It’s been another busy week covering the news and views of Santa Cruz. This week, we discuss the new Hobonip, Prop 57 is the gift that keeps on giving, the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018, suspected Modesto child killer arrested in Santa Cruz, progressive compassion at SCPD, dead man slumping, Coral street gets scrubbed, Sunday morning overdose, the Hobonip is hiring, stolen motorcycle chase along levee, fight at the Hitching Post, bum arrested with stolen credit card, Hugh’s News, the county’s response to the city’s criticism over lousy mental health treatment options, the city’s solution to its budget crisis is more taxes, and more!
Welcome to Hobonip
The city is finalizing preparations to move it’s current city sponsored and sanctioned bum camp (Camp Coonerty) from San Lorenzo Park to a new location at 1220 River Street. The new dirt parking lot has the capacity to accommodate about 50 tents and 100 campers. And the barbed wire to keep them inside! I can’t imagine how many fire hazards and zone violations the city will ignore here.
According to the city, there will also be hygiene, mental health, substance abuse and other services available. Now that’s what I call rolling out the welcome mat there! And that welcome mat ain’t cheap! With full, 24 hour staffing and concierge services available for the homeless, the city says they will be spending about $91,000 a month. Approximately $53,000 of that is for “staffing”. Gotta feed the Homeless Industrial Complex locally. Look at the jobs they are creating here! So with an estimated 100 campers, the city will spend almost $1000 per “camper” EVERY MONTH to let them pitch a tent in a city owned dirt parking lot. Wow. That’s just ridiculous by any standard. You could put them up in an SRO motel room for less than that. And they’d actually have a roof, and walls, and privacy, and running water, and toilets that flush. But nah. Let’s spend all that money on “staffing” and a dirt lot we already own. Brilliant! That’s how you “unofficially” launder city money through the Homeless Industrial Complex locally. The city plans to clear out Camp Coonerty once the new Hobonip is ready to go. They plan to keep the Hobonip open for four to five months until they can find a permanent facility.
Why the hell should anyone believe anything the city says anymore? They have proven themselves to be blatant liars when it comes to this issue. First we were told the camp would be gone by December 15th. Remember that lie? Then it was January 15th. Remember that lie? Now it’s February 28th? Hey City of Santa Cruz mouthpieces! Just STFU already. Nobody believes you anymore. Just admit you don’t have a clue what you are doing here.
And where’s the county in all this? It is THEIR responsibility (yet again). Has anyone seen Ryan Coonerty walking the bike path behind the county building as he avoids looking at his namesake Camp? I know it’s not the photo-op he wants the public to see here.
Proposition 57 is the Gift That Keeps on Giving
You can thank anyone and everyone that voted for this. Get ready Santa Cruz, because if things weren’t bad enough here with the human weeds and low hanging fruit, we’ll be getting an inevitable bump of sex offenders recently released from prison here. Why here? I think we all know why here. Give us your tired, your poor, your sex offenders recently released from prison. There’s plenty of blame to toss around here. Starting with Governor Moonbeam. He fleeced the voters. He needed a way to reduce the number of inmates in California’s prison system, after being sued by the Federal government to reduce prison overcrowding.
Michele Hanisee, President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, says she warned Governor Jerry Brown that ambiguous language in Prop 57 would allow convicted sex offenders, including those guilty of so-called “non-violent” sex crimes like rape of an unconscious person, or pimping children, to be released early from prison. And now, a Superior Court judge just issued a preliminary ruling that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation cannot take a prisoner’s whole history into account, but only the most recent conviction, when deciding if that prisoner qualifies for release under Prop 57. So if they have a history of sex crime, none of it matters to the people making the decision to release.
More on this story here.
Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018
I heard about this through local public safety advocate group Take Back Santa Cruz, and I fully support what they are doing here. They are having a local fundraiser at Woodstock Pizza downtown to get signatures and build interest and support for Keep California Safe, a coalition of crime victims, law enforcement, business owners and public safety leaders, on a local level. The fundraiser is Monday night from 5-9PM. Stop by and pick up a pie and support both groups!
Suspected Modesto Child Killer Arrested in Santa Cruz Motel
Late Friday night, SCPD arrested a suspect believed to be responsible for two killings last year in Modesto, one of them a 5 year old child. The 21 year old man from Riverbank was taken into custody after SCPD found him hiding inside a motel room. Police believe the suspect shot and killed a 5 year old boy on October 28th of last year in Modesto. The shooting appeared to be drug related, according to the Modesto Police. The suspect is also believed to have shot and killed another man on November 21st, less than a month later. Drugs appear to be the motive behind the November shooting as well. The man was arrested and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail for murder.
How is This Progressive or Compassionate?
Sunday night around 9PM, I heard a report that SCPD dropped off a mentally ill woman at the Winter Shelter at the Salvation Army on Laurel. The shelter called SCPD to report they couldn’t care for her, because she was found “playing with bleach and chemicals and walking around the shelter nude”. SCPD’s response? “What do they want us to do about it?”. I’d call that response a giant FAIL. Let’s look at all the FAIL going on here. The county failed this poor woman by basically relegating her to the street with no real treatment options for her obvious mental illness. SCPD failed this woman and everyone in the community by just dumping her at a shelter, and then incredulously whining to the poor shelter staff over having to get involved in the first place. And the city has failed the local homeless, and the community, by turning what should be a safe place to sleep into a makeshift mental health and substance abuse holding tank. This is your Winter Shelter folks! SCPD dropping off street people needing more than just a place to sleep are dumped for the night. And this shelter is not only staffed, it’s run by a huge organization like the Salvation Army, and they can’t handle the kind of “clients” SCPD is dealing with regularly downtown and throughout the city. If this happening at the Salvation Army, imagine what the new Hobonip is going to be like. Ten times worse.
Dead Man Slumping
I got a report from a friend about a dead body being found near the corner of Water and Seabright on Sunday afternoon. Apparently the deceased was sitting an a bench across the street from the gas station where he was found to be no more. He had ceased to be (any Python fans out there?). The person who passed this info on to my friend said “it doesn’t faze me anymore to see dead bodies on the streets of Santa Cruz”. What kind of third world attitude is that? It’s not attitude, it’s just the prevailing sentiment in Santa Cruz right now. Lots of resigned apathy from residents, thanks to city manager Martin Bernal and police chief Andy Mills. This is what happens when you let Ernie and Bert run your town.
Coral Street Area Gets a Well Needed Scrub
Thursday afternoon, the SCPD Parks Unit, working with the Railroad Company and CalTrans stepped up law enforcement in the area along the railroad tracks behind the Sash Mill, Coral Street, and the space behind Granite Construction. SCPD and the crew encountered more than 30 campsites, some of which were occupied and others abandoned. They issued 17 citations for trespassing. Six of those people contacted were arrested on outstanding warrants. SCPD issued four parking citations, and one abandoned car was removed. The clean up operation lasted over seven hours and generated two truckloads of garbage. The effort continued on Friday as well. SCPD received complaints from business owners on Potrero Street over the past couple of weeks about the increased number of campsites on the railroad tracks and on CalTrans property. Complaints included illegal fires, human defecation, littering and open drug use.
Sunday Morning Overdose in Camp Coonerty
As usual, there was another overdose in Camp Coonerty on Sunday morning around 8AM. The victim was reported to be unconscious and not breathing inside an Orange tent in Camp Coonerty (aka San Lorenzo Park). Fire and medics responded along with SCPD, and apparently the victim was taken to Dominican. Does anyone really believe that these people are actually going to leave this free for all to move into a fenced in dirt lot with actual rules? I don’t. Martin Bernal and Andy Mills opened this can of worms and there’s no putting them back in the can now. I suppose at some point, SCPD will actually move in and ENFORCE the law here with some kind of compassionate “force” beyond incentivizing them to move with more free stuff. Many of them know that stealing is the equivalent of “getting free stuff” here, since the law is so selectively enforced now.
The Hobonip is Hiring “Hosts”
The City of Santa Cruz wants to pay people to babysit bums squatting on a public lot. $17 an hour even! This is too dumb for me to make up. The City of Santa Cruz has officially hired a “program manager” for the new Hobonip on River street, the poorly thought out, reactionary, idiotic “solution” to Santa Cruz’s rampant homeless explosion (which has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the city manager and chief of police giving the local homeless carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want without consequences).
The new program manager is a 53 year old Felton man named Chris (who doesn’t live in the city) who worked as the “residential services program manager” at the Homeless Services Center for four years, until 2015, then as a counselor at Encompass Community Services and last year as the Association of Faith Communities’ director of services for the Winter Shelter. So he’s obviously a regular cog in the Homeless Industrial Machine here. He’s gotten around and made a living off the backs of serving the homeless. Chris is tasked with hiring 11 camp “hosts” (aka “babysitters”) to provide 24 hour camp oversight, as well as two assistant program managers. The temporary camp workers will be paid $17/hour with no benefits, according to city spokeswoman Eileen Cross. Chris had no idea as to the camp’s actual opening date.
Here’s what Chris recently told the Senile:
“I hope to have just a really safe, sane environment for our population experiencing homelessness. It’s going to evolve as the program goes on and we work on the operational plans”
Here’s how I interpret that: “I hope this isn’t a dangerous, crazy hot mess. We’re making this up as we go along”
The new “Hobonip” will be tentatively (and we’re told “temporarily”) located at a fenced in city owned gravel parking lot at 1220 River St.
Motorcycle Chase Leads to Arrest on San Lorenzo River Levee
Monday night around 9PM, I heard reports that SCPD was chasing a motorcyclist who was driving the wrong way down Riverside and on the sidewalks of side streets, before taking off up onto the levee near East Cliff and Jessie, where he crashed the bike. Shortly after that happened, SCPD had him detained and in handcuffs. Apparently, they originally tried to pull him over for not having plates and he failed to yield. It was later determined the motorcycle was stolen. The suspect was also wanted on a no bail warrant for failure to appear on a drug charge, and was on probation out of Rancho Cordova. Makes sense why he ran. The man was arrested for felony evasion and a probation violation.
Fight at Soquel and Frederick
Thursday morning around 7:30AM, reports came in about a fight near Soquel and Frederick. A male tried to take a female’s dog away apparently. This happened near the Hitching Post. The suspect had outstanding warrants and according to SCPD, he has “violent tendencies”. You think? He’s beating up women at 7:30 in the morning.
Bum Arrested in Felton With Stolen Credit Card
Last week, Santa Cruz Sheriff’s deputies were investigating drug activity in Covered Bridge Park in Felton when they stopped and searched a man and found drug paraphernalia and a woman’s stolen credit card. After contacting the woman, they discovered the card was recently stolen but had not been reported to the Sheriff’s Office. The suspect was arrested for possession of stolen property, drug paraphernalia, and a probation hold.
City Council Meeting, February 13, 2018
Today’s agenda was quite full and the afternoon session was long and at times excruciating. The word “robust” was thrown around frequently. Staff presented on the 2018 General Fund Mid-Year Financial Report. I think the ½ hour PowerPoint presentation could have been summed up with one slide that said “we are pretty much fu**ed. The End” This led into the next item on the agenda, which was related to a tax measure for a June 5th Special Election to offset pension obligations. Who likes higher taxes? No one! Do we need them sometimes? Yes. This item will be brought back to Council on February 27th. The next item on the agenda was the Emergency Homeless Shelter Phased Plan and River Street Campground. Previously dubbed the “Boneyard”, the River Street Campground at 1220 River Street will be in operation from March until June of 2018. Individuals currently living at Camp Coonerty (benchlands at San Lorenzo Park) will have to vacate by February 28th as there is a music festival slated for that area on March 10th. Staff said the campers will be given plenty of warning. It is clear a number of people at Camp Coonerty have no intention of moving to the River Street Camp, perhaps because of the rules, the fence, or the mere fact that they don’t want to. Some of the rules at the River Street Campground will be no weapons, no fires, one tent per site, one to three individuals per tent, pets are allowed but must not be vicious, and only one bike per person. ONE BIKE PER PERSON!!!! (I am yelling that)
Campers will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Once individuals are part of this encampment, there will be a high expectation that they will get involved in services offered to help them better themselves and assist them in moving forward to housing. The plan also is to hire some of the individuals from the Downtown Streets Team to work at the campground. I think that is fantastic! There will be bathrooms, showers and a pet poop station as well. Of course the Santa Cruz kook parade showed up to share their infinite wisdom during public comment. It is mind boggling to me that the very people that have been stomping their feet, pounding their fists, protesting and demanding the city do something about helping the unhoused have only shitty things to say about the city doing something for the unhoused. Which proves to me once again they really have no desire to be in true solution they only want things their way. It’s all about ego, it’s all about being right. What a bunch of narcissistic douchebags. Is it an ideal situation? No it is not. But it is what we have. Are you going to sit back and be bitter or are you going to be part of the solution?
Oral Communications had one awesome speaker that made an announcement about a scholarship by the Community Studies Program at UCSC in Elizabeth Butler’s honor. The rest of the speakers were strong contenders for a 5150. We need a trap door in front of that podium. I got a text during the evening session from a friend that said “Dude, WTF is there a convention for Prius owners at the Civic Center?” I told them no it’s a progressive convention at chambers. There was only one item on the evening agenda. Temporary freeze on certain residential rent increases not to exceed 2% and requiring just cause for tenant evictions. Krohn and Mathews recused themselves from the discussion. Krohn of course had a speech prepared as to why. I muted him. Truth be told I had to shut the show off around 8pm. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Apparently the meeting went until almost 11pm. After hours of public comment council voted unanimously in favor of this measure.
County Responds to Mental Health Spending Criticism by City of Santa Cruz
The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency is hiring a senior manager to develop a “more robust planning process” before allocating state dollars for mental health services expansion, among other duties, amid heightened interest by Santa Cruz city leaders, in a recent announcement by agency Director Giang Nguyen.
Ah. Giang Nguyen. One of my favorite DeCinzo targets.
Nguyen was responding to a series of questions by current Mayor David Terrazas about the county’s use of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) revenue, which originated with the 2004 passage of Proposition 63 as a 1 percent income tax on more than $1 million, according to California Department of Health Care Services. The act generates “up-front” payments of $11 million to $14 million per year in Santa Cruz County. The fund is supposed to expand services, such as stigma prevention, and to help people in crises or with unmet needs. Mental health care access, capital facilities or technologies also qualify, according to dhcs.ca.gov.
To receive the funding, counties must generate a three-year plan, which the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved unanimously Tuesday. The 2017-2020 plan was approved seven months after the fiscal year started, and almost three months after Terrazas asked the county in a letter to prove the money is helping the mentally ill at a time of crisis in the region. Seven months late and 3 month after the city called them out on this. Now that’s what I call transparency and a prompt county response!
In a letter dated January 30th, Nguyen issued the county’s latest written response to Terrazas. And what a load of crap that response was. I felt like I needed to change my pants after reading it. She said some dubious, yet to be hired “senior manager” (expected to start work in spring) will create an MHSA planning committee and develop a process for community input. We have a mental heath crisis, and she wants to hire an outsider and start a new committee to talk about it. This is exactly the kind of brain dead lack of leadership I’ve come to expect from the county.
Her letter followed the Santa Cruz Mental Health Advisory Board’s announcement Jan. 18th of plans to form a committee to monitor priorities and programs supported by the fund (another committee to study this? This is how the county sweeps stuff under the rug that they don’t feel like dealing with). The Prop 63 funds represent about 22 percent of Santa Cruz County Behavioral Health’s roughly $60 million budget. Terrazas asked about the county allocations more than a year after a bipartisan government watchdog commissioned group placed Santa Cruz County among 10 counties that had not reported Fiscal Year 2014-15 expenditures and revenues to the state. The commission’s inquiry was in August 2016 and the information sought was more than a year old. The 2017-2020 plan approved Tuesday must be submitted to the state less than a month after adoption, according to California law. Terrazas said he has been trying to understand a murky financial realm behind mental health services. The Department of Health Care Services receives and publishes three-year MHSA plans and links them at dhcs.ca.gov. In that list, Santa Cruz County’s out-of-date plan is posted while other counties, such as Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, have plans updated for 2017 to 2020.
Let’s Just Pass the Problem on to the Taxpayers
From the brilliant, visionary minds of our local government, we get this. A new soda tax to the rescue. Never mind our constant stream of vanity projects that clog up the budget yearly with no fiscal oversight. Hell, if we could just eliminate all of the redundant homeless services funding (which is the county’s primary responsibility anyways), we could probably balance our budget every year. I hear the expression “you get what you’re willing to tolerate” a lot. This doesn’t just apply to criminal behavior. It applies to the way we vote. It applies to the fools that continue run this town into the ground. Santa Cruz City administrators are considering putting a two cent PER OUNCE tax on “sugary drinks” for Santa Cruz. But the tax isn’t because they care about your health. Nope. All they care about is your money. There is a predicted deficit of about $5 million next year, which grows to about $20 million in 2023. This is mostly due to rising pension costs. The city wants to also possibly increase its sales tax from 9 to 9.25 percent. A decision on whether to put these items on the June ballot will be decided at the next meeting Feb 27.
New Trial Date Coming For Local Child Molester
A new trial date will be set later this month for a former Live Oak foster parent and Girl Scouts troop leader who is accused of molesting children. The girls include one of the suspect’s foster children and a child he knew through a Girl Scout troop, according to authorities. Many of the victims knew each other. The 56 year old man from Live Oak faces 16 felonies in connection with lewd acts with children and attempts to dissuade a witness, according to court documents. The suspect has been in Santa Cruz County Jail for more than three years on allegations of molesting seven girls from 2002 to 2012 and trying to dissuade a witness. He pleaded not guilty to 16 charges at hearings in September and December 2013, and faces a special allegation of aggravated circumstances, which accuses of him of molesting more than one child. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Judge Denies Soquel Child Molester New Trial
A Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge last week denied a retrial request by a convicted Soquel child molester and former foster parent and school volunteer who filed almost a dozen claims challenging the result of his 2016 trial and conviction, according to court documents. Steven Weissman will be sentenced at 10AM on May 29th in Superior Court. He was convicted of 15 felonies, including 12 counts of lewd acts with a child younger than 14, lewd acts with a child, aggravated sexual assault of a minor and copulation with a child younger than 10.
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