Showing posts from 2013

Goodnight, Ms. Fontaine

One of our local celebrities, Joan Fontaine, passed away over the weekend. The famous Hollywood actress spent her retirement years living in the Carmel Highlands. Coincidentally, the two Alfred Hitchcock films Rebecca and Suspicion , which made her a big-name star, both contained brief scenes filmed right here on the Monterey Peninsula. The first film in 1940 got her an Academy Award nomination, while her second performance the following year earned the Oscar itself. I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Fontaine a few times in the 1980s when I worked at Brinton's in Carmel. She was a regular customer there. Among the store's staff she had a reputation as being kinda fussy, but in my dealings with her I always found her to be very pleasant, easygoing, and friendly. I remember one occasion when she was seeking advice on the best way to remove mildew from a patio umbrella. It was a rather mundane conversation, but an enjoyable memory nevertheless. One of the last times I saw h

Measure K supporters play the victim card.

Yesterday Mrs. Toy found a cheap, home-printed flyer opposing Measure M and supporting Measure K in our mailbox. It was signed by five people, including three former city council members, Helen Rucker, Steve Bloomer, and Darryl Choates. The other two were "Seaside Resident" James Bogan, and "Local Seaside Merchant" Dennis Volk. Now, I've come to expect almost anything from Bloomer and Choates, but the normally sensible Helen Rucker ought to know better than to put her name on such hokum. The flyer said: "Dear Seaside Neighbor, "On Tuesday November 5, there will be an election that will have a very big impact on our city and our families. "Measure M takes control away from our elected Seaside City Council and gives that power to wealthy outsiders in Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove." Whoa! Right off the bat they're turning this into a class warfare issue. Poor Seaside is being picked on by our "wealthy" neighbors, er, &qu

K vs. M

Monterey County voters have every reason to be confused by two competing measures on the November 5th ballot. Measures K and M would, each in their own way, have a profound effect on the future development of Fort Ord. The primary development issues at play are: A massive commercial development called Monterey Downs centered around a proposed horse racetrack. A long awaited veterans cemetery.  Theoretically, and frankly, in actuality, these are and should be two separate matters. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years questionable political alliances have hopelessly intertwined these issues so that they have become indistinguishable in the minds of some people. Briefly, Measure M would permanently preserve the centuries-old oak forest - 50,000 trees in all - where Monterey Downs wants to go. Local recreation and open space advocacy groups are behind Measure M. Measure K would not directly approve Monterey Downs, but it would make it a lot easier to get through the bureaucra

That's Chutzpah!

Ever since Fort Ord closed almost twenty years ago local veterans groups have been trying to establish a veterans cemetery on the former military base. It is and always has been a laudable and appropriate tribute to the soldiers who passed through Fort Ord prior to putting themselves in harms way for their country. Unfortunately, their progress has been slow, apparently due to the massive bureaucracies and sluggish processes that affect most land use matters around here. Funding also appears to have been a problem. Understandably, cemetery proponents have grown frustrated by the whole process.   But sometime in the past couple years the veterans' tactics took a dark turn. Cemetery supporters hitched their wagon to the controversial Monterey Downs project, a proposal to build a massive horse racetrack, hotels, and other big things on a pristine old-growth oak forest. Monterey Downs and the cemetery would then occupy different areas of the same parcel of land. Evidently, the ar

Keep the Steinbeck Forum

The ball has started rolling on a major remodeling of the Monterey Conference Center . The project is still in its initial stages, with nothing set in stone, but it has received the official blessing of the Monterey city council. I don't have any strong feelings about the project in general, but one specific proposal has me disturbed. A consultant has recommended that the center's Steinbeck Forum , a 494 seat theater-style lecture hall, be eliminated and replaced with a plain, flat, empty room with four walls just like every other room in the conference facility . Bad idea. The Steinbeck Forum is unique among local conference venues. For starters, it's very comfortable, having permanent theater-style seating instead of the firm and tiny portable chairs used elsewhere in the conference center. Also, because the seating area is raked at a fairly steep angle, each row of seats is much higher than the one in front, making for unobstructed sightlines and excellent views f