good times local news media events catalyst santa cruz california metro silicon valley news local events san jose weekly aptos, capitola, soquel, local news events paper gilroy dispatch local news events garlic festival santa cruz media events local california weekly king city rustler newspaper media local events car sales buy new car media
48.1 F
English English Español Español
March 20, 2023

City Council trades barbs over mayor’s proposed conference attendance

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville City Council returned from its summer recess with a heated verbal scuffle between mayor Jimmy Dutra and councilman Lowell Hurst over the former’s proposed trip to a conference in Southern California.

Dutra at Tuesday’s meeting was asking his peers to approve using $1,134.05 of his travel funds to attend the California Contract Cities Association 2021 Fall Education Summit set for next month at Indian Wells, some 20 miles southeast of Palm Springs. But Hurst pulled the item from the consent agenda—a portion of a meeting agenda that typically contains items that are expected to pass without much discussion—and claimed his colleague was using taxpayer dollars to attend an event hosted by a “union-busting” organization.

Dutra, visibly frustrated at Hurst’s actions, fired back by saying that his move was a politically motivated personal attack based on falsehoods and that he has never questioned Hurst’s conference trips—he also said he hoped Hurst would retire from politics at the end of his term next year.

Dutra and Hurst battled for roughly 10 minutes before the council voted 3-3 on the item, meaning Dutra’s trip was not approved. Hurst and council members Eduardo Montesino and Ari Parker voted against the expense. Councilman Aurelio Gonzalez was absent.

The California Contract Cities Association (CCCA) says on its website that it seeks to “advance the benefits of the contracting model and strengthen local control and governance.” It boasts 73 member cities—the majority of them in Southern California—and says that it has “fiercely advocated” for municipalities to use the practice of contracting, or outsourcing city services to another organization or business.

That trend has caught on mostly in small cities operating on shoestring budgets. Several cities in Riverside County, for instance, do not have their own police departments and instead have contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.

The city of Watsonville is a full-service city—meaning it provides residents with water, garbage, sewage, police and fire—but it does contract out for many other services, including in the Community Development and Parks and Community Services departments, among others.

Parker joined in the kerfuffle between the mayor and Hurst, only for Dutra to say that she was out of order. But Parker later rejoined the fray to say that Hurst’s concerns were valid because some of CCCA’s policies could be seen as anti-union.

Dutra said that he was endorsed by several unions during his campaign last year, has always supported organized labor and encouraged the public to look into CCCA if they had reservations about the organization.

“We’re supposed to be educating ourselves, making sure that we’re on top of the policies for our community and making sure that we’re … bringing back the best knowledge to our community,” he said. “And when we’re trying to stifle it, what are we doing for our community?”

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


juan fuentes kathleen crocetti watsonville brillante

Mosaic project part of downtown Watsonville art tour

WATSONVILLE—Around 240 people attended an art reception and walk Sunday in downtown Watsonville to view the works of San Francisco artist Juan R. Fuentes.  The...