The Weekly Tally 02.13.20

WHO’S IN TOWN?

Death is not something many like to think about, let alone talk about. Jim Van Buskirk has done a lot of both. He is a coordinator for the Final Exit Network, a nonprofit that believes in “self-deliverance,” a person’s choice to die with dignity. The author and librarian co-leads a monthly Death Cafe in San Francisco, offering people a safe space to talk about death over cake and coffee. He also helps develop the San Francisco Public Library’s ongoing series, “We’re All Terminal: Living with Death and Dying.” Van Buskirk is in town to talk about California’s End of Life Option Act, the shortcomings of advanced directives and answer questions about the network. His talk is sponsored by the Humanist Association of Monterey Bay.

6:15pm Tues, Feb. 18. Monterey Public Library, 625 Pacific St., Monterey. Free. hambaonline.weebly.com.

FREE SPEECH

If you’ve been to Monterey County Superior Court looking for a printed case file, you might’ve been surprised to be hit with a $0.50-per-page fee. Federal court records, viewable through thePublic Access to Court Electronic Records system (Pacer) charge $0.10 to view a page – just for electronic viewing, not printing. A 2016 lawsuit filed by three nonprofits against the federal government made the case the fees present an unjust barrier to access and represent an overcharge compared to actual operating costs. The case is now on appeal, and the original plaintiffs have been joined by numerous media groups including First Amendment CoalitionReporters Committee for Freedom of the PressCalifornia News Publishers Association andAssociation of Alternative Newsmedia, the latter two of which the Weekly is a member. “Access to court records promotes transparency, encourages trust in the judicial process and allows the public to engage in oversight of courts,” they wrote in court papers filed Jan. 23.

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

The western monarch butterfly overwintering count announced Jan. 23 was a disappointment to advocates who had hoped for better numbers this year: 29,418 were tallied, only 2,200 more than last year’s all-time low. The Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Thanksgiving Day count was 642, its lowest ever. The good news is that after years of competing interests by various factions in town, the city of P.G. is taking firm control over the sanctuary’s future. Two employees are now in charge: Caleb Schneider, a management analyst for Public Works, and Amy Colony, P.G.’s volunteer coordinator. In a report to the Pacific Grove City Council on Feb. 5, they said they’re requiring that volunteers be trained before they work in the sanctuary. They met with other overwintering site managers recently, and have a plan to add up to 30 trees this year, as well as a new irrigation system.

BAD:

The Sunset Center and its nonprofit management company Sunset Cultural Center, Inc., continue to be dogged by controversy. Last year an employee injury led to a $17,000 fine from theOccupational Safety and Health Administration. On Feb. 11, the center was the site of a demonstration by labor group International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 611 and supporting labor groups, in part because IATSE was pushed out in 2017 and replaced by non-union workers, in some cases by temporary workers found online. IATSE contends the workers are untrained and safety is compromised. About 20 temporary workers picketed outside the center all day and until theater goers arrived for a 7:30pm performance of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Executive Director Christine Sandin states Sunset employs stagehands through “vetted, professional production vendors.”

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