Thursday, August 28, 2003
Good Old Boys Honored
On Sept. 1, more than 400 elderly men in nursing homes will receive a personal delivery--a baseball cap from a community volunteer. The event, known as the "I Remember Papa" campaign, is part of a four-year-old program run by a local organization of elder-advocates known as Ombudsman. The hats will be delivered by 20 volunteers from the community, many of them junior high school students.
Ombudsman has helped the elderly in nursing homes across Monterey County since 1981. To donate, or to volunteer to deliver a hat, contact Teresa Sullivan at 333-1300 or 758-4011. Training sessions for Ombudsman start in September. [NP]
Farr Quizzed and Knocked
The Seaside City Council's chamber was packed Monday night, Aug. 25. Rep. Sam Farr stood at the lectern for the fifth of his six town hall meetings scheduled in the district during the August congressional recess.
The meeting was supposed to last from 6:30 to 8:30pm but Farr indulged his last few questioners, stretching the forum for an extra half hour.
Farr used his opening remarks to rail against a rare condition in Washington, DC, in which the Republican Party controls the White House and both houses of Congress.
He spoke about his opposition to school vouchers, an initiative he said would create a two-tiered society that erases the cultural mixing in public school, and would abandon physically or mentally challenged students.
"I think that would destroy democracy in America," he said.
A staunch liberal, he complained about the pressure to "cut, squeeze and trim" in DC as well as a recall election he says is a bloodless coup that would destabilize the state.
"Make no bones about it, this recall election was bought," he said.
Soon after he opened up the floor to questions, Helen Rucker, the fiery, former Seaside City Councilmember, called for a headcount of Seaside citizens. Hands went up from about half the room. With that she launched into the now familiar cry against using nearby allotments of Fort Ord land to build the reasonably priced housing so sorely needed. Noting that the home she bought for $35,000 is now worth $500,000, she complained that the rich Peninsula towns don't carry their fair share.
"Why is it that Seaside has to bear this burden?" she said, eliciting cheers.
When another member of the audience asked that communities like Pebble Beach build housing for its workforce in Pebble Beach and not in Watsonville as had been proposed, Farr pledged, "I will lead the charge."
Other questions covered topics from veterans' benefits to Fort Ord re-use to Iraq to immigration policy. One pro-life advocate sparked a short but testy exchange over abortion rights. Farr skirted a question from a high school student who wanted to know if he thought marijuana should be legal, and resisted pressure to name his favored presidential candidate, saying, "I'm just going to keep my powder dry for a while."
The forum ended with a man who wanted to know how the federal government could imprison terror suspects and others without allowing legal representation. Farr replied, "I'll send you a copy of the Patriot Act. That's why." [AS]
Affordable New-Urbanism Lauded
On Tuesday, the city of Salinas moved one step closer to putting affordable housing and "new urbanism" ideas into practice. At the Aug. 26 joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission, city officials reviewed a report about changes to the city's inclusionary housing ordinance. At press time, no decision had been reached.
Currently, the ordinance requires developers to make 12 percent of new homes affordable to people with low or very low incomes. For a family of four, low income means they earn less than $44,480 annually. A very low income family of four is defined as earning up to $27,800 a year.
During Salinas' General Plan Update last year, some council members wanted the city to up the quotient of affordable homes to as much as 40 percent.
In late January 2003, city officials hired Bay Area Economics (BAE) to prepare a feasibility study. The study found that developers would still make a profit if they build 20 percent affordable "like-for-like" homes, meaning the affordably-priced homes are about the same size as the market-rate homes.
The BAE consultants also found that up to 40 percent of new homes could be priced affordably if "new urbanism" designs were included. That would mean developers can build 40 percent affordable and still make money.
Any changes to the inclusionary housing ordinance will be subject to future public hearings. [JL]
Illegal Kids Discussed
Almost 1.5 million undocumented residents under 18 years of age live in the US, and about 50,000 of them graduate from high school each year. Though many of these students want to attend college, their undocumented status prevents them from applying for aid. And in California, illegal aliens are not allowed to pay in-state tuition rates, even if they have met other residency requirements.
A public forum on these and other issues affecting immigrant youth, led by Rep. Sam Farr and state Assemblyman Simon Salinas, will be held on Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Steinbeck Hall at Hartnell College in Salinas from 5:30-7:30pm.
The forum will focus on the Student Adjustment Act, which is currently being reviewed by Congress. The bill, which was originally proposed in 2001, would allow undocumented youth to apply for in-state tuition and be considered for permanent residency if they meet the prerequisites. The Citizenship Project of Salinas encourages anyone interested to join the discussion. [NP]