The Buzz 01.23.20

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WHO’S IN TOWN?

In the midst of ongoing controversy over President Donald Trump’s pardoning of a Navy SEAL in a murder case – as well as reports last year of misbehavior by members of Special Operations forces – the head of those forces, Gen. Richard D. Clarke, is in town. Last August, the four-star general ordered a review of the culture of special forces after a platoon was pulled from Iraq due to a drunken Fourth of July party where a rape allegedly took place. Days before Clarke called for the review, the Army posted comments he’d made at a SEAL graduation: “Across the [Special Operations Command] enterprise, trust is our currency with the American people. It’s a powerful but fragile credibility that each of us must guard fiercely.”

8:45am Thur Jan. 23. King Auditorium, Naval Postgraduate School, 1 University Circle, Monterey. Closed to the public. nps.edu/events.

FREE SPEECH

We’ve covered Assembly Bill 5 in this column before, mostly bracing for impact. The bill, which took effect Jan. 1 and was largely intended to support gig economy workers like Uber drivers, giving them employee status. There are implications for Weekly freelancers who now can contribute only up to 35 pieces per year, unless they incorporate as a business. The American Society of Journalists and Authors and National Press Photographers Association sued the state alleging AB 5 unconstitutionally silences jorunalists; on Jan. 3, a federal judge sided with the state and ruled against a temporary injunction, meaning AB 5 remains in effect for for now. (The next hearing is set for March 9.) The California News Publishers Associationis inviting people to share stories, good and bad, about the impact of the new law at ab5stories.com. Another sector that’s affected is artists and musicians, and the Arts Council for Monterey County hosts a free workshop (3pm on Friday, Jan. 24 at ArtWorks @ Pacific Grove) on how to navigate AB 5.

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

The latest E. coli outbreak stemming from Salinas Valley romaine lettuce “appears to be over,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced on Jan. 15. The contaminated lettuce is no longer available for sale. The growing season in the valley was already ending and moving to Arizona for the winter around the time illnesses were becoming known to state and federal government agencies. A total of 167 people from 27 states were confirmed to have become infected with E. coli from Sept. 20 to Dec. 21. Of those, 85 hospitalizations were reported, including 15 people who developed kidney failure. No deaths were reported. “The CDC is no longer advising that people avoid romaine lettuce from this growing region,” the agency reports. The good news to Monterey County growers comes a couple of months before the romaine season shifts back to the Salinas Valley from Arizona.

BAD:

 Be careful out there – it’s been a particularly rough week when it comes to traffic collisions. On Jan. 13, two women – a 90-year-old and her 68-year-old caregiver – were on their way to a food pantry at Sacred Heart Church in Salinas around 9:30am when a gray Suburban struck their vehicle and sped on by, without attempting to stop. Suspect Jose Garcia was arrested on felony charges of hit and run resulting in injury, driving without a license and a probation violation. (Garcia has entered a plea of not guilty on Jan. 21 in Monterey County Superior Court, and is being held in jail on $200,000 bail.) On Jan. 21 at around 5:30pm, a man in a wheelchair at Imjin Parkway and Third Avenue in Marina was struck by a vehicle. First responders arrived and transported him to a hospital, where he died from his injuries. The Marina Police Department is investiating the collision, and has yet to release details.

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