Thursday, April 1, 2004
Cruise Pollution Goes Federal
On April 1, federal legislation will be introduced simultaneously in the House and Senate to prohibit dumping of sewage and oily bilge water within 12 miles of the nation’s coastline.
Spurred on by a local controversy over the lack of effective protection for Monterey Bay and other waters, Rep. Sam Farr has sponsored the House version of the Clean Cruise Ships Act, while Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Illinois) will introduce the Senate version.
The bill requires that dumps beyond the 12-mile limit be within federal chlorine and fecal coliform standards. Observers would be placed on cruise ships, and employees who act as whistleblowers would be protected.
The legislation comes at a time when ocean health will be getting increased attention. On April 20, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy will release its preliminary report. It will be used to craft a national oceans policy.
According to previous ocean studies as well as a United Nations report from March 29, there are significant areas of the world’s oceans that have been declared “dead zones,” starved of oxygen because of pollution. A report last year by the Pew Oceans Commission found such dead zones off the coast of the US. [AS]
April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Kelly Fraasch, education and events director for the Monterey Rape Crisis Center, says much has changed since the center opened in 1973. More victims, she says, are now willing to come forward and report crimes—largely because police officers have been trained to be more sensitive to victims of a sexual crime.
“One of our key priorities is working with the police department and getting the officers trained,” she says. “It’s in the best interest of the victim because they feel more comfortable coming forward. It used to be that the police department and the rape crisis center were almost fighting on a regular basis.”
The center serves about 12,000 people a year from the Monterey Peninsula and North Monterey County. (The Women’s Crisis Center of Salinas serves Salinas and South Monterey County.)
For this month’s focus on sexual assault awareness, Fraasch says, the center has planned a variety of activities. “We are planning on having all the public libraries in the area hand out information, including coloring sheets to the kids talking about saying ‘no.’”
For more information, call 373-3955. [BW]
Citizens Resist Golf Plan
Opponents of the controversial First Tee golf course/youth golf project for Seaside proved that they mean business last week, filing a completed petition to put the matter before voters on Nov. 2.
A trio of Seaside activists calling themselves Citizens for Responsible Decision Making—Helen Rucker, Lance Houston and Billy DeBerry—marched into City Hall on March 24 with 1,200 signatures from their neighbors. Their petition calls for a zoning ordinance amendment to prohibit golf course construction on the former military land. The group contends that the city council made the decision to bring in the youth golf program and new golf course on the eastern Fort Ord side of the city without sufficient public approval. They also believe the agreement wastes the city’s limited water supply and does nothing of economic value for a city that needs revenue.
“Our concern is that we don’t want them giving away city land until the public has had a chance to vote on it,” says DeBerry.
The group alleges that the deal is ill-advised at a time when the city is projecting a $2.4 million budget deficit next year. There are plenty of venues for a youth instruction program, without having to build a new course, they say.
“It can be put on a existing golf course,” said Lance Houston. “The First Tee project is not going to be putting any money in the city coffers.” [AS]