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Indybay Feature
Three Concerns for the Santa Cruz Community--Speech to City Council
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Dec 14th, 2010 9:31 PM
This is an expanded version of a speech I gave today at Santa Cruz City Council. Previous to the meeting I approached Mayor Rotkin to ask him why he hadn't e-mailed me back regarding my request for an emergency resolution on today's agenda supporting Wikileaks and Whistleblowers. He had neither explanation nor apology. Councilmember Don Lane refused my request to get some simple answers to straight questions asked but unanswered regarding homeless shelter procedures at the Homeless Services Center. Executive HSC Director Monica Martinez has been stonewalling on these questions (see "Homeless Service Center Colludes with Police and City Attorney" at ).

Since the City Manager is the highest paid official in the city and the real power behind the throne who never faces election (Dick Wilson plagued us for 28 years), it would be nice if there were really a public process instead of th Closed Session Performance Valuation where the public could meaningful way in and raise concerns.

Then perhaps we could question Martin Bernal why he and Acting Police Chief Kevin Vogel have focused huge amounts of city staff time, police force, and taxypayer money on eliminating peaceful homeless protesters at City Hall throughout August and September. Bernal and Vogel used a variety of unconstitutional devices such as declaring the City Hall a “forbidden for peaceful protest” zone at night, ruling the library benches “illegal to sit on” at night, ticketing protesters forced to the sidewalk with “blocking the sidewalk” citations reminiscent ot deep South sheriff behavior against civil rights protesters there in the 50s and 60s. Not to mention the ever-popular Sleeping Ban law, replete with seizure and destruction of homeless property. [More on Vogel below]

A week of rain starts Saturday. Why is there still no directive instructing the police to leave sleeping homeless people not breaking any law other than sleeping at night alone? Or at least directing cops to contact the Homeless Services Center at night to see if beds are available before they harass, ID check, search, interrogate, and cite those wet, cold, and vulnerable trying to sleep under protective shelter. If not, save everyone time and grief by not ticketing.

Councilmembers Lane and Beiers still apparently can't persuade Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC to answer some simple questions. What are the requirements for a waiting list? Will you provide a person given a sleeping ticket on the night when shelter was full a letter to the court, as had been traditional? Remember there are less than 180 bed for over 1000 homeless people.

Where's the real public process in the coronation of Kevin Vogel as Police Chief. Kevin's a nice guy, though he's gotten increasingly less accessible. He recently helped me get back (with a little prodding from attorney Kate Wells) political signs and tables taken from homeless people that which survived after having been left out in the rain in the locked yard behind the main police station on Center St. “Storage” for homeless property.

What about Vogel's assigning undercover agents to infiltrate and spy on the citizen-initiated cost-free Last Night DIY parade in 2005? And then having the chutzpah to assign himself to investigate his own unconstitutional behavior? More recently, Votel was silent as the Bernal and Rotkin relentlessly harassed activist Wes Modes for walking in the parade last year. Or the absurd police rampage through Pacfic Avenue bar, handcuffing patrons, closing off streets, and expending thousands of dollars ? What major crimes were uncovered? “public intoxication”, “drug use”, and “warrants”.

They can lock away Bradley Manning—the whistleblower on war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Julian Assange—the Wikiileaks journalist. But if Obama can declare any American citizen to be on an assassination list—and the courts back him up—as in the recent Anwar al-Awlaki “kill at will decision. I guess that emboldens local authorities to spend thousands to prosecute people for singing songs downtown, sleeping at night if they're homeless---without any inconvenient talk of civil liberties. Mike Rotkin may be leaving office, but he's still kingpin at the ACLU Board—perhaps one reason it has done nothing about these violations.

Rotkin's failure to replicate and expand Berkeley's resolution supporting Bradley Manning (which Berkeley's Peace and Justice Coalition presented today at their City) Council) seems to me to be a typical example of Rotkin's nervousness at taking positions too far to the left of the Obamatoids. I think it's quite possible he could have pulled the support together to do so--at a key moment when Assange and Manley are under hysterical attack.

For more info on the upcoming Saturday protest (and the one after that), see "Protests: Free Julian Assange and Bradley Manning" at

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by o
Wednesday Dec 15th, 2010 1:26 PM
This is not a good speech, Robert. It's rambling, lacks clarity of thought and ultimately fails to persuade the listener to the speaker's main argument, lacking as it does coherency.

I had such high hopes for you in the 80s and 90s, Robert. It's crushing to see them reduced to this.
by brenteezer
Wednesday Dec 15th, 2010 8:13 PM
This speech reads like a statement at the Nuremberg Trials, it is so scathing and salient.
Robert Norse has slayed the dragon.. like WikiLeaks, the shocking truth is laid bare.
I'd like the citizens of Santa Cruz to read/hear this speech. I bet people would be angered by how the city council, SCPD and DTA handles nearly every thing.. if they only decided to look at it. The reason they get away with this sort of thing is because they know that not many besides Robert Norse are paying any attention. I'm hoping with the new and "moderate" (capitalist pig) city council there will be more of a backlash to this lame and illegal behavior.
by p
Wednesday Dec 15th, 2010 9:19 PM
Sorry Brent. You're being retarded again. The only thing about this speech that evokes the Nurenberg Trials is the fact that it was made by Robert Norse, who casually flashes Nazi salutes at people to signify his approval of their behaviors.

Yeah, I don't get it, either. Is Robert a Nazi? Why does he act like one? Who knows?
by Gene
Friday Dec 17th, 2010 12:15 PM
If this is an expanded version then it is a misnomer to say it was the speech given to the City Council. Would you care to post the actual speech to the council?
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