All Politics are Local, Even State, Federal and International Issues

Feds vs. the City of Santa Cruz

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the liberal, do-your-own-thing, can’t-we-all-just-get-along, feel-good political waters of both the Golden State and the People’s Republic of Santa Cruz, a political hell begins to erupt. Along comes Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to tell us that he’s going to allow off-shore oil drilling off the central coast. Then it’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he wants to stop all cannabis production. What does Acting Commissioner of the IRS, David Kauter require? That homeowners no longer deduct their mortgage payments from their federal taxes. Next in line is another “Acting Director,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Thomas Homan, he wants to deport our immigrant community members. And then there’s the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, he wants to slow down our internet traffic. The master of this dog house, Donald Trump, lost California by over two million votes, so to some political watchers it would seem quite logical that he would come to hinder, thwart, hobble, restrict, and generally wreak havoc on the people of this state. He’s beginning. Not long ago I can remember letters to the editor, or to city hall, inquiring and questioning the wisdom of devoting city time to debating national and international issues. War for example has been debated by past city councils: Ronald Reagan’s contras, George Bush Sr.’s Kuwaiti expedition, and later his son’s Iraq War policies. Once the council passed a resolution to send Chilean mass murder, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who was being detained in London, back to stand trial in Santiago. More recently the council is set to discuss a resolution asking the legislature to prohibit importation of crude oil from the Amazon. Santa Cruz has a long track record of being involved in US domestic and foreign policy issues.

When the People Lead, the Leaders Will Follow

The city council of Santa Cruz, I would argue, possesses an enviable history of creating forums to offer locals the opportunity to bring forward national and international issues, debate the why and how each issue might affect their pocketbooks and their moral consciences. If an issue is significant to enough of our constituents, chances are a councilmember will request it appear on a council agenda and a resolution, or ordinance, may be voted upon. This usually takes up little council time and fulfills an obvious community need: our residents seek forums of engagement beyond the usual street sweeping, garbage pickup, parks, or public safety concerns. Council agenda items do in fact offer an outlet and an escape valve for dissent on local and international concerns. We have an active and engaged electorate who see local issues connected to the state, national, and international chess board. It is in this spirit that now more than ever we need to keep our eyes wide open as many of the national issues become in-your-face local ones. Buckle up, 2018 will present us with many conundrums and decisions.

Those Who Make Peaceful Revolution Impossible,

Make Violent Revolution Inevitable

Take for example the issue of immigration. Since at least the 1980’s, this community has taken legislative stands in favor of welcoming immigrants. It started with Reagan’s war on Central America, notably El Salvador, and has led to the more recent city council resolution and ordinance denouncing last February’s Homeland Security Investigations-ICE raid on our immigrant community and restating that our city is truly a sanctuary city. Residents by the hundreds came forward to demand legal protections for immigrants and that we direct our police not to work with ICE when it comes to detaining Santa Cruz residents. The city council also passed a resolution urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign Senate Bill 54, the Sanctuary State bill, into law. He did and as a result this past week we saw assurances on the part of our county Sherriff, Jim Hart that immigrants once they are released from county jail will NOT be turned over to ICE. This is HUGE! In fact, here is a portion of the email that immigrant’s rights advocate, Jim Weller sent out last week under the subject line, VICTORY: SANTA CRUZ COUNTY SHERRIFF IMPLEMENTS SB 54 FULLY! Sheriff Hart met with us again today to announce his decision. He agrees with us. Henceforth, “not a dime” of effort, as Jim Hart put it, will be made to cooperate with ICE. From now on, our County Sheriff’s office WILL NOT INTERACT WITH ICE in any way at all. From now on, ICE will get zero information about anyone, and nobody will be turned over to ICE ever except in rare instances with a criminal warrant for arrest signed by a Federal judge – and even then, ICE agents will not be allowed inside the jail facilities; they will have to take custody outside. THIS IS A BIG STEP FORWARD IN THE RESISTANCE! The interests of human rights, civil liberties, and simple justice are being served in Santa Cruz! We should congratulate Sheriff Jim Hart, the ACLU, the Public Defender, the Watsonville Law Center, the deportation defenders in the Bar Association, and the Sanctuary Santa Cruz network for their principled deliberations.

If democracies are truly led by the people, this effort is indeed the pot of gold at the end of a legislative rainbow of actions.

What Just Might be Coming to the SC City Council This Year?

  • Revenue enhancement measures (taxes) to cover the increasing costs of city pension costs, mainly police and fire will be on the ballot. (Some options: Hotel, sugar beverage, real estate transfer).

  • Rent stabilization, rent freeze, just-cause eviction ordinance will all likely be debated vigorously this year, in Santa Cruz and at the state capitol.

  • Will 2018 see a silver stake finally pierce through the Corridor Plan and exorcise the final ghosts of a plan that was never accepted by many on the city’s eastside?

  • Will this be the year the Jessie Street Marsh actually moves toward restoration and the 2003 plan is finally implemented?

  • A housing plan is needed that designates 50% of the planned for 1000 downtown units be affordable and offered to people who live here now, not as short-term rentals or second homes.

  • A plan to confront homelessness that is authored by both the city and county, which includes a designated on-going revenue stream to get people housed and into programs that offer drug, alcohol and mental health treatment.

  • And lastly, there is that pesky $23-million-dollar question: will the public library bond money be used as bait to finally convince the public to support the Public Works Department’s five-story parking garage to be built on the current site of the Farmer’s Market at Lincoln and Cedar streets?

Predictions for 2018

  • The city of Santa Cruz will join other municipalities in forming a state bank!

  • Ranked Choice Voting will get on the ballot this November.

  • Rent control will be instituted in Santa Cruz come January 1, 2019.

  • Barry Swenson Builder will finally be convinced to build the damn affordable rental units.

  • Homelessness-houselessness ain’t going away.

  • The Giants will make it to the playoffs!

  • The Trump Administration gets into a spat with Santa Cruz, which makes national news.

Bernie Tweet of the Week

“We need to get our priorities right. Not giving tax breaks to billionaires. Not throwing millions of people off of health insurance. We have got to pay attention to the working families of this country.” (Jan. 8)

Photo of the Week


Seen along Ashby Street in Berkeley, Ca.

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