The Weekly Tally 08.29.19

WHO’S IN TOWN?

On this big blue marble we call Earth, the human species has over time divided up the land and the sea, from common areas to private ownership and, in some cases, back to common areas again. In town this week is Mike Orbach, PhD, for his talk, “A Brief History of the World (and Ocean) Public Trust.” He’ll be focusing on how those divisions have impacted the ocean and ocean policies. Orbach is professor emeritus of marine affairs and policy at Duke University, and served as associate director of the Center for Coastal Marine Studies at UC Santa Cruz. He serves on the Ocean Conservancy’s board of directors and is chair of theNational Academy of Sciences’ committee on offshore science and assessment.

6-7:30pm, Tue Sept. 3. McGowan Building 102, 411 Pacific St., Monterey. Free. middlebury.edu/institute/events.

FREE SPEECH

Go to any event, and half the audience members might be on their smartphones – maybe videotaping if they’re a fan, or if they’re bored, playing a game. Unless devices are confiscated on entry or an official like a courtroom bailiff is monitoring closely, it’s impossible to keep recording devices out of public places. That made it surprising when staffers who work for U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, told Weekly photographer Nic Coury they prohibit recording during public comment at town hall meetings. Coury attended Panetta’s town hall on Aug. 20 at the Middblebury Institute, where an aide advised him of the policy, which has been in effect for over a year. (Photography is still permitted.) The policy, spokesperson Sarah Davey says, is meant to avoid spooking constituents who might not realize it’s a public event and might share private casework information. While we empathize, there’s no way we nor any other individual or outlet should agree to abide by this stifling of the First Amendment by a public official.

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GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

It’s taken Pagrovians more than 13 years to get up enough money to renovate the 111-year-old Pacific Grove Public Library but they finally did it, after Friends of the Pacific Grove Public Library and the Library Foundation made a major appeal last year. More than $2.6 million was raised to return the library to its 1908 glory. The city put the project out to bid, and as often happens, the bids came back higher than hoped, leaving a potential $292,500 deficit. On Aug. 21, P.G. City Council was faced with possibly making cuts, but the Friends and Foundation made an offer: We’ll fundraise and kick in half, if you kick in half. The council agreed, voting 7-0 to accept a bid from Avila Construction to build the project as designed. The council also approved a rental agreement for $11,400/mo. to move the library into the Holman Building during the year-long construction project.

BAD:

Bad news came down from Sacramento for the Greenfield courthouse-that-isn’t, due to years of delays because of a funding shortfall. The Judicial Council of California, in preparation for a Court Facilities Advisory Committee meeting Aug. 29, ranked 80 proposed projects in the state. Using a scoring system based on cost, seismic risk, overcrowding and access to justice, they grouped the projects according to urgency – immediate, critical, high, medium or low – to prioritize. Four came in as immediate need, 25 as critical (including a $146 million courthouse in Seaside to replace the Monterey facility) and 24 as high need, among them a $28 million Greenfield courthouse. Being low on the list means it’s likely to languish longer, even since a King City courthouse serving South County closed in 2013. Monterey County Superior Court plans to begin hearing small claims cases in Greenfield City Hall in September.

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