I am hard-pressed to think of any significant initiatives or accomplishments achieved by the current Mayor and City Council during the past four years.  The Conference Center renovations have been completed, but at nearly double the original budget and way behind schedule.  Measure P was approved by the voters and implemented, but now the Council wants more to fix the roads that should have been covered by prudent planning and use of the general fund money.  At the same time, this Council has adopted a policy of taking budget and business actions in closed sessions, has failed to address the growing problem of campaign money influence on elections, and has ignored the workforce housing crisis.  I believe that, with my experience and understanding of those issues, I can provide the leadership to move the Council and the City forward with active solutions now and for the future.

Open, Transparent Government.  In the past two years, our current Mayor and Council majority have adopted a policy of deciding important property management decisions in closed session without informing the public.  For some important decisions, the only way for the pubic to discover what the Council has decided is to make a Public Records Request.  This is totally unacceptable!  In my opinion, this constitutes a return to the days of backroom deals, leads to ill-formed decisions and a lack of accountability.  In too many cases, this policy has resulted in below-market Waterfront leases, depriving our residents of much needed revenue from our Tidelands property.  If elected, I will immediately discontinue this policy, work to minimize closed sessions, and insist on proper procedures for genuine and necessary confidential discussions, with full public disclosure and opportunity for public input before any decision becomes final. Read more

AFFORDABLE/WORKFORCE HOUSING.  The crisis of Affordable workforce housing shortage in Monterey has been growing for more than decade.  A city where the people who work here and who grow up here cannot afford to live here cannot long sustain itself.  If we do not initiate solutions immediately, we are in grave danger of becoming a “resort city” that has little sense of community and the rich cultural heritage that is ours.  Clyde Roberson leads a faction of this community with a negative attitude toward renters and apartment developments.  While  my opponent has actively opposed mixed use and increased density that are required to address the problem, I support realistic solutions involving increased density in select areas of the City and mixed uses (retail and residential) in new or existing retail buildings.  I propose active initiatives to address the growing problem by revising some of our zoning laws and taking advantage of State legislation than could provide funding to assist the proper development of affordable and inclusionary housing. Read more

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.  In recent years, campaign financing in Monterey has grown way out of proportion to the needs of citizen politicians in this relatively small city of 28,000.  For example, one candidate for City Council raised over $53,000 in his first-time campaign in 2016. That represents nearly $2 for every citizen in Monterey, and over $7 for every registered voter.  For a part time job that pays only $500 or so per month, it is easy to conclude that the purpose of such disproportionate donations is to buy influence.  Indeed, the case can be made that donations did influence Council voting in the past four years.  I will propose and push a campaign finance reform ordinance that would require that a council member recuse his or herself from voting on any matter before the Council that involves an individual campaign donor of $500 or more. Read more

Budget/Financial Issues.   The number of city employees earning more than $200,000 per year has mushroomed almost 200% during Clyde Roberson’s tenure as Mayor, yet key management positions remain unfilled.  Our pension liability problem grows inexorably as lower management type employees are allowed to “game the system” for the purpose of allowing them to retire in some cases on a pension that is more than their base salary.  Budget hearings, which used to consume several hearings each Spring, are now little more than rubber-stamped by this Council.  Instead of defunding our civic institutions such as First Night, the 4thof July parade and fireworks display, and Christmas celebrations, as past Councils have done, I believe there is money to be found to reinstate and sustain them.  Whether making difficult decisions to reduce generous executive salaries and overtime compensation, or discontinuing subsidies to prosperous businesses on the Waterfront, an active Council must be more diligent in insisting that it receive choices and be able to make them. I am not a retired government employee, can read and understand a budget, and have the business experience that is lacking with Mr. Roberson to insure your tax dollars are well spent. Read more

Property Management.  The City administration of our real estate assets has been ineffectual.  That is particularly so with our public Tidelands Trust property on the Waterfront.  Due to failure to follow our City Charter or provide open public bidding, the City has entered into terrible leases with a few private merchants that have, and will continue, to cost the public millions of dollars in lost rental income.  I blew the whistle on this sorry situation in 2010, and have the expertise and experience to guide the City’s property management to a sound and fair business footing. Read more

 Downtown Specific Plan.  As a member of the Planning Commission, I helped to draft the Goals and Objectives of the Downtown Specific Plan in 2012  and worked diligently to move it to completion. The final Plan won an award from the California League of Cities, but this City Council and Mayor have done nothing to implement it.  This comprehensive document provides for better traffic circulation to make the downtown more accessible, updated parking plans, and highlighting landmark features will reinvigorate the downtown to its historic character before we walled off the downtown from the Waterfront in 1977.  The problems of a moribund downtown have been talked about for many years.  The time is now to implement the changes.  A coherent, realistic strategy to fund the improvements called for in the Plan must be developed and put on a timeline to accomplish the salutary benefits made possible in the Plan. Read more

Waterfront Master Plan.  Historically, Monterey has been a waterfront town.  In 1939, the City adopted a General Plan that preserved that character, and further provided that there be no parking along the waterfront.  Through the efforts of self-serving commercial interests, the City abandoned that well-reasoned plan, which resulted in the massive surface parking lot that today covers some of the most valuable real estate in California.  I have worked tirelessly over six years to develop a new Master Plan for the Waterfront that will more integrate the waterfront with the Downtown, and return much of our waterfront to a park-like setting, with an entrance to be a landmark.  I will carry through with the hopeful prospects for the plan, and its implementation.  There is money to be found to buildout the Plan in the Tidelands Trust Fund, currently $5.2 million, and I will provide the leadership to make these funds available. Read more 

Historic Adobes and Buildings.   Our historic properties in the downtown have become shuttered during most of the year due to lack of State Park funding.  State Parks is amenable to a partnership to accomplish this, and the City needs to take the lead in organizing a program of private/public partnerships to improve these properties (e.g. the First Theater) and provide volunteer staffing to keep them open.  Finally, we need to establish a non-profit charitable civic foundation to receive tax-deductible donations to create a fund for financing civic activities in the future, rather than relying on the general fund in tight economic times.  With my experience in negotiating with the State Parks and my service on the Old Monterey Foundation Board, I will provide the leadership to move both of these objectives to completion. Read more