The Weekly Tally 08.25.22

FREE SPEECH

School districts, like other public agencies in California, are subject to the California Public Records Act. And at Carmel Unified School District, the administration is used to fulfilling CPRA requests, but Superintendent Ted Knight reports it’s extra busy: Since July 1, the district has received 17 CPRA requests. Of those, 14 are related to a proposed stadium lights project, with a revised draft environmental impact report expected to be released on Aug. 25. Because the lights are going through a contentious environmental process – and litigation has been threatened – the district is running them through legal counsel. “We are spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on this,” says Knight, who expects CUSD will exceed its $500,000 legal budget this year. “It’s a strategy to bog us down, cost us money and make us quit.” Meanwhile, CUSD’s chief communications officer, Jessica Hull, created a new digital platform that launched Aug. 4. “Word on the Street” (available at carmelunified.org/Page/6157) accepts anonymous questions about rumors in the CUSD community and provides answers. The district also began posting all CPRA requests in an effort to increase transparency and avoid duplicate requests.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“We just might recognize each other at the airport.” - Seaside Councilmember Jon Wizard in a letter to constituents, announcing he plans not to seek re-election and instead is going to become a commercial pilot (see story, posted at mcweekly.com).

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

Monterey-Salinas Transit has good news for college students: free bus fare. The new MST College EcoSmart Pass Program is available to 20,623 combined students of Hartnell CollegeMonterey Peninsula College and CSU Monterey Bay starting this fall semester. (In addition, the nearly 800 faculty and staff of CSUMB are also eligible to ride MST buses for free.) The three-year contract has each of the local colleges paying between $25,000 and $70,000 the first year, and their actual expense will be based on ridership. MST General Manager/CEO Carl Sedoryk is enthusiastic about this transition away from relying on fleeting grants: “It gave us the opportunity to negotiate with the colleges and do what many other colleges do around the state: partner with the local transit agency.” Bonus is, it’s easy; riders can scan their college ID cards to ride free.

GREAT:

Every year, 50,000 Californians return from prison to reenter society, but face challenges to success, including securing jobs and housing. Some are eligible to have their criminal records expunged, but only a sliver of former prisoners – approximately 6.5 percent – seek expungement, according to California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. Barriers include cost, which can run as much as $1,000, and lack of knowledge. CRLA’s Rural Reentry Project seeks to remove those barriers for Central Coast residents by offering help through volunteer attorneys, law students and others. It’s a great week for the initiative because CRLA, which has an office in Salinas, is receiving a $367,167 grant from Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Legal Services Corporation. CRLA will use the money to further the project, enlisting more volunteers to help former prisoners expunge their records.

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