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A mysterious mystic from the East, and esteemed Wise man visits the City Council meeting, but can't find a quorum to hear him.
Jan. 24, 2005

Santa Cruz, Ca. -- He waited quietly in line. Speaker after speaker proceeded him. But when Y Swami Y finally reached the public microphone on Tuesday night to testify at the public hearing about the Coast Hotel Project, the City Council sat up and took notice.

By the time his first words were leaving his mouth, they stood up for a standing ovation. Then, led by Councilmember Fitzmaurice, apparently awed by Y Swami Y's greatness, five councilmembers retreated into the snack room in back of the City Council chamber.

There they clustered around the Community Television monitor in order to view from a less intoxicating vantage point, the visage of Y Swami Y, visiting mystic from the East.

The poor Swami fumbled a bit, hesitant to proceed with his speech. "Mr. Mayor, we cannot proceed since you no longer have a quorum." Normally meetings go into recess when there are less than four Council members there.

So struck was Mayor Mike Rotkin with the Swami's wisdom that as Mayor he motioned the questioning holy man to continue. "I'll tell you when we don't have a quorum," noted the Mayor. The humble swami modestly continued his remarks which marveled at the wonders of the Coast Hotel Project which will bring one public toilet, one cold shower, one more public walkway to the beach, a firepit, and a slightly wider bike lane---"All for the very reasonable price of $30 million!"

But later that evening when he consulted his inner kamawoto, it told him to consult a Brown Act Attorney. He was advised that , despite Mayor Rotkin's assurances that he didn't need "no stinkin' quorum" to proceed with City Council business, the Swami's public comment could not be included legally in city council business, since the Council was not in the room.

The ever-so-understanding Swami wrote Mayor Rotkin an urgent e-mail advising him that since his public testimony did not count, he would simply come to the Civic Auditorium on Wednesday night and deliver his urgent counsel. Hearing nothing, he left two more phone messages, advising the distinguished Mayor he would be back to conclude his remarks at the evening session the following day.

On Wednesday, this time in the larger Civic Auditorium Y Swami Y, who bears a remarkable resemblance to homeless activist, Robert Norse, waited patiently in the public comment line at the second day of Public Hearings on the $100 million dollar Coast Hotel Project in order to deliver his bright rosy forecasts of all those piles of money that the City Council will rake in for investing a mere $30 million dollar pittance in this partnership with a for-profit corporation in Boise, Id.

When he reached the microphone, after having stood a combined total of about 5 hours in line, Mayor Rotkin, obviously mistaking him for Robert Norse, shouted "Robert Norse. You spoke last night. You will not be allowed to speak again!" Now poor Swami Y is a bit hard of hearing. And the good Mayor was speaking at the same time that the audience was applauding the previous speaker (a disgruntled resident of Clear View Court who was whining about 3 years of construction 40 feet from his bedroom), so Y Swami Y said "What did you say?" Mayor Rotkin replied, "That is your first warning."

Y Swami Y started to say "Mr. Mayor I was not allowed to speak last night to a quorum of the City Council." But before he could get two words out of his mouth, Mayor Rotkin said "That is your second warning."

Y Swami Y had barely said "Mr. Mayor, I only want to speak to the City Council for my three minutes" when the Mayor called for a uniformed police officer to come forward and to give the mysterious Mystic from the East a special escort out of the auditorium and to the sidewalk outside.

Once outside the Civic Auditorium, he met with Free Radio Santa Cruz talk show host, Robert Norse who invited Swami Y to appear on his radio show on Thursday night. Y Swami Y enthusiastically accepted. He told Robert Norse that he was very excited about the large hotel conference project and appreciated all the effort former Mayor Scott Kennedy and Citizen Primack had put into the project.

"In fact, we might want to name this project the Kennedy-Primack Palatial estates--a truly regal and fitting hotel for the kind of people we want coming to Santa Cruz. The $350 per room effectively excludes the riffraff and will surely generate the funding we so desperately need."

LISTEN TO BATHROBESPIERRE'S BROADSIDES: CIVIL RIGHTS FOR THE POOR ON THURSDAY, FROM 6PM TO 8PM AND SUNDAYS FROM 9:30AM TO 1:00 PM Streaming on the web at and occasionally heard at 101.1 FM in the Santa Cruz area broadcast by persons completely unknown to any member of the Free Radio Santa Cruz Radio Collective.

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Translation for the bewildered

Translation for the bewildered:

On Tuesday January 18th, Robert Norse, dressed up in a turban, was interrupted by Councilmember Fitzmaurice, apparently disturbed by his eastern accent, who exclaimed "this is racist." He, Mathews, Reilly, Coonerty, and Porter left the room. Madrigal lingered near the door. Rotkin alone retained his seat. In the disruption Norse was unable to finish his remarks and also noted the absence of a quorum. Rotkin stated, "I'll decide when there's not a quorum."
Norse sent Rotkin an e-mail and two phone messages formally requsting the chance to finish his remarks before a quorum of the City Council, as guaranteed by the Brown Act. Rotkin, insisting this would be speaking twice, refused to allow this. When Norse, after waiting his turn in line, went to the microphone, his microphone was turned off, he was given three quick warnings, and then forced from the room by a police officer and banned from the rest of the meeting.

Letter to Mayor Rotkin re: Brown Act Violations....AGAIN!!

309 Cedar PMB #14B
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

January 24, 2005

Mayor Mike Rotkin
Santa Cruz, CA

Dear Mayor Rotkin,

During the Public Hearing on the Santa Cruz Coast Hotel project on Tuesday January 18th, my Public Comment period was interrupted and my comment not held before a quorum of the City Council.

I described this situation to you in a letter several days ago and requested the time be restored to me and that I be allowed to make public comment, a right guaranteed me under the Brown Act.

You denied me that opportunity verbally on January 19th and had me forcibly removed from chambers by a police officer, also denying me the opportunity to hear the rest of the proceedings, talk with members of the audience, circulate petitions in the Civic Auditorium, etc.

I believe your behavior on January 19th in denying me public comment and excluding me also violates the Brown Act. I ask you to correct this Brown Act violation immediately.

The most convenient time to do this is at the January 25th meeting when the item again appears on the agenda during the evening session. Please assure me that I will be able to speak without being interrupted, threatened, or removed--and that I will be able to speak to a full quorum of the City Council, if you intend to complete business on that item.

I remind you that similar violations of basic constitutional rights have brought City Council to court in a case, ironically, that your Council will be reviewing at the 1:30 litigation session.

I would hope you would not require the City to spend more time and money to deny me my opportunity to speak for three minutes on the Coast Hotel project. This is an opportunity which the law guarantees everyone else. To deny me the chance to speak is a form of selective harassment. Again denying me the right ot speak suggests a broader pattern of harassment---such as is the subject of the pending lawsuit.


Robert Norse
(Y Swami Y)

Why Swami Why?

Given the well known racism of one member of your organization, namely Becky Johnson, against the people of the East, I would caution your organization against fake accents that can be seen as mocking those cultures. Most of your message has been lost in this presentation.


well said, Steve

Assistance from Overseas On the Way

As visiting inspector from the French surete, I have been called in to carefully examine the evidence for racism in this questionable skit.

I shall be questioning this so-called Y Swami Y, the endlessly inappropriate Norse, and any confederates involved.

This vicious attempt to mock a much-needed hotel development is another attempt to smear a much-respected group of legislators, merchants, and humanitarians.

I suspect everyone...and no one.

I shall announce the results of my preliminary investigation shortly and let the chips fall where they may.

In the meantime, for those concerned about avoiding an unintentional repetition of this unfortunate situation, I have alert colleagues in the Academy of Languages in Paris to forward some appropriate non-racist guidelines for using accents.

These experienced linguists will also be consulting with former Mayor Timothy Fitzmaurice, who so presciently led the walkout on this disgraceful hate speech at the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on January 19. Mr. Fitzmaurice has had much useful experience setting up "decorum" guidelines at City Council and his assistance will be valued.

We must stamp out misguided humor from abusive humorists whose unwitting witticisms mislead our fellow citizens to laugh at completely inappropriate moments. I urge citizens to be on the alert for questionable comedy of any sort; please report such unseemly incidents immediately to local authorities.

I salute those who have directed my attention to this matter. When this investigation is over, smirking satirists with unacceptable accents may well be grimacing out of the other side of their faces.

Let us stamp out this menace before infects our young people.

Jacques Closeau
French Surite
1883 Rue Pink Panther
Paris, France


Who is this "Jacques Closeau" character? I think he is just another imitation put on by a well known local activist. Y Swami Y is harmless in my opinion. Have any Indian people spoken out against him? Would a Chinese or Korean accent have been more apropriate for an imitation of a wise man from the East? Or would you prefer a US southern drawl interlaced with appeals to "Pay only $5000 for my internet money making seminar" mentioned every other sentence --- imitating Shawn Casey. "Shawn" could offer to show Mike Rotkin and the city council the ropes of how to make it big in the world of bankrolling risky capitalist ventures. Or maybe some other real estate guru such as Robert Allen could offer to show the city council how they could close the deal for the hotel project with no money down (assuming they qualify for the loan by calling the place their only residence -- and don't mention to anyone that they don't have a real estate license.)


I agree with the suggestion that it would be prudent for Robert to lay off the accent thing.

However, I think the City Council does itself a disservice when they act in a manner that denies a citizen his/her rights. Even if a citizen has a history of being an irritation, they should still grant him/her their rightful alloted time. As our elected representatives, they should be the ones demonstrating the type of leadership that is so desperately lacking in our culture. In other words, they should be taking the high road -- not waiting for Robert to do so. He isn't an elected official. By doing so, they would also most likely help themselves because Robert would have less to report on about them.

And since I'm on the topic of elected officials taking the high road, it is positively REPULSIVE if Mayor Rotkin acted as "Pole Dancing Judge" as was insinuated in last week's Metro. Far as I know, Rotkin *is not* an established expert on female masturbation techniques. That means that he used his status as an elected official to be a part of this public dehumanization of people for sexual titilation.

Great example you set, Mayor. Maybe to increase profits at the Coast Hotel project, we could get the maids to do a "second shift" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!). They're going to need more money if they want to live within an hour of here anyway. It IS all about the money, right?? Oink! Oink!


"they should still grant him/her their rightful alloted time"

They did. At a meeting on Tuesday night. See, Robert Norse thinks his opinions carry more weight than the rest of ours, so naturally he should get to speak twice.

Yawn misses the point

According to the Brown Act, the City Council may not conduct council business without a quorum of the city council. Fitzmaurice's thin-skinned walkout removed that quorum. Rotkin was wrong to allow Norse to continue to speak when there was no quorum.

Norse is not asking to speak twice. He is asking for what every OTHER speaker got, 3 minutes to speak to a quorum of the City Council.

Does simply using a foreign accent mean a person is a racist?

No! It has to be coupled with the intent to defame, to deny, or to belittle an entire race of people. Norse's Y Swami Y "wise" man routine did not do this. Simply using an accent does not do that.

Robin Williams accepted a lifetime achievement from the Golden Globes the other night. In his acceptance speech, he used about four different accents. No one called him a racist. Nor should they have. They cheered and applauded him.

Fitzmaurice once walked out on Norse calling him anti-catholic. He wasn't. Fitzmaurice was totally full of shit.

People, this is yet another smear job of an activist so that people are distracted from his message and he has to spend time defending himself from a non-issue.


"smear job of an activist so that people are distracted"

and you'd know, Becky, you'd know...

Restoring the Public's Right to Speak

If your speech is interrupted by disruptions and no quorum is present, you're not being given equal access to the City Council and the community: such behavior violates the Public Meetings Act (the Brown Act), as I pointed out to Rotkin in three e-mails and two phone messages.

Rotkin had a chance to correct this misconduct by allowing me to speak the next night at the Civic without making a fuss. This would have also given him incentive to hold Council members accountable the next time they decided to interrupt a speaker from the public.

Fitzmaurice could have quietly left the room, or he could have spoken afterwards, or he could have gone to the mike to speak at Oral Communications himself in opposition and/or protest. He chose instead to interrupt, create a disturbance, and attempt to invoke a form of heckler's censorship. Rotkin did not call him on this. Nor did he acknowledge the obvious fact that with Councilmembers out of the room, a quorum was not present, and I was no longer able to properly address the Council at all.

I happen to believe that people should be allowed to speak out (calling a racist a racist, if that's what come up). Or walk out. But Fitzmaurice and Rotkin have decided on decorum rules--the only catch is that they don't have to follow them themselves. They simply use them when they please. Which has often been to silence critics.

They have had no problem interrupting, threatening, silencing, ejecting, and even arresting speakers in the past or members of the audience who whisper (much less stand up, comment, and disrupt a speaker at the podium--as Fitzmaurice did).

I am currently in court over one such incident from March 2002 (the so-called "Heil Krohn!" case--discussed elsewhere on this website). Interestingly enough it was Fitzmaurice who provoked this incident as well.

Unless we call officials who abuse their positions of power on their abuses, we cannot hope to prevent them from happening again.

Holding Rotkin's Council accountable, not my great desire to wait in line for two more hours and speak for three minutes, was the point of subjecting myself to Rotkin's harassment, humiliation, and arrest the next night.

While folks may disagree on the wisdom, effectiveness, humorousness, or propriety of "Y Swami Y"'s accent, I hope most readers agree that City Council needs to be held accountable to the same standards as the rest of us. And those standards have to be fair.


Robert said: "WAAAAA!!"

Like we need to hear you speak again Robert? Perhaps your energy might be better spent on a campaign to LOWER THE RENTS in Santa Cruz so less people become homeless and leave?


In your almost 2 decades of "activism" in Santa Cruz, when have you ever felt like you actually accomplished any substantial change in city policy?
In other words, has there ever been a campaign you've led which has been "a success?" I mean, aside from any lawsuits you've won against the city....


I can name two successes that Robert Norse can say that he helped with:

1) The modification of the no-sitting-on-the-sidewalk law passed in 1994 and vigerously protested by lots of people. It is now legal to sit on at least some portion of the sidewalk in Santa Cruz.

2&3) The failure to pass the 3rd street realignment Beach/South of Laurel Plan in 1998-1999. This was concurrent with the election of Sugar/Krohn/Fitzmaurice to the city council, who at one point were poised to enact safe sleeping zones until Katherine Byers bowed out at the second reading of the ordinance.

Since 2000 or so Robert and HUFF have been basicly stonewalled by the city council, while watching increasingly repressive laws pass and while watching no parking signs from midnight to 6 AM get posted throughout the city.

A federal lawsuit to overturn the sleeping ban is being planned. This may be the only way out at this point.

Back to the point: A City Council With Contempt for Public Process

The issue is how city council treats members of the public, even those it dislikes. The entire Santa Cruz Coast Hotel process is really emblematic of this disrespect. The question then becomes, "what can the community do as City Council rams another scheme down our throats?"

That'll be the question after tonight's wham-bam vote, I'm afraid.


"The question then becomes, "what can the community do as City Council rams another scheme down our throats?"

unfortunaltely, Robert, that is the very question which is lost on many of us who would support you, if not for the silly, attention-grabbing, and racist tactics you use.


"yawn", don't lie. You wouldn't support Norse no matter what tactics he uses. You obviously don't like him. Don't pretend that it's his latest PR tactic that is discouraging your support.

What Robert Norse is doing, for which you fail to give him credit, is to bring an element of mirth and entertainment to the otherwise dry and hellishly tedious scene of local politics.

And why not? Nothing else is working. The degree of political apathy in Santa Cruz is amazing. People in this town dont want activism anymore. They want an occasional, empty, feel-good rally with some sign-waving, and then they go back to their regular apolitical inactivist lives.

Norse's new-found theatrical gimmicks are a desperate attempt to motivate an unprincipled and unmotivated local populace to go to their local weekly city council meeting and GET INSIDE politics, rather than standing on the outside wallowing in their own helplessness.

Really get involved. Committed. Working. Sacrificing. In the boring weekly trenches, not the occasional summertime Clock Tower social events.

I think it's a sad statement about Santa Cruz that these antics are necessary to draw public attention to these meetings. But necessary, they appear to be.

Norse may be a jackass at times, even a bit paranoid. Maybe he does have an ego that sometimes gets in the way behind-the-scenes.

But he's also sharp. He knows the score, and he sees the big picture of Santa Cruz (in)activism. He is, I think, learning from his mistakes and adapting to the Media Circus playing field.

And he's dedicated. What would YOU do with a trust fund (which is only enough to put him in a trailer park anyway.. yeah, he's so spoiled)? You'd probably piss it away on cheap beer and NFL season tickets. You'd sit back, relax, and waste it.

Meanwhile, Norse fights tirelessly for a cause.

And I dont even care much for the homeless. But I respect Robert as one of the few real ACTIVE-ists in this politically burned out town.

Robert Norse: watch dog of the Santa Cruz City Council.

We know he's psychotically obsessed with fighting City Hall over anything and everything.

But thanks to Norse, we also know that whenever they try to pull a fast one, he'll be there to catch them and bring it to our attention.

Thank you, Robert.


You're wrong when you say, 'You wouldn't support Norse no matter what tactics he uses. You obviously don't like him.'

You raise some good points about Robert, and his ability to keep an eye on city council. I agree. He is effective at that, and w/o his radio show, I'd miss alot of their BS. Thanks for reminding me of that, Arthur.

However, you've jumped to a few conclusions about me. I won't pontificate as to how I'd spend a sudden windfall of cash, but I assure you it won't be on NFL tix and michelob.... Also, I've been around Santa Cruz a long time now, and I've seen Robert Norse from near and far, in Huff meetings, among others, and at rallies, sit-ins, and council meetings going back to the mid-90s, and I'm here to say, this y-swami-y song and dance is not some 'new-found theatrical gimmick' as you put it. Us who been 'round have seen this routine, and don't find it humorous... It's a racial stereotype abnout Indian hotel owners. I'm all for lively rallies and protests, and I think Robert might think hard about adapting more of the Art and Revolution style antics if he wants to liven things up.

'Don't pretend that it's his latest PR tactic that is discouraging your support.'

You are correct. Its not this rehashing of y swami y, rather a pattern of turning a legit issue with a council action into a personal crusade. Its the way Robert becomes the issue. Its a distraction... And I often wonder where that money he lives on *really* comes from.

Personally, I'd love to be more politaclly engaged, but I'm a little busy trying to survive and pay rent in Santa Cruz, which in case you did'nt realize is expensive in this town. I myself, don't have a trust fund to pay my rent. So when I have to pay my landlord $600 of my $826/mo disability check, next week, I'll remeber to think about how hard poor Robert Norse has it.


"You are correct. Its not this rehashing of y swami y, rather a pattern of turning a legit issue with a council action into a personal crusade. Its the way Robert becomes the issue. Its a distraction..."

I couldn't have said it better.


Why does Robert become the issue though? Because Robert makes Robert the issue, or because the City Council dodges the real issues by making Robert the issue?

It seems to me that it is only Robert's ideological opponents who have trouble focusing upon the issues to which Robert attempts drawing attention.

Or perhaps more truthfully, they desire to divert attention from those issues and find Robert's media antics a convenient scapegoat.

For Robert to put on a turban and a cheezy fake accent may be silly, but it in no way prevents the City Council from conducting business as usual. Unfortunately the City Council, with their personal beef against Robert, chose to forcibly retalliate.

Costume or not, he should have been allowed his 3 minutes like anyone else. And those 3 minutes should have been part of the official record, but they were censored on the excuse that enough council members were not present.

Council failed to do their job, so Robert earned another 3 minutes the following night and was then forcibly denied this under threat of armed violence. How absurd is that!

All City Council had to do was DO THEIR JOBS. Sit, listen, let it be recorded, then cut him off at 3 minutes like usual and shew him off and it would have been END OF STORY for the week.

Apology for Mayor Rotkin - Separate Issue

To Mayor Rotkin and all who may have read my previous post in this thread regarding the mayor being a pole dancing judge: I apologize for my comments. I believe I misinterpreted something I read and then flew off the handle about it. I believe in the concept of fairness and I am truly sorry for my comments which breached this virtue.

Y Swami Y is just a schtick

The character Y Swami Y, according to Robert Norse, was slightly patterned after X Swami X of Berkeley, who used to expound sans an accent, at Sproul Plaza on the virtues of eating pussy.

Y Swami Y is only generically a "wise man" and "mystic of the east" along the style of Johnny Carson's Carnack the Magnificent. He is also patterned after former Mayor Scott Kennedy's often touted admiration for Ghandi.

Any resemblence to local Santa Cruz hotel owners is, as they say, entirely coincidental.

It is ironic though, that most of the motel owners, who are Indian, support the Coast Hotel project. And Swami Y is an unquestioning supporter of the Hotel Project. Underline unquestioning.

Third "Follow the Brown Act" letter sent to Mayor Rotkin

309 Cedar PMB #14B
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

February 1, 2005

Mayor Mike Rotkin
Santa Cruz, CA

Dear Mayor Rotkin,

This is to follow up on my two letters of January 19th and January 24th requesting you correct Brown Act violations made at the January 18th and January 19th City Council meetings.

In those meetings, you refused to allow me three minutes of uninterrupted testimony on the Santa Cruz Coast Hotel project to a full quorum of the City Council, in violation of sections 54954(c) and 54954.3(a) of the Brown Act.

Section 54954 (c) reads "The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body." Section 54954.3(a) reads "Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body's consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body..."

My January 24th letter requested that the censored Public Comment time be restored on January 25th when the issue was again on the agenda. According to the City Clerk's office, you declined to do this. In continuing this course of misconduct, you are compounding your Brown Act violations. In refusing to explain or justify your behavior, you are showing contempt for the public and for those interested in understanding how you conduct meetings.

You showed on January 19th that you were willing to forcibly order me removed from the hearing by a police officer for simply standing at the public podium and awaiting my time to speak. As I mentioned in my letter of the 24th, this unlawful arrest also denied me the opportunity to hear the rest of the proceedings, to talk with members of the audience, to circulate petitions in the Civic Auditorium, and generally to join in the public debate. I was warned by the police officer not to reenter chambers. This violates Section 54953. (a) of the Brown Act which reads "All meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body of a local agency..."

The most convenient time to do this is at the February 8th Public Hearing when the issue will again be on the agenda. I would request an additional three minutes as part of my individual speaking time, for a total of six minutes, to make up for the time improperly taken from me on January 18th. Please assure me during this six minute period that I will be able to speak without being interrupted, threatened, or removed--and that I will be able to speak to a full quorum of the City Council, if you intend to complete business on that item. For the third time, this is a formal Brown Act demand.

I am also making this demand in addition to my request for the normal 5 minute HUFF organization speaking time (which I may not be using, but some HUFF member will use).

I have asked attorney David Beauvais, one of the attorneys currently suing the City Council for prior violations of my First Amendment rights, to add this current Brown Act violation to the ongoing lawsuit as another example of the City Council's pattern of selective harassment. Your denial of the right to speak on January 18, 19, and 24 have already impacted my ability to be a part of the public debate on the Santa Cruz Coast Hotel issue. I also believe it has chilled other speakers and other potential speakers.

I would like assurance that you will follow the law on February 8th and not subject me to public scorn, obloquy, and defamation by a repeat performance of your illegal arrest of January 19th. Please respond in writing at least 24 hours before the Council meeting so I can pursue legal options if you choose to again deny me the right to speak as outlined above.

It also saddens me to see the rushed process you are using that excludes a meaningful community dialogue on this issue.


Robert Norse
(Y Swami Y)


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