Blog Archives

February 19 – 25, 2018

Highlights this week:
BRATTON…No hotel at 7th and Brommer?, Octagon and MAH opinion, loud motorcycles — an explanation, sad farewell to Santa Cruz, Presidents’ Birthdays…GREENSITE on gun violence…KROHN about City Council and the Rent Freeze, UCSC and water rights, beverage tax and sales tax…STEINBRUNER and Soquel Creek Water District decisions, Watsonville giant “Sunshine Villa” development, New Leaf not locally owned, local government fraud and waste, Coonerty and Zach’s personal gain from Davenport new cell tower, Redman-Hirahara farm loss…PATTON and government spying…EAGAN and White House Hires…DeCINZO and motorcycle maniacs…JENSEN re Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool…BRATTON critiques Black Panther, The Insult, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool.


SPIVEY’S RESTAURANT AND COFFEE SHOP, Nov. 13, 1964. Once upon a time an important meeting place on the South east corner of Water and Ocean Streets — for locals and young folks from nearly everywhere. Now it’s that CHASE bank institution.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

WORLDS LARGEST MODEL RAILROAD. Cousin Dean Hagen found this one



DATELINE February 19, 2018

HOTEL AT 7TH AND BROMMER? Last week I wrote that many folks are questioning the hard drive that Ryan and Neal Coonerty continue pushing to have Barry Swenson Builders build a hotel at 7th & Brommer. Jean Brocklebank, a member of Harbor Neighbors Organization, sent this response…

“For those who hear that Ryan Coonerty and his father are pushing a hotel, remember that a hotel is possible at 7th & Brommer only because the County Redevelopment Agency (RDA) voted to include “visitor accommodations” at the site. Rather than stay with the Preferred Priority Use specified in the 1994 County General Plan (“Proposed Parks, Recreation and Open Space: Development of Community Park Facility”) in a letter to the RDA Board of Directors for an agenda item of their June 5, 2007 meeting, the Planning Department Director stated “the property is being acquired with the intent of using it for a future public park and visitor serving uses, including visitor accommodations, consistent with the designated General Plan/LCP priority uses.” In other words, Planning combined the Preferred Priority Use and the Alternate Priority Use (“Community Commercial: Development of visitor serving commercial uses with a minimum of 50% of the project devoted to Type A visitor accommodations available for rental to the general public.”)  The RDA Board drank the combined Kool-Aid.  Members of the RDA Board of Directors in 2007 were Jan Beautz, Tony Campos, Neal Coonerty, Ellen Pirie, and Mark Stone.

Fast forward from 2007 to August 12, 2016 when the County Economic Development Department (EDD) jumped into development plans feet first and issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) “To develop a landmark waterfront, infill site owned by the Santa Cruz County Redevelopment Successor Agency (RSA) with lodging, other destination oriented commercial uses and public open space. Development of this site aims to strengthen the local tax base and enhance economic vitality and quality of life in the County.”  District 3 Supervisor in 2016 was Ryan Coonerty.

That 8/12/16 RFQ description of the property changed the emphasis of the land use from parks to visitor accommodations.  The EDD RFQ also minimized the “Proposed Parks, Recreation and Open Space” part of the Preferred Priority Use as described in the General Plan.  Here’s what we got from the County EDD:

• “Priority Use: The General Plan designates the site for visitor-serving commercial uses with a minimum of 50% of commercial uses dedicated to standard hotel/motel visitor accommodations.

• Height Limit: Three stories/35 feet; potential for additional five feet with design review.

• Park Facilities: The project will require one acre of land to be dedicated to passive or active recreation open to the public.” [Note: What most people do not know is that 2.3 acres of that parcel cannot be developed and will remain natural and undeveloped because of topography. So we will be insisting that another separate acre of the parcel be dedicated to passive recreation also.]

The language of the first RFQ was used in the second RFQ issued June 2017. In November 2017 Barry Swenson Builder was selected as the developer on the parcel.  To date we do not know what BSB proposes to build at 7th & Brommer, but a hotel is most certainly not a done deal!  Sometime this year the process will continue with Public Visioning, Project Scoping and Negotiation, CEQA Process, and the Draft Disposition & Development Agreement (DDA), which will have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and Successor RDA Oversight Board. Harbor Neighbors will be involved in every step of the process”.

Check out Harbor Neighbors website. Read the history of the property. Read the possible uses.

THE OCTAGON AND MAH. Ed Penniman, a native of Santa Cruz writes to sayThe Octagon was our Santa Cruz County Recorder’s Office and is the heart of our Santa Cruz history. If the MAH doesn’t value its historical status, what value is the museum of history? Why not make the Octagon building the face of Santa Cruz? It’s a natural center of our town. Hearing of it languishing vacant and unlocked make my native Santa Cruz soul feel violated.

LOUD MOTORCYCLES. Lee Quarnstrom — long time reporter and author who now resides in Orange County — emailed to comment… “I once asked a Santa Cruz cop whose opinion I respected the same question: Why don’t police officers stop loud Harley-Davidson motorcycles and issue citations when they’re clearly breaking the noise limits? “Because,” he responded, “every cop either owns a Harley, or wants to own a Harley.”

A SAD FAREWELL TO SANTA CRUZ. webwoman Gunilla Leavitt found this letter online. She got permission from the author, who had also sent copies to the mayor and the city council. It’s sad, expressive, and puts into words exactly what so many are feeling today…

“Dear Santa Cruz,  

I moved here in 98. I was 18 and wanting to live closer to my surfer, artist, and teacher of a dad. I fell in love with the ocean air, the music scene, and all the people. I grew up into an adult here. I got in trouble here and cleaned up my act here. I struggled and scraped by. I had my two beautiful children here. I found that my happiness was in working in the community and being of service. I had a wonderful opportunity to live in pleasure point for a reasonable amount. 

But now it’s come to an end after 13 years. Our apartments have been sold to a developer in Morgan Hill and we and 7 other families have 60 days to be out. Now I will be the first to tell you my credit score is awful. Not because I am unreliable or negligent but because of no credit cards and a student loan. I love this community but how is my family of 4 supposed to afford to live when your rent is over 3k a month?! How are we supposed to feed our kids, clothe them, pay for health insurance, and then childcare for the baby?! No one will give us the time of day because of a Boston terrier and a Chihuahua?! We are a good family with reliable income. I’m a medical assistant and my husband an electrician, it shouldn’t be this hard. 

I love you Santa Cruz and I care about you and your future but now I may have to move my family to another area of the country and start from scratch. I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me every time I wake up because I don’t have a solution for my 11 year old daughter who is being told she has to leave her child hood home. No more junior guards, no more dance at PAC, no more softball with papa. Who is going to pour your coffee, immunize your children, and clean your houses when we all have move? And to where? A more impoverished area of California? What a sad set of options. 

How did we let it get this bad? How come good families are leaving? What happened and who has the solution? Unfortunately not me. 

Wish us luck Santa Cruz 

We want to stay but the clock is ticking….”.

PRESIDENTS BIRTHDAYS. Peter Scott of “Campaign For Sensible Transportation” replies… Hi Bruce, At this time of year, I always feel resentful that we no longer celebrate Lincoln on February 12 and Washington on February 22.  So seeing your column, I decided to look it up. Here’s the story.

I always assumed it was Nixon who changed it, but while that’s at least partly true, I never knew that there is now no official “Presidents Day“. Interesting.  — Peter

Dateline February 19, 2018

With respect to guns and gun control, most Californians regard restrictions on the availability of high-powered semi-automatic weapons for the general public as a no-brainer. Perhaps also does most of the country. The failure of politicians of all parties to enact gun control legislation speaks to the power of the NRA and the influence of big money in politics.

The data comparing the US with other similar countries and the huge gulf separating us from them in terms of gun violence is well known. A comparison between Australia and the US is often cited. After the gun massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania, in 1996, where 35 people were killed, the Australian Prime Minister said “enough is enough” and spearheaded legislation to enact strict gun controls. In the 20 years before Port Arthur there were 13 mass shootings: in the 22 years since, there have been none. If you don’t mind lots of four letter words including some you don’t use often, the Australian comedian Jim Jefferies has a brilliant segment comparing the US and Australia on gun violence. You can find it at:

There are other differences between the two countries that help explain the relative ease with which gun control was achieved in Australia. Australia has never been much of a gun toting country. It lacks the mythology of the iron-jawed gunman as hero, woven into the fabric of American lore via Hollywood. Australia’s iconic hero is Ned Kelly, a bushranger, loosely compared to Robin Hood. He saw himself and his family persecuted by the squatter (read upper) class, the government and the police. Australians remember Ned Kelly, not as a big man with a big gun but as a working class icon. Mick Jagger seemed an unlikely choice but he did a good job at portraying Ned Kelly in the 1970 film of the same name.

Australians also have a different relationship with their government. While differences are shrinking in the sway of global neo-liberalism, most Australians are pretty law abiding and don’t regard their government as the enemy but rather as the site of collective decision-making. There is less of the individualistic streak. And it’s relevant to note that Australian media have far more explicit sex and far less gratuitous violence than do its American counterparts.

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)


As Frederick Douglass so wisely said so long ago, “It is easier to build strong children than to heal broken men.”

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


Now you don’t see ’em on the Benchlands…it’s cleaning day.

Now you see ’em under the Water Street Bridge…

Now, they’re back in the Benchlands, but soon 1220 River Street…or not?

Dateline February 19, 2018


Rent Freeze Passes Unanimously

This Santa Cruz City Council fell into the history books last Tuesday night February 13. While myself and Councilmember Cynthia Mathews were sidelined as spectators having been advised by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) not to participate in this historic vote, likely one of the most consequential city council decisions in decades, did not seem to matter. The five remaining members–Terrazas, Brown, Watkins, Noroyan, and Chase–voted unanimously to freeze Santa Cruz rents. By 11pm on February 13th both a rent freeze and a just-cause eviction ordinance were enacted on an emergency basis “to make it safe for renters to discuss rent control without fear of being evicted,” was how the Movement for Housing Justice put it. They’re the community group behind the rent control petition (  ) now being circulated. The rent freeze only applies to multi-unit homes and it limits increases to about 2% a year while affecting about 24% of the rental housing market in Santa Cruz. Only rental properties built before 1995 are subject to the rent freeze because of state law. Mathews and I did not vote because we faced a “conflict of interest” in that we both own rentals. Despite over 200 tenants, landlords, real estate moguls and homeowners coming out to hear arguments for and against these ordinances, only 56 spoke before the council. My final, unofficial tally was 28 in favor of a rent freeze and 27, mostly landlords and real estate people, opposed. Several real estate people bemoaned the fact that rent control allows tenants to stay longer in their homes thus making the case for many of us worried about losing a cohesive community. High school physics teacher, Stacey Falls said because of the market “renter’s lives are being destroyed.” Long-time organizer Glen Schaller supported the rent freeze because “we want a stable community,” while a UCSC student, Kate, who said she lived in one house with 15 other students, argued that “housing needs to be treated as a community right.”Perhaps resident Dave Willis said it most poignantly when he urged the city council to “come on over to the right side of history.” It was a night to remember as pro-rent freeze people lingered long after the vote hugging and laughing. This night was the culmination of months of planning, walking neighborhoods, and gathering community input by a group known as the Organizing Circle. Their input was crucial in gaining unanimity along with the 1500 signatures they presented to the council, which supported passage of both ordinances. Now, it is up to some of the same people to continue their historic democratic movement of gathering enough signatures to rent control and an elected rent board on the November ballot. While it will not be easy, perhaps the $2370 studios now advertised at the new Five55 Swenson development on lower Pacific Avenue, will have voters siding with the plight of renters who are just looking for some relief.

Updates–More News from February 13th Council Meeting

Remember I said I’d get back to you concerning the various outcomes on the last city council agenda? Well, I am and it was quite a consequential set of results. One item, “Conference with legal counsel,” had to do with how the city might respond to letter received the previous week from UCSC Chief Counsel, Lorena Penaloza. She wrote in a December 20, 2017 letter to the city, “The University is evaluating its available remedial options, and therefore requests that the City confirm its obligation to provide water service to the Santa Cruz Campus.” Really, it’s H2O for North Campus development they seek. It’s how UCSC/UC Regents is spelling g-r-o-w-t-h these days. Stay tuned, the legal wrangling is just beginning with the Town seemingly more unified than ever against any Gown growth exceeding 19,500. Our beef is really with Oakland, and the Regents…and that’s where we need to take the growth fight. De acuerdo!?

A Fiscal Emergency was discussed and then put on hold until some rather simple and necessary questions get responded to by city staff:

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

Bernie Tweet, Taking Care of the Weak

“It is absolutely imperative that the Mueller investigation be allowed to go forward without obstruction from the Trump administration or Congress.” (Feb. 16)

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, former Santa Cruz City Councilmember (1998-2002) and Mayor (2001-2002). He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 12 years. He was elected last November to another 4-year term on the Santa Cruz City Council).

Email Chris at

Dateline February 19, 2018

Last month, California State Water Board granted a hefty $2 Million in taxpayer Proposition 1 bond money to Soquel Creek Water District to propel the PureWater Soquel project into action.  The District Board of Directors and staff continue to insist they will make no decisions about the future of this project, which will inject 3 million gallons treated sewage water daily into the area’s drinking water supply, until the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is out later this spring.

Do you believe that?  I don’t.  Not when the District is spending massive amounts of money and time to support the project and very little on any other possible solutions.  The District spent $53,067.65 in January, 2018 alone on the deal, including $2,100 to Tom Burns for PureWater Soquel support services.  Why would they pay Mr. Burns,  the former Santa Cruz County Planning Director, that sum if not to help shove something through that requires a permit???? 
Take a look at other types of projects, such as stormwater capture and water storage projects, that Soquel Creek Water District could get Prop 1 funding to do, but for some reason, is not pursuing.

Prop 1 was passed by the voters in 2014 to spend $7.5 Billion funding projects that PREVENT AND CLEAN UP CONTAMINATION OF GROUND WATER THAT SERVES AS SOURCES OF DRINKING WATER.  Soquel Creek Water District claims the sea water intrusion problem in the area, which is due to years of over-pumping, is a threat to public health and safety….and that qualified them for the $2 Million grant. 

District General Manager, Ron Duncan, recently waved a clear glass bottle of water he told the Capitola City Council was hazardous to health because it was from a sea water-intruded well.., looked identical to the same bottle he has held up before, claiming the advanced treated sewage water in it is pure and safe to drink.   Although District staff insists the PureWater Soquel treated sewage water would be safe to inject into the aquifer, the possibility of contamination with pharmaceuticals, carcingenic by-products of disinfections, such as NDMA, is real.  Take a look at the State Water Boards website.

Soquel Creek Water District’s consulting engineer from Carollo admitted that NDMA cannot always be removed, but it can be reduced to acceptable levels according to State guidelines.  Acceptable levels?  Is this really PREVENTING AND CLEANING UP CONTAMINATION OF GROUND WATER THAT SERVES AS SOURCES OF DRINKING WATER, as is the mandate under Prop 1 funding????

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)


Becky Steinbruner

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes.

Email Becky at


Dateline February 15, 2018
#46 / Smith, Jones, And Carpenter

What kind of “privacy” do we have, in a time in which new technologies increasingly send detailed information about everything we are doing to private companies, which then provide that information about us to the government?

In the case of Smith v. Maryland, decided on June 20, 1979, the United States Supreme Court held that the police did not need to obtain a search warrant to install a “pen register” on a telephone owned by Michael Lee Smith. Using the pen register, the police were able to collect information about calls made from Smith’s phone, including the telephone numbers called, and the date and time of all calls made. Evidence about the calls made from Smith’s telephone was provided to the police by the telephone company, and was used to convict Smith of robbery. Smith argued that the police should have gotten a search warrant, based on probable cause, before using the pen register. He wanted the evidence collected by the pen register suppressed. The Supreme Court reasoned that Smith had no “expectation of privacy,” since Smith well knew that the phone company was recording all the information associated with the calls he made from the phone. There was nothing “private” about that!

In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the United States government was obtaining exactly the same kind of information the police had collected in the Smith case, but was collecting this information about EVERYONE’S phone calls, and was retaining all these records in a giant database, essentially forever. A federal trial court judge, William Pauley, said that the Smith case controlled, and that there was nothing wrong with the practices that Snowden revealed. According to Pauley’s decision in American Civil Liberties Union v. James R. Clapper, no one in the country has any “expectation of privacy” about the kind of “metadata” that the government has been collecting, since anyone using a telephone understands that the information collected by the government is being recorded and retained by their telephone service provider. It’s not really, “private” if the telephone company has it!

Judge Richard Leon, another federal trial court judge, came to an exactly opposite conclusion in a case called Klayman v. Obama, decided at virtually the same time as the Clapper case. Judge Leon reasoned that United States v. Jones, a case decided in January 2012, pretty much overruled Smith. The decision in the Jones case was unanimous, and was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, pictured above. Scalia, who died in 2016, was one of the Court’s more conservative members. The Jones case was not a case about telephones; it was about the use of a GPS tracking device, which the police had placed on Jones’ automobile. Expectations about privacy, however, was at the heart of the Jones case. Using the GPS information they gathered from the device, the police were able to track Jones’ whereabouts over an extended period of time, and they used the information to convict him. Scalia’s opinion pointed out that new technologies dramatically increase the ability of the government to surveil the citizenry, so that the old rules have to be reevaluated. 

You might think that since diametrically opposite conclusions were reached in the Klayman and Clapper cases, on an issue of such fundamental importance to everyone using a telephone, the Supreme Court would want to provide some definitive guidance, and to decide whether Smith or Jones was right. Absent such guidance, it is totally unclear whether it is constitutional for the United States government to undertake a mass collection of telephone metadata, mobilizing modern spy technologies against every person in the United States who makes telephone calls. Whatever we might think about what would make sense in terms of the public interest, the Supreme Court gets to pick its cases, and has dodged making a decision about whether Judge Pauley, or Judge Leon, got it right.

Maybe, however, there is going to be a resolution soon. 

Consider the case of Carpenter v. United States. The Supreme Court of the United States Blog (SCOTUS Blog) describes the Carpenter case as follows: “Issue: Whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cellphone records revealing the location and movements of a cellphone user over the course of 127 days is permitted by the Fourth Amendment.” The Carpenter case was argued on November 29, 2017, so a decision can be expected by June of this year. 

Check out the arguments. I’m hoping that the Supreme Court is going to decide that our government is simply not allowed to spy on me unless the government can convince a judge that there is some reasonable, probable cause to think I’ve done something wrong. 

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you, dear reader, feel just the same!

Gary is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at


CLASSICAL DeCINZO. Tackles those motorcycle maniacs. Scroll below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “White House Job Fair” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog….with thoughts about “Dead Etiquette”.


The Santa Cruz Chamber Players present the fourth concert in this year’s series…

“Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms: An Arc of Romanticism” Brian Johnston is the artistic director and the players are Brian Johnston, violin. Shannon Delaney, viola. Aude Castagna, cello. And Ben Dorfan, piano. They’ll play…

L. v. Beethoven (1770 1827) Serenade Op. 8 for string trio (1797)
Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Piano Quintet in E -flat, Op.44 (1842)  
Beethoven Serenade Op. 8 for string trio (conclusion)

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) Piano Quartet in c minor, op. 60 (1862-1864) . The concerts are Saturday and Sunday February 24 at 7:30 and the 25th at 3 p.m. At Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Dr. Aptos, CA.   Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets  or maybe at the door the day of the concert.  :30 pm


Christ Lutheran Church

10707 Soquel Dr. 


LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Learn my strategies on how to steal more time out of the day to do stuff you really want to do, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( Also, if we’re lucky, the wistful memoir, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool will spark renewed interest in the life and career of the exceptional, much-beloved film noir actress Gloria Grahame.” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL. Gloria Grahame was an Academy Award winning sultry, smart “actress” (old term) in the 40’s and 50’s. In her later years she did some stage work in Liverpool and had a very serious affair with a much younger man. He wrote a book about it, this is the movie from that book… and it is an entirely captivating movie.

THE INSULT. This is one of five foreign language films up for an Oscar on March 4. It’s a challenging film to understand, and having white subtitles on white backgrounds doesn’t help. A courtroom drama dealing with Christians vs. Muslims, it takes place in Beruit. The actions and accusations by political and religious factions are hard to follow. Absolutely perfect acting, and a lot of tension… but unless you know the history of Palestine and Lebanon you’ll miss some important points.

BLACK PANTHER. Just as Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman created a lot of good will and empowered women, Black Panther is doing the same for Blacks in America and around the rest of the world. Both are Marvel Comics creations, and full of violence, killings and special effects. Black Panther is science fiction, and still the characters use spears to kill each other? There are messages in this movie, so I read…but I struggled to find anything positive in it. I’m finding it more and more difficult in general to see these action films — with messages like revenge, torture, and blood and guts — as bearing any real semblance of cinematic art.

LADY BIRD. This film restored my faith in great films! RT gives it 100% and it’s the highest rated film in RT’s history!!! Greta Gerwig directed  Saorise Ronan and others in this sincere, well thought out movie. A teen aged daughter and her Mom have a terrible, never ending battle over clothes, religion, dating, sex, college and everything. It all happens in Sacramento in about 2003 , which is somehow appropriate. It’s sensitive, subtle, and surprising. Gerwig breaks many directing rules and creates new plot possibilities. Go see this film. Ps….as I’ve told many folks, it’s definitely  not about Lady Bird Johnson!!!

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. No matter where you’re at sexually this beautiful film deals with a young 17 year old boy in Italy working his way through his sexual coming of age. Armie Hammer plays the 30 year old scholarly hunk who visits the kid’s parents. You remember Armie Hammer heir to the Armand Hammer oil fortune and who played The Lone Ranger to Johnny Depp’s Tonto (2013)!!!

THE SHAPE OF WATER. A 93 on RT and that means something! Sally Hawkins plays a beautiful mute working in a lab who cares for, and falls in love with a mysterious water creature. It’s a fable, a fairy story, and reminds us of the black and white fantasy films from the 40’s and 50’s. It’s vital to know that it’s directed by Guillermo Del Toro who also did Pan’s Labyrinth  and Hellboy. It is such an enormous change from every other film we’ve seen in years that its’ worth going just for the fun of it.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI. First, please note the 95 RT rating. When you have Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell working in a film directed by an Oscar winning director you almost can’t miss. It is definitely a dark comedy. The plot contains murder, rape, loyalty, cancer, and some absolutely brilliant acting. Go see it, and force all your friends to see it too.

DARKEST HOUR. Gary Oldman takes the role of Winston Churchill to new heights…and depths. Its world War II history and it’s the background story of what Churchill had to endure when he first took office as Prime Minister. He deserves the Oscar like few stars ever have. The story is absorbing, educational, and it makes you wonder why the USA doesn’t have someone like Churchill to handle Trump like Churchill handled Hitler and Mussolini.

THE POST. This is Steven Spielberg’s answer to the Trump administration’s corruption and misuse of presidential power. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks rip up the acting as we expect them to do. It’s the story of the then little Washington Post trying to catch up to The New York Times printing Daniel Elsberg’s Vietnam exposure papers. It makes easy parallels to Nixon and Trump’s dictatorships. It also makes great pitches for freedom of the press…and what we need to do to keep that freedom alive…especially now. Go see it, bring your friends. But truthfully it’s not as interesting or revealing as the MSNBC documentary two weeks ago… “The Most Dangerous Man In America” the same story from Elsberg’s view.

I TONYA. A very dark, depressing movie about some very depressed people. It’s got loud rock period music as the film score which almost qualifies it as a fun comedy but you’ll be able to count your laughs. Somewhere in the movie somebody says Americans love to hate or love their current sport stars…and its sure true here. Allison Janney plays Tonya’s seriously disturbed mother and deserves some award this Award season…but not for this one. Warning IF you do got you’ll leave wondering why you cared about Nancy Kerrigan or Tonya Harding.

COCO. A genuine Pixar animated cartoon. And, the animation is amazingly three –dimensional. The plot is totally focused on the very rich and traditional Mexican culture. Day of the Dead, plenty of food, religion, music, and only a little boring after the first half hour. It’s completely original, you’ve never seen anything like this before, its way more creative and developed than what we usually think of as a Disney Cartoon. Go see it. (ends Feb.15 again!)

MOLLY’S GAME. This is an unusual “true” film about a once Olympic ski champion who becomes the owner/manager of zillion dollar poker games. Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba play the top roles and good old Kevin Costner has a bit part as Jessica’s father. It’s a fancy film with plenty of cinema tricks to keep us interested, and the acting’s ok too. But think twice before going, especially if you’re trying to give up movies for the New Year.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. Yes, 93 on RT and I thought it was a complete fake of a billion dollar move machine. I’ll always remember going to our Soquel Drive in (just a little stoned) and being completely taken into outer space with Star Wars 1. It had humor, empathy, great imagination, tension and a story you could care about. The franchise now stages monotonous, uncaring, space attacks and wars so numerous that you can’t remember who is on who’s side…and you don’t care much either. There’s the Dark Side, the Resistance, Adam Driver, R2D2, a very dull Carrie Fisher, an aging Mark Hamil as Luke Skywalker and those endless space battles that take up probably 33 1/3 of the movie. A great disappointment…go at your own peril, and its 2 ½ hours extra long.

THE HOSTILES. In 1892 The Comanches fight the Cheyennes, settlers battle all American Indians, while Christian Bale leads a group that includes Rosamund Pike through all sorts of ethnic and tense battles. It’s a bit more sensitive than the John Ford John Wayne westerns but nowhere near as exciting. The photography is not just scenic, it’s gorgeous.

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS..LIVE ACTION. Not as good as last year’s crop but “The Eleven O’Clock” is hilarious, “The Silent Child” will make you cry…and think and “Watu Wote” will give you hope for the world, in spite of everything. Go for it.

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS …ANIMATED. Not funny, not great, not far out, not profound but “Dear Basketball” produced, directed and narrated by Kobe Bryant himself is beautiful.

12 STRONG. This is almost a Hollywood western. Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon fight Taliban attacks in the Afghan War right after 9/11. It was actually shot in New Mexico and southern California…and you’ll believe it when/if you see it. It’s very confusing, and hard to figure who is on whose side. Apparently it’s “based on a true Story” but what isn’t nowadays? I counted three audience members actually playing computer games while the movie was grinding on for two hours and ten minutes plus the usual 20 minutes of Regal ads and previews.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. This is Hugh Jackman trying his best to bring life to the bio of P.T.Barnum. Jackman is an excellent dancer, singer and showman but this movie just doesn’t have the heart or solidity that a good film should have. The music is just more copying of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s gooey showbiz. It’s shallow, trite, and repetitious to a fault. Don’t bother seeing it.

WINCHESTER. To see Helen Mirren in a miserable movie like this flop is just embarrassing. You know where 98% of it was filmed right? Yes, on sound lots in Australia…NOT the famous Winchester Mansion just over the hill. It’s dull, boring, darkly lit, and for a scary movie it misses at every bump in the night. Even Helen Mirren does a shameful job of acting…it’s her worst ever!!

50 SHADES FREED. I am probably required to admit that I actually saw  “50 Shades of Grey” (2015) it was the last movie I saw at the Aptos Theatre. I will not reveal the name of the person I saw it with however because we are still friends. 50 Shades Freed (2018) the third and final film of this series from the book got an 11 on Rotten Tomatoes. Fifty Shades Darker #2 (2017) got 10 on RT. The original 50 Shades Of Grey (2015) got an 25 on RT. You can see there’s sort of a trend!!! Not that you should care and it’s not really what you’d call a plot, but it’s about Seattle, sex, money, and ice cream in your crotch.



UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer, (live only or archived for two weeks… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG. Feb. 20 has former UCSC Alumni President Donna Mekis talking about UCSC and the community. Then Zav Hershfield and Nina Hertel talk all about the Rent Imitative. On February 27 Lesley-Reid Harrison talks about Santa Cruz’s Diversity Center and their activities and programs.  AND …if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here You have to listen to about 4 minutes of that week’s KPFA news first, then Grapevine happens. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always and only at

This is a subject near and dear to my heart! More people should knit, it’s great for the mind – and you get soft and squishy wearables out of it! Hit me up at if you don’t know how and want to learn 🙂

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 9 years here’s a chronological list of some past broadcasts.  Such a wide range of folks such as  Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson, Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld, Rachel Goodman, George Newell, Tubten Pende, Gina Marie Hayes, Rebecca Ronay-Hazleton, Miriam Ellis, Deb Mc Arthur, The Great Morgani on Street performing, and Paul Whitworth on Krapps Last Tape. Jodi McGraw on Sandhills, Bruce Daniels on area water problems. Mike Pappas on the Olive Connection, Sandy Lydon on County History. Paul Johnston on political organizing, Rick Longinotti on De-Sal. Dan Haifley on Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Dan Harder on Santa Cruz City Museum. Sara Wilbourne on Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. Brian Spencer on SEE Theatre Co. Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro on MAH and Big Creek Pottery. Carolyn Burke on Edith Piaf. Peggy Dolgenos on Cruzio. Julie James on Jewel Theatre Company. Then there’s Pat Matejcek on environment, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack on the Universe plus Nina Simon from MAH, Rob Slawinski, Gary Bascou, Judge Paul Burdick, John Brown Childs, Ellen Kimmel, Don Williams, Kinan Valdez, Ellen Murtha, John Leopold, Karen Kefauver, Chip Lord, Judy Bouley, Rob Sean Wilson, Ann Simonton, Lori Rivera, Sayaka Yabuki, Chris Kinney, Celia and Peter Scott, Chris Krohn, David Swanger, Chelsea Juarez…and that’s just since January 2011.

QUOTES.  George Washington
“Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder”. GEORGE WASHINGTON
“It is with pleasure I receive reproof, when reproof is due, because no person can be readier to accuse me, than I am to acknowledge an error, when I am guilty of one; nor more desirous of atoning for a crime, when I am sensible of having committed it”. GEORGE WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 1757
“Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience”. GEORGE WASHINGTON,
“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated”. GEORGE WASHINGTON. Oct. 20, 1792

COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Click and enter the box in the upper right hand corner of each Column. You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!) Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email:
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @


Deep Cover by Tim Eagan.

Posted in Weekly Articles | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *