Open Records, Closed Doors Edition
Thursday, May 28, 1998
The elusive Walter Wong, the county''s environmental health director, is in cover-your- ass mode, as we can all see from his missive in today''s Letters to Ed. section.
Wally had the sympathies of Squid on this one, because it ain''t easy answering to a county supervisor. Despite Judy Pennycook''s whines of innocence and woe, her project put staff in a tough spot, even if she did nothing to curry their favor.
By nature, I''m highly unsympathetic, so it''s actually a bit of a relief to see Wong''s rhetorical gymnastics, especially watching him stumble a few times. Golly Wally, I''ll gladly slide over to make room for you in the deep fryer.
The answers to what took place in the meetings are--or should be--in the file, a file that should be available for public review by whoever saunters by the county office. Yet we wait, and have waited since May 19.
To his credit, Wong did set a time for a CW editor to come peruse the file, May 28, just after the deadline for Coast Weekly''s latest pre-election issue. Coincidence?
Very Strange Bedfellows
Who were those shadowy figures, silhouetted together by the streetlights following the marathon Monterey City Council meeting on May 19? According to the information clutched in Squid''s tentacles, they were members of the hospitality industry and members of the Monterey Action Coalition. As you will recall, the two factions are on opposite sides of the fence concerning a MAC-proposed 0.5 percent transient occupancy tax (TOT) to support the arts. Inside sources say those huddling figures were making plans for an informal meeting, the topic of which would be--hang on to your socks--a 1 percent TOT. The bigger tax, say sources, offers negotiation room: A portion of the tax--rumored to be between 50 and 80 percent--would go directly to arts organizations (MAC''s objective) and the remainder would go to promoting local arts to potential tourists from outside the area (the hospitality industry''s objective). If the two sides come to an agreement, look for a return visit to the city council--with both factions on the same side.
Squid never reads The Daily''s "Help Wanted" ads. But an advertisement for a features editor at The Herald hooked Squid''s eyeballs. "We''re a hometown newspaper geared toward artists, flower children of Big Sur, and the farmworkers who make us the nation''s largest vegetable producer..." Office workers, auto mechanics, computer nerds, etc.--you''re out of luck with that wild ''n'' wacky Herald. And we thought The Daily was just another link in Knight Ridder''s chain.