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Incumbent Councilman Fitzmaurice gets SCAN’s nod

Incumbent Councilman Fitzmaurice gets SCAN’s nod


September 11, 2002
Sentinel staff writer

A forum for City Council candidates at Louden Nelson Center on Monday night drew loud applause, and a few snickers and groans.
Incumbent Tim Fitzmaurice was the night’s biggest endorsement winner, getting a stamp of approval from the Santa Cruz Action Network, Service Employees International Union and the People’s Democratic Club. The SEIU and the Democratic Club also backed former council members Cynthia Mathews and Mike Rotkin.
SCAN is the largest and most active progressive political group in the city. The group has vehemently opposed proposed changes to downtown ordinances.
But on Monday, SCAN endorsed only Fitzmaurice, who has supported the tighter behavior controls. The group bypassed Steve Argue and Thomas Leavitt, the only candidates campaigning against the new downtown rules.
For a SCAN endorsement, candidates needed a 60 percent “super-majority” approval from the 68 members who showed up to vote.
Fitzmaurice had said he wasn’t taking SCAN’s approval for granted.
The group endorsed him, Christopher Krohn and Keith Sugar in 1998, but this year, members were angered when Fitzmaurice backed a set of new downtown-behavior rules. Sugar and Krohn, who opposed the rules, are not running for re- election.
The rules, scheduled to kick in Thursday, expand existing panhandling limits. They ban panhandling after dark, and set new space limits on daytime panhandlers and money-seeking street musicians. They also outlaw playing Hackey Sack and Frisbee on downtown sidewalks.
SCAN has urged the council to postpone the rules, arguing they were hastily researched and could do more harm than good.
Nora Hochman of SCAN said Fitzmaurice’s “unfortunate vote apparently was not a single litmus” test for endorsement. She said the group looked at his entire record, including his role in developing a living-wage ordinance. She also said that while she disagreed with him on downtown, “I respect him for sticking to what he believed was a principled position regardless of his re-election chances. Politically, that’s a big deal.”
SCAN is one of the city’s more influential grass-roots groups. Its forums draw crowds and candidates, though the group’s detractors say it has lost much of its influence in recent years.
The night was full of crowd-pleasing moments, though it was subdued for a Santa Cruz debate.
Jeromy McMillan, one of many political newcomers on the ballot, urged the town to “get drugs and prostitution out of there because the kids these days can’t even play in their own front yard” without fear.
Argue slammed a town “that has leaders who pretend to be progressives ... and are frankly hateful to the poor.” He said Santa Cruz must embrace rent control.
Candidate Phil Baer, a Beach Flats resident, decried the “massive level of addiction that permeates and exudes this black cloud within our city.” He said city leaders are overly permissive and in denial about heroin-dealing in the Beach Flats.
Mathews poked fun at the notion of candidates making pithy statements about “complex issues that defy simple solutions. I can build coalitions.” She pledged to back youth and families, more affordable housing, UCSC housing and infill housing.
Greg Lopez spoke of making Beach Flats a “crown jewel” and building up tourism to offset manufacturing losses.
Rotkin, a former three-term mayor, spoke of his affordable-housing achievements, his backing of greenbelt acquisition and his work to stop off-shore oil drilling. He pledged a pragmatic approach and to avoid “endless debate.”
Karen Woblesky said council members dwell on minor issues and “lose focus on the real problems.” She pledged to increase affordable housing.
Aldo Giacchino, who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit questioning Rotkin and Mathews’ eligibility to run, said the “silent majority needs to be empowered” through the Internet and more council accessibility.
Giacchino, Woblesky, Rotkin, Mathews and Fitzmaurice said they do not favor revoking a city ban on sleeping outside and in cars, though Fitzmaurice said the language should be revised. Leavitt and Argue want to revoke the ban.
Ten of the 12 council candidates attended. David Eselius and Connie Thomasser did not
Contact Dan White at dwhite (at)

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SCAN scamming as usual.

I understand that SCAN, as usual, picked up the ballots before discussion of the candidates. One SCAN member told me that most ballots had been cast and people left the room before the discussion began.

I was witnessed to this corrupt process in the 2000 SCAN steering committee election, where ballots were cast before all the nominations were in. This was around the time of the Fitzmaurice-Hochman-Belton Dolphin-Lee (Nueva Vista) scandal where the SCAN general membership had supported by 2-1 vote in a mass meeting the rights of tenants to clear written individual guarantees of relocation and return to housing before being bounced out of their low-income Dolphin and Lee Apartments. City Council (including SCAN endorsee Fitzmaurice) denied the tenants those written guarantees. And the pro-Council pro-Mercy Charities Housing SCAN steering committee sabotaged the SCAN resolution.

Only a tiny faction of those Latino families is now left, thanks to the Fitzmaurice-Rotkin Council majority which rammed through the Dolphin-Lee demolition deal, spending all the City's affordable housing money for the next 5+ years. The rest were bought out or scared out. For those who want confirmation, contact Western Service Workers Union for information.

Hochman and Belton, key matriarchs on the SCAN steering committee, successfully crushed any debate on this issue at SCAN by an extralegal process of abolishing the SCAN housing committee (which supported the tenants). Then Sandy Brown, their ally, removed the issue from the agenda when we tried to bring it up at the 2000 SCAN Steering Committee election.

When several of us tried to oppose the recycled-returnees in that election, (similar to what's happening at City Council where insiders Rotkin, Matthews, and Fitzmaurice are returning in the November elections), Brown's agenda allowed for the casting of ballots even before all the candidates were nominated.

In 2002, it looks like the same process of allowing endlessly-recycled insiders to control what goes on, muzzle real debate, and orchestrate prearranged outcomes is still the order of the day. These kind of abusive practices make the "progressive" label a bad joke. And give us some insight into why SCAN has lost its paid co-ordinator position. Even after Fitzmaurice showed four long years of anti-homeless votes, Hochman and her insiders (which unfortunately included Celia Scott) apparently anointed the man who sent the police in to Camp Paradise.

We need new community organizations not beholden to political bosses (such as Fitzmaurice) and willing to hold their endorsees accountable--as neither SCAN nor the Greens seem willing to do.


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