In his scathing report on a retaliatory Facebook post made by City Councilmember Drew Glover, San Jose-based investigator Timothy L. Davis clearly thought the debacle merited discussion—especially in light of Glover’s repeated violations of the city’s Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy.
“I am recommending that the council be apprised of this development for further consideration and that you conduct yourself in a manner to adhere to the spirit and letter of the policy,” investigator Davis wrote in December.
Since then, it’s been mostly radio silence from the city on this topic. Apparently, though, Vice Mayor Donna Meyers and Councilmember Martine Watkins have been trying to get a discussion about the matter on the council agenda for more than two months. The issue came up in a public way at the Feb. 11 council meeting, when public commenters talked about the Davis investigation—the existence of which has been reported by local media, including GT. After that, Meyers made a motion requesting the council agendize a discussion about the report for the next meeting. But there were four other councilmembers who wanted to instead wait until after the March election. Those four were Mayor Justin Cummings, Sandy Brown and also Glover and Chris Krohn, who are both facing a recall on the March 3 ballot.
The council ultimately voted, with Watkins and Meyers dissenting, to wait until after the election to discuss the matter. Although Watkins and Meyers had been trying to start a discussion about the Davis report since last year, Krohn accused them of merely crafting “political ploy” in light of the March election.
“You just wanted it to be before the election for a political thing, yeah,” Krohn told Meyers, laughing at her in a sneering tone, after he got his way.
Here’s the thing: Davis clearly thought Glover’s behavior was a serious matter that should be dealt with. He did not mention the need to kick the can down the road for three months, nor did he cite any reason to wait until after an election in March. But fine, let’s follow Krohn’s line of thinking for a sec. Trying to have an informed discussion about a councilmember’s poor conduct is somehow a political ploy… but protecting the same councilmember from repercussions for months on end, because of an upcoming election, isn’t?
If you didn’t know what to look for while scanning the latest round of election financials, you might think the anti-recall group was gaining a bit of ground in the money game.
Stop the Recalls raised more than $7,000 this year, as of Feb. 15. That’s more than three times as much as Santa Cruz United, the group officially organizing the recall, took in over that time. Stop the Recalls has also spent more money so far this year. Here’s why that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story: Santa Cruz United has far more cash on hand right now. And on top of that, the anti-rent control group Santa Cruz Together, which is helping to bankroll the recall, has raked in a whopping $31,000 so far this year.
It’s worth mentioning a talking point from recall opponents that out-of-town developer interests are funding the effort. That’s mostly myth. But piles of cash are nonetheless pouring in from local landlords and property management companies. And the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, which owns the Beach Boardwalk, a couple hotels and some other properties, chipped in $3,000 to Santa Cruz Together’s coffers a month ago.
All told, Santa Cruz United and Santa Cruz Together have raised a combined $176,000 since the start of 2019.
“Damn, it feels good to be a landlord,” said the landlords.
Enough with the blunt political instruments, already.
First, there was the divisive campaigning—followed by divisive City Counciling—of Chris Krohn and later Drew Glover. There was, of course, the 2018 rent control campaign, which was an extreme way to address some symptoms of the housing crisis (that effort was at least well-intentioned). Then, there was the recall, which was a mean-spirited, less-than-stellar way to turn up the heat on two mean-spirited, less-than-stellar councilmembers. And now, there’s apparently talk of circulating a ballot measure to require voter approval before building a new parking garage downtown.
Will these antics of one-upmanship ever end? Anti-growth activists already love posting up at the farmers market, handing out leaflets and yelling out half-truths. “Do you want to sign to save the farmers market and prevent it from being turned into a parking garage?” they ask passersby. These activists usually either downplay or forget to mention the fact that the farmers market would simply move one block away to a brand-spanking new permanent pavilion … and also how the city has plans to consolidate surface parking around downtown for new housing, creating demand for new spaces … and additionally that the first floor of the hypothetical mixed-use parking structure would be a library. (Liberal anti-garage activists are, by the way, the same people who complained about lying petitioners working on the recall campaign.)
Nuz honestly hates cars and definitely supports cutting carbon emissions. But the opinion from an insular group of obstructionist activists that Santa Cruz should never, ever build another parking space is the transportation equivalent of burning down your house because you’d like to get outside more. Seriously, even if you don’t like the idea of parking garages, there are ways to build a mixed-use structure with a state-of-the-art library, extra housing, retail, and maybe even way less parking. We should be thinking about the broader context, which is the future of downtown that would give so many people what they want. Good policymaking is positive-sum, not zero-sum. It gives us the best of both worlds, not the worst.
Regardless of where this possible campaign goes, the mere threat of it could be enough to tie up Santa Cruz and prevent it from fully weighing its options for building housing and creating a better downtown. What’s clear is that this pull-out-all-the-stops political gamesmanship has become commonplace among activists and special-interest groups, even when the facts aren’t on their side. You see the trend among anti-housing coalitions. You see it with the anti-harm reduction crowd. And you see it in portions of Santa Cruz’s far-left wing. They stopped caring about making this area a better place long ago
They just want their side to win.