SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
Indybay About Contact Newsletter Calendar Publish Community

Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Police State and Prisons

Judge Returns Guilty Verdict In Metro Trespass Trial
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Tuesday Jun 9th, 2009 9:52 PM
Judge Ariadne Symons in a decision upholding arbitrary police power found me guilty of "refusing to leave a business when asked" after a security guard accosted me. The guard was offended by my demanding his name and badge number and recording his refusal to identify himself. He called the police to have me removed in a show of force last November. He told the police that I was blocking the 6' long "Metro Transit Center" lettering. imbedded on two sides of the large concrete block that faces Pacific Avenue. Rather than be bullied, I took a ticket which will now cost $246 or 31 hours of community service.
THE JUDGE'S RULING AND SENTENCE

First, Symons ruled, the security guard and supporting police officer were correct in citing me under the vaguer 9.60.010 REMAINING ON BUSINESS PROPERTY AFTER A REQUEST TO LEAVE rather than the more specific and protective 9.62.010 TRESPASS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT FACILITIES. This was because I had "not been given a written notice" as specified by 9.62.010 and because 9.62.010 "doesn't apply to the first instance of trespass."

Then, she ruled, no First Amendment rights applied because the public entrance to the bus station was not a full "public forum" even though owned by the public.

The security guard's exclusion of me,she further ruled, came from a "content-neutral" position that nothing to do with the content of the speech or expression involved.

Symons continued: I had been violating a rule, because a manager who showed up later, though she did not testify in court, said on tape that she objected to my tape recording herself (though she cited no Metro rule or public law prohibiting it).

Further, the judge noted, though the tape did not conclusively show I was "blocking" the 6' long sign by standing conversing there., I was "disingenuous" in claiming I "might be waiting for the bus" because after the security guard said he wouldn't want to prevent anyone from taking the bus, I was silent. (The inference, perhaps, being that (a) the guard showed his lawfulness by allowing me to stay if I were "waiting for a bus, and (b) that I had to have some justifiable reason to stay in the face of a guard's demand that I leave).

She fined me $248 and agreed to commute that to 31 hours of Community Service. She refused to stay the sentence pending possible appeal until my attorney objected that she was required to do so by law.


THE TWO LAWS IN QUESTION

9.62.010 TRESPASS ON PUBLIC TRANSIT FACILITIES. reads

"Every person who enters or remains on or in a public transit facility (including, without limitation,
a metro center, transfer center, or other passenger boarding or deboarding facility, or bus owned
or operated by Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District) after having been notified by the owner,
operator, or other person in charge thereof that consent for such person to enter or remain on or
in such facility has been withdrawn is guilty of a trespass and may be prosecuted for the commission
of a misdemeanor or infraction.

"Such notification that the owner, operator, or other person in charge has issued a withdrawal of consent
for a person to enter or remain on or in a public transit facility shall be given in writing. Such withdrawal
of consent shall specify the period of time (not to exceed fourteen consecutive days) and the particular
public transit facilities from which the person to whom the notice is given (recipient) shall keep away.

"Such notice shall also contain a statement informing the recipient that he or she may appeal the issuance
of the withdrawal of consent to the issuing person’s superior (hearing officer). The withdrawal of consent shall
be stayed pending the conduct of an informal due process hearing on the appeal unless the hearing officer
determines that the presence of the recipient will cause a substantial and material threat:
(a) To the orderly operation of the public transit facility; or
(b) Of significant injury to person or property. A withdrawal of consent may be issued only to a
person who has (within the issuing person’s present) violated duly adopted written rules or regulations applicable
to a public transit facility or otherwise disrupted the operation of a public transit facility in a manner proscribed by
statute or ordinance.


MC 9.60.010, the law under which I was cited, REMAINING ON BUSINESS PROPERTY AFTER A REQUEST TO LEAVE reads:

(a) No person shall willfully remain upon any business premises, whether indoors
or outdoors, after being notified by the owner, lessee, or other person in charge thereof to leave.
(b) No person, without permission, express or implied, of the owner, lessee, or other
person in charge of business premises, shall enter upon such premises after having been notified
by the owner, lessee, or other person in charge thereof to keep off or to keep away therefrom.
(c) The notification referred to in subsections (a) and (b) of this section may be given
orally or in the form of a written notice, posted in any conspicuous place; in either case, the notice
shall identify the prohibited area and the time period, if limited, during which such prohibition
remains in effect.

Section 9.60.010 shall not apply in any of the following circumstances:
(a) Where its application results in or is coupled with an act prohibited by the Unruh
Civil Rights Act or any other provision of law relating to prohibited discrimination against any person;
(b) Where its application results in or is coupled with an act prohibited by Section 365 of
the California Penal Code or any other provision of law relating to duties of innkeepers and common
carriers; or
(c) Where its application would result in an interference with or an inhibition of any exercise
of a constitutionally protected right of freedom of speech or assembly.


RUBBERSTAMPING POLICE USE OF THE BROADER LAW

Judge Symon's conclusion about the more specific MC 9.62.010 not being usable is fallacious.

In the language of that law, I "remained" after being "notified by...the person in charge" [the security guard] that "consent to remain...has been withdrawn", informing me I "can appeal...to the issuing officer's superior [acting as an informal] hearing officer". He or she would then determine if I were causing "a substantial and material threat to the orderly operation of the facility or threatening significant injury to person or property." In which case I could not have been ordered off the property until a formal hearing within 14 days. None of that was provided.

Naturally--because I was being neither disruptive of business nor destructive of property. But I wonder if the security guards are even informed of the existence of this law. It protects members of the public more fully from arbitrary police action than the broader MC 9.60.010. It requires they call a superior, give written notice, etc. Why bother when you can just call a cop and write out a ticket under the other law?

Still state law and judicial precedent requires, particularly in a place like a public facility such as this, that there be due process and good cause before someone is denied access. That is specifically provided for in this statute. The very name of the statute makes it obvious which law should be used.

There is no language in the statute which suggests it can't be used on the "first trespass" as claimed by Symons.


FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

Even the second broader law under which I was convicted, does not allow "interference with or an inhibition of any exercise of a constitutionally protected right of freedom of speech or assembly." The judge essentially upheld the security guard's right to order someone off the property on a pretext--for conduct that was neither illegal, disruptive, or proscribed by Metro rules. It simply upset him that I was demanding his name when he insisted on speaking with me and that I was tape recording his answers.

Another First Amendment issue involved here, not mentioned by the judge, was the broadcaster's right to investigate a problem (religious sermons being broadcast on public money, harassment of homeless and poor people at the Metro by security guards and police). I was not soapboxing, but talking in a normal tone of voice with two homeless people, gathering information.

And when the guard came up to do to me what may have been done to others simply wishing to be left alone, my attempt to document that behavior for public examination is indeed freedom of the press.

At one point I did comment on what appeared to be an an attempt to move along to Hispanic guys that were sitting nearby legally and inoffensively.


OTHER JUDICIAL ERRORS

I originally showed up at the Metro in response to complaints about "religious sermons" being broadcast over the loudspeakers. Symons mistakenly referred to "religious music", but the radio material being broadcast had no musical element at all--it was simply a straight religious sermon, which seemed to have a homophobic edge. An earlier guard had been hostile to two men who drew this illegality to their attention

The claim that the guard's behavior was "content-neutral" was both beside the point and false. It was beside the point because it was my investigative journalism and my right to speak to two people there without being harassed that was at issue, not any speech I was making. I was generally trying to have a low-key interview with two people.

It was false because it was my disrespect for the guard's behavior towards others there, the critical nature of my inquiry, my demand that he be publicly accountable, and my refusal to turn off a tape recorder that motivated his attempt to exclude me. This was certainly NOT content-neutral. The content was very much at issue.


INVISIBLE OR IMAGINARY RULES OF THE METRO

Symons claim that I was violating a Metro rule or policy regarding tape recording and/or blocking signs (it wasn't quite clear which). This was not supported by objective evidence. In fact, if you considered the rules we did present, her finding was contradicted by the evidence. We presented the Metro's set of procedures for its guards and its rules for the general public--as far as they were willing to release them through Public Records Act requests. No where in those rules or in the law is anything I did specified as illegal or a rules violation.

Symons' evidence came from a witness---the hostile Metro manager--that only appeared as a voice on a tape, without any documentation. She was not present to be cross-examined. She did not specify any specific policy regarding recording. She simply expressed her own desire not to be recorded and when I refused, retaliated by supporting my exclusion from the Metro Center. Symons should not have used her recorded voice as evidence of the policy--without requiring her to be present.

I testified under oath that there was no stated Metro policy. Symons disregarded my testimony, didn't demand or receive any documentation from the officer that there was any particular policy about recording, and finally hung her decision on hearsay testimony from a manager offended by my recording her against her wishes.

In fact, my repeated attempts to clarify just what were the limits of the Metro policy by Public Records Act request, phone call, and personal interview with Metro Board member Mike Rotkin resulted in previous little information. Certainly no set of rules was produced that either defined the powers of the guards or the rights of the public or even the rules of the Metro.

It apparently serves the authorities who run the Metro to keep such things vague to give officers the broadest possible "tools" to deal with "problems" as they arise. The difficulty is the next "problem" may be you. In accommodating this kind of police state process (leaving decisions and even on-the-spot lawmaking in the hands of the police and managers), Symons is betraying basic constitutionally protected rights for the public.


PUBLIC PROTEST AND EXPOSURE: A PRACTICAL REMEDY FOR SECURITY GUARD ABUSES AND MANAGEMENT COVERUP

Two weeks later, a group of about ten of us showed up at the Metro. Our objective was to clarify just what the rules were, what the powers of the guards were and what the public's rights were. We showed up with signs, leaflets, videocameras, and witnesses (see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/11/25/18552885.php?show_comments=1#18553048 ). We were ignored.

We weren't "waiting for a bus". We didn't justify our right to be there. We interviewed members of the general public. We didn't ask the Metro's permission. The guards (including the security guard who cited me two weeks before--Danny Delgadillo) looked on benignly. Our behavior was an amplified version of what I'd been doing and been cited for. But this time, because there were witnesses and cameras (and because the Metro had been warned we were coming), they held their fire.

I testified on the stand that we didn't ask permission, I testified that the same security guard observed us doing exactly what I'd done (assembling in front of the Metro near the large sign). He did nothing when a group of people stood in the same place I stood ("blocking" the sign far more than I had, though even with a group the sign is large enough that it's still visible).


RED HERRING AND STRAW MAN ISSUES

The whole issue of whether I was waiting for the bus (which I wasn't) or whether the guard generously would have allowed me to stay if I said I was a red herring. Symons put the onus on me to justify being there. In fact, this is police state mentality. People have the right to be at the bus terminal for all kinds of reasons. They shouldn't be required to justify them.

Symons, unable to find any rules or laws actually being broken that would justify denying me access to a public facility, fell back on a narrative that suggested she could find "nothing wrong" with the guard's behavior--and not finding any constitutional violations, felt I should obey police orders even when based on non-existent policies.

The straw man she set up was whether I'd actually heard the guard's ordered to move away from the 6' sign, whether I heard it and refused, and whether I was honest about that. The issue though is whether the demand is a reasonable basis for exclusion from the property and arrest if ignored.

In fact, I didn't hear it. The first mention of the "moving away from the sign" is on page 14 of the transcript where Security Guard Delgadillo says he's previously asked me to move--which is not on the tape (which had been running continuously). At that point I ask him for his name and he refuses, preferring to call the police since he "doesn't want to be recorded". After the police have arrived, he clarifies that he wanted me to move away from the large sign. Symons apparently finds that the security guard had a real desire to move me away from the large sign. Possibly so. But she doesn 't consider whether he has the right to make such a demand on threat of arrest.

It's the security guards and police that should have to have clear reasons they have to specify to make us leave. The rules should be posted. The guards powers should be clear and circumscribed. One would expect judges to understand this. My insistence on this principle is why I stayed and was cited for 'trespass".


ARGUMENTS IGNORED

The code under which I was convicted also provides exceptions for "common carriers" (i.e. places like bus stations) and mentions the Unruh Civil Rights Act (which forbids discrimination of a class of people). Symons never addressed these issues. In all honesty neither did my attorney. But their presence in the law requires the judge to determine that they don't apply in order to convict me.

Symons herself raised numerous arguments at trial arguing against the right to tape record, the acceptability of charging me with a broader less-applicable law when the specific Transit law was available. This would have been appropriate coming form a D.A. or city attorney, but neither were present.

Symons' responsibility was to be neutral and not advocate for the other side. She continued that advocacy out of court while taking the case under submission, demanding a lengthy transcript, demanding a second more detailed version, and finally demanding a rebriefing--all costing the defense time and money.

It almost seemed her intent was to root out some details on which to hang the guilty verdict and to punish the defense for bringing the case into her court to begin with (we had disqualified the Traffic Commissioner Kim Baskett).

THE AUDIO RECORDING ISSUE

Symons contacted my attorney a week before her verdict hearing to seek out further briefing on the right to tape record a police officer or security guard in a public place. My impression was she was fishing for some hook on which to hang a guilty verdict. She couldn't find one in the law regarding audio recording. There was no written Metro policy against it. There was no witness in court testifying to it. As mentioned before, she pulled from the transcript, the angry response of a manager who didn't want to be taped, making up a de facto policy on the spot. If "no recording" were the policy (which would almost certainly be unconstitutional), why was it ignored several weeks later when we gathered without "permission" and audio recorded while leafleting? Why was it not either written down in the Metro's policy manual or posted on its walls? Symons pulled from the 50+ page transcript a pretext to find me guilty.


AUDIO TAPE AND TRANSCRIPT AVAILABLE

My specific claims are documented by the audio tape (available for download at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb081106.mp3 and http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb081109.mp3 --fast forward to the relevant sections) and transcript (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/18/18595792.php?show_comments=1#18600099).


PROSECUTION-MINDED JUDGES

The sad thing here is that Symons is supposed to be protecting the public from abuses like this, rather than defending cops and managers who misuse their authority. Symons job is to protect the rights of the defendant and judge him innocent unless guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt". In my case, there's clear and convincing evidence of my innocence and rather strong evidence of malfeasance by metro employees and police.

The real point here may have been Symons' conscious or unconscious desire to help the City and Metro avoid a lawsuit for false arrest. A newcomer from the prosecutor's office, she seemed to ignore the burden of proof required (beyond a reasonable doubt) and the need to have witnesses present if their testimony is to be taken seriously. She dismissed the written evidence of the Metro's lack of clear policies and divergent Metro policing activity when confronted with the same behavior several weeks later.

As prosecutor in judge's robes, she inappropriately acted as city attorney in presenting legal arguments both in and out of court in favor of conviction.


AFTERMATH AND SIGNIFICANCE

Due mainly the well-attended protest Return to the Metro in mid-November, and--Symons' decision notwithstanding--the clear evidence of false arrest in this case, I haven't been further hassled at the Metro. I've tape recorded people there since and stood about, no doubt "blocking signs" at different points (though not intentionally obstructing anyone's view--something never shown or asked about by the prosecution-partial judge).

Loud classical music, used to drive away youth gatherings, has replaced the religious sermons--a relatively positive development--though all these behavioral control devices suck.

Whether Symons' decision will embolden security guards and police to step up harassment is a good question. Please post any new information here and contact me at 423-4833 to report your experience.

In future if this happens again, it would have been good to subpoena high profile public figures like Mike Rotkin, who had the opportunity to quash this whole business and clarify rules of conduct, but chose not to do so.


ISSUES ON APPEAL

Attorney David Beauvais suggested there are various possible issues to appeal:
Symons inappropriate rulings allowing police to cite under the wrong law
The lack of evidence that Metro rules were violated other than ad hoc rules created by the security guards and manager
The judge's ignoring of investigator/whistle blower rights under the First Amendment
The lack of any real disturbance or disruption.

ADVICE TO FUTURE METRO SECURITY GUARD VICTIMS:

This case notwithstanding, a tape recorder is helpful. You DO have a right to record. Ask the guard specifically what Metro policy or rule you are violating if you are asked to leave. Ask to speak to the security guard's superior. Advise the supervisor that if s/he's going to exclude you, you'd like it in writing with the exclusion suspended until a due process hearing per MC 9.62.010.

Write down what you remember of what was said by the Guard. Get the names and numbers of witnesses. Call Free Radio or HUFF to let us know that the security guards are at it again.

I suspect the authorities have learned a lesson from this case---even though Symons did some judicial contortions to come up with a guilty verdict. But we'll see.

EARLIER STORIES ON THE METRO ISSUE:

"Metro Trial Verdict Hearing" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/08/18600978.php
"Friday's Trespass at the Metro Trial--Notes from the Defendant" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/18/18595792.php
"City Takes Broadcaster to Court for Chatting at the Metro" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/14/18594788.php
"Metro Trespass Trial: Santa Cruz v. Robert Norse" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/14/18594708.php
"Rotkin Claimed: No Flyering Allowed at the Metro Center" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/11/25/18552885.php
"Ticketing for Standing and Talking at the Metro Bus Stop Sunday" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/11/04/18548934.php


UPCOMING ON FREE RADIO: The Trial itself--once I master downloading the County's strange CD's!

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Sorry 4 ur loss
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 2:14 PM
Time to behave.
by Shadow
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 2:23 PM
Spin it any way you want to dear Robert. You still lost and you will lose the appeal.

Think of all the people you could have helped get into housing during this time. Think of all the hot soup you could have given away rather then spend all that money on legal fees. You really should stop wasting so much time on these legal stunts and devote more time to the people you claim to help. The homeless.
by Jennifer Squires (posted by Norse)
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 2:41 PM
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_12558254
by Story Keeps Changing
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 3:19 PM
I'm not surprised you lost, as your story keeps changing to suit your needs, and thus you lose credibility.

In version one, you stated that you met the two homeless guys at the Metro, and all 3 of you interacted with the guard.

In version two, you stated that you met them on the mall, they told you the guard told them to leave Metro property, and then you confronted the guard on your own.

In version three, you stated that the two men left voluntarily after being told by the guard that he wasn't going to accommodate their request to turn off the sound system. You also shared that they were a couple of ugly racists. In regards to the guard, you said he refused to give you information about his boss. That's being accosted?


This habit of creating incidents to make your point is getting old and doesn't appear to be very effective either. You're rapidly moving from being a contraversial activist to just plain laughingstock.
by Local Lurker
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 3:33 PM

Hey Robert keep fighting the good fight and never mind the detractors on here.
You inspired me with this case. I was lurkin around a local bar one night around 2:30 am and their security/bouncer guy came and and tried to get me to move along. I was accross the street from the mentioned bar and was on a public sidewalk. It started friendly enough. He asked if I was waiting for a cab. I told him no I wasnt. I Said I live on Chestnut and was "just hangin out" and hadnt even been in his bar. He said something like "well we cant have people around here because there are residences up there" and he pointed to a buiding accross the street. I said that I live downtown too specifically because I like the nightlife and street action and perhaps those who live in that buidling should move if they dont like it. Then I reminded him I was on a PUBLIC SIDEWALK not on his bars property anyway. He left. So did I after about 10 mins more anyway but I was more willing to stand up to his nonsense after hearing you hour long metro incident on FRSC. Good Job. Keep at it. Do what you believe in no matter what others say.
Bert wrote in the Scotts Valley's Sentinel in regards to Mr. Kahn/Norses's MONITORY Fortune-
he certainly has NO wealth of propriety nor common sense.
Homeless Kahn/Norse Fortune:
Mr. Robert Norse= $10,000,000.00 inherited in his pocket.
$40,000,000.00 controled by Ruth Kahn (his mom) foundation. He's on the board with his siblings.
Steve Kahn's house (his father) sold for $12,000,000.00.
total
$62,000.000.00
Another capitalist pig?

...and I say...
Hey Mr. NORSE IS one of them after all http://sites.google.com/site/thetaintsantacruz/Home/list-santa-cruz-county-bureaucrat-pay -I knew it, just did not have the "look" of one currently-
Bet a couple nights of rooms service would help after that "community service"
Santa Cruz, where service are cut to those in need-
While fake- fat, ipod listening, cell phone using, cigarette butt tossing, Nati Ice drinkin',
homeless activist types look to grab their 10 seconds of fame and a fat piece of the bureaucratic pie at the expense of those actually in need.

Keep Santa cRUZ Coonerty!

http://BoardofSupervisors.info
by Keef
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 6:28 PM
You've got a strong case for appeal, while these scum burn cash going after you. I'm sorry for your burden, but you can take it far better than if they spent that money to pay more cops to kick people who are down. Go Robert Norse!

p.s. to the guy with the financial info on Robert's "fortune", what's your problem? Jealous? Unless a bank was robbed, what's mine is mine, what's yours is yours, what's Robert's is Robert's, and I do not begrudge him the luck I wish I had. What if you inherited enough money to dedicate your life to the causes which you cared about? You wouldnt feel guilty about it. Why should Robert, ASSUMING YOUR NUMBERS ARE EVEN TRUE (I'm not checking them, because it's a ad hominem straw man attack anyway.)
by Shadow
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 6:47 PM
Keef says "You've got a strong case for appeal"

Are you serious? Based on what? His appeal is weak at best. The ruling will stand.

No one is begrudging Robert his good fortune. I would say most people find it odd that he has so much yet offers nothing of it for those he cares so much about. Let's face it, he could keep $1,500,000 of the money and live off the interest. After all Robert leads a simple existence not unlike a monk.

Even if he oversaw the distribution of $5,000,000 of his fortune it would end the misery of a rather good chunk of those suffering homelessness in Santa Cruz.

The question is not about Robert's wealth, it's about what he does with it to end the misery he points out to others. Jealous? Possibly. Jealous because he has the ability to end homelessness for many with one swoop of his hand, yet has chosen not to do so.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2009 7:21 PM
There are not three versions. There is one audio tape and a final transcript of that tape for folks who want to know what happened. It's posted on indybay.

Keef: glad you stood up for yourself. Security guards are badly trained often, and people need to clarify for them that their powers stop where other people's space begins. When police support the privatization of public space (as the SCPD did in my Metro case), it's all the more dangerous.

Much as the critics on this website seem to hate me personally I think they err in backing a blanket defense for police and security guards to "move along" people through sheer threat of terror (tasing, ticketing, jail, beating, shooting). It could come back to bite them. Last Tuesday the Board of Supervisors is giving untrammeled authority to itself and appointed itself Board of Permit Appeals, dissolving the recently created Board that it had been concealing for years. [See recent discussion on this issue at http://www.straighttalknews.org/ ] When the deputies arrive on your property with red tags and tasers, you may find yourself not so willing to "move along" with the program.

Involvement with police is completely voluntary unless they are arresting you or detaining you. It's frequently best to simply ask them "am I free to go?" If not, tell them you don't consent to a search, have nothing more to say, and wish to speak to an attorney. Otherwise innocent conversation can work against you.

In this case, Judge Symons--though she found no solid evidence of any rule violations, disruptions, or illegal behavior, rubberstamped security guard and police behavior--which I believe was her initial objective. Some of the hooks on which she hung her "guilty" verdict involved my conversations with the Metro security supervisor (who fantasized that I'd been "harassing" people with a tape recorder) and my chat with guard Delgadillo. If a judge wishes to play D.A., there's not much you can do in her court, except find another one, or ignore her decision as an aberration.

As I mentioned in the article, Metro security guards may now be more cautious in their creative use of "get lost or we call the cops" orders. At least, they haven't tried to do so against me on the numerous times I've been through the area, interviewing people and hanging out. They don't have any reason to do so, of course. Nor did they have last November 2nd.

The issue remains reining in bigotry in a time of economic depression when the poor are getting shafted. There will be a continued protest downtown in front of Bunny's Shoes 1 PM Saturday June 13th. Check elsewhere on the website for more details.
by Story Keeps Changing
Thursday Jun 11th, 2009 12:03 PM
You yourself have reported contradictory versions of the story Robert. Deny it, but it's the truth.

At first, you claimed to be at the Metro with the guys, and the guard approached you.
Then it changed to you met the two guys on the mall and went to the metro center on your own and approached the guard.

Version 1 "Over 6 months ago on Sunday 11-2-08, I was approached by a Metro Security guard at the Metro Transit Center in downtown Santa Cruz. I was interviewing two homeless men for Free Radio Santa Cruz. The guard insisted I leave."
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/14/18594788.php?show_comments=1#18595413

Version 2 "Well, it is now about 2:25 in front of Chianti’s at the corner of Capgard and Pacific on Sunday, the 2nd of November. I'm talking with . . . Jack.And [inaudible] ".
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/18/18595792.php?show_comments=1#18598471

And at first, you claim the guard forced them to leave. Then you changed it to he said they could leave if they didn't like it, and they left voluntarily.


Version 1 "They said they'd complained and were told to leave with the sermonizing continuing. "
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/05/14/18594788.php
Version 2 "Repeating if we don’t like it, we can leave.• I see. But he didn’t attempt to make you leave, right? • No."

IMO, these are significantly different scenarios. In one scenario, you have an aggressive guard chasing homeless out of the metro. In the second scenario, you have two racists harassing the guard, and the guard tells them they can leave if they don't like it there. In one scenario you have the guard approaching and accosting you. In the second, you have you approaching and accosting the guard.

And what strikes me as particularly disingenuous is that you had the transcript and factual story (where they leave on their on will and you approach the guard on your own) in your posession BEFORE you printed the fabricated scenario where you were there with them, the guard approached you, and you were all forced to leave.

Shoddy reporting at best; fabricating lies at worst.



by Shadow
Thursday Jun 11th, 2009 1:32 PM
There is a logical explanation for Robert's changing story and multiple versions.

More then likely Becky helped Robert "refine" his story. Just like she did with Donna Deiss. You remember how Donna's story changed about 5 times after talking with Becky. Then there was the whole thing about how Donna did not remember being struck with a baton until Becky "reminded" her of it.

Becky and Robert have a great professional relationship. I'm sure she helped him out.
by Smell of hypocrisy
Thursday Jun 11th, 2009 6:19 PM
Do you really think it a wise choice of terms to say that "The issue remains reining in bigotry"..... when what you're doing in this case is defending a couple of guys who are calling AfAm's "fat niggers"?


by Hank
Thursday Jun 11th, 2009 6:59 PM
Did they really say that??? And Robert is defending them?
You said
"The question is not about Robert's wealth, it's about what he does with it to end the misery he points out to others. Jealous? Possibly. Jealous because he has the ability to end homelessness for many with one swoop of his hand, yet has chosen not to do so."

Robert Norse fights for civil rights, and the decriminalization of harmless behavior. How is what Robert does with his PERSONAL finances, "the question"?

He wants to see people who are sleeping in their cars, left alone instead of being attacked for it. He wants to see people who are homeless, be allowed equal access to public spaces. He wants to see police obey their own laws, and treat everyone equally if they behave equally. It's called America. Maybe you've heard of it?

I neither know nor care if Robert is semi-secretly some eccentric rich guy who chooses to live in a trailer park anyway. Only a communist - are you a communist then? - would place demands upon how Robert or anyone else chooses to invest their personal finances in charitable causes.

If Robert Norse made minimum wage for every hour he's spent every day throughout his life on political activism, I bet he'd have made half a million dollars by now. Spending money is easy - as easy as personally attacking him with the same empty Robert-Norse-has-a-piggy-bank sensationalist nonsense that comes out every time some troll on the city payroll wants to bash Robert some more and distract discussion from the real corruption in Santa Cruz that Robert continually exposes.
by puppet spotter
Friday Jun 12th, 2009 8:27 AM
I suspect we have Norse doing some sock puppeting. Posting as multiple posters to create the illusion of more support. Compare Keef's style of writing and terminology to Norse's.

Nice try, Norse.

by Just A Guy
Friday Jun 12th, 2009 10:51 AM
So my question is this? What would serve the homeless population best? Working to get them the right to sleep anywhere they want in good and bad weather? Or...Working to find a solution where they could actually have access to decent shelter and perhaps showers and kitchens?
by Keef
Saturday Jun 13th, 2009 3:12 AM
Shelters cost money. Money most homeless activists do not have or are not willing to give, and then they resort to coercive taxation of others to pay for their charity. Not right.

Simply leaving the homeless alone while sleeping in their cars, or in an unused alley at night, or in an unused city park at night, or under a bridge where no one goes anyway, does not cost anything at all.

The homeless dont automatically deserve a handout, but they do deserve not to be harassed without cause.

I knew a young homeless girl who lived with her boyfriend, camping by the river. She kept trying to better her life, getting whatever small jobs she could and trying to save the money up. The last job she had, she lost because she spent the weekend in Santa Cruz County Jail after being "busted" for sleeping outdoors.

This wasnt the first time either. But it was the last - she committed suicide after that, about 2 years ago. Her name was Skye.
by Shadow
Saturday Jun 13th, 2009 11:47 AM
Keef says "Shelters cost money. Money most homeless activists do not have or are not willing to give, and then they resort to coercive taxation of others to pay for their charity. Not right. "

Yet you say Robert's financial situation is not relevant??

Here is how it is relevant. You say most homeless rights activists do not have, or are not willing, to give money. Robert is not like most homeless rights activists. He has MILLIONS socked away in the bank. Robert does not dispute his millions. Becky has confirmed his millions. News articles confirm his millions. It's not like saying Robert has millions is based on hearsay. It's a fact.

Which leads us to the second part of your statement. "NOT WILLING TO GIVE". That looks about right. Robert is unwilling to give a portion of what he has in order to make others lives a better life. Who knows why?? People have asked and they get no response. He has the ability to do so, even comfortably, but he does not.

Now what about this part: "then they resort to coercive taxation of others to pay for their charity. Not right. ". You're right again. It's not right. But that is what Robert is pressuring people to do. Heck, he does not even live in the City of Santa Cruz. So he is demanding that the tax paying citizens of a city he does not live in pay for his charity in that city. And he will be more then willing to take credit for something he made other people pay for.

That's the question, Keef. If Robert has millions, and could give without creating a burden for himself, why does he not share his good fortune? It's not as if he worked for it. He inherited it.
by Becky Johnson
Saturday Jun 13th, 2009 6:48 PM
HUFF is not interested in building more shelters. We support the existing shelters but realize their limitations. Homeless people must carry their belongings with them wherever they go. Working homeless people can't wait in line every day at 3:30PM for a 5:30PM bus. Couples can't sleep together. People can't take their pets with them. Those living in vehicles don't dare leave all their possessions left alone in a parked car.

We support a legal place for homeless people to sleep at night, such as a campground or carpark or even a policy which allows sleeping unobstructively in public space provided the area is kept free of litter and no urination or defecation is involved.

We support lifting the Sleeping Ban because it's cruel and unusual punishment to prevent people who do not fit into the shelter we have for only 8% of our homeless population. We note that enforcement of the Sleeping ban is expensive and does nothing to reduce homelessness in our community. Those punished for the "crime" of sleeping at night end up more impoverished, with a criminal record that is a further bar to housing and jobs.

We support more supportive housing, job services, alcohol and drug rehab services, and mental health counseling for homeless people. But in the meantime, we oppose the criminalization of homelessness.
by is not free
Friday Jun 19th, 2009 8:51 AM
Blight has monetary implications.
by Not clear on the difference
Monday Jun 29th, 2009 9:07 PM
You say you're not interested in building more shelters, because they are apparently ineffective, inefficient, or inconvenient for homeless to use. You say you instead support a legal place to sleep to camp such as a carpark or campground.

Okay, help me understand this. What's the difference? Whether it be a building or a space, it seems to me the goal and result are the same: a safe, acceptable to the community, and legal place to sleep.

So when you say you want one but not the other, that strikes me as a bit coy, if not disingenuous. I think that perhaps what you're implying is that the location is more important than the edifice.

Tell me then, where exactly you'd place this site? For example, would up at the old airfield on Empire Grade suffice? Or does it have to be within city limits for the convenience factor? I think that perhaps what you're doing is implying that the location is more important than the edifice without definitively stating as such.