Thursday, June 14, 2001
Victory.comIt was the domain name dispute heard ''round the world. OK, not quite. But City of Salinas v. Brian Baughn was a sizable moral victory for disgruntled gadflies everywhere, as Salinas lost its futile attempt to legally wrestle www.cityofsalinas.com from prolific critic Brian Baughn. After a nine-month battle that cost him more than $3,000, Baughn says there is a 90 percent chance that he will file a civil-rights lawsuit against the city, whom he says "sullied my name in the media, harassing me for the past nine months and calling me a Cybersquatter. When it was clear from the beginning that the city was simply attempting to silence a critic." Baughn tells Squid that the online free-speech fighter Electronic Frontier Foundation is close to signing onto his legal team.
But while the National Arbitration Forum recognizes Baughn as the proud papa of www.cityofsalinas.com, the city of Salinas is reluctant to break out the cigars. Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero says she, for one, is not ruling out further arbitration. At its June 19 meeting, the City Council will decide whether or not to further pursue the case, according to Caballero.
They don''t want hapless surfers to confuse Baughn''s site--which calls for a new city manager, city attorney and mayor, and criticizes the city''s energy tax, among other things--with official City of Salinas dogma.
"I''m not technologically experienced on the Internet, so anything that''s difficult for me to find, I would assume, is difficult for other people to find as well," says Caballero. "And our Web site is difficult to find." So Squid set out to do some super-secret cybersleuthing and see for Squidself. Cleverly hidden at www.ci.salinas.ca.us, the city''s official Web site is disguised to look like every other city''s URL in the Golden State.
We Always Knew He Liked Them BestSo what''s so special about wannabe homeowners on the north end of Monterey Bay? State Sen. Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz) has seen fit to sponsor a bill making it easier for the average-income sucker to buy an overpriced hovel in Santa Cruz County. If SB 459--which just passed the Senate--makes it through the Assembly without too much body damage, then ordinary folks in Surf City who want to tap into government homeownership assistance programs will have an easier time of it.
But what about the poor renting schlubs in Monterey County? The logic goes that in Santa Cruz, the median home price of $529,000 is more than the ever-so-reasonable $406,000 Montereyans face when we open up the real estate listings. You could say the one induces spontaneous combustion, the other mere cardiac arrest.
Squid would respectfully point out to the good senator that according to the state tax board, Santa Cruz County ranks 19th in median income in California, whereas poor Monterey County limps along in 32nd place. Don''t we also deserve tender loving care?
Oh, but why be a Grumpy Gus? McPherson recently shepherded a bill through the senate that would change possession of a small amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor into an infraction--a move designed to cut court costs. Bet that''ll constitute a windfall into our county coffers. At the very least, maybe it''ll help stimulate the local economy, which, given the $150,000 worth of pot plants found in Pebble Beach last week, relies on more than lettuce and salt water taffy.
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