[Hpn] Homeless Activist Sues Santa Cruz Mayor

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 12 Sep 2000 00:40:26 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  From: "Becky Johnson" <wmnofstl@cruzio.com>
     To: "Street Spirit" <spirit@afsc.org>


Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom
309 Cedar St. PMB 14B  Santa Cruz, Ca. USA 95060
(831) 423-HUFF fax (831) 429-8529 e-mail Wmnofstl@cruzio.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 11,  2000

Norse Sues Mayor Keith Sugar

Entire council named for Brown Act Violations
at the Santa Cruz City Council at June 27th  Meeting

Santa Cruz, Ca.  Activist Robert Norse filed a lawsuit with the  Santa Cruz
County Superior Court this afternoon against Mayor Keith  Sugar & the
entire Santa Cruz City Council for what he says are a  long series of Brown
Act violations and bad policy decisions which have had the  effect of
stifling public comment.

"We have seen an increasing tendency of this council to cut public
commentary short, to treat some speakers more preferentially than others,
and to  hold a different standard for speakers who are critical of their
acts and  policies," Norse commented shortly after ponying up the $188
filing  fee. "The trend to conduct meetings doing city business behind
closed doors  is profoundly undemocratic."

Some of Sugars repressive policies border on paranoia, said  homeless
activist Becky Johnsona supporter of the lawsuit.  "The Mayor said hed
arrest Norse for bringing a small  gold-painted bedside commode into
Council chambers," said Johnson.  "The content of our speech was to present
a "Golden Potty Award; an  award Councilmembers obviously would have
preferred not receive." The award  was a token of recognition for Councils
refusal to implement the February  1999 Council resolution authorizing
dumpsters and portapotties in the industrial  zones after nearly 16 months
of delay or in the Safe Zones after the May  23rd first reading.

The suit alleges that Mayor Sugar repeatedly interrupts speakers at public
comment periods and has had speakers critical of him taken away by police
and  detained. Also sued is Councilmember Katherine Beiers for illegally
proposing a motion without adequate public notice. Her early morning motion
to  kill the Safe Sleeping Zones for homeless people violated Section
54954.2 (a) of  the Brown Act by not letting the public know what was
happening before it was  rushed through.

The Council voted for Safe Sleeping Zones for its homeless people in the
industrial zones of the City on May 23rd. At 1:15 am on June 28th,  with 3
people in the audience, Beiers and Councilmember Michael  Rotkin moved to
kill the Sleeping Zones without providing any alternatives  for the Citys
1500 homeless people and without giving documentation of  the reasons for
their actions.

The suit also calls for Mercy Charities Housing [MCH], Santa  Cruz
sole-source developer of affordable housing to hold open meetings of  its
advisory board in accordance with the Brown Act since it receives  City
funding, the Mayor sits on its board and votes. If MCH  enforces income
requirements, criminal record bars, credit checks, no  past eviction
requirements, & density restrictions, scores of Latino  families could be
forced from affordable housing to homelessness.

Norse has sent City Council three other letters, itemizing Brown Act
violations, including a new letter written and sent to City Hall two hours
after  he filed the Writ of Mandamus. "These politicians dont read their
letters, but they know a subpoena when they see one."


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