The Weekly Tally 05.18.17

WHO’S IN TOWN?

Online dating isn’t just for millennials who swipe right or left. It’s also for the senior set, and Stitch hosts its first-ever global meet-and-greet in Pacific Grove this week, where some 60 members are expected to gather. Company founder Andrew Dowling, who’s based in Sydney, Australia, says the concept isn’t just romance: It’s companionship in various forms that people crave as their peers age. “We all end up alone at some point, essentially,” Dowling says. “Our members have either lost a loved one through divorce or illness or death, or they have friends who relocated, or friends who had a hip replacement and can’t go walking anymore.” At this week’s gathering, they’ll hit up the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Lobos State Reserve and go wine tasting in Carmel.

Fri-Sun May 19-21. Asilomar Conference Grounds, 800 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove. $100-$150. stitch.net.

FREE SPEECH

To obtain public records from local agencies, the Weekly routinely files California Public Records Act requests. Less frequently, the Weekly files requests with federal agencies under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. One federal agency that’s been in the public eye is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which has conducted a number of high-profile enforcement raids in California in recent months, including one in February in Santa Cruz, in which local police officials said they’d been misled by federal immigration authorities. To find out the baseline for ICE arrests in Monterey County, the Weekly filed a FOIA request on March 9, seeking ICE arrest logs for the past year. By law, ICE has 20 days to respond; on May 2, ICE replied – 34 days late. “Due to the increasing number of FOIA requests received by this office, we may encounter some delay in processing your request,” the reply states.

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GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

It’s a good week for the Salinas-based nonprofit Read to Me Project, which promotes literacy by encouraging kids to read books to their younger siblings. Since launching in 2011, Read to Me has expanded into 96 classrooms in Monterey County, helping prepare kids for kindergarten and increase their comfort with books. This week, there’s data to prove the feel-good concept is really working. Jennifer Dyer, chair of the Psychology Department at CSU Monterey Bay, enlisted her students to dig into the nonprofit’s work. The first group of students to study Read to Me’s effectiveness present their findings at capstone talks on Thursday, May 18. One finding: Kids who participated did not report reading more books at the end of the school year, but they did report having more books at home. “It’s a piece of evidence you’re filling a gap in the community,” Dyer says.

BAD:

It was a rough week for Big Sur residents as the Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council heard frustrated comments on new $10 day-use fees for Mill Creek and Willow Creek beaches. The fees were implemented by private concessionaire Parks Management Company, which manages the beaches for the U.S. Forest Service, prompting residents to claim the fees were not legally announced or opened to public input. With that section of the South Coast isolated by landslides, the restriction on public rec space has community advocates like Mike and John Handy of Treebones up in arms. “This season has been one huge bureaucratic hoop to jump through,” John writes by email. The BSMAA, which includes Big Sur stakeholders and lawmakers like U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, instructed a PMC rep to report back at the next quarterly BSMAA meeting on how they addressed laws concerning public process. “There are layers of injustice,” Big Sur resident Mike Linder says. “It’s just a bad decision all around.” PMC and Forest Service officials insist fees are the only way to fund park maintenance.

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