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Open Leter to Steve Pleich of Citizens for a Better Santa Cruz
by Petra Kropotkin
Sunday Sep 15th, 2013 7:26 PM
How is Santa Cruz to become better if we can't address oppression and hate groups?
Steve,

Let me say first that I suspect you are a good, if not cautious attorney. And it's obvious you have a good heart and your efforts in volunteering your time are admirable.

But you decided to start a group on Facebook that was intended to bring together diverse voices in our community to bring about a better Santa Cruz.

In the months that I've read posts, I've noticed that certain members were allowed to stalk and harass others. Specifically, an online TBSC troll who goes by RealityCheck continually stalked and harassed a member. I never noticed a public comment by you on this matter. Then, TBSC member Ken RatDog Collins has been allowed into the group and continually go off on rants personal and otherwise, and nary a peep from you.

But last week Pamela Comstock and Santa Cruz City council were called out on the latest series of proposed ordinances. Unlike the personal attacks waged by RealityCheck and Ratdog Collins, there were no personal attacks on Comstock, other than the observation that she seems to be focused on removing those who don't fit into her vision of an upscale downtown devoid of those she views as undesirables.

Well suddenly Steven you managed to find your voice. After Pamela graced your group with her presence, threw a mini-fit and then left, you issued an ultimatum...no more being mean to Pamela and TBSC, you only wanted "positive" posts. Of course you being you, you didn't say this clearly, you hemmed and hawed and hinted about what you really meant but after being questioned by members it became clear, you want your "Better Santa Cruz" group to not discuss issues that might embarrass those in power. And to punctuate your point, you threw out Robert Norse because he dared post a link of Ken ratdog Collins assaulting a homeless dude on the Clean Team cleanup. Maybe in your mind asking for the justice system to be applied evenly to people qualifies are "not being positive."

I can't tell if you are so desperate to get elected to City Council that you will kiss Analicia Cube's ring if given the chance or if you are so naive as to think that pretending that hate groups will go away on their own accord, but neither prospect bodes well for someone wanting to vote you into office and expect you to be a strong voice in the dark of the night.

Your group Steve is now filled with TBSC members and you clearly are prohibiting those who aren't from being able to fully voice their concerns. That's not a level playing field Steve and so what you've now intentionally or naively created is another TBSC troll zone.

Good work Steve!
by OSC Crew
Sunday Sep 15th, 2013 7:50 PM
I have also found it odd to watch Steve kiss Skindog Collins' butt in CFAB.

After Collins was kicked out of the Clean Team for assaulting the homeless person in that video, Pleich was trying to organize a clean with him through CFAB, but no one responded to the idea and it died.

I guess not all city council candidates kiss butt to raise cash.....some kiss butt just to be popular.

Petra, you are awesome, I totally enjoy your posts in CFAB.

You are often the voice of reason in there.
This letter though specifically addressed to Steve Pleich as it reflects on his actions and offers us pause as we might consider him for a holder of elected office, is a question in fact to the community. What are we willing to do in the face of seeming oppression?

I say seeming because part of the issue is that so many in Santa Cruz don't see increasingly restrictive and targeted ordinances as oppressive. I say seemingly because part of the fight appears to be to reacquaint people with the basic concept that living in a police state isn't really the definition of freedom.

But even for those citizens of Santa Cruz who sense that a new ordinance a day isn't really a solution to problems, that the mery-go-round of arrest, county jail for 24-72 hours, release is a waste of money, that overtly through media and internet mob encouragement defining whole groups of people as undesirable is unseemly and if one can bring themselves to say it, wrong, even most of the citizens who KNOW this, are remaining silent.

The question I am posing is why are good people being quiet?

Why are good people so afraid that they are protecting those that THEY KNOW are or have hurt or bullied others?

We have to start answering these questions in order to effectively mount a campaign against these forces that are attempting to redefine our community, our voices, our freedom into their mind's eye.

I addressed this open letter to Steve Pleich because I think that his actions are reflective of many in our town. I feel a great sense of loss that a potentially good venue for diverse groups to safely air out differences and complaints has been lost because it's now being censored so that only happy talk can occur and reports or complaints or concerns about oppression are now being silenced.

I don't see how any of this makes for a "Better" Santa Cruz.
CFAB it turns out, isn't really about non-violence, it's about passivity and acceptance. IMO, something I wish not to be a part of.

The new edict that Steve Pleich put out was that the his vision for the group was to focus on the positive and commonality exclusively versus allowing the calling out actions that were oppressive and hurtful. Mind you, this is a selective policy, meaning he could speak out against a smoking ordinance for instance but we wouldn't be able (or he requested that we abstain) from (for instance) putting that nonsmoking ordinance into the greater context of recently passed ordinances whose obvious intent is to a) have stronger governmental/police powers downtown and b) to allow for selective (targeted) enforcement of such laws.

Speaking of selective enforcement of laws, I agree with your observation that Steve Pleich has been curiously protective of surfer Ken Collins and his exploits with yelling at and poking sleeping homeless people. TBSC members were obviously protective of one of their media stars, so that was to be expected. But strangely one of Steve's edicts (which I had no knowledge of until it was announced that he kicked out Robert Norse from the group) was that there were to be no links to the infamous SC Clean Team video with Ken assaulting a homeless man and Chrissy Brown apparently yelling at the people in the camp calling them "parasites." It was considered "too inflammatory" and not helpful.

It's beyond me how exposing some of the truth behind the strongest political forces in our community is not helpful. It IS inflammatory but sometimes the truth is. The idea that bettering Santa Cruz can happen by sticking ones' head in the sand because you are worried about creating a reaction or making waves is a bit ludicrous to me. In taking that stance one is passively or even actively accepting the status quo and attempting to build new structures upon a potentially hurtful or destructive foundation. I don't see the point of that. It seems to me that the core of non-violence is to truthfully expose the underlying and oft times hidden violence in our midst and demand that citizens at least acknowledge it even if they refuse to do anything about it. Because the status quo has so many defenders, non-violence is bound to bring about a reaction. In many of my posts on CFAB I would get responses from TBSC members calling me negative, bitchy, argumentative, angry, not interested in dialogue. Of course defenders are going to have their buttons pushed when being called out, this is common to any non-violent action. And of course, this is exactly what happened when I called out Pamela Comstock in particular and SC City Council in general. The TBSC thought police and internet response force came out in droves and created their basic hived response that we've seen so often in the local media. ( you think people would be used to this by now). Their ploy worked, Steve Pleich freaked out and handed down new policies in response and so in this case at least, it was demonstrated that silencing critics was an effective political ploy.

It is clear that there are a multitude of problems facing us as a community in Santa Cruz. I think that's something most of us can agree on. The question is how to define what is wrong and how to achieve solutions to such problems. One side of CFAB is now curiously being asked to mute themselves as to their perception of defining what is problematic in our community.

I honestly don't see the purpose in partaking in such an endeavor.

Hopefully, at some point, Steve is able to properly re-evaluate his stance and strange new vision but until that time, I'm not interested in participating in what is increasingly apparent as a political farce.
by Robert Norse
Saturday Sep 21st, 2013 12:04 PM
Some interesting exchanges have continued where Pleich posted Petra's letter on his site:

STEVE WRITES:
Clearly, Dennis, you do not understand or have failed to consider the reason for Robert's removal from this site. I told him in no uncertain terms that I would not edit any comment he made but I would not have the Clean Team video posted to this page. Notwithstanding that clear statement, he posted the video (which by the way had been posted to other sites and discussed ad nauseam for several months) simply to incite the ire of a member. His belated agreement to delete the video, after it had had the desired effect, was nothing short of disingenuous. No one's comments have ever been edited or deleted from this page and none will ever be. But neither is this page a bully pulpit. The Clean Team video has been published, discussed and has been written about by everyone who chose to have an opinion about the matter. I believe it is time to move on.

[MY COMMENT HAD I BEEN ALLOWED TO REPLY:
I didn't post to "excite the ire of a member" though it obviously excited the ire of the moderator, but to raise an important credibility issue as well as point out with alarm something growing and festering in the community.
I didn't belatedly agree to delete the video. I did mention that he seemed to be severely overreacting by banning me "permanently" when he had the option (which he's used before--his disclaimers notwithstanding) to censor and delete comments. I didn't suggest he do that. I have written him that my intention wasn't to post the video but to post a link to the video, but even that seems beyond the pale for Steve and his wooing the homeless-haters. Banning people from websites and dialogue is an interesting way of "moving on". Dennis Etler picks up on this very clearly.]

September 19 at 9:30pm · Dennis Etler:
Sorry Steve, your explanation does not fly. As moderator you can delete or not post a comment that you find objectionable. That is part of a moderator's responsibility and should not be seen as somehow onerous. You can inform the person who posted why you deemed it necessary to censor a given post. That is well within the purview of a moderator of a group such as this as far as I'm concerned. To ban someone for a transgression of the sort you describe is IMHO unconscionable.

September 19 at 9:37pm · Steve Pleich:
Dennis - If you want to defend Robert's right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater then that's your right; and BTW it won't be edited or censored.

September 19 at 9:44pm via mobile · Kim Gardner:
Robert Norse is not interested in dialogue or debate. And either is "Petra". Both do nothing but bitch This 'open letter' is bullshit. "Petra" says Pamela [Councilmember Pamela Comstock] threw a mini fit and then left....that's exactly what "Petra" did.

September 19 at 9:46pm via mobile · Dennis Etler:

Steve, that's simply a false analogy. Also a good moderator will edit or censor when appropriate. Not out of a lust to do so but to contain the debate within acceptable limits.

September 19 at 9:51pm · Dennis Etler:
Kim, banning someone who has a legitimate position, what you may consider a gripe or bitching and moaning, is what is bullshit.

September 19 at 9:49pm ·Kim Gardner:
Who has a 'legitimate position'? I would think we all do. But coming on here and talking shit to people because you don't agree with them does nothing.

September 19 at 10:00pm via mobile Diane Isonio:
Petra did not just come on and bitch and moan.. She had legitimate questions ,When people are censored it defeats the whole thing.. You may not agree with Mr Norse but IMO he has just as much right to post as anyone.

September 19 at 10:04pm ·Dennis Etler:
Apparently Robert Norse did not.

September 19 at 10:09pm Dennis Etler: Ah, yes, in the words of a Chinese editorial on increased surveillance of the Internets due to so-called rumour mongering by dissidents, "some people have gone too far on the Internet. Some admitted that they have indulged themselves, though they first thought it was OK or even could bring certain benefits." Yes Steve and Kim you'd do very well regulating the Internets if you had the power to do so.
by Brent Adams
Sunday Sep 22nd, 2013 9:17 PM
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Its true that as a moderator of the fb group Citizens For A Better Santa Cruz, Steve Pleich has had a bias in who he chastises and who's comments he "likes". It truly has been a surprise that he has been so supportive of Ken Collins' posts because they are anything but civil. Mr. Collins has been badgering people on threads for months and Steve not only allows it, he votes yes on it. Repeatedly a person will create a thread based on a simple question and Collins will come out ranting and badgering and then the original poster will just try to keep up in a positive tone all the while being inappropriately lambasted and Steve will state that the person who is often under attack should act differently.

I've found that Steve Pleich has no real moral compass over the past year. He has often followed after whatever issue is popular. He'll write a weak worded in-dee-bay article and reference it repeatedly as though it is some type of real discourse on the matter. He'll reference something in a public comment to the city council as though he has made some official statement. What is worse, he actually refers to himself as a politician. He is not one. The man never even passed the State Bar Association and yet he'll let you refer to him as a lawyer. Where is the integrity?

It is important to have something substantive to say not just the hot air of your lungs. It is important in these times to take strong principled stances on issues. Its important to make bold statements that demonstrate character, intelligence and bravery. Pleich seems to be running for City Council again. Really? For what? What is the platform? What is the message? Last time the message was, "Its about access." But all i ever saw him do was mumble over presentation after presentation at Occupy Santa Cruz. Not much access there. Not much of a leader either.

Now that he moderates or "admins" some facebook pages, he seems to think that he has some credibility. If anything he has lost it. What is worse, the people who may like him will not only not know what he is about, they don't seem to know what they are about. When we play to the middle we blur the real stories. A leader creates change when there isn't hope of it. If Pleich isn't liked in one group then he'll just change groups, friends and rhetoric. He'll even take to supporting the bullying of women by aggressive surfer types on a facebook page.

He not only has been kissing Pamela Comstocks rear end but he is sucking up to the most fear-mongering group that Santa Cruz has seen in more than 50 years.


by Robert Norse
Monday Jan 27th, 2014 7:45 AM
Within the last several months first I and then John Colby were restored uncensored to Steve's facebook page CFBSC.

Steve also appointed a several to act as a kind of joint oversight board and published a list of specific guidelines that appear at the top of the site. See http://www.facebook.com/groups/463105420413280/ .

I returned to commenting on the site when it was clear that (a) relevant if TBSC-unflattering links such as the Ken Collins "poking the poor" video was left up when reposted, and (b) clear and explicit guidelines were established that clarified the boundaries of what would be "allowed" on the site.

I don't entirely agree with the guidelines but nothing that I've written has been censored yet.

What I regard as TBSC-spirited trolling is still going on, but that seems to come with the territory and is a small pricce to pay for uncensored discussion.