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The Buzz 11.14.19

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WHO’S IN TOWN?

“A weed is but an unloved flower,” American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote in her poem “The Weed,” in 1911. Wilcox’s sentiment is a kind one, but she probably didn’t have to deal with the insidious French broom disrupting delicate ecosystems by crowding out natives species in Carmel Valley. The Monterey County Agriculture Office lists 13 “weed threats” to the environment and agriculture. By one estimate the state spends at least $82 million a year in eradicating invasive plants. Defenders against the invasion are in town this week for the 20th anniversary of the Central Coast Invasive Weed Symposium. Some of Monterey County’s own talent are leading the event, including Jonathan Pangburn of Cal Fire.

9am-5pm Thur Nov. 14. Hidden Valley Music Seminars, 104 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. $59; $29/student. cciws.org.

FREE SPEECH

An online survey commissioned by the Campaign for Free Speech reveals a lack of support for the First Amendment among myriad demographics, with responses cutting across race, gender, age, parental status, education level and income. A quarter of the 1,004 responders said they support jail time for hate speech, government regulation of the press, as well as restrictions on free speech in universities, social media and alternative media. According to the study, millennials and parents of young children were among those who were most supportive of restricting free speech. Some supported rewriting the First Amendment to make hate speech against the law. One finding shows that respondents didn’t fully understand there are already limitations on free speech; when asked whether the First Amendment “allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions,” about 78 percent of respondents incorrectly answered “true.”

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

First, here’s the bad news about Monterey County’s literacy rate: 7 out of 10 kids start kindergarten about two years behind reading level. The good news is that a first-ever study commissioned by nonprofit Read to Me Project shows that since launching in 2011, kids who participate in their sibling reading program improve. The premise is simple: Fourth – through sixth-graders get trained to read to siblings ages 6 months to 5, helping bolster brain development for the little ones and getting the students to read aloud. The 4,020 Read to Me students last year improved faster on reading scores than those who were not enrolled, with 30 percent of fourth-graders, 31 percent of fifth-graders and 15 percent of sixth-graders showing notable improvement. Hamai Consulting produced the report for $17,000; next is a study on the effects on the younger kiddos, harder since they’re not enrolled in school.

BAD:

Monterey Peninsula water politics have taken a particularly nasty turn as major issues – chiefly whether California American Water’s proposed desal plant will get approved, and whether the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District will pursue a public buyout of Cal Am – come to a head. But the confrontation between the pro-desal and anti-desal camps took a turn for the nasty on Nov. 11. That’s when attorney Duncan Joseph Moore of the firm Latham & Watkins wrote to the boards of MPWMD and Monterey One Water accusing top staffers Dave Stoldt and Paul Sciuto of misrepresenting the drought-tolerance of Pure Water Monterey, a water recycling program – and also threatened to sue. “Cal Am reserves all of its rights regarding recovery of any damages incurred,” the letter reads. It also notes Cal Am has provided $314,000 in funding to M1W.

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