Law | Monterey Museum of Art Copy King | Rosine’s Restaurant | BFS Landscape Architects * C3 Engineering * John Mims Midici–The Neapolitan Pizza Company* Rotary Club of Monterey * Rotary Club of Monterey Pacific 1st Capital Bank * Alvarado Street Brewery * Board and Brush Monterey * Cooper Molera Adobe * Eugene Ganeles, CPA Integrated Physician Services * Parker-Lusseau Pastries * Sage Interiors * Santa Cruz County Bank * Shelley Bennett Skincare Team Beesley Keller-Williams * The Paul Davis Partnership * The Paul Mortuary * Walker and Reed P.C. | Camba & Jackman Families S P O N S O R S

6 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com 831 A dozen people who meet every Monday at Palenke Arts’ Teen Arts Center in Seaside sit in a circle to discuss a chapter from a book while munching on snacks they bring for the occasion. It is el club de libros en español, or the Spanish book club, that got its start at Palenke Arts. It began organically when Juan Sánchez, Palenke Arts’ executive director, was looking for ways to get parents engaged while they were waiting for their kids in art, music or folklórico classes. By word of mouth, and asking parents about what books they wanted to read, the Spanish book club formed about three years ago. Sánchez ran the club for a while before Jocelyne Reséndiz Nieto, Palenke Arts’ club organizer and an avid book reader, took it over. For Reséndiz Nieto, the club is a treat. She picks up the books the club will be reading, which are by different authors in Latin America, the United States and Spain including big names like Isabel Allende and Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Topics touch on immigration, mental health, parenthood, magic realism, cultural differences between parents and their children, and more. “What I’ve been trying to do now is have stories that our families can either relate to, or have been interested in learning about,” Reséndiz Nieto says. When club members start a book, they read the first few pages as a group; after that, they read either 30 pages or a chapter (whichever is shorter) and talk about it. Readers share what they think about the story and the memories it brings them, like the hot cocoa they enjoyed as a kid with their grandma, or their own immigration journey. “I tried to build a lot of trust within everyone who is in a book club, to make sure that they know it’s a safe space where they’re allowed to express their feelings, which I know is very hard for most of the older generation,” Reséndiz Nieto says. “It’s understanding the book better, or just talking about how our own experiences connect to the book.” Reséndiz Nieto reads about 30 books every year, and she’s sharing her interests with the community and her mother as well, who is also a member of the club. Reséndiz Nieto says the book club has brought them closer. “It’s making me see my mom as her own person,” Reséndiz Nieto notes. Cinthia Corres Luna has been attending the club since it started. The club has become a family outing—several family members, including her mother Socorro Corres, her husband Alfonso Martinez and her son Diego Martinez Corres, 13, who is the youngest in the group, show up every Monday. One book that impressed her was Solito by Javier Zamora, a memoir that narrates the immigration experience of an 8-year-old Salvadoran boy and his journey crossing borders to arrive in the United States. “It made me cry a lot. It transports me to the past,” Corres Luna says, adding she imagines her father when he crossed the border. The club is entirely run in Spanish and all members are proficient in Spanish. The club provides the books for free, and once they are done with them, they become part of Palenke Arts’ library. Reséndiz Nieto says when people come to the club, they don’t face communication barriers. “They’re able to come to a place where they’re not expected to have someone to translate [for them]. They’re not expected to learn another language, just to enjoy reading,” she says. This year, members of the club have read seven books so far including Yo No Soy Tu Perfecta Hija Mexicana - I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez and Solito. Rebeca Aguirre says going to the club is part of her everyday life. She likes meeting new people and having space to express herself. “It’s like a family,” Aguirre adds. Corres Luna and Aguirre both say they like reading because they learn new vocabulary, information about other countries and more. “It transports you to different worlds,” Corres Luna says. Spanish book club meets 6:30-7:30pm Mondays at the Teen Arts Center, 530 Elm Ave., Seaside. 899-9909, palenkearts.com. Literal Connection A Spanish book club in Seaside immerses people into different stories while bringing families together. By Celia Jiménez Book club members meet every Monday at Palenke Arts’ Teen Arts Center in Seaside. The club is run entirely in Spanish, with members discussing books written by authors in Latin America, Spain and the United States, among other places. “It transports you to different worlds.” TALES FROM THE AREA CODE DANIEL DREIFUSS Summ er Reading iss ue LET' S CELEBRATE! 2024 BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce VOTE NOW! BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2024 Celebrating Excellence in the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Business Community! Thursday, July 18, 2024 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM Monterey Conference Center

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8 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY june 27-july 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com news Cannery Row’s Salty Seal Brewpub and Sports Bar, one of the few live music venues on Monterey Peninsula, is up for sale. It doesn’t appear to be for lack of business: on a recent Saturday afternoon, the Salty Seal is abuzz with customers, some of whom, their lanyards revealed, are in town to watch car racing at Laguna Seca. Co-owner Rachael Smith, who founded the business with her now-exhusband Jim McLennan in 2021, says the business is successful, but she wants to downsize her responsibilities and also work closer to her home in Santa Cruz. The property, which for years prior was occupied by Cooper’s Pub and Restaurant (and before that by Bullwacker’s), was empty when Smith and McLennan took it over, but they plan to sell it with everything inside. “It’s completely turnkey,” Smith says. “Anybody coming in as a potential buyer really has little to do.” She adds they’ve had excellent employee retention, and that some staff have been there three years. The business, which leases an approximately 5,100-square-foot space from Cannery Row Company, comes with a prized Type 47 liquor license and an outdoor patio/venue. The business is currently listed for $795,000. Smith says it’s not an ideal time to sell—typically, she says, you’d want to see through to the end of your five-year business plan to show consistency in numbers, so she expects it could be up to a year before they find a buyer. For now, Smith is just happy the doldrums of winter have ended and the high season is humming. “We really did have a brutal winter,” she says. “It rained literally every weekend for a five-month period.” Seal Deal The lease for one of Monterey’s few live music venues is for sale. By David Schmalz Salinas’ new City Manager Rene Mendez inherited a city with a number of leadership positions being filled by interim roles—chief among them at the police department. Mendez has said his top priority is finding a permanent police chief, which has been held on an acting basis by Salinas police veteran John Murray since former chief Roberto Filice resigned in January. Earlier this month, the City of Salinas released a survey asking the public what qualities and experience they want to see in the next police chief. A week after the survey went live, it had received more than 500 responses, according to Mendez. “I’m really encouraging the community to weigh in on what they want to see in a police chief,” he says. The survey, at tinyurl.com/ SalinasLeadership, runs through June 30. The initial search shortly after Filice’s resignation drew the ire of former police chief Kelly McMillin and others, who alleged it was taking place out of the public eye. Interim Vallejo Police Chief Jason Ta was reportedly tapped for the role, but an agreement never materialized, and city officials declined to comment, citing confidentiality reasons. Mendez says he’s hoping to get the community involved—he plans to report the results of the survey after it concludes as well as hold public meetings about the search. The city has retained the firm Bob Murray & Associates as the recruiter— which includes former Salinas chief Adele Fresé on its staff, who served in the role from 2016-2022—and the job listing went live on Tuesday, June 25. According to the listing, applications will be accepted through Aug. 4, and the position has an annual salary of $185,112 to $236,256, plus benefits. Mendez says the results of the survey will be shared with the recruiter, who will then review the initial candidates before narrowing them down for Mendez to interview and make the final decision. He expects the process to take about three months. “Ultimately I want to find a good fit for our community,” Mendez says. Murray, who has been with the Salinas Police Department for 28 years, is interested in the job. A Salinas resident for 32 years who is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Murray has served in numerous positions in the department, most recently assistant chief before being named to lead the department after Filice’s resignation. “I’d like to continue the good work we’re doing,” he says. “I’m excited about the opportunity to make this permanent.” Murray, who holds a master’s degree in homeland security from the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, says he encourages officers to pursue their own higher educational paths, which he adds makes them more “socially conscious in their own community” and open to creative approaches to policing. The Salinas Police Department is authorized to have 161 sworn officers, but is currently at 131. Law enforcement agencies around the country are facing challenges with recruiting and retention, and while Salinas is no exception, Murray says the department is at a turning point. “There’s a lot of energy, and we’ve done a lot of things to enhance our recruitment efforts and our retention,” he says. “We’re getting a lot of interest.” Acting Salinas Police Chief John Murray, who has been with the department for 28 years, says the 2020 move to a new building was a turning point for the agency. Round Two Salinas’ search for its next police chief begins in earnest for the second time this year. By Erik Chalhoub Rachael Smith, co-owner of The Salty Seal on Cannery Row, expects it might take a year to find a buyer for the business, but she’s happy to be back in the busy summer season for now. “I want to find a good fit for our community.” Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss

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10 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY june 27-july 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com The state of California is trying to transform the education system beyond classroom instruction to make it more accessible for parents to get information they need to support students. One effort is to close the gap between educators and parents, especially with those who speak Mexican Indigenous languages. In January, Santa Rita Union School District in Salinas added services in Mixteco, available during and after school, from 10am-6pm. The district is working with the nonprofit Centro Binacional Para El Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, or The Binational Center for Oaxacan Indigenous Development. Summer Prather-Smith, director of engagement and school climate at SRUSD, says the idea originated because parents wanted additional support in Mixteco. Now, parents in Greenfield are demanding an Indigenous after-school program in Greenfield Union School District. On Thursday, June 13, more than 50 people attended a school board meeting to show their support. South County has the largest concentration of Mexican Indigenous people in Monterey County; Greenfield’s nickname is Little Oxnard, a nod to the large Indigenous population in that Southern California city. Parents say some children have faced bullying and discrimination at school. Prather-Smith says it is too soon to know quantitatively the impact on students’ success, but qualitatively, staff have observed a difference. Having Mixteco speakers on campus “has really helped us to make sure that our students feel included in our spaces,” she says. Two Centro Binacional staff work at the SRUSD resource center at Santa Rita Elementary. They assist teachers, parents and students with things ranging from homework help to managing a mental health crisis. The cost to SRUSD is $230,000 to date. Clarisa Reyes-Becerra, the nonprofit’s program director, says the program at Santa Rita is working. Kids feel confident to speak their native language and parents are getting more involved in their kids’ education. “We saw the success there and we thought, ‘Why not in Greenfield too?’ The parents are having similar concerns,” she says. Both SRUSD and GUSD’s boards have passed resolutions against speech denigrating Indigenous students. The day after Greenfield’s was approved, the superintendent’s office reached out to CBDIO to talk about starting to build a similar program to Santa Rita’s for the 2024-25 school year. Ever since the City of Seaside entered into a purchase and sale agreement with KB Bakewell Seaside Venture II, LLC in 2017 to develop the Campus Town project, which envisions 1,485 housing units and more than 150,000 square feet of commercial space on 122 acres at the city’s border with Marina, progress has been slow. The City Council approved the project in 2020, and while there have continued to be regular meetings behind the scenes, visible progress has been nil. But it appears that things are finally starting to ramp up: On June 20, City Council approved allocating another 130.2 acre-feet of water to the project— on top of 180.6 acre-feet already granted over the years—which will be more than enough to supply the first phase of the project, and even part of the second. About 30 acre-feet of the newly allocated water is being reallocated from the Main Gate property. As a city report states, “[The Main Gate] property is in the process of undergoing updated planning and it is unlikely there will be a demand for the [water] in the near term future.” (The city recently paid $850,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by developer Paul Petrovich, who had been trying to develop Main Gate—he claimed there wasn’t enough water.) Other water being promised to Campus Town will come from in-lieu credits the city has been accumulating since shifting the irrigation at Bayonet and Black Horse golf courses to recycled water. Developer Danny Bakewell, Jr. says now, it’s just a matter of “getting all the ducks in a row.” He expects to break ground this fall, by late September or early October. The first phase, south of Lightfighter Drive between 2nd Avenue and Gen. Jim Moore Boulevard, will include a hotel, up to four commercial pads, 241 homes and 21 offsite low- or very low-income apartments at Greater Victory Temple. “We’ve got all the affordable housing stuff lined up,” Bakewell, Jr. says. Deep Roots Citing success in a Salinas school, Greenfield looks at an Indigenous-serving program. By Celia Jiménez news Wiping Clean The County of Monterey Public Defender’s Office presents the annual “Clean Slate Day” to help people clear past records of felony and misdemeanor arrests and convictions in Monterey County. Attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office will be on hand to provide advice on options. Various times and places on Friday, June 28. 9am-noon at County of Monterey Government Center courtyard, 168 W. Alisal St., Salinas. Noon3pm at Greenfield City Hall lobby, 599 El Camino Real, Greenfield. 1:303:30pm at Gathering for Women, 147 El Dorado St., Monterey (women only). Free. 755-5058, cleanslate@co.monterey.ca.us. Banking Blood The American Red Cross holds a blood drive to combat a shortage of donations over the past several weeks. Donors of all blood types needed, especially those who are Type O. 9am-1pm Saturday, June 29. All Saints Day School, 8060 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel. Free. Book an appointment at redcrossblood.org or 1-800-733-2767. Survey Says Salinas Public Library seeks feedback from patrons on how it can improve its customer service, equipment and programs. Survey is open through Sunday, June 30. Free. bit.ly/SalinasLibrarySurvey. Counting Costs The City of Marina wants public input on proposed changes to its master fee schedule. Fees include pulling permits, facility rentals and more. Feedback can be submitted by Monday, July 1 to lpruneda@cityofmarina.org. cityofmarina.org. Get Involved The City of Monterey accepts applications for its various boards and commissions, which include: Appeals Hearing Board, Architectural Review Committee, Building and Housing Appeals Board, Neighborhood and Community Improvement Program Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis. Priority review will be given to those received by noon Friday, July 12. monterey.gov/bcc. Legal Aid The Monterey College of Law presents a series of legal clinics by phone, touching on topics such as immigration, small claims, restraining orders and more. 4-6pm, various days. $15-$50. 5823600, montereylaw.edu/clinics. Row of Ducks The stars are finally aligning for the developers of Campus Town to get shovels in the ground. By David Schmalz Santa Rita Union School District students participate in an after-school program run by Centro Binacional Para El Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño. e-mail: toolbox@montereycountynow.com TOOLBOX “Kids feel confident to speak their native Indigenous language.” Daniel Dreifuss

www.montereycountynow.com june 27-July 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 11 Al Siekert is 81 years old, but don’t suggest that he’s going to back down anytime soon. Every Sunday, volunteers for the nonprofit Al & Friends serve a free breakfast to all who show up at Window on the Bay in Monterey, especially those in need. He started the program 14 years ago and at some point this summer, the group will surpass 50,000 meals. “I never doubted that what we were doing was a good thing,” says Siekert, a retired chef and caterer. While Siekert notes that he is doing well, there have been occasional Sundays in recent months when he could not be there or was unable to work at his usual pace. But Siekert explains that he made a pact with god many decades ago that went something like this: Let me have fun into my 30s, and I’ll die on the job. “I don’t know what else I’d do,” he says. Siekert has built a resilient organization. Since Al & Friends became a nonprofit, they have not missed a Sunday. Partners like the Grocery Outlet in Seaside and Montage Health, down to smaller operations such as Old Fisherman’s Grotto and Acme Coffee Roasting Co., are among many others. One of those who volunteers his time is Marvin Green IV of the popup Marv’s Barbecue. “There’s a lot of money thrown at problems on the Peninsula,” Green observes. “Al throws hard work at them.” Green was concerned when helping out earlier this year to find Siekert out of action. The atmosphere was different, he recalls, although volunteers stuck to the chaotic routine without a hitch. Rick Richards, president of Al & Friends’ board of directors, explains that he can step in and take over cooking duties. “We don’t talk about it that much,” Richards says of the inevitable day when Siekert steps down. “He may hang on forever.” Siekert started as a one-man crusade in 2010, knocking on neighbors’ doors, asking for donations. “He had a lot of doors slammed in his face,” Richards notes. “But he had a lot of doors open.” According to Siekert, the impulse to start feeding the hungry came from a conversation with pastor Brian Bajari, who ditched the church in favor of ministering to the homeless and others on the shoreline. “He told me he came to the epiphany that there were enough ministers in buildings,” Siekert recalls. (Bajari died earlier this year.) Richards describes Sundays as an hour of pandemonium, then everything is whisked away. “It’s the least most organized group ever,” Green jokes. “The greatest thing is that Al has brought together people that normally wouldn’t be working together.” While Siekert says he doesn’t know who will handle the cooking duties in the future (“We’ll find out when I’m gone”), he is certain the nonprofit has permanence. “I know damn well it’s going to continue,” he says. Breakfast Bunch Al & Friends anticipates a food service milestone, as well as a long future. By Dave Faries Every Sunday, Al Siekert distributes meals to anyone in need. About 25-30 active volunteers help out, serving and washing dishes during the week. The group went to reusable dishes to minimize waste. NEWS “There’s a lot of money thrown at problems. Al throws hard work at them.” RICK RICHARDS

12 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY June 27-July 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Marina Rising Thirty years of apartment living, looking at rotting military buildings wishing we could afford a house. Now they’re building them, and they’re not for us. Gentrification has arrived (“As Marina is growing, city leaders look for ways to give the old and the new a sense of place,” June 13-19). Alexandra Bee | via social media I just want to be able to buy a house. Not a $1.5 million luxury apartment that will inevitably be sold to some douche from the Bay as a vacation home. Just a regular home for regular people. Taylor Newberry | Marina Marina and Seaside, thanks to Fort Ord land, are the only spots on the Peninsula to grow and build. The growth was inevitable and won’t do anything for locals except bring more shopping and restaurants, which may cripple small businesses. Marina, like Seaside, will lose its flavor in favor of gentrification because that’s what happens when all you have for sale are homes over $800K. In theory growth is great, but our lack of infrastructure and care for those who work on the Peninsula and don’t make over $100,000 a year has made it abhorrent, just like everything else in California. For a state that loves equality so much, we sure do favor the wealthy, don’t we. Heather O’Donnell | Salinas I love it. It’s about time the land which hosts asbestos- and lead-laden barracks become useful again. David Slater | via social media It’s sad to see all resources are concentrated on new developments, but no money for repairs on streets in the old neighborhoods. Feels like we live in a third world country when you drive down the street full of potholes. Maria Enriquez | Marina This is not good for locals. Great for Bay Area people. All city parks are rusting and deteriorating. Maybe put some money into old Marina. Adam Helm | via social media It’s only growing because Bay Area people are moving in and buying the super-expensive homes. There are still no homes for local people who have regular jobs—it’s all for the rich Bay Area people. It’s sad local people are priced out of their hometowns. And traffic will be horrible once all these new houses are finished, just like San Jose. Thank you for ruining our beautiful little place. Tim Hassler | Pacific Grove The future of living on the coast is unfortunately a dream most cannot obtain. Most locals have been forced to move away, and developers are creating new housing developments. What will it become? Just a place for the rich to buy more VRBOs. Kathleen Eads | via social media Last Dance Terminating the contract and relationship with Joshua Alfaro was necessary as he posed a risk to the students at the Alisal Union School District (“Alisal Union suspends contract with after-school contractor after its founder is charged with child molestation,” posted May 31). Terminating the contract with Tonatiuh Danzantes del Quinto Sol was unnecessary as they provided the students an enriching educational experience (“Alisal Union ends a longtime relationship with folklórico contractor,” posted June 14). Tonatiuh was professional, consistent, and had expectations and experience teaching students at the elementary level. Our students deserve a quality program such as Tonatiuh Danzantes del Quinto Sol. [AUSD’s] reasoning for terminating the contract was inconsistent. The district has made a poor decision allowing one person to determine what programs are available to our students. Tonatiuh taught students to be courageous, to advocate for what they believe in. They created leaders! It’s unfortunate to see them go. Tanya Cabrera | Salinas Take the Train I’m with you on the train to San Francisco—if only! (“A proposed busway from Marina to Sand City has momentum, but its fate rests in the Coastal Commission,” posted June 17.) I live in downtown Monterey and usually my Prius is parked in a city garage, as I walk and take buses if need be. That justifies my car trips up to “the city” one or two times a month. Just this past Sunday I drove up. A wonderful day that would just be about perfect if I could take a train back and forth. Dhana Owens | Monterey I am restoring two old vehicles, live in Marina and periodically take the bus. At the hours I have ridden it there is virtually never a delay from Marina to Sand City. It is true that at times there are slight slowdowns coming into Sand City on the way into Monterey. I have sat down with a watch and calculator to figure out how much that delays me getting to my music store in Monterey. It comes out to 3 1/2 minutes, the times I have checked it. In addition, the bus is almost never at even half capacity at 1pm going into Monterey and coming back to Marina at 9pm. How is that worth any money for a project? I see no benefit at all for such a project. If that money could be spent on a trolley from Pacific Grove to Santa Cruz, wouldn’t that be something!? Kurt Heisig | Marina Behind Bars I know it’s your job and all that, but I think you were a very brave person to carry through on this terrible story (“Both the people incarcerated in and the people who work at Monterey County Jail deserve basic safety,” posted June 18). It’s hard to even think about. Thank you for your courage and tenderness—and your reporting, too! Marilyn Brown | Pacific Grove Correction A story about the costs of health care (“Hospitals in Monterey County are some of the most expensive in the state. Why?,” June 20-26) included a table that inaccurately reported the average payer mix in California hospitals. Average Medicare revenue is 40.7 percent, and Medi-Cal is 29.3 percent. That means the average combined is 70.1 percent, not 34.9 percent. Letters • CommentsOPINION Submit letters to the editor to letters@montereycountynow.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.montereycountynow.com June 27-July 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 13 Back in 2016, leaders of Pacific Gas & Electric pronounced they were well on their way to a renewable future. The company envisioned growing its renewable energy portfolio quickly enough that it would be the end of nuclear. California’s last nuclear power plant wouldn’t be needed a few years down the road. “California’s energy landscape is changing dramatically with energy efficiency, renewables and storage being central to the state’s energy policy,” PG&E’s then-CEO Tony Earley said in a statement in 2016. “As we make this transition, Diablo Canyon’s full output will no longer be required.” PG&E has operated the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near Avila Beach since 1985. In 2016, the company withdrew a relicensing application from consideration by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, meaning the plant would shut down in 2025, when its existing license expired. Fast forward to mid-2024, and it’s still responsible for producing roughly 9 percent of California’s power. By 2022, PG&E’s initial projections started to falter. In a letter explaining why he was signing Senate Bill 846 into law, extending the life of the plant by five years to 2030, Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote that it was required to keep the grid reliable. “Climate change is causing unprecedented stress on California’s energy system,” he added. That’s all to say, California’s last remaining nuclear power plant is still in business. State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, has maintained we should use the extra five years to avoid this kind of piecemeal fix yet again. “We must use the time provided by that extension now to create a Marshall Plan to move us toward the state’s ambitious goal of zero-carbon electricity by 2045,” he said in 2022. “Making sure offshore wind is up and running in this area is a piece of that.” (I agree—although like battery storage technology, offshore wind also has its opponents. If we want industrial-scale power, it will come with industrial-scale impacts, but we can do better than nuclear when it comes to risk and cost. And while nuclear is zero-carbon, it’s worth noting, it is not renewable.) We are now a year-and-ahalf into the legislative grace period for Diablo Canyon, and new questions are emerging as PG&E seeks to recover costs from ratepayers associated with extending the life of the plant. Naturally, that has activists asking questions, including the group Mothers For Peace that has been a watchdog ever since the plant was first approved. They also include Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, a group that filed a protest with the California Public Utilities Commission objecting to PG&E’s cost recovery application, still pending before the CPUC. Attorney and former California Energy Commissioner John Geesman is representing the Alliance, and he has been poring over records to see what it costs to keep the plant running through 2030. He spoke during a virtual event convened by the Environmental Working Group on Diablo Canyon earlier this month, and Geesman calculated the total is $11.8 billion— more than double the company’s 2022 estimate. (It requires a little bit of math, given that PG&E’s testimony includes statements like, “PG&E redacts market-sensitive information regarding nuclear fuel costs. Release of this market-sensitive information could put PG&E at a competitive disadvantage with regard to other market participants and could detrimentally impact all customers.”) “It would make a lot more sense to invest incremental dollars in trying to explore new technologies than propping up a plant that is a 1960s design and has already lasted for its expected design life,” Geesman said. In an email, a PG&E spokesperson says Geesman is failing to account for “the value of electric reliability as we are experiencing peak summer energy demand.” A reliable grid is critical, and PG&E is pessimistic about the alternatives: “Recognizing that there are no alternative clean energy sources available to meet the state’s climate objectives, Diablo Canyon is the only cost-effective resource available to meet the state’s energy demands.” The Marshall Plan of renewable energy certainly sounds like a better idea. Sara Rubin is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at sara@montereycountynow.com. Power Flex PG&E’s grace period at Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is costing billions. By Sara Rubin Road Race…It doesn’t help Squid’s old jalopy that many Monterey County roads have seen better days. Squid keeps a roll of duct tape in the trunk for a quick fix after a bad pothole or two. Some roads are worse than others, as noted by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors during a budget hearing on June 20. While deciding to put a 1-percent sales tax increase on the Nov. 5 ballot—in part to pay for road repairs—Supervisor Luis Alejo announced that Monterey-Salinas Transit General Manager Carl Sedoryk emailed the board to say his agency was canceling a route through Bradley because buses were getting too damaged. Supervisor Chris Lopez pointed out there is a funded plan in place to fix Bradley Road, but incoming roads were also bad, he said, then added: “The bane of my existence are the calls on roads.” For a brief moment a bit of a “my road is worse than your road” competition broke out. Chair Glenn Church quipped, “I feel your bane.” Supervisor Mary Adams chimed in: “Oh my God, Carmel Valley Road is a public embarrassment!” With the county facing an estimated $1.5 billion in deferred maintenance of roads and bridges, is it the roads that are embarrassing, or the fact that past policy makers failed to finance regular maintenance? Tight Grip…Squid attends countless public meetings, and Squid is always impressed by the fact that those serving on various boards or commissions do so for free. So Squid was refreshed recently to see so many applicants to the many board vacancies in the City of Monterey, and on June 18, the City Council considered whether to fill those vacancies with the slate recommended by Mayor Tyller Williamson. Well, many in the public weren’t too happy about those recommendations, and they gave the council an earful about it. A little backstory: In 2019, under then-mayor Clyde Roberson, the council adopted a policy where recommendations are made solely by the mayor, which no one had a problem with then. Fast-forward to the present, when several board terms are expiring, among them some seats on the Neighborhood and Community Improvement Program Committee, which first convened in 1989. Williamson recommended that three sitting members on the committee who have served on it for all its 35 years—Tom Rowley, Richard Rucello and Rick Heurer—be replaced with some new faces. Many in attendance were none too pleased about that, but the council approved the recommendations 3-2, with Alan Haffa and Ed Smith dissenting. Squid admires their eagerness to serve, and thanks them for their service, but Squid also thinks it’s important to bring in new ideas—otherwise, it’s just the same ol’, same ol’. the local spin SQUID FRY THE MISSION OF MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY IS TO INSPIRE INDEPENDENT THINKING AND CONSCIOUS ACTION, ETC. We can do better than nuclear when it comes to risk. Send Squid a tip: squid@montereycountynow.com

14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Monterey County’s beauty serves as the inspiration for a large number of books and poems. By Pam Marino Map Reading We suggest reading all year, but lots of people carve out extra time for books over the summer. Whether you’re looking for beach reads, rereads or want to start (or improve) a book club, the Weekly’s summer reading issue draws on expertise and opinions from writers, book club members and a professional book club facilitator, booksellers and our readers to give you some insight into the ideas, styles and approaches to make it fun and insightful. Read on. –Sara Rubin, editor ~~t~~ John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath falls somewhere on most “top 100 novels” lists, which means millions of people have read the book, likely their first introduction to the fertile Salinas Valley. Throughout his career, Steinbeck mined his home county for many settings in his books and short stories, vividly describing locales that he made famous the world over. Other authors and poets who migrated to the county or only visited for a short while were similarly inspired to use the dramatic coastline and interior valleys as settings. For those of us familiar with the county it’s a fun exercise to imagine characters coming to life in real-life settings. Once you’ve read Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, it’s hard not to imagine Doc, Mack and the Boys, Ida and Lee Chong criss-crossing those Monterey streets, or Mack’s gang traveling in a beat-up truck to the Carmel River to catch frogs, in a hapless scheme to earn money to surprise Doc with a party. Likewise, it’s not difficult to feel the lonely eeriness of Elkhorn Slough on a moonlit night while reading MotherDaughter Murder Night, last year’s New York Times bestseller by author Nina Simon, who wrote the book in partnership with her mom, Sarina Simon. Below is a list of Monterey County locations found in a number of books and poems. If you’re looking for some good summer reading options, consider choosing a location first, then pick a novel or a poem to read, and let yourself be as inspired as the writers themselves. BIG SUR Big Sur by Jack Kerouac A semi-autobiographical novel Kerouac wrote in a Big Sur cabin while struggling with doubt and handling fame after the publication of On the Road. Big Sur makes appearances in other Kerouac works, including Desolation Angels, The Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans. Holding the Dream by Nora Roberts The breathtaking views from Big Sur serve as the backdrop for this novel by the bestselling author. The Strange Case of the Big Sur Benefactor by Jess Faraday The award-winning author sets this historical mystery novella in the wilds of Big Sur in 1884. It was a Rainbow Award Winner in the category “lesbian historical.” Poetry by Robinson Jeffers The wild and majestic beauty of Big Sur provided a wonderful muse for one of the great poets of the 20th century, Robinson Jeffers, who lived on Carmel Point. Here are a few he wrote using Big Sur locations. “Hands” is set in a cave along Church Creek where Esselen people of the past left handprint art. Inside a cave in a narrow canyon near Tassajara / The vault of rock is painted with hands /A multitude of hands in the twilight, a cloud of men’s / palms… The setting for “The Place for No Story” is Soberanes Creek, which This map shows poems by Robinson Jeffers that are set explicitly in local places, which often serve as recognizable settings for fictional characters. Summer Reading issue 6 Leyendo, en español 14 On location 16 Books for the beach 18 Readers’ raves 20 Book club do’s and don’ts 32 Meet a mystery writer 37 Bohemian beverages

www.montereycountynow.com JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 Jeffers spells “Sovranes.” “Thurso’s Landing” is one of Jeffers’ epics, about a family watching as workers construct Highway 1. The coast-road was being straightened and repaired again, / A group of men labored at the steep curve / Where it falls from the north to Mill Creek. They scattered and hid / Behind cut banks, except one blond young man / Who stooped over the rock and strolled away smiling / As if he shared a secret joke with the dynamite… Another epic poem, “Tamar,” is set along the craggy cliffs of Point Lobos. In keeping with a theme, tragedy strikes the people and the natural beauty persists beyond their suffering. CARMEL/PEBBLE BEACH The quaint village, foggy forest and scenic seashore has served as inspiration for many authors—around 50 books have used the locale as settings. Murder mystery writers seem especially drawn to the area. Weep No More My Lady by Mary Higgins Clark The bestselling novelist uses a luxurious Pebble Beach spa as a location. Coast Road by Barbara Delinsky The romance novelist tells a heartwarming tale of love lost then found again. A Wicked Slice by Aaron and Charlotte Elkins The husband-wife mystery-writing team pairs murder with golf for this book. Watchers by Dean Koontz In this thriller set in the Carmel and Big Sur areas, a man stumbles upon a genetically altered dog who escaped from a secret government laboratory, along with a genetically altered monster. What could go wrong? All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhower This spy thriller published in 2015 was made into a movie in 2022. The Valley of the Moon by Jack London London was a regular visitor to his bohemian friends living in Carmel in the early 20th century. He uses the arts colony in this 1913 novel. The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America by Catherine Prendergast A nonfiction narrative, this mythbuster also offers some of the best descriptions to be found of life inside the bohemian art colony of Carmel in the early 20th century. Whalefall: A Novel by Daniel Kraus This suspense novel of a diver who must escape the belly of a whale off the shore of Monastery Beach was named a “Best Book of 2023” by Book Riot, Shelf Awareness and NPR. CORRAL DE TIERRA Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck You can see for yourself the scenic hills and valleys that Steinbeck spent time in as a boy visiting his aunt’s home. Pastures of Heaven is a collection of interconnected stories about a farming family living in Corral de Tierra. Steinbeck describes the landscape as it’s seen for the first time by a Spanish corporal: “In a few minutes he arrived at the top of the ridge, and there he stopped, stricken with wonder at what he saw—a long valley floored with green pasturage on which a herd of deer browsed. Perfect oak trees grew in the meadow of the lovely place, and the hills hugged it jealously against the fog and the wind.” ELKHORN SLOUGH Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon This 2023 mystery novel, set along the shores of the slough, was selected as one of the year’s best novels by multiple sources and was chosen for the Reese Witherspoon Book Club. MONTEREY Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck In Cannery Row, set in 1938, Steinbeck bases the character of Doc on his reallife friend Ed Ricketts, whose Pacific Biological Laboratories still stands at 800 Cannery Row. The Wing Chong Building across the street at 835 Cannery Row inspired Lee Chong’s grocery. La Ida’s brothel was located at 851 Cannery Row. The book’s sequel, Sweet Thursday, is set in the years following World War II. PACIFIC GROVE My Life in Pacific Grove by Wilford Rensselaer Holman, edited by Heather Lazare The first half of the book is from a memoir written by W.R. Holman, founder of Holman’s Department Store on Lighthouse Avenue. Lazare, married to Holman’s great-grandson Ben Lazare, adds context about Holman in the second half. The Mushroom Planet series by Eleanor Frances Cameron Written in the 1950s, the Canadian author set her children’s books in Pacific Grove, as the launching pad for adventurous flights to the alien planet Basidium. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck While mostly set along Cannery Row, Steinbeck features a few wickedly funny chapters about the people of Pacific Grove, including one featuring monarch butterflies. SALINAS/SALINAS VALLEY East of Eden by John Steinbeck Visit downtown Salinas to see buildings featured in this classic. The buildings are located at 201 and 247 Main St. Many characters live and farm around King City. The Hunger and the Hate by Harry Vernor Dixon A mystery/romance novel about a man climbing to the top of the ladder in the lettuce industry who falls in love, endangering his quest. The Long Valley by John Steinbeck A collection of stories about people of the valley trying to make their place in the world. It includes famous stories you may have read in high school, like “Flight” and “The Red Pony.” Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck After exiling himself to New York, Steinbeck returns to Salinas in this (mostly) nonfiction book about his road trip across the U.S. in a camper with his dog Charley. JOLON To a God Unknown by John Steinbeck Steinbeck’s second novel, a tragic story about a man and his relationship to the land, set in the tiny South County town of Jolon. SOLEDAD Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Migrant farmworkers George and Lennie worked at a ranch set in Soledad. Steinbeck used his own experiences as a teen working in the fields alongside men like George and Lennie. SPRECKELS East of Eden and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Steinbeck used this former company town, home to the Spreckels Sugar plant where he once worked as a young man, as inspiration for settings in the two famous novels. JUANITA TURNER The rolling hills of Corral de Tierra, shown above, are the setting for John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven.