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Guest Column by Nick Bulaich

By Emilio, on Apr 1, 2012

Guest Column by Nick Bulaich to "The Watsonville Fishing Report"

The City of Watsonville wants you to believe a "vacancy" can be "occupied."  I know, you think this is an April Fool's joke, but this really happened.

When motel operators light up their "vacancy" sign out front, it is to inform the public that there is an empty room available for the night.  We all know the word "vacancy" means something is "empty" or "unoccupied", but watch out if someone gives some attorneys enough money to make an argument that a commonly understood word can have a totally different definition.

Back in 2010, Councilman Luis Alejo submitted a letter to the City stating his intention to resign from the City Council.  Rather than actually vacate his seat, Alejo stated his resignation would only become effective at the same time of the appointment of his replacement.  Using such logic meant that the seat was never really empty.

Before the City Council voted for Alejo's replacement, Councilman Emilio Martinez, Kathleen Morgan Martinez, and Ken Adelman filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop this crazy idea of a resigning council member being allowed to vote for his own replacement before the seat is empty.

For unexplained reasons, the City hired an expensive out-of-town law firm to defend their shaky case.  The pricey law firm basically threw the City Attorney's legal argument out the window in order to push a new theory in which they claimed the "vacancy" occurred on the day that Alejo submitted his resignation letter to the City.  This argument means Alejo's Council seat could be "vacant" and "occupied" at the same time.  I'm not kidding.

Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Tim Volkmann ruled in the City's favor by essentially saying if a councilman states his resignation becomes effective at the same time his replacement is picked, then a resigning councilman can vote for his own replacement for a seat that is not empty.  Now we have a judge saying there can be an "occupied vacancy."

Then things got weirder.  After the City got a judge to support their "occupied vacancy" argument, the City Attorney basically went back to saying a vacancy does not happen until the replacement is picked.  Is Judge Volkmann aware of this flip-flopping by the City?

The City's law firm essentially claimed that the majority Council can do what they want for "vacancies."  This means if one council member who is not kissing up to the majority bloc decides to resign, he might be denied the chance to vote for his replacement if the majority votes against it.  So this new "occupied vacancy" rule only applies to preferred council members.

Just recently, Councilman Manuel Bersamin announced his intention to resign from the City Council and he used the same absurd wording in his resignation letter as used by Alejo.  Once again we saw a council member saying he will only give up his seat at the exact same moment his replacement is selected, and once again the City Attorney gave a different opinion on when the "vacancy" occurred.  What is going on in this City?

Thoughts on things that make you say ‘Ow’

By Emilio, on Sep 19, 2011

This is one of Steve Bankhead’s “Historic” Op-Ed’s. Mr. Bankhead was kind enough to give the Fishing Report permission to reprint a Register-Pajaronian Opinion of March 11, 2011.

Thoughts on things that make you say ‘Ow’

Friday, Mar 11th, 2011

 In his March 8 letter to the editor, Elias Alonzo complained of a “duo of City Council members in alignment with an aging old guard and elitist attempt to prevent the development of a 2,000-job business park.”

That would be the proposed Manabe-Ow project. It’s unfortunate that in his haste, Mr. Alonzo neglected to mention the fact he’s a longtime lobbyist for Ow family developments.

Mr. Alonzo’s letter concluded by saying Watsonville will survive the “onslaught” of these two council members and their arthritic allies, saying progress will be made “one funeral at a time.”

That created the disturbing image of a political clique checking obituaries for names of the community’s old guard, eagerly awaiting the day that enough will be gone to leave them free to have their way with the city.

I doubt there are plans for them to speed the dying process. Come to think of it, though, their fluoridation of our water might increase the incidence of osteoporosis. A flurry of broken hips among us old coots might help fast track the new guard’s agenda.

The “duo” alluded to in the Alonzo letter are council members Nancy Bilicich and Emilio Martinez. They’re the same unruly scamps who refused to march in step with other council members on fluoridation. As for his accusation of them attempting to prevent  job development, apparently haste can also cause a person to confuse facts. I doubt anybody wants to prevent this project, except possibly Wetlands Watch or the Sierra Club, due to its location in a slough area. If any developer can conjure jobs from the site, more strength to them.


By Emilio, on Jun 20, 2011

This article was written by Steve Bankhead. Steve Bankhead is a Watsonville resident and longtime contributor to the Register-Pajaronian.  

I’m still trying to decipher the code of ethics discussion at the June 14 city council meeting. Of course, Mayor Daniel Dodge’s support for killing its punishment phase makes perfect sense ... retain it long enough to slap Councilman Emilio Martinez around for the sake of addressing the complaints of Elias and Heidi Alonzo, who funneled $3,000 into the mayor’s council campaign ... and then support killing it when he becomes the target. After all, it’s never pleasant to be hoisted on ones own petard.

Then, however, Councilman Hurst urged preserving the punishment part of the ethics code, while also pushing for a vote to find Dodge innocent of any transgressions. Since there was little or no guarantee of other members voting that way after the ad hoc committee recommended at least an admonishment, I could imagine Dodge thinking: “Thanks a lot for the support, Lowell, but shut the heck up!”

Mayor’s Words Expose His Own Partisan Bias

By Emilio, on Jun 1, 2011

This article was written by Steve Bankhead. Steve Bankhead is a Watsonville resident and longtime contributor to the Register-Pajaronian.  


A Unethical Investigation into the Code of Ethics - By Steve Bankhead

By Anonymous, on Apr 25, 2011

I dislike writing on the same subject too often. I have columns planned regarding a local cartoonist, Asian and American pyramids, and other subjects; but before I can complete one of them, the local council majority does or says something demanding more immediate attention. That’s happened again, so once more unto the breach, dear friends ...

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