By Emilio, on Jul 16, 2012

The city has been hit with a demand of 1.8 million dollars from the state’s California Department of Finance (money the city does not have) and now come to find out the city may not be able to recoup 1.2 million dollars it loaned to our Redevelopment Agency from our General Fund. The possibility of bankruptcy is not out of the equation.   

The abolishment of Redevelopment Agencies (RDA) by Gov. Brown have caused many cities in California additional monetary burdens, but here in Watsonville mismanagement seems to be more the culprit.

To better comprehend what happened after Gov. Brown pulled the RDA rug from underneath cities, here is how the City of Watsonville explains it on their website:

“The California Supreme Court recently issued a decision upholding Assembly Bill 1X 26, abolishing redevelopment agencies statewide. As a result, the City of Watsonville transferred the powers and assets of the Redevelopment Agency to the City, which will serve now as Successor Agency. The Successor Agency is required to take a number of actions to dissolve each agency, complete the Agency’s projects, and liquidate its assets. And, “Assembly Bill 1X26 requires each successor agency to have an oversight board composed of seven (7) members. The members shall elect one of their members as the chairperson.”

The seven member Oversight Board consists of Mayor Eduardo Montesino, who was appointed Chair, former Police Chief Terry Medina (appointed by County Supervisor Greg Caput), County Supervisor Ellen Pirie, Watsonville Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantzis, Trustee, Cabrillo Community College Margarita Cortez, Santa Cruz County of Education Brett McFadden, and Supervisor, County of Santa Cruz Greg Caput.

While conducting due diligence, as city council members should do, I found a letter from Santa Cruz County Auditor Controller Mary Jo Walker to Mr. Mark Hill, the Program Manager for the California Department of Finance. In her letter, whereupon she is contesting the 1.8 million the state wants from Watsonville, she states that “Watsonville had $1.2 million negative cash as of January 1, excluding the December tax distribution.” And, “But since AB X126 disallowed interagency loans, their City General Fund will not get reimbursed for that $1.2 million ‘loan’ to their RDA this past December”.

So, the city loaned George Ow $700,000 from Redevelopment Agency funds to develop the Manabe-Ow property into supposedly a Business Park, but the funds actually came from the General Fund? Who else did the city loan money to from Redevelopment funds that actually were from the General Fund because $500,000 is still unaccounted for from the 1.2 million dollar loan the Redevelopment Agency received from the city?

And, if the city is going to face bankruptcy shouldn’t developer/property owner George Ow repay the loan ASAP?


Annexation Plan, Costco, and Jobs all on A Holding Pattern?

City Council Member Daniel Dodge, who supposedly told Planning Commissioner Trina Coffman-Gomez that he guaranteed her to win if she ran for a city council seat, could not come up with the needed 1,500 signatures to annex the Sakata-Kett properties. Rumor has it that he didn’t even get 500 signatures. So, no Costco and no jobs, again, but at least we will know how Planning Commissioner Coffman Gomez is going to vote….like “Danny” does? She calls him Danny, not Daniel. 

But, I do have to agree with Planning Commissioner Coffman-Gomez, I have missed many city council meetings and possibly have missed more meetings than any other city council member in history. Rather than sitting at council meetings giving out Proclamations after Proclamations, instead I spent hours assuring future council members that they receive the Agenda and Expenditure Reports in a timely manner. And, almost 3 years after the city issued a $225,000 check for a fire truck, I found it and we finally got it here…not that it works all the time, but hey it’s a great 4th of July Parade machine. Then there was the time I caught the city using $18,000 petty cash money to pay Bandas who performed at last year’s Strawberry Festival. Both the fire truck and petty cash were addressed (the fire truck twice) by the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury in their 2011 and 2012 Reports. The Grand Jury Reports are, in essence, report cards and evaluations.

On the subject of the Grand Jury Report released last month, I wrote an e-mail to Planning Commissioner Coffman-Gomez asking what she thought about the Grand Jury Report because of the lack of transparency in Watsonville the report so noted. She responded, “I have not seen it not knew one was completed. Do you have a link to its location?” Hmm…Danny didn’t clue her in about the Report, how the city is in financial Dire Straits, that we had $225,000 floating around for almost 3years like petty cash at a Strawberry Festival, and that maybe the city soon won’t be able to afford paying city council members their $5,000 annual salary? Welcome Aboard to the Watsonville Train Commissioner Coffman
Gomez-first stop is Stockton, then on to San Berdo and the final stop at Visalia.

But before my term is over I will guarantee that Watsonville will not handle business as usual again. I kept my promise to the people who voted for me…that I was not a politician but a businessman and that I would find out why Watsonville is such a mess. I did, the Grand Jury substantiated some of my findings along with my concern that the city is seriously lacking transparency. And there is much more as to why Watsonville sticks out like a sore thumb with its historical state leading unemployment rates, the litter, the weeds, and empty down town. A once beautiful and business thriving city reduced to the embarrassment of the county and surrounding region. I just may have to write a book about it….Consent Agenda.  


By Emilio, on Jun 29, 2012

This year’s (2011-2012) Grand Jury Report is out and once again the lack of transparency in Watsonville is the major topic.

Last year’s Grand Jury Report was summarized in this year’s report, “…the City of Watsonville had not been found conducting its business in a professional way: one that is transparent in all its dealings, and one that gives all relevant information needed by elected officials to be able to make informed decisions”.

I don’t want to buff my apple but I knew Watsonville lacked transparency before I was elected to the city council. What I didn’t know was what the city was hiding. What I do know, as a licensed private investigator, is that when, for example, a city manager quashes attempts to gain information or resorts to retaliation to quiet those who question his conduct, he does so to hide incompetence, misconduct, and/ or wrongdoing.

Members of the Grand Jury are fortunate they haven’t had to face retaliation as I have almost every time I questioned our city manager. There was the time George Ow Lobbyist Elias Alonzo alleged that I made a threatening phone call to him.  Well, his wife made the allegation but I never spoke to her-it was an obvious set up. My wife Kathleen was standing next to me when I had the telephone conversation with Alonzo. And, Alonzo and I had many telephone conversations before the alleged threating phone call, which he initiated in his attempt to persuade me to agree with the development of the Manabe-Ow property. What prompted Alonzo’s allegation? I witnessed him and George Ow meeting with our city manager.

This is the same George Ow the city recently handed $700,000.00 of Redevelopment Agency Money. Wait until the State of California finds out we gave that money to Ow without first gaining their approval designating the property as “blight” which is what that money was intended for-to fix dilapidated buildings. There are no buildings on Ow’s farmland property. 

When I was sanctioned by the city council for the alleged phone call to Alonzo, the Santa Cruz Sentinel made sure that the story was in the front page of the second section unlike today’s story about the Grand Jury Report which is buried some place in the back.  You might have a better chance of finding an egg at an Easter Egg Hunt without huevos. Fair and accurate reporting?

This year’s Grand Jury Report focused on two items. The $18,000.00 “Petty Cash” used to pay Bandas who performed at last year’s Strawberry Festival and the gift that keeps on giving, the ole burr in our city manager’s’ saddle, Fire Ladder Truck #4471.  

In their report, the Grand Jury wrote, “Incomplete, inaccurate, and inaccessible information, and lack of transparency continue to be issues for the City of Watsonville.”  City Manager Palacios was quoted in yesterday’s Sentinel in response to the fire ladder truck with “In the end, it turned out fine and it’s a good thing for our community”. I would like to hear an opinion from the fire personnel who have to drive and operate the fire truck, but it seems that they have been told not to discuss the truck with yours truly. Intimidation/Retaliation tactic by City Manager Palacios? Again?

What City Manager Palacios has not provided, after repeated requests, is the amount of money the city has paid to date for repairs to the fire ladder truck. Why?   More about the Grand Jury Report in the next Fishing Report.

A Winnie In The Hand Is Better Than In N Out? or a Hot Dog Town?

Remember not too long ago when many of us were excited about the possibility of having an In N Out Burger on Highway 1? Well, instead it seems that a Wienerschnitzel is moving in. A Dar Winnie instead of a hot and juicy In N Out Burger? Another Dollar Store in our downtown and the Pawn Shop is expanding, while the old Gottschalk’s building still sits empty …boy aren’t we a fine example of a well-managed city?

Can you imagine the conversation between some tourists in a car zipping by on Highway 1 thinking of getting a bite to eat? Mom, dad, brother, sister, and hard of hearing and almost blind grandma?

“Hey we’re getting close to Watsonville.….who’s hungry?

“Did he say Watsonbell?”

“Ville, not bell grandma”.

“There’s a Wienerschnitzel!”

“Wienersville? What kind of name is that for a city?” I like Taco Bell tacos. That’s what I want.”

“No grandma, it’s Watsonville and Wienerschnitzel, not Watsonbell and Taco Bell.
“What? They named their city Taco Bell? They must be nuts….keep driving… let’s get something to eat in Monterey.”

“Hey there’s the Whole Enchilada.”


By Emilio, on May 18, 2012

How does Watsonville compare to other similar cities in the region when it comes to salaries, unemployment rates, and performance?

After almost four years on the city council and having experience as a Human Resources (Personnel) professional I am of the self-serving opinion that I can evaluate some of our city staff’s performance. 

Compensation based on performance, what seems an antiquated and forgotten manner of conducting business in the public sector, could solve some our city’s problems. But, let’s take a look at some statistics to gather some insight before we venture into attempting finding a solution to our city’s financial looming crisis.  

Unemployment Rates

According to the 2012 Department of Labor statistics Watsonville has the highest unemployment rate in the entire state with a whopping 27.7%. El Centro used to hold the state title for the highest unemployment rate for the past few years with 27.2% until Watsonville pulled ahead this year. In comparison, Santa Cruz has an 11.5% unemployment rate and Gilroy has a 13.5% unemployment rate. 

Compensation Comparisons of City Employees (according to State Controller stats) 

City Managers  

Carlos Palacios, Watsonville $200,700.00 Unemployment Rate: 27.7%

From Gilroy $194,708.00 Unemployment Rate: 13.5%

From Santa Cruz $183,879.00 Unemployment Rate  11.5%

City Clerks

Beatriz Flores, Watsonville $110,000.00 27.7% unemployment rate

Santa Cruz $107,000.00 11.5% unemployment rate 

Gilroy $ 93,839.00 13.5% unemployment rate

Parks & Rec. Directors

Anna Espinosa, Watsonville $131,335.00 Ramsey Park in poor condition.

Gilroy $ 80,109.00 Gilroy has won more park design awards from the California Park and Recreation Society than any other city in California

Santa Cruz $159,111.00 32 parks-open spaces & the beach.

Have you been in either Gilroy or Santa Cruz lately? Gilroy just built a new large library, the city has manicured landscaping and gang violence has been remarkably reduced. Santa Cruz with its large city-type environment and Beach and Boardwalk is a national attraction. Watsonville? It has twice the unemployment rate of either Gilroy (pop. 52,000) and Santa Cruz (pop.59,000) our downtown is almost empty, it is littered, weeds grow uncontrollably throughout our city, and gang violence is escalating yet we compensate our city manager, city clerk and parks and recs director $442,036.00 annually? In contrast, Gilroy compensates their three $368,656.00 and Santa Cruz is paying their three only $7,955 more than Watsonville. 

What’s going on?  

City Manager Carlos Palacios


One of the highest paid city managers in the region managing a city with the highest unemployment rates in the state? Does that make sense? In June 2010 the Grand Jury released their Report and investigated the missing 1999 KME fire truck, the Airport, our Redevelopment Agency, and Manabe-Ow. The report in my opinion made our city look we are infested with a mafia like mentality. Why our District Attorney, the State Controller’s office or the Attorney General has not stepped in to investigate our city is as much a mystery as to why they call them hemorrhoids instead of asteroids.  

This past year the city provided low interest loans to George Ow ($750,000) and Stella Romo ($400,000) with Redevelopment money under the auspice of creating jobs. 1.1 million dollars was given to these two individuals and not one job has been produced? Ms. Romo used the $400,000 for work on her Second St. building, but instead of hiring locally, she hired a San Jose construction company (San Jose Construction) to do the work? 

The missing fire truck? You really want me to rant about that some more? If you do you can read previous Fishing Reports.

City Attorney Alan Smith (old undated photo)


In the past five years, the city has compensated City Attorney Alan Smith, on average, $235,000.00 annually. In addition the city provides Mr. Smith a “legal secretary” at a cost of $54,000 per year to tax payers. It is costing the city almost $300,000 for a city attorney? And, why is the city providing this independent contractor a secretary? 

Another one of my questions that has gone unanswered by Mr. Smith and Mayor Eduardo Montesino is why is it that Mr. Smith is compensated with an hourly wage instead of a salary? I pointed out in an e-mail to both Smith and Montesino page 16, Section 805 of the City Charter which states: “The compensation of all City officers and employees, except as otherwise provided in this Charter, shall be by salary to be fixed by ordinance or resolution.” Unless I am incorrect, City Attorney Smith is a city officer. I wouldn’t doubt that city attorney Smith is getting paid around $1,000.00 per city council meeting. 

But, three hundred thousand dollar is peanuts compared to the lawsuits the city has lost in the past 2-4 years. The city forked out approximately 1.1 million in legal fees to the Pilots Association, Friends of Buena Vista, City Attorney Alan Smith and the outside law firm the city hired to assist Smith when it lost its appeal after attempting to build housing near the airport. This did not include staff time. You would think the city would have learned a lesson, but nooooo, they went and attempted to approve a permit to build a cabinet shop near the airport. The pilots again took exception and took the matter to court, the city lost again, and they had to pay the pilots for their attorney fees. Another $50,000 down the legal drain.

The Santa Cruz Farm Bureau also sued the city for attempting to build housing on Atkinson Lane. The city lost again, but it seems that a mystery has been created about how much in legal fees that fiasco cost the city. 

We also don’t know how much it costs in legal fees when then mayor and now Assembly Member Luis Alejo decided it was a good idea to rename the downtown City Plaza Park after Dolores Huerta. We do know that so far the city has spent well over $80,000 in legal fees so Assembly Alejo could vote for his replacement on the city council. Not that there was a chance of anybody but council member Oscar Rios (Alejo’s choice) getting appointed, but hey, let’s really rub their noses in it. If the city loses the appeal on this one, it could cost them around $300,000 or more….just to prove a point? What a law maker, huh? And what about the legal advice-good legal advice usually saves money. Bad legal advice….cha-ching for the city attorney and his law firm? Time to pay our city attorney a salary? 


In the real world, not just in the private sector, most employee evaluations are based on some type of rating, Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. I formulated a similar rating:

C (for average performance)

F (failure to adequately perform job duties)

U (under achieving)

D (deceptive ways of paying bandas with petty cash?)

K (knowledge of how to balance the budget with grant money?)

E (educated on how to hide a fire truck)

Because that’s what I think somebody is getting….And now they want to raise our water rates? Instead, how about a cut in pay for some city staff members until they improve their evaluation ratings? 


By Emilio, on May 9, 2012

Sometimes moments after you do something without giving it much thought, don’t you say to yourself, “what the hell was I thinking?” That was my thought after voting to approve allowing skaters access to all of our city parks at last night’s city council meeting.

I should have known something smelled fishy when I asked who came up with the idea to have the matter placed on the Agenda. The initial response was “(city) staff” but when I pressed on to determine the identity of “staff” City Manager Carlos Palacios finally coughed up the identity of the Agenda requester like a fur ball. “It was me…I did it” he said. 

So, here is the deal. If you want to skate in our parks you will have to wear safety devices like a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads which will run you around $75.00. If you get caught skating in Watsonville parks without these safety devices you will be hit with a fine. It will cost you $30.00 to skate in our city park that day. The city, which according to our mayor “Has no money” is going to fork out around $4,000 for signs to be placed in all parks warning skaters of the consequences. Four grand to be nice guys? You really believe that?

Do you think City Manager Carlos Palacios really cares about skaters having parks to skate more than collecting fines especially since “we have no money”?  How many skaters around town do you see with helmets etc.? I wonder, after getting hit with a $30 fine, how many skaters we will see in our city parks?  

And, here Council Member Nancy Bilicich, an elected official, is having difficulty having items placed on city council Agendas, but Palacios, an employee (under the auspice of “staff”) has his ideas immediately brought forth to the city council? 

Me, having an idea placed on the Agenda? I have a better chance of the Santa Cruz Sentinel quoting me correctly. 

For example, I came up with the idea that we contact the owner of the old bowling alley and ask if we could use the extensive parking lot for a skating park. The response was that maybe I should call him, but I would think that would be something for our city manager to do since, you know, he earns $200,000 per year. Can you imagine how that telephone call to property owner Charles Canfield would go? Probably something like this:

Telephone ringing….


“Mr. Canfield, City Manager Carlos Palacios here…”


“Carlos Palacios…Watsonville City Manager.”

“Who is this?”

“Pal Acios…Carlos”

“Who are you calling?”

“Is this Mr. Canfield”


“Well I was wondering about you letting us use the bowling alley parking lot temporarily for a skate park”

“Who is this…is this a crank call?”

“No, this is Car…”

CLICK…dial tone. 

The $230,000 Question & Confidentiality? 


 City Attorney Alan Smith, of the Grunsky Law Firm, (picture may be 10-20 years old) said he couldn’t answer my question when I asked if the city could be held liable if for example a skater ran over a child or an elderly person (something like that). He replied, in essence, that he didn’t know the answer and would have to do research. Wonder how much that research is going to cost a city with “no money”, but hey who cares? We have been paying our city attorney on an hourly basis around $230,000.00 per year for the past five years yet the City Charter states that “city officers” are supposed to be compensated with a salary. I have asked when and if an ordinance was passed that allows our City Attorney to be paid an hourly wage especially considering that most likely the only time City Attorney Smith is in a court room is as a spectator. Time to look into paying City Attorney Smith a salary?  

Hiding Transparency-or A Failure To Communicate?

Can you imagine that skating warrants a front page headline but the issue of transparency is buried somewhere and hidden? Yes, let’s skate right through the Agenda of City Manager Palacios wanting to start city council meetings at 5:30PM (instead of 6:30PM) when most citizens are still at work and some students in school, so maybe they can’t ask dumb questions like where has our 1999 KME fire truck been for the past three years and why is it spending more time in the service bay than in service.  Much to the obvious chagrin of City Manager Palacios, his idea got turned down with a 5-1 vote. The only vote Palacios got for his idea was from you know who:


Is City Council Member Lowell Hurst thinking how he can better his Dyson capability in case Palacios were to bend over to retrieve a penny? 


By netboots, on May 7, 2012

Tomorrow’s City Council Meeting will include a request by City Manager Carlos Palacios to begin city council meetings at 5PM instead of 6:30 PM when people are off work and can attend meetings to voice their opinions and concerns. 

Is City Manager Palacios attempting to keep you in the dark and quiet? Hopefully all of you will attend tomorrow’s city council meeting at 6:30 and let Palacios know that your voice should not be silenced and that you want to be well informed because after all YOU are the BOSS.  The city council works for you and City Manager Palacios, City Attorney Alan Smith, and City Clerk Beatriz Flores report directly to the city council.


Time to stand up and be heard because if you don’t this is how our city will continue to look:


According to City Manager Carlos Palacios he interviewed around 30 people before deciding that he needed somebody with around one year experience to handle our city’s finances?


I hope the new employee doesn’t quit after he sees the mess we are in. Can you imagine how that might turn out? 
“What’s going on? You think he’s really going to jump? Who is that guy anyway?”
“It’s the new finance director. I guess he was going to jump but now wants to get back inside but looks like he’s frozen on the ledge.”
“Is that Palacios’ office window from where he’s hanging on?”
“Yea, poor guy probably saw the city’s financials.”
“How they gonna get him down?”
“With a fire ladder truck. They are waiting for one to get here pretty soon but for some reason it’s taking a real long time.”
“I heard they are both broken down…oh look, here’s one now. Wow that’s a nice ladder truck.”
“Yea, Santa Cruz bought it a few months ago”.


By Emilio, on May 5, 2012

These are but a few Comments of what some people are writing on the Fishing Report. I am not surprised to find that many of our residents live in fear of retaliation if they dare to question authority.

“We who remain anonymous do so out of fear. Fear of retaliation. I think that shows you what an awful city we have. I agree with everyone. Why so many stabbings in such a small city? Is this how the populace is kept under control?

Pass this blog on to everyone who lives here. Let the people know there is a call for justice. Mr. city attorney how many emails and calls have you received from citizens? Who keeps track of that? We need to know. The garden plot is just a small piece of the puzzle here. Keep thinking people and keep being active. We are good people too!

The city of Bell was run the same way. High salaries and low city output. Look it up online we are the sister city. RECALL THE MAYOR TODAY”


“Since the project for the Ow charity (business park) and the Sakata Kett plans (currently being pushed by Daniel Dodge) haven't been approved by the LAFCo, why is the City of Watsonville spending money on it. I read in a insert that was in my water bill (and printed on expensive paper) that the city has hired a designer (Devcon Const.) to design the infrastructure. l know the city has already thrown a million dollars or more down the pipeline for a project that won't be completed (our tax money) and is planning to throw more of our tax dollars on the infrastructure. Why would any business (private or governmental) spend even one cent of taxpayer’s money unless all the plans had been approved by all of the approving agencies. We know the Farm Bureau is protesting the criminal plans to change very fertile farm land to blight (which will not be approved by the state). The LAFCO is against it and the plans have to pass LAFCO. More than likely the Sierra Club will fight it along with other organizations that have plenty of clout. Then, there is the question of why the city keeps giving money to Mr. Ow and his shady bagman Mr. Alonzo. Mr. Ow is a multimillionaire who if needed could finance his own projects. Why does the city keep filling Mr. Ow's back pockets? For that matter why does the city keep funneling money to the Romos. With all of their properties, the Romos could have funded their new building and decorating it. They purchased a city lot for only $25,000. When that lot was sold to them, was there a bidding process so others could have the opportunity to buy it? Not likely with that low bid.  The problem with our current city council is that they don't have the ability to think. There will be huge legal bills to fight the losing battle with agencies and individuals that don't want Ow and Sakata viable farm land destroyed and they will win. Why does the city of Watsonville have an attorney that farms out the major legal work and still draw a salary (and fees) He is useless.  Why does the city of Watsonville majority councilmembers deny Ms Bilicich and Mr. E Martinez a turn as mayor? Why would any sane person continue to place the newest councilmember in as mayor (especially ones that can't understand the English language or pronounce common words). One last thing, for what reason was all that money spent of the upper Lincoln street upgrade. How much was spent? How much money was lost by the business on Freedom Blvd when the project went way of time? Did it really need to be done?

We are the laughing stock of Santa Cruz County. Our town is filthy. There are so many business rentals vacant. The downtown will never be revitalized since no one wants to come here. 


I thank you Mr Martinez for your fairness during yesterday's antics. This was the first City Council meeting I have attended in my twenty years in Santa Cruz County. I was embarrassed. Horrified. These are my leaders? For shame, Mr Mayor, that while reading a plaque given to the poet...that you could NOT pronounce or read the word "literacy". That was the first clue that you are indeed undereducated. When Oscar Rios grandstanded about how I would not be living there in Seaview Ranch if it wasn't for him, I saw red. No, I suppose I would not be living in Seaview Ranch if it wasn't there....maybe I would be living somewhere else, still being a productive member of the Watsonville Community. MOST of those houses in Seaview Ranch are underwater. Their values have dropped through the floor- yet we stay, and we want it to be a nice community for us and for our children. I understand that we need to only have two minutes to speak in order to let everyone speak, but for Mr Rios, Mr Hurst, and Mr Montesino to belittle the group in that way was despicable.

You can be sure, Mr Martinez, that when time comes to vote, I will ACTIVELY campaign against these people and anyone they support. We at Seaview Ranch are a pretty large group, and we have the time and ability to make sure those appointees do not get elected.


By Emilio, on Apr 25, 2012

Lalala..I Can’t Hear You…Lalala…Who Cares What You Have To Say?

It was about as ugly as it can get at a city council meeting last night and although the issue at hand was about a community garden, the meat of the matter was the conduct of some of our city council members who treated attending members of the public in a condescending manner. It was obvious that they could care less what the residents of Sea View Ranch had to say and it was also obvious how four city council members were going to vote.  

Council Member Lowell Hurst, who in my opinion likes to hear himself talk, seemed at times incoherent and infuriated people with his lecture. I once had a teacher like Hurst. He only listened to himself and thought we were impressed with his wit when we actually agonized attending his forty five minute class. I remember thinking that he probably recorded himself asleep at night so he could hear himself snore he liked hearing himself so much.

Mayor Eduardo Montesino’s comments ended with an incensed Sea View Ranch resident shouting that Montesino was just a bus driver who was losing his home to foreclosure, indicating our mayor had no business being a mayor. This prompted City Manager Carlos Palacios wanting to call the police according to a city council member. Yea, Carlos, shut them up like you attempted and still attempt to do with me. Talk about a “Malicious Bully”, except city manager Palacios seems to lack fortitude.

I went down to talk to the upset people attempting to calm them down and one lady said, “This city is corrupt”. Another talked about a recall.

Recall? Well, three of the four city council members who voted for the garden last night, Lowell Hurst, Oscar Rios, and Felipe Hernandez were appointed by the city council instead of being elected. Do you see the obvious? It is election year and maybe the public is riled enough this time to do something about it other than just sit at home and gripe….but then what do I know? 

Luis and Martinelli

By Emilio, on Apr 6, 2012

On Thursday, Assembly Member Luis Alejo had a Business Tour of four companys in Watsonville.  One of them was with Martinelli’s Juice Company. Alejo is shown here with John Martinelli and around a group of eleven people. I think thats Supervior Greg Caput with the dark hat way in the back. Alejo is the kinda short guy dressed in dark clothing with some kind of plastic hat on his head on the right.  This is the same Mr. Martinelli who attempted to explain at a city council meeting that the fluoridation of the city’s wells would create a problem that could lead to having to close a portion of his business…..Mayor Alejo shut off his microphone. . Yea man, shut up…jobs?…you know nothing about jobs…I know something about jobs! As some of you may recall Alejo was the leading force in wanting to have Watsonville’s water fluoridiated and also having our downtown park named after Dolores Hurerta.  


I don’t know how it was that Mr. Martinelli decided it was ok to allow Alejo to visit his faciltiy….but maybe they had a telephone conversation and it went something like this: 


“Hello John…”

“Who is this?”

“It’s me Assembly Member Luis Alejo.”

“Alejo???…You have the gall to call me after how you embarrassed me at the city council meeting? You do remember that don’t you?”

“I called to apologize. Look man, I’m sorry…but you know what? I knew there was no way Watsonville was going to get fluoridated. It was impossible…I knew the money 

3applewasn’t going to be there…but it was politics. I had to convince the Latino voters that I cared about their children’s teeth. Come on man, let’s do lunch. My treat, ok? I’ll pick you up in my new SUV and we’ll go to Jaliscos. Have you seen my new ride? Dude its sweet.”

“Yea I heard about your new car. Read about it on the L.A. Times. I read that ‘Newly elected Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D- Salinas) is taking delivery of a 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid, worth $37,269.’ And that, ’The most expensive new car was purchased for Alejo’. Hey, let me ask you, are you D-Salinas or D-Watsonville because the Santa Cruz Sentinel can’t seem to make up its mind.”car

“Well it depends where I’m trying to convince people that I’m trying to create jobs…politics…you know how that works. I wrote a book about jobs the last time I ran for the Assembly. Did you know that? Check out the title. Man, its sooo cool…just as misleading as fluoridating Watsonville. Where in my book cover does it say I will create jobs? Nowhere, that’s right! All I say is that jobs will solve problems. No Duh, Huh? What, am I stoopid? Besides I had City Attorney Alan Smith help me write the book and the cover…man, that dude is the master of creating new vocabulary! Have you ever heard of an Occupied Vacancy? I bet not. Here, I was the mayor of Watsonville who had as much chance of creating jobs as a chicken laying a goose egg and I am going to say I can create jobs now? Hey, I’m sorry…..here I have been flapping my trompas and I haven’t let you even say a word…so, do you have a question?”6

“Well yes. . On page 10 of your book you wrote that your dad lost your house because he couldn’t pay the taxes and you co-signed on the deed to help him. But, records show that you purchased the home with your dad and that both of you lost it to foreclosure. Is that true? And did you take a second for $20,000 just before the house foreclosed?”

“You know what Mr. Juice Guy, are you trying to disenfranchise me? Because if you are… you just keep one thing in mind, ok? I own Watsonbell! Turning off your microphone is nothing compared to what I can do to your puny little company!”

“Martinelli’s is known world-wide! You don’t intimidate me!”

“I gotta go. This conversation is over. I’m going home…wherever that is… D-Salinas or D-Watsonbell.

In the background…Elias Alonzo? “Horale!”   


By Emilio, on Apr 2, 2012

1It seems that City Manager Carlos Palacios is reaching out to the firefighters, and other employees regarding his compensation and any other issues and concerns that they may have. He wanting a peace pipe smoke-out type of a sit down may be indicative that there is trouble a-brewing in city hall. And the trouble as in most cases when there is a “family” squabble, it’s usually about Mr. Green or lack thereof.

In a March 26th email to city employees, Palacios referenced the staff as “family” and that, “Recently, a question has been raised about my compensation.  Here are the facts.” He went on to summarize, “In summary, my salary has been reduced by 10%, I contribute an additional 1% towards PERS, and I have voluntarily given up raises of 7% that were included in my contract.”

Granted, Palacios gave up 10% of his pay, but according to his Calendar for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 he rarely worked on Fridays and when he did, it was to attend some type of meetings out of the office. And, almost 5 times per week he blacked out (with a magic marker) time spent on personal or private matters.2

Using the 40 hour work-week formula (52 weeks x 40hrs = 2,080 hrs.), if Palacios earns $200,000.00 (which is about right) per year, his hourly rate is around $96.15. If he doesn’t work on Fridays, which equates to 416 hours annually, he is receiving $39,998.40 for days not worked which is $1.60 shy of $40,000.00. A 10% cut in his pay equates to around $20,000. So, doesn’t it seem he received a $19,998.40 raise instead of a reduction in his salary while working a 4 day work week? How many other members of his staff are working a 4 day work week whose salary was reduced by 10%?

Performance Based Compensation?

Yes, City Manager Palacios also gave up 7% in raises, but does he really expect a raise while the city maintains an unemployment rate hovering at 27% and that we have been leading the county with the highest unemployment rate for most of his tenure? Should a balanced budget alone be the determining factor in his performance evaluation?

What about the creation of jobs? Manabe-Ow? That project isn’t expected to create the promised 2,000 jobs until 20 years from now. We may not even be able to hang anybody in effigy if that plan takes a dump because none of us will be around by then. What about a Wallmart or Costco you ask?

According to the state’s Unemployment Development Department, Watsonville has 6,700 unemployed people in our city which is double the amount of any other municipality in the county. A Costco employs around 200 people per store….do the math…we will need at least 30 type Costcos to get these people employed if the plan is to quickly produce jobs. What about withholding information from your boss or misrepresenting the facts? Is that acceptable performance? When asked about the missing fire truck, the city council was told the truck was being refurbished when in fact the city didn’t even own it.

What about spending over 1.2 million dollars in legal fees alone attempting to build housing near the airport? We not only had to compensate our city attorney and the law firm hired to assist him, but we also had to pay the pilot’s attorneys too after the city lost the appeal.

Is having $18,000 in petty cash floating around for a festival, standard operating, policy, and procedure? How many cities in California do you know that have this much petty cash to pay for the entertainment at their festivals? Ok, you got me there….maybe the city of Bell.

If I wanted a sit down peace pipe smoking session with some irritable adversaries who are questioning my annual compensation, I might consider coming bearing gifts. How about a car or several of them? Palacios and around 8 other city staffers receive car allowances that are costing tax payers around $40,000.00 per year.

I would also consider lifting the Temporary Directive aimed at the firefighters which entails “Member Speech, Expression and Social Networking.” It seems the Ivory Tower does not want the public to know about their (fire fighters) complaints and concerns. This situation may end up in court too.

An open discussion in a Peace, Love, and Macramé type meeting cannot include a muzzle to be used selectively, facts should not be distorted to conceal one’s performance, and transparency should not be treated like a red headed step child; Fire Truck # 4471.


MEADOWS MANOR MYSTERY TOUR or Every Picture Tells a Story?

By Emilio, on Mar 13, 2012


Medows Manor Mobile Home Park residents on Blanca Lane wanted to know one thing, did the owner of the park have the proper permits to add 14 new additional units. The residents have been complaining that their mobile home park was in dire need of road repairs, and that it has poor drainage, sewage backups, poor lighting, and electrical problems. So why was the owner being allowed to add new units without first assuring them that these issues would be first addressed, they were asking.

Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz has been of the opinion since before 2008 that there was little the city could do because the state has jurisdiction over the mobile home park. Her position is partially factual. Both she and the state were of the opinion that a 30-40 year old permit issued by the County of Santa Cruz back in the 70’s was still in effect and that the new owner of the mobile home park, Kenneth Waterhouse, could now add 14 mobile homes.  

It took me, an elected official, around 7 months and around 150 pages of emails, mostly between me and Assistant City Manager Tavantiz, to determine that the city allowed the mobile home property owner to hook up to our city’s sewer system without a Permit and without paying the $156,283.98 in permit fees.  And that the city did not and still has not issued a Stop Work Order to the construction crew even after determining these facts.

Although, after my continual experience with the lack of transparency in our city government, I did not anticipate a 7 month journey which included countless of hours writing and answering emails, making numerous long distance telephone calls to the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and conducting research, all while Assistant City Manager Marcel Travantiz withheld some documents and provided me with misleading information.  

It was Déjà vu all over again-the nightmare of the missing 1999 KME fire truck fiasco.

Being a trained investigator, what caught my attention was a blatant red flag: that being that Assistant City Manager Tavantiz first attempted to mislead me that a “Stop Work Order” (a city used document) was issued when she supposedly determined that the work crew hired to build the pad for the mobile homes at Meadows Manor had hooked up to our sewer line without a permit. After several emails asking Ms. Tavantiz for a copy of the “Stop Work Order” that the city supposedly issued, Ms. Tavantiz finally admitted that a “verbal” Work Stop Order was issued. A “verbal” Work Stop Order is both non applicable and/or non-existent. And, why would Ms. Tavantiz attempt to mislead me? I mean, we are dealing with around $157,000.00 here, right?

So, I began asking questions, you know, Due Diligence, and found out that a lawsuit was filed in 2001 at the Santa Cruz Superior Court (and resolved in 2008) by Meadows Manor Mobile Home Park owner Kenneth Waterhouse against the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.  It seems that Waterhouse sued the state to obtain a permit to install the 14 mobile homes. Apparently the 30-40 year old permit issued to the original owner may not have been transferable so Waterhouse sued the state to obtain a permit. This contradicted Assistant City Manager Tavantiz’s opinion that the 30 plus year permit was still valid.  

It seems that an Agreement was reached between Waterhouse and the State before a trial was held which included requirements by both parties.

Would you believe that Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz was not aware of the lawsuit? She gets paid over $165,000 per year and I get paid not even 5% of her wages and she can’t find this document which I Googled? 


Would you also believe that Assistant City Manager Marcela Tavantiz was not aware of the Agreement made between the state’s HCD and Waterhouse? Yet, she claimed to have a relationship with both Kenneth Waterhouse and his attorney David Spangengerg? Well how about this letter from the state’s attorney to Spangenberg outlining the Agreement? After sending her a copy of this document, Assistant City Manager Tavantiz wrote me an email stating that she was also not aware this document existed.  






You see that last name on this page? “Dan Fitzgerald”, the “NAO Manager”? He was an employee of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development at the time this Agreement was written on August 1, 2008. Today, Mr. Fitzgerald works for Kenneth Waterhouse, the Meadows Manor Mobile Home Park owner, as a “Consultant”. Imagine that. Fitzgerald, who may have a conflict of interest, is in charge of constructing the pad for the 14 units at Meadows Manor.  According to an email from Tavantiz, Fitzgerald does not have a Contractor’s License. Then why didn’t the city take exception to Fitzgerald being in charge of hooking up to our city’s sewer line?  

Then, after my continual dog style sniffing, the state’s HCD Field Inspector, Chris Anderson, seemed to throw Assistant City Manager Tavantiz under the bus. He wrote the following email:

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