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Direct Action against SC Mayor Ryan Coonerty for opposing immigrant rights resolution
by No Secure Communities!!
Sunday May 29th, 2011 11:35 PM
On May 10, 2011 the Santa Cruz City Council defeated a resolution supporting AB 1081, The Trust Act. The resolution also would have supported opting out of the "Secure Communities" program in Santa Cruz County. This federal program forced on local jurisdictions has been responsible for the mass deportation of innocent people from this county while destroying families and violating their basic human rights.
When politicians want to hide their actual positions and beliefs to the public (for fear of public backlash), they usually do one of two things (or both).

The first, and most popular strategy is to use the "procedure" as an excuse. They will say that, "...this is not the way we do things." They will say that the proposal or request or resolution should have been written differently, or brought to the council differently. Even though in many cases, other resolutions and policies have been enacted in the same way. If a politician does not want to seem intolerant, prejudiced, or even racist, they can use the excuse that the procedure of the policy is simply wrong.

The second, and also popular strategy for politicians to hide their true beliefs or controversial and unpopular positions is to say that their Council or Board is not the proper elected body to deal with the issue. That it is the responsibility of the State or the Federal government. NOT the City Council or governing body they sit on.

Ryan Coonerty used BOTH of these sneaky (often effective) strategies when he spoke and voted against opting out of the Secure Communities program in Santa Cruz City.

In denying the resolution supporting AB 1081 (The Trust Act) and denying the support to Opt Out of the Secure Communities program, Ryan used the first procedural argument during the City Council meeting itself, which you will see in the video. While there has been a Santa Cruz based coalition organizing for months, meeting with the Sheriff, the Latino Affairs Commission and numerous other local organizations, Ryan acted like none of this even happened, when indeed it had.

When over 50 activists entered Ryan's UCSC lecture class the following week to make his support of Secure Communities more publicly known and point out the contradictions in his "progressive" ideals...he proceeded to use the second popular method of deflecting responsibility. He blamed it on the State District Attorney and President Obama. He told a roomful of immigrant rights activists that they should go speak to Kamala Harris and Barack Obama about this issue.

Meanwhile, in the greater San Francisco Bay area cities, counties, local labor councils (including the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council) and even the entire state of Illinois have passed resolutions supporting the right for a city, county or state to OPT OUT of Secure Communities.


We call on the progressive citizens of Santa Cruz to disallow this kind of insensitive and dishonest behavior in our Mayor. Please call and e-mail Mayor Ryan Coonerty and question him or share how you feel. We do not want these kinds of contradictions in our leadership. He cannot claim to support the immigrant community and then refuse to condemn a destructive policy such as the Secure Communities program.

§No on "Secure Communities"
by No Secure Communities!! Sunday May 29th, 2011 11:35 PM
§No on "Secure Communities"
by No Secure Communities!! Sunday May 29th, 2011 11:35 PM

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Becky Johnson
Tuesday May 31st, 2011 7:36 AM
Until a reasonable immigration policy is put into place, all citizens and residents are subject to arbitrary and capricious enforcement of a deportation policy that is neither fair, just, nor practicable.

RYAN COONERTY himself has criminalized a number of formerly innocent behaviors, which befall anyone who "violates" them.
Under Ryan, it is illegal to BE in any downtown public parking lot or garage longer than 15 min or be charged with "trespass."

Under RYAN it is illegal to play a flute (for tips) less than 10 feet from a statue!

Under RYAN it is illegal to sing "Happy Birthday" too loud in your house.

And of course, RYAN supports the cruel SLEEPING BAN which robs homeless people of life-sustaining sleep as a matter of city policy and practice.

RYAN supports 3 unmet citations being charged as misdemeanors which means jury trials for sitting on a sidewalk.

RYAN is so anti-homeless and so anti-immigrant he should be made to give the Hammer of Justice he got from the ACLU (his aunt SHEILA COONERTY pushed for him to get it) back!!!
by Clearwater
Wednesday Jun 1st, 2011 4:56 PM
"Under RYAN it is illegal to sing "Happy Birthday" too loud in your house." Care to give us the name and number of the ordinance that specifically makes singing in your own home illegal?

I'm sorry to have to ask you for proof, but it's rather necessary considering your integrity re: comments made in other media sources.
by Clearwater
Wednesday Jun 1st, 2011 5:03 PM
"RYAN supports 3 unmet citations being charged as misdemeanors which means jury trials for sitting on a sidewalk.". That's not exactly true. It does not mean jury trials for sitting on a sidewalk. It means a jury trial for not addressing three prior citations. The actual citation for sitting on the sidewalk does not become a misdemeanor. You would be going to trial for the additional charge of disregarding the thee citations. You really should be clearer about what you're actually saying. Otherwise one might think you were trying to deceive or distort.
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jun 1st, 2011 8:08 PM
Actually, a second citation under 9.50.012, what some of us call "The Sitting Ban", does require a misdemeanor trial, if the citation happens within 30 days under 9.50.070--reprinted below. This surpasses in harshness even the Camping Ban misdemeanor provision which mandates a misdemeanor if it happens within 24 hours. (See MC 6.36.050).

9.50.070 SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS [for sitting on the sidewalk]. Any person who violates any section in this chapter and is cited for such a violation, and who within thirty days after receiving such a citation again violates the same section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

As for absurd prosecutions--under the vague and overbroad "Unreasonably Disturbing Noise" law I, Becky, and Blindbear were convicted of singing "Downtown" (the Petula Clark song) with homeless lyrics downtown at mid-day in front of Coonerty's bookshop.

While it's true that Coonerty did not make the complaint (a day sleeper named Sean Reilly did), there was no indication he had any problem whatsoever with the city spending thoussands of dollars in a 14-hour infraction trial to support a bogus "citizen's arrest". See . The issue was brought to a closed session of City Council encouraging them not to single out activists for prosecution her.

Coonerty also initiated the 2-minute limit on Oral Communications at City Council and a number of other measures limiting public access. In addition he has publicly supported spending still more thousands of city dollars on defending a mayor's bad choice in falsely arresting me at City Council for making a "don't act like a Nazi" 2-second silent salute. (See

Some earlier criticism of Coonerty (when he was Mayor back 2008):

"Coonerty to Face Challenge in Obama Delegate Selection 2 PM Sunday"

"While Mayor Coonerty Hammers Away at Civil Liberties, the ACLU Awards Him Sunday"

It would be deceptive to suggest that the other Councilmembers are much better. Still Coonerty is Mayor; and we need to send a signal that this kind of crap is intolerable.

His position on the AB 1081 endorsement shutdown was weasel-like and unrepresentative of public opinion in Santa Cruz (as well as being reactionary and racist). But it's only the latest in a line of hypocritical "friendly fascist" actions.
by Becky Johnson
Thursday Jun 2nd, 2011 7:47 AM
So "Not Exactly True" accused me of making a post that was not exactly true. Apparently I WAS correct. Under RYAN COONERTY, we can expect jury trials for the "crime" of sitting on a sidewalk less than 14 feet from a building!!!

And if the "offender" is an undocumented non-citizen, they will likely get deported because of Ryan'

Mass deportations? I don't know about this. But, at DeLaveaga Elementary, one of my students, a 6 year old girl, lost her mother to deportation. One day she was here and the next day she wasn't. That little girl's world collapsed around her!!!

Ryan is responsible for untold harm and suffering. He should be recalled.
by chale!
Thursday Jun 2nd, 2011 8:08 AM
E-MAIL - rcoonerty [at]
PH. # (831) 420-5027 City Hall
by Donny B
Saturday Jun 4th, 2011 9:58 AM
Hey BJ and Robert. Why don't you support your claims accusations against Mayor Coonerty with actual facts. It's getting old seeing your continual use of hyperbole, spin, distortions, and fabrications in a vain attempt to support your nebulous claims.
While I happen to think that the Council decision declining to oppose the Secure Communities program was very wrong, this on-going spreading of misleading information about Ryan and City laws is getting a little old. It is not illegal to sit on the sidewalk in Santa Cruz. As anyone can plainly see, people sit on the sidewalk every day in almost every block downtown. The council passed a very detailed law that mostly, but not completely, mandates not sitting in places that end up blocking the sidewalk for others. That Robert and Becky choose to call this "the no sitting on the sidewalk law" does not make it so. Similarly, when they got cited for violating the noise ordinance which has been on the books for five decades by a citizen (not related to Coonerty or the Council), they had their day in court, and were convicted, not for the content of their song, but for the noise level they were generating. Focus on the issue of Secure Communities and stop already with the defamation of Ryan Coonerty. mike
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jun 4th, 2011 4:37 PM
Mayor Mike Rotkin knows better.

MC 9.50.012 outlaws sitting on 95% of downtown sidewalks and 100% of sidewalks in business districts that have any buildings or fences (since sidewalks in those areas are usually less than 10' wide and the ban goes out to 14'). Clearly the law has nothing to do with blocking the sidewalk and everything to do with a sweeping Sitting Ban. Rotkin went to San Francisco last year to publicly support former Mayor Newsom's similar (but less sweeping Sitting Ban) in San Francisco. Rotkin supported the Santa Cruz ban in 1994 when it provoked mass protests. He supported its expansion in 2003 and 2009. He supports it now.

It's ironic and troubling that Rotkin is influential on the board of the local ACLU (he was treasurer at the last meeting I attended). While it's positive that he opposes Coonerty on city endorsement of AB 1081, his active and persistent hostility to local civil liberties for poor people is well-known and of long standing. His support for the extensive Sitting Ban is just one example of how local power can corrupt those who were originally liberal.

Singing "Downtown" in front of the Bookshop Santa Cruz (owned by the Coonerty family) "disturbed" a day sleeper, Sean Reilly, as described in a previous comment. The City under Rotkin's mayorship spent tens of thousands of dollars in attorney and employee resources supporting Reilly's absurd claim that a day sleeper was entitled to silence political speech downtown when no other witness testified that the noise was unreasonable and half a dozen testified that it wasn't.

Rotkin's perennial dodge when asked to take a stand on local civil liberties is to "leave it to the courts". For five years he claimed that giving out political flyers at the Metro Transit Center (on whose board he then sat) was "illegal" until I called him on it after I was falsely arrested there. (And, yes, convicted for the absurd crime of "trespass")

Coonerty and Rotkin support a host of anti-homeless laws that criminalize poor people including the Parking Lots and Garages Trespass Law (Rotkin supports half of it; Coonerty the whole of it), the Sleeping Ban, the Panhandling Ban (any peaceful sparechanging after dark is illegal; do it twice, you face jail), the Sit-on-a-Bench-for-an-Hour-and-get-a-ticket-law, and a number of other laws pandering to merchant paranoia, having nothing to do with real public health and safety.

Rotkins and Coonertys can be found in city governments throughout the country that cater to Downtown Business Improvement districts intent on running the homeless out of sight.

It's not unfair to say that Rotkin is a liar. Those who ally with him on the AB 1081 issue should be very cautious. Some of the homeless are immigrants, facing additional risks under these laws. Both these mayors should be ashamed and their opinions viewed with extreme skepticism.

My point is not to detract from the importance of criminalizing undocumented immigrants (which needs far more support than backing AB 1081), nor lose focus on that issue. Nor is it impossible to find allies in strange places (like Rotkin). However bullshit is bullshit and if it doesn't pass the "sniff" test, needs to be so identified.
by Sparrow
Sunday Jun 5th, 2011 1:02 PM
The U.S. throws up it's borders and makes it expensive for immigrants to get in when they are seen as inferior (in this case racially). Yet the people putting these policies in place are all white - descendants of immigrants who may have came here illegally or legally but either way have encroached upon a land that belonged to the indigenous. So who are all these white men to say that brown people can't come back into what was once part of Mexico anyway?

Furthermore, our international policy and financial arrangements (NAFTA) with Mexico are seriously screwing their economy and way of life. Because all the new Sony factories, strange chemicals are leeching into the water ways, poisoning people. Because Monsanto is coming in setting up giant mono-crop corn fields, small family farmers can no longer compete and are going out of business. Our factories and agriculture are making their previous way of life absolutely impossible - but if they succumb to the scum of industrialization there, they aren't protected by the same kind of civil rights for laborers we have here. The U.S. went into their country thinking we'd bring "civilization" but our version of that is torturous factory jobs, exposure to poison at every turn and debt slavery. I bet you most of them are crossing the border because of the hardships we (the U.S.) imposed upon them. And they are so polite for not starting a riot about it, don't you think? Even here most of them are treated like dirt and we have the nerve to say "you can't come here (onto lands we stole from you) and steal our jobs (that none of us are desperate enough to take but we need filled by a cheap labor source that helps our economy -and before you say it, yes most of them pay the taxes that are directly taken from their paychecks whether they are documented or not)"

And finally: we have a mutuality in being human, we should work to protect the lives of all of them. If we don't think someone else should have a right to a good life, then what makes us any better? Hard work doesn't get everyone to the top - God knows these immigrants are trying, they just so happened to be historically kicked down to the bottom of the latter (by US) so they have a lot farther to climb than we do.
by David Roknich
Sunday Jun 5th, 2011 1:14 PM
I'm absolutely proud of the fact that I supported Pat Quinn for Governor of Illinois. He has instructed the Illinois State Police not to participate in "Secure Communities", because the program is a complete fraud.
Gov. Pat Quinn has withdrawn the state from a federal program that runs immigration checks on fingerprints of everyone arrested by the state and local police. In a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mr. Quinn, a Democrat, said he was canceling Illinois’ participation in the program, known as Secure Communities, because of “a conflict” between its stated purpose and its results. Although officials had said the program would deport immigrants who were convicted criminals, Mr. Quinn wrote, fewer than 20 percent of immigrants deported under the program had serious convictions.
I understand that throughout California there is a fear that "they are coming across the border in such numbers they will soon take over".

Well, we've got a guy named Garza as the mayor of my town, and unfortunately thing have not changed much at all. Please, get a clue and don't pretend your so damn liberal.

Meanwhile, be sure to support my phone-in campaign to overturn "Citizens United" so that MONEY will not equal SPEECH, and the constitution will only protect the rights of PEOPLE.

David Roknich,
Galesburg IL

by Sparrow
Sunday Jun 5th, 2011 1:20 PM
Ryan Coonerty made a response to the brown berets, his class and the others after the statement was given. Why is it not in the video?

He said that he was keeping with the direction of the Obama administration (which is kind of BS since Secure Communities was part of Bush's agenda) and that we should be talking to the chief of police about the issue. I haven't met the "chief" myself so I don't know how far it would get anyone, but it could be worth a shot - if the people who go aren't immigrants without papers themselves of course (that could be dangerous). I have spoken to officer Sergio Venegas about the secure communities thing and he says that the program would prevent them from being able to get people to call in other crimes if they were afraid of being deported and is thus a terrible idea because it prevents him from "doing his job and keeping the peace", but also that he doesn't know anything about it being enacted in Santa Cruz. He could have just been talking sweet to me to get me to stop cop-watching but he does have a point that maybe we could hold him and some other police men to. Maybe even get the police to step up and speak out against S-Comm.

The fact that Coonerty's response was left out is upsetting and I see it as disrespectful - not to him but to everyone who wasn't at the event, because we need to know how he responded in order to plan what to do next. I think it's pretty bad he didn't sign the Trust act but he claimed that it wasn't thorough, something about it was illegal and that they didn't actually have any control. If that's what he thinks and he is the main guy standing in the way of getting it signed than we need to challenge him on those points.
Just trying to be pragmatic.
by Sky Meadow
Sunday Jun 5th, 2011 3:29 PM
I read Ms Johnson's above post and was rather perplexed by the following statement:

"Until a reasonable immigration policy is put into place, all citizens and residents are subject to arbitrary and capricious enforcement of a deportation policy that is neither fair, just, nor practicable."

"All citizens"? Since when did the US start deporting it's own citizens? What kind of example can you offer us of what it would take for a natural born US citizen to be deported? And where are they deporting natural born citizens to? Do you have any examples of a natural born US citizen being deported? Or is this another example of your hyperbole and distortion of the truth?

Becky knows better. She knows that not "all citizens" are subject to "capricious" deportation. Since she is fully aware that her statement is not true it's not unfair to say that Becky is a liar.
by Becky Johnson
Sunday Jun 5th, 2011 7:06 PM
SKY MEADOW, WHO hides behind a pseudonym, calls me a "liar" for saying the US immigration policy is capricious and arbitrary. And yes, it affects EVERYONE, both citizen and undocumented, non-citizen. I never said that citizens are deported.

ROTKIN righteously claims that the innocent act of sitting on a public sidewalk non-obstructively has not been criminalized. He is pulling the wool over our eyes. Sitting IS criminalized on any portion of the sidewalk that is less than 14 FEET from a building!!! It is also illegal to sit on the sidewalk FIFTY FEET from a change machine! AND RYAN COONERTY pushed forth legislation that will make the 3rd charge for this NON=CRIME a misdemeanor, with jury trials, public defenders, and LOTS and LOTS of billable hours for City Attorney John Barisone.

Stop criminalizing innocent behavior such as sitting, lying down, sleeping, or using a blanket.One day we will look back at such laws with the same horror we now look at Jim Crow laws. Rotkin will be shamed with his promotion of these anti-homeless laws and his legacy will suffer accordingly.
by Sky Meadow
Monday Jun 6th, 2011 9:40 AM
"I never said that citizens are deported."

How can you say that? It's exactly what you said! Let's re-cap, since you don't seem to remember what you wrote:

"Until a reasonable immigration policy is put into place, ALL CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS are subject to arbitrary and capricious ENFORCEMENT OF DEPORTATION POLICY that is neither fair, just, nor practicable."

You said "all citizens". You said "are subject to arbitrary and capricious enforcement of a deportation policy". Enforcement of deportation policy means to get deported. I asked you to give us an example of a US citizen that has arbitrarily of capriciously been subject to deportation policy, and you didn't respond. You went on to discuss something else. And then you say you never said something that you clearly said?!

You've been caught doing this before. You make a statement that is entirely untrue and then come back with "I never said that". Only to be shown that you did make such a statement. If you're going to engage in a discussion on this very important issue then you should make true statements and stick to the facts. Not engage in falsehood and distortion. Is that really too much for the readers of Indybay to expect from you?
by S COMM Activist...
Monday Jun 6th, 2011 1:48 PM
I was involved in the action at UCSC and I also am a supporter of Robert Norse and I respectfully ask that Mr. Norse and Ms. Johnson NOT HIJACK THIS ISSUE to serve their own arguments.

Please, while the homeless issue is important as are the folks who are affected by the laws against them...THIS IS ABOUT OUR UNDOCUMENTED BROTHERS AND SISTERS and we would REALLY appreciate it if you were in solidarity with us on this one and supported what we are talking about INSTEAD of shifting the debate to your own issues.

Thank you. We have your back!
by Robert Norse
Wednesday Jun 8th, 2011 2:00 AM
Perhaps the response to troll attacks has shifted the focus here. That wasn't my intention (nor Becky's, I suspect).

I believe it's on point to emphasize and document that Coonerty's 'progressive' reputation has always been a myth And that police enforcement of the Downtown Ordinances can result in deportation of undocumented immigrants. It's also relevant to point out the distortions of powerful figures (like Rotkin) whose consistency and sincerity on civil rights issues is clearly bogus.

My thanks to those who organized the classroom educational picket holding Coonerty to account for his failure to support AB 1081 (or something stronger).

I would emphasize also his hypocrisy in claiming to teach "constitutional law" to students at Cabrillo and UCSC while supporting policies that deny due process and criminalize a whole class of working people.

The hijacking here is being done by psuedo-progressive politicians slyly pandering to conservative paranoia and a sick fondness for police state policies.
by Pot Calling Kettle
Wednesday Jun 8th, 2011 5:36 PM
I believe it's equally credible and defensible to state that Robert is also a liar; just as he's claimed Coonerty is.

He's lied about myriad reports regarding many people. When challenged on his lies and confronted with irrefutable evidence of same, he attempts to disassociate from his lies by claiming confusion, misreporting, etc.

The list of lies that he's stated over the years is lengthy: Donna Deiss, his self-instigated confrontation with security guards at the Depot, claims that TBSC was destroying homeless camps, etc, etc, etc.

I don't challenge his claim that Rotkin is lying. I do encourage readers to question the credibility of the messenger.
by Anna Pavlovna Scherer
Thursday Jun 9th, 2011 8:19 AM
As one of the students in the class the brown berets hijacked, I was extremely disappointed with the forum in which the group decided to speak.

It was a naked attempt to attack Prof. Coonerty and embarrass him in front of his students, which clearly didn't work as several students jumped up to defend him. It was not the time or place for this discussion, but clearly the group didn't think of the 50 students who struggle to pay the $4,000 a quarter to take the classes they choose. I did not choose nor was I okay with having 20 minutes of that time taken away from me so that the group could attack Coonerty's personal character and then, to add insult to injury, interrupt him during his reply.

I am highly disappointed that a group so clearly passionate and dedicated would be both thoughtless and selfish in choosing the time and place to approach Coonerty with this issue. Next time, I politely ask that you schedule a meeting with him at City Hall.
by Becky Johnson
Thursday Jun 9th, 2011 9:16 PM
Previously I wrote ""Until a reasonable immigration policy is put into place, ALL CITIZENS AND RESIDENTS are subject to arbitrary and capricious ENFORCEMENT OF DEPORTATION POLICY that is neither fair, just, nor practicable."

the POLICY affects everyone, including employers, family members, and co-workers. while deportation happens to non-citizens only, the policy is bad for our society. Immigration policy has historically been racist with some nationalities favored over others.

Not too long ago I remember some Swedish students who entered the US at the border without any problems at all. Are most Mexican nationals treated this way?

Many immigrants come here and don't find a great way to live. They end up leaving.

RYAN COONERTY deserves this rebuke for failing to support a just position when it counted. Remember his "No Lou Dobbs" month? that was in response to Dobbs anti-immigration stance. (It was really RYAN shamelessly pandering to SAM FARR).

Here he shows his true colors.
by No S-Comm
Friday Jun 10th, 2011 8:42 AM
Dear Anna Pavlovna Scherer,
We are not sorry for interrupting your class for the 10 minutes. For us this is much much more than an assembly bill, it is about people's lives, the separation of families, people being unjustly incarcerated, children losing their parents, people dying, right now!! One of the protestors in the room that day had tragically lost her brother due to this policy of Secure Communities. So yes it was about publicity, to bring attention to a critical issue and to hold certain people accountable for failing to uphold the values that they have publicly preached about and have been awarded for. Now if we had prevented you from attending school, or would have eliminated your education, I would have understood your frustration, but I assume you still took your final, went home and went on with your life as usual. We fight for justice where it is needed, not where you prescribe, thank you.
by Robert Norse
Friday Jun 10th, 2011 10:15 AM
I much appreciate both the action and subsequent coverage of Coonerty's hypocrisy.

I would ask the activists to post any video they have of Coonerty's response (and that of the students who reportedly defended him).

I think that's important and would add to the discussion and the (in)credibility of Coonerty's position.
by Kc
(kclivingood [at] Monday Jun 13th, 2011 12:38 AM
The Brown Beret's offered another view, which is necessary whether the students wanted to hear it or not...they SHOULD be open to it.
Robert and Becky offer similarities between Coonerty's recent AB1081 support and his support with other civil liberty issues such as the sitting, sleeping, and loitering in a parking lot ban: they are all hypocritical. Only more of the community is realizing this.
Perhaps a common mutuality has been reached here, and we can help one another...strength in numbers.
I am unsure of a law saying it is "illegal to sing "Happy Birthday" too loud in your house." Sounds outlandish to me.
But criticizing Robert and Becky personally doesn't mean their words have no merit or validity.