Thursday, February 22, 2001
Others Have Been Here Before Us
Ever get the feeling history is repeating itself and you''re stuck in an armchair watching, a helpless spectator eating warmed-over pizza and hoping against hope that the chair doesn''t tip over backward like it sometimes does?
At the urging of a cephalopodic compatriot, Squid rented Key Largo, that romantic 1948 Bogey ''n'' Bacall flick about hurricanes, bad guys and the joy of espadrilles. Things were starting to look grim for our chain-smoking hero and his big-browed sweetie when Edward Robinson, playing the dastardly Johnny Rocco, mentioned this about Florida politicians:
"How many of these guys in office owe everything to me? I made them. Yeah, I made them, just like a tailor makes a suit of clothes. I take a nobody, see, teach ''im what to say, get his name in the papers, pay for his campaign expenses, distribute a lot of groceries and coal and get my boys to bring the voters out and then count the votes over and over again til they added up right-"
"...then count the votes over and over again til they added up right, and he was elected."
About then the chair tipped over. Squid collected the pizza off the floor, wiped the beverage off my face, and the show went on.
The Other Foot
Here''s a back-assward situation for ya: In response to a lawsuit launched against the city of Monterey by the Monterey Heritage Society, the city whined that the group of activists were trying to gag the government''s constitutional right to free speech. The nerve!
The lawsuit itself is a long and convoluted thing, but I shall sum it up thusly: The Heritage Society wanted to lease the historic Parmalee Victorian in New Monterey and turn it into an academic hostel for visiting professors and scholars. The city leased the building to the society on the condition that the nonprofit raise enough money to restore the house. Society members went out and secured a $100,000 pledge from an anonymous benefactor, but councilmembers wanted to see cold hard cash in the bank, not just promises. So the city yanked the lease and put the house up for sale. Now the Monterey Heritage Society is suing over breach of contract.
The city replied by filing a motion asking the court to round file the Heritage Society''s case. In the Feb. 9 motion, the city complains that the "real purpose of the lawsuit is to threaten and intimidate the City Council in the exercise of its free speech rights," and that the suit "is nothing more than an attempt to discredit and politically embarrass the City Council in a manner calculated to chill their political rights and punish them for exercising such rights of free speech."
Whew! Sounds convincing, but Superior Court Judge Michael Fields didn''t buy it. On Feb. 16, he denied the city''s motion.
Nevertheless, Squid is ecstatic that the Monterey City Council has chosen to become the ardent defender of free speech and the enemy of nefarious schemes to silence Everyman''s voice. It wasn''t so long ago that the city itself was suspected of attempting to curb citizens'' constitutional rights. Two years ago, activist Barbara Bass Evans was cited for gathering signatures for a ballot initiative at the Tuesday farmer''s market, and Green Party candidate Larry Fenton was shooed off the street for attempting to register voters.
Oh my, how things change when the shoe is on the other foot.
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