Happy Hometown Confab Visits
Thursday, December 5, 2002
Livable cities are a good thing (sorry Martha Stewart). Sure, it sounds like common sense. But if it''s so obvious, then how do you explain San Jose?
Each year, the International Making Cities Livable Council hosts two conferences, one in North America and one in Europe, that focus on architecture, urban design and social policies. This year, the conference stops on the Peninsula. The 35th conference will be held Dec. 8 through Dec. 12 in Monterey and Carmel.
The event will focus on how cities can enable their inhabitants to regain a sense of community by providing places for meetings, dialogue and mutual understanding.
The conference features international speakers and dozens of sessions on topics ranging from revitalizing cities to counteracting terrorism to controlling sprawl and reshaping suburbia. It will also include walking tours of Monterey and Carmel.
For more information or to register for the conference check out www.livablecities.org/Monterey.html.
Brother Mel to be Honored
Mel Mason may have the best lefty credentials of anyone in Monterey County. The CSUMB instructor and counselor is a former Black Panther, a onetime (in 1984) Socialist Workers'' Party candidate for president, current president of the local NAACP chapter and an unflagging crusader for prisoners'' rights and civilian oversight of police, most recently through the Civil Rights Coalition he helped found.
For all of this work, Mason will be presented with the Baha''i Human Rights Award this Saturday at a Human Rights Day luncheon.
When asked what he considers to be the most egregious human rights violation taking place in the U.S. today, Mason answers, "The USA Patriot Act.
"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people-primarily who are thought to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent-who are being detained without any charges being pressed against them, which is really a violation of some of our most basic civil rights," he says.
As Mason points out, that problem is more related to the Monterey Peninsula than it appears to be at first blush. "The Civil Rights Coalition has taken a stance against racial profiling, and now we''re finding that racial profiling, at least for certain individuals, is supposed to be okay."
Mason says he will continue to combat the hail of assaults on civil rights by continuing to educate and organize against the "war on working people."
"They tell us there''s no money for day care or schools, but they''re willing to spend hundreds of billions to wage war against another country," he says. "So we have to organize to show people we really have more in common with a worker in Cuba or peasant in Iraq."
Also appearing at the luncheon will be David Scheffer, Ambassador for War Crimes Issues under President Clinton. Scheffer helped organize war crimes tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and was the primary U.S. negotiator for the International Criminal Court. It was Scheffer''s signature, signed to the ICC agreement with Clinton''s reluctant blessing, that was "unsigned" by President Bush this summer.
The Human Rights Day Luncheon will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Monterey Elks Lodge, 150 Mar Vista Dr, starting at 11am. $20/$10 for students. Call 375-8301.
Landowners Attack Lawfirm
The Monterey County Farm Bureau has asked the Board of Supervisors to replace the lawfirm working on the 20-year blueprint for growth.
According to Farm Bureau President Chris Bunn, the firm of Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger gives the appearance of conflict of interest because it has previously worked for LandWatch, and was co-counsel with Jane Haines in a case filed against Monterey County. The lawfirm also helped draft Measure E, the Marina urban growth boundary.
Supervisors have approved contracts totaling $950,000 with the firm.
"Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger has a bias regarding private property rights that could adversely affect agriculture," says Bunn in a letter to the Supes. "The firm''s advice to you about Constitutional takings-regarding the fine edge of current rulings and the point at which you can take private property without paying compensation-suggest that this firm does not understand the economics or the philosophy of agriculture in Monterey County."
The Board has not taken any action.
More Tourists to Come-Maybe
Cruiseships are getting all kinds of ink these days-mostly because a gnarly bug called the Norwalk virus has crippled passengers with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea on three separate cruiseships. Also, in New York, city officials were contemplating using retired cruise ships, docked at city piers, to house some of the 37,000 people who sleep in the city''s homeless shelters.
Here in Monterey, after a year of controversy, it''s on the record that some 13 cruiseship visits are scheduled for 2003.
In March, April, September, October and November, the Celebrity Cruises M/V Mercury-an 866 foot long vessel that can carry 1,870 passengers-is scheduled to arrive in Monterey Bay for the first of seven stops here. According to Monterey Harbormaster Steve Scheiblauer, Celebrity Cruises has the Mercury stacked up in 2003 because the company is experimenting with a cruise that hugs the California coast.
After Sept. 11, cruise lines were forced to rethink their routes, pushing many ships closer to American shores. The California coast cruise makes stops in San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. There''s also a stop in Ensenada, Mexico.
One problem with the schedule is that seven of the 2003 stops are in March and April. At that time of year, the ocean tends to be rough. Without a major wharf, cruiseships visiting Monterey must drop anchor out in the bay and take passengers to shore on smaller launches. Of the three 2002 cruiseship visits, one in May, the Star Princess was not able to unload passengers because the sea was too rough for the launches.
"At best it will be fifty/fifty sea conditions if they can get passengers to land [in the spring]," Scheiblauer says.
In accordance with the City of Monterey''s new action plan, the Mercury''s parent cruiseline, Royal Caribbean, has promised in a letter that all sewage and wastewater discharges will be held in tanks aboard the ship as long as its in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Prior to that city measure, there were no local prohibitions against a ship dumping its sewage in the protected waters of the Sanctuary.
Jessica Lyons, Traci Rae Hukill, Andrew Scutro