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Indybay Feature

Some Questions for Sandy Brown and the City Council

by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at]
An e-mail sent to Councilmember Sandy Brown will likely result in no action at City Council. More seriously, the Council, which has ultimately control of the police through the City Manager, needs to be forced to confront long-standing SCPD issues that are of a piece with demands on departments across the nation.

The regular Council meeting begins at 2 PM and takes place in ghostly fashion by Zoom with no real meaningful public participation (though this is usually the case during their in-person appearances as well). Oral Communications is at 6 PM.

To call in for the crumbs of 2 minutes speaking time at Oral Communication, check out the phone numbers (and the agenda) at for the phone numbers.

The on-line agenda has nothing which responds to the protests that have rocked the City in the last two weeks.

This morning I wrote the following letter to Santa Cruz Councilmember Sandy Brown urging her to raise issues. If necessary as emergency resolutions since there's nothing relevant to police misconduct or homeless vulnerability on the agenda.



HUFF activists have asked me to ask you
(a) What department could immediately supply drinkable water both to the Benchlands encampment and to the majority of homeless folks outside who are scattered in other encampments throughout the City and significantly in the Pogonip? Activist Alicia Kuhl has recently noted in a facebook appeal to Dr. Newel that previously the City provided water to the brief Benchlands encampment that gave the City pretext to disperse the Ross encampment last year (while not providing legal or adequate shelter alternatives for most). See

(b) To what specific person and at what e-mail address should concerns be addressed to stop the latest City staff attempt to run off vehicular residents on Olive St.? See

(c) Will you be introducing an emergency measure to redirect SCPD funding to City social services and most particularly to eliminate or at least illuminate records of pain compliance holds, use of force, drawn weapons, and multiple police appearances for infraction stops, as well as a ceasefire on sweeps against homeless encampments? The City of Sacramento is reportedly under legal attack because of its continued police abuse against those outside.

(d) Actual stats regarding how many motels in the city actually have unused vacancies, how many vulnerable homeless people are still either on the streets without those motel rooms or in unsafe congregate shelters? How much money remains to that given the City and County for Project Roomkey that has been unused or diverted to other projects?

(e) Will you hold a public meeting to answer concerns street activists have regarding Santa Cruz police behavior this week?

Thanks, Robert

The e-mail is titled "Drinkable water for encampments and other unaddressed issues at today's City Council meeting"

I sent it around 8 am. I've received no response.

Brown has the option to raise any issue as an emergency matter (though it requires additional votes and an emergency finding).

She and other Councilmembers need to be confronted where they work and where they live to demand they take action. Massed people power finally provides the voice that deaf politicians have to hear whether they want to or not these days.


Cummings elected with Progressive student and tenant votes betrayed his constituency. Witness his long silence on the Glover and Krohn recalls, his refusal to press for just eviction protections or even landlord data, the sell-out of the homeless repeatedly, and his refusal to hold police accountable for fences, sweeps, and a roster of abuses (See "Rein in the SCPD with Real Community Controls" at

His recent postures to "cool protester anger at the police station and "bending a knee" with Chief Mills are more acts of betrayal attempting to co-opt a vital movement.

Of course, the real power in the city is City Manager Martin Bernal, who will never be held accountable until the community votes with its feet and voices to do so.
In a radio interview with me on Free Radio Santa Cruz, Sandy Brown agreed to make certain requests of staff around issues of police abuse and homeless discrimination. She never kept those promises.

In March of 2017, I wrote her this letter reminding her of the commitments she's made and subsequently ignored. Subsequent letters reminding her proved useless. The relevant segments of the letter are these:

The recorded interview with Brown during which she made the promises is at 3 hours into the file. Sad that she repeatedly ducked doing what she committed herself to doing--also considering it would have taken so little effort.

Thanks, Sandy.
I'm reiterating the list of e-mails we discussed and that you agreed to send out (correct me if I'm wrong).

These include:
+ to [Police Chief] Vogel and [City Manager] Martin regarding any unrevealed audios and videos in the Arlt case as well as the D.A.'s investigation and the witness statements taken by the SCPD;
+ to Vogel regarding the placement, cost, and retention schedules of all surveillance devices in public spaces not involving a specific ongoing criminal investigation;
+ to [Deputy Police Chief] Martinez regarding follow-up on Martinez's June 2016 letter (at to determine what citations and to whom have been given out for violating MC 5.81.--specifically if any businesses have been held to account;
+ to Vogel to determine estimated enforcement time and costs of citations for 6.36 and 13.04.011;
+ to Vogel to see all correspondence re: DHS/ICE not involved in any ongoing investigation;
+ to [City Clerk] Bren Lehr for current specifics regarding public access to and city funding of the Bookshop Santa Cruz "Visitor's Bathroom";
+ to [City Attorney] Condotti asking that all claims coming to the Closed Session of City Council be posted unredacted in their entirety;
+ to [Parks and Recreation Chief] Garcia asking for a breakdown of who, when, and where stay-away orders have been issued 1-1-16 to the present, and how many follow-up enforcement charges for violations of those orders .

Let me know if I can be helpful in framing any of these requests, giving you more background, or providing other information.

Thanks again, Robert

Postscript: At her request, I subsequently drew up the relevant e-mail requests of staff and forwarded them to her to pass on to staff. A subsequent Public Records Act request revealed that she'd never done this.

Full disclosure: Brown has fairly regularly kept a commitment that when a member of the public asks that a Consent Agenda item be pulled for individual discussion, staff report, and council vote, she does so. This is to her credit.

Of course, relevant items on community control of police never show up there--and she has never initiated any, though her background includes undistinguished service on the Citizens Police Review Board some 20 years ago.
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