Thursday, May 1, 2003
McPherson Would Kill Water Board
A new law proposed by state Sen. Bruce McPherson would dump the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District's board of directors and replace it with a Joint Powers Authority, made up of mayors, city councilmembers and a county supervisor.
The current board has five elected members and two appointed members.
If McPherson's bill passes the state legislature and is signed by the governor, each of the six cities in the District would appoint either a mayor or city council member to sit on the new board, along with a county supe to represent unincorporated parts of Monterey County. Each representative's vote would be weighted based on the size of the city or county area.
McPherson says he's responding to Peninsula residents' complaints that the water agency has failed to increase the water supply.
"The new board structure will more effectively minimize the extreme politicization that characterizes the current board and hampers its effectiveness," McPherson says.
McPherson's bill has been met by opposition on the Monterey Peninsula and in Sacramento--including the Sierra Club and the Association of California Water Agencies--who say the new board of mayors would be less responsive to constituents' interests, and more likely to look out for their pet projects. These groups also charge that McPherson's solution is undemocratic. [JL]
Chavez Stamp Unveiled at Steinbeck
Both Cesar Chavez and John Steinbeck drew attention to the struggle of migrant farmworkers. Although the two never met, their paths will cross at a ceremony to celebrate the release of the Cesar Chavez stamp at the National Steinbeck Center on May 2.
The parallels between the two men's lives are not lost on local United Farm Workers supporters.
"John Steinbeck and Cesar Chavez had a lot of similarities," says Juan Martinez, who is organizing the event. "Both cared about the struggles of farmworkers. John Steinbeck was disliked by the people in this community; so was Cesar Chavez. One was thrown in jail and the other was run out of town. Both received the highest award that can be given to a civilian--the Medal of Freedom--and both have a stamp in their honor."
In 1970, Chavez spent two weeks in the old Monterey County Jail on Alisal Street while advocating a boycott against a Salinas grower.
The ceremony, which begins at 3pm, includes several presentations by post office officials and local and state elected representatives, as well as UFW reps.
A history of farmworkers' struggles--from the Dust Bowl farmers of the 1930s to the rise of the UFW in the '60s--will also be on display.
"When Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, he talked about the Okies who had lost their homes in the Dust Bowl, moving from vineyard to vineyard, looking for work," adds Carlos Caguimbal, the post office coordinator. "Well, the same thing happened to Cesar Chavez. His family lost their farm in Arizona, and moved from farm to farm here in the Salinas Valley as well."
Before getting a job with the post office, Caguimbal worked in a bunching shed, packing green onions, where Cesar Chavez Park is today. [JL]
MIIS In Talks With UC
The rumors about the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) changing hands were confirmed this week with the announcement that the school has entered "preliminary talks" with the University of California system about a merger.
President Chester Haskell touted the vast research resources of the UC system that MIIS would benefit from in an affiliation.
In a memo to faculty, students and staff, Haskell noted that as part of the UC-system, MIIS would not be a "freestanding unit" and the association would likely be linked through the UC-Santa Cruz campus.
As for current conditions at MIIS, Haskell says, "Everything stays as it is." However, should the deal go through, MIIS students would graduate with UC degrees and pay UC tuitions and fees, which are lower than MIIS rates.
The Monterey Institute has had financial trouble in recent years and recently laid off staff.
A spokesman for the UC system, Chuck McFadden, said there is no timeline associated with the possible union and still "a great many obstacles to overcome." A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is the next step. [AS]
Killer Sent to Prison
On the afternoon of April 25, Miguel Rivera, 18, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison for the April 17, 2002 murder of Michael Angel Garcia, who was 18. Both were from Salinas.
Garcia was walking home at night with his younger brother Julian, 17, when he was shot by Rivera.
Within weeks, Salinas detectives arrested Rivera in Yuma, Ariz., and brought him back to California to stand trial. Rivera eventually pleaded guilty to second degree murder. He's an admitted gang member.
In court on Friday, Rivera said he apologized to the Garcia family and to his own family.
Sandra Garcia, one of Michael's three older sisters, read a statement in court. She wept as she read. "Not one day passes that we, the family, do not think or speak of Michael. For the past year, we all have felt a void in our hearts and in our lives. And for some of us, the music is gone and no longer heard. Today, Your Honor, we look towards you and to our justice system to bring justice to Michael and his family for what has been done. And to prevent this from happening to another beautiful life. The violence has got to stop." [AS]
Cole Weston Celebration
The Center for Photographic Art in Carmel will hold a celebration of Cole Weston's life this Saturday, May 3, from 4-7pm. Weston, who died April 13, founded the Friends of Photography in Carmel together with fellow photographer Ansel Adams; when the Friends moved to San Francisco upon Adams' death, its local supporters morphed into the CPA, with which Weston remained closely involved throughout his life. The public is invited to bring "light-hearted images of Cole and his friends" to the celebration, and there will be space to display them. Food and refreshments will be served. The Center is located at Sunset Center, San Carlos and Ninth in Carmel. 625-5181. [SF]