Squid Fry 02.21.13
1684: Number of returns prepared last year by United Way Monterey County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Thursday, February 21, 2013
IN ONE EAR… Squid watched in amusement as Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency board members bickered at their Feb. 11 meeting. At issue: whether the Peninsula should get a crack at some of the recycled water Salinas Valley growers lay claim to. They finally ended a funding stalemate by green-lighting the $750,000 enviro review, but it came without a compromise between growers and the PCA on who owns that wastewater. That ticked off County Supe Lou Calcagno.
Monterey City Councilwoman Libby Downey pleaded for civility. “Mr. Supervisor,” she asked, “will you sit down with me, if I come over to your office and go over it?
Calcagno extended what could’ve been a good-faith gesture, but since he interrupted Downey to say it, it came across as condescending. “Any time, Libby,” he said. “I’ll even have donuts and coffee.”
A food with a hole in the middle seemed fitting; later in the PCA meeting, Lou wiggled out of recusing himself for a conflict of interest. (As a dairyman, he taps into that recycled water for irrigation.) “I’m not gonna pay an attorney $5,000 to determine if I’ve got a conflict,” he said. “I’ve analyzed it in my own mind, and I’m comfortable with it.”
Lucky for Calcagno, PCA attorney Rob Wellington wasn’t willing to give him advice, considering he didn’t plan on listening anyway.
PAST DUES… Speaking of the lettuce curtain, Squid enjoys oozing over to Salinas to bond with the ghost of John Steinbeck. His presence is especially strong in Oldtown, home of the National Steinbeck Center. But the trek has gotten dismal lately; in the past three months, at least a half-dozen Oldtown businesses have pulled the plug. That has locals wondering what the Oldtown Salinas Association (the special assessment district that collects dues from its businesses) can do. More marketing? More recruiting? More of everything means the little organization needs more money.
Maybe it should start by collecting on the small-claims suit the city of Salinas filed against the OSA’s executive director, Brian Higgins.
In 2009, Higgins (a political operative who favors the conservative side) launched a business called Bayground. The active lifestyle group for young professionals never got past a landing page on the Internet, but since Higgins registered Bayground’s address as 213 Main St. (the former Republican Party headquarters), he was required to pay dues.
Which, according to the suit, he failed to do three years in a row, for a total of 900 smackeroos.
The city filed suit in August. The OSA board hired Higgins in October. Someone should have asked, “Do you owe OSA any money?” Trial is set for April 13.