Thursday, March 4, 2004
City in the Hole
The city of Seaside faces a major budget shortfall that may get worse before it gets better, according to information presented at a special budget session Feb. 26 at city hall.
For the 2004-2005 budget, which needs to be approved this year, the city forecasts revenues of $14.2 million and expenditures of $16.7 million.
When the expected deficit of $2.4 million was revealed in the city hall chamber, councilman Tom Mancini simply said, “Damn!”
The city finds itself having to maintain its current levels of service, despite estimated revenues that are, “flat, negative or show only small increases.” With the state in its own financial quagmire, legislative actions in Sacramento are expected to make matters worse.
On top of retrograde revenue, costs have risen. The city expects to have to implement a federally mandated storm water runoff control system for $140,000, as well as pay higher fees to the county for jail and dispatch services.
To address the projected trouble, department heads took turns at the session portraying dual scenarios to the council, one in which they cut 5 percent from their respective budgets and another, in which 10 percent was cut. None of it was pretty.
Taking up nearly half the city budget at $7 million, the potential cuts to the police department were perhaps the most dramatic. As it is now, Chief Anthony Sollecito says Seaside falls way below state and regional staffing levels. He outlined several consequences to the cuts, one of which is a delay in completion of crime reports. Sollecito said the district attorney must release prisoners if police reports don’t arrive in time. Asked if such bureaucratic delays mean criminals could walk free, Sollecito said, “It could happen.” [AS]
Battle for Carmel Commences
Candidates for Carmel’s April 13 municipal election will debate the city’s budget problems, and how the city should be managed in general, at three upcoming candidates’ forums. The Carmel Residents Association hosts a forum on March 4 at 7pm at Carpenter Hall in Sunset Center; the Carmel Pine Cone hosts another on March 9 at 7pm in the same place; and the Chamber of Commerce hosts a forum on March 11 at 7:45am at La Playa Hotel.
Carmel City Councilmember Dick Ely is challenging incumbent Mayor Sue McCloud, and is running against what he declares as an administration that takes action virtually in secret. In his statement, Ely says, “we will return to open, respectful and inclusive government…and re-establish fiscal discipline and solvency.”
McCloud’s campaign focuses on achievements made during her two terms as mayor: the completion of the Local Coastal Program and renovation of the Sunset Center “on time and in budget.”
McCloud responds to charges of secret government by pointing out her accessibility.
“It has never been so open,” she says. “We started televising city council meetings; we set up a city Web site; we’ve placed all the calendars and agendas for every city body at boxes in the post office; we established a city newsletter; and we’ve got a suggestion box at the post office. I’ve taken what was the mayor’s office and turned it into an office for all council members.”
With Dick Ely vacating his seat, and Barbara Livingston not seeking re-election, four men are vying for the two council seats: Carmel Community Traffic and Safety commissioner Erik Bethel, Planning Commissioner Michael Cunningham, former Planning Commissioner Jack Gorry and former city councilmember and Carmel Post Office manager David Maradei. [BW]
Juarez Death Documentary at CSUMB
The killings began in 1993, when bodies of young women turned up raped and murdered in Juárez, Mexico. The authorities suggested the dead women deserved what they got, because they were frequenting nightclubs or wearing provocative clothing. Some suggested the dead women were prostitutes.
The truth was, many were laborers who worked in maquiadoras, or borderland assembly plants. Others were schoolgirls, mothers and Sunday school teachers. They continue to disappear to this day, and no one—least of all the Mexican government and the police—seems much to care.
Newspaper articles about the murders led San Francisco filmmaker, Lourdes Portillo, who was born not far from Juárez, to this story. Señorita Extraviada, (Missing Young Woman) tells the story of more than 370 of these women and girls, some of whom had been tortured and mutilated. The documentary includes interviews with the families of the victims and with one woman who managed to escape. Señorita Extraviada won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002.
On March 10, at 6:30pm, Portillo will give a presentation and show her film in the University Center Ballroom at CSUMB. Admission is free, but parking cost $1.50 (in quarters). Call 582-4330. [JL]
California NOW President to Speak at MPC
Among California community colleges, Monterey Peninsula College is one of the few that has a full-blown Women’s Studies program. Dr. Phyllis Peet, the program’s director, says it is one of the strongest in the state.
Peet oversees outreach programs, such as one that gives emergency grants to keep women in school, and a multicultural resource center at MPC that “makes students feel more welcome at school.” And for the past nine years, she’s helped put on MPC’s annual multicultural conference, filled with forums and tables set up with resources for women in the community.
This year’s conference takes place on Saturday, March 6, from 9am-noon in the Music Hall. The theme of the conference, “Your Political Power: Use It Or Lose It,” was chosen, Peet says, to “get out the vote.”
“Many women have no idea that the vote took so long to acquire, and we need to value our vote—a few votes can make all the difference these days.”
The keynote speaker, Megan Seely, is president of California’s National Organization for Women (NOW). The conference is free, although donations are appreciated. Call 646-4276. [BW]
Slough Already in Repair
The Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) has purchased 183 acres in Moro Cojo Slough—an area that has been used and abused while being drained and diked for agricultural needs. The plot of land lies just outside of Moss Landing and is adjacent to already preserved land.
“Wetland habitats in California are rare,” said Stephen Slade of ESF, “so birds migrating from Moro Bay to San Francisco need to stop somewhere on their two-hundred-mile journey.”
The goal is to make the land into the habitat that many plants and animals once thrived in. ESF has been working hand in hand with local farmers to restore the area.
Plants native to the region have already begun to re-emerge, Slade says. More than 100 species of birds have already returned to using the area.
The ESF now holds 3,400 protected acres, not far from its goal of 4,000. [BC]