2002: The Year In Review
Photos by Randy Tunnell
Thursday, January 2, 2003
It was the best of years, it was the worst of years. Okay, let''s face it: mostly it was bad. The national news was filled with stories of a looming war and a slumping economy, of gluttonous CEOs and the cynical politicos who let them slide. World news showed violence from east to west-old-fashioned war and famine and increasing episodes of a new, meaner strain of terrorism. Locally, the sagging economy made life more of a struggle for more of our neighbors. Gang violence escalated. Political differences in almost every community turned unnecessarily nasty.
There were, however, some occasions for hope-especially on the local front. Looking back through the year in the pages of the Weekly, we can find stories of people-officials and regular folks-working to make their communities better places. In the face of what look like pretty dire circumstances, this is the work we need to be engaged in together. As we look back at the old year, it''s hard to resist the impulse to sink into depression, but that''s what we''ve got to do. We need to resolve to try a little harder in 2003.
january | 3
Local hospitality workers are still feeling the post-Sept. 11 bite. Many are laid off or working reduced hours at already low-paying jobs.
Local psychics and astrologers offer their 2002 predictions. Among other things, they say Osama bin Laden will be captured by the end of the winter and that the war on terror will be over soon. Don''t quit your day jobs, there, seers.
Squid begins 2002 with an attack on local ne''er-do-wells by imagining their resolutions, such as landlords promising not to be greedy and troubled officials vowing to keep on the straight and narrow. In conclusion Squid promises to be "nice" in the New Year. Ha! That was a good one.
10 | january
Monterey County planners distribute the highly anticipated General Plan Update-a 20-year blueprint for growth. Enviros like the plan. They say it protects open space and farmlands. Hopeful developers, however, say the plan doesn''t allow for reasonable growth. How shocking.
Sister Rosa Dolores Rodriguez, Pajaro''s answer to Mother Teresa, carries the Olympic torch on its way to Salt Lake City.
january | 17
Planned Parenthood in Salinas becomes the first public health clinic in Monterey County to prescribe RU-486, the controversial abortion pill.
Carmel City councilwoman Barbara Livingston announces her bid for the mayor''s seat. She''s taking on Sue McCloud, whom she babysat when the two were childhood neighbors in Carmel. During the campaign, Livingston makes disparaging comments about McCloud that go unreciprocated.
Parents at Larkin Elementary School in Monterey mobilize to keep the school from falling to budget cuts. Despite their efforts, the school closes and later reopens as a charter elementary school with an international focus.
24 | january
After a report is released confirming suspicions that the Monterey Peninsula is the least affordable place to live in the country, Squid seeks out the most affordable burg in the USA. That would be Rockford, Ill. An hour from Chicago, the median home price is $99,000. It''s flat as a table top and gets to be subzero in winter. Because of agricultural pollution, Squid is advised not to swim in Rockford''s rivers.
january | 31
President George Bush delivers his first State of the Union address, touting the largest increase in defense spending in two decades, a plan to privatize Social Security and an aggressive tax cut. U.S. Rep Sam Farr asks, "Where''s the beef?"
7 | february
Scientists and environmentalists say they suspect the Rancho San Carlos development and its new golf course are stealing water from Garzas Creek, a tributary to the Carmel River and an important habitat for the federally-listed steelhead trout.
Monterey County Planning Commission considers putting a 6,000-square-foot cap on all new houses in the county.
State Sen. Bruce McPherson and Assemblyman Fred Keeley stand behind a "Sunshine Amendment" that would open government records to the public. It fails in legislative darkness by summer''s end.
A national campaign to designate parts of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary off-limits to fishing is launched. This move ignites local fishing interests and jams the Sanctuary office with thousands of letters and emails.
february | 14
LandWatch Monterey County and Common Ground issue a joint set of guiding principles for the county General Plan. The two groups-typically at loggerheads, with LandWatch representing environmental interests and Common Ground aligned with developer interests-agree on smart-growth principles similar to those in the draft General Plan.
Eight sheriff wanna-be''s throw their hats into the ring for the position of top cop in Monterey County. All eight say the sheriff''s department needs some serious fixes.
An investigation reveals the culprit behind the deaths of 1,327 seabirds found between here and Point Reyes: oil leaking from the wrecked freighter S.S. Jakob Lukenbach. The Lukenbach sank on July 14, 1953 near the Golden Gate after a collision with another ship.
21 | february
The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District decides to put a $158 million school repair bond on the March 5 ballot. Political support for the measure is anemic at best, and an anti- bond campaign is mounted. The bond measure fails.
february | 28
While other media tout the pending arrival of three monstrous cruise ships in Monterey Bay in 2002, the Weekly reports that there is nothing to prevent said ships from dumping sewage in the protected waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary-pointing out that cruise ships carry thousands of people who eat three or four times a day. Eventually the Monterey City Council adopts cruise ship visitation rules: cruisers that don''t promise to hold it while they''re in sanctuary waters will get no help from the city with bus parking and other on-shore tour necessities.
Squid learns that, according to Men''s Journal magazine, Big Sur ranks 25 out of the "50 Best Places to Live" because, according to the big heads there, it''s "sparsely populated with attractive, smart people." Santa Cruz places 17th for, in three words, "Surfboards, volleyballs and weed."
7 | march
Monterey County voters re-elect Moss Landing dairyman Lou Calcagno to the Board of Supervisors. Voters also choose political newcomer Butch Lindley, a staunch property rights advocate, to represent South County. Some environmentalists fear that Lindley, a Lockwood vintner and grower, will lend too understanding an ear to big ag companies and would-be developers who financed his $87,000 campaign.
Once-defeated developers unveil their plans for a mall complex on Cannery Row called Ocean View Plaza, a grand design of condos, retail, and parking meant to resemble cannery buildings of old. In a lame nod to the region''s affordable housing problem, four units of inclusionary housing are included in the plan. A private desalination plant is also drawn in. Despite a 5-to-2 rejection by the Monterey Planning Commission for reasons of size and increased traffic, the city council eventually approves it.
march | 14
After seeing 86,000 acres burn, 145 firefighters injured and $72 million spent on the 1999 Kirk Complex fires, the forest service decides to ramp up a fire management plan for the Ventana Wilderness.
21 | march
A lawsuit intended to stop Duke Energy''s $525 million Moss Landing Power Plant expansion makes its first appearance in Superior Court. The lawsuit, filed by the environmentalist group Voices of the Wetlands, says Duke''s plan to cool turbines with water from the Elkhorn Slough and the Monterey Bay will kill marine life critical to the slough''s ecosystem.
Pacific Grove City Council approves a dramatic revision to a 1991 plan for Forest Hill Manor, prompting neighbors to protest both the size of the new project and the legitimacy of the approval process.
According to Animal Friends Rescue Project, some 8,000 dogs and cats are euthanized each year in Monterey County. Hopefully that''s more cats than dogs.
After collecting scads of ballots-and weighing in on our own favorites-the Weekly publishes its annual "Best of Monterey County" edition. Some of the winners come as no surprise. Clint Eastwood wins the sex symbol award, which is easy to understand when so many here are senior citizens.
march | 28
The Monterey Peninsula Water Manage-ment District Board of Directors vote 4-2 to completely eliminate the sale of all water credit transfers, prompting an outcry from the business community.
Media Monopoly looms over Monterey County with the purchase of the media group that owns KION and controls a local Fox affiliate by a Godzilla known as Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel has been hammered in the press for skirting rules, being stingy to employees and viciously competitive with other stations. Rep. Sam Farr protests to the FCC about the sale. Clear Channel prevails.
april | 4
With a little encouragement from Monterey Mayor Dan Albert, the city council unanimously agrees to place an advisory measure on the November ballot asking voters if the water district should be axed. Other Peninsula mayors, chamber of commerce types and real estate agents quickly jump on the dissolve-the-district bandwagon.
11 | april
The pressure from the Bush administration mandate to discover and tap domestic oil sources leads to a fracas over drilling in Alaska''s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The pressure is felt here, with a government survey of possible drilling sites in the Los Padres National Forest. The nearest location is west of King City, which alarms the monks at the Tassajara Zen Center. Efforts to contact the monks are unsuccessful, as they are finishing a 90-day period of silence at press time.
Councilmember Barbara Livingston loses to sitting Mayor Sue McCloud in the April 9 Carmel mayoral election.
april | 18
Seaside residents rally against plans for a crematorium at Mission Memorial Park, forming an opposition group called ASH (Allied Seaside Homeowners).
The antique wooden carousel at Cannery Row is auctioned off by Mrs. Eleanor O''Kane, widow of the late Cannery Row impresario Dick O''Kane.
A new group called the Líderes Comunitarios de Salinas (Community Leaders of Salinas) starts collecting signatures asking the Salinas city council to include explicit affordable housing policies in the General Plan, including one that would require 50 percent of all new homes be built for low-income Salinians. They ultimately collect more than 10,000 signatures.
25 | april
A group of homeless veterans move into retrofitted housing on Fort Ord. Using multiple sources of funding, the Veterans'' Transition Center fixed up 20 homes on the old base for $2 million, illuminating the lie that all those empty homes on the base are not suitable places to live.
may | 2
Gov. Gray Davis approves transfer of 760 acres of Fort Ord land, including 1,200 housing units, to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority. Rep. Sam Farr reiterates his request to FORA that 50 percent of the housing developed on the land be affordable to average-income families.
The Los Padres National Forest begins a management plan review, with the potential to revamp rules and regs on land that includes the Ventana Wilderness and sections of the Big Sur coast. One issue the land managers will deal with is rising populations-California''s especially-and the pressures it will place on the fragile landscape.
Bishop Sylvester Ryan of the Diocese of Monterey tells the Weekly that there have been no cases of sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Monterey during his tenure. He lied. According to later reports, nine cases of sexual abuse in the diocese dating from as recently as 1994 had been turned over to the DA.
16 | may
Rep. Sam Farr and Sen. Barbara Boxer introduce legislation to designate 57,000 acres of Los Padres National Forest as wilderness. The push is part of a larger bill by Boxer to designate 2.5 million acres of California land as wilderness.
The Monterey County Farm Bureau asks the county supervisors to toss the General Plan because it will make farming more difficult and costly. On the Farm Bureau Web site, President Chris Bunn warns ranchers and farmers, "Watch out for the General Plan Update process." Bunn and other families also ask the Supes to rezone 875 acres farm and ranch land in the Toro foothills so that they can build 325 houses, equestrian facilities, a golf course, a wedding chapel and a wine-tasting room.
The Weekly publishes a cover story about the April 17 murder of an 18-year-old East Salinas man named Michael Angel Garcia, who was shot while walking home with his little brother. Garcia was not one of the 2,700 gang-affiliated youths in Salinas, but his death followed killings in 2002 of innocent teen bystanders and those who''d "claimed." On May 22, Salinas detectives arrest a juvenile suspect in Yuma, Ariz. A preliminary hearing for suspect Michael Rivera is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2003.
may | 23
Governor Gray Davis announces his plan to close the $23.6 billion budget gap through program cuts and increased taxes. Monterey County officials anticipate a $10 million hit.
Pacific Grove is the scene of a donnybrook during a planning commission meeting. Police look into allegations that city development director Dennis Boehlje manhandled a citizen named Jennifer McKnight. No charges are filed but Boehlje eventually resigns. Later, McKnight runs for city council and loses.
Squid bemoans Sept. 11 "misty-eyed, tear-jerker" memorial license plates for California that read: "We will never forget." Squid asks: "Forget what? That one weekend we thought maybe the Golden Gate would get blown up?" Leave it to New York. And good taste.
Local college students prepare to graduate. At CSUMB, controversial liberation theologist and Catholic bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia speaks.
In one month, 14 Rottweilers are surrendered to Monterey County SPCA to be euthanized. The glut follows a series of canine attacks on humans, including one that resulted in the death of a child.
The Weekly publishes a parodic guide to local parks that leads some readers to believe the buff, glamorous model/ recreationists depicted in the story are in fact the Weekly editorial staff. Not even close.
30 | may
Outspoken Marina City councilman Michael Morrison proposes breaking away from the troubled MPUSD school district. Marina does not have a high school; hundreds of its children go to high school in Seaside and Monterey every day.
june | 6
Faced with decreases in revenue following the dot-com bust and dagger-twisting of Sept. 11, silly-rich City of Monterey prepares to shrink its budget. City Manager Fred Meurer warns of program halts and possible lay-offs if the money tap doesn''t start gushing again.
The Weekly publishes a cover story examining the sorry state of the State Theater, once a proud gem of downtown Monterey. It can be bought for $2 million and refurbished into a world-class performing arts center that would breathe new life into the city, but no one seems to have the money-although the city wants to build itself a multimillion-dollar city hall. Both become political issues, though most agree the State Theater would be nice if it was nicer.
Actor and developer Clint Eastwood is appointed by state parks chief and state senate candidate Rusty Areias to the California State Parks Commission.
13 | june
In a terse ruling, Superior Court Judge Robert O''Farrell denies a request by six Peninsula cities to temporarily disable the water district''s ban on water transfers.
The state Dept. of Fish & Game organizes 103 citizens into seven working groups to study forming Marine Protected Areas off the California coast. Controversial but implemented elsewhere, MPAs are sea zones closed to fishing.
june | 20
Rep. Sam Farr threatens to halt transfer of Fort Ord land to the Fort Ord Reuse Authority unless FORA agrees to make 50 percent of all houses built there affordable for ordinary families. Over the next three weeks he amends that number to 37 percent. A shitstorm from local mayors and other bigheads ensues. Said shitstorm continues today.
Salinas residents organize to support the city''s utility tax. They say that if voters repeal the tax, according to a plan being put forward by a local Libertarian, the city will be forced to axe $8 million in jobs and programs-including libraries, city parks, senior centers and after-school hangouts.
A trip to Everett Alvarez High School commencement ceremonies reveals that of the original 724 members of the 2002 class, only 298 graduate. One education official asks, "Where did they all go?"
27 | june
Calpine, a San-Jose based energy company, proposes to build a 45-megawatt "peaker plant" near Railroad Avenue in Pajaro. Local residents organize to protest the construction. The project is abandoned in November.
The county planning commission recommends to the county board of super- visors that 40 percent of all new housing in the county be affordable to families at or below moderate-income levels. Ultimately the county settles on 20 percent.
Without warning to listeners, KAZU-90.3 FM changes its format from eclectic music to news and public affairs, angering many listeners, DJs and station volunteers.
july | 4
At the Naval Postgraduate School, warfare scholars watch the war on terrorism unfold. One thinker, John Arquilla, is outspoken about the need for America to move from its Desert Storm mentality to what he calls "Desert Swarm," an evolution in doctrine that matches high-technology networks and small lethal forces.
11 | july
No sooner had the Weekly envisioned a new type of warfare when Squid uncovers a Justice Dept. plan to turn meter-readers and postal carriers into citizen spies. Operation TIPS dies an ugly death once the mainstream press wakes up to the story.
Rep. Sam Farr drops demand that FORA ensure a fixed percentage of affordable housing on Fort Ord, agreeing to let the land transfer proceed as long as FORA shows him a plan signalling its intent.
july | 18
Common Ground criticizes the county''s draft general plan as having been hijacked by "no-growth advocates," effectively ending philosophical partnership with LandWatch over development in Monterey County for the next 20 years.
Yugoslavian-born pianist Aleksandar Serdar''s Bach Festival performance is cancelled due to stepped-up security by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The INS demanded proof of Serdar''s identity-but when presented with newspaper reviews, still refused to grant him entry to the US.
A double-whammy of trouble whacks Pacific Grove. Plans to cut down trees for an expansion of Forest Hill Manor and a proposal to build affordable housing for seniors near Lovers Point spark citizen protests. City council approves the housing project but agrees to review the decisions that led to the tree removal order.
25 | july
FORA presents Rep. Sam Farr with a plan for affordable housing on Fort Ord. The plan announces FORA''s intention to aim for 20 percent affordable housing, but stops short of committing to a hard and fast percentage.
Monterey coffeehouse owner Morgan Christopher announces his candidacy for mayor.
8 | august
The California Public Utilities Commis sion (PUC) releases "Plan B," a highly-anticipated report on a new water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. The alternative to the controversial proposed Carmel River dam (Plan A) would build a seawater desalination plant at Moss Landing and a groundwater storage and recovery facility near Seaside. According to state Assemblyman Fred Keeley, "the dam is dead." Again.
august | 15
The Army and Navy announce a joint project to have a private contractor build more than 2,000 housing units on Fort Ord, all of which will be affordable to military personnel.
22 | august
Brett Landon and Mark Dierolf, the main proponents of a ballot measure to cut Salinas''s utility tax, had promised to attend a Salinas City Council meeting to show how local government could keep all its employees and services while saving taxpayers $8 million. Dierolf doesn''t show. Landon submits a report that shows $30 million coming from nowhere.
august | 29
County supervisors unanimously ap-prove a measure that will require the sheriff''s department and county agencies to accept ID cards issued by the Mexican consulate and other foreign governments.
5 | september
Local activists mourn 9/11 and organize Monterey''s Peace Jubilee 2002, a peace fair of sorts. Speakers, slam poetry and world music entertain all day. Nonprofit groups and local business offer everything from face painting and international foods to postcards to be sent to President Bush that say "No War with Iraq."
september | 12
Housing Authority reps, along with Congressman Sam Farr, present a groundbreaking study to FORA. The comparative study reveals that it is possible to build housing in Monterey County that would sell for as little as $145,000.
september | 26
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its tenth birthday. Amid parties and fairs and commemorations, the Sanctuary holds a conference on ocean health with Leon Panetta hosting Aquarium head Julie Packard and aquanaut Jean-Michel Cousteau. Panetta considers the oceans to be in a "crisis." Cousteau says man has treated the sea like a "universal sewer."
10 | october
The House of Representatives votes in favor of a resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq. Rep. Sam Farr is among 132 members of the House opposing the resolution.
At a public meeting, Moss Landing residents criticize state and local agencies for leaving them out of talks to build the state''s largest desalination plant in their backyard.
Liberal Texas native Molly Ivins visits Monterey as the keynote speaker for a California Women Lawyers'' confab at the Doubletree Hotel. She has known President George W. Bush since high school. "He is neither mean nor stupid," she says. "On the other hand, in those days I thought he was shallow, spoiled and of mediocre intelligence. And I have had no reason to change my mind on that."
october | 17
Local political candidates line up for the final push into election day. Monterey, Pacific Grove and Marina have full tickets while Seaside''s mayor runs unchallenged and two incumbents have one contender. Besides the candidates there''s a maze of propositions and measures to wade through.
7 | november
Salinas voters give thumbs up to incumbent Mayor Anna Caballero, political newcomer Maria Giuriato and the utility tax. Monterey voters reelect Mayor Dan Albert, and tell the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to go flush itself.
november | 14
County Supervisors were expected to make tough decisions on some weighty parts of the county''s 20-year blueprint for growth, including where to build new housing, which landowners'' re-zoning requests to consider, and how to sustain the agriculture industry. They stalled, ensuring the new Board of Supervisors will finalize the General Plan Update in 2003.
Calpine won''t build a "peaker plant" in the tiny North County town of Pajaro. Slated to ask the County Planning Commissioners for a permit to build the 45-megawatt plant on Nov. 13, Calpine permanently withdraws the application.
21 | november
The House and the Senate approve bills by Rep. Sam Farr and Sen. Barbara Boxer that place 57,000 acres of the Los Padres National Forest under wilderness protection.
november | 28
The Weekly breaks the news of a federal investigation to determine who is responsible for killing endangered steelhead trout in the Carmel River.
5 | december
The Monterey Bay Labor Council passes a resolution opposing war in Iraq.
The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects holds a design competition to gather alternative housing designs for use around Monterey County. The response is enormous, with creative, progressive entries from around the world. The contest was inspired by a challenge from Rep. Sam Farr. However, local politicians give the ideas tepid reaction.
december | 12
The state Transportation Commission approves a funding plan for the scaled-down, $537-million version of the costly Highway 101 Prunedale Bypass project. Construction could start in 2010.
The state''s Regional Water Quality Control Board green-lights a $5 million settlement against Pacific Gas & Electric in a lawsuit that charged PG&E with violating state and federal clean water laws when it owned the Moss Landing power plant.
At press time, there have been 25 homicides in Monterey County in 2002. Twenty of those occurred in Salinas.