I was almost shocked to read in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (January 17th) that former Chief of Police Terry Medina had been hired as a consultant by the owners of Cilantros to assist them with continual problems that have included fights in the bar area of the restaurant. Cilantros, which was cited by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for furnishing alcohol to a minor (possibly back around October) was fined and their liquor license suspended for 10 days. The enforced suspension was to begin in early January 2012 which was about the time that Cilantros claimed they were closed for “remodeling”. Wonder if the “remodeling” idea was Medina’s to cover up the ABC’s decision.
I was almost shocked because as a police chief Medina seemed to go out of his way to assure businesses selling alcohol that violated the rules of the road were dealt with suspensions and/or revocation of their Use Permits issued by the city. Well, not Jalisco’s which claimed they had an abundant amount of breakage as an excuse after a garage full of their beer and liquor was found in a home and it was being sold to minors.
I recall while as a Planning Commissioner back around 5 years ago when Medina demanded that Popo’s Use Permit be suspended for one year after alleged gang members got into a fight in the restaurant, along with numerous other problems. The planning commission was led to believe by then Development Director John Doughty, without Medina’s objection, that Popo’s was selling distilled spirits (tequila) at the restaurant which only had a beer and wine license. The Planning Commission instead voted to suspend the license for 6 months to the chagrin of Medina after the owners pleaded that their business could not survive without serving beer. It didn’t.
Later, unfortunately, I found out that the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) had conducted an investigation and determined that the lone bottle of tequila found at Popo’s was a gift to the cook. The ABC reported that the bottle was found closed and sealed in the cooler of the restaurant after the cook put it there upon receiving it. I also found out that this information was public and available to the city before the planning commission meeting. You can still drive by that vacant restaurant today, another possible testament to selective code enforcement.
Most recently, the Villager, the last standing bar in Watsonville, was targeted by our city because of stabbings and other unbecoming conduct in the bar. The proprietors of the Villager were served with a notice that the Planning Commission would be holding a public hearing whereupon they were going to consider suspension and/or revocation of their Use Permits or reduction of their business hours.
The Villager’s owners were concerned that this action could be financially detrimental and end up with the closure of their business. In preparation for the Planning Commission meeting of December 12, 2011 the Villager owners made a public records request from City Clerk Beatriz Flores on December 6th for Calls for Service from 4 other establishments that sell alcohol to substantiate their argument that they were being selectively targeted. One of them was for Cilantros. Guess whose records were not provided to the Planning Commission at the meeting? Why did you guess Cilantros? Do you think former Chief of Police Terry Medina had anything to do with it?
According to the Sentinel’s article, which seemed more of a promotion for Medina’s new business, Medina wants to “enhance the bar experience” at Cilantros. Cilantros gets to keep their hours of operation with a new bar experience with the assistance from the former booze fighting chief of police while the Villager is sanctioned by the Planning Commission which rendered their decision knowing full well they were lacking Calls for Service records for Cilantros? Why didn’t the Planning Commission demand the records before they made their decision?
We have a struggling business in a still struggling economy and the end result could be that the Villager closes its doors leaving more people unemployed, and we do it with underhanded tactics?
This is not about a bar or a restaurant, but rather how our city has been conducting business and its obvious not well considering our high unemployment rates for the past 15 years, questionable loans to selected people in the community that have resulted in little if any jobs, and the disappearance of a fire truck for almost 3 years.
The allegation that Watsonville’s economic problems are the result of deep rooted cronyism and corruption is crumbling because it’s beginning to seem that the allegation is factual.