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Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

the policeman spies
while the council does nothing
a winter leaf falls in the breeze
Click on image for a larger version

There was a motion before the city council proposed by councilmember Tony Madrigal to request an independent investigation into police spying. The council perhaps signalled it's intentions by placing the motion on the afternoon agenda of their regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting, rather than the more well-attended evening agenda.

There were a good many public speakers raising issues with the police internal audit and calling for the independent investigation. Additionally, people called for full disclosure of any past spying and for a strong binding ordinance limiting police powers to monitor political and community groups.

This was the first time that councilmembers expressed serious concern about police spying. Ed Porter and Tim Fitzmaurice spoke at length about their concerns.

Some speakers who had viewing the results of the ACLU Public Records Act request made it clear to the council that there was no question about who was involved in the police spying scandal. The real questions were what motivated them to do it, how extensive it is, and how we will make them stop.

The public records contain emails that show that most everyone in the police department management from Chief Howard Skerry to Deputy Chief Kevin Vogel on down to Lt. Rudy Escalante knew about the undercover officers. Additionally, there were communications to and from high-level police from the city manager's office, the downtown development association, and even Mayor Cynthia Mathews herself.

During the vote on Mr. Madrigal's motion, the discussion was hijacked by Mike Rotkin who made a long and circuitous counter-motion to do nothing until the results of the Internal Audit came back, making Mr. Madrigal's original motion moot. Councilmembers Fitzmaurice and Madrigal were still asking clarifying questions about the proposed counter motion when Ms. Mathews cut off discussion and called for a vote. Their were 3 councilmembers voting against Rotkin's proposal to do nothing. It passed, requiring the council to do nothing.
Then to add insult to injury, the original motion came to a vote, and lost 5 to 2, with Councilmembers Fitzmaurice and Madrigal voting against.

In short, the council voted again to do nothing and trust the police to police themselves. But we will not let up pressure until citizens can express their free speech and free assembly rights without fear that a cop is lurking in their midst.
who was responsible.pdf (141 k)

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Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

Okay, I may stand corrected. I thought it was 3 votes against the first motion. I'm told it might well have been only 2 votes, which would be Madrigal and Fitzmaurice.

Who are those undercover bra's?

Looking at the public records document, you can see who the police infiltrators were.

So if two surfer dudes show up at your next community group meeting that look like these fellas, address them respectfully as OFFICER Carter Jones and OFFICER Hansen.

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

Great headline... and I love the Haiku.

Lots of Time for Friends; No Time for Critics

I think the Spygate vote was 2-5 both times.

Had more folks shown up, there probably would have been more votes. Of course, as mentioned above, Mathews put the issue on the afternoon agenda (and Madrigal didn't apparently object), which many people can't come to.

The debate also gave some misleading impressions. Out-of-town Palo Alto attorney Bob Aronson, our "police department auditor" and the former attorney for the disembowled Citizens Police Review Board [CPRB]which Council killed in January 2003, was described as an "independent investigator". He is nothing of the kind.

In fact, he does nothing more than read over the confidential IA files and report (privately) to the Council. I don't think he's even made a written report, though raking in $25,000 per year or so. He's the Council's figleaf over the gashing wound they inflicted in killing the CPRB. Madrigal knew this (he used the CPRB as his stepping stone to City Council--where he played a very weak role).

As I mentioned before, even if Madrigal's motion had passed, unless modified, it would have given the power to appoint the independent investigator(s) to Tricky Dick Wilson, our City Manager For Life. No one talked of modifying it except myself and one other speaker.

What is needed is a truly independent forum. Get a competent committed person from out of town, hire a hall, throw some meetings, have some public testimony, and issue a report.

Proponents of an investigation also needed to present copies of the ACLU Public Records Act request to the City Council (and to the Public Library).

One researcher did her homework and confronted the Council with a pile of papers documenting a year of SCPD spying--in contradiction to what the Sentinel reported Police Chief Howard Skerry as saying ("just this once").

I urge that Rico and the researcher scan in all that info onto indymedia, so that it provides a neon sign incentive for investigation. I understand Rico is also looking for further documentation--which was withheld by the police.

I'll be playing some audio on the subject on my Thursday FRSC show 6-8 PM tomorrow (archived at

At the evening session, Mathews, in a typically capricious and irregular move, gave five minutes to one of the many Downtown Business Association reps who packed the 7 PM Oral Communications line opposing a Living Wage. She also allowed additional time for business panhandlers from the audience to speak (heavy with woe at the prospect of having to pay their workers enough to live here). When the 30 minutes was up, Mathews actually solicited more business input and extended oral communications on their behalf.

This sharply contrasted with her interruption of Rico Thunder on January 10th as well as her interference with his testifying at the afternoonn meeting. She explicitly excluded Michael Tomasi on January 10th even though the Council had voted to allow him (and two others) to speak. She allowed speakers only two minutes on January 10th. She allowed Spygate speakers during the afternoon only two minutes. But her business friends each got three minutes that night.

The five minutes Mathews gave to the first Business speaker had never been previously done at Oral Communications. It is the procedure at Public Hearings when ordinances are being discussed, but not at Oral Communications. Mathews, however, has used these special bequests of time to her friends twice.

This disadvantages other speakers because Oral Communications is almost always shoehorned into a 30-minute period.

This period has been repeatedly constricted over the years. Old-time Ed Davidson remembers when it was unlimited. I remember when it was 45 minutes (1988). The County Board of Supervisors allows everyone to speak --placing overflow at the end of the meeting).

In any case, it's the only time people have to raise issues not on the agenda (as the Spygate speakers did on January 10th) without the immediate risk of censorship, expulsion, and/or arrest.

Mathews continues to decline to respond to the letter, hopefully still posted on this website, which a group of us sent to her, asking she voluntarily institute a fair public process, open up her schedule of public meetings, and give make available a list of the lobbyists she's met with over the previous month. The Sunshine Act of 2004 requires this, but Mathews is apparently taking her cue from Shadow Mayor Mike Rotkin (the guy who really directs Council meetings).

It may take a court injunction to get her to treat the public fairly. Folks who want to back such an effort can reach me at rnorse3 (at) .

As I will be reminding people over the next few weeks, I face a year and a half in jail for standing at the podium waiting to speak for two minutes back in June. Others should not have to face the same repression.

Intelligence Gathering

From: Rudy Escalante
Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2005 12:32 AM
To: Kevin Vogel
CC: Christian Lemoss
Subject: RE: Last Night DIY Planning Meetings

Read on...


to Tony Madrigal and Tim Fitzmaurice for their clear-headed thinking on this issue. When confronted with clear evidence of police duplicity on the current "internal investigation", they decided that it was time to get to the bottom of things and shed some light on the dark places.

Is asking for an independent investigation "anti-police"? Absolutely not. I have started to listen to Bad Cop, No Donut on Free Radio Santa Cruz, which airs on Thursdays from 1:00 - 1:30. Despite the inflammatory title, this show is an informative, fact-based show which simply reports police misconduct throughout Canada and the U.S. I am astounded by the amount and frequency of these reports. There are so many instances that he manages to fill up the entire commercial-free half-hour with reports of police misconduct alone.

That tells me two things. First, police misconduct is chronic and widespead. Second, if these police are getting caught and prosecuted, then that means there are other good officers who are working to fight corruption. If we are going to give people guns and tell them to protect us, I want the latter folks working for me. We as citizens have a responsibility to support those honest police who are working to fight corruption from within.

I extend the invitation to any police officer who would like to come forward anonymously in this forum to provide information that might help stem corruption, including the abuse of police power resulting in the infringement of citizens' first amendment rights.

The City Council needs an independent investigation so that an open process can occur. They need to support the honest, hardworking police officers who want to an open dialogue with the public and put these suspicions to rest.

After all, if you have nothing to hide, why wouldn't you want to support an independent investigation?

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

The Council voted to hold a special meeting of the Public Safety Commission on Monday, February 13th at 4PM. In the time between now and then, the City Manager will direct the Santa Cruz independent police auditor, Robert Aronsen, to review all data available on the case so far and to make at least a preliminary report at the February 13 Public Safety Committee meeting. Discussion will probably continue at the next regularly scheduled PSC meeting a week later.

While many people are impatient with the seemingly slow internal investigation, Councilmember Fitzmaurice and Coonerty pointed out that the police personel involved in this situation also have rights derived from the US Constitution, State Law regarding police matters, and from contracts between the Police Officers union and the City. To short-circuit that process for the sake of having a public discussion a week sooner wouldn't buy the community anything but hard feelings, or worse.

Everyone who has spoken about this has agreed it shouldn't happen like it did again and I feel certain the City will look at it thoroughly, and listen and respond to the recommendations of everyone in the community who wants to contribute to the changes that will be made as a result of this incident. Further, wider ranging policies will doubtless be developped that address "other" concerns that have been expressed about the use undercover officers in general.

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

"After all, if you have nothing to hide, why wouldn't you want to support an independent investigation?"

Well Jacko, that sounds like the logic Bush has used for his domestic spying probe.

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

During the city council meeting, Tim Fitzmaurice remarked to Mike Rotkin that his (Rotkin's) logic sounded like Bush's logic.

Someone else who was at the meeting can let us know what it was that Roktin said and what Tim Fitzmaurice replied.

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

Personally, I wouldn't trust the City Council to "police the police" either. I've become disillusioned with the entire idea of "working within the system." But if you really want to use (or waste) your time trying to get so-called independent investigations, that's your choice, and I'm not going to stop you. For myself, I'm merely increasing my vigilance as I participate in actions outside the established order.

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

Well that should get you exactly nowhere...Jackal.
It's a free country people, even for cops. You all planned on being non-conformist...that's fine. Just don't act so shocked when law enforcement wants to find out how much.
What's the big deal? They let you go through with your little counter-culture rally. You should be happy.
I'm glad the cops are watching you crazy kids, who knows what you activists might pull. It's like if I left my 3 year old at home alone. If I didn't keep an eye on the lad he might hurt himself. That would be very irresponsible of me now wouldn't it?
Same thing.
Just like I tell my kids, you'll understand someday when you grow up

Re: Council votes to continue to do nothing about police spying (again)

"Politically Incorrect" really is incorrect. The dangerous people are the cops and our government of war-mongers.

Rico, please e-mail me at steveoerchid (at), two attorneys that I know would like to discuss this case with you.


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