Thursday, August 19, 2004
FUNNY MONEY… Squid knows only two creatures who really enjoy slashing things to pieces: Squid’s cat, and Squid’s editor. Which may explain the lack of candidates running for a seat on the Salinas City Council. Most people don’t like hacking copy, couches or city budgets to shreds. Yup, Squid’s talking about Salinas’ coffers. Following the state’s most recent money grab, Salinas is looking at an $8.5 million deficit next year. And no one likes politicians when they are cutting jobs, after-school programs, library hours and the like to make up for a big, gaping hole in the budget.
Only one, um, brave soul is on the ballot challenging popular mayor Anna Caballero: Jose Castañeda, who sits on the Alisal Union School Board. (The school district’s got its own money problems of late—a $1.7 million deficit which recently resulted in Castañeda and the other trustees voting to cut 11 non-teaching jobs and 11 custodial jobs.)
In the three Salinas City Council races, sitting councilmember Sergio Sanchez runs unopposed in District 1, as does councilmember Jyl Lutes, who represents Salinas’ 6th District.
District 4, however, gets interesting. Incumbent Gloria De La Rosa, who founded Neighbors United, an anti-violence coalition early this year, isn’t running unopposed. Her challenger is Angie Morfin Vargas, who lists her occupation as “grocery market researcher,” but is better known as a victims’ rights-slash-anti-immigrant activist (her 13-year-old son was killed by a gang member). And she doesn’t like the utility tax very much. In October 2002, Vargas and fellow anti-tax crusader Mark Dierolf filed a lawsuit against the city of Salinas claiming that the city unlawfully spent more than $250,000 of taxpayers’ money to campaign against Measure O, the unsuccessful initiative that would have axed the city’s utility tax.
Squid’s not going to bother pointing out the irony here—the very people who called for belt-tightening launched a crusade against government waste and engaged the city in a frivolous lawsuit. But Squid will point out that Monterey County Superior Court Judge Robert O’Farrell ruled that the city did nothing unlawful, and ordered Dierolf and Vargas to pay the city’s attorney’s fees, totaling $7,790. The two haven’t paid the bill, and on Aug. 27, they will contest the amount in court again.
“We’re assuming the court will approve the amount on the
27th,” says assistant city attorney Christine Davi. But
until then, the city of Salinas is out $7,790. So, Squid
thinks, maybe this will be part of Vargas’ campaign platform.
Squid can imagine her stump speech now: “If elected, my first
order of business will be to pay back money I owe the city.”
Or perhaps she’ll just pardon herself instead.
SALINAS STYLE… Giselle Bundchen, watch out. Salinas’ own Lindsey Van Hagen will be appearing in Wet Seal’s national print advertising campaign, debuting in the August and September issues of teen girl staples like CosmoGIRL, ELLEgirl and Seventeen. Squid’s got one request for the MPC student and model: How about changing the store’s name. Wet Squid has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?