A productive week:
· The big item on the City Council Agenda this week involved discussion of a contract renewal with Waste Management. The issues mostly surrounded moving toward containerized green waste, street pickup and street sweeping. Carol Scianna and the Waste staff did a fine job of reviewing the various options. Council direction was given regarding looking at more frequent street sweeping, community concerns regarding large green waste pickup (core area) and leaf season. Overall, a good discussion and direction.
· The Hispanic Advisory Committee met on Monday and the main topics surrounded questions related to national immigration policies. The meeting had a good attendance, including Chief John Miller and Officer Jose Hermosillo from the Winters Police Department. The direction from the HAC was to identify community questions and concerns and possibly host a community workshop to bring greater understanding to what is actually happening.
· The leadership shown by folks on the HAC was amazing!! They quickly assigned tasks for members to begin identifying questions within the community and to determine accurate sources to help folks find answers. It was clearly one of the best meetings for the HAC and demonstrated leadership from the members.
The national debate on immigration and the role local governments play has erupted nationally. This is a FEDERAL issue and our national leaders are the ones responsible and accountable for getting information to residents. It is also their role to deal with the ramifications of what is happening. While cities are the most accessible for residents, the issues being brought are simply out of our purview.
It was important that the Winters Police Department was well represented at the HAC Meeting. Some basic questions which were discussed included how local law enforcement works with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Here are some basic facts:
· Police do NOT interface with ICE on issues which are not criminal in nature. The police are not agents of ICE and never have been.
· Police do NOT randomly check documentation of folks (without cause) and only ask for identification in criminal matters. We do not stop people on the street asking for documentation.
· Police and State Agencies do NOT share data bases on immigration issues. On criminal issues, when persons are wanted for crimes, they are included in the same data sets as anyone else. Wanted criminals go into criminal data bases for wanted criminals. If people are not wanted for a crime, they have nothing to fear from contacting the Winters PD.
· Cities do NOT defend or get in between ICE and persons in relation to documentation status issues. There are many groups who do that, but not cities (maybe San Francisco, but they could be another country) J.
· In California, law enforcement will tell you that they absolutely supports the licensing of all drivers, regardless of documentation status. ALL drivers are required to have a drivers license and insurance, regardless of immigration status. It is the law.
· The State DMV is not in the business of working with ICE on immigration issues. Its just not in their business.
The interface between local law enforcement and our residents is critical to keeping Winters safe. It would be counter productive for local law enforcement to put a barrier to people reporting crimes, especially undocumented folks who are often selected targets. Anyone, including undocumented people, who are the victims of crimes should always feel comfortable reporting when a crime occurs. Victims are victims and crimes should always be reported.
The Winters community is an incredible place because we are safe, diverse and collaborative on issues which are within our purview. Regardless of race, religion, gender or socio-economic status, folks in our town are residents first. Winters is Winters because we are a place where people are welcome and accepted.
If people have immigration issues, they should deal with those with the applicable agencies. The City has no role in that but individuals do. If you know of someone with immigration issues, they need to deal with that and get it resolved because it is the law. The HAC has had forums on the topic to get information out and I expect more is to come.
Summary, Winters Police are not in the immigration business, we are in the business of keeping all residents, regardless of immigration status safe. The federal agencies have their job and we have ours.
· This week, I attended the League of California Cities City Manager’s Department Meeting which was held in Monterey. The hot topics discussed were Cannibus, Sales and Use Taxes, Affordable Housing and the California Economy. A couple takeaways.
· The passage of Prop 64 creates as many questions as it cures. Marijuana is now legal to use, but the business of marijuana, cultivation, the manufacture of products and distribution still has many issues to resolve.
· A fun fact on cannabis is that there are in excess of $1.2b in “proposals” for permits in cities to build marijuana facilities. That is a lot of brownies!
· Tackling how sales taxes are distributed is a big topic. The internet market place and who and where the taxes should go is a big question. They estimate that over $1b in sales taxes are simply lost under the current system.
· Affordable Housing has major issues. Flatly, there is no money for it when it is needed most. That State readily acknowledges that housing is one of the critical issues facing California residents and affordability is one of those, but the Governor is not ready to deal with it.
Finally, the best news in many years was the signing of the concession contract with John and Linda Frazier for Markley Cove. This is a critical move for a business and location which is important to Winters as the “Gateway to Lake Berryessa”.
The over 15 year odyssey of Lake Berryessa and the failed revitalization plan of the Bureau of Reclamation is hopefully over for John and Linda. They have been a very important business to our community both because of the economics and their generosity in supporting many groups and organizations. The way the Frazier’s (and practically all of the former resorts owners) were treated should never happen again.
The Frazier’s and the entire Markley Cove team have kept their dignity during what must have been the most difficult of times. The decimation of the Lake Berryessa economy, the national recession, combined with the illogical actions of a federal agency could not have been more daunting for John and Linda. During it all, the Frazier’s were absolute class acts and models of persistence in trying to preserve their rights and property interests. Even when the BOR gave away Markley Cove, then re-bid, selected the Fraziers, then pulled it away again, they never gave up.
The Fraziers are absolute symbols of class and role models for people dealing with adversity. They are important to Winters and their business will serve as a foundational element to the eventual re-birth of Lake Berryessa.
Have a nice weekend.