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Community members gathered in downtown Santa Cruz today on Tax Day, April 15, to protest the U.S. government's subsidy of $8 million a day in military aid to Israel. Tax Day is when federal income tax returns are due in the United States, and demonstrators held signs that indicated what the government should be spending citizens' hard earned dollars on, if the money wasn't wasted on military aid to Israel. They also held signs that read, "Apartheid: Wrong for South Africans, Wrong for Palestinians."
According to If Americans knew, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976, and in the last 20 years economic aid to that country has been slowly phased out in favor of military aid. Israel receives about $3 billion ($8 million a day) directly from the United States in military financing each year, which is about one-fifth of what is allocated for the entire foreign aid budget.
Read More |
If Americans Knew |
Palestine-Israel Action Committee Santa Cruz
On April 11, the California Coastal Commission approved the development of a large hotel and condominium complex sited on beach and dune habitat on Monterey Bay in Sand City. The developer calls the 360-unit complex, with parking for almost 1,000 cars, the "Monterey Shores Eco-resort." Environmental groups have opposed the project for years. At risk is a population of Western Snowy Plovers, a federally threatened species who nest and raise their broods in the footprint of the proposed resort.
Instead of requiring Monterey Shores Eco-resort developer Ed Ghandour to work collaboratively with biologists from USFWS to draft a binding Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and apply for an "Incidental Take Permit," pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the Coastal Commission ruled that a revised "Habitat Protection Plan" (HPP) was enough to safeguard three federally listed species located on the property. In addition to the plover, the Smiths Blue Butterfly and several native plant species will be impacted by the project. "Ghandour's claim that Snowy Plovers will thrive on the hotel property just doesn't make biological sense. With only about 28 coastal nesting locations remaining along the Pacific, the population cannot afford another loss," explained Jones.
"The California Coastal Commission failed the public today," said Audubon California Coastal Program Director Andrea Jones. "The process of approving this project, which has been going on for 15 years, went against the very intent of the Coastal Act by ruling in favor of the destruction of Snowy Plover and coastal dune habitat."
Read More | See Also: Sierra Club Submits Letter Opposing Monterey Bay Shores Resort to CA Coastal Commission
Community members in San Benito are hoping they will be the first "frontline" county in California to ban fracking and other methods of extreme oil and gas extraction. Since late March, volunteers across the county have begun collecting signatures for a fracking ban initiative they hope to have on the ballot in November. Progress is moving quickly; after two weeks of collecting signatures, the organization San Benito Rising announced they were nearly halfway through their drive.
Members of San Benito Rising filed the notice of intent to circulate the petition with the county clerk in late February. That notice states that they have begun the process in hopes of "protecting the county’s groundwater supplies and preserving its rural heritage." They believe the county is at a "tipping point" and hope the fracking ban will prevent the possibility of what they call a "proliferation of proposals" to conduct hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and other high-intensity petroleum operations in the county’s unincorporated areas. The initiative to ban fracking, if passed by voters, will prohibit the use of any land within the county’s unincorporated area for fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations. The initiative will also prohibit the use of land for any petroleum operations within the county’s unincorporated residential areas.
Residents consider San Benito to be a "frontline" community because they currently have oil and gas drilling in their county, which sits on top of the Monterey Shale formation. In the county there are many dry or abandoned oil wells near San Juan Bautista, and near Hollister there are active wells, in addition to many that are dry or abandoned. In 2013, environmentalists began fighting a proposal to bring oil operations in endangered Condor habitat near Pinnacles National Park. San Benito Rising is concerned that the oil and gas industry could re-stimulate the abandoned, old wells in their area using new extreme drilling techniques such as cyclic steam injection, acid fracking, and acid matrix stimulation.
Read More with Photos | San Benito Rising
Previous Related Indybay Feature: Lawsuit Targets San Benito County's Approval of 15 Oil Wells in Endangered Condor Habitat
Homeless activist Robert Norse was removed by police from the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on April 1 when he attempted to record the public session in the same manner he has for many years. Long time council member, and first time mayor, Lynn Robinson decided that evening Norse would be arrested and cited for disrupting the meeting when he twice attempted to leave his recording device "unattended" in the area of the room where he thought he could create the highest quality recording.
Robert Norse writes:
"I was excluded from the chamber for returning the tape recorder to its usual position near the speaker's podium. The acoustics in the room are such that there aren't other good alternatives. Robinson and I had this discussion several months ago by e-mail when I advised her of this situation after she threatened a similar action in December. She subsequently left the recorder unmolested until Tuesday evening when she unexpectedly without prior notice had Sgt. Bush remove it and hand it back to me. I simply replaced it. Twice.
"She then stopped her own meeting to make an issue of the matter and demanded I leave or be arrested. I asked to be allowed to explain but was wary of saying anything since I didn't want to enter into a dispute with her that could later be viewed as a disruption. Since she was the individual choosing to stop the entire meeting, I felt any "disruption" was something she created. The whole incident was simply a rather naked and arbitrary exercise of power which I felt obliged to respond to by doing quietly what I've always done and what I have to do in order to have audio for my Thursday night radio show".
20 graduate and undergraduate students were arrested at UC Santa Cruz on April 2, and two more were arrested on April 3. UAW 2865, the union representing Teaching Assistants throughout the University of California system, called for a peaceful, legal strike in protest of management’s unlawful intimidation of student-workers, but were met with more of the same intimidation. Here's what happened at the strike at UC Santa Cruz on Tuesday, April 2, according to UAW 2865 representatives:
"The administration strategically chose to escalate the situation at a peaceful, lawful picket. Riot police were imported from UC Berkeley prior to the demonstrations. The Berkeley police are known for their willingness to physically assault both students and faculty at peaceful demonstrations. Wearing riot helmets and batons, and resting their hands on their weapons, police used conflicting messages to create confusion about what demonstrators could do to avoid arrest. First, police blocked both entrances to the crosswalk; then they said we could be in the crosswalk only when the “walk” sign was on, and then proceed to shut it off. Some officers then said that we couldn’t picket on the sidewalk or grass near the west entrance even after people had moved off of the street. The details of where people could be were not clear in any dispersal order. This mixed messaging was clearly part of a tactic to stop a legal, peaceful picket by instilling fear among demonstrators that they might be arrested at any time merely by being in the vicinity of the protest.
"The administration deprived UAW members of their legal right to picket. Shortly after union members and undergraduate allies gathered at the western entrance, they were confronted by riot police. A union leader was specifically targeted after communicating to administrators that the picket was about to begin. He introduced himself to Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway, and informed her that he was going to be exercising his right to picket, but that he would not be standing in front of cars or blocking traffic. Shortly after this encounter, he was tackled to the ground by police and arrested, along with a photographer who was documenting the incident. He had clearly stated that he was not going to block any cars, and he would be walking in the crosswalk. We have video footage of this arrest. You can watch clips of it here. Riot cops then proceeded to arrest 18 more students and union members."
Students are now entangled in the legal system. All of the arrested demonstrators have been released. Most of those arrested have a court date set for May 6 at 8:15am, in SC Superior Court.
Read More and Watch Video | Updates from Wednesday, April 2 | Interviews at UCSC Graduate Student Workers ULP Strike after Arrests | In Solidarity with UAW and the UCSC 20 | UCSC Faculty Letter to EVC Galloway and Chancellor Blumenthal on April 2 Arrests | UCSC 20 Becomes the UCSC 22 | UCSA Resolution in Support of UAW Strikers and Student Protest Climate at UC | Marching on the UCSC Police Station on April 3 | Petition: Janet Napolitano: Drop the Charges Against the UCSC 22 | Riot Squads Return, Police Shut Down UCSC Campus on Second Day of UAW Strike | Why We Are Striking | UCSC Graduate Student Workers Plan to Strike April 2-3
Steve Pleich writes:
There has been much discussion over the last several months concerning the wisdom of having a fully functional Needle Exchange Program in our community. Many have expressed doubts about the public health benefits of such a program, but a clear-eyed and dispassionate analysis of those benefits has been subsumed by an overriding public safety concern.
In my opinion, a well run and efficient NE would not only serve the interest of public health, it would also effectively reduce the number of used syringes that are present in public spaces. And although it may seem counter intuitive at first blush, I submit that the best way to reduce needle litter is to prevent it at the source. Needle Exchange is not the cause of needle litter. It is the solution.
Syringe Exchange Programs, or as they are more commonly known, Syringe Services Programs (SSPs), operate with the primary goal of providing injection drug users (IDUs) with new, sterile injection equipment as a means of reducing the spread of blood-borne viruses and or injection-related infections. But perhaps just as importantly, SSPs have increasingly placed emphasis on simultaneously removing used injection equipment from circulation through a process of exchanging old syringes for new ones.
Previous Related Indybay Features: Santa Cruz County's "Revised" Needle Exchange
| Are Public Safety "Activists" Planning to Shame Drug Addicts and Needle Users?
| Mayor's Public Safety Task Force Member Is "Fine with Junkies Dying"
Donald Williams Jr., a black student at San Jose State University, filed a $5 million claim on March 19 against the institution, which alleges breach of contract, breach of duty, negligence, and violation of the Unruh Act. The claim stems from alleged hate crimes committed against Williams in his SJSU dorm room by three of his housemates in the Fall of 2013.
On March 10, Attorneys Fernando F. Chavez and Blanca E. Zarazúa filed a class action lawsuit
in U.S. District Court on behalf of Hispanic residents living in the King City area. On February 25, six King City police officers and one civilian were arrested for allegedly targeting low income Hispanic people by ordering their vehicles towed and then keeping the cars when the owners could not pay the impound fees. The police officers allegedly kept the cars for themselves or sold them for money.
“It is an outrage that law enforcement officials who are supposed to protect people would plan to take advantage of these innocent Latino residents, knowing it would be difficult or impossible to pay the fees to retrieve their car,” said Fernando Chavez, attorney with The Chavez Law Firm and son of the late Cesar E. Chavez.
The class action was filed after several community members were interviewed and troubling facts were disclosed. “This lawsuit provides at least some relief for the many residents of King City who were subject to serious civil rights violations” said Attorney Blanca E. Zarazúa, Honorary Consul for Mexico in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.
Read More | See Also: Assembly Member Alejo Statement on Allegations Against King City Police Officers
| Senator Monning Statement on King City Police Department Corruption Scandal
This month's Bike Party theme in Santa Cruz was pie and pajamas. A colorful group gathered for pie at the Bike Church and then rode off into the sunset together on March 14 for Pi Day (3.14). Unlike the world-famous critical-mass bicycle rides, which are more political in focus and sometimes confrontational, Bike Party aims for a festive and friendly ride. The Santa Cruz Bike Party is gaining popularity and part of a larger movement, with the San José Bike Party being the most famous.
In 2013, the Santa Cruz City Council approved a number of new ordinances that disproportionately affect homeless and low income people. Local ordinances now govern such behavior as "loitering" on traffic medians and "disorderly" conduct in parks, which has been redefined and may now result in a 24-hour stay away order. Additionally, the amount of space artists, activists, street vendors and performers may use in downtown Santa Cruz has been significantly reduced.
5PM Friday Apr 25
Last Friday Felton