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Indybay Feature

Another Letter to Mayor Justin Cummings

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
Yesterday after a year of failed efforts to secure a meeting, Justin Cummings met with me for half an hour. The meeting will be netcast at on Thursday (2-6) shortly after 6 PM. It will be archived at . At the meeting, he asked me to remind him by e-mail of a number of issues which he would "consider". I did so late last night in the following letter.

You asked me to remind you of a few concerns we discussed. Please advise me of whether you are taking action--or not--on each of these individual requests.

Will you ask staff to determine if there is any state ordinance prohibiting cities from requiring their employees, specifically their police, to live within the city they patrol? If not, will you agenda-ize and support a motion to require police to do so?

Please ask Chief Mills to restore racial data to summaries of infractions, arrests, and other crimes in the reports issued by the SCPD. If he declines to do so (as he has in the past), will you move at City Council (after placing the item on the next agenda) to direct the City Manager to direct Mills to do so?

Please restore to Public View, the report mandated last February (2-12, Agenda Item #1 on the Evening Agenda "Response to Homelessness", subitem #10 requesting within 90 days "potentially disproportionate impact on residents without homes [of 18 categories of ordinances]. This data shall include the address and the race and gender of the persons cited, the charges, the location, date, and arresting officer or ranger. Concerning stay-away orders, the length of the stay-away order shall also be included." The data but not the analysis of the data was finally made available.

Will you move to direct the City Attorney to make this analysis publicly available along with the data?

Will you move to ensure that full unredacted copies of the original claims against the City be provided on the public agenda at least 72-hours before the Closed Session considers them? Or simply direct staff to do so?

Will you move to direct the SCPD to stop using various "work around" mechanisms for ignoring the Martin v. Boise decision regarding basic homeless rights, as it is established fact that Santa Cruz lacks adequate shelter for those outside? The ordinances used include "no smoking in the Pogonip and parks", illegal lodging, public nuisance, blocking the sidewalk, closed area, and trespass on public property. They also involve the extensive use of police-initiated "stay-away" orders, done without going to court or even filing a charge.

Will you move to stop these practices that harass homeless people and deny them their survival gear and basic rights unless there is a clear and present danger to public health and safety in any particular case?

Will you move to protect the right to be left alone for those who have no shelter alternatives to live in their own encampments (i.e. tents) day or night?

Will you move to legalize encampments on vacant city or state owned property such as proposed by Governor Newsom (one example of which is the former Ross camp site)? Specifically, will you direct police to not shut down encampments run by private organizations as survival necessities for those outside unless there is a clear showing of a public health and safety danger and other shelter available for those there:?

Would you further move to examine police behavior in the shutting down of the Phoenix Camp in November at the Ross Camp site in an apparently arbitrary decision that those camping were "trespassing" after repeatedly advising the public that they weren't?

Will you act to advice Police Chief Mills to make available during regular business hours and not simply for 4 hours on Tuesday and 2 hours on Thursday in the reclaiming of survival gear and other homeless property seized by police in their destruction of existing encampments pursuant to some of the pretexts mentioned above to get past the Boise v. Martin decision?

Will you release a regular list each month of all meetings you've had with lobbyists for the past month?

Will you announce at the beginning of the month any proposed meetings with the public coming up in that month? And add any additional meetings that come up as that happens in order to give the public an opportunity to be there?

As requested in a prior e-mail, will you schedule a meeting to complete the list of concerns I wanted to bring to your attention sometime in the next few weeks? If so, when?

Finally, will you clarify if there are any inaccuracies in the document I gave you ("Open Letter to Vice-Mayor Justin Cummings" at Please specify any misrepresentations, significant omissions, or falsehoods there.

I understand this letter concerns a handful of questions. Simple yes or no answers will do, as I'm simply trying to get straight answers on whether you're willing to take immediate action on a number of issues. I will be playing our interview uncensored either this Thursday evening or Sunday morning at . It will archive at .

Thanks for taking the time (if you do) to respond to a series of difficult and controversial questions.

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