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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Government & Elections

Steve Pleich Files for 2014 City Council Race
by Committee to Elect Steve Pleich
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 12:08 PM
Local ACLU Vice Chair Announces Candidacy
Vice Chair of ACLU Santa Cruz and recently elected President of the Latino Democrats of Santa Cruz County, Steve Pleich, has filed his papers with the City Clerk declaring his intention to run for City Council in 2014. Pleich, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 an 2012, believes it is time for a complete revisioning of our how our city is governed and the role citizens play in determining the future of our community. The 2014 campaign platform will include the development of sustainable and environmentally conscious water policy, the creation of a true partnership between the city and UCSC to re-energize local economic development, the reformation of the Citizen's Police Review Board abolished more than a decade ago and a move to publicly financed elections.

Each of these initiatives speak to the concerns voiced by the people of Santa Cruz concerning the environment, the economy and the need for practical engagement in the policies that determine both electoral and law enforcement policies. A long time member of Desal Alternatives and a founding member of the Right to Vote on Desal Coalition which last November secured the right of the people of Santa Cruz to approve the construction of a proposed desalination plant, Pleich believes that future sustainability of our local water supply can be achieved through sensible water use and best practices conservation.

Pleich was endorsed by the UCSC College Democrats in 2012 and spent much of the final two months of that campaign on campus talking with and listening to the student voice. Both the student body and the university administration agree that the economic and technology future of the city and UCSC are inextricably bound together. The students were particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of the development of a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system which would address both local traffic impact issues and provide an economic link between the City and the City on a Hill.

Pleich understsands that the proposal to reconstitute the Citizen's Police Review Board and the initiative to publicly finance elections will spark sharp debate on all sides of these issues. But he believes that the city must substantially change the way in which it is governed. "Business as usual" is neither good enough or responsive enough to address the present problems and future concerns of our community.


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by G
Wednesday Jul 10th, 2013 5:27 PM
I suppose I should be surprised.
by Robert Norse
Thursday Jul 11th, 2013 6:37 AM
On the plus side, Steve has continued to nominally offer his Homeless Persons Legal Assistance program (which involves giving out his phone number and being somewhat accessible that way--466-6078, for those with problems--with mixed reports). He serves bagels regularly at the Monday Red Church meal.

As Vice-Chair of the ACLU, he initiated and secured passage of a resolution urging passage of AB5 the California Homeless Bill of Rights, now "suspended" in committee until next year, and also may have been instrumental in persuading the ACLU to oppose the late night first-ever curfew at Cowell's Beach (in the midst of the Needle Hysteria). This, however, was done only after Councilmember Posner urged the ACLU to do so, then ended up voting for the curfew.

Though less frequently of late, he has in the past been accessible to Free Radio Santa Cruz and a source of information about various activist events and groups.

At Occupy Santa Cruz and subsequently in the defense of the Santa Cruz Eleven, he has spoken out repeatedly and spent hundreds of hours supporting groups demanding fundamental changes in the calcified Santa Cruz political and economic hierarchy.

As a regular moderator on Community TV, he has brought important homeless issues to the community including the crackdown on homeless survival campers, the shutdown of Needle Exchange (after it happened), the De Sal debacle, and the persecution of political protesters--to name a few.

He is himself homeless (lives in his van) and has been working steadily with the Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program (a very small but dedicated group of folks who provide better shelter than the HLOSC, though only for 20 people).

On the negative side, Pleich has declined to monitor and confront the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center [HLOSC] foot-dragging on providing receipts for those on their Waiting Lists so that police will be discouraged from issuing tickets, given the exemption provisions of MC 6.36.055. He has said nothing about the HLOSC's kowtowing to the Take-Back-Santa-Cruz [TBSC] crowd by supporting an ID system and locked gate for its day services, as well as "No Impact" zones, discrimination against the disabled, and no storage provisions for homeless possessions.

While being critical of the successful right-wing attack on the City's Needle Exchange program (AFTER the closing of the Barson St. Needle Exchange), he had declined to stand against the "Public Safety" mythology being promoted by TBSC and took no initiatives in the ACLU to get them to do so.

At ACLU meetings, while recently calling for 'open meetings', he refused to stand up for them when Chair Peter Geldblum arbitrarily closed the May meeting to block homeless participation, nor to acknowledge and apologize to those he sent out into the hallway in violation of the prior open procedure.

He has often shown an unwillingness to clearly stand up to those in power in a principled matter unless backed by a significant faction (as he was in the Occupy Santa Cruz movement).

He has not appeared at City Council to oppose the recent anti-homeless laws (the "No First Amendment on the Median" and the new "Stay-Away Orders and Pander to the Preudiced in the Parks" laws that go into effect today.

Some with dissenting views have complained of censorship from his Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz website (not me, though).

His manner, while jovial and good-natured, can be superficial and brusque if you raise issues he does not want to address. He is also prone to use an authoritarian approach in discussion.

You be the judge.
by Brent Adams (reposted by Norse)
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 7:50 AM
from http://www.facebook.com/groups/occupysantacruz

We've never heard your response to the fact that you blamed SC11 for a end of the website even though we were asking about it for the full month prior. Several of us asked for a response on the loss of the site but there was nothing offered, just blame for people who're forced to defend themselves in court. Yes, you made a wordpress site, but it can't even be found even when googled. We need transparency and integrity from elected officials. Not just guys who grumble and mumble over people when they speak or who get hot headed when a disagreement is occurs. I for one appreciate your community engagement but I haven't seen anything in the way of leadership. We've said we're happy you didn't win before, what has changed?

Additionally, you've claimed that the Citizens for a Better SC would have some real world application, instead it is a place where TBSC folks are free to post propaganda uncontested by you. It will now no doubt be used as a rallying place for your candidacy rather than a place for our betterment. You call blatant bigoted diatribes "conversation" and you take no principled stand on things that aren't completely safe bets. I'd like to see candidates who have actual vision and stand on principle.

I'm disheartened that your activism seemingly always ends in a run for city council with no real moves to change things for real people. To face down the right wing dominated council that exists we need REAL leadership. I will fully endorse anyone who is seen willing to stick their neck out on unpopular issues that help real people.
by Robert Norse
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 7:51 AM
...to the concerns I've raised and that Brent has mentioned.
by G
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 10:11 AM
I raised a concern first, Mr. HUFF. :p
by Robert Norse
Friday Jul 12th, 2013 11:15 AM
G. is quite right. And his credentials as sleepcrime maestro are impressive, not to say, legendary.

With all these voices crying out for an answer, how can Steve fail to respond?
by Brent Adams
Saturday Jul 13th, 2013 12:02 PM
I posted then deleted those words on Facebook as I had intended.
They were posted on a closed activist group.

To see them reposted here without my permission is in bad spirit.

This is another problem we have with the Robert Norse.. he'll use anything as ammo
even if there is no integrity in his method.

I have serious problems with activists in Santa Cruz. Especially Robert as he has used HUFF for his
own purposes at the expense of homeless people in town.
I have serious problems with OSC because there is no understanding or agreement about what "activism"
means and what the outcomes or intentions or outcomes of various actions are.

I have serious problems with Steve running again. It isn't about my own activist endeavors but more about
what fruit I've seen and not seen from his tireless group and meeting attendance.

I'd like to see a real candidate face down the right wing of the council. Someone who has been REALLY engaging the community of citizens of Santa Cruz. Someone who REALLY understands grassroots activism and is trying to forward causes that really have possibility of affecting change. Let's be done with these stuffed T-shirts and begin to identify actual leadership.

Remember leadership? Yes, OWS had encouraged us to have no leaders but we ended up with the strongest voices shouting down people with real ideas. Steve Pleich grumbles and mumbles over people when the talk. He has said "its about access" but trust me, this isn't the type of access we need.

I have a short list of people who have leadership qualities and who have had real effect in town and haven't just been attaching their name to things. I'm excited to see those people considering a run for council.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jul 13th, 2013 10:35 PM
My apologies to Brent if his post on the Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz (Steve's facebook page) which I quoted above was intended to be private. I had thought it was a simple straightforward public statement. And I'd still like Steve to respond to the concerns I've raised, even Brent's "deleted" concerns.

As I've often said re: City Council races, unless you have a lot of money, an independent staff, and a mass movement behind you, the office is almost inevitably corrupting and co-opting. Micah Posner is a good example of this. Here's a guy who can't even talk straight about what Bryant, Bernal, Shuul, and the Bike Dojo have done for the last year and a half around the "Bike Blockade" --a political attack by the SCPD on the progressive community.

Micah regards himself as an "incrementalist" who prefers to "pick his battles" by, for instance, remaining silent on the homeless sweeps, Needles Exchange, the Sleeping Ban, the Downtown Ordinances, police and prosecutorial abuse (Ken Maffei the flower "thief" held in jail for 17 days falsely, Richard Hardy--slammed to the pavement face down in handcuffs by Officer Vasquez), even on the dirty police politics behind the Bike Church blockade of bikes for kids.

More than political posturing and positioning we need straight talk on issues--local whistleblowing, if you will. Since getting 'increments" (like a 24-hour portapotty in the city's parking lot next to the Community Credit Union--Micah's latest "achievement") apparently involves remaining silent on or going along with more fundamental issues (like ID cards and locked gates at the Homeless Lack of Services Center), I say "bullshit--it's a bad deal."

When you rub noses too closely with human wolves and pigs, you necessarily begin to share their false consciousness. Another sheepherder we don't need.
by zouzou
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 12:20 PM
Lots of complaints as per usual about people who don't measure up.


Is there anyone in the community that could actually stand a chance of winning that would actually have support from a good percentage of indybay SC crowd?

If so, who?



by G
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 2:49 PM
Passively aggressively blame victims much, zou zou?

The pertinent, chronic issues raised about Pleich's candidacy here are not unique to Steve. There is a history of lots of marketing, not so much product, when it comes to 'kinder, gentler' Santa Cruz. I have personally seen Steve, on a TBSC sponsored forum no less, play the 'less hateful' candidate role, instead of saying things THEN, in public, that he easily says when away from their ears, when he wants to garner support from the downtrodden.

The root problem of your request is that supporting the downtrodden is unelectable in Santa Cruz. There is a broad and deep disconnect between what 'mellow' Santa Cruzians think of their conscience and what their actions reveal. Until that changes, candidates won't change.
by Brent Adams
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 3:37 PM
Robert Norse is a compelling community voice.
Norse is a gadfly who makes much noise but whom will never be satisfied.
We share this trait, in general, I don't trust governmental structures that force themselves onto communities
without their agreement.
Additionally, the mere notion of a city leader who must act to serve not only one's campaign supporters but the community at large immediately creates an impossible position for any city leader, esp. Robert Norse.
I get that.

Let's not ever look to Norse as a real baseline for commentary on city leadership.
He provides the important voice of the muck-raker and eternal contrarian but nothing approaching
pragmatism or anything that would actually work.

The blinders are not only very thick, they are blinding.
by SC11 defendant
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 10:17 PM

Steve Pleich is running for City council. We'd like to see a candidate who demonstrates integrity, honesty and is able to stand on principle.

Recently when the SC11 website had a month before its account was due to be finished, defendants and supporters began asking questions about how to keep it up and running. A thread of emails had gone through the tubes before the website was terminated. Finally after a month of questions about it, Steve Pleich finally answered but he blamed it on the defendants in a move that shows a lack of class or integrity. To date he hasn't answered this insult to folks who're forced to defend themselves in court.

Any candidate for council should be able to demonstrate an amount of integrity that meets basic questions raised. His throwing these folks under the bus instead of taking responsibility over such a small matter doesn't bode well for ethical concerns that are bound to be far greater while on the council.

We encourage Pleich to answer the simple question of why he refused to answer the many emails about the website and why he blamed it on the defendants who had been asking the questions.
by Dark Horse
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 10:46 PM
and it has cost him dearly at the polls. His support of the Needle Exchange, the homeless and Occupy after 75 River were political suicide. He still goes to Occupy even though few other activists do. (no GA 2 weeks in a row)
And let's not forget he was the only witness to testify for the defense in Gary's trial.

At this point the only way he could save his political career would be to save a baby from a burning building or throw himself in front of a policeman's bullet to save a dog.

All kidding aside, i think he spreads himself too thin. Posner got into office as a transportation expert alone. Perhaps Steve could create his own public safety group to come up with real solutions rather than scapegoating an entire economic class for the actions of a few bad apples, the way the Brown Shirts at TBSC do.

by Dark Horse
Sunday Jul 14th, 2013 11:02 PM
WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED to Bad Cop Santa Cruz?

i would really like to hear why The People can't post there anymore.

Anyone know?
by Robert Norse
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 12:48 AM
Attempts to reach Steve by phone in the last rwo days have been unavailing.

I called him on my Free Radio Show Sunday morning but got no response, either on the show or hours later.

He did send out an e-mail noting he was doing MCing some kind of Community TV show. His e-mail:

"I will be hosting Voices from the Village on Community TV tonight from 7-8. The topic will be supportive services for the homeless community including a discussion about the Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program and the WINGS Program. Tune in!!" He also noted that he's monitoring for the ISSP at First Congregational Church (not sure which night).

I interviewed him a week ago at the Red Church where he serves bagels and can be contacted as the one-man Homeless Persons Legal Assistance Project. That interview is archived about 3 hours into the audio file at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130714.mp3 .

Unfortunately the answers to the questions raised in this thread cannot be found there.

If folks are interested enough in supporting Steve for City Council yet are also concerned about substantive, consistent, and sustained positions on homeless issues, issues of police abuse, etc., perhaps they should form an Intervention Team to confront Steve.

Trying to get politicians to explain themselves, however, is usually a fruitless business. It's only helpful to expose the bullshit and mobilize the community to demand real action through direct pressure and protest.

Steve's playing the "rack up minor offices and leadership roles" as stepping stones to higher office, seems to me. His responses are usually keyed to that agenda in my view.

Steve's work--such as it is--shows a person articulate, active, amiable, and (somewhat) arrogant. I always regret it when activists abandon activism for office-seeking.

One thing Steve has done that no one else running seriously for office has done is to continue pursuing (albeit in limited ways) activism--showing up for protests, being there for food distribution, organizing Community TV forums, and (to some extent) making himself available to homeless people.

If I sound ambivalent, it's because I am.

But direct answers to hard questions are an important benefit to a community mired in "Public Safety" mythology and Needlemania. Democratic Party organizations & psuedo-civil liberties groups need to be exposed and by-passed so real organizations taking real stands on real issues can take their place.
by zouzou
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 12:57 AM
I'm not saying they are or aren't justified.

But it doesn't sound like he's a top tier candidate for any folks on here.

So, I'll ask it again....who might be a more vocal and effective advocate for what is sought?


And how electable are they?


A second question, has there EVER been an elected city council representative that anyone here could point to as a satisfactory advocate?
by G
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 9:51 AM
Steve is not alone in taking part in the PeaceCamp trial(s) AND Steve is not alone in becoming disinterested, once their 'quid pro quo' expectations don't result in personal benefit.

Pardon me for being cynical about candidate motives. Pardon me for attempting to inform voters. Pardon me for warning them privately, well in advance, that I would be doing so.

When Steve the candidate behaves like Steve the witness, that will change. Until then, any attempt to 'kind-wash' a candidacy will be 'cleaned-up'.
by Robert Notse
Monday Jul 15th, 2013 8:48 PM
G's comments go to the heart of it.

If running for office means disseminating half-truths, refusing to speak out on important issues, and packing with bigots in the interests of "dialogue", then the price is too high and the prize irrelevant to meaningful change.

Steve was at the Red Church serving tonight and noted he'd been "too busy" to answer any of the comments on this thread.

I'd encourage those to spread any criticism they have of Steve to even more intensely focus on those on the Council and in City Staff (mostly everybody) who...

...have been actively colluding to destroy homeless property or protect those who do,
...fund thugs in police and security to make life miserable for homeless people in public spaces,
...divert bikes from the kids they were going to via The Bike Church,
...sit back watch the destruction of the City's needle exchange while babbling about a "public dialogue",
...prosecute whistle-blowing activists like Gary Johnson, Ed Frey, Linda Lemaster, the Santa Cruz Eleven, those in the Occupy Santa Cruz Movement & the hundreds harassed, ticketed, fined, and mailed for engaging in harmless survival behavior,
...and generally give credibility to the toxic mythology of a Public Safety crisis which sparks hate crime against the poor.