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Research a File? Go to Jail !

HUFF activist and former city employee Jhon Golder was arrested Thursday under an ancient "stay away from city offices" restraining order from City Manager Dick Wilson

On Thursday May 6, police seized and arrested activist Jhon Golder for the crime of quietly and peacefully reviewing a Parks and Recreation file in what are supposedly public offices on Church St. with me.

Jhon and I went to the P & R to investigate claims of city harassment of campers and camping vehicles up near Lighthouse Field. Under the guise of "improvements", one of the parking lots has been re-striped with back-up logs set in to make parking by large campers impossible. One reportedly state worker said the new restriping scheme which narrowed the spaces for parking, was illegal.

City harassment of those whose only housing is a vehicle has intensified in the last two years, moving from Harvey West (where Emily Reilly had "no parking signs posted) to the downtown area (where city-wide permit parking now bans parking any vehicles without permits from midnight to 6 AM) to the West Side (where new signs and an intolerant crackdown attitude have removed still more parking areas).

The current city policies have exacerbated confrontations between surfers and campers trying to use the day lots for parking, leading to near-violence in some cases.

Golder and I were asked to visit Parks and Recreation by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) at their weekly Wednesday meeting. We quietly reviewed three files left for us by P & R supervisor Steve Hammack as we investigated the recent Lighthouse Field harassment of campers. None of the files Hammack left covered 2004 or gave us any information we wanted. We left a note officially requesting public records within 10 days about the public "improvements" at Lighthouse Field, and left.

Then fifteen minutes later I interviewed Golder outside. He's a former city employee. Before he became homeless he acquired considerable skill and expertise in dealing with city bureaucrats. In the midst of this interview police arrived, and handcuffed Golder for "violating a restraining order".

They ignored Golder's claim that the order was an ancient politically-motivated document that had expired last August along with a voluntary stipulation he had agreed to in the court of Robert Atack in January or February of 2003.

That whole story was macabre and chilling in itself and I give more details about it below.

Golder was held for six hours. When I called the jail (454-2420, then push 0 to avoid answering machine hell), they told me his bail was $500. He was eventually released on his own recognizance (i.e. without bail). A vulnerable guy, Golder was deeply hurt and humiliated by this latest arrest. More relevant to the community, an informed and methodical investigator was punished for seeking peaceful and legal access to documents.


In the fall of 2002, two of Golder's vehicles were taken without a hearing, towed, and disposed of in violation of the law. Golder meticulously gathered the legal and documentary evidence to prove the point and pressed city officials for more information. In response, City Manager Dick Wilson wrote a "no trespass" letter against Golder banning him from contacting any city official or entering any city office.

At one point four police "escorted" Golder was out of the main libary where he was reading a book because he was in a "city building". When he went to Wilson's office to discuss the matter, Golder was aggressively approached by police. He resisted what he felt was an illegal arrest, and was held in jail for more than three weeks.

All charges but one were dismissed in court--giving credence to Golder's claim that the arrest was another uncalled for and abusive exercise of police power. Golder pled "no contest" to the charge of damaging the interior of a police squad car--which happened, Golder explained, as police were threatening to take away his gentle dog B.W. He intended to sue the City for its illegal seizure of his vehicles and his illegal arrest.

While Golder was held in jail, Wilson engineered an ex parte civil restraining order officially banning Golder from going into any city offices or communicating with city officials by letter, phone, fax, or e-mail--or having any third-party do so for him! In a subsequent hearing before Judge Robert Atack, Golder successfully countered the city attorney's arguments, but was pressured into signing a stipulation that he would only ask and only ask in writing five questions a month to city agencies.

Golder kept the bargain, but city officials welched and ignored his written questions. The stipulation expired in August, when, it was Golder's understanding, the restraining order also expired.

In the arrest Thursday, police claimed the restraining order was still active. When I went down later in the day to check the record, there was no evidence of the Atack stipulation--either on the computer or in his files, indicating that he was to be allowed five questions per month in return for the expiration of improperly-obtained restraining order against his visiting city offices. I, however, was in Atack's court when this stipulation was agreed to and witnessed it.


Later last year Golder was arrested near Its Beach for walking his dog--specifically targeted by a prejudiced ranger who ignored two other dog owners to ticket him.

Officer Eric Seiley ignored his request to be allowed to go under his own steam before a magistrate prior to booking--a practice previously used in other tickets which Golder had successfully challenged when he was inappropriately cited for an infraction. He and another officer physically took down Golder, claiming he "resisted arrest" and "scratched"
Seiley--though Seiley never presented any physical or medical evidence of that.

Golder was then tried for "battery on a police officer" and "resisting arrest". He won the first charge, but lost the second. "Resisting arrest" is the catch-all charge police use to justify inappropriate stops.

In response to these exhausting charges, Golder, who had been working to inform other homeless people of how to fight vehicular parking tickets, became demoralized and withdrew from public life for many months.

Golder is a soft-spoken and conservative individual (much more conservative than the average "progressive" Santa Cruzan on national and local issues), struggling to get out of homelessness.

The restraining order on file now apparently runs until 2005, chilling Golder's fundamental right to politically participate, and--more important to us--to help us understand through his experience and skill--the latest city staff scheme being rammed down the public's throat with the eager assistance of Kennedy and Rotkin.


On the afternoon city council agenda this Tuesday (May 11) on the 3 PM agenda, city bureaucrats are presenting for council rubberstamp another amendment to their city-wide Permit Parking scam.

Item #18 is the final reading of Ordinance No. 2004-12 Amending Section 10.41.040 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code Pertaining to the Administrative Procedure to Add or Remove Permit Parking Controls.

It's unclear to me exactly what changes are being proposed--but they may involve (1) limiting where appeals go (back to Public Works instead of to the City Council), and (2) the ease with which a Public Works decision to include an area in permit parking can be appealed or "opted out of".

It also seems that one person alone can initiate permit parking, but that a "qualified petition" of 6t0% or 67% is required to "opt out". Again it's not clear, but that's is what Matt Ferrell and Mark Adato told me previously.

I shall try to get more information on this before Tuesday, but those interested should call Matt Ferrell or Mark Adato of the Public Works Department at 420-5160. That's the phone book's number for Public Works, anyway.

I hope to be discussing this somewhat on my Sunday show on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 101.1 FM or (96.3 FM no more!.


Those who want to protest Golder's treatment can contact City Manager Dick Wilson's office at 420-5010. Call and demand to know why Golder's right and your right to have access to city offices is being thugeed away.

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Re: Research a File? Go to Jail !

Are you sure you're giving us the whole story, Robert?

What about the mental illness? The hostility? The hatchet he carries in his coat?

I spoke to a Parks & Rec employee familiar with this person. She's dealt with him before.

Apparently your Johnny there is quite the wingnut. He would come day after day, asking question after question after question. Over and over. It was absurd, repetative, wasteful, and pointless.

They would tolerate him to a point, but then it became obvious that he John wasn't interested in answers to his questions. He was just there to challenge people in positions of authority.

Worse, when she or any other P&R employees would stop answering John's endless stream of redundant and frivilous questions, he would become aggressive and angry. Every time. (Here they contrast his behavior with yours - they say that you at least keep your composure.)

The last time this happened, he made visible the hatchet he carried inside his coat.

Is it any surprise he was subsequently barred from visiting any city office, after a pattern of behavior like that?

John Golder has established himself as a frequently aggressive, unstable, obnoxious, insincere, and potentially dangerous wingnut. He starts out quiet and soft-spoken as you say, but then he loses it and gets out of control.

John Golder is probably mentally ill.

John Golder also does not normally go into P&R to do records research. You staged this as a publicity stunt, didnt you Robert?

According to the SCPD, the restraining order was still valid. It was not expired. Are they lying to me? Perhaps. I wouldn't put it past them.

But given the above ommissions on your part, given your propensity to avoid full and complete disclosure, I wouldn't put it past you either.

This is journalism only by the modern standard, Robert.

Wondering About "Doubtful"

The only crimes Jhon has been convicted of, of which I am aware, are (1) "resisting arrest" in a selective dog ticket, and (2) "vandalism" re: the inside of the squad car after he was arrested at the City Manager's office in November of 2002. He has, however, been repeatedly harassed by CSO Pam Bachtel and Sgt. Loran Baker for his dog B.W. Like some other homeless people, he faces additional pressure because he speaks up for himself (and hence implicitly, for others).

I acknowledge that Jhon has a temper, which he has sometimes expressed. I do not believe it wise to physically resist arrest from the police. I understand, however, that this can happen if one feels (and is) wrongfully accused. We are conditioned to be subservient to authority, whether legitimate or illegitimate, and I believe Jhon's reaction, while not wise is understandable and in some way "healthy" though not productive. (You don't win battles against armed police officers nor do you get good PR by physical resistance).

I believe Jhon IS interested in the answers to his questions. His interests (having to do initially with soccer fields in the Pogonip and why the Master Plan's requirements were not being met there) didn't align directly with mine. Then, according to his account, he sought to get compensation and recompense for the city seizure of two of his vehicles without appropriate hearings. Perhaps your P & R source needs to be more specific, if she remembers, about what went down. Perhaps she can post the account herself of what happened (remaining anonymous if she wishes to do so).

I have also spent many hours with him, observed his behavior in HUFF meetings, worked with him on creating a "Fight Your Vehicular Ticket" flyer, and observed his demeanor in dealing with authority figures. Admittedly he is not always as soft-spoken as I might prefer. (Sometimes he feels my approach is too militant).

If Jhon really became "explosive and angry" in a fashion that was illegal, why were no "disturbing the peace" charges brought against him? If the "hatchet" charge was a legitimate one, why was it dropped?

I have not interviewed P & R employees on this matter. I suspect that would not be particularly receptive, not feel free to speak openly, etc. You, however, seem to have some access.

I note, however, that you cover your identity with the name "doubtful". While I appreciate the need to retain anonymity in some situations, it can also mask an agenda, a predisposition to support those in positions of authority, and/or other kinds of partiality.
I admittedly have a bias--defending those who I feel are unfairly excluded from the political process, punished by the City Hall bureaucrats, or victimized by the police. Particularly those who are homeless.

No, I didn't stage the visit as a publicity stunt. Jhon volunteered to help me, believing there was no restraining order, given the stipulation that was made in Atack's court over a year ago.

I believe you are correct in determining that there was such an order still on the books which neither of us knew about. But the nature of the order--banning him from city offices for three years--is so broad and repressive as to be a clear violation of his (and our) First Amendment rights.

His behavior last Thursday did not warrant an arrest. He did not become angry and explosive. He was quiet, well-behaved, and helpful. And he was arrested and faces more persecution in court.

Perhaps P & R employees of conscience should step up and speak up about this situation. It reflects badly on the entire department to ban a member of the public--whether you think he has a "mental illness" or not, from access to public records when that individual has committed no crime and has exhibitied no recent behavior that threatens officials at all.

City departments don't like to have their policies challenged by gadflies. I put this incident in the same category as Ed Porter's arrest of me for openly and legally taping a City Council Committee meeting in November of 2002. Or then Mayor Fitzmaurice's 6-month waste of city money banning myself, Becky Johnson, and Bernard Klitzner (The Koffee Klatch Three) from City Hall for "harassing Anna Brooks"--because we were inviting homeless people in to a public space to lobby him and his Sleeping Ban buddies to change an abusive law.

It would also serve your argument better for you to come clean with who you are. In so doing, you eliminate the suspicion that you are unwilling to be publicly accountable for what you say. It is easier and safer to fling mud from the safety of the darkness, but it doesn't further the public understanding or buttress your own credibility.

Re: Research a File? Go to Jail !

What does Mister Golder have to do? Hurt someone? No sane person would accept this behavior in their own home. Why should we tolerate it in a professional place of public service? Try being a woman sometime, confronted at your place of work by a shouting psycho. We don't need this! We already deal enough with smelly filthy addle-brained crazies who forgot to take their taxpayer-funded meds this morning. We take your worst and we put up with it and do our jobs. But we draw a line at angry, armed, and dangerous psychotics looking to pick a fight with any city employee they can find. He earned that restraining order and deserves it.

Maybe when one of us is in the hospital, you will be satisfied then. But we aren't going to wait that long. Mister Golder is a time bomb.

Records Show Golder Falsely Arrested

What Jhon Golder told officers as they forcibly handcuffed him last Thursday in the midst of a peaceful interview with me is supported by the court records. I returned to the courthouse today and checked both the civil and criminal records, getting copies of both.

On November 18, 2002, Dick Wilson in an ex parte hearing (that is, a hearing with Golder not present) got his extraordinary injunction that temporarily banned Golder from ALL CITY OFFICES pending trial. That order was supplanted by a stipulation in the court of Robert Atack on February 26, 2003.

That stipulation provided Golder stay away from a more limited number of city offices including the Parks and Recreation office, that he be allowed to go to City Council meetings and meet with City Council members, and that he be allowed to make up to 5 written requests per month to the City Manager for information.

This order expired on August 25, 2003. Skeptics should check out CV # 145048 (the Atack stipulation).

In response to Golder's conviction on the "resisting arrest" charge (leveled by Officer Eric Seiley in the case of the dog at Its Beach), he received a conditional sentence and probation which required he make no oral or verbal contact with the City Manager except in writing. It said absolutely nothing banning him from city offices.

Golder was falsely arrested while peacefully researching documents. Police refused to listen to his documentation or to take him immediately before a magistrate, though the courts were open.

Parks and Recreation staffer Steve Hammack has still failed to provide, though requested to do so, access fo the 2004 Lighthouse Field file.

Note the intensity of the hatred and fear directed against Golder by "doubtful" above. This kind of bigotry is the driving fuel that sent Golder to jail last Thursday and has essentially derailed his public service for the homeless regarding recovery of vehicles and the Lighthouse Field situation.

The SCPD, the Parks and Recreation Department, and "Doubtful" all owe Golder an apology. It will probably require a lawsuit involving real financial loss to make sure this does not happen to the next person they dislike.

Re: Research a File? Go to Jail !

"We already deal enough with smelly filthy addle-brained crazies who forgot to take their taxpayer-funded meds this morning"

Is this the true attitude of a City employee at the Parks and Rec office? In that case, this person should find other employment to which he/she is more suited!

This kind of prejudicial statement about members of the public who, albeit, come from all different walks of life, shows the deep hatred this worker has for poor people or those who are homeless-looking.

The City of Santa Cruz deserves better!


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