The Weekly Dump 10.12.18

Burning Down the House

In late breaking, stop the presses news this week, Thursday night around 5:30PM, reports started coming in about a fire at the main jail on the 200 block of Water street. Apparently, a cell was on on fire and the jail was being evacuated. I heard there was also possibly a problem with water, likely from the fire sprinklers. No word on any injuries.

SCPD Has No Answer For Rash of Local Arson Fires

Santa Cruz Police and Fire officials have been investigating 26 different suspicious fires within the city limits that have been set since July. All of the fires have been deemed “suspicious”,  and authorities believe there might be more than one person responsible. Surveillance of at least one suspect near the Tannery has been released to the public. One home in the Clearview Mobile Home community was severely damaged by fire this weekend (see story below), and neighbors had to rescue and evacuate a disabled resident from his home before the fire department arrived to knock down the fire. The homeowners say there is thousands of dollars in damage, and they just barely made it out. Witnesses described seeing the man’s deck on fire with flames coming through his windows. The police department is working with Santa Cruz Fire Department to investigate.

String of Arson Fires Around Santa Cruz (KSBW video)

Taking Burning Man Too Literally

This past Wednesday night just before 10PM, I heard a report of a man who was on fire in downtown Santa Cruz. When SCPD and Fire and medics arrived, the man was apparently no longer on fire but a bag next to him was, which started a small fire next to him. Apparently, the fire was related to some sort of hash oil accident. I heard something about a vape pen exploding. The man who caught fire was extinguished by the quick actions of someone working nearby, who used a fire extinguisher to probably save the guy’s life. Then there’s this:

I guess that’s the sort of “official” explanation here. The victim’s burns were serious enough to require a life flight (guess who paid for that) with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his body and hands.

Another Suspicious Fire in Depot Park

Sunday around noon, an unattended fire in a homeless camp (in a freaking Eucalyptus grove to make this city-sanctioned bum camp story even more unbelievably stupid and scary) set fire to a hillside near Depot Park. Fire investigators say they think it was caused by “a transient warming fire from the night before reigniting”. The fire quickly spread up the hillside and one mobile home located in a trailer park at the top of the hill was destroyed. Fire crews spent about three hours working to put it out. Here’s the “unwritten”, “unaccounted for” costs of coddling and letting transients overrun and basically do whatever the hell they want here without repercussions. How much did those 3 hours cost the city in service time, money that comes from our general fund. Money that could be spent on actually getting the homeless OFF the street. We can not get out of our own way here. End the status quo, or this (and lots more of it) is what you can expect for the future. Somewhere, Ryan Coonerty doesn’t care.

Early Morning Bum Fight Results in Stabbing on Pacific Avenue

Sunday morning around 7:30AM, I got a report about a transient bum with a knife who apparently stabbed another transient bum near the Taco Bell on Laurel and Pacific after they got into some kind of physical altercation. The suspect was described as a Hispanic male in his thirties, about 6 feet tall with no shoes and last seen running down Pacific Avenue with the knife in his hand. The 40 year old victim’s injuries were sufficient enough to call for a life flight to a trauma center, but the life flight never came and he was driven over the hill to a trauma center in San Jose. The suspect got away.

Another Week, Another Creeper Arrested Near the High School

Last Thursday, a man approached several young girls at and around Santa Cruz High School and downtown Santa Cruz. A total of 8 underage girls as young as 14 described similar experiences. SCPD was able to positively identify the suspect as a 23 year old local man and the teenage victims confirmed his identity. Detectives then obtained an arrest warrant on the suspect. This Wednesday, an officer with SCPD recognized the suspect as he was walking in the downtown area. After initially providing a false name, SCPD confirmed it was the suspect and arrested him on the warrant. While in custody, the suspect also apparently made incriminating statements about his behavior.

Carjacking Suspect Arrested in Aptos

Friday night, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of an attempted carjacking in the Aptos Safeway Parking lot. In this case, the driver was in the back seat of his pickup with his infant when a man opened the driver’s door and got in and tried to drive off in the vehicle. The owner somehow managed to prevent this and forced the suspect out of the truck. When Deputies arrived, they found the suspect in another car in the parking lot. When the suspect would not communicate with commands to come out, they brought in the dog! And when the dog talks, the bad guys snap to attention. The man was arrested for various felonies including attempted carjacking and his bail was set at $200K.

Stabbing at Seabright Beach Bonfire

Last Thursday night around 11PM, at least one person was stabbed near a bonfire on Seabright beach. A friend of the victim reportedly ran all the way to the Boardwalk to call SCPD to report it. It was reported that multiple victims were involved in the disturbance. One victim was later found at Days Market with a stab wound to the gut and wounds to his hand. Another man was found by state parks staff with a head wound, apparently the result of being hit on the head with a rock.

Aptos Babysitter Gets 30 years in Child Pornography Sentencing

An Aptos man who worked as a camp counselor in Santa Cruz and as a babysitter for local families pleaded guilty to numerous child pornography charges on Thursday, according to reports published by the FBI. Under a plea agreement, the 21 year old Aptos man pleaded guilty to all counts and agreed to a sentence of 30 years in prison. He admitted he produced pornographic images of more than a dozen children he was familiar with. The convicted felon had been employed by Santa Cruz County as an after school instructional aide at Mar Vista Elementary School, and as a cabin leader for Outdoor Science School. He had enrolled in Cabrillo College’s early education program with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher, and was a babysitter for a number of families in Aptos.

Stranded Motorist Struck By Car on Highway 17

Monday morning around 1:30AM, a motorist stranded with a flat tire just south of Mount Hermon Road on Highway 17 was struck by a car driven by a man suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, according to CHP reports. The 41 year old driver stayed at the scene but was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The 29 year old victim from Fremont had major injuries and was taken to Dominican Hospital and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, according to the CHP.

Missing At Risk Woman Found Dead in Safeway Parking Lot

A 74 year old at risk woman who went missing on September 26th has been found dead in her van, which was parked in the Safeway parking lot on 41st avenue. Apparently, she had been staying with friends and living out of her van. Reports indicated she also had some recent medical issues and was considered at risk due to her age and the circumstances of her disappearance. I know a lot of flyers were posted about her disappearance. Authorities don’t think her death was suspicious, but I haven’t heard about any cause of death.

Pedestrian Hit By Car Off Bay Avenue

Last Saturday night around 8:30PM, a 60 year old man was killed when he was struck by a car in Capitola on the 800 block of Bay near the Highway 1 and Porter onramp. Capitola Police say the man was jaywalking in the street when he was hit by a woman exiting the Nob Hill parking lot. The 50 year old driver from Soquel was found to not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cooperated with police. The unidentified victim was transported to Dominican Hospital where he later died.

Making His Mama Proud

This Wednesday afternoon, SCPD Officers responded to a residence on the 300 block of Goss Avenue for a report of a prowler in the backyard of a home. After arriving on scene, SCPD located a 23 year old local man. When detained, the suspect gave his brother’s name instead of his own. Didn’t work. He was determined to have misdemeanor and felony warrants for his arrest, and was arrested for those outstanding warrants, providing false ID, prowling and possession of a concealed knife.

Prop 11 Hurts Local First Responders

Private EMS workers are often understaffed and overworked, leading to potential public safety issues and making it difficult to safely care for those in need. Prop 11 apparently is funded and being driven by AMR, a large private corporation. AMR provides care in Santa Cruz and most of the Bay Area. This proposition is special interest at its worst. It is geared toward relieving them of retroactive liability. More on this Proposition can be found here. I have been seeing a bunch of commercials in support of this proposition, so I’m glad a couple of my EMT friends and readers have steered me in the right direction on this. NO ON PROPOSITION 11. MARK IT DOWN. These guys are the front line public safety stewards who need and deserve all the support we can give them.

Santa Cruz Judge Dies Suddenly While Vacationing in France

It was recently reported that Santa Cruz judge Jeff Almquist passed away suddenly while on vacation in Lyon, France. He was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 to the Santa Cruz Superior Court, and served as the presiding judge in 2010 and 2011. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Almquist was elected to represent the 5th district on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in 1996. He was re-elected in 2000, and served on the Regional Transportation Commission and Library Board during his time as a county supervisor.

El Circo del Ayuntamiento

Why do people hate yard signs so much? It seems as if pretty much every candidate running is dealing with local assholes pulling up their yard signs. We’ve got another candidate forum taking place this Friday night. It might be one of your last chances to be able to hear, see, meet the candidates in person. If you haven’t done so yet, please get out and listen to them in their own words, and get to know them. Informed voters are critical voters! And please make sure everyone you know is registered to vote!

Open to the public. More info at the link.

  • October 12th: East of the River Candidates Forum

I’m skipping the usual profiles again this week. To be honest, the local politics and the nastiness and the political shenanigans that go on behind the scenes here (and sometimes just blatantly in public) is just exhausting. It turns friends against each other. It’s just a lot of bitter, angry, opportunistic dialogue that I see taking place (and yes, sometimes I can be part of it). But I’m tired of being part of it. 4 weeks to go. My mailbox is being spammed daily with political flyers that basically go straight to recycling now. Think about that next time you make that campaign donation. I know some of the candidates are running a streamlined, “fiscally prudent” campaign while others are basically running an ATM machine spitting out campaign donation money on stuff like this, stuff I don’t even read. I got a beautifully designed 4 page, glossy cardstock flyer from Donna Meyers (nothing personal Donna, I actually like you) that went straight to recycling, after I shook my head at how much was spent on it. I’ll bet more money was spent on this one flyer mailing than some of the candidates have raised or spent in total (I would estimate with printing and mailing costs, it ran at least $5K). It’s pretty easy to see who’s wasting your money here. And why should I expect that to stop after the election? Or how about the people with those ginormous billboard like yard signs. How much did that cost? Thousands of dollars, only to see it end up in the landfill a month from now. Think about that when deciding who to vote for. Who will waste your tax dollars and who won’t. Don’t we have enough poor, fiscal decision making on the city council and in the city manager’s office already?

The Weekly Seen

If you don’t support “Yes on H”, you better stay off Fred Keeley’s lawn. 

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  1. only eddie and patsy can save us now..

  2. The city of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County the Bay area and state are going wild in their thirst for more tax/ bond revenue. I am voting against Measure H the $1.4 Billion housing tax on homeowners because the state already has $6.2 Billion proposed for homeless and housing in Props. 1 and 2, Kaiser and Google alone have pledged $250 million for the same causes, our county wants an increase in sales tax increase in the unincorporated areas as does Los Gatos. San Jose has $450 million in bonds proposed for housing and another $650 million in safety and Infrastructure bonds and if you live in Santa Cruz County anywhere near the Summit the West Valley School District is looking for $698 million in new bonds. This numbers are overwhelming, shameless unprecedented and unaffordable for any homeowners, particularly if you own a home here and have a San Jose rental or vice versa where you don’t even get a vote but in one county…… while the taxes in the other can make you go broke.

    You can’t make this stuff up and while we’re at it….No on Measure M rent control and No on 10 as recommended by the next governor Gavin Newsom, his opponent John Cox, the N.A.A.C.P, The San Diego Union, The San Jose Mercury News, The East Bay Times, Howard Jarvis Tax Group, United Latino Vote….and many others.

  3. There was another fire early in the morning this week on top of the platform above the train tunnel entrance behind 133 Mission St., near intersection of Chestnut and Green St. Nearly made it to the homes above.

  4. Where’s the candidate write-ups this week? Did you know about this? Greg Larson making Los Gatos pay his salary and his replacement’s salary at the same time! Seems he also brought a gun shop to Los Gatos. And they weren’t too happy about it. Duh! Hope you discuss all this next week.

    • Thanks Jake. I had a couple people message me that link so that story seems to be making the public rounds. Here’s my take and I’ll add a little bit of disclosures. First, I’m trying hard to stay unbiased here, I’ve made no endorsements, and I’ve made a point not to attack anyone’s personal character. I really do respect everyone for running. Do I like some of the candidates better than others? Of course. But I’m keeping my preferences to myself so far and trying to stick to facts (and avoid hearsay). For the record, I’m not digging into anyone’s past. That doesn’t mean others aren’t doing it and sending me links like this. Then it becomes a call for me how to handle it. In this case, I sat on it until other people made a story out of it I couldn’t avoid. This is a really nasty campaign behind the scenes. The level of backroom bullying going on isn’t disappointing, it’s exactly what I expected. I’m just pretty disgusted by it all. As for this Larson story, is it dirty? It’s a “published” part of his work history that have people asking questions that may or may not have been raised or answered. That’s fair. People are doing much worse here, and if this offends anyone, you need a thicker skin to play this game. There are basically 2 points I see raised in that article. Why did the city of Los Gatos feel the need to pay 2 city managers at the same time (and what was his role in it), and why did he let a gun shop open in the city limits, seemingly without any sort of public hearing for approving it? (if I got that wrong let me know). I think they are fair questions to ask, fair questions that relate directly to past job performance (and not personal).

  5. The pic of Fred Keeley’s lawn makes me want to vomit. But then, I feel the same way about Keeley himself.

  6. I miss your candidate summaries. I hope you’ll bring them back.

  7. Hey, just a quick update! If anyone downloaded a flyer for the recent east of the river candidate forum, the event ALREADY HAPPENED LAST NIGHT. In the flyer, the date is listed as Sunday (tomorrow) but the flyer was from 2016. DO NOT GO TO THE EAST OF THE RIVER CANDIDATE FORUM TOMORROW NIGHT. It already happened.

    I just want to add it was a really nice event, well run, they even had nice ladies offering snacks and hot cider and coffee. The crowd was pretty big, I’d guess maybe between 100-200 people, the moderators were ok, the pace was fine, the questions could always have been better but were focused on issues for that particular neighborhood (growth, transportation, etc.). It was very unfortunate what happened to Dave Lane.

    Sorry about the confusion on the event flyer. Remember, NO EVENT TOMORROW.

  8. Depot Park fire happened on a very warm weekend afternoon. It definitely wasn’t a “warming fire.” There was fire at a person’s “camp” alongside Felker St. that a fire investigators said was arson, which followed several others. Someone is setting homeless belongings on fire.

    • You lost your credibility years and years ago. You can’t expect people to believe you now.

    • I think there’s probably some truth to Brent’s statement. What he doesn’t mention is the person setting the fires is probably homeless. Unless he has actual proof to the contrary. Personally, I think most of the fires are probably the result of carelessness combined with drug adled brains that shouldn’t be playing with fire. I agree the “warming fire” excuse is probably nonsense. I’m more inclined to think the fires came from cooking (drugs) in a soda can, dropping a lit cigarette or joint when you’re too stoned to hold on to it, etc.

  9. Ben….The meeting was good and as you mentioned great hospitality but the questions requiring the candidates to hold up either yes or no paddles to show their support or lack thereof ….was somewhat of a fiasco. Some of the questions were either so simple and agreeable, or clearly marked for a no answer that it would have required another species to look for anything to break the unanimity of the candidates. Conversely, several questions were so confusing and obtuse that even the moderator couldn’t understand the questions and had trouble rephrasing them. This puzzled the candidates, repeatedly.

    On a secondary note, candidate Dave Lane spoke briefly but had to leave as he had just been assaulted downtown by someone who stole Lane’s phone and then punched Lane multiple times. He bore visible cuts needing medical attention.

    • Thanks for the feedback on the recent east side forum. I actually had to leave early and missed the yes/no part. But what I saw was ok. The PA system worked, I could hear the answers, and the crowd was very polite and well behaved. And the crowd listened, and paid attention, and I even saw heads nodding for people I wouldn’t expect them to be nodding to. Thanks to everyone that came out and to the organizers for getting them there and taking good care of them.

  10. Darius Mohsenin

    Wtf is with the Santa Cruz Senile?? How does Ben get all this information that is completely germane to understanding the underbelly of Santa Cruz and the criminal dynamic that seems to continue on checked by a local authorities!? Why is so little of this information reported in the local news?

  11. Jennifer Andrews

    Hope the SCPD are remembering these two arsonists from several years back — Mitchell Edward Swienton, 49, and Kelly Nichole Hawkins, 30 . Wonder if we have brand new arsonists or the same old usual suspects/!

    • I think it’s a combination of factors, of which an arsonist (or arsonists) might be involved. But the number one factor is a lack of interest or priority by SCPD to clear homeless camps in high fire danger areas in the city and county (like under Eucalyptus trees). Isn’t that what we are paying $100K PER MONTH for a “camp” to avoid? Yet here we are. Where there’s no will, there’s no way. People high on heroin and meth should not be allowed to play with matches in highly flammable parks and opens spaces. It’s not rocket science. It’s reckless idiot compassion.

  12. But of course Brainchild Brent is claiming the fires are an antibiotic homeless conspiracy. That’s why the only video is a Tweeker trying to torch the Tannery where there aren’t any camps to burn.

  13. Anti-homeless ..not antibiotic.

  14. If you get a moment, check out the chain link fence that is now surrounding San Lorenzo Park. There have been a handful of campers on the lawn for over a month. And people parking on city or county property and sleeping in their vehicles. The fix? Not addressing the issue of the camping, drugs, litter, but erecting a chain link fence around the entire bench land area of San Lorenzo Park. Typical of the current brain trust at the helm of the canoe.

    • Thanks Kaylee. I think it’s actually a “preemptive strike” by the city to insure there won’t be a new “Camp Coonerty” taking over the park this winter (and beyond). That social experiment by Bernal and Mills failed miserably, resulting in the need to create a new camp in the city limits at the cost of $100K per month. It was announced today that the city is shutting down the River street camp on November 30th. Once that’s gone, guess where people will try to go? San Lorenzo Park. Expect this to stay closed for awhile, probably through the rest of the year anyways. That fence isn’t cheap to put up. It doesn’t just go up for a couple weeks.

  15. Guess I’ve been conditioned to assume the worst from officials, I’m ashamed to admit. I didn’t even consider the fence as a preventative measure but now that you bring it up, it makes a lot of sense.

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