The Weekly Tally 05.16.19


It might be hidden under lots of hair dye, but as a population we’re getting grayer. One in every five Monterey County residents will be over age 60 by next year. The nonprofit LeadingAge California has been advocating for high-quality nonprofit senior living and care for over 60 years, representing 625-plus care providers in the state and more than 120,000 senior residents. This week LeadingAge is in town for its 2019 Conference and Expo to talk about the latest in senior health care, housing and other issues that impact health and well-being. Workshop topics include housing as health care and using technology to combat dementia. Opening keynote speaker Galen Emanuel, president of the consulting company Shift Yes, will share how to use the tools of improv comedy to drive an intentional organizational culture.

Mon-Wed May 20-22. Monterey Conference Center, 1 Portola Plaza, Monterey. $275-$925.


Last year, voters approved Measure J, directing the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to conduct a feasibility analysis of a public buyout of California American Water and, if determined to be feasible, to pursue acquisition. That’s despite Cal Am’s repeat assertions that it’s not for sale, meaning the specter of a lawsuit. MPWMD’s analysis is well underway – we think. At least consultants, whoever they are, are probably well underway. MPWMD attorney David Laredo has signed three contracts, with a cost-of-service consultant; an investor-owned utility consultant; and an investment banker for financial analysis. The Weekly filed a California Public Records Act request to view those contracts, but was flatly denied on the claim that they are Laredo’s, not MPWMD’s: “[MPWMD] is not a party to any of those contracts. The District did not review or approve the contracts,” Laredo wrote. “Release could jeopardize positions we are presently researching on behalf of our client.” Whether or not MPWMD proceeds with a buyout, transparency can only help build credibility.




For another week since March 21, the lights have stayed on longer in Ngundeng Mogadishu Primary School located in Kakuma Refugee Campin Kenya, thanks to the efforts of Seaside High School’s Physical Integrated STEM students. The students teamed up with organizations We Share Solar and Change Mtaabi to create Solar Suitcase #506, a solar energy converting unit. The students practiced creating nine suitcases before #506 was shipped to and installed at the Kenyan school. After receiving several of these student-made suitcases from around the world, they had enough to stabilize the electricity of their school. A steady source of power means students are able to study for longer in the early morning and the evening. Apart from keeping the lights on in classrooms, the suitcases also have enough power to light up the school’s store and kitchen.


The nonprofit Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, better known as ALBA, had a rough week in court. Last year, a group of farmers sued the organization, alleging ALBA repeatedly failed to pay for produce and had over-promised and under-delivered when it came to advancement opportunities. ALBA’s attorney moved to have the case dismissed, and on May 10, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Susan Matcham announced her intended ruling to let the case proceed, despite protests from ALBA’s attorney Paul Hart. He argued that because of ambiguity around whether the farmers are ALBA employees or independent contractors, some of their claims don’t hold up. Matcham appeared unswayed. The farmers’ attorney, Nina Patane, says, “ALBA is putting a lot of time and money into crushing the plaintiffs, but not hearing their concerns.”


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(1) comment

Paul Hart

For many years, most of Ms. Patane's clients (Plaintiffs), and numerous other participants in the ALBA program, operated their own independent organic farming businesses. ALBA, a non-profit organization, and its volunteer board of directors, provided them the knowledge, training, financial support and experience to create their businesses. For 7+ yrs, Plaintiffs hired people to work for them, entered business contracts with vendors and purchasers, sold their crops and kept the profits. In 2018, (more than a yr after they stopped selling any of their crops thru ALBA's marketing program), they sued ALBA. They alleged that ALBA had not paid them all amounts due from the sale of their crops, and this caused their businesses to fail. After months of work, ALBA proved that Plaintiffs had been paid pursuant to the written contracts. In response, after 4 prior contrary complaints, Ms. Patane abandoned the written contracts and instead alleged for the first time (1 year after filing suit) that Plaintiffs were "employees" of ALBA, not independent businesses. She asserts that Plaintiffs are entitled to reimbursement of all costs of growing the crops and hourly wages, and penalties and interest. Its pure fiction. 7 years of contracts and conduct show the falsity.
Its a "sad week" for ALBA. They have not accomplished their mission of helping Plaintiffs create successful independent businesses. Nor have they taught the corresponding lesson of accepting personal responsibility.
Its a "Bad Week" for the agricultural industry, which now faces precedent which suggests that the clear and unequivocal terms of their contracts can and will be disregarded and that the marketing companies can be sued as "Employers" of the farmers who's products they sell and as Employers of the farmer's employees. Such precedent threatens the industry which is the primary employer and primary source of revenue in this County.

In this regard, we have all had a "Bad Week".

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