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Indybay Feature
Police Auditor's Report Reportedly Available In Main Library
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Mar 21st, 2006 10:50 PM
Police Auditor Bob Aaronsen's report on Spygate Santa Cruz--the SCPD snoop operation against Last Night-DIY, the New Year's Eve Peaceful Parade--is reportedly in the main library, released Tuesday afternoon.
I got a call this afternoon returning an inquiry from Bob Aaronsen, the Palo Alto based "independent" auditor, hired by the City to "oversee" SCPD. Aaronsen had a brief moment of glory when he stated the obvious two months ago--that Deputy Chief Kevin Vogel could obviously not objectively and impartially investigate an operation that he was the leader of.

City Council refused to discuss, much less pass, a law banning infiltration and spying against peaceful political groups. This law had been demanded by a series of community activists, most recently by former Mayor Keith Sugar in a Sunday guest editorial in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

City Council didn't take the obvious next step: invesgtigating the Police Chief and City Manager, who okayed this outrageous coverup investigation. Instead City Council's Public Safety Subcommittee, headed by the agile-tongued Rotkin, quickly cut short any discussion and refused to discuss guidelines to protect political groups from police spying.

Police Chief Howard Skerry, the same Police Chief that okayed the Vogel report in collusion with City Manager-for-Life Dick Wilson, issued his own "guidelines". Skerry's department apparently had been investigating without any guidelines whatsoever (perhaps the Santa Cruz equivalent of Bush's "executive privilege"?).

The guidelines Skerry quickly manufactured at the same time as he okayed the Vogel report had just about the same credibility. They were broad enough to allow spying whenever any individual in the group might be planning an illegal activity--no matter how small, or had previously been involved in illegal activity (parking tickets?).

Skerry's credibility had significantly been called into question when he claimed that Vogel's Last Night snoopjob was the only time the SCPD had spied on peaceful groups.

Skerry's story ignored the numerous sightings of undercover officers marching in various protests throughout 2005--documented by an indymedia reporter, who publicly presented City Council with a thick sheaf of documents on January 24th. Councilmembers never responded to the reporter's evidence.

Mayor Cynthia Mathews repeatedly ducked the question of whether future peaceful political protesters not applying for a permit should expect routine infiltration, record gathering, and photographing by undercover SCPD police. Call her at 420-5026 to get her latest perspective.

Rico Thunder heard from Art and Revolution activist Grant Wilson that the Monday 3-20 Public Safety Committee meeting, originally scheduled for 4 PM, was suddenly moved to 7 PM, possibly reducing or eliminating public input.

Free Radio Santa Cruz and indybay report Vinnie Lombardo noted that repeated calls to Aaronsen at his Santa Cruz number had not been returned. Vinnie said he'd contacted the library earlier this evening and that the Aaronsen report was available there in the reference section. A report from him may be available soon.

Hear my interviews with Cynthia Mathews and with Bob Aaronsen at

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by H
Wednesday Mar 22nd, 2006 1:34 PM
Your dilligence paid off with this. The question I have is when was the City of Santa Cruz planning on letting the people know about this report? There were many people involved who had calls and messages into the city government and they didn't tell them, yet they got a report to the Sentinel! What reasonable explanation can there be for this?
by Rico
Wednesday Mar 22nd, 2006 7:34 PM
This is a question we've been mulling over for the last 24 hours. After all the assurances that the city would let those of us who were targeted by the police know when the report was ready, all we received was official silence.

Add to that Mike Rotkin's assurances last week that the report would NOT be ready for Monday's meeting and that we could only expect an update from the police auditor.

Then there was the Public Safety Meeting which was moved from 4pm to 7pm.

Seems to me that we have a city administration that is playing a shell game with this issue. Try as they might, we won't let them forget that the people of Santa Cruz are angry about police spying on them.
by Robert Norse
Monday Mar 27th, 2006 8:14 PM
On Sunday March 26, I interviewed first Rico Thunder, and then put in a call to Councilmember and Public Safety Committee Chair Mike Rotkin at home.

Rotkin returned my call and spoke to me briefly about the upcoming Public Safety Committee meeting. When told that Rico and others wanted the meeting moved ahead to give them time enough to provide stronger guidelines to protect the public against unconstitutional police surveillance, Rotkin scoffed and stated that they had to "move quickly" to satisfy the public.

I also asked him to begin regular tape recordings of the PSC to make what happened available to those unable to attend. Since the meetings are often conducted in City Council chambers where recording equipment is easily accessible, there seems no reason why this can't be done.

Those interested in finding out whether it will be done might put in a call to Tina, the PSC staff person at 420-5020. Otherwise, bring your own tape recorders (and video) at 7 PM Wednesday March 29th.

To hear the Rotkin remarks (and the Rico Thunder interview which precedes it) go to . Be advised this is a long long show, and the interview happens about 2/3 of the way through.
by Robert Norse
Friday Dec 23rd, 2011 3:45 AM is the new web address for the interview mentioned above. Generally old addresses of the form should be reformulated by substituting "" for "" to update and find the archive.
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