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By Eric Johnson
Published Nov 13, 2023

Image credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Fighting & Working for Democracy

I write this as Veterans Day weekend draws to a close, and I want to call your attention to a vets’ organization that is doing important work. The nonprofit We the Veterans and Military Families has set the following goal as its mission: “Strengthening our democracy and ensuring misinformation and polarization don’t continue to tear at the fabric of our union.”

This group of former members of the armed forces, and their spouses and children, have been working in recent years to dispel the false myth that those who serve in the military tend toward extremist views—a myth that grew in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at our nation’s Capitol. They point to a study that shows support for extremist ideologies among veterans is far lower than what is found in representative surveys of the general public.

We the Veterans, which recruits vets to serve as local poll workers, is passionately committed to democracy, and stands ready to defend every American’s right to vote, as its leadership noted in a recent op-ed: “Generations of American servicemen and women, supported by their families at home, have shed their blood on foreign battlefields to defend that fundamental right.”

Learn more about We the Veterans here. I applaud them for their continued service.


A Lot of Politics Is Local

On a visit to Santa Cruz a couple Saturdays ago, I got to participate in a great American democratic tradition—a political fundraiser. This one took place at the home of Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley, and was held on behalf of Robert Rivas (D–Hollister), the speaker of the California Assembly.

I realize that most Californians have not had the opportunity to attend such an event, and that may account for the prevalence of the mistaken view that elected officials are by and large corrupt. Over a career of covering local electeds, I have come to believe that most of the people who choose a life of public service are some of our best.

The individuals who took turns speaking on Fred and Barbara’s porch, addressing a smallish crowd of small-money donors in their front yard, proved that point.

Rivas himself is proud to have been raised by farmworkers, and has been working to help his community since first being elected to the local city council when he was in his twenties. As I have noted here previously, he leads what he accurately refers to as “an assembly that is the most diverse in California’s history, and among the most diverse legislative bodies in the world.”

Fred also introduced two recently elected assembly members, Dawn Addis and Gail Pellerin. Addis is a former longtime schoolteacher, who now represents a district that spans a big chunk of the California coast. Pellerin served as Santa Cruz County Clerk for 27 years—as you may know from recent news out of Georgia and elsewhere, the county clerk is the person responsible for guaranteeing that every citizen’s vote is counted.

Speaking of democracy: Election season 2024 is now officially underway, and my colleague Sharan Street here presents some highlights of what is to come.


One Citizen, One Vote

Voters have many decisions to weigh before March 5.
A year from now we’ll be choosing the next U.S. president. But there are many important decisions to be made before then. Now’s the time to start getting ready for the March 5 primary.

Building Democracy in the Golden State

If you feel in your bones that California is among the most democratic states in the nation, you are correct. I speak here not of the Democratic Party, but of what we wonks call “small ‘d’ democratic” politics—a system that ensures that we are a self-governing state. In this excerpt from our upcoming book, How California Works, Jon Vankin briefly explains how that happy fact came to be.


People Power! What Is Democracy, and How Does It Work in California?

Translated from the Greek, “Democracy” means “people power.” How much power do the people have in California?
Democracy is a 2,500-year-old system of government still looked on today as the best system, because under a democratic system, the people govern themselves. But is that all there is to it? What is democracy? And how does it work in California?


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From Our Media Allies

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Monterey County Weekly logo Every Day is Veterans Day at Places Like the American Legion

Monterey Peninsula American Legion Post 41 in Monterey dates back to 1919. Like other posts in the area—along with Veterans of Foreign Wars and other organizations focused on those who served—it is a gem too often overlooked.

Monterey County Weekly logo Monterey County Gives! Grows One Donor at a Time

The 2023 edition of Monterey County Gives! is out now. Last year, Monterey County Weekly and its partners raised more than $11 million in six weeks, thanks to 7,500 donors.

King City Rustler logo King City Farm Labor Contractors Receive Suspended Prison Sentences

Monterey County Judge Rafael Vasquez has sentenced King City residents and farm labor contractors Elias Perez Jr. and Alejandra Perez to three years in prison for insurance fraud committed between 2013 and 2017.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Greenfield Claims First Football Title in School’s History

Greenfield Bruins head football coach Adam Barsenas knew that his team always had the talent to be one of those that could compete for a league title year after year.

Monterey County Weekly logo This was a Good Year, but Steelhead on the Carmel River Remain in Decline

Just past 9am, a small team of employees from the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District begin staging equipment along a stretch of the Carmel River, just upstream from the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility.

Monterey County Weekly logo Appointment of Another Greenfield Councilmember Spurs Lawsuit

In less than two months, Greenfield’s District 1 has had three representatives. Now a lawsuit claims the latest appointment was done without proper notification, as required by the Brown Act.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Blue Zones Project Monterey County Hosts Diabetes Awareness Series

With a month-long series of events and activities, many taking place in South Monterey County, Blue Zones is committed to improving the health of the community.

Monterey County Weekly logo Big Sur Land Trust Acquires the 5,105-acre Basin Ranch

The Big Sur Land Trust, in its 45 years of existence, has now put over 45,000 acres of land into conservation—an average of more than 1,000 acres per year.

Salinas Valley Tribune logo Scheid Family Wines Earns BRCGS Food Safety Certification

Scheid Family Wines passed the BRC Global Food Safety Standard recertification audit—the state’s only alcohol beverage producer to hold the certification.

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Recent Local News

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• Hartnell Instructors Demand Better Working Conditions

Hartnell College Faculty Association members organized a rally at the Main Campus on Oct. 25 to protest against working conditions for part-time teachers and to ask administrators for improvements.

(11/09/2023) → Voices of Monterey Bay

• Emotions Run High at Budget Town Hall

About 150 students, staff and faculty had a chance to ask questions about California State University, Monterey Bay’s budget for the 2023/24 fiscal year at a Nov. 9 meeting.

(11/09/2023) → The Lutrinae

• Monterey Peninsula College Appoints Inclusivity Director

Monterey Peninsula College announced Jacinto M. Salazar III as the college’s inaugural director of inclusivity, equity, anti-racism and accessibility. “This appointment underscores the college’s dedication to addressing systemic inequalities,” the college stated.

(11/09/2023) → Monterey Herald

• Cheech and Chong Debut a Vodka With Santa Cruz Soul

The vodka—shaped like a water pipe and inspired in part by the movie “Up in Smoke”—is being made in partnership with Scotts Valley spirits house UBlendIt.

(11/07/2023) → Edible Monterey Bay
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Recent Statewide News

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• It's About to Get Easier for California College Students to Study in Their Own Language

Assembly Bill 1096, taking effect Jan. 1, will let community colleges in the state provide courses in non-English languages, regardless if a student is also taking ESL. Previously, a student had to sign up for the latter to qualify for the former.

(11/13/2023) → KQED

• Barbara Lee’s Lagging Senate Bid Doesn’t Equal Another House Term

Longtime Rep. Barbara Lee trails fellow representative Katie Porter and former Rep. Adam Schiff in their race for U.S. Senate. Lee still expressed determination to not seek a 14th term in the House, saying she’s running for Senate.

(11/13/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Community College Enrollment Rebounding Post-Pandemic, and Students Over 50 Are a Big Reason Why

California’s community colleges are seeing enrollment gains for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Older students—those over 50—are some of the first to return.

(11/12/2023) → CalMatters

• Tree Climbers Are Helping Replant California’s Forests

More than 1.5 million acres of forest have been burned or scarred in California. Climbers go high in trees to grab pine cones that could help in reforestation.

(11/09/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• A California Ranch Gets Nearly as Much Water as the Arizona City of Scottsdale

The Elmore Desert Ranch gets 22.5 billion gallons of water from the Colorado River, almost as much as is cleared for Scottsdale, Ariz. And that’s just a fraction of the 386.5 billion gallons from the river going to 19 other families in Imperial Valley.

(11/09/2023) → ProPublica

• That Wasn’t Aurora Borealis in the California Skies, But Something Else Unusual

A photographer captured a Stable Aurora Red, or SAR arc light display, on Nov. 5 in California. These displays are generally imperceptible to the human eye.

(11/08/2023) → SFGate

• UCLA Report: Young California Workers Face Challenges

A new report by the UCLA Labor Center finds that young workers in California face a variety of challenges. These include pay barely above minimum wage, discrimination, and high rents.

(11/08/2023) → LAist

• California’s Young Workers Are Essential to the Economy. Why are They Stuck in Low Wage Jobs?

Young people are stuck earning low wages, working long hours—often while going to school—and often without benefits or work protections. Their hardships may hamper the state’s economy for years to come, researchers say.

(11/08/2023) → CalMatters

• Capitol Gets its First Monument to California’s Indigenous Population

A statue of Miwok elder William J. Franklin has been installed on California State Capitol grounds. The monument replaces a statue of Father Junípero Serra, which protestors toppled in 2020.

(11/07/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Nearly One-Third of California Prisons Provide Inadequate Medical Care

An evaluation of 34 adult prisons in California by the Office of the Inspector General found that 11 provided inadequate medical care and 23 provided adequate care. None were deemed proficient, the top designation.

(11/07/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• UC Irvine-Led Science Team Shows How to Eat Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

In a study published in Nature Sustainability, scientists assessed the potential for wide-scale synthetic production of dietary fats. The raw materials are the same as those used by plants: hydrogen in water and carbon dioxide in the air.

(11/06/2023) → YubaNet

• A Proposed Development Might Threaten California’s Oldest Tree

A shrubby Palmer oak tree in Riverside County is around 13,000 years old, making it California’s oldest tree and one of the longest-lived organisms on earth. Some people are concerned that a proposed development could threaten the tree.

(11/06/2023) → Los Angeles Times
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Seaside seal. City of Seaside   (11/10/2023)

Inclement Weather Notice

Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (11/10/2023)

Marina Fire Department Responds to Structure Fire, Rescues Family Pet

Marina Fire Department Responds to Structure Fire, Rescues Family Pet
Image of City of Seaside seal. City of Seaside   (11/09/2023)

CONSTRUCTION NOTICE - Drainage Inlet Improvement Project

Monterey Peninsula Engineering will start construction of the FY 2023/2024 Drainage Inlet Improvement Project on November 27, 2023, for the City of Seaside.
Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (11/09/2023)

Armed Robbery with a Firearm Arrest and UPDATE

Image of City of Monterey seal. City of Monterey   (11/09/2023)

Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Hit and Run

Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (11/07/2023)

MARINA POLICE ARREST SUBJECT FOR ASSAULT WITH DEADLY WEAPON AFTER HE CHASES MULTIPLE VICTIMS WITH LA

MARINA POLICE ARREST SUBJECT FOR ASSAULT WITH DEADLY WEAPON AFTER HE CHASES MULTIPLE VICTIMS WITH LARGE MACHETE -
Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (11/06/2023)

Marina Police Administer Narcan to Save Lives of Two Persons -

Marina Police Administer Narcan to Save Lives of Two Persons -
Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (11/06/2023)

Marina Police Arrest Juvenile Vandalism Suspect Who Caused Over $2000 in Damages -

MARINA POLICE ARRESTS JUVENILE VANDALISM SUSPECT WHO CAUSED OVER $2000 IN DAMAGE-
Image of City of Marina seal. City of Marina   (11/05/2023)

Marina Police Arrest Felony Hit and Run / DUI Suspect -

Marina Police Officers Arrest Suspect for Felony Hit and Run and Felony DUI After He Flees Scene of Collision -
Image of City of Seaside seal. City of Seaside   (11/03/2023)

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