The Weekly Tally 11.11.21

FREE SPEECH

Elected officials do and say things all the time that fellow electeds may disapprove of. One form of punishment (symbolically, at least) is to censure each other, essentially to issue a formal reprimand. The question of whether censuring is an expression or a violation of First Amendment rights is being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which on Nov. 2 heard oral arguments in the case David Buren Wilson vs. Houston Community College System. Wilson, a former elected trustee of the community college board, was a vocal critic of the system. A federal appellate judge called him a “gadfly legislator.” His board colleagues censured him, and Wilson sued, alleging they’d violated his rights to dissent. While the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allowed Wilson’s claim to proceed, some comments from Supreme Court justices made it appear they would allow the practice of censuring to persist. “This is a very easy case,” Justice Samuel Alito said. “One person says something derogatory about another person, and then the other person responds by saying something derogatory about the first person. Nobody’s free speech rights are violated there.”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“It feels like the most extreme aggressive slip-and-slide you’ve ever been on.” - Olympic bobsledder Lauren Gibbs describing her sport as she vies for a spot in the 2022 Olympics (see Face to Face story).

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

There’s good financial news for programs at CSU Monterey Bay, thanks to the state budget and to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The former included a $10 million allocation to CSUMB’s Computing Talent Initiative, advancing computer science training. Funds will go toward increasing enrollment capacity in a program that currently works with 200 students. Separately, a $975,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is being used to increase enrollment and retention in the fields of food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences. One objective of the grant – which comes from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’Hispanic-serving institutions education grants program – is to attract underrepresented minority students to these fields. “We expect this will increase student participation,” said project lead John Banks.

GREAT:

It’s a great week for ensuring more people without homes have a bed to sleep in through spring. On Nov. 2, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved spending nearly $1.8 million through June 30, 2022, to restart Project Roomkey with the city of Salinas. The state program was created during the pandemic and was administered first by the county and later by the Coalition of Homeless Service Providers. The program ended on Aug. 31. The need for beds remains: There’s a 300-person waiting list for the SHARE Center in Salinas (which currently houses 102 people and 18 pets – 15 dogs, two cats and a snake) and about a 50-person waiting list at Casa de Noche Buena in Seaside. The county money will open up 40 motel rooms in Salinas, with the city overseeing the program and contracting with other agencies to provide supportive services to guests.

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