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Columns
January 4-10, 2006

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Nūz

Tree Reprieve!

In a surprise twist, San Jose Water Company has withdrawn its plan to log 1,000 acres on the Los Gatos Creek watershed. The move comes after Metro Santa Cruz's recent story on the logging plan ("Razing California," Dec. 21) exposed potential risks the timber harvest could pose to fire safety, water quality and the lifestyle of over 4,000 people living near the logging zone. This is a huge victory for residents opposed to the proposal, who formed NAIL (Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging) and then went on to put one in the coffin of the company's plan, at least for the time being. In the past four months, NAIL members have collected over 2,000 petition signatures, presented their concerns to county supervisors and held community meetings with hundreds attending. "The plan to harvest the watershed was deeply flawed and poorly executed from the very beginning," NAIL members wrote in their response to San Jose Water's press release. San Jose Water said it will resubmit the logging proposal in the spring of 2006 after it completes a fire protection study and provides further information to the California Department of Forestry. Jodi Frediani, the consultant hired by NAIL to analyze the 450-page document, said CDF should have never accepted it for filing in the first place. The state agency needed clarification on 100 items after the first review—evidence, Frediani believes, of the proposal's shortcomings. CDF official Leslie Markham told Metro Santa Cruz it's not unusual to have so many questions about logging plans of this size. Meanwhile, NAIL is taking this opportunity to plug for an alternative, urging San Jose Water to seek a conservation easement on its property.

Spies Like Us

It seems Santa Cruz has been attracting possibly more than its fair share of spies as of late, and Nüz isn't quite sure whether we should be pissed about the intrusions or flattered by the attention.

First, there was the recent revelation of the Defense Department documents, which revealed thousands of "incidents" that had been secretly monitored—many of which were antiwar protests. One of the incidents listed in the database profiled UCSC's Students Against the War protest of military recruitment at a university job fair back in April of this year.

More recently, allegations have sprung up that the Santa Cruz Police Department sent undercover agents into the so-called "unplanning" meetings of Last Night Santa Cruz, the ad-hoc group that set out to create a do-it-yourself New Year's Eve parade. Early on, organizers decided that they weren't going to apply for a special event permit in order to avoid the costs and restrictions associated with them. And it was no secret. Rico Thunder contacted all the local newspapers and set up a website for the project. Lt. Rudy Escalante indicated to Nüz that they were indeed aware of the group and its intentions, but said that "unfortunately, [the paraders] have not contacted us yet."

According to Thunder, the police decided to find out for themselves what was going on by sending undercover cops to "infiltrate" meetings. As of presstime, the police could not be reached to confirm or deny Thunder's suspicion, but Thunder is convinced he's right.

To start with, Thunder says, "They were just kind of bro dudes, surfer guys, which in a surfer town is not that surprising, but given the people who were involved in making the Last Night parade, it was a little different."

The Last Nighters got more suspicious of 'Tim' and 'Wes' when they found that the phone numbers and email addresses were, according to Thunder, "bogus."

Thunder says some members of the group consulted friends at the Police Department, and were told that they'd been "monitored."

"We were shocked and surprised and sort of a combination of upset and flattered," says Thunder. "We're not really starting a revolution today. We're just helping the city put on a parade, maybe build some community, and help people create their own entertainment and space."

The apparent revelation gave the Last Nighters pause as they thought back on what they said and did at the two meetings Tim and Wes attended. According to Thunder, they're not that worried about it.

"One thing that we thought of," says Thunder, "is that we probably wouldn't have been so frank about how we intended to deal with police, but all in all we didn't have anything to hide, so there wasn't any real regret or anything."

Nevertheless, the Last Nighters hid that last Last Night meeting from Tim and Wes by changing the location from the Cooper House Breezeway to the Wired Wash Café, notifying everyone via email. Accompanied by a sneaky photographer, Thunder met Tim and Wes in the breezeway and chatted with them while the photographer snuck some grainy pictures. When no one else showed up, Tim and Wes went their way and Thunder went to the Wired Wash, where he facilitated a meeting of about 20 people interested in contributing to the event—none of whom looked even remotely surferish.

Boxing Barbara

Meanwhile, Nüz notes that U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has been voicing concerns about George W. Bush's Dec. 16 admission that he personally authorized domestic surveillance without a court order, and has sent a letter to four presidential scholars—Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School, Bruce Ackerman, Yale University, Susan Low Bloch, Georgetown University Law Center, and Michael Gerhardt, College of William and Mary School of Law—asking for their input about the statement of former White House Counsel John Dean, who was President Richard Nixon's counsel at the time of Watergate, that President Bush admitted to an "impeachable offense" when he said he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without getting a warrant from a judge.

"I take very seriously Mr. Dean's comments, as I view him to be an expert on Presidential abuse of power. I am expecting a full airing of this matter by the Senate in the very near future," wrote Boxer. "This startling assertion by Mr. Dean is especially poignant because he experienced first hand the executive abuse of power and a presidential scandal arising from the surveillance of American citizens. ... Unchecked surveillance of American citizens is troubling to both me and many of my constituents."

Go, Barbara, go. And while we're on the topic of Nixon, Nüz can't help remembering, as we head into the sixth year of the Bush regime, that Tricky Dicky resigned in 1974, in the face of an imminent impeachment trial—and possible removal from office—after being charged by the House Judiciary Committee with "high crimes and misdemeanors"—leaving office with more than two years of his second term left to run. Hmmm.

Only one problem with this scenario: Nixon was succeeded by his VP, which in the case of Dubya's resigning would mean we'd be left with Dick 'I Do Torture' Cheney as our commander-in-chief.

Happy (gulp) New Year!


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