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News :: Education & Youth

UC-Santa Cruz 'has matured'

Mon, May. 05, 2003

UC-Santa Cruz 'has matured'

Special to The Herald

Last week's announcement of a possible union between the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Monterey Institute of International Studies caused some head-scratching on the north side of the bay.

Some wondered why UCSC, that left-leaning child of the '60s, would want to take over an institution with strong Defense Department ties, one that turns out diplomats, MBAs and foreign-language interpreters.

But those who have been watching the maturation of UCSC know that the potential UCSC-MIIS marriage fits right in with the university's makeover of recent years, especially under the aggressive leadership of Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood.

Greenwood, a scientist turned administrator, has had a big hand in reshaping the school known for years as Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp, a place for individualists and free spirits. Since Greenwood took over seven years ago, the bucolic campus in a redwood forest has become known as a place that trains engineers and performs groundbreaking research on the human genome and other topics, from deep sea to deep space.

While expanding its academic horizons, UCSC also has been expanding its reach geographically, opening a business/research park at Fort Ord and establishing an education/research center at Moffett Field in Mountain View. Seeking to compete with Stanford, UCSC now operates an exhaustive list of extension courses in Silicon Valley.

In typically no-nonsense fashion, Greenwood characterizes her university like this: "We continue to be one of the leading public research universities in the country with respect to emphasis on undergraduate education," she said Friday. "Now we're in the process of developing added value to the graduate programs."

A UCSC-MIIS merger of some sort -- details are just starting to be worked out -- could help fill out that vision. MIIS has won wide respect for its programs in international studies, business, language and diplomacy, but it has fallen on hard financial times, losing $13 million in the past two years. Becoming part of the UC system could further bolster its reputation, give it access to more resources and solve its critical money problems. UCSC, meanwhile, would boost both its graduate-level offerings and its enrollment and continue its evolution from its early, storied days.

A different kind of school|

When the campus opened in 1965, it was set apart from the rest of the UC system by its surroundings and its approach. The school is on a stunning 2,000-acre parcel of meadow and forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Newer buildings mix with some of the surviving structures of the farm that once operated there.

Its organization was modeled after Oxford and Cambridge universities, with a system of residential colleges where students live and study close to their professors and their peers. Grades were eschewed in favor of more personal and detailed narrative evaluations.

Gary Novack, class of '73, a recently appointed alumni member of the UC system's governing Board of Regents, thinks fondly of those first years as the height of the school's "touchy-feely" period. Novack graduated from Stevenson School in Pebble Beach in 1970 and arrived at UCSC that fall as a 16-year-old. There were only about 3,000 students, compared with about 14,000 today. He studied biology and had opportunities to do research, even as an undergraduate and even outside his major, working closely with a faculty member.

Thirty years later, "I still see that professor and we talk," said Novack, who runs PharmaLogic Development Inc., a pharmaceutical consulting business in San Rafael.

Geoffrey Dunn, who grew up in the shadow of the university and attended in the mid-1970s, has similar recollections. Dunn, a local historian and executive director of Community Television of Santa Cruz County, considered the campus a center for the intelligentsia in its early years. But in his view, by the 1980s and into the early 1990s, it was closer to the summer camp stereotype.

"I think its reputation academically declined, and actually we were getting redirects," students who couldn't get into their first-choice campuses in the UC system, he said.

George Blumenthal, a professor of astrophysics and chairman of the UCSC Academic Senate, put it this way: "Its image from the late '60s was this great new idealistic place that everyone wanted to get into. By the late '70s, it was this weird place in the woods that did things its own way, that didn't give grades."

Blumenthal thinks that image was somewhat off-base, that the reality was better than the myth. Still, he thinks things are even better today, combining some of the best aspects of the early years with being "very much at the center of scholarship."

"There are still some things unique to Santa Cruz," he said. "We do have residential colleges, which are an important part of life, especially for incoming freshmen. We also continue to give narrative evaluations."

But the school also now gives letter grades in most classes. It's pushing to become as closely connected with the Silicon Valley as it is with the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival. And it's becoming as well-known for some of its scientific pursuits as it is for its most controversial faculty member, former Black Panther Angela Davis.

School expansion|

A watershed event was the 1997 opening of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering, UCSC's first professional school. An engineering school was in the original plan for UCSC but was dropped because of a reported glut of such schools. The idea was revived again in the 1980s under Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer, according to Patrick Mantey, the school's first dean.

Greenwood played a key role in closing the deal by securing a $5 million gift from Jack Baskin, a retired engineer and founder of a successful construction and housing company. Baskin is a longtime supporter of UCSC and backed the idea of an engineering school, but this gift was a record, for him and for UCSC. Greenwood went to his house on a Sunday to make her case. By the time she left, she had Baskin's commitment.

"She's a dynamo," Baskin said. "She knows what she wants and she goes after it."

Greenwood's influence|

M.R.C. -- pronounced "Marci" -- Greenwood became UCSC's seventh chancellor in 1996, arriving with a strong background in science and administration, and with connections considered valuable in snagging research money and burnishing the school's academic reputation. She was dean of graduate studies and vice provost for academic outreach at UC-Davis; she taught at Vassar College, her alma mater; and she was associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Clinton White House.

Since she arrived at UCSC, enrollment has risen 38 percent. The school has added 23 bachelor's degree programs or concentrations, five master's degree programs or concentrations, and 11 programs at the doctorate level. Research grants have risen 51 percent, to $68 million last year.

Criticism from city|

Not everyone sees the changes at UCSC in the same positive light, however. There has been criticism of its move to become more connected with Silicon Valley and big business. Town-gown issues, usually about growth, housing pressures or traffic congestion, flare with some regularity. More broadly, some say the school has lost much of what set it apart from other universities. Some class sizes have grown. The individual colleges don't play as big a role as they once did. Grading has gone more mainstream.

Former Santa Cruz Mayor John Laird, now the state assemblyman for Santa Cruz and the Monterey Peninsula, understands the lament. Laird, class of '74, acknowledges that there have been changes, but he is largely satisfied with the campus today.

With its location in "a beach town and a surfer's paradise on the edge of a beautiful forest," it will always have something of a laid-back image, Laird said. "But the campus has matured; the programs are broad and successful."

Laird called the potential merger with MIIS "a very exciting prospect."

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News :: Resistance & Tactics

Local peace activists avoid support-the-troops rallies.

Hawks vs. Peaceniks

Local peace activists avoid support-the-troops rallies.

By Brett Wilbur

Besides having to side-step a man carrying a life-sized cutout of George Bush at several peace rallies, Valori George, co-chair of the Monterey County Peace Coalition, says there hasn't been much conflict between local anti-war and support-the-troops rallies. It's a situation that's intentional.

"On the same Saturday that Sam Farr had the town hall meeting [March 22], there was a pro-war rally," she recalls. "We deliberately stayed away--we're not wanting to start a them-against-us across Del Monte Boulevard."

George says the Peace Coalition started regular vigils when the US bombed Afghanistan; members stand with signs on Sundays from 12-2pm at Windows on the Bay Park in Monterey. Pro-war rallies seem to be more loosely scheduled. A recent phone call to Paul Bruno, vice-chairman of the Monterey County Republican Party, gleaned that there have been about five pro-troops rallies since the war started, and confirmed that he is the man with the giant George Bush.

"That's me," he said cheerfully. "I personally have been the lone supporter [for the troops and president] at almost all of the peace-protestor meetings. And I've listened to how many horns honk for them versus our rallies--it's not what you'd normally expect or sense by watching the news on television. It's nonstop public support for the troops and our action in Iraq.

"The television news concentrates on a few people making a commotion."

George also criticizes the television media--but in her viewpoint, the news unfairly biases the public towards the war.

"If it's true that 86 percent of people in the US get their news information from television, then they are seeing only a small part of the story," she says. "People have to look a little deeper--all this talk about peacekeeping seems ridiculous. It's like saying, 'We're coming in here, and going to bomb your country and make all these children orphans, but look, now we are bringing all this humanitarian aid. It's about empire building and world domination."

Bruno, who usually brings his sons Nicholas, 10, and Peter, 7, to rallies on skateboards, agrees that people are angry, but he says it's because they're fed up with peace demonstrators--and their mistaken assumption that being in support of troops and the action in Iraq is the same as being pro-war. Bruno says that the peace supporters don't realize that they are in the minority.

"A lot of them are '60s throwbacks," he says. "There are people there with strong convictions and I'm not knocking them, but they have to recognize that they do represent a minority view, and if they can't recognize that, there's not much I can say to help them.

"I explain to my kids that we are not in support of war--nobody is pro-war--but we are realists, and sometimes you have to go to war. It's heartbreaking to see these young soldiers and know that they are being killed. At the same time we are doing a much greater good and history will tell.

"I believe that it was important to take steps to keep Iraq from becoming a nuclear power in the hands of a dictator. I have a bumper sticker on my truck that says, 'Freedom is Not Free.' That slogan says it all."

George counters that the portrayal of the US invasion of Iraq as a good thing is mistaken. "Occupation and liberation are not synonymous," she says. "It's the same as they beat the war drum for the administration, now they are beating it for liberation. This is part of what Dick Cheney said after September 11, that we are going to have endless wars for a decade. Now they are already talking about Syria, Iran, North Korea, Colombia, the Philippines--they're going down like dominos--what's next?"

George says that the taunts she hears during peace vigils are frustrating, but don't hold much weight.

"During one of our candlelight vigils at Colton Hall, people were very quiet and solemn, singing "Imagine," and a man was calling out, 'Oh yeah, how many of you guys drove a car here? How many of you used oil?'"

"It was me," Bruno says, when I repeat the story to him. "I was trying to point out the hypocrisy: that there were SUVs in the parking lot while they were carrying signs, 'No Blood for Oil'. I climbed up on a Monterey Transit bench and told the crowd, 'I'm on higher ground than you all.' It's all in jest--all in fun."

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News :: Resistance & Tactics

Protesters gather during president's Santa Clara visit

Protesters gather during president's Santa Clara visit

by MAY WONG, Associated Press Writer
Friday, May 2, 2003

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- About 1,000 anti-war protesters tried to greet President Bush for his brief Friday stop here -- but his motorcade bypassed their gathering on its way to the defense contractor where he delivered a speech on the economy.

About 150 police officers in riot gear and on horseback watched the crowd, which was loud but generally peaceful. Two protesters were arrested, one for allegedly hitting a police horse with a sign.

Tensions sometimes ran high as several dozen Bush supporters stood -- vastly outnumbered -- by the anti-war protesters.

Among those on hand waving large American flags and red-white-and-blue balloons was Alice Hoglan, of Redwood Estates. Her son, Mark Bingham, was among the 40 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001 when Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

"We're happy to stand here with them even though we have different political views," Hoglan said of the president's critics.

Protesters came from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, considered the epicenter of the West Coast's anti-war movement. They banged drums, chanted, and even did yoga to state their opposition to the Iraq war. Some wore masks of Bush and other top defense officials to ridicule the administration's policies.

One waved a sign that read "Unemployment up, Stock down, Surplus gone, Deficit growing, Bush out 2004." Many signs decried Bush as a "war criminal."

Eighty-year-old Bernice Belton, of Santa Cruz, held a cane as she marched with the group despite her arthritis pain. A peace activist also during the Vietnam War, she said, "I've never been so personally and politically frightened as I am now. There are totalitarian aspects of this administration that I've never seen before."

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News :: Police State

The Battle of Ft. Ord

The Battle of Ft. Ord

Monterey County communities fighting over ways to use the abandoned Army base are discovering a new truth about the California coast — it's for the rich only.

April 27, 2003
By Dan Baum, Special to The Times

Abrams Park is a subdivision of low-rise duplexes overlooking sparkling Monterey Bay. Its streets are a tangle of loopy cul-de-sacs, embracing playgrounds and islands of overgrown shrubs. The city of Monterey, with its famous aquarium, museums, parks, golf courses and Fisherman's Wharf, lies 10 minutes away, and the beach is reachable by bike. As a place to raise a family, Abrams Park would be hard to beat. Yet it is largely deserted. Weeds grow waist high in lawns and the houses' windows are either broken or blinded by plywood. The silence is absolute.

I'm on my bicycle, and in the course of an afternoon I've ridden for miles through one abandoned neighborhood after another, each filled with residences ranging from boxy cinder-block duplexes to enviable ranch houses. It's like being in one of those creepy end-of-the-world movies. A door creaks in the breeze; pushing it open, I find myself in a sunny living room with a spotless white carpet and clean paint. The stove and refrigerator appear new. A water heater--its labels still fresh--stands in a closet.

This ghost city is the corpse of Ft. Ord, one of the largest installations ever built by the United States Army. Stretching from the beach to the foothills of the coastal range, it is the size of San Francisco. In addition to houses, I pass soaring auditoriums, baseball diamonds, gymnasiums, an airfield, office buildings, steepled chapels, a hospital and enormous tank hangars encircling 10-acre parking lots--a skateboarder's dream. There are regimental rows of wooden barracks by the hundreds, and dormitories stenciled with the names of the rifle companies that occupied them--"Recon: Quick Silent Deadly." Just about everything is painted a dreary Army beige and surrounded by wind-whipped palm grass, untouched for nearly a decade.

Ft. Ord was the largest base to be shut down in a wave of military installation downsizing after the Cold War ended. When it closed in 1994, its 45 square miles of extraordinary beaches, parkland and wildlife habitat--along with more than 10,000 buildings--were to revert to civilian use. For surrounding Monterey County, that gift amounted to a miracle in a region that has the greatest need for affordable housing in the United States. The National Assn. of Home Builders surveyed 190 places last year, comparing housing prices with local wages, and found that Salinas--the Monterey County seat, 16 miles from here--is the least affordable in the country, followed by Santa Cruz, 25 miles to the north, and Watsonville, which lies smack in the middle of the bay's coastline 11 miles away.

Housing is expensive because of the peerless climate and scenery, which draws trustafarians, and their checkbooks, by the swarms. At the same time, the primary local industries are agriculture and tourism, both of which pay rock-bottom wages. Almost half the residents of Monterey County rent, but a full-time worker has to earn $16.23 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment--about twice the average working wage. As for a chambermaid or strawberry picker being able to buy a house, forget it. Even one-bedroom shacks are listed for almost a quarter-million dollars.

Not surprisingly, people here talk about real estate prices the way people in 1930s Oklahoma talked about drought. That is, constantly, anxiously and often in the context of who's been pushed out. "Gone to Hollister," "Gone to Tulare," "Gone to Modesto" are the modern, local equivalents of "dusted out." People either move inland and commute an hour or more to their low-wage jobs, or pack two or three families into a one-bathroom bungalow and hope their landlords will look the other way. "On the east side of Salinas," says Fritz Conle, who organizes salad packers for Teamsters Local 890, "I'm willing to bet you money you can't find a garage with a car in it."

So when Ft. Ord shut down, its thousands of perfectly serviceable houses were a godsend. Here was an opportunity to remedy Monterey Bay's excruciating housing imbalance, to give thousands of working families a chance at home ownership, to help businesses keep their workers nearby, to reduce commuter traffic, to relieve local governments of the social pathologies associated with families crammed into garages and, most of all, to bestow a measure of comfort on the lives of the dishwashers and artichoke pickers on whom the economy depends.

As my 10-year-old daughter would say, with a sarcastic roll of the eyes: Yeah, right.

Today, after nearly a decade, Ft. Ord sits largely dormant, its surrounding communities unable to decide if it should become a playground of the mansioned wealthy or a workers' utopia. Until this emotional standoff is resolved, the area's congressman, Democrat Sam Farr, is threatening to hold up final transfer of the land.

For Monterey County, the dispute has meaning at every Motel 6, school, fast-food outlet and golf course. For the rest of the state, it may be even more significant. The battle for Ft. Ord is exposing trends that are quietly transforming California. By long tradition, communities along the West Coast, from Mexico to Canada, were dedicated to the ideals of public access, preservation and equality--a determined response to failures along the Eastern seaboard. The coast of California was for generations a working region like any other. But the grim, impoverished Monterey of John Steinbeck's "Cannery Row" is a far cry from the gussied-up town it is today. Until relatively recently, ordinary people could live near their work. (Think ocean-view trailer parks in Malibu.)

But in the past two decades or so, the rich have moved to California's coast like a conquering army, planting their greenbacked flag on every ocean view and driving ordinary folks inland. Where the new rich settle, the demand for low-paid laborers--gardeners, maids, busboys and the like--skyrockets, even as the housing for them disappears. Nobody ever talks about this, of course, in part because it happens incrementally--one house at a time. The newly arrived wealthy assume that living on the coast is their privilege. The laborers believe that being pushed elsewhere is their lot.

At Ft. Ord, however, the grinding dynamics of California land politics are no longer a dirty little secret. Here for all to see are the naked forces of economic power arrayed against ideals of social equality, all playing out in a loud and nasty debate. A century from now, if the California coast is the exclusive domain of the wealthy, if laborers are making hours-long round-trips to tend to the rich, historians can look back at the fight over Ft. Ord as perhaps the one occasion when this unspoken inequity rose to the level of public discussion.

At any one time during the thick of World War II and Vietnam,about 50,000 soldiers trained at Ft. Ord, drinking and whoring and getting tattooed in the squalid little towns of Seaside and Marina that clung to the fort's south and north sides. The boom of cannon fire provided a steady backbeat to life for generations, and anyone driving down Highway 1 could look seaward and watch soldiers firing rifles into the dunes along the beach. When the Army pulled out, it was as though one of its artillery barrages had gone off course and landed on the civilian economy. A third of the county's tax base was annihilated. Seaside and Marina, always the poor stepsisters to the tony Monterey Peninsula towns of Carmel, Pacific Grove and Monterey, were driven into penury. Not only had they come to depend on the buying power of 7,500 military families, but the base also had provided 10% of their civilian jobs.

At the time, nobody suggested renting out or selling base housing. "The last thing anybody was thinking about then was affordable housing," says Bradley Zeve, executive editor and CEO of the Monterey County Coast Weekly. After the soldiers left, a third of the rentals in Seaside and Marina stood vacant and half the houses went on the market simultaneously. The 6,500 units of Ft. Ord being offered for conversion to civilian use seemed like rain in a flood.

Every conceivable interest had an idea about what to do. Seaside and Marina inherited those portions of the fort with the most buildings, followed by Monterey County. The federal Bureau of Land Management got the big, wild inland swatches.

Marina and Seaside saw a chance, finally, to shed their honky-tonk past and go upscale with spreads of 5-acre ranchettes and million-dollar bay-view mansions. Developers saw pricey subdivisions. Environmentalists saw priceless habitat. The county dreamed of new industry and jobs. Farmers, hotel keepers, labor leaders, immigrant rights activists, the highway department, water commissioners and more--each had a vision for the fort. The arguing was cacophonous. So the state created a "reuse authority" that forced everybody to sit down at one table and decide things by consensus; every party at the table had to agree on everything.

It was like throwing two dozen cats into a burlap bag.

To its credit, the group was able to come up with a master plan. Already in the works was a new college, California State University at Monterey Bay, opened in 1995, using some of the Army's old buildings for dorms and classrooms. The old airfield was converted into a civilian airport, adjacent to which the reuse authority has developed a research park with the University of California. Seaside inherited two golf courses and began trying to develop a four-star golf resort. Almost two-thirds of the fort's 28,000 acres were set aside as open space and wildlife habitat.

But by the mid-1990s, the region's housing glut was a memory. Students and faculty at the new college needed places to live, and the Silicon Valley money machine was revving just 90 minutes up the road. People priced out of San Jose and its environs began spreading down the coast like a spruce budworm infestation, snapping up "bargains" and sending prices soaring by about 10% a year. The phenomenal wealth of the new Internet barons also radiated outward in the form of high demand for hotels, restaurants and golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula. "Hospitality" jobs abounded--albeit low-paid ones--and people streamed in to take them. The housing crunch was on.

Marina is little more than a strip of Filipino markets and discount stores surrounded by what Edith Johnsen, former mayor and current county supervisor, calls "teeny-tiny scrunchie-wunchie houses." Of all the jurisdictions absorbing Ft. Ord, Marina has done the most for low-income residents. Without fully understanding the precedent it was setting, Marina got approval from the reuse authority to renovate some of the Army residences it inherited, which resulted in a low-income rental community of 353 units called Preston Park.

After roaming through acres of abandoned subdivisions, finding Preston Park is disorienting. Houses are brightly painted, the playgrounds colorful, the lawns manicured. I stop two young mothers pushing strollers; they each pay about $1,000 a month for three-bedroom condos, which is cheap considering that they have a view of the bay and are minutes from downtown Monterey. Preston Park, in other words, is a tiny taste of what could happen with the other 5,500 houses and condos on the fort. Marina also has arranged for a consortium of homeless and veterans' organizations to use about 100 units as transitional housing. And it has contracted with a developer to renovate 400 more Army duplexes as a low-income "continuum of care community" for the elderly.

But that's as far as anyone went because the three horsemen of the political apocalypse--race, class and money--came riding into Ft. Ord with vexing questions: Who is responsible for housing low-wage workers? Who should be expected to forgo more lucrative forms of development--fancy homes, big-box stores, industrial parks--to accommodate dense neighborhoods of needy but essential people? How much more should Marina have to do? Which of the jurisdictions inheriting Ft. Ord's beachfront splendor should pass up the chance to create another Carmel or Pebble Beach, and accept instead a teeming barrio of Mexican laborers?

Welcome to the bag of cats.

lévonne Stone is broad-shouldered, round-faced and black, with long hair in cornrows. She moved to Ft. Ord from Chicago with her soldier husband in the 1980s and now lives in Preston Park. For a time she worked as secretary to the fort's property manager, and it's easy to picture her running the place with a master sergeant's gruff authority. When the fort closed and Stone lost her job, she founded the Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network to make sure the interests of wealthy developers didn't overrun those of working people. She gained title to an old barracks as her headquarters and painted it grape-bubblegum purple, much to the annoyance of the reuse authority, which wants her to make it conform with the 10,000 other tediously beige buildings on the fort.

We sit in her tumbledown office eating hard candy. The towns inheriting the fort are getting free land, Stone says. "And then they have these developers coming from I don't know where, and all they want to do is make their money, money, money." She has spent years trying to get the reuse authority either to let people move into the old Army housing or require new development to include many houses for low-income workers. "If they can do it in Preston Park, they can do it everywhere," she insists.

Stone is not a sophisticated politico. She can't keep developers' names straight or quote the relevant laws. What she brings to the fight is a hot beacon of righteous, if inchoate, working-class anger. To watch her bullyrag the mostly white officials and developers is to be reminded that where most low-wage jobs are held by people of color, there's a racial aspect to excluding them from the coast. Stone never lets the reuse board forget it either. Responding at a recent meeting to the authority's demand that she repaint her purple building, Stone lowered her voice and growled into the microphone, "Color is important to me and my constituency."

This attitude alone makes her something of a figurehead. Stone bird-dogs every meeting of the reuse authority and never fails to speak up. At one session, board members discussed the California law that requires at least 15% of houses in any new development to be "affordable," a notoriously slippery term. "What do you mean $300,000 is affordable?" she boomed. "Affordable to whom?"

To Stone and her allies, the primary villains in this drama are developers, who are happier building homes than watching people move into existing ones, and the towns of Seaside and Marina, which are inheriting the portions of the fort with the most existing housing. Seaside already has razed 400 of its windfall housing units to make room for 380 "market rate" (read: breathtakingly expensive) houses with as many as six bedrooms apiece. Marina now wants to knock down 900 cinder-block duplexes and let developers build more than 1,000 houses, 80% of which will sell at "market rates."

"The problem with Seaside and Marina is they don't want to become the affordable-housing ghettos of the Central Coast," Stone says.

Leaving her office, I cycle down to Seaside to run her allegation past its city manager. Dan Keen is the mild yin to Stone's fiery yang. He meets me in his big office in Seaside's airy City Hall. I expect him to explode at Stone's characterization of Seaside's ghetto phobia. Instead he shrugs and says, "She's right."

He patiently walks me through the economics of running a city in California. Houses, it turns out--even expensive ones--suck up more in services than they contribute in property taxes in the post-Proposition 13 era. What little revenue that homes generate goes mostly to school boards. City governments get only about one-eighth, he says. It's businesses that carry the burden. In Seaside, hotel bed and sales taxes fund half the budget.

"More housing?" asks Keen, planting an exasperated hand on his forehead. "We already have too much." If Seaside must have more houses, he says, it deserves the big fancy ones because there isn't another high-end house in the city. "Seaside has a history that has not always been, uh, positive," he says, referring to its bawdy past. "And, yes, the City Council did recognize that [Ft. Ord] was an opportunity to change this community and raise it up."

Seaside's residents--those who make beds, man stores, cook meals in the posh tourist towns of Monterey, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove and Carmel--generate sales and bed taxes for those communities. Then they come home, Keen says, and require services. "We frankly don't think we should bear the burden of all the affordable housing on the Monterey Peninsula when we don't get the tax revenues those workers support."

After a while, Keen excuses himself so he can beat the traffic heading home. He lives 25 minutes inland because he can't afford to buy a house in the city he manages.

The Ft. Ord reuse authority is meeting in an old barrack across the road from LéVonne Stone's purple palace, and I buttonhole Jim Nakashima as he hurries inside. Nakashima, who gestures operatically as he talks, used to manage housing on Ft. Ord for the Army, and he now runs the county group that tries to provide low-cost housing to workers at the bottom of the economic food chain. He had come to the reuse authority meeting to hammer home the need for low-cost housing. "These towns want Ft. Ord to buy them instant respectability," he says of Marina and Seaside. "We have a housing crisis in this part of California, and they're talking about half-million-dollar houses."

Democratic Rep. Farr, who still lives in his boyhood home in Carmel, arrives straight from the airport and sits through the meeting with his chin thrust out as though inviting someone to take a swing. Farr represented this region in the statehouse before being elected to Congress in 1993, and has argued from the start that Ft. Ord should go largely to the region's majority, its low-wage and other working-class residents. Of everybody in the room, Farr is the only one with a trump card: The government hasn't completed the transfer of fort land to the local jurisdictions, and Farr has threatened to hold it up unless the cities agree to a high percentage of affordable housing.

Munching bridge mix during a break, he looks around at the collection of city and county officials and smiles ruefully. "There isn't a single person in this room who could afford to buy the house he's living in," he says, "including me."

To a large extent, the widening gap can be traced to the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Among the richest 5% of Americans, incomes have risen a reported 22% since 1989, while middle- and low-income Americans barely treaded water. More importantly, changes in U.S. tax policies discouraged investors from putting money into construction of affordable housing--defined as costing no more than 30% of a family's gross income--while encouraging spending for single-family homes. The number of affordable housing units built in California fell from 1 million a year in the mid-1980s to about 300,000, says Sam Mistrano, acting executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Non-Profit Housing. "There has been a lot of building, but it's all high-end single-family homes," Mistrano says.

In coastal areas, the wealthy bid up housing prices, leaving almost everyone else unable to qualify for mortgages.

One of Farr's ideas for Ft. Ord is to sell businesses on the idea that affordable housing is in their best interest. Workers who can live near their jobs are less stressed, easier to retain and less often late to work. A promise of affordable housing could draw new businesses to the fort. "Work force housing is the No. 1 business lure in California," Farr says. "Businesses all over California say, 'We can't have our workers getting caught in traffic and being late.' "

Up the road, the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group recently ponied up $20 million to leverage a trust fund 10 times that big to build affordable housing for 4,800 families. As Carl Guardino, president of the group, explains, they aren't building the housing for their own work force. They're building for the people their workers depend on: firefighters, police and teachers. The idea is sustainable development--a stable population of laborers, service workers and professionals living close to their places of work.

At the meeting, Farr suggests that Monterey Bay businesses follow the lead of Silicon Valley to ease the dreadful traffic that crisscrosses the region every morning as low-wage workers try to get to jobs in high-roller towns. The suggestion seems to throw the room into confusion, as officials wonder who might play the role of the Silicon Valley manufacturers.

"Is there such a group around here?" someone asks.

"A bunch of business guys have breakfast once a week at some place out on Highway 68, I think," another says.

"We could try to get some of them to the table, I suppose," says Monterey County Supervisor Lou Calcagno.

Farr rolls his eyes at me as though to say: 10 years.

The Army has been gone for nearly a decade, and the reuse authority is only now thinking of including local businesses in the housing discussion. It reminds me of something that Keen, the Seaside city manager, said about what it would take for his mayor to accept a high amount of low-income housing: "When other cities step forward and help us bear these costs, we'll do it." The reuse authority needs to arm-twist the Chambers of Commerce, the three dozen hotels and the big commercial farmers to share the burden, but 10 years of talking hasn't yet made them do it. I catch Farr as he hurries from the meeting.

"Ft. Ord is the single biggest giveaway of military land since the Homestead Act" of 1862, he says. "But these are small towns. They don't have the skills to deal with something as big and complex as this."

Jeff Dack is the head of Marina's tiny planning department. A young man of gelid composure, he is wedged into a cluttered office in the back of Marina's prefab City Hall, dwarfed by a wall-sized multicolored development map of the fort. Dack's dream is to knock down about 1,000 old Army buildings and create an entirely new city. "It will be a finely grained range of community,

incorporating a lot of concepts of the New Urbanism," he says. "Apartments over stores, mixed-use zoning so that homes are close to commercial centers, everything walkable, light rail . . ."

We stare at the map for a moment, imagining a project that would take an army of planners to create. He sighs. "Of course, the first problem is taking down all the old buildings, which, because of the lead-based paint and asbestos they contain, will cost about $70 million. This is the cost of the land; no matter what anybody tells you, the land is not free."

Dack is justifiably proud of Preston Park, which has the kind of housing for which Stone, Nakashima, Farr and others are clamoring. Like other buildings on the fort, the houses contained lead-based paint and asbestos that had to be removed or sealed. Marina found a way to get it done. "The city just up and decided to rehab Preston Park," Dack says. "There's no book on doing this. We're writing the book as we go along."

Had he known in 1994 what he knows now, Dack says he would have pushed to rehabilitate more of Marina's share of the housing. "This whole process has taken way more time than we thought." There are more than 60 different agencies to coordinate with, from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense and Fish and Wildlife Service to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control and the regional water quality control board. "There were lawsuits. The whole fort is a Superfund site," which means it contains contamination that the federal government will help clean up.

Preston Park, he says, was always seen as a stopgap measure because no one thought a city should own and operate housing the way Marina does there. "But in 20-20 hindsight we might have done things differently. Yes, it might have been better for Marina to have just done [with all its inherited Army housing] what it did with Preston Park."

The long delays may, in the end, serve only developers. The thousands of houses the Army left behind have sat unoccupied so long that mold is growing in their walls, arguably making them unsalvageable. Hardly anyone talks about using them anymore; the debate now is only over how expensive new housing will be.

Going round and round with the myriad agencies involved in the redevelopment of Ft. Ord can induce a queasy longing for monarchy. Democracy here has a mixed scorecard. It has yielded an impressive new university campus, a research park and two golf courses, acres of wildlife habitat and a couple of fancy subdivisions.

But it has produced precious little of what the region needs most: decent homes that the work force can afford. And because the decision-making within the reuse authority is polyglot, with dozens of agencies and jurisdictions involved, each has been able to point to another as the reason why the donated Army housing languishes. As Keen puts it, "The problem with the housing crisis is no one entity has the incentive to solve it. It's a crisis easily passed off to others."

Which is, when you think about it, a pretty depressing epitaph for what should have been a sensational stroke of good fortune for the Monterey Bay region. The main problem at Ford Ord is that the neediest people--the low-wage majority--aren't organized in a way that makes their demands unignorable. The city and county governments get heard. The developers get heard. The federal agencies get heard. But aside from LéVonne Stone endlessly shouting into her microphone, the people whose low-paid labor supports the local economy don't get heard. Or, rather, they get heard, thanked for their comments and then disregarded.

Unions aren't strong here, and in any case they think no more broadly than their individual shops or individual industries. It's been a long time since American working people thought of themselves as a class, with a sense of struggle against the owners and the financiers. To speak in such terms nowadays is to be accused of waging "class warfare."

The upshot is that at Ft. Ord, no mechanism exists for chambermaids to join hands with golf course mowers, lettuce packers with busboys, so there's no way for any of them to threaten serious consequences--say, a region-wide general strike--if their housing demands aren't met. As Frederick Douglass put it 150 years ago, "Power cedes nothing without a demand." As in most of America, Monterey Bay's working poor lack effective means to make such a demand. Here, though, the squandered bounty of Ft. Ord throws that lack into sharp relief and makes it unusually visible.
Dan Baum last wrote for the magazine about private citizen militias patrolling the Mexican border. He is the author of "Citizen Coors: An American Dynasty" (Morrow, 2000).

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Esselen Nation fights for identity

Esselen Nation fights for identity

Tribe applies to bureau

Apr. 20, 2003

Rudy Rosales has fought most of his life to prove his identity.

As a 13-year-old growing up in Pacific Grove, he realized he wasn't only Latino, as his surname reflected, but American Indian as well. His schoolmates wouldn't believe him, though.

"I was telling everybody I was Spanish and Indian," Rosales recalled. "And everybody would say 'No, you're Mexican.' And I'd say 'No, I'm Indian.' And then they'd say 'No, you're Mexican.'

"So I asked my mom. My mom would tell me I was Indian. I was Esselen."

In some ways, the Esselen are the lost tribe of Monterey County. American Indians speaking Esselen and Costanoan dialects, they have called the area home for thousands of years. But the federal government does not recognize them as a tribe, apparently because of a clerical error in 1927.

Anthropologists, however, say the Esselens are indeed one tribe, though they have been known by many names: Esselen, Costanoan, Ohlone, Rumsen, Montereyeño, Carmeleño, Sureño, Guatcharron.

Today, most of the 460 members call themselves part of the Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation, or Esselen Nation for short. Their domain runs from Moss Landing to Monterey and Carmel Valley, and from the Salinas Valley to Big Sur.

Rosales, 56, is chairman of the Esselen Nation, which is fighting to prove its identity, a long, bureaucratically torturous process with some potentially large payoffs.

In 1992, the Esselen Nation began its application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for recognition, amassing hundreds of documents to prove its members' existence as a tribe.

With federal acknowledgment comes the right to receive federal aid, including health care, scholarships, loans and housing assistance. Acknowledged tribes also have the opportunity to receive land in trust from the government to develop businesses and to sign compacts with states for valuable gaming rights.

Today there are 562 federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States. Rosales hopes to make it 563.

Continuous existence|

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the federal agency that oversees the acknowledgment process, requires tribes to meet seven criteria proving they have maintained a continuous existence. However, tribes whose status was terminated by Congress can't petition.

The Esselen say that's not the case with them. They say that along with 135 other California tribes, they were dropped from the federal rolls in 1927 by an Indian bureau agent charged with procuring land for homeless tribes. That act effectively canceled the government's obligations to them.

Since 1978, the BIA has come under fire from Indian organizations and congressional legislators who complain the agency takes too long to process petitions. During the Clinton administration, a new rule was added to make it easier for groups that have lost federal status to regain it.

The Esselen say restoring their federal status is not just about getting benefits. It means being able to revive a culture they have nearly lost.

"Re-recognition will give us back our dignity, our pride and our heritage," said Rosales. "We'll be able to apply for grants to help our elders, help our children go to school."

Organized nation|

The Department of the Interior has reserved 45 acres of East Garrison at Fort Ord for the Esselen to build a cultural center and museum. The Esselen will get the land, however, only if they regain federal recognition or if a recognized tribe takes it in trust for them.

Rosales says roughly two-thirds of Esselen members still live in Monterey County. The rest are spread throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. The membership is mostly working- and middle-class.

The Esselen Nation has a constitution and an eight-member tribal council. Members gather every month at the CSU-Monterey Bay campus for council meetings to plan cultural events and discuss the status of the tribe's petition. They are also collaborating with other unrecognized tribes in Northern California. The Esselen have enlisted anthropologists and a genealogist to document their history. Alan Leventhal, a professor at San Jose State University, along with Dr. Les Field of the University of New Mexico, has been working with the Esselen for more than 10 years.

A harsh critic of the BIA and media coverage of Indian issues, Leventhal believes Native Americans don't get much respect from the wider society.

"These groups were disenfranchised," said Leventhal. "They have been rendered invisible to the larger society."

Philip Laverty, an ethnohistorian and doctoral student with the University of New Mexico, has helped the Esselen amass hundreds of records to document their existence.

Tribal history|

Historically, the Esselen comprised 12 Esselen and Costanoan-speaking communities in Monterey County. Villagers lived in caves or in dwellings made of tule, a native marsh reed.

"We had a strong culture," said tribal chairman Rosales, who also serves as the nation's cultural liaison. "We respected everything as far as religion goes... Everything was sacred."

In 1883, an Indian Affairs agent named Helen Hunt Jackson formally identified the Esselen as an Indian community. The nation was later identified on official Indian census rolls, maps and in a land-rights petition sent to President Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1899, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber found most Esselen had intermarried, taken Spanish names and converted to Catholicism. Even though they were still speaking the Esselen language, Kroeber declared the tribe extinct -- something he would later back away from. Yet other anthropologists in Kroeber's day continued to deny the tribe's existence.

"There really have been no significant studies," said Laverty. "It's almost as if the community historically has been ignored based on the idea that they were extinct."

In 1927, Lafayette Dorrington, superintendent of the Sacramento agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, drew up a list of California tribes to whom land rights would be given. Laverty said Dorrington mistakenly left the Esselen off the list.

"We're still living with the legacy of that," said Laverty.

Tribal genealogist and council member Lorraine Escobar is tracing the bloodlines of current members back to people living in the 12 ancestral villages. Escobar works out of her home in Morgan Hill, where she keeps stacks of documents, maps, federal and state census records, land records, birth and death certificates, church and baptismal records, anthropological and linguistic reports, and BIA documents. She enters census and genealogical information into an exhaustive computer database, where it takes only "two minutes to find 200 years of history."

Escobar has researched Esselen bloodlines for more than 10 years, spending hours at the National Archives in San Bruno, the San Jose Family History Center, UC-Berkeley's Bancroft Library and the San Francisco Archdiocese. She says she has so far identified by name more than 100 Esselen living in Monterey County in 1923 -- the last time the group was federally recognized.

"My job is to prove who we are. That we aren't just people making claims," said Escobar, a certified American Indian lineage specialist.

"You're not just the genealogist, you're the historian. You begin to understand the whole puzzle and where everybody came from."

Long wait for recognition|

After the Esselen submit their petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the tribe should be placed on a list for active consideration for recognition. Unfortunately, that could amount to another long wait, says Laverty. Since 1978, when federal recognition criteria were established, only 15 tribes have successfully petitioned. Sixteen have been denied recognition.

So the Esselen are appealing to U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, to put pressure on the bureau. Farr says he is supportive of the Esselen's efforts and is willing to write a letter on the tribe's behalf, but he cautions that rarely does Congress pass legislation recognizing specific Indian tribes. The last resort for the Esselen would be to sue the federal government, as other tribes have.

Rosales says he wonders if he will see the Esselen's status restored in his lifetime.

"I'm very much concerned because I would like to see my grandkids profit from all this.

"Right now, we're just scattered all over the place, just like homeless Indians, what they used to call us before. That's exactly what we are. We need a place to call home."

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News :: Resistance & Tactics

Charges dropped against ‘Capitola 13’ protesters

Charges dropped against ‘Capitola 13’ protesters

May 3, 2003

CAPITOLA — District Attorney Bob Lee will not file charges against the 13 activists cited for trespassing near a 41st Avenue military recruiting office two days after the United States attacked Iraq.

Lee cited the group’s "reported peaceful nature" when they were hauled to County Jail after blocking entrances to the recruiting center in protest of the U.S. invasion. In a written statement Friday, he also said any outcome of taking the cases to trial would not be worth the expense.

"Under the circumstances, even if these protesters were convicted, I envision no consequence imposed by the court which would justify the time and expense in prosecuting these individuals," Lee stated.

He could not be reached to comment further.

Protesters hailed the decision, but a Capitola police lieutenant and the county sheriff’s spokesman said they had hoped Lee would hold the activists accountable for the thousands of dollars spent on overtime and other expenses associated with the arrests.

"We were there to protect their right to free speech, and we support that," said Kim Allyn, sheriff’s spokesman. "Unfortunately, in the real world, there’s is a price tag for protecting someone’s rights."

Sheriff Mark Tracy said he would not second guess the district attorney. "(Lee) has a whole host of things he has to take into consideration when making this decision — the cost, whether a trial would give protesters another forum. He made the decision he thought was best."

The case of the so-called Capitola 13 was the first politically tinged issue Lee has faced since taking office in January. He won the post with hefty support from the area’s progressive community.

The case was a mini-version of one that unfolded last month in San Francisco, where District Attorney Terence Hallinan chose to downgrade thousands of tickets stemming from antiwar protests there.

The Rev. Sharon Delgado of Scotts Valley, one of the 13, said she was prepared to deal with any legal consequence when she decided to embark on the protest.

"I really wasn’t concerned about going to trial or about going to jail," Delgado said Friday. "I’m concerned about this unneeded and unending war on terrorism and the future of the human family."

Protester Linda Crouse of Ben Lomond said, "We were there because it was an unjust war. We wanted the U.N. inspectors to stay."

Crouse stressed that one reason the Bush administration sought war was because Iraq supposedly possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"I think the war itself has shown that to be a lie," she said. "We felt strongly our kids should not be sent to war unless there was a just reason."

Sheriff’s spokesman Allyn said Lee should have considered the cost of staffing the protest (deputies assisted Capitola officers), especially when public budgets are strained. He said the protest cost the Sheriff’s Office more than $15,000.

"There should be some accountability," Allyn said.

Capitola police Lt. Mike Card agreed, saying Lee should have prosecuted the activists. "The city of Capitola went to considerable expense to deal with the demonstrators and worked with them to ensure a peaceful resolution to the event until they insisted upon being arrested."

Delgado said police have a valid point on the cost issue, but added there were far more police than was needed to handle a peaceful protest.

"We let them know exactly what we were going to do," she said.

Police issued trespassing citations. The protesters were taken to County Jail and released. The charges could have resulted in fines up to $400 and up to 90 days in jail.
Contact Cathy Redfern at
Contact Brian Seals at

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Marijuana on the minds of county's leaders

Marijuana on the minds of county's leaders's%20leaders&BRD=1197&PAG=461&CATNAME=Top%20Stories&CATEGORYID=410

May 2 2003

The fight for patients' and states' rights is coming to a head in Santa Cruz County as two separate but equally important issues concerning California Proposition 215 are raising interest throughout the state and the nation.

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, which has been one of the most vocal and supportive entities of the local medical marijuana movement, decided Tuesday to investigate the incentives and plausibility of issuing identification cards to patients who legally have been prescribed marijuana by their healthcare provider.

"[The identification card] appears to provide real assistance to both law enforcement and legitimate users of medical marijuana and their caregivers," wrote Mardi Wormhoudt, third district supervisor, in a letter addressed to the board on Tuesday.

Based on similar initiatives taken in San Francisco, Alameda, Marin and Mendocino counties, the Board of Supervisors instructed the county's Health Services Agency to study the case provided by the San Francisco model. Should the proposal pass, the county Public Health Department would issue identification cards to county residents who wanted an official form of identification to provide law enforcement should a confrontation occur.

"This California law has made it possible for a lot of people who are critically ill to ease their pain through doctor prescribed medication," said Wormhoudt. "This new card would make it much easier for law enforcement officials to be able to identify patients by having a county-issued card with updated information, expiration dates and a legal notice of right for the patient's medicine."

The cards would be similar to the ones already issued by Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, which provide a photo, descriptive information and a phone number to call should any problems or questions arise.

The cards would be issued if a person could provide a written prescription by a health physician and pay the $25 fee the county would charge for the cards. The card would be a voluntary measure only, and would not be required to be eligible to receive medical marijuana.

"The county-issued ID cards returns the medical marijuana issue to that of a health issue, instead of a criminal issue," said Vallerie Corral, co-founder of WAMM. "This will eliminate sick and dying patients being thrown into the legal system and will save the county the costs it would otherwise spend to find out that the person did in fact have a prescription for their medicine."

WAMM is a local nonprofit organization founded in 1993, which provides medical marijuana at no cost to terminally ill and other patients who seek relief from pain and suffering. The organization's farm was at the center of a controversy in September when the Drug Enforcement Administration raided the farm and arrested Corral, along with her husband Michael Corral.

Following the raid the Santa Cruz City Council sponsored a medical marijuana give-away from the steps of the City Hall. The council also deputized the Corrals in an attempt to protect the family and allow them to grow, distribute and possess marijuana under state law.

There is speculation as to how law enforcement agencies will balance the weight of upholding state law and federal law, as marijuana is illegal under any circumstances in federal law.

In Wormhoudt's letter to the Board of Supervisors, she states that Santa Cruz County Sheriff Mark Tracy is supportive of the idea. She added that she is not sure, however, how the Watsonville Police Department will respond to the identification cards, as the idea was conceived just this week.

Anne DaVigo, spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol, said the CHP's policy will not change should the officers be presented a county-issued card.

"If someone is driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana they will be arrested for a DUI just as a person who is driving under the influence of any substance that impairs ones abilities," said DaVigo. "It is CHP policy that if a person has marijuana in the vehicle, it will be confiscated even if the person provides the officer with an identification card."

DaVigo explained that several cannabis clubs are now issuing identification cards to protect their clients and that it becomes difficult for a field officer to determine the authenticity and legality of any such card. Therefore, the policy of confiscation will be upheld for the time being.

"Right now, there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation that ends up hurting people who benefit from medical marijuana," said Corral. "If all law enforcement agencies were to honor these cards, it would be a big lift for our patients and our cause."

In a separate issue, on April 23, a law suit was filed in federal court in San Jose by the city and county of Santa Cruz suing United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and the DEA. In the suit, the city and county demand that the federal government abstain from conducting any more raids on legitimate and legal marijuana farms, distribution centers and patients.

"This really brings up remarkable constitutional questions about how the Constitution is currently seen and ultimately if it even applies in today's world," said Corral. "This is also a remarkable time because sick and dying people are standing up against the federal government and fighting for their rights."

Corral, along with the several attorneys who are representing the plaintiffs, including Gerald Uelman, former dean of law at Santa Clara University, believes that the defense will move to have the suit dismissed, and is hoping the judge hearing the case denies the motion.

The Board of Supervisors instructed the Health Services Agency to prepare a report on the identification cards for the board's consideration at its May 20 meeting.

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News :: Resistance & Tactics

Antiwar protest case gets put off again

Antiwar protest case gets put off again

May 2, 2003

SANTA CRUZ — Today marks the second time the so-called Capitola 13 peace activists expected to be in court to face the music for their March 22 blockade of military recruiting offices in Capitola.

But they won’t get that opportunity, at least not yet.

And mum was the word Thursday at the District Attorney’s Office as Bob Lee said an announcement on what charges would be filed, if any, would be made today.

Activists rallied at the courthouse last week, and discovered that though their tickets showed a date of April 23 to appear, they were not on the docket. Lee told them then their new court date would be today.

But his office called lawyers Thursday, telling them not to appear.

An announcement will be made today, he said in a phone interview Thursday.

Lee said arraignment dates commonly differ from dates stated on tickets. He said the delay does not stem from political concerns.

"Some cases take years to file," he said. "Police have to give them a date, but we don’t have to meet it.

"If this is all my office had to do, it would be an easy job. It’s still important, but pressure? No."

The demonstrators were taken to County Jail, ticketed and released after blocking entrances at a 41st Avenue shopping center that is home to four recruiting offices. A special tactical team from the Sheriff’s Office assisted.

Capitola Police Lt. Mike Card says the event cost his department about $20,000 and cost the Sheriff’s Office probably at least that much.

Lee could file charges under the misdemeanor trespassing code Capitola police cited, file a lesser infraction or drop the whole thing.

But Capitola City Attorney John Barisone said it appeared prosecutors had an understandably difficult time finding a suitable infraction in the Capitola code, which was recently amended so that misdemeanors also can be charged as infractions.

That distinction could be important; it gives prosecutors a lesser offense to file and one not subject to jury trials, Barisone said.

Card said Capitola Police Chief Rick Ehle had discussed the case with Lee in hopes of reaching ground both sides could live with, but that he was unaware of the outcome. Ehle is out of the state.

"I believe it would be appropriate that the time, staffing and funds were put to proper rest in the adjudication of this matter," Card said.

"But in this county, I wouldn’t want to speculate about what sentence these judges would impose even if they were convicted."

San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan chose to downgrade thousands of tickets stemming from antiwar protests from misdemeanors to infractions.

He said prosecutors there had a better chance of winning in front of a judge than a jury.

If demonstrators demand a trial, they usually win, said Riva Enteen of the National Lawyers Guild, which coordinates a network of attorneys defending political protesters.

"We took 900 people to infraction trial in 1991 in the first Gulf War and all but a handful won," she told the San Francisco Chronicle recently.

Paul Sanford represents protester Sharon Delgado of Scotts Valley, a minister who works at the Resource Center for Nonviolence.

He said he got a call Thursday from Lee’s secretary who told him and his client not to appear today.

Sanford expects the 13 protesters will decide separately what to do if charges are filed. Delgado has not decided whether to ask for a jury trial, he said.

He said Lee told him activists charged with an infraction could request a bump to a misdemeanor, so they could demand a jury trial, instead of having a judge rule on a disputed infraction, like traffic court.

But, he said, the code sections he has studied for that rule don’t seem to apply.

Sanford earlier had called the case a "political hot potato" for Lee. Thursday, he simply called the whole thing "interesting."

A misdemeanor trespassing charge could carry a fine of up to $400, and Lee could take up to a year to decide on a charge.

An infraction carries a fine of $100 to $200.
Contact Cathy Redfern at

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