The Weekly Tally 06.24.21

FREE SPEECH

In San Jose, the city’s first nonprofit news organization, San Jose Spotlight, is entering into battle after the city denied a Public Records Act request for Mayor Sam Liccardo’s emails related to an advocacy organization he formed. As recounted on Spotlight’s website, Liccardo in February launched Solutions San Jose, a 501c(4) advocacy organization to work on a variety of public policy issues that included demands to reopen schools during the pandemic. Spotlight in May requested copies of emails and texts about the group from Liccardo, his chief of staff and other officials going back six months. Within nine days, a city employee issued a blanket denial to the PRA request, citing the documents fell under attorney-client privilege. San Jose Spotlight appealed the decision in May; First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder tells Spotlight he doesn’t understand how anything the news organization asked for is subject to attorney-client privilege. “This is a really sweeping statement that all communications are subject to attorney-client privilege,” he said. “I just don’t see how that could be.”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“As with most fires out there, there’s probably a human element.”
-U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Andrew Madsen speaking about the cause of the Willow Fire, which remains under investigation.

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

Good news for the city of Soledad comes with the reopening of its community center, plus upgrades. Renovations include a brand-new fitness center, cell phone lockers, new paint, free Wi-Fi connections and more. The renovations, which totaled $350,000 this fiscal year, come thanks to Measure S, a 0.5-percent sales tax approved by voters in 2020. The center has hired 30 new part-time employees (29 of them are Soledad residents) to staff programs, and the center is designed to function as a cooling center during heat waves. A family-friendly reopening celebration and ribbon-cutting, with sports, games and free food happens from 10am-2pm on Saturday, June 26. “This is a new opportunity for both the city and our residents to unite and become stronger as a community,” Mayor Anna Velazquez says. Renovations will continue until the end of year.

GREAT:

Great news for families and Monterey County Parks lovers is the end of entrance fees. With a June 22 budget approval for fiscal year 2021-22, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors eliminated entrance fees for some of the county’s most popular parks: Royal OaksJacks PeakToro and San Lorenzo. That’s right, starting July 1, these parks will be completely free of charge during the day as part of the county’s Free Day Use Parks program. Parkgoers on foot or bicycle will now save $2 and cars full of visitors will save between $10 and $15 per entry. Overnight camping fees will still be in effect and the county will continue to charge for use of picnic areas and certain buildings. The day-use fee structure will not change at Lake NacimientoNorth Shore Lake San AntonioSouth Shore Lake San Antonio and Laguna Seca Recreation Area.

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